Article – Naming Guide

Evolving from “Track 85”

to “The most spectacular track name ever”

He’s getting married, his future wife has an alien-looking thing in her stomachand he writes TM articles! Can life get any better? Alcator is here once again with a new fresh inside view of TrackMania 😀

If you’re new to trackmaking, you’ll unavoidably go through the initial phase of building tons of low-quality tracks – from simple ovals to familiarize yourself with the working of the multilap start/finish, to very long and dull tracks full of nonsensical and unsmooth turns and slopes. In this phase, you’ll probably save time by simply naming the tracks “Track 1” or “my first track” etc.

Later, your trackmaking will evolve, smoothness will silently come into your tracks, the dull (= uninteresting, boring, repetitive) sections will leave… But surprisingly, I’ve witnessed quite a lot of tracks that, while being very fun to drive, had incredibly dull names. Island-23, Circuit 17, Stadium Tech 5…

I have also had this problem with my Nations tracks; make a complete list of Alcator’s tracks on N-TMX ordered by time of uploading, and what do you see:
Ace-ProLaps-0 through Ace-ProLaps-D (14 tracks), Loop Mastery 01 through Loop Mastery 05…

The problem with dull names, especially when they refer solely to Environment, Style, or if they contain a number that may look like from an ordered list, is that they repulse potential downloaders/players; it makes the impression that you’re producing these tracks like on a conveyor belt, one per day, with no finetuning, no bigger theme in any of them.

This is what I think when I see the track name “Island 5”:

  • There’s no theme in the track – it’s just a “random” mix of island tiles – if there was, he would’ve mentioned it in the title.

  • There’s nothing really significant in the track, nothing to surprise me, nothing to make me say “Wow” – if there was something like that, he would’ve mentioned it in the title.

There’s one “technical” reason for differing greatly in track titles: Their display in listings. In-game (talking about United), only about 30 first letters of the track title are displayed, and on TMX, only about 15 letters are displayed (!). This means that if you have two tracks named “Spectacular Paradise 1” and “Spectacular Paradise 2”, these two tracks will be displayed as something like “Spectacular Parad…” on TMX (both of them), making it harder for people to locate the one they want to (re)visit – such as if they want to award it. Now you don’t want to make it any more difficult for people to award your tracks, right?

(Click to enlarge the pictures)

Naming Guide, Picture 1

“Damn… I promised that man to award his “Big Loop” which I really liked… What was his name? Something like “C-something”. Oh, well, I can’t remember. Pity. It was really good…”

Naming Guide, Picture 2

“Damn… Cologneandy told me to try his Wallride track… but which one was it?”

The track title is the single most important advertising space of your track. Not the screenshot, not the in-game description, not the Author comment on TMX – the title is the most important. It’s the ONLY thing people always see whenever your track is referred – in a list of newest tracks, in a list of tracks to come up in-game on an on-line server, in a link to your track. In some of these listings, you’re competing against other “candidates” (for download etc.) – and you need to catch their eye and persuade them to click on it, to load the track in Solo mode etc.

Finally, here comes the “guide” for giving your tracks proper names.

You can give the track a name based on one of these reasons:

1. Overall appearance – if it is a Bay track where the track itself looks like narrow streets between high buildings, names like “City Squeeze”, “City Chase”, “City of sharp corners” all express what the track looks like.

2. Overall racing feeling – in this case, you abstract from the actual construction point-of-view and focus solely on what you experience (feel) when racing. Are there plenty of sharp corners in the (previously described) Bay track? What about “Mad Cornering”? Are most of the turns resolved using sliding? “Mastering the cityslide” may as well express that.

3. The key moment(s) of the race – usually, there’s one or more key element in the track. This may be the most difficult stunt in the track, some spectacular jump across water or an obstacle, a set of sharp chicanes that must be navigated without a scratch etc. If you feel that you’ve built something truly “big”, you can use that as the base for the track name. “900 km/h waterflight” surely will attract some attention, “Touch the sky and say hello to God” will as well. However, this can be a two-edged weapon – because if that one advertised thing is not as spectacular as people expect, they may reject the track, even if it is good.

4. Ambiance / Abstraction – this is not very often used, but if your track creates an abstract feeling, if it resembles something else (something non-racing), you can name it according to this abstraction. A track with plenty of small jumps may be named “Kangaroo jumps”, a track with several through-the-hole jumps/flight can be named “Hole in One” or “Sharpshooter” etc. The advantage of this style is that it is very unlikely that someone else will use the same words in his track name – while there’s about 50 tracks with “grand prix” in the title on N-TMX, there’s not a single “sharpshooter” or “kangaroo” track there (there are, however, over 20 “bunny” tracks, so choose wisely).

5. Eye-candy reference – the game features some nice eye-candy effects, like skid marks, light trails etc.; if your track contains a place or moment when these effects are really “cool”, perhaps you might stress such moment with in-game and replay MediaTracker (a camera that shows a place where there’s tons of skidmarks or where trails look like a fireshow circles), and name the track according to this point – “Burned Rubber”, “Cheerleader trails”, “Air Stripes”, “Motion Blur” could all be names suitable for such tracks.

There are also some bad things to do, so…

1. Don’t lie. Don’t promise jumps if your track doesn’t contain any, don’t call the track “Mad Speed” if the average speed is just, well, average. Be careful about the usage of recognized expression like “Smooth”, “Flip” or “Powerslide”, because this really “asks” for criticism if that particular aspect of your track is not on the level (that is, in case of e.g. “Smooth ride”, if there are not-that-smooth jumps or drops or a single unsmooth transition).

2. Don’t phish. If a well known trackmaker did a track with the name “Sonata da ORA”, don’t name your track “Sonata d’Or”. Of course, for certain themes, this resemblance is unavoidable (such as the previously mentioned Grand Prix), but common sense is applicable here and if I have a track named “Desert Serpentines”, it would be quite ugly if you named your track “Desert Serpentine”.

3. Don’t capitalize. Capital letters are in general considered as shouting in writing, and some people are repulsed by such a low assault on subconscious level (that is – they WILL see your track in a list, as capital letters do have that effect, but these people will willfully ignore it in order to “punish you”).
There’s an author “sheet” on N-TMX who has over 30 tracks named “CZECH tech [Number]”. Guess what, they only have 1 award (presumably from a friend of his).

(BTW – Yes, I know, I do have one track with capitalized title. It’s my one hundredth track for Nations. GO TRY IT! 🙂 )

Hopefully, something in this guide was helpful. Any comments welcome.

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13 Responses to Article – Naming Guide

  1. JumperJack says:

    awesome article – tracknames are indeed one of the most important things!! 😀

    – capitalized names can be quite good (ron turbo’s tinyTECH series… 😉 )

    – eheh, i’m making some series too (Artemis’ Arrow I for example, number II is coming… 😉 )

    awesome article alcator, like always!! 😉

  2. JumperJack says:

    oh, and indeed, don’t name your track to famous tracks…

    – there’s made a track called “Moving Power 2” sometimes, got just 3 awards…

    unless you make a track in honour of someone, then you can call it a bit like the name of that author… 😉

  3. JumperJack says:

    oh, sorry for the threedouble post, but if you’ve showed the people you do finetune your trackseries with the first couple of tracks, these number 1-2-3-4-5-… names are not really a problem. Artemis’ Arrow I has got 108 awards now, so i guess that’s kind of a proval… 😉

  4. BCS[Viper] says:

    Artemis’ Arrow is a name in itself though would you not agree JumperJack with or without the I added, but I agree with most of your comments about this topic.

  5. JumperJack says:

    well, yeah, ok, that’s totally true, viper… 😉

  6. Jozii says:

    Viper said it!

    (So I guess making this comment is quite useless 😛 )

  7. TimeBreaker says:

    wow what a nice article :O

    unfortunately my first tmnx track is called “my first one” but it wasnt even worth of one award imo so i could live with that 😀 i also made some other name who were pretty long and crap (ultimate awesomeness *lol*, TimeBreaker A-1 – A-3 xD) but then i started thinking about the name..if you read the name you should soon recognize in the track, why its called like that (most of the time its seen in the intro :P)
    but also names like “king of the speed” what wasnt true at all got pretty popular because they had a promising name and they didnt get that much disappointed in the end 😉
    another example: if you call a track “anger”, you can already see that the track is pretty difficult and you might not even like it, but if its a short track and you read the authors comment you can give it a try and try to reach the finish 😀
    thought its a perfect name and it was never meant to be a popular track, just fitting in the theme
    oh, and i think if the name is just one word around 5 letters, you can type it with capital letters i think
    so much to my trackname story 😛

    artemis arrow.. yeah thats an awesome name. its an alliteration , and lets you easier remember the tracks name, and, as everyone knows the track now, its almost a synonym to your name JJ (btw: can wait to see the sequel :P)

    oh , and the example with cologneandy was perfect 😀
    he got tons of track, with capital letters, with too long names (always BRW before the real name), and not even interesting names..well he got some friends who award the tracks 😛

  8. djoszee says:

    Nice article… I just had to check the names of my tracks on tmx, and I noticed that less then 5 got their name cut off 🙂 My tracknames should be good enough, seeing the number of awards I gets rose when I went to TMU-tracking 🙂

  9. T_Z_ says:

    My 1st tracks were all superbly incredibly sucky… they were just so grrrrrr….. But they had cool names like RC Missile and Shocking Flare.
    I can’t wait to see Artemis Arrow II too 😉
    Awesome article Alcator, very good for noobs to un-noob faster than normal

  10. Ricardo Rix says:

    you are so right, there are numerous uninventive names. It is nice to strech out and come up with ANYTHING other than blah#4 even if it makes no sense at all.
    variety is the spice of life, and curry’s are great 😉

  11. micster says:

    Thanks for the great article, will really help me decide my next track names. 😀

  12. […] absence of imagination when coming up with a name for the track (perhaps taking a look at the naming guide might help), my expectations for this track are extremely […]

  13. quick says:

    Excellent article, Alcator. I think after you make your choice, it is also useful to see if that name is not a duplicate.

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