MediaTracker is a great tool to enhance the quality of your tracks. A great intro can boost the oh-so-important first impression, cool in-game stuff can help make the experience more enjoyable, and a good outro can finish things of nicely, leaving a positive mark with the player.
However, I’m often surprised to see even some of the best track builders make unfortunate mistakes. Often, it’s a matter of little details that can make or break the MT part of a track.
This guide brings up some suggestions and thoughts on how to make good MT work in your tracks.
1. You don’t have to be an expert! As a general tip, “simple” is often a key word. Yes, MT work does look better if you make use of some of the more advanced features, but in many cases it’s better not to go overboard. And above all, it’s better to include MT work that is simple and nice than advanced and flawed.
2. Cool effects make a nice first impression! It’s often assumed that the intro is there to give an overview of the track. That’s not necessarily the case, though. Instead, consider what would make you more interested in a track: a basic camera fly-through of the track, or a cool text effect presenting the track name and author but without showing any parts of the actual track. Some of the most memorable intros fall into the latter category.
The best intros, however, often feature a good combination of both text effects (and other effects) and camera views of the track.
3. Keep it short! The player is there to drive your track, not watch a full-out movie. Keep it brief.
4. Keep the race MT-free! It’s very dangerous to add effects to the actual driving part of a track. When people race, they don’t want to be distracted by images or text across the screen, and they don’t want to be “forced” into driving with a certain camera view. But of course, there are exceptions to this rule, for example when including a GPS (which doesn’t affect the actual race) and camera changes in loops, wallrides, etc.
5. Include a GPS even if it isn’t needed! For the simple reason that a nicely made GPS (a fly-through of the track that usually is triggered either by standing still at the start for a few seconds or by driving backwards from the start, intended to guide the player to the correct race path) looks cool, it can often be a good idea to feature it even if the track is very straight-forward and doesn’t need it. However, if your MT skills are limited, it might be better not to include a GPS at all.
6. Tick “keep playing” on your camera changes in loops and other stunts! A mistake many builders make is to put a time limit on their camera changes based on their own speed when they drive the track. But for slower drivers, this can be disastrous. Instead, tick “keep playing” for all of your in-game MT clips, and add an empty clip (a trigger that doesn’t have a clip in it) at the place where you want the previous clip to stop playing.
For example, if you change the camera angle to first person view at the start of a loop, let the clip that triggered that camera view keep playing. Then add an empty clip at the end of the loop. This causes the camera angle to go back to normal after the loop, and eliminates the risk of that angle going back to normal too early (which it often does for slower players if the clip is time based).
7. Don’t assume others drive at your speed! When adding a camera clip that moves across the race path without focusing on the vehicle, it sometimes happens that slower or faster players find their vehicles outside the camera view. To avoid this it’s a good idea to always make the camera focus on the vehicle.
Alternatively, add clips closer together (more frequently) to minimize the space in which the vehicle can be too slow or too fast. This is also good if there are obstacles that might block the camera view of the vehicle if the vehicle is too slow.
8. Don’t assume others will drive exactly where you do! Some players take wide turns, others “hug” the corners. Some drive on the left half of a straight line, others on the right. This can sometimes cause a problem if a camera clip is anchored to the vehicle, as then the camera might collide with scenery that, when you drove the track, was slightly further away from the vehicle. A general rule is to keep the camera as close to the vehicle as possible when using anchored clips. But at the same, keep in mind that others may use different skins, which might cause the camera to collide with the vehicle itself.
Another way to solve this is to only use anchored clips when there’s not much scenery around that can be a potential “threat”.
9. Place camera clip triggers on checkpoints! If a vehicle respawns at a previous checkpoint, the previous MT clip will stop playing and the camera view goes back to normal. This cases a “gap” in the outro, where no MT is playing at all. To avoid this, place triggers on all checkpoints. This makes sure that if the vehicle respawns, a camera clip restarts as well.
Something to consider when doing this, however, is that the respawned vehicle is likely to be much slower than a vehicle passing through the checkpoint. Keep that in mind when deciding which type of camera clip you’ll use at that particular trigger.
Got more tips for good MT work? Leave a comment!