Shootmania is to shooty games as Trackmania is to racing games: streamlined, almost austere, a platform for user creativity, and French. But though Trackmania cut away chaff to focus on the fundamentals of completing tracks quickly, Shootmania's own abstractions - unusual laser-y weapons and unique modes and so on - made it hard to comprehend to people trained on other multiplayer shooters.
Shootmania Platform might help. It's purposes are two-fold: to act as a showcase for the suite of creative tools and marketplace of Maniaplanet, and to introduce new players to the fundamentals of movement in Shootmania. There's a trailer and more detail below.
Maniaplanet - its third iteration was launched back in April - is what allows players of Trackmania 2 and Shootmania to manage friends lists, download custom content, and connect to servers. It's the sinew that ties each of Nadeo's games to the networked bone. It's traditionally had an iffy interface, and though that's been recently improved, I've always forgiven it anyway because of the great number of great tracks users have made in Trackmania's simple-but-powerful editor.
I think this because, for a year, Trackmania Nations dominated my life. The speed of it, the physics-defying silliness of its track design, the instant-restarts, and the comfortable keyboard controls meant that I spent 15 minutes of every hour perfecting tracks and improving times. I also spent much of my teenager years sparring in Quake 3 levels, practicing railgun shots and falling into the void. Yet Shootmania never grabbed me - I like its streamlined design ethos; I think its modes seem very clever; I enjoy watching its grappling, sliding, wallrunning acrobatics - but I never found my place within it.
Still, it's a game I'd like to see succeed. Like Tribes: Ascend - another old-fashioned multiplayer game about speed and grace and competition - it feels like a game that should be successful. Perhaps Shootmania Platform is the ticket towards introducing new players and creators into its ecosystem.
While ShootMania Storm will set you back £16, Shootmania Platform is free and accessible via the game's demo. You can also read Brendan's Shootmania Storm thoughts from back in 2012 if you're in pursuit of more information.
Remember when they announced Questmania at the same time as Shootmania, and it was going to do the same thing for RPGs? Whatever happened to that, eh?