Pete Davison: Tr-Tr-TrackMania

Posted on May 19, 2011 by

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Those who have — ooh. Hold on. [gets momentarily distracted by the new WordPress interface that has apparently launched today.] Pretty.

Ahem. What was I saying?

Oh yes. Those who have known me for a while will know all about my love affair with Trackmania United Forever Star Edition, née Trackmania United Forever, née Trackmania United. And indeed my Steam usage statistics would seem to back this up — with 24 hours’ playtime recorded on it, and nothing else close. Granted, Steam doesn’t seem to have tracked my playtime on quite a few games I know I’ve played through to completion, but 24 hours on a silly driving game is pretty substantial, and it just doesn’t get old.

Yes, it’s unpolished. Yes, certain aspects of it are inaccessible. Yes, it doesn’t tell you about a good 95% of the possibilities it offers anywhere in the documentation — but somehow, despite all this, a huge, dedicated community has sprung up around the game and has been supporting it and driving it forward ever since its release. So much so, in fact, that it’s spawning a proper, bona fide sequel, along with two exciting-sounding companion games.

TrackMania 2 Canyon looks like it will be a lot of fun from what I’ve seen so far — though the Canyon subtitle does make me wonder if it’ll have the variety of environments and vehicles that United offers, but it’s the other twoManiaPlanet games that intrigue me more, if anything. The possibilities on offer in ShootMania and QuestMania, offering the facility to create FPS levels and RPG games respectively, are potentially limitless. And while little has been revealed about how — and if — the three games will interact, the fact that they share a common community portal in the form of ManiaPlanet is immensely intriguing and offers some very exciting possibilities for those, like me, who are interested in game design but whose experience with building tools is limited to Lego, Scalextric and the Wolfenstein 3D map editor. (I remember trying to make aDuke Nukem 3D level once. That didn’t end well, much like several efforts to make a Doom level work in any shape or form. And those games weren’t even proper 3D. I like tiles. Tiles are good.)

For those who have never experienced the joy of TrackMania, it’s worth remembering that the game’s probably most oft-used environment — the stadium — is available as a completely free game to download, with a significant amount of content and the ability to make your own tracks as well as play online. It’s not often you see that sort of generosity from a developer offering what is essentially a “demo”, but there you go. Steam users? Knock yourself out.

Okay. That’s enough TrackMania ranting for this year. See you next year.

So I’ll see you on the loop-the-looped circuits, no?

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Posted in: Pete Davison