Interview with Mr.A about StarContest

November 26, 2008

Few weeks ago, I asked Mr.A of TMX (the largest track-exchange server for Trackmania) few questions about StarContest. Today, you get the chance to read the answers…

(Al)Q(ator): When did you first learn about Nadeo’s plan for a community-built campaign?

(Mr.)A: It was in the build up to the the release of the Forever games. We had alot of chats with Nadeo about it and actually the StarTrack Contest might have happoned much earlier in the year. The original idea was to do it with the beta version of United Forever, but for various reasons that diddn’t happen and so we decided to wait until after the summer (when people are less likely to have holidays booked during the contest).

Q: Have you had any influence on the structure of the competition, or did Nadeo already have the rules pretty much cast in stone??

A: It was Nadeo’s idea for a rounds based contestest where builders are eliminated at each stage. I guess you can liken that to the way those TV shows work where a contestant is voted out each week. The detail of the schedule, the way tracks are named, the rule set, all that stuff was a collaboration between us. Quite alot of things changed from the orirginal plans becuase you really only start to realise how things need to be when you are trying to put the whole thing together.

Q: How much coding (code lines, scripts, database structures) were needed to allow for the competition?

A: I dont know about lines of code, but it was a huge ammount of work. Buzz made the initial work on the allocation program and then Ricardo Rix picked that up, finished it, built the front end presentation and the way TMX handles the changing stages of the contest through the rounds. We spent weeks and weeks with him coding, then me running simulation contests (we had a button to randomly enter people) and reporting back with what happoned and how things looked or worked.

Q: How long did the coding and other tasks take before the competition was announced to the public?

A: Well, the idea was always to be ready before Forever came out, so we were ready by then. I think it was 2 or 3 months in developement, as we knew right from the first rumblings of the Forever update that we might do a contest… not a bad length of time to keep a secret ūüôā

Q: Are there any plans for some special TMX awards for those who either make it into the campaign or make it to the final few rounds?

A: Nothing like that is planned at the moment, but we will see. We still need to decide how we will deal with the Star tracks once the contest is over. (ed.: As it turned out, several TMX mugs were distributed to the finalists and some of the best drivers on the finalists’ tracks. Also, as you may already know, Nadeo promised an ingame TAG for PapyChampy as the ultimate winner.)

Thanks to Mr.A for answering the questions!


Interview – MadneSS

June 21, 2007

As most of you know, TrackMania Nations was the first and still the only game to be created especially for the Electronic Sports World Cup. This obviously lead to a lot of great TMN players seeing the light, and today you get an interview with one of those guys: MadneSS.

MadneSS, currently a 19-year-old member of the professional British Team Dignitas, can be considered a professional player as he has earned money on playing in three different games. He gets to travel around Europe to attend various events, and last year he was one of the few skilled enough to actually play Nations in the ESWC.

The TMU Blog asked MadneSS a few simple questions, which you get to take part of today!

Read the rest of this entry »


In the Spotlight – Sk84funPrzemo (Underrated Author)

January 27, 2007

Thank you JumperJack for the help on this post.

In the Spotlight attempts to highlight authors, websites, mods, in-game features, or just about anything worth highlighting, in a detailed and interesting fashion.

As there’s a great deal of requests for underrated tracks, this first edition of In the Spotlight¬†highlights¬†an underrated author at the United Exchange: Sk84funPrzemo.

PRZEMO, the Stadium Specialist

Przemom, or Loony,¬†is specialized at Stadium tracks.¬†It’s a shame that¬†his most¬†awarded has gotten only¬†11 TMX awards (at the time of writing), and that¬†some of his tracks are much less awarded than that.¬†What makes Przemo’s tracks stand out is that they¬†are very innovative and original.¬†The design is brilliant¬†and many of the tracks have¬†a¬†perfect and interesting¬†use of scenery as a part of the track.

RECOMMENDED TRACKS

At the time of writing, Przemo has made 12 tracks, all in the Stadium environment. Here’s a list of¬†some recommended ones among those 12:

  • Moonlight¬†– A nice full-speed track with some great loops and wallrides.
  • The Last One¬†– Another full-speed track with a technical start. Nicely designed parts and the jumps and wallrides are sure to give you an adrenaline rush.
  • Spring¬†– A smooth, well-designed track with a really nice layout.
  • D√©j√† vu¬†– A more technical track with some original re-use parts.

TRACK REVIEW (by JumperJack)

Here’s a complete¬†review – TMU Blog style – of¬†another one of Przemo’s¬†tracks: LightRush!

Track: LightRush (direct download)

Author: Sk84funPrzemo + Sebik1992

Type: Race

Environment: Stadium

Length: 50 sec (author time: 0:52.53)

Mood: Day

LightRush

First Impression

When I downloaded the track, I hadn’t played any tracks by this author. The track only had three awards, but these were really positive about the track, so I thought that it could be a nice track. When I played the track, I have to say that I was very impressed. So let’s have a deeper look at the track…

Track Design

The first part of the track is built by Sebik, and it starts with a PF start. This start is a bit boring, because it’s only straight road, but due that it’s not PF for a long time, and due the ‘hops’ and the custom camera, it’s still fun to watch.

When the track really starts, it begins with some corners, leading to an off-road part. No dirt, as United allows us now, but grass. A garden of cactus’ at the right side of the grass part cuts off the fastest line, but the second best line is a bit more challenging and fun to drive.

This leads us to a looping. When you jump out of this loop, you’ll land on a down-going road at a certain moment. From there you’ll enter a platform part. Overall, this platform is wide and fun, but there might’ve stood a bit difference in the scenery.

From here on, Przemo’s part (or Loony’s, because that’s his other nickname) starts. The jump from the platform to the road is pretty easy and smooth after all. Just like the first looping, the next one is of the same style. After the looping, you’ll land on a braking turbo, and after that there’s a turn to the immediate left. Due the lost speed, this corner is made easier. I know that many people will say that they want to brake themselves; however, I’ve got to say that this all happens in a really smooth way.

Now you’ll get to the second platform by a little hop, and after this platform you’ll jump back on the road. While landing on the road you’ve got three braking turbos there. And that is a bit too much in my opinion. With only one turbo less, you could still make the 180 degree corner, and then it would be a bit¬†more challenging. From there you’ll drive a straight line to the finish, including a couple of jumps and a fake finish.

So the track is smooth all the way, nicely designed and there’re really good transitions. The only downside should be that there’re a bit too many braking turbos at the last part. Rating: 8.5

Scenery

The scenery is quite simple, not that much with it’s 4000 coppers. The new scenery blocks from United are mostly used in this track. The scenery might be quite simple, but that’s one plus for the online battlefield, and here it’s also a plus, because the whole feeling of the scenery is great. The scenery is different over the whole track, which is very nice. Rating: 8.5

MediaTracker

Intro:The intro is quite easy and stylish. The camera is a bit fast, and looks like it’s going through building parts, but that’s not really easy to say as it’s moving so fast. Together with the names, the intro is pretty good-looking, but not outstanding.

In-game:Well, apart from the cam-changes in the loops, there is the nice custom camera at the PF start, the stylish names when they appear, and there’s a GPS too. This last thing deserves some more attention. The GPS starts with a nice joke, which you just have to see if you want to know it. Then the transition between the beginning and the actual GPS is a bit weird. The cameras during the rest of the GPS are a bit unsmooth, but due the extreme zoom-in and zoom-out phrases it’s really a great one to watch, it’s not such a ‘normal’ GPS!

Outro: The outro is less spectacular than the track. Sometimes you just loose the car out of sight, and there’re parts too when there is no custom camera (that might be meant, but it’s not that smooth). There are also no special effects used. But the biggest minus for me is that the camera goes through buildings a lot of times, and that looks really bad… Rating: 6.5

Originality

The track is totally built from parts which aren’t uncommon in many tracks. However, due the maybe even impossibility of staying original, and due the order of these parts, it’s a very nice track, which has really got it’s own style. Especially the first corners and the finish part are things I haven’t seen many times yet. Rating: 7.0

Fun Factor

Well, here we come to the far most important part of the review: the Fun Factor. This track is due to it’s smoothness, flow and nice scenery really fun to play. Aside from the driving-fun you’ll get with a nice world record hunt, for the online battlefield it can lead to loads of fun! Rating: 9.0

Summary

The cooperative work of these two nearly unknown authors has lead to a nice track, which is especially rally fun to drive. The overall design might be a bit¬†simple, but the feeling isn’t at all!

Final Rating: 8/10 (very good) 

INTERVIEW

The TMU Blog¬†has talked to¬†Przemo, and here’s a¬†summary of questions asked and the answers given:

  • Q: Did you play any of the games in the TrackMania series before United?
  • A:I played Trackmania Nations and Trackmania Sunrise.
  • Q: How did you discover TrackMania?
  • A:I read about¬†TrackMania in a magazine. There was also¬†the full¬†game Trackmania Nations in this magazine. I have played TMN and I can say that this game is one of the best games i ever played!
  • Q: What is your favorite kind of track?
  • A: My favourite kind of track is night stadium and stunt style.
  • Q: What can we expect from you in the future?
  • A:For the time being¬†I have created tracks only in stadium mode. I’d like to create in different environments in the future but¬†I will keep on creating speedtracks.

Do you have a suggestion for what should be in the spotlight in the future? Comment this post or e-mail Jozii@pp.inet.fi. Feedback is also appreciated.