Looping The Loop: A Chat(mania) With Nadeo
With Trackmania having made its triumphantly quirky return with Canyon, we thought it might be opportune to have a little chat with Nadeo about what they are up to. We spoke to Edouard Beauchemin, who talked about the inexhaustibility of the game, Nadeo's plans for the near future, and the power that their games put into the hands of players.
RPS: What is the philosophy behind Nadeo as a studio?
Beauchemin: We believe that we are better at designing gaming instruments, that people will then use to create gaming the way they want. Our games all include the same essentials: simple, fun and beautiful. When players take the power they can have, it adds a fourth essential: inexhaustible.
RPS: How many people do you think have played Trackmania now?
Beauchemin: Over 15 million accounts have been created on the different versions. 10 million accounts on the last version alone. For TrackMania² Canyon, it is still too early for numbers, but things are looking really good.
RPS: What would you say is the main appeal of the Trackmania games? Do you every think they might be too "videogamey"? Or not videogamey enough?
Beauchemin: I think the inexhaustible possibilities you have ingame, combined with the simplicity. You only need to learn 4 cursor keys, and you will use them for hundreds of hours of gaming, including daily novelties. Overall it gets as "videogamey" as you decide to make it. Finishing the tracks included in the solo campaign takes around 15 hours, trying all of the hundreds of thousands of tracks would take you a lifetime. Or more!
RPS: Can you tell us a bit about the development process for Trackmania 2? How did you decide what the sequel needed to be? How long did it take to get the game we can play now?
Beauchemin: We decided to make a more powerful game, instead of making just a sequel. Games with scenarios have sequels, so for us, we needed to conceive TrackMania in a new radical way: Not adding useless feature, but instead improving all aspects of the gaming experience: A better gameplay, refined graphics, a new lighting engine, new instruments for people to create better and more easily. This is what we mean by "a more powerful game" and this is why we call it TrackMania² instead of TrackMania 2.
RPS: What were the principle challenges in developing this sequel? Were they mostly technological or design issues?
Beauchemin: Keeping things simple is always the main challenge. There is always a risk, when developing games, to add more than needed, and delivering a too complicated experience. Same idea for graphical improvement. Making a game more beautiful takes time, but the important thing is to keep the game accessible. As such, we're really proud of the accessibility: The game plays on almost any computer equipped with a video card.
RPS: How important was the beta process to balancing the game you had created? Was the feedback from players what you expected, or did the surprise you?
Beauchemin: It is always really important to get to see the game used in real condition, ever more when it is a game like TrackMania, offering so many possibilities. There is an awesome community of TrackMania players, really knowledgeable about our game. Their feedback has been overwhelmingly good. Players like the new title very much, for all the added novelties, while keeping the good things of the series.
RPS: What are your plans for the ongoing development of Trackmania 2? Should we expect to see a bunch of iterations of the game like we had with the original Trackmania? What follows on from Canyon?
Beauchemin: A lot to come! TrackMania² Canyon is only a start: It is the beginning of ManiaPlanet, a gaming system made for a new generation of players. It has been great to have all creative instruments in TrackMania for years, but we're now opening our expertise to new genres with ShootMania and QuestMania. With FPS and RPG added to the possibilities, we believe it will offer much more to do to players. As for TrackMania², after Canyon, we expect to release in 2012 a second title called Valley. As for iterations, you will see with ManiaPlanet why everything becomes a real 2.0 game.
RPS: Can you tell our readers a bit about Maniaplanet, how it works and what it is intended to support?
Beauchemin: ManiaPlanet is the engine behind the game. It supports all things that are not part of a title. From economy to creative instruments, buddies, preferences, files management. For us it means we can focus on improving one system, and make it the best possible. For players it means they have a system where they can play exchange, organize and create with the best instruments available on the market. We believe players are clever, full of ideas and willing to express these ideas in the gaming world. Offering them intuitive instruments that they can use to create high quality content is what ManiaPlanet is all about. With accessible titles and longtime support, we believe ManiaPlanet offers the right mix and the place the be at the moment for a new generation of gaming.
We're working constantly on ManiaPlanet, and players will see the results when we're ready to deliver them.
RPS: What sort of features are you providing to facilities community events in the new game?
Beauchemin: To list a few: ManiaLive to manage dedicated servers and retrieve statistics and much more, ManiaClub offers communities a tool to manage clubs easily (like football clubsé if I may). ManiaLink is there to host your space ingame, like your community webpage. ManiaPub 2.0, which is in the making, will allow communities to advertise for their events.
RPS: What keeps you excited about Trackmania?
Beauchemin: I'm always surprised by all the novelties I see every day. Players were creative with TrackMania, but ManiaPlanet and TrackMania² offers them many more possibilities, and they seized them quickly and used them for creating outstanding stuff. Every time I connect on the servers, I'm having a blast because of the combined qualities of the experience. A great game with a great community means having a blast every time I log online! Hope to see you on the servers soon!
RPS: Thanks for your time.