(mirror) Trackmania United, or didn’t it?

August 15, 2007 at 1:34 pm

This is just a backup post of an article I wrote for the TMUblog
you can find it here: (part1) (part2), please comment it there

First of all I’ll have to apologise, as it took a lot of time for me to write my first article. Please bare with me on this quest 😛

The goal of Trackmania United (TMU) was to unite different features of all the previous versions, combining them in a single game. This game features all the environments from the 3 previous games, adding some new features to the recipe. New features like blocks, manialinks, fame, online favorites and probably tons of other things I forgot to mention. The point of this article is to sum up what TMU is about, and to question the uniting element brought to us by Nadeo. I’m going to try and criticize TMU from a few points of view, these being:

  • Introduction
  • The community
  • Online play
  • Offline play
  • Conclusion

I’ll start with a small overview on what’s new in TMU and I’ll end with a conclusion referring to this question: Did Trackmania United really unite?

I’m going to describe all the new elements in TMU, and add some critics to them if possible.

– The 7 environments give everyone something they like. Whether it’s high speed stadium racing or technical coast racing. There’s no way to deny that all those environments together will give everyone something they like. With all the new blocks it doesn’t get boring for the oldschool drivers that own (some) of the previous editions of trackmania, although there were some complaints about the new stadium blocks. Changes cause both positive and negative effects. Since I personally don’t experience anything negative apart from lag in the stadium environment, I won’t add to this. Maybe you can?

– The manialinks are an online addition. When you play trackmania without internet, you can not benefit from them. It’s not possible to download them to your computer and view them offline. That is a bit disappointing, but on the other hand: theres data on them where you will need to pay with coppers (something you al can’t do offline) On the frontpage of the manialinks (manialink:home) you will see a couple of banners. Noticed they never change? You can email the admin of manialinks (benjisite) to have your banner up there. You’ll need to send a reasonable amount of coppers. Ill get to that below. I think this feature is useless. All the stuff a manialink offers can be offered on the www (without needing tmu). The only benefit from a manialink is that you can charge people for your stuff, whether the quality is good or pathetic. Let the gold-farmers arise!

– The coppers system from tmo and tmu, it was unpresent in tmn, has been updated. You will no longer need to gain coppers before you can play tracks or build tracks with a reasonable length. Copper cheats, which were present in both tmo and tmu, are no longer needed. You can gain coppers in different ways. Dabh wrote an article about it somewhere else on this blog, read it here Coppers are used as a payment method. You pay for official times or manialink downloads, you earn them with driving medals, loging in, or winning them in a competition or on a server. The only thing I dislike about coppers is that more coppers means more power. The manialink thing I mentioned above: The people with the advertising, gain their coppers from downloads off their manialinks. I’ll admit that it might be worth it, they spent tons of hours on skinning, but I’d like to see some different adds on the manialink pages.

– The stars system has been replaced with a so called ‘fame’ system. How this works is still unknown, because this has not been implemented yet. I personally think that it stinks buying a game with certain features inactivated (they are probably ready, but untested) Maybe we will never find out if this feature is any good 😦

– You can play puzzle mode on all environments 😀

– You can now save your favorite servers online, which is a cool thing. For the people that didn’t know, they show a yellow bar next to their servername. When you login to the multiplayer section, they will be listed on top of the list of servers.

So much for the new features. Maybe I forgot some things, but overall you can say that these create a good addition to the previous games. Now let’s look into the ‘United’ feeling…

The community
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 will 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 stuck to stadium, it’s just as attractive with all those new features. It has new scenery, a completely different set of new 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.

Online play
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. 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 in 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 7 environments combined. You no longer have to race on just 3 environments (or 1, 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 ladderpositions. 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 😀

Offline play
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 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.

This article is quite long, I hope it wasn’t too long. Maybe I wrote a lot of known information, but than again this could be a good read for the newbies. 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 yes..I’m one of those nations-elitists, and I build new tracks from time to time. 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 did not harm anyone with what I wrote in this article. I was just trying to state my opinion. Feel free to discuss below.

Cheers, Djoszee


Entry filed under: Opinions, Thoughts.

Are you patient ? Small update…


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