Stunted: A TrackMania Interview


The stunt racing genre has been 'asleep' for quite a while. Twelve years after games such as Stunt Driver, 4D Sports Driving and Stunt Car Racer the niche is slowly becoming popular again. Infogrames released Stuntman not too long ago and Moon Byte and Bugbear are working on Crashday and Flat-Out respectively. This brings us to TrackMania which is being produced by the French indie developer Nadeo who is also behind the Virtual Skipper series and the development of special effects tools for cinema and TV productions. Read on as Florent Castelnerac talks about TrackMania's single and multiplayer modes and other topics related to the game.
Q: Who are you and what's your job at Nadeo?

Florent Castelnerac: I am Florent Castelnerac and my job is to manage and direct the Nadeo team.

Q: How long has TrackMania been in development so far? How many people are involved in the project?

FC: TrackMania builds on three years of technology although development of the game itself only started sixteen months ago. There are 10 people in the core team of TrackMania.

Q: Judging screenshots the game appears to be a mix of Stunts (aka 4D Sports Driving) and Geoff Crammond's classic Stunt Car Racer thanks to the 'roller-coaster-look' of some of the tracks. How would you describe it?

FC: In TrackMania, the track building aspect is one of the most important parts of the game. You have a start line and a finish line, but build the track in-between yourself. The best way to describe it is like a virtual toy, you play with it however you want. Personally IÂ'd say it was more of a mix of hotwheels and lego.

Q: What kind of graphics engine are you using for TrackMania?

FC: We are using four graphics engines. Since we started our technology, we have added a new engine for each new board generation. The latest is for DirectX9. The graphics engine is really scalable.

Q: What system requirements are you going for?

FC: The minimum minimum is not known yet ;) To be simple, we say that 500 Mhz and 16Mb in the graphic board is minimum. The maximum will give you better shadows and higher resolutions.

Q: What kind of singleplayer modes are there going to be? What tasks does one have to master?

FC: For singleplayer there will be the challenge mode. This mode is broken down in to challenges and races. The challenges will appeal to puzzle gamers, they involve the player completing progressively difficult challenges in order to earn more of the games currency, Coppers. The Coppers you earn in the challenge mode will allow you to buy new and more exciting blocks in the track editor. The race mode consists of various ready-built tracks, in this mode you will have to complete each track in order to unlock the next one. There will also be a medal system where the player can win Bronze, Silver and Gold medals.

Q: How does the multiplayer part look like?

FC: The multiplayer was one of my favourite parts of the game to work on and I think it will be one of the most exciting game modes. Players will be able to compete against at least 10 other players on the TrackMania dedicated server using either tracks from the TrackMania library or players own custom built tracks. Even the craziest custom tracks can be compressed to just a few KbÂ's and e-mailed to your friends. Also, we plan to carry on adding new blocks and tracks to the dedicated server after the games release so players will never be short of exciting new tracks. One of the great things about the multiplayer is that the net code has been optimised to allow players with both high and low speed net connections to take part in the game.

TrackMania TrackMania

Q: Can you save replays and send them to other players?

FC: Yes, if you manage a crazy stunt or work out how to complete one the most complex challenges you can save the replay and send it to your friends.

Q: How many cars are there going to be in the final game and what are they based on?

FC: In the final game there will be three different cars, one for each of the different environments. Each car will have a different type of handling which players will have to master before they can achieve the best times. For example, in the desert environment you will be driving the American car. The American car has good acceleration and powerful brakes, however, you have to be careful because its precise suspensions will react to any mogul and you could end up coming off the road.

The countryside environment features the Turbo2 car. This car has a fast acceleration and an impressive top speed although you have to be careful on the slippy cobblestone roads or you could end up becoming good friends with a tree.

The snowy environment features the pick-up truck. Slow by nature, the pick-up will only increase speed in descent or with the help of boosts. Its large tyres offer a strong grip allowing you to take any turn at high speed, assuming you have the correct trajectory.

Q: Is there some sort of basic car tuning the player can do?

FC: No, one of TrackManiaÂ's strengths is its simplicity, you can just pick it up and play. We decided that car tuning might take away from the fun of TrackMania rather than add to it. Players will find that the games challenges come from the puzzles in the challenge mode, building the most exciting tracks, and learning how to master your driving skills.

Q: What's going to be featured in the demo and when is it going to be available?

FC: The demo will include a small taster from each of the three main modes: Solo, multiplayer (2 players on the same computer) and network (Online multiplayer). Players will have the chance to complete challenges, race and build tracks in the desert environment. The demo will be available in a few weeks time, however, players can sign up for and test the beta demo now by going to[Editor's note: the 33MB demo was released meanwhile and is also available at sites such as GamersHell or FileShack.]

Q: When do you expect TrackMania to ship?

FC: TrackMania is due to be in shops on the 28th November.

Q: Are there already plans for new projects once TrackMania is finished? (Besides additional content for the game.)

FC: There are no plans, we rarely have plans... we play then we work then we play then we work then we release something ;)

Q: Last but not least: What games are you currently playing/looking forward to?

FC: Here, we are playing 99% with TrackMania and 1% with Crimson Land. At the moment IÂ'm really looking forward to finally getting the chance to play Final Fantasy XII :).

Thanks for taking the time to answer the questions!

If you want to know more about the game, check out More information on other titles developed by Nadeo can be found at their homepage. The official website of Digital Jesters, UK publisher of TrackMania, can be found here.



Looks cool... however, FFXII when is that out?!

Expected to show up "some time in 2004/05". That's referring to the fiscal year though (ending March 31st 2005), plus no info on the release outside Japan yet.