Brightland History

The road to releasing Amazing Curves Racing is a long and winding story. Here are some of the cars, RC aircraft, RC cars, model rockets, and video games I created or worked on which lead to the development of Amazing Curves Racing.

Key West Florida, circa 2022, 2011 C6 Z06, factory 427 V8, upgraded American Heritage Performance ported heads, Magnaflow high-flow cats, Halltech cold air intake, exhaust switch, HP Tuners tuned. Dyno’d 500WHP on 93 octane.
Friend’s Ferrari F430 Spider circa 2004- beautiful car, leather, interior, wonderful engine note. In 2008 I visited the Ferrari factory, museum, and Fiorano racetrack in Modena/Maranello. RM Auctions was holding Ferrari auction at Fiorano: I have pictures on a hard drive somewhere, will update if I find them. Amazing cars were for sale, and an auction record was set: https://www.sportscarmarket.com/news/rm-leaves-maranello-with-a-record

No pictures: 2007 Lexus IS350 (gray). Excellent daily driver, decent handling, this particular IS350 was very quick: folks report ~4.8s 0-60. I never timed, but that seems possible. Very comfortable and reliable car. 2004 Nissan Maxima (burgundy), V6 6-speed manual. Surprisingly low torque-steer for a 265HP front-wheel drive car, also impressive was the flat handling on corners, for a 4-door sedan. 2001 Bullitt Mustang (black)- simple design, cool history, fun to drive, great exhaust note!

2002 Z06 Corvette, only mod was an x-pipe, which gave the car a more exotic sound and a few HP/TQ. I used a Sony MZ-1 Minidisc recorder and a couple electret mics taped to the back of the car to record the exhaust sound for Amazing Curves Racing. The sounds were processed by Greg Hill at http://www.soundwaveconcepts.com.au for simulator use. Essentially, the sounds are ‘linearized” in pitch so pitch can be controlled by the simulator.
1999 Bondurant driving school, Phoenix International Raceway, Formula Ford.
Phoenix International raceway, a 3-turn banked track. Flat out was about 120MPH: when inches from the ground this feels very fast!
My first Corvette: 1999 C5 coupe. Corsa exhaust, Halltech cold air intake. Best experience was San Diego Corvette club trek to Idyllwild CA.

No picture: 1995 Accord V6. Lowered via performance springs, Koni shocks, SSR Integral Semi-solid forged wheels (14 lbs). Not quick, but was a nice daily driver which handled and drove well. Very comfortable and reliable car.

Rented C4 Corvette, Torrey Pines CA.
Rented C4 Corvette circa 1992, San Diego CA.
1991 Mitsubishi Eclipse GSX AWD Turbo. HKS Exhaust, boost controller, cold air intake. Stock was 195HP- never dyno’d but was quick for the day. When highly modified, these cars are legendary.
Photo circa 1988: 1977 German V6 Capri, with a swapped 1966 289 V8 from a Mustang, a Chevy Citation radiator, Cougar headers etc.. It was loud (headers and glass pack exhaust), torquey and fun to drive, though not as quick as the 1974 Capri with built V6. It was also fun to pop the hood and show the V8. German Shepherd was Rocky, a highly intelligent and loyal friend.
1976 German Capri, 2.8L V6 (rebuilt the engine with mild Isky cam). Photo circa 1984: my degree at UCSD was Psychology/Cognitive Science, which was as close as you could get to AI back then. We created neural networks in C++ without hardware acceleration: in 2024 AI is orders of magnitude more powerful due to advances in hardware and improved algorithms. The “AI” used in Amazing Curves Racing (and all games I created) is fairly simple nested logic + state machines, where accurate/realistic physics makes the “AI” look smarter than it is.
I drove my father’s 1962 VW Beetle occasionally, about 40HP(!) new (also learned to drive stick when I was 15). He bought it while stationed in Germany in the 60’s working for the CiC (Counter Intelligence Corp) in the US Army. He never spoke about what he did as a “secret agent”, but many years later working as a news reporter, he got to fly 2nd seat in an F4 Phantom with the Blue Angels, flying out of Top Gun School (Miramar Naval Air Station). Growing up in San Diego I attended the Miramar Air Show many times. The F16N (stripped down Air Force F16 for Navy adversarial training roles) demo flown by the original F16 test pilot and the F15 vertical acceleration on full afterburners straight up were the most memorable, even to this day!
I used to subscribe to Car & Driver, Road & Track etc. Making a plaque like this was a fun thing to do back then. This is my first car, a 1974 German 2.8L V6 Capri. I did many mods over the years, changing the way the car looked, performed, and handled. After a bit of weight savings, it weighed ~2250lbs (dry, no driver).
Low angle shot showing air dam, flares, wider wheels+tires and side exhaust. The best sounding, most power-producing exhaust was with Cherry Bombs (straight through glass pack “mufflers”) into dual resonator tips.
This lightweight Capri was very fun to autocross!
Even slightly lowered, upgraded KYB gas shocks, and thicker swaybars, there was still a bit of body roll on ‘at the limit cornering’.
Got a little sideways: note the counter-steer.
Traction was always an issue, car did well against stockish V8’s of the day. 89.2MPH trap speed at ~2500lbs (with driver & gas) = ~139HP. Not bad considering stock was 105HP (new).
1974 Capri 2.8L V6. Rebuilt engine by Ed Hale bored .030″ over with TRW pistons, balanced and blueprinted, Hooker headers Flame-Sprayed, mild Isky cam, upgraded springs and titanium retainers, minor head ‘clean up’/porting, Holley 350CFM carb jetted down, 1″ carb riser plate, custom accelerator pump cam, MSD6A ignition, Mallory Centrifugal Advance distributor, Voltmaster coil, NGK spark plugs, electric fan, custom cowl induction cold air intake. Around 140HP. San Diego Capri Club 2.8L V6 engines with Offenhauser intakes, giant cams, and big 4 barrel carbs were quite a bit slower. Even in 2024, I’ve yet to drive a car with near instant throttle response like this Capri, except for electric cars.
1974 Capri engine detail. The white Flame-Spray’d (ceramic) coating worked well- headers stayed white and clean.
Final iteration of the ’74 Capri. Front holes added to improve cooling, low (always scraping) air dam replaced with a scoop, bumpers re-installed but with all metal removed.
The custom fiberglass front aero was held on with velcro anchors, as seen in this photo. The 2002 and 2011 Z06 Corvettes are the closest experience to this Capri regarding light weight and throttle response. The Z06s are of course much more capable in every way, however there is something special about a very light car (Capri was 2250 lbs dry, vs. Z06s at 1000+ lbs heavier).

Games and Simulators

In 2002 I wrote the network code for Presto Studio’s “Whacked!” for Xbox. Early in development, I found the built in Xbox TCP code was broken: it would stop working with no errors. So I wrote a low-complexity, low-latency, reliable+unreliable UDP based system, which used bandwidth adaption to keep the network stable. Whacked! was the first Xbox Live game to be completed, and shipped with the Xbox Live Starter kit. https://www.mobygames.com/game/7692/whacked/

Before starting Amazing Curves Racing, I wanted to understand what accurate and correct simulated physics motion looked like. This lead to studying collision detection, integrators, and ‘solvers’. I created this demo using concepts from symplectic systems which aim to preserve energy accurately. The demo also shows precession behavior with a spinning top. Later variants of this technology were used in Amazing Curves Racing.
Circa 2000: Brightland created corporate animations for Raycer Graphics, which was developing novel rendering hardware. This Porsche GT1 inspired demo featured a transparent cut-away showing a fuel-cell electric powertrain. Still a fan of electric power (100% torque at ~0RPM), however internal combustion engine noises and manual transmissions are still very fun and engaging to drive vs. current electric cars.
The R4D project: export complex 3D Studio Max animations and textures in a single compressed binary file. .r4d, to play back 3D animations on the web, back when plugins in browsers were allowed. The Martian riding a rover as a skateboard was an early R4D demo. Raycer Graphics licensed the R4D system, and Raycer Graphics was later acquired by Apple.
Garrett Flynn created many corporate animations, original music and sound effects for Brightland, including this Bumper Tanks concept demo and the Martian Rover demo above.
“Super Bumper Tanks” from Brightland’s Bumper Tanks game project. We created prototype art and animations while helping H3D Entertainment create the H3D Stereoscopic 3D glasses system.
Concept renderings for Bumper Tanks.
More concept renders for Bumper Tanks (3D Studio Max).
Back in 1997, there was no accurately modeled physics in games. This sequence shows how Bumper Tanks would bring accurate physics to games.
Bumper Tanks R&D: a radio control car with camera and microphone. We used to drive it around the building from our office in Mission Valley (San Diego). There were no drones etc. back then, so people were surprised to see it driving around with no one in sight.

H3D Quake: Brightland converted Quake to stereoscopic 3D for H3D Entertainment. Victor Vedovato did most of the conversion work; I traveled to Mesquite Texas to show John Carmack how it all worked. We were also working with Rendition, an early hardware graphics vendor, which led to work with Raycer Graphics.

From 1992-1994 I lived in Seattle WA and worked with Ixion (and Johnson & Johnson Ethicon Endosurgery) working on a Silicon Graphics (SGI) Workstation, Polhemus magnetic tracker, and a human surgical dummy (with trocars and various instruments for minimally invasive surgical training, including force feedback in the custom hardware). Physics modeling was done with springs and dampers as part of a 3D mesh, with various tricks to keep things structured correctly and to maintain numerical stability. This system provided forces for hardware force feedback and realistic instrument interaction with simulated tissue, as well as realistic tissue cutting behavior. The SGI had hardware rendering, but no texture support with this model. Working with SGIs back then, when nothing else had 3D hardware acceleration, was a magical time. OpenGL also didn’t exist back then, it was just SGI’s GL, which was very simple, clean and easy to use. We also had NextStep machines in that office: interesting tech, though when running Display Postscript wasn’t fast enough for real-time work. VR Slingshot was completed after I left that “day job”, and Ixion created custom hardware to drive shutter glasses and provide analog joystick support for the Amiga and later PC. Ixion also marketed both versions.
Showing the Event Horizon simulator at Cyberthon 24 Hours of VR, presented by the Whole Earth Institute at Colossal Pictures in San Francisco, Oct. 6-7, 1990. I also had a demo running on Fake Space Labs 3D viewer (worked with Mark Bolas).
Cyberthon video showing a brief glimpse of an Event Horizon demo. I worked/was friends with Mark Bolas and James Kramer, visited Jaron Lanier at VPL, and Scott Foster, Linda Jacobson et al at NASA Ames Research center (Convolvotron demo was amazing with Stax Electrostatic headphones!). Timothy Leary and Terrance McKenna presented and spoke at the event- I didn’t really know much about them at the time, but now appreciate their work in expanding human consciousness.
Circa 1990, El Cajon CA: Tech photographer Peter Menzel photoshoot of VR Slingshot / Event Horizon on Amiga.
Another Peter Menzel photo, see final shot here: https://www.menzelphoto.com/image/I00000CqItaZa6J8
VR Slingshot box front (Amiga version, 1993).
VR Slingshot box back (Amiga version).

More VR Slingshot info here: https://www.mobygames.com/game/80677/vr-slingshot/

Amiga VR Slingshot review by Peter Olafson

You can run VR Slingshot in Chrome here (Select Practice / Pro, then press ‘a’ to start autopilot: joystick not supported. You can also select game type, Energy Duel or Cyberball. Later versions added Disk Eliminator, where you can launch a spinning disk which tracks your opponent like a guided missile): https://archive.org/details/msdos_VR_Slingshot_1994

From https://www.lemonamiga.com/games/details.php?id=2865

In 1988 I worked with Haitex’s 3D shutter glasses (originally made by Nintendo, modified to work with the Amiga) and created Space Spuds. It’s an absurd game where you fly through space shooting food, including potatoes, burgers, fries, cakes, etc. If the food hits your ship, your player gains weight. While the stereoscopic 3D is excellent, all the textured art is 2D (limitations of the Amiga hardware). You can also pick up weight loss items as well, such as “fat burner” pills, a liposuction vacuum cleaner, and a chin and tummy tuck chainsaw. You can play a man or woman, where the on-screen character gets fatter or slimmer as the game progresses. If your player gets too fat, they explode with a cool effect. If too skinny, they wither away. My older sister pops and glitches on the player screen area from time to time, saying “Buyyyy Space Spuds!”, which is an homage to Max Headroom, which was very popular at the time.

Amiga (2000 or 3000) development environment, 1987 or later.
Amiga 1000 development environment, circa 1985.
For the European market, due to potential political issues, Libyans in Space was rebranded as Alien Strike, and all references to Libya were removed from this version of the game.
Libyans in Space review from: https://www.lemonamiga.com/games/details.php?id=3319

In 1987 I created Libyans In Space for the Amiga, my first game. I sensed something amiss with the political narrative and created a game where countries can settle their differences without harming living beings (with the help of aliens, similar to an old Star Trek episode). It was written in Modula 2. Part of the reason these early games are “unusual” was limited means to capture or create sound effects and to create content. Art tools were limited to things like EA’s Deluxe Paint. Image capture was via a black and white camera with a color wheel on a stand (NewTek DigiView).

RC Aircraft, Cars, and Rockets

Getting an Estes Space Shuttle ready for launch at Granite Hills High School field in El Cajon CA, circa ’70’s.
Launching a model Space Shuttle with attached glider. Even with an Estes C6-3 rocket motor, it was pretty heavy and didn’t go very high. The good news is there was never a problem finding it after launch. My very first model rocket, an Estes Alpha III, was launched in Tucson Arizona when I was ~8: as I reached up to grab the rocket coming down via parachute, a hot air thermal picked up the rocket and carried it away. My cousin and I chased it a bit, then gave up as it floated over Oracle road. Even though the rocket was lost, it was a fun experience.
In my right hand is my first RC plane, a 6′ wingspan Mark’s Models Wanderer. At age 11, I taught myself how to fly by throwing this plane off a gentle hill with thick brush below. I had built and flown free-flight balsa+tissue rubber-band planes before, so learning RC was about keeping from crashing and landing smoothly. During the learning process, the soft balsa wood nose got smashed, so I replaced it with much harder (and heavier) pine wood. After rearranging RC gear and battery, it balanced correctly and I sold this glider years later, never crashed or damaged.

Not pictured: foam Cox Cessna Centurions (.049 engines). Had a few of these. 2-channel rudder elevator, they were pretty fast and fun to fly. I also used a .049 Black Widow engine on a plastic motor pod on the Wanderer, so I could launch from a large flat field and then look for thermals when the engine stopped. When visiting a cousin in AZ, I launched the Wanderer using a High-Start: a long string and surgical tubing used to catapult the glider into the air, after which the string+tubing would drop off and then you’d hunt for thermals.

In the left hand is an Airtronics S-Tee, built with minimal dihedral to improve aerobatic performance. The engine is a Cox Tee Dee .049 2-stroke engine which ran on nitromethane (e.g. 30%) and methanol. At 22,000 RPMs it screamed, and the S-Tee did pretty cool aerobatics for a 2-channel rudder-elevator plane. My father filmed some aerobatics on 8mm film; wish I still had that footage!
Circa 1980, 1/2a SST with Cox Tee Dee .049 engine. Built with no dihedral, this 2-channel aileron elevator plane was a blast to fly. Very fast for what it was and very aerobatic. https://outerzone.co.uk/plan_details.asp?ID=10442
A 4-channel Smoothie (purchased built with no engine or radio). Engine is an OS .40 FSR, later a tuned pipe was added to increase vertical performance. Very fast, stable and smooth (per the name). Since the radio had more channels, I added a bomb drop (plastic filled with fireplace dust or flour). In the background there are more rockets, including multistage, as well as an electric foam Chipmunk. Electric model aviation engines back then weren’t very powerful, so it wasn’t much fun to fly. So I replaced the electric system with a 2-stroke gas engine (OS .15 IIRC). It was originally 3 channel rudder-elevator-throttle. I cut the wing in half, removed a lot of dihedral, added balsa ailerons, and added spruce stiffeners into the foam wing, with a fiberglass wrap around the center. Now with sufficient power and 4-channels, it was a blast to fly- did insane snap rolls. The foam wasn’t very strong, and one time flying in heavy wind a stabilizer broke and flapped in the wind as I did passes (did not add reinforcement there). It still flew fine with the other stabilizer still working and landed OK.
Circa 80’s, when I purchased the first Capri, I had not heard of the Zakspeed or Cosworth racing Capris. Here’s an RC Zakspeed Capri. My experience with RC planes and cars significantly influenced my desire to learn to create realistic, physically accurate simulations, where you could realistically do things not possible in real life, either due to cost or safety etc.
Zakspeed Capri: https://www.speedhunters.com/2013/02/fire-breathing-neck-snapping-the-ultimate-capri/
Cosworth Capri: https://www.roadandtrack.com/news/a34847878/9000-rpm-cosworth-ford-capri-v-6-sound/