One of the many new features in TrackMania United is the ability to make official times. In case there are still people out there not knowing this, official times are simply times made in solo mode. The difference between training times and official times is that to make an official time, you’ll have to pay 10 coppers. If you fail to get a good time, you will have to pay 10 more to get a new try.
When you make an official time, you are being ranked in your ManiaZone depending on how good your time was. If it was really good, you will get ranked among players from the entire world. Times that do not meet the current requirements for a world ranking are ranked at a lower MainaZone level instead, such as in your own country.
In TrackMania United there is also a scoring system called Skill Points. These can only be earned through official times, and the amount of Skill Points you earn is based on how well you are ranked in your ManiaZone.
Making official times is also a way for you to earn more coppers. This is done by giving you 5, 10 or 15 coppers for each medal you earn (5 for bronze, 10 for silver and 15 for gold) – a maximum of 30 coppers per track, in other words.
Skill Points vs. Ladder Points
As most of you probably know, when you play online in multiplayer mode, you earn Ladder Points depending on how well you drive compared to your opponents. Ladder Points work very similar to Skill Points, and you must have an internet connection to earn either of them.
So what’s the point of having them both in one game, you might ask. Well, let’s go through a few differences:
Since official times cost coppers to make (unless you get it right the first time – the very first attempt to make an official time on a track is free) and requires you to get it right at once (or you will have to pay more to try again) it is harder to get a good official time than a time in multiplayer mode. On harder tracks, it will probably take most players several attempts and many valuable coppers to get a good official time, thus earn more Skill Points. Ladder Points, on the other hand, can be easier to obtain since you are free to restart as many times you want (in Time Attack mode, that is) without having to pay a thing.
Skill Points and Ladder Points are used to rank players in two different areas – solo- and multiplayer mode. Even though an internet connection is required to earn Ladder Points as well as Skill Points, some people prefer one before the other. Official times can be more frustrating and require more of the driver, which is something many enjoy, while online times are different, since you can try again and again. Personally, I find multiplayer mode a more relaxing way of playing, where you only have to wory about the time left until the next track change. There is no “economic” pressure on you. On the other hand, playing online adds the pressure of competition, since other players are trying to beat you live.
It has a different feel to it to play in multiplayer mode than in solo mode, and people prefer it differently. In short, it is up to each player to find out what mode they prefer, and therefore also what rankings to focus on.
Official times in general add a great dimension to the game, and they are an excellent way to get more out of your driving experience. They don’t rule out multiplayer mode, because when it comes to it, Skill Points and Ladder Points are two very different things, based on the same idea.