Despite the new Official Times in Solo Mode, playing online is still great fun. I’m quite sure most of you do it, or have done it at least a few times. However, a majority of servers run custom made tracks they have either found online (at TMX, for example) or they have created themselves. This if of course good and allow for a lot of variation of tracks and servers, but sometimes I can’t help wonder what people are thinking when they select the tracks for their servers…
Last weekend, my father and I decided to play a little TMU online. We both logged in, we agreed on a nice multi-environment server, and joined it to take part in the fun. We drove for about 10 minutes, before we left the server. We tried a new one, but decided to leave that one too. After the third attempt, we ended up, just as the weekend before that, playing separately in Solo mode. Why? Because the tracks online simply were too challenging if you have never played them before. It took the fun out of the experience.
I admit that I’m not a frequent online player. I only play online once in a while, and I don’t have a favorite server I visit. I know that those of you who visit the same server frequently, thus playing the same tracks many times, probably don’t have this problem, but for people like me (and my father), it can often be hard to beat the opponents online, as many of them know the tracks much better. Of course, this goes for all servers and all tracks, but some tracks are just straight out way too difficult for online racing.
My ideal online track would be a track where it is easy to complete the entire track even with the worst possible driving (ok, a bit exaggerated perhaps), but to achieve a good time, you must complete every part of the track with perfection. This allows better players to get good times, while less good players or players who are not familiar with the track in question can at least get a time at all. I know some would call these “tracks suitable for rounds”, but I’d like to broaden that expression to “tracks suitable for online”.
Playing a track where a sharp turn suddenly appear at high speed, or where the jumps are so long you will have to drive perfectly before the jumps in order to have high enough speed, can be fun in Solo mode. For online, however, I don’t think these tracks are so great. In fact, playing a challenging track online can make me hate the track, while if I would first have played it in Solo mode, I might have loved it.
So I’d like to get the message out to all of you server hosts: Please, when selecting tracks for your server, try finding tracks that are not too challenging. This could make online racing a lot more fun for less frequent online drivers. Try keeping your server well mixed with tracks that challenge experienced drivers while still allowing less experienced players to at least reach the finish line.