Blog Post
5 Reasons for Playing TrackMania24. May 2009 22:26
Posted By: View User Profile Jozii Permalink | Comments (8)

I have to be completely honest: I don’t play much TM at all these days. In fact, I haven’t done so for around two years now. Sure, I test tracks when there’s a contest, I’m on TMX basically every day, and I often go in-game because I need to contact someone or check something. But it’s not that often that I actually take the time to play.

That got me thinking about why TrackMania is one of the games I’ve been most active around in my entire “gaming career”. And that, in turn, got me thinking about the following top 5-list:

5 Reasons I play TrackMania:

1. Organizing and managing – I love starting projects (though truthfully, I’m not always as good at finishing them)! And a game like TrackMania, not to mention a community like TMX, is a great place to do so. It’s open, friendly and there are a lot of people around who are interested in getting involved.

2. The people – Although true friends are those you have in “real life”, friends you meet online are often great ones too. And largely because of people I’ve met in-game and around the net, and because of all the new people I keep meeting all the time, I’ve stuck around TM for a longer time than I probably would if I hadn’t.

3. The competition – I’ve always been a sucker for competing. Anything from real life bets and family gamenight around the table to who gets the best stats in Call of Duty. And what better game to adapt this to than TrackMania, a pure racing game? Online, this might actually hurt me a bit though, because if I lose even a fraction of a second, I tend to hit restart (and I never EVER respawn – I’d much rather not finish at all), something which the recent addition to the game, ManiaTeam, has taught me not to do.

4. The well-made creativity – TrackMania isn’t groundbreaking. Other similar games existed before TrackMania even began. But, TrackMania is one of the few to manage to do it all so well. Regular racing games are boring, unrealistic stunt-based games like this one are fun! And speaking of creativity, what other racing game makes it so easy for the regular user to be creative? Tracks, custom stuff, ManiaZones, …

5. Playing games is fun – And yes, of course I – and probably everyone – play a game like TrackMania simply because it’s fun. If it’s not fun to play, you wouldn’t be doing it (even if you, like me, aren’t really playing it the way it’s meant to be played).

Those are some of my reasons for playing TrackMania. What are yours?

Categories: General Tags:
Blog Post
Special Goodies on TMC15. May 2009 23:08
Posted By: View User Profile Jozii Permalink | Comments (10)

TM Creative’s main feature is their tutorial section. But they do have other stuff too, including some “sophisticated services”. To be honest, I haven’t seen many of them in action, but in theory, most of them sound really impressive. Here are four of my personal favorites!

TMX Record Signs – Authors can use these special made signs in their tracks, which will automatically display the current TMX World Record of the track in question.

TrackMania Serverlist – Some servers invite visitors to use an “add” command, allowing tracks from TMX to be suggested and added to the server rotation. TMC keeps a list of United as well as Nations servers with this feature enabled.

TMC Avatar Creator – Useless attempt from TMC at advertising themselves or a cool way of showing off your name? Whatever you think, these avatars are nice looking. Simply select a TMC image from a list, type in your name and set a number of settings such as name color, and you’ll be able to generate a nice looking avatar. Would be nice with some non-TMC images too, though.

D.I.R.S. (Dynamic In-game Rotation System) – Here’s an interesting one! As a track author, you’re able to use this to get a new, randomly chosen loading screen for your track every time someone plays it. The thing is, though, each such screen is an advertisement. But don’t let that discourage you! Websites, clans and such have the ability to get their own advertisements in the system, so this could potentially be a great way for websites to “get out there”.

So, has anyone tried any of these out? Leave your feedback on these TMC “special services” in a comment :D

Categories: General Tags:
Blog Post
8 Websites All TrackManiacs Should Know Of25. April 2009 17:53
Posted By: View User Profile Jozii Permalink | Comments (11)

TMX isn’t everything. No, really, it’s not! OK, maybe it is. But for the sake of this post, let’s pretend it’s not :P

There are plenty of TM sites out there, and here’s a list to show you 8 of the most valuable ones, in no particular order:

The Official Website – Yes, the official TM website is worth a visit, even if you already own the game. Community- and game news, rankings, videos, etc. The TM website is a gateway to the rest of the community.

TM Creative – Tutorials. Lots and lots of tutorials. Become a MediaTracker expert, learn how to blockmix, change the colors of your in-game alias and track names, make custom skins, and much more.

TM Tube – View TrackMania videos and upload your own. The YouTube of TrackMania features tons of great videos and offers the ability to show off your own work.

CarPark – Carpark is the skin and 3D-models equivalent of TMX. Download skins and models, and upload your own creations. The place to go if you want to really look great online!

TM Forum – The official TrackMania forums. Here you can talk about just about anything related to TrackMania.

ScreenMania – At TM Tube you get videos, at TMX you get tracks, but at ScreenMania you get – that’s right – screenshots! There are some truly awesome collections, suitable as for example wallpapers for your desktop.

Electronic Tournaments – ET hosts TrackMania leagues and cups. Teams battle it out, and there’s a 1on1 ladder. You can also bet “coins” on existing races.

TM Wiki – Wikipedia is great, but for TrackManiacs, TM Wiki is better. Everything you need to know is answered and explained here, and if it isn’t, you can help by adding your own articles or make changes to existing ones.

Let us know what you think about these websites, and what other websites you visit :D

Categories: General Tags: ,
Blog Post
The ManiaTeam Experience23. April 2009 10:25
Posted By: View User Profile Jozii Permalink | Comments (4)

ManiaTeam, the latest addition to TM United, sure brings something fresh to the game! Forget about individuality (or wait, don’t do that! – we’ll get to that in a while), now it’s the team effort that matters!

For those not in the knowing, for example all you Nations players, ManiaTeam functions in the way that you play in teams, and you earn team medals and points by completing tracks in groups. It’s no longer enough that one person beats the Author Time or gets the gold medal. Several people have to do it – at the same time!

At a first glance, this is brilliant! Teamwork, relying on other people to do good, etc. It’s all a lot of fun, and adds a new social dimension to things. However, the system does have its flaws. It’s not *really* about team work, and sometimes it feels a bit luck-based. One round half the players might drive really well and the other half don’t. Next round it might be the other way around. It’s hard getting the best medals, especially if you’re a big team. In, say, a team of five or more, one person is bound to fail at getting that perfect time.

Medals can be earned in parts though – 25%, 50%, 75% and 100% – depending on how many players in the team actually achieve a specific medal, and naturally the better the team does as a whole the more points you get. And points increase drastically when more players are playing, so the increased challenge is compensated for.

Here we have another technical issue: to get the good points, you *have* to be a lot of players. On our TMX team (which you can read more about here), we were once 10 players racing simultaneously. A perfect race there earns the team quite a lot of points, and the teams who currently held the highest scores stood without a chance, probably not because they were worse drivers, but because they were fewer players. Unfair? Maybe.

But technicalities aside, like I already hinted ManiaTeam is also a lot of fun due to the very same fact that you’re dependent on the others. It thus gets very social, and driving is no longer about quietly making a good time (well, partly it is, you still need to focus). There’s always a lot of talk going on, and having one player “ruin” that otherwise perfect round is all a good laugh – it is, after all, just a game.

At the same time, in my experience players do tend to start focusing harder once enough tries have been made and people want to get moving to the next track. It’s a balance, and I guess each team is different from the other when it comes to how serious things are taken.

On this point, I guess ManiaTeam can be compared to clans and regular TM teams. Players get together in groups and race together for fun or against other teams. In ManiaTeam, it’s all about the points – the better the medals and the more players racing at the same time, the more points you get. And the ultimate goal, of course, is to beat other teams’ “personal best” in regards of points on any given track.

To get back to the point about individuality, this is something that still exists. Because you are still racing separate cars, obviously, and this makes it unavoidable to compete against your fellow teammates. I personally find it rather helpful to try to be “better” than the others, while still keeping the team spirit alive. A little internal challenging only helps the team grow stronger.

To sum up, what ManiaTeam brings is a good, fresh and very much fun way of playing TrackMania. What it also brings, however, is a system based on not only skills but numbers as well, which can be unfair in many ways. But whether or not you care about being the best, you’re bound to have fun playing in teams rather than as a lone wolf – the more the merrier – and that’s what ManiaTeams is all about!

Or what do you think?

Categories: General Tags:
Blog Post
8 Interesting Quotes From TM Reviews17. April 2009 14:38
Posted By: View User Profile Jozii Permalink | Comments (12)

I read online reviews of TrackMania, and picked 8 funny, good or generally interesting quotes for you to enjoy:

“In the game you basically either race, or build levels.”

– Andreas Misund Berntsen from GamersHell.com makes TrackMania sound so simple in his review.

“If you want to test the track, you have to leave editor mode, start the race, sit through the intro (which consists of the same guitar lick and cinematic camera zoom every time), find where the track doesn't work, leave race mode, then you're back.”

Tom McNamara (IGN.com) on the TM Original editor. Apparently, the game has developed some since back then.

“TrackMania cars can't touch each other.”

– John Walker from Eurogamer.net, reviewing TMNF.

”It's an interesting attempt, but traditional fan sites, as opposed to these mini-sites are far more useful.”

– IGN.com’s Cam Shea, in his review of TMU, talks about Nadeo’s attempt at integrating the community into the game using ManiaLink.

“Water hazards are about as common on a TrackMania United track as they are on a golf course.”

Yahoo Games either just made me hate TrackMania, or love golf.

“A big part of United's entertainment value lies in spending hours tweaking every detail of your custom maps until your OCD temporarily abates.”

Eric Neigher (1up.com). Recognize this, anyone?

“Free! Free!”

– John Walker on what’s good about TMNF, once again from his review of the game. The final verdict was – surprise! – 9/10.

“It’s free, it’s awesome and it’s free!”

Matt Brett reviews TMN, and seems to have his priorities at the same place as John.

Categories: General Tags: ,
Blog Post
31 Things All TM Players Should Do11. April 2009 10:07
Posted By: View User Profile Jozii Permalink | Comments (25)

I’ve compiled a list of 31 things all TM players should do sooner or later. How many have you completed?

  1. Register on TMX. 
  2. Get help from the guides on TM Creative.
  3. Have sore fingers.
  4. Upload a screenshot to ScreenMania.
  5. Create a replay video.
  6. Participate in a WR Hunt.
  7. Take part in a contest.
  8. Wonder what ShootMania and QuestMania is.
  9. Drive like a noob.
  10. Drive like a pro.
  11. Get frustrated.
  12. Crash.
  13. Race online.
  14. Pay coppers for something.
  15. Complain about coppers being useless.
  16. Argue in a TM forum.
  17. Build a really horrible track.
  18. Build a really good track.
  19. Be amazed about the quality of someone else’s track.
  20. Watch a video on TM Tube.
  21. Beat MrA online.
  22. Drive a track by JumperJack.
  23. Skid.
  24. Make a donut (drive in circles).
  25. Try to hit someone else’s car.
  26. Be unable to beat his own personal best despite countless of attempts.
  27. Upload a track with only a half-decent Author Time.
  28. Purchase TrackMania United.
  29. Be on the mods' naughty-list.
  30. Comment on this article.
  31. Have a happy easter!

Got more to add? Go ahead and do so in a comment :D

Categories: General Tags: ,
Blog Post
Coppers – What Value Do They Have?8. April 2009 22:22
Posted By: View User Profile MrA Permalink | Comments (13)

It's funny, many people disregard coppers as pointless and worthless, certainly when we all loaded TMU for the first time and found coppers were paid to us each day just for loading the game, and that we get more of them if we link our TMU account to our old TM games, we were all pretty confused about what the purpose was.

Then, we find 'offical mode' and we say OK, so having a limited number of coppers means we only have a limited number of tries at an offical time. That works I guess, as it adds some tension and structure to trying to set offline records.

Next, we discover manialinks and find that we can download some TM items without ever leaving the game. Special things like cars, or mods, or signiture tracks of the game like 'The Trump Card II' with all the custom graphics installed for you. Cool, another use for coppers.

Later, the TMX manialink is created, which, even at the time we made it, I'm sure even MrD was wondering who was really going to use when all the tracks are already free to download on TMX. Yet, a while back MrD was able to send Fleppie about 100,000 coppers to create a TMX organisation, from which we will be able to give people tags, and most likely these will be paid for from the same source of TMX owned coppers.

So maybe Nadeo were not crazy and this bizarre in game currency actually works? To be convinced of that, we need to know if people are feeling the value of coppers themselves, or at least attaching value to them, making choices about their actions based on copper numerics. Lately, we are seeing evidence that they are.

When ManiaTeam arrived, it came with a daily charge, 40 coppers for 24 hours and this in places was met with reaction of 'omg 40 coppers' or '40 coppers wtf' – and these reactions are for a reason. The reason is that the 'cost' of playing is to effect peoples behaviour. Having paid 40 coppers, naturally you want to get some kind of return from that, so you are not likely to play maniateam for just 5 minutes. Smart move Nadeo, as maniateam requires people to find each other online, so there needs to be people sticking around getting value from their coppers. And that coppers can modify our behaviour is proof that they do infact have value.

Take a look at the 'Coppers Competitions' thread on TMX. Here authors put up their own coppers for others to win by racing their track. Again, coppers are effecting peoples behaviour. The builder is prepared to spend them on something important to him, and that is attracting people to play his track. The drivers are attracted by the coppers to spend time doing just that.

So if its acceptable to say that coppers must have some value, becuase they cause us to modify our behaviour, then the next question is, what is that value?

Well, until recently you could buy a game such as a copy of TMU in exchange for 30,000 coppers. The link on TMNF Exchange to upgrade to TMU asks for 20 British pounds, which is between 21 and 22 Euro at current rates. On that basis 15 coppers is equal to about 1p (in English money) and playing on ManiaTeam for up to 24 hours is costing about 2.5p, or very close to 0.03 Euro. Carry that into other areas and at an average supermarket a typical loaf of bread would cost about 1800 coppers. Meanwhile, a pint of beer could set you back 4500 coppers at your local public house!

All that is taking one strand of logic just a little too far of course, but none the less, coppers do have value and there are now rich people, and poor people even within TrackMania as a result of that.

Disclaimer: TMX Blog does not advise, condone, or encourage anyone to try and buy beer with coppers!

Categories: General Tags:
Blog Post
Online vs. Offline3. April 2009 18:13
Posted By: View User Profile Jozii Permalink | Comments (12)

There are many aspects of games in general where the online/offline border is very clear. There are pure online games, and there are games with no online mode at all. And then there are those in between, usually featuring a single player campaign and an online mode to extend the existence of the game in question.

And then there’s TrackMania. Yes, there is a single player campaign, and yes, there is vast support for online play. It’s probably fairly safe to argue that the latter is a main reason for TM’s continued popularity. But, in reality, is TM a single- or multiplayer game? Is it a game that functions without one or the other, or is it a game that relies on the combination?

Let’s have a look at the content of the game, to answer that question. On the online side, a racing game, as with any racing game, has one core component: competition. Yes, there are racing games with no support for online play at all, but with TM, the online racing and competing is quite important, I’d say. Not only do we have the standard “dive and drive” (jump right in to a server and start driving), but we also have the ESWC, various leagues, events and contests, and so on, many of which rely on the online platform.

Additionally, the online aspect has been incorporated into the game further, with for example the MainaLinks, PM system, etc.

However, are these things really necessary? The offline side still stands strong on its own. The track editor, being one of the most important features of the game, is fully functional – and enjoyable – without any online features. Add to this that communities, like TMX, are not part of the actual online aspect of the game itself, but rather fan sites with downloadable content that can very well be used in single player mode only. Download other people’s tracks, play them in Solo mode, upload your replays and award the tracks you like.

So yes, personally I believe the online mumbo-jumbo, however great it may be, isn’t needed. It’s great, but it isn’t needed. TrackMania would be an amazing single player game, surviving on the editor and the fact that there are sites out there for the between-players communication, downloading tracks, competing with replays, etc. However, even though it doesn’t “need” it, it sure would be much less without it, and if it was to be removed today, it would probably be the end of the game entirely.

In other words, the online side of TrackMania wasn’t essential, but it has grown to be so. And thus, even though I’d argue that the game could indeed be first and foremost a single player game, I’d also say it isn’t, simply because we’ve become accustomed to the great combination of online and offline.

What do you think, and where do you spend more time: online or offline?

Categories: General Tags: , , ,
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