Written by Djoszee. Part 2 of 2.
In part 1, some of the changes made from the previous TM games to United were listed. In this part we take things one step further…
The community is spread on loads of different sites and places on the internet. A lot of clans have their own homes, and so do most of the active leagues. When we speak about websites, you can say that most of the community is to be found on TMX, the official forum and on the French forum. The biggest part of this community is French. Most of them are only shadows hiding on the French forum. They do not add tracks to TMX, play on foreign servers, or have an English conversation when you try to. Just look at the serverlist – at least half of the servers are located in France. They are more occupied then the servers in other countries (although Germany takes a good second place) The TMX I mentioned before is filled with what I call ‘nations-elite’. They are the people that loved TrackMania Nations so much, they spent money on TMU. Just have a look at the tracks – a huge percentage of them are Stadium.
I think that loads of people stick to Stadium because it’s just as attractive as when it was new due to all those new features added. It has new scenery, a completely different set of roadblocks (dirt) and it’s got water! Why would any of the ‘nations-elite’ care about the other environments? Solution: we have to get the French to upload their tracks to TMX! Why you ask? Because they probably played all the TrackMania editions…
I don’t think the ManiaZones add to the community. There are already enough places to find TrackMania people and downloads for the game.
A different thing that I did not mention before are the competitions. I’m happy to see that TMU has loads of competitions for people to participate in. And trust me, it’s not just the French. Most of the times you can win coppers, like the competitions around this blog. In some competitions you can win stuff like shirts or maybe there’s real money to win.
I did mention that most of the people playing this game are French, just like most servers. I think this creates some language barriers. Some of them don’t speak English when you are in a mixed server. You won’t see me in a server full of French-only people. I don’t hate the French, but I want to greet with ‘hi’ and say ‘good game’ in stead of ‘lu tlm’ or whatever.
Bringing this to my own country, which are the Netherlands (don’t say Holland, that’s just a part of the Netherlands) I’m even more disappointed. A lot of servers disappeared (just like my clan server) because there’s just no one there to play on them. Gaming is more comfortable when you can play with people who speak your own language – it’s easier to understand each other and talk about stuff. When you compare the number of players with the number of servers, the French and Germans probably have the most fun while playing TMU. They have enough servers to play on whilst speaking their native tongue.
Another thing that adds to the online play is the fact that you can play on servers with seven environments combined. You no longer have to race on just three environments (or one, like in TMN). There’s plenty to choose from. Add all the different modes to it, and the joys are immense.
Now that I’ve mentioned something positive, I’ll have to go with a negative thing again: The ladder! Just like the Nations ladder (which is controlled by boosters), the United ladder doesn’t really match skill with points and ladder positions. A part of the top ladder (luckily not the entire ladder) is controlled by ‘lol-drivers’. They play on servers with extremely short and stupid tracks. When I say ‘bump the castle and finish’ or ‘do the fastest flip and finish’ you will get the idea without even playing the track.
To end with something positive, a lot of servers have plug-ins that add to your gaming experience. Whether it’s just the simple ‘jukebox’ or the ‘donate’ panel, you can do more stuff on a server while racing. On some servers you can even win coppers when you win races 😀
When you play offline, there’s tons of stuff you can not do.
The solution looks simple: get yourself an internet connection. Do you really need an internet connection to play TMU, or can you enjoy it just as much without?
I’d say this game is fine without an internet connection. There’s tons of tracks for you to play, you can build tons of tracks on your own, and you can initially download tracks (or upload yours) at a friends place. To be completely honest, I think I spent about 30% of my TMU time online. The rest was spent playing tracks in solo mode and building tracks. When you do have an internet connection and want to play offline only, you can enjoy setting ‘official times’ and compare your scores with people from around the world.
Did TMU unite? I think so, but the magic is about to expire. There are tons of new features for everyone to enjoy, but the main event (the whole online scene) is too unbalanced. The French people stick at their own place, the ladder is partially dominated by unskilled lol-drivers, TMX seems to be Stadium only, and loads of countries barely have servers to play on. I think that Nadeo should get more ‘foreign’ (read: the not-French) people to play TMU and create servers in their own country. The French people should learn how they can benefit from the knowledge within the TMX community (I’ll refer to that when I mention the non-french). They should participate more in trackmaking on TMX.
For me, TMU is just an offline joy. I enjoy tracking and I build new tracks from time to time – and yes, I’m one of those Nations-elitists. The fact that I can’t enjoy the online play (where are you Dutchies?) has brought me back to Trackmania Nations. I’m not the only one…
I hope I didn’t harm anyone with what I wrote in this article (and part 1). I was just trying to state my opinion. Feel free to discuss below.