Cars Take Off: Trackmania 2 Canyon Out

By Adam Smith on September 15th, 2011 at 10:55 am.

CARS DON'T BEHAVE LIKE THAT

Trackmania 2 Canyon is available right now as a digital purchase straight from its very own official website. It’s the game with an obscene amount of player-controlled cars racing around thousands upon thousands of physically impossible tracks. The game uses Nadeo’s own ManiaPlanet system for updates and downloads, which is why it’s only available direct from the website. That may change but don’t count on it. As we reported previously, despite Ubisoft being the publishers they have stated that there will be no always-online DRM check. John checked exactly how the game does work offline and his findings are below, along with a launch trailer.

First of all, here’s John on the all-important online/offline business:

Okay, here’s the deal.

You absolutely can start Trackmania: Canyon without an internet connection. It warns you at the start that you’ll not be able to access the online elements of the game, and then loads.

What’s odd is how it presents the single-player elements. In offline mode, two sections of the game are unavailable. There’s Multiplayer, rather obviously, but more strangely, Individual Play.

Instead you can access Local Play, which lets you get at all the maps, but perhaps not in the most helpful way. All the tracks are there, but instead of the nice grid of images to select from, instead you’ve got what’s essentially a directory tree, confined to an odd, messy line. It’s clumsy, and I can’t think of any reason why offline play couldn’t be as neatly presented as online.

The difference with Individual Play is that, as ever with the TM series, you’re competing against the rest of the world with your track times, even though you’re not actually racing with them. The times can be seen by region, nation, or the whole world, as anyone familiar with TM will recognise. Hence the need for a connection.

In Local Play all those elements are removed, just letting you pick the tracks out of a list. It’s undeniably dismissive, but at the same time, it’s not how TM has ever been intended to be played.

So crucially, yes, you can launch and play the game offline after an initial activation the very first time you load it.

Good. OK. Right?

As for the trailer? Beautiful, isn’t it? And is it odd that I find it strangely wistful? Almost like it’s showing me the world that could have been, a world where driving to my local Tesco would involve gliding across the edges of every building in between, performing a weaving and harmless dance with the commuters as we pass each other by. That’s what it makes me think anyway. I’m often discombobulated by strange use of space and surface, but Trackmania makes it all seem quite soothing and proper. In video form anyway. Sometimes, it’s good to be a spectator without a worry in the world.

We’ll have more words and thoughts on this once we’ve hurtled around its dreamscapes for a sufficient time.

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52 Comments »

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  1. 4026 says:

    Will this be coming to Steam any time soon? I mean, it’s lovely that I can buy it direct from Nadeo, but… well, y’know, backups. And my obsessive need to keep all my games in one place.

    • 4026 says:

      Ah, a quick spot of google-fu answers my own question. Escapist says no.

      Or, more accurately, “not for some time, at least”.

    • Milky1985 says:

      “I mean, it’s lovely that I can buy it direct from Nadeo, but… well, y’know, backups.”

      You can burn the install files to a DVD and re-download from the website via the link they send you i believe.

      They have said that they probably won’t put it on steam cause of hte maniaplanet and lniks to rpg and shoot mania they are planning, hard to get it working alongside steam stuff as well.

      Basically they have given valid reasons, unlike certain other companies….

    • 4026 says:

      That… is a very good answer, actually. Darn. Now I feel like a dick for wanting it on Steam.

      It’s funny. Steam’s lovely, does great sales and bundles a whole bunch of value-add functionality (overlay, social stuff, achievements, auto-update, etc.) as a spoonful of sugar to help the DRM go down. But that forum post is right: Steamworks does make Valve the de facto sole gatekeeper of distribution, which is intensely dangerous. And from Nadeo’s point of view, trying to do user-generated content and cross-pollination between a bunch of “mania” titles, it can seem like making your own platform is the more sensible option.

      The ideal solution, in a hippie-unicorns-and-gumdrop-rainbows world, would be for Valve, MS, EA et al to gather together to build some sort of industry standard platform for digital distribution and sales with no single stakeholder that actually fulfills DD’s promise of lowering barriers to entry and removing middlemen. Sadly, I suspect that the digital distribution wars are going to get worse before they get better.

    • vader says:

      You can still get the overlay by adding a non-steam game as a link in steam. Just saying

    • DrGonzo says:

      That was written very poorly. I’m not sure I can believe it, if they said we approached Steam about it and they said it’s not possible then I may, but it all sounds somewhat fishy to me. It’s certainly not the best deal for me as a consumer both Maniaplanet and their community stuff is really annoying and I would rather it not be there.

      The paragraph about going Steam ‘100%’ or ‘0%’ is particularly confusing, as he points out that there are loads of advantages to going through Steam then doesn’t list an advantage from them not using it, other than their independence when he previously said it was a decision for the consumer.

    • Wulf says:

      I want Valve to start providing links to other digital distribution networks that a game exists on in the product description and the purchase page, if only to stop all of this. The thing is is that they could and I doubt it would hurt their sales at all. But it would kill off the idea that Steam is all or nothing, since they’d still have access to the Steam benefits, but people would see their buying choices laid out in front of them.

      And as for Steamworks? You don’t have to use it in every Steam game, it’s an option, not a necessity. Fallout 3 is on Steam using GfWL. And there are a number of games on Steam that can be booted directly from their directory without even having Steam open (the problem is is that probably very few people try exploring these things as I do). So… yeah. Steam DRM is optional, Steamworks is optional, and if they provided this last element then they’d really be able to say that everyone is just being ridiculous.

    • Alfius says:

      An overly verbose fob-off, never known 4026 to fall for such obvious BS :-) I think he’s right that the big players coming together to build us the perfect digital distribution platform seems unlikely but surely the simple solution to steam’s current woes would be for Valve to spin it off as a separate company. That, I think, would allay the fears expressed by EA et. al. of Valve becoming some kind of unstoppable monopolist. Even so I can’t help but doubt the sincerity of their concern judging by (particularly EA’s) previous conduct and wonder quietly if vertical integration would be met with the same hostility in any other industry. I suppose we can always rely on competitors of a certain size to accuse eachother of anti-competitive behavior regardless of the industry.

  2. Sp4rkR4t says:

    First trackmania game I’ve bought and I’m loving it, could do with some things explaining to me yet there doesn’t seem to be a manual or indeed any helpful info on the forums which is a shame.

    • Ravious says:

      PM me on the maniaplanet forums (Ravious) and I’ll try and answer any questions you have.

  3. Carr0t says:

    Totally misread the tweet as ‘Trackmania Crayon’. Draw your own tracks in crayon and then drive them in cars that look like stuff a 5 year old could draw! ;)

  4. Magnetude says:

    A new screenshot! Today is an exciting day.

  5. Flukie says:

    Loved playing this last night, Trackmania knows exactly how to do leaderboards, I mean i’m 10th in London on a track, love how it does regions, wish it would go even further.

  6. The_Great_Skratsby says:

    Oh mixed feelings about the offline bits, the previous TM games were always robust in their offline features.

  7. Javier-de-Ass says:

    this thing is amazing. loving these cars more than any other trackmania I’ve played. destroys stadium.

    I have some gripes with how the systems work in the game though. like the ‘official’ timer, and it kind of needs better friend list / group options.

    but the race mechanics and levels are absolutely incredible.

  8. mikmanner says:

    Played split screen with my friend for a couple of hours last night, it was excellent – the interface and menus are horrible but the game is super fun.

    First to cross the finish line gets 10pts, first to 30pts wins. Fly off the track reboot to last checkpoint. Makes for some really tense moments.

    • Premium User Badge

      KGB says:

      I agree, the interface is horrible – Fonts are really ugly, often hard to read (i.e. white text in front of the blue/white sky, very small) the interface elements are not smoothly rounded and everything looks a lot worse than Trackmania United does and a lot more incoherent as well.
      It also assumes you played the beta or at least a previous game, as it gives not pointers or introduction of any sort to the games (sometimes convoluted) menus and functionality (i.e. editors, ladders, painting, movies, manialinks/browser, etc.).
      The racing is quite fun though, although I think that some of the fun in the level design from the older games is missing.

  9. Calneon says:

    I played some of this during the beta but got distracted by Deus Ex, Red Orchestra Beta, and Space Marine. Gotta play me some more Trackmania! What extra stuff is there that wasn’t in the beta?

    • Snakejuice says:

      There’s singleplayer, splitscreen multiplayer up to 4 players (didn’t get ANY fps-drop when playing 2 players) and like 75 awesome official maps.

    • Calneon says:

      Are they split into platforming, race, etc categories like in TMU?

  10. rocketman71 says:

    In offline mode, two sections of the game are unavailable. There’s Multiplayer, rather obviously, but more strangely, Individual Play.

    What?. No multiplayer offline?. That’s most definitely NOT what they promised.

    • 4026 says:

      Not sure if sarcastic, but given there’s an option for split-screen multiplayer, that’s actually a salient point… why couldn’t that be played while offline?

    • rocketman71 says:

      @4026: not sarcastic. Our LAN parties have no internet connection, so if there’s no LAN support (and in these days I have to keep making clear that tethered LAN support – like StarCraft 2 has – is NOT proper LAN support), we can’t play the game. Thus, 30 sales lost for Nadeo.

    • Dances to Podcasts says:

      “Our LAN parties have no internet connection” put this in my head:

      If you go out in the woods today
      You’re sure of a big surprise.
      If you go out in the woods today
      You’d better go in disguise.

      For every LANner that ever there was
      Will gather there for certain, because
      Today’s the day the LANners have their party.

      :)

    • rocketman71 says:

      @Dances to Podcasts:

      X-D

      Our LAN parties are not exactly picnics, but I’ll make sure to print that and bring it to our next one ;-)

    • Delusibeta says:

      For the record: Hot Seat, Split Screen (!) and LAN play is hidden in Local Play mode. The “Multiplayer” option in the main menu is strictly for online play.

  11. Premium User Badge

    Richard Beer says:

    “As for the trailer? Beautiful, isn’t it? And is it odd that I find it strangely wistful? Almost like it’s showing me the world that could have been, a world where driving to my local Tesco would involve gliding across the edges of every building in between, performing a weaving and harmless dance with the commuters as we pass each other by.”

    I cycle to work in London every day. This sounds quite familiar.

  12. Premium User Badge

    mrwonko says:

    The reason for the lack of “full” offline singleplayer is probably the credit system. After practicing a track for I believe at least 5 minutes, you can do an “official race” – if it still works the same as in united (I haven’t played 2 that much yet) you have to pay some ingame credits (“planets”) to start it (first one’s free) and get credits for medals (10, 20 and 30, respectively – and I believe 50 would be next).

    With these “planets” you can then e.g. buy maps & mods (cars, texture packs, …). I guess that’s supposed to encourage creating & sharing new content.

    Of course that means they have to be saved online. So official races need online connection. I don’t really see why they’d keep you from practicing, possibly the 5 minute timer is online too or they fear cheating…

    • Calneon says:

      In TMU, buying cars and tracks was kind of pointless because you could just download them, is that different now?

    • JohnnyK says:

      @Caineon
      The creator of the content can put a price on the item that you pay when you activate it even if you downloaded it outside the game. I “bought” a few skins during the beta (going rate was about 30-50 Planets)

  13. Kefren says:

    I still play the original Trackmania. Always local on same machine. I play with my nephew and our fun is in taking it in turns to beat each others times, and making new tracks for us to race on. I have no interest in any online component whatsoever (for any game). It looks like I’ll just stick with the original Trackmania.

  14. Hylis says:

    About the offline play

    TrackMania historically enables you to play endless number of tracks. The goal is either to make the best time or beat the opponent replay. This is what you will find in local play, alongside the hot seat, splitscreen, lan modes, map editor, replay editor and car painter editor.

    In the connected solo, you have a limited amount of tracks. And the idea that you have a group of challenge is different from a campaign. I like to say that a collection of Sudoku of various difficulty is different of a campaign. Historically, and probably because of our own video game culture, we named the solo play with the campaign word, which is a mistake. How can we make a campaign of tracks that everybody will be able to finish when making also a campaign that very good drivers will find challenge. We have tried to make only the difference by time, but in TrackMania, the map challenge is part of the concept. We also had the idea to “hide” the difficult parts, in order to avoid the lower skilled player to not be bothered, but hiding stuff if far from ideal. So, we decided to keep the idea that it is a collection of challenges, like a Sudoku one, and that players can come back to challenge them.

    But then, why make a specific group for them?

    In fact, the collection of challenge can be used to make a ranking. We have tried with United to make a ranking based on all the tracks you have played, but if you want to stay in the skill base area instead of time base, you need to promote the challenge over the quantity of maps played. So, we came back to the simple idea that there is a collection of maps that you can win skill points on it, making it the “solo ranking” And if you want to compete, you have only these challenges to learn. In fact, I already find there is maybe too many for this.

    And since collection competition is only meaningfull when being connected, this is why it is logical to have a collection feeling to it. We have removed from United the ability to add a custom challenge to your solo misnamed campaign.

    Local play enables you to win medals that will appear in your solo connected. Your score is also synchronized online so you can log from another computer to keep them. But local play to make all the races in a nice display is too much feeling of a campaign for us. I know it would have been better for people that desire to play in this spirit, which I am totally ok with it, but in the end, maybe we wanted to promote the real thing, which is more about collection of challenge and also playing connected.

    To say it more shortly and maybe more simply, people that would play disconnected would think that they are playing the real concept, which is annoying since the difficulty of the progression is not designed like a more traditionnal campaign of games that everybody can finish in a rather short and given timeframe. When connected, it is a collection of challenge to battle against your buddies or the other players of your region which collectively award you a ranking.

    I gave the information from the first line when I talked about the DRM, but it was in french and if you find my english here at too low level, maybe it is the reason of the confusion here. And even in french, the community says they need a translator ^_^ I am doomed.

    Cheers and thanks for the news. The game is ready and we really wish people to be aware of it now. And since there is no demo, it is the role of news website or friends to explain how it is to play the game.
    Florent

    • The_Great_Skratsby says:

      Thank you very much for the info, it’s great to see a developer posting about the details.

    • Wulf says:

      However, these things don’t tell anyone how the game will perform across a variety of machines. The price of a game is difficult to justify if there’s no demo with which to test one’s machine, to see whether it’s left wanting or not.

  15. Nallen says:

    Is this as insane/fun as it looks? So many games, so little time. (He says, gaming for 4-6 hours a day)

  16. Kerikov says:

    Is there a demo for this? Or one coming later?

    Looks like it could be something my Wife and I would enjoy (split screen) but she is very sensitive to motion sickness, etc so I’d love to be able to try it first.

    If there’s no demo for this version, how similiar is Trackmania (the origina)? There does seem to be a demo for that one.

    Finally, what’s TrackMania Nations forever (the free one I can see on steam) like compared to this?

    • iainl says:

      Nations Forever basically is your demo for United Forever, and absolutely worth a download.

      It’s a pity Two doesn’t have a demo, as I’m not paying that much without knowing how well it runs on my PC.

    • Premium User Badge

      Sagan says:

      I’d actually recommend the Sunrise demo. I have only played this new game very briefly at PAX, but I think Sunrise is probably more like this than Nations.

  17. Eynonz says:

    Upto 200 players on the same track? Am i reading this correctly off their site? If so then HHHHHNNNNGGGGGGGG *buy*

    • LintMan says:

      From what I read, there is no collisions with other cars, so while there might be 200 other cars on the track, they are “ghosts” you can pass through.

  18. Blackcompany says:

    In the future this track will lapse into neglect, and eventually a huge statue of a Desert Ranger shaking hands with an NCR ranger will be built at the top of the hill. Just sayin.

  19. kaibren says:

    i love it, but one thing that makes me sad: stunts..
    they’re not in it.. yet.. (will finally inserted some date what has something to do with maniaplanet 2.0 release)
    as a not so good at games, racing isn’t my thing, because someone have to lose and i don’t want to be that someone.. As playing with TMUF, stunts were something i got a change to be on top 3(god bless random factor) plus it was more fun than trying to get that perfect turn. So anyway i really hoped that with TM2 release they will release stunts also, but sadly no..
    i also feel kind of cheated, because on homepage they promised stunts and all that jazz. and i got that game because i wanted to play stunts with it, not racing.. i prolly would have bought that game anyway, because it’s pretty cheap and it’s still new version of TM. but i’m still kinda disappointed about not getting to play stunts..

  20. Commander Gun says:

    For me, the most important question is:
    How is the handling compared to TM1?
    I still regularly play tm nations and i am very used to the stadium car. I guess i’m not alone in this, so if anyone can tell me, it would be greatly appreciated!

    • kaibren says:

      for one, handling isn’t like tm nations forever or just tm nations…
      it’s a lot more drifty.. for tm united forever player i could say that the new car is like mix of coast, island, desert environments.. so basically: it’s fast, it’s drifty(really drifty), it loves to take two wheels off the ground when going fast into a turn. but i think it’s handling is good. you don’t get the feeling like you are not controlling the car. driving it always feels good.. prolly kind of similar to the tm stadium car(nations) driving, but because it’s faster than stadium one, you don’t accelerate at snail pace..

    • Commander Gun says:

      Ah ok, cheers. I’m actually not at all the ‘drifty-type’, so difficult times ahead for me. Probably still going to give it a try anyway, but i know it will be a challenge :)

  21. Premium User Badge

    Tom De Roeck says:

    This game looks wonderful, but it kinda makes me wish there were real tracks like that to drive on, not game ones.

    • tungstenHead says:

      If there were real tracks like this, they wouldn’t last long. Not because drivers would be dying on them and regulators decide to ban these death-tracks for safety reasons, but because of the cost to repair the track after a car somehow manages to make a perfectly perpendicular impact into the ground at 400 kph.

  22. elmuerte says:

    Irrelevant. Still published by Ubisoft, so no sale.