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Начало » 2007 » Ноябрь » 8 » TMU-Forever and TMN-Forever
TMU-Forever and TMN-Forever

Hey folks, as I am sure most of you know, coming next year is the first major update to TrackMania United and TrackMania Nations, called TMU-Forever and TMN-Forever. After all the initial interest and discussion we realised that we still have many questions about this update. So we thought, why not cut out the speculation and see if TMX can find out more information direct from Nadeo?

Acting quickly we hunted around TMX Towers to find the biggest sheet of paper we could and began writing down questions. Lots of them. More in fact than we felt we could safely get away with asking. Then, finding an appropiately sized e-envelope, we mailed them off into the depths of France, hoping they wouldn`t send it back with the reply that they agreed to an interview not a biography.

Well its a week later and we have our reply. The news is good, the expectation of " Zut Alors, C`est vraiment trop grande... NON!!" did not materialise!

Read on to find out what Nadeo had to say. They are represented by the Director Of Creation himself Florent Castelnerac in this interview.

First a few notes on the used terminology :
TMU-F refers to TrackMania United : Forever specifically,
TMN-F refers to TrackMania Nations : Forever, and
TMF refers to features/functions common to both.
The term "You" in the questions refers to Nadeo as a development team and not any individual member.

The Questions will be in Bold and the answers will be shown as quotes.
The interview is roughly divided into three main sections (2-3 5000char posts per section ),

Section 1 : The more General questions about Nadeo as a crew and their expectations/opinions/concerns etc,
Section 2 : The Technical stuff directly to do with TMF.
Section 3 : Anything else we felt we could get away with asking

First off though a few things which Florent wished to say about the Nadeo team and philosophy which will help explain a few things to start and help make for shorter answers which don`t overlap each others subject matter.



This is the section where we get to find out a little about Nadeo themselves as a crew, what they have to say about the ESWC, their critics as well as their feelings on the future of TM. All asked to help give us a little insight of what it is like to be them. I know it may sound a little cruel but I decided to get the questions with a more negative feel out of the way before the others so we can get the gloom out of the way.

Q: What is your official reaction to those people who are claiming that TMF has rendered paying for TMU pointless and that you should just have made a TMF cross compatibility upgrade for TMO and TMS a year ago?

Originally posted by Nadeo ...
They are pointless. I am joking, but let's wait to see if they think that TMU-F is a good game by itself, and leave alone the idea that you can be jealous that millions of players can freely play. I will gladly answer this question seriously once TMF is released. And I hope they will be happy, at least we are working on it. After all, it is a question of trust.

TMO and TMS are from Nadeo`s early days. We have successfully improved them for years, but now, we want to have a simple line up: the free TrackMania and the ultimate TrackMania. It is more simple with publishers, with programming, with updates and I think we offered enough in TMU to ask for players to buy new stuff. United in itself is the biggest development ever from Nadeo, and now becomes second behind Forever. Programming is very costly!

Q: What do you have to say to those players who have been playing for years and are bored with the current blocks and who feel that the lack of content in this update is letting them down, because all they require to stay interested is new blocks or a new environment and not an upgrade to an engine they feel is already stable enough as is? How as a team do these sorts of criticisms make you feel?

O
riginally posted by Nadeo ...
If they are bored, I tell them to play other games. It is logic. People who would be bored with basketball because the playing field is always the same should go for a trip. I mean, the purpose of TM is not to discover new stuff or to consume it, but to use it for fun with buddies. I hope they will come back in some years and enjoy playing once again in the desert they knew. This should be possible thanks to Forevers features, not because we would have added 10% of blocks. If we do blocks, it is mainly for desire, while we do features for life time interest.

Q: Are you worried about what the mainstream gaming press might say about the lack of content or is this release going to be presented to them as a patch?

O
riginally posted by Nadeo ...
It is a marketing question and I prefer to think that marketing should try to sell what we do, and not the other way around. If we think it is better to program instead of model, marketing should try to explain it to the mainstream press, or wait for them to understand. It is also the role of players to look for press able to understand that. TMU has received the highest praise ever from some press that understood the internal quality of the game and its innovation. I think they won credit from audience by doing so.

Q: Is the TM Forever format of two compatible games one paid for like TMU-F and one free such as TMN-F going to be a permanent fixture? Can we one day maybe look forward to a TMN-Revolution and TMU-Revolution in 2010 or a TMU-Olympic edition and TMN-Olympic Medals edition in 2012 for example?

O
riginally posted by Nadeo ...
Yes, TMU-F and TMN-F are going to be a permanent fixture. About the longer term future? We prefer to announce the done developments than to promise something which may not happen that's why we don't speak about future plans.

Q: Do you have any big hopes or expectations for this years ESWC?

Originally posted by Nadeo ...
We hope the ESWC will continue to bring together players coming from very different countries and this event will contribute to propagate the TM spirit around the world. This spirit is made by the community and is an important weapon to make friends of different Nations, and help make them United.

Q: Is it hard work being part of the ESWC and do you find it is truly rewarding for you?

O
riginally posted by Nadeo ...
It is rewarding in many ways: for the Nadeo team, to see players from all over the world who come and compete on our game, for the marketing, it is a simple thing to talk about, and most importantly, for our knowledge and understanding of eSport. So yes, it is hard work. There may be more important competitions in the TrackMania universe, but our work with the ESWC helps us to think about the future of eSport. We could have done this with other people, but these ones are great and have been here for a lot of years! This is warranty of their dedicated spirit to it, instead of a money driven vision.

Q: Have you ever thought about licensing out the TM engine to other developers like Epic do with the Unreal engine or Valve with Source?

O
riginally posted by Nadeo ...
No. This is part of our strategy, we prefer to work for the game instead than for other companies. Like with graphic artists, you can always say that you can hire more people, but it is not our goal. Who would think of a sport team, or music band, of 50 people. We are good and happy as a team, and we limit our activities because of that. I think it brings stability and serenity to the team.

Q: Is it tough developing for both game engines (TMU and TMN) simultaneously, do they present their own separate challenges? And if so any details?

Originally posted by Nadeo ...
It's the same game engine. The biggest challenge of the programming team is to make this possible. One code for our games. The complexity always increases faster than the size, and our engine is big with 1.4 million lines of code.

Q: Do you intend in the future to change the location of the competition environment from the stadium to somewhere new?

Originally posted by Nadeo ...
Like we have already said, we prefer to not speak about the future. At least, there is no reason to do it today. Stadium is designed to be a neutral-cultural place for competition.

Q: At a guess how many Man-Hours (hours of Labour) do you think the team has spent in total over the years developing the TM games?

Originally posted by Nadeo ...
The complete work present in the program and data of United consist approximately of 200K man-hours of work. But the most important is that this work has been done in a small team and is very coherent.


In this part of the interview we get to find out details about TrackMania Forever that many have been wanting to ask since we all saw the features list given in the original announcement over on the TM-Forum. Some of this is a little technical and other parts expect you to know TMF and its announced feature list reasonably well.

Q: Will this update be an accumalative patch, including all previous patch`s updating as required? or just an add-on where TMU players will have to update 4 times or more after install before they can play?

Originally posted by Nadeo ...
It will be an accumalative patch, including all previous patch`s updating.

Q: In the announcement you say that you have taken measures to prevent ladder Boosting, Whereas some people are saying there is no way that is possible, so any details as to how this going to be achieved?

O
riginally posted by Nadeo ...
If we would think that it is impossible, we would surely fall short of finding the solutions. It is still being designed, but if for example you ask players to vote for official "top1000" servers, and that it is only possible to win points for the top 1000 players on those servers, I think you can tell that the community has a way to make a place for boosting difficult. If Nadeo design those servers, you can even avoid the "vote" problem. But personally, I would prefer a community decision.

Q: About the new cup mode, in one of your posts you say that all numbers in the rules can be changed, does this mean it can be 5vs5vs5vs5 with 10 to 200 points as well as 1vs1vs1vs1 5 with rounds to 100 points for example?

O
riginally posted by Nadeo ...
The cup mode is still a work in progress and even if we would like to have good parameters, like team vs team, we may need too much time to do it. As you can see, programmers are useful.

Q: This whole new Ladder, is it just for the stadium? or all? are we all going to get reset?

O
riginally posted by Nadeo ...
Not defined yet. But anyway, login will be new on Nations, so the "reset" seems obvious for Nations players. Points could be transfered, but with different ladders, it would be strange. I will focus on the fact that good players can quickly climb in the ladder.

Q: Will there be new maps for all the modes in the single player challenge modes. Is there going to be extreme race stadium 2 for example.

O
riginally posted by Nadeo ...
Wait and see. I think that you will have good additionnal solo content in Forever. It depends on some people ^_^.

Q: Will we finally have the single player official mode as a proper on/off toggle so it is always on or always off, even if it costs coppers to keep on?

O
riginally posted by Nadeo ...
We won't modify the single player official mode. Players should have been concentrating like in a tournament. Its a way to give them the feeling being in competition. However, you may have better rewards for your training performance. Moreover, the mode you are talking about would be very costly on the master server, because of anti cheat.


Q: Which physics set are you going to use TMU or TMN and what really is difference between the two?

O
riginally posted by Nadeo ...
For people who see the gameplay as different, I need to ask them which one is the fastest on one track? Once a record would be unbeatable on one gameplay, we can start to say that the gameplay is different. I think that the "feeling" can be different. It could be the input methods, the camera, the framerate or I don't know what... But we have tried to keep the same gameplay. In Stadium, it was even more difficult because of the dirt addition. But at the end of the day, I think that my test can reveal if the gameplay is truly different or not.

Q: Will un-upgraded TMN and TMU be running alongside TMN-F and TMU-F master servers and if so for how long?

O
riginally posted by Nadeo ...
TMN should be online for at least a little time. This is the only thing I am quite sure today.

Q: Are people who play both TMU and TMN going to keep having separate logins or will there be a way of transferring their points etc from one to the other, or will they have to start again from scratch with one

O
riginally posted by Nadeo ...
The goal for the ladder is to define one's skill, not to make it a mmorpg. If you want an avatar to be good instead of you, I think you should look elsewhere. In TrackMania, it is for real, you are the avatar, with your level, you rank, your powers (like drift ^_^) and that's it. It is different and I think it is closer to real life.

Q: Is there any difference between the car model format for TMU and TMN and if so which is going to be used?

O
riginally posted by Nadeo ...
The format is from TMU.

Q: Is there going to be a significant upgrade to the server browser to help make this easier on everybody? If so can we expect such things as search for track in the browser or will it just be new functions like filter by environment/mood/server type? Will we be able to search by more than 20 servers (8 in TMU) a page? Or so that when you examine a server it shows more than 20 of what could a hundred or more in the track-list.

O
riginally posted by Nadeo ...
It is still undefined. We are waiting ten millions of people in that lobby. So, our goal is surely not to make the interface more complex. If we have programming resources left, we will try to put in somewhere some more expert features. It is still a programming task

Q:
Is the Dedicated server finally going to be Integrated into the game? i.e. rather than having to use external tools such as Dedimania you set it all up inside TMU and click a Dedicated/Listen server button which would on launch would close the game and just leave the dedi server running?

Originally posted by Nadeo ...
It would be a good one but too much in between beginner and expert function. So, it will surely not be our priority. Xavier has the Cup mode to do.

Q: Is there any intention to start an on-line world-record DB for On-Line servers? This could be even tied into ManiaZones so you take the On-Line record on a track as well as the off-line one.

Originally posted by Nadeo ...
The problem here is all about the cheating. The only opportunity we have to do this, is to enable "official" run while on multiplayer tracks. But we need to think about our servers.

Q: Is TMN going to get access to Manialinks which are often plugged into TMU servers?

Originally posted by Nadeo ...
The Ingame ManiaLinks of servers should be available. As for the others, it is not defined.

Q: About the trigger conditions upgrade in the MediaTracker Florent said "there are two conditions time > or < ?, already trigger another clip ?", could you explain further?

Originally posted by Nadeo ...
A clip would start only if you there are at that time since the beginning of the race, would it be inferior or superior. And another condition is to look if you have already triggered a clip, so you can make "key" points. Ask Crusard, he will explain it ^_^


Q : While discussing the Media Tracker what is this draw triangles thing all about? and if just the obvious why not quads, ellipses and lines too?

Originally posted by Nadeo ...
We want to make it simple.

Q: Does ingame replays mean we can finally do picture in picture?

Originally posted by Nadeo ...
Not at all. ingame replays are to import cars trajectory in your Mediatracker. So you can have a fake police car running after you in the race for example. Totally fake, but may be totally fun We have no idea of the real interest of that. It is a left to the players imagination.


Q : What is a Stereoscopic shooter? is this the ability to use two camera sources for wipes etc in the Mediatracker, is it the much requested split screen mode or stereoscopic output for dedicated 3d vision hardware? Or none of the above? If so any more info?
Originally posted by Nadeo ...
Yes, it is the split output. There are keys for eyes separation and focus distance, but it is difficult to monitor. With patience, I think some video makers will be able to make good stereoscopic shooting.

Q : What exactly is a networked car sound engine?

O
riginally posted by Nadeo ...
The engine state for sounds were badly transfered. Should be fixed now.

Q : Is there any hope on a few more details as to the changes (if any) in the coppers system?

O
riginally posted by Nadeo ...
No big changes. More protected for sure. More uniform taxes and online ability on web to make a transaction by going through the official Nadeo page.

Q : Are Mania-Stars going to make an appearance over on TMU or are they being phased out?

O
riginally posted by Nadeo ...
We would like ManiaStars to come back in a good way. There is a bigger system being set up in place, called ManiaTags. It will be a way to make official some players roles or achievements in the community. ManiaStars may be a subset of this. But again, we need programming time to do it.

Q : Will the new NO-CD system mean TM will finally run on Linux with no problems? Is this truly an end to StarForce on TM Products?

O
riginally posted by Nadeo ...
I have explained a lot of things on that, and apparently, it is still not understood by many players. Cheating appeared on United because we used SF lite. It would not have appeared otherwise. We have spent a lot of programming resources to make our own protection, but this whole SF thing has been way misunderstood by many people. My goal today is still to focus on players fun, and if SF can help us one day, I will still use it. Even if I understand the bad side to having troubles with protections. It is our everyday life reality: protections bring constraints for everybody. To deny this disqualifies having constructive discussion on the subject. It does not mean that I want more constraints! But sometimes, there is a need for protection. Our goal is to limit the consequences.

Q : Is this also going to mean the end of the three installs and cry for help policy?

O
riginally posted by Nadeo ...
As from copy protection, we seek to remove any with Forever. The free game is more interesting than the unconnected one I think, and the connected United is much better than any offline TM. The good consequence of it is that we can happily remove those install constraints that I also don't like. I like NO-CD games and always looked for a good compromise to do it. As for copy protection, publishers are maybe more aware of the piracy impact on the market than me. Thanks to SF lite, piracy brings us a good argument to make a NO-CD ^_^


Q : Will there still be restrictions on internally uploaded player made tracks such as no MT etc.

O
riginally posted by Nadeo ...
Yes. The game is international and we can not supervised the "personal" expression of all uploaded tracks. So if people can write text: we can not translate it and control it. With the TMX site coming into action in ManiaLink, I think this whole upload/download system is not our priority, hehe.

Q : Are there any improvements to the ManiaLink browser itself planned in this update?

O
riginally posted by Nadeo ...
We have a serious list of updates that we want to do. Not really on the browser but on the ability for the ManiaLink creator to have more communication with the user: text entry, upload files, identify the user etc. This is the list, we still need to see if we will have the time to go into it. But some stuff is already done


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