TrackMania DS

TrackMania

TrackMania is a series of arcade racing games for Windows and soon Nintendo DS, which include stunting with cars, track-building, elements from puzzle games, as well as elements testing the players' dexterity. It was developed by the French team Nadeo for the PC. Instead of following the usual trend of choosing a set car and track for playing in the game, the TrackMania games allow the player to create their own tracks using a "Block" process in the spirit of the 1985 game Racing Destruction Set and the 1990 Brøderbund release, Stunts.

In contrast with most other racing games, the TrackMania series lets the player race a track as many times as he/she wants, until time runs out. He/she can choose to respawn at any time possible, due to landing upside down, going off the track, or even just because the start did not go optimally. Although in multiplayer games multiple cars race on the same track, they cannot actually collide or otherwise influence each other.

History

There are currently four basic games in the series. After receiving freely available patch along with extra content a game becomes available with a word added to the title. These newer versions are also offered in stores. A fifth game is in production for the Nintendo DS.

  • TrackMania, the original, often referred to as TMO
    • TrackMania Original
  • TrackMania Sunrise, the second game, often TMS
    • TrackMania Sunrise eXtreme, often TMSX
  • TrackMania Nations, the freeware game of the series, often TMN
    • TrackMania Nations Forever, also the freeware game of series, often TMNF
  • TrackMania United, could be considered a compilation of all previous games, often TMU
    • TrackMania United Forever, often TMUF
  • TrackMania DS, a version for the Nintendo DS, currently in production

There is also a small, promotional online game using Macromedia Flash, called Mini TrackMania.

TrackMania

Tracks

TrackMania includes some pre-made tracks the player can race on to unlock "Coppers", the in-game currency TrackMania. The player can use these Coppers to buy different building blocks, simply called "Blocks", for his track, including: regular road, checkpoints, long bends, loop-the-loops, and jumps, which all snap to a grid automatically. Regular roads can be dragged to create straight sections as well as 90 degree corners. Most other blocks are automatically connected by placing them next to each other. There are three themes, or environments, to choose from: Rally, Alpine, and Desert. Each environment has a unique car for the player to race in.

Cars

TrackMania has three styles of cars: Rally super minis, Alpine 4x4s, and Speed muscle cars. Each has numerous skins making a total of 87 different cars. By using a built-in or external graphics editor players can create their own skins, or modify the originals to suit their tastes.

Other features

TrackMania features a network option, which lets players compete via LAN or over the internet. Also, the game's website allows players to upload their created tracks or skins for others to download and use on their copy of the game.

The community-driven site TM Exchange contains a large number of tracks for both the original and sequel. Skins and 3D car models are also available from the community, TrackMania Carpark being the most prolific for car models and TM Skincenter for skins ranging from the original TrackMania Sunrise car models to the ones available from the TrackMania Carpark website.

TrackMania Sunrise

The second game in the series, TrackMania Sunrise, features more realistic graphics. It contains three environments: Island, Bay, and Coast, again each with its unique car to fit the environment's characteristics. Island features very fast sports cars which can make very sharp turns on mostly wide roads. Bay features very bouncy cars with less traction, making accidental oversteering more prone to happen. Coast features relatively slow cars on small roads. Due to very little traction, Coast cars can be used for drifting through corners. The game was built on an overhauled engine for better visuals and internet connectivity. The tracks can now include panels with skinnable advertisement panels. The game also features two new gameplay modes:

Platform gives the player a start point, a finish point, and mandatory checkpoints / restart points between; the players task is to finish the race, restarting as few times as possible. Many of these races have jumps and other features that make it difficult to stay on the track.

Crazy returns to the race course, but this time pits the player against ghosts, each having a faster time than the last. The player must score a faster time than each ghost but at the same time must not exceed an overall time limit.

TrackMania Sunrise has further additions over the original, some of which were later added in the Original edition of the original game. The player can import new car models and customize many more aspects of the game. The game features improved internet connectivity with a peer-to-peer system that allows players to share their car models, skins, and more. The new track editor uses the mouse primarily, as opposed to the keyboard-driven original, and makes special effects like displaying text and changing the camera possible using Media Tracker. A free expansion pack called eXtreme was later released. The game was also repackaged as TrackMania Sunrise eXtreme. The pack adds multiple pieces to enhance the speed and stuntiness of the game. A new mode, Stunt mode, has been added, where the player has to obtain points by doing stunts, such as spinning the car around in mid air and doing flips. After a set amount of time has expired, earned points are quickly drained, so the player should try to finish with the best score, and before time expires.

The demo and expansion pack can be downloaded from its website

Mini TrackMania is a simple, online, Macromedia Flash game developed by Inbox Digital to promote TrackMania Sunrise. The game is played with a side on, 2D perspective, and only has one track. The track layout is limited, featuring only jumps and a nitrous boost on both sides of the road, and a backdrop of a few islands in the background. Only two buttons are used to play the game, the Left and Right buttons on the keyboard, which are assigned to Brake and Accelerate respectively.

The object of the game is for the player try score as many points as possible by jumping off a series of ramps without crashing the car on landing or failing to clear the gap. The key to successfully clear the ramps is to keep the car's speed within two points indicated on the car's speedometer. The two points change position and get closer to each other after every jump.

TrackMania Original

TrackMania Original is a new version of the TrackMania that runs on the Sunrise-engine. It features over 10 new blocks, from the PowerUp! and (unreleased) SpeedUp!-patches, and some functionalities from Sunrise, like ad-panels and Media Tracker effects. This version also allows the player to import 3D models for the cars, which can also be skinned. It was released free of charge for owners of TrackMania in the form of a patch/expansion pack, and will also be available to buy as a cheap collector's edition in stores with an extra present.

The demo can be downloaded from its website

TrackMania Nations

Nadeo released TrackMania Nations partly as a promotion for the Electronic Sports World Cup, and also for TrackMania itself. This free, stand-alone game has one new environment, Stadium, and many features also in Sunrise, including the advertisement panels, which show ads from sponsors streamed from the internet. The game contains 100 single player tracks, the earlier ones relatively simple in both design and gameplay, but it is largely pitched as an online game. One of the main attractions is the leader board, in which people compete for the best times and points. The top 5 players can be seen on the homepage. Nations has earned an extremely high popularity (there were almost 1 million registered online players within weeks of its launch), in large part due to the wide accessibility of the freeware game.

The game can be downloaded from its website

TrackMania United

On June 30 2006 TrackMania United was announced. The game is basically all TrackMania games built into one game that includes all the environments from the earlier games, and, later, future installments of the series. TrackMania United features a peer-to-peer system so players can more easily share custom content, and a unified ranking system. The engine has been updated to include a pre-lighting accelerated system, which is used in the most recent, Stadium environment. The new system allows for more realistic shadows on high end systems. The Stadium environment has double the amount of blocks featured in the free version, including for instance dirt paths, water, and indoor sections.

On November 9 2006 Focus announced 10,000 copies of TrackMania United can be bought and pre-loaded online. These copies could be activated on November 16 2006. The game can be bought in shops in France, Canada, Australia, Belgium, and the French-speaking part of Switzerland later in 2006, and February 23 2007 in all other regions.

The game is available in the UK. It was made available in the US via download for 49.99 USD on March 23 2007 and for 39.99 USD on April 17 2007. As of September 7 2007, the game is available for 29.95 USD. It was made available for pre-order and pre-load on Steam on June 7 2007 and was unlocked on June 14 2007.

Players who previously purchased the original TrackMania or TrackMania: Sunrise can earn a daily copper bonus in TrackMania United by registering their product keys through the game.

TrackMania Forever

On 7 October 2007 Nadeo announced they were working on updated versions of TrackMania United and TrackMania Nations. Both new versions have Forever added to their name, and are network compatible. TrackMania Nations Forever includes the new Stadium blocks and physics system introduced in TMU, allowing players of TMUF and TMNF to play on the same (Stadium) servers.

Nadeo has stated they wanted to give the game a long life, and is therefore working on the engine and user interface, instead of adding new content. TMUF for instance no longer requires the disc in the drive due to different copy protection and anti-cheat systems. They also warn players some features may not have made the final versions.

TrackMania United Forever was released on April 15 2008., while TrackMania Nations Forever was released the following day. Both titles are downloadable from the internet, including on the Steam platform.

TrackMania DS

This TrackMania game for the Nintendo DS has currently been in production for several months by Firebrand Games. It will be released Q4 2008.

TrackMania DS will feature gameplay similar to that of other titles in the TrackMania series and will feature a comprehensive track editor. It will support single-player and multiplayer play.

Easter Eggs

Many believed that the orbital camera view was taken out of the TrackMania Nations Forever game. This is not the case. An easter egg found by player UrbanTwitch made the camera go to orbital view. To get to the oribital view you will need to press the £ key in your keyboard. You will then switch to orbital view.

Reception

The TrackMania series has been praised for its outstanding graphics and online multiplayer.

Because of the success of the Trackmania series, Guinness World Records awarded the games 6 world records in the Guinness World Records: Gamer's Edition 2008. These records include, "Biggest Online Race", "Most Popular Online Racing Sim", and "Largest Content Base of Any Racing Game", with hundreds of thousands of user created tracks and hundreds of unique cars available for download.

Controversy

The games in the TrackMania series used a controversial copy protection system called StarForce, which silently installs a driver with all versions of TrackMania Original, TrackMania Spoon, and the original TrackMania Nations. Many sources falsely reported that TrackMania Nations updated the StarForce drivers only if they were already installed, but the latest version as of 28 May 2007 installed the StarForce drivers on all computers, even though TrackMania Nations is freeware. The original TrackMania United features StarForce restrictions built into the executable to check the software's key, but does not install the driver.

Although it originally included the system, on 29 June 2007 Valve Software announced that the version of TrackMania United distributed via the company's Steam digital distribution platform would no longer include StarForce.

TrackMania United Forever and TrackMania Nations Forever do not include StarForce. If they are applied as upgrades to version of TrackMania United or TrackMania Nations which do include StarForce, they attempt to remove it.

Gamer influence

There are many sites that have over the TrackMania series' lifetime become an essential part of TrackMania's game experience. The most well-known is TrackMania eXchange, often referred to as TMX. This website, used as an online method of exchanging and discovering new user-created tracks, quickly became so important a site in TrackMania's gameplay that an in-game program used on many online servers known as XASECO, used to keep track of user's in-game driving records and provide commands for the server and user to interact, intertwines very closely to the website. TrackMania eXchange provides an exchange method for all versions of TrackMania, excluding Mini-TrackMania, in which track creation is not possible.

Other well-known websites include TrackMania CarPark, or simply "CarPark", which functions in much the same way as TrackMania eXchange. TrackMania CarPark is a website for the exchange and discovery of custom TrackMania car models and skins. Carpark is not intertwined with XASECO, however, unlike TrackMania eXchange. Of the new Forever editions in the TM series, only TrackMania United Forever allows users to import their own custom cars, as well as custom avatars. In TrackMania Nations Forever, a different model will play like normal (in terms of replays, and looks) but some cars do not map properly, and the new models will not show up during online play.

Another very well-known website, TrackMania Creative, aka TMC, was created in early 2008 by the user known as TStarGermany. Designed as a tutorial website and community for users who would like to know more about the game, TrackMania Creative offers a wide range of tutorials, ranging from very quick and easy subjects such as personalizing your user nickname (often referred to as one's nick), to much deeper and more technical subjects, such as creating your own custom personalized car skin.

In addition, there are many thousands of websites dedicated to TrackMania created by the many racing teams (referred formally in the game as one's group) in the game. These websites are much less well-known.

StarTrack Contest

In October 2008 Nadeo revealed the StarTrack Contest, which was a collaborative project between them and the popular fansite TrackMania eXchange The aim of the contest is to create the first fully community built campaign which will be available as free download for all owners of the full Trackmania United Forever game.

The contest began on 11th October 2008 and lasts for 5 weeks. At the end of each round contestants are eliminated until there is one overall Star Contest winner.

On the offical Trackmania site the contest has been referred to as StarTrack 2008, which has lead to some speculation that this contest will become an annual event, but there has been no comment from anyone at TrackMania eXchange or Nadeo to verify that will be the case.

Translations

The TrackMania series is available in several languages. Each translation is usually available for download on unofficial sites of TrackMania contributors.

List of current translations

See also

References

External links

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