mania exchange interview

Community Spotlight: ManiaExchange

Greetings Mania(c)s!

Today we continue our Community Spotlight with MrA from ManiaExchange!

We have been highlighting some of the most dedicated community websites and members all month long. These members and communities are the backbone of the ManiaPlanet family, and we are forever grateful for them and all of you out there.

Past Interviews:

Can you briefly introduce yourself?

I’m known around the game as MrA. I’m from the UK. I’ve been involved with TMX and MX for many years now, and I feel very privileged to have had a part in it. But if we are talking on behalf of ManiaExchange then it is barely about me :-)

Forzyy has been an integral part of the picture here. He coded ManiaExchange from the ground up and spent several years working on it. He’s from Australia.

TGYoshi, one of our new coders, is also important to the history and future of our site, as he’s made many of the recent changes to the site to keep it up to date. He’s from the Netherlands.

We also have a great team of moderators from all around the globe who run the competitions and help manage the site.

Can you give us a presentation of your website, ManiaExchange?

ManiaExchange (often just referred to as MX) aims to be the number one map sharing resource for TrackMania² and ShootMania (and one day QuestMania).

We have a long history with Nadeo’s games. We’ve been a part of the community since 2004 when we opened the first TMX (TrackMania Exchange) site. MrD, the original coder of TMX, uploaded the first track on 27th March 2004, since then there have been well over 750,000 tracks uploaded. Good luck if you want to try and play all of them!!!

We unveiled ManiaExchange when the first TrackMania² environment, Canyon, arrived in 2011 and added support for Stadium and Valley when those were released by Nadeo. As of September 2013, we currently host over 40,000 TrackMania² tracks and over 5,000 ShootMania maps.

What are the services provided by ManiaExchange?

Map hosting:
Above everything else, this is what we do. This includes the ability to upload a screenshot with your map, some comments about it, etc. Every map page has a comments section and award section for other users to leave feedbacks. Every time a new map is uploaded, this effectively makes an extra page on the site. There is also a search facility with filters to help people find maps of a particular style or environment.

ManiaExchange API:
This is used by the people who make server plugins to let online servers fetch map information from ManiaExchange. So not only can they download a map from MX straight to their server, but they can also display the map details.

An award system:
This makes finding good maps easier, and it’s a way of complimenting authors who put that extra effort into making great maps. Who doesn’t like to received a message saying ‘Well done!’ ? The catch line for the site has always been ‘award the tracks you like’.

Install & Play:
This is a very handy feature. It automatically loads ManiaPlanet and loads the map or replay for instant playing. Can be a real time saver and makes using maps accessible for those less familiar with directory structures.

Best of the Week.
On any given day, there’s a rolling ‘Best of the Week’ window at the bottom of the front page. This makes finding new maps worth playing easier. The Best of the Week can be further sorted by environment. And there is also a Best of the Month. Map builders often regard getting their own map into the list as an achievement of itself.

Leaderboards for TM²:
We let players upload replays to compete with other players for the top spots. Compete on the highest ranked tracks to gain the most points. The leaderboard’s are displayed on the main page. The more competition on a given track, the higher is ‘value’ within the leaderboard system.

Monthly Contests:
These are usually map or track building competitions. We started doing this in 2006 for TrackMania Nations ESWC, and the tradition continues in TM². Each month there is a different theme with different rules. The attraction is to challenge yourself to build a great track within the given rules.

PlayPal Online:
These are online servers we host. These servers help get your maps played. The system is based on karma (points). The more tracks you play on the server, the more karma you gain, and the more likely one of your maps will come up. You can manage which of your tracks are played via the PlayPal Online page on MX. In addition, it’s a great meeting place for track authors!

Weekly Knockouts:
We host two knockout competitions online every Saturday in TM². The environments vary, but all players are welcome. We play sometimes in rounds and sometimes in TimeAttack. In this event, the last placed driver in each round is eliminated from the competition until there is 1 winner. You can find the times and environment information in the news section on the main page of our site. Players usually stick around as spectators once they are eliminated to take part in the general chat and watch the event unfold.

ManiaExchange Forums:
A place to organize events or projects with other players, find answers about the editor, keep up with what’s happening on the site, promote your tracks among other things. Our forums are built into the main part of the site.

ManiaExchange Blog:
Any of our users can also make a blog post. The blogs are about comment and opinion, discussion and argument, observations, exploring ideas, expressing concerns, questioning and even ranting if the mood takes. They can also be about simple entertainment, puzzles, quiz or fun items. Other users can leave their comments and you can link blog posts directly to track pages because the blog is integrated into ManiaExchange.

Random Track Finder:
This is a feature that will automatically redirect you to a random track. It’s fun to use this and find some gems among the thousands of maps on the site.

Favourite Authors:
You can add your favourite map builders to a list, and then see a list of recent tracks by these authors. This makes it easier to keep up with the newest releases from your favourite authors.

Unreleased maps:
This feature lets you upload a map that is still in beta, but still link it to friends and get some feedback before releasing it.

Environment mixing:
So far as I know, we are the only place that supports uploading of maps from one environment to play using the car of another. Maps of this kind by be found using the advanced search features (for example, select the TMCanyon titlepack, then untick the Canyon Environment, this will find maps made in the Valley or Stadium editor that were resaved in the Canyon editor, meaning the Canyon car must be used to drive, but it will be in the Stadium or Valley environment)

IRC Channel:
We have our own chat room on Quakenet that is quite active. You can access it via the “About MX” tab on the site. Hang out and get to know the regulars.

What do you like the most about ManiaPlanet?

We love the beautiful graphics engine of course. Much can be done with lighting to build interesting maps. There’s some great editor features that makes ManiaPlanet a big step into the future. For instance, auto-terraforming, the copy/paste tool, macroblocks, maniascript plugins, and of course the ability to use custom objects. Smaller MediaTracker triggers, smoother camera interpolation, and replay recording within MediaTracker. Just a few of the things we love about ManiaPlanet.

We also appreciate that Nadeo listens to feedback from community sites like ours. A number of features have been implemented that help us better serve the community. We have confidence that this great relationship with Nadeo will continue into the future.

What’s next for the future of ManiaExchange?

We have a number of cool features we’re working on. But we prefer to keep them secret for now, just in case we don’t do them, or we do something different.
We also do a lot of boring but important things, like trying to fix things which slow down the site.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

Thank you for taking the time to highlight our community site via this interview. We work very hard to serve the community and to keep our site alive. Over the years the community has released some fantastically memorable content via our sites and we would like that to continue.

We know that without the community we are not anything, so we would like to thank all the people out there who have supported us over the last 10 years, either directly as a moderator or coder, or financially by sending donations, or in providing content by uploading their maps, or by downloading and playing the maps, or by leaving awards and comments, or by taking part in forum discussions and contests, the list can go on…. All of these contributions go towards making TMX and ManiaExchange what it is.

On 27th March 2014 we will have been hosting tracks/maps for 10 years, we look forward to being here for a few more years yet…!

Thanks & Regards
MrA