We are in 2016 and this is the 6th edition of “Hello Planet”.
This is a big Hello Planet we have prepared. And this thanks to the Nadeo team becoming bigger and stronger those latest years. And if i put the emphasis on it, that’s because it’s the most important for the future of Maniaplanet at which we are committed for numerous years.
Some will realize that the dynamic is beautiful and much stronger through what is presented here, furthermore we keep elements on which we work for a dedicated communication later, like a major project on eSport for Trackmania & Shootmania and another more general dedicated to Shootmania. The organization explained last year allows us now to have several teams who move forward the projects on several fronts, for the creators, the players or the competitive part.
For Maniaplanet 4, here is the elements on which we are working on:
We work to expand the number of actions possible for Shootmania while being careful to keep the consistency of one gameplay in depth. We’ll be able to communicate on these once we have the feeling that they fit well in the game. Besides, we’ll open up the gameplay for Trackmania for the creation by the players.
A 64-bit version made available, DirectX 11 enabled, more multitasking, improvement in the speed of lightmap calculations and several others optimizations such as game loadings or scripts.
We work at improving the engine on some aspects such as adding some visual effects to enhance immersion. We wish to work on the rendering of projectiles & explosions. We alse work on the general rendering of the map, with the generation of modifications on a large scale linked to the different blocks laid, or on a smaller scale to improve the light junctions in some cases, and add procedurally generated detailed elements.
It’ll be now possible to put Trackmania vehicles and the Shootmania character on the same network game and to interact and to commute from the control from one to another. We’ll work too on the network side for some elements on which we’ll rarely communicate for obvious reasons, linked to diverse embezzlement which exist on multiplayer games (anticheat).
We develop the systems which will allow us to enable official tries in solo for custom titles. Those official tries could use the rule of “always official” which will prevail with the Maniaplanet 4 update.
Still to be confirmed, we have a compatible solution with external game software management solutions to allow to commute environments without needing to restart the application (for Steam versions).
In order to move forward more efficiently and to evolve, we made the choice to break some upward compatibilities. At the same time, we work to allow to Maniaplanet 3 to launch itself in good conditions in order to give access to older elements more easily.
Creation of diverse editors
It’ll be much easier to create editors, for us and for the players themselves. The gamepad track editor of Trackmania Turbo is an example of editor done in Maniascript and Manialink, and we have expanded this concept on several domains, with three majors novelties:
The 3D object modelling and the creation of operation of procedural texturing.
Menus, scoretables, skill shops, etc.
There will be titles which could be dedicated to the titles creation and so enable more expert players to propose to the less expert users the possibility to use their canvas to compose others campaigns integrating others data created by others players for example.
Improvement of the Maniascript and the Manialink
Debug & performance tools
To simplify the debug of the script, the callstacks in script are now visible if there is an error. For the performance part it is now possible to check the time spent in each line of the script after its execution.
The whole interfaces of the Maniaplanet project have the ambition to be replaced with the Manialink system, we regularly do improvements in order to allow the development of more beautiful interfaces more efficiently. For instance, we did set up an improved depth system, as well as an API for the realization of efficient animations.
Dedicated editors: modes, plugin, etc.
To make the development of the modes, plugins and others easier, we wish to create dedicated editors allowing to easily configure the contexts of the execution, manage the dependencies in term of resources or simply indicate directly in the game mode, the changelogs without having to make the script longer. It’ll allow us to easily propose cross-services.
Possibilities for items
We work to develop some types of items like, as first important examples, a turret or drone system, allowing to more easily imagine the design of solo training experiences for Shootmania.
We have the project to improve the map editor in connection with the use of items to improve the combinatorial edition and enjoy the possibility which will be given to the players to create their own items in Maniaplanet.
To ease the communication between different groups of players, we work at integrating the concept at the scale of the Maniaplanet system. We’re revamping the buddies chat interface, which will integrate more features for the chat with several players, and some early features to help playing in groups or communities.
In the same mind – and in the context of a bigger project on which we’ll communicate later and where we need to determine if we can make it for Maniaplanet 4 – we’re already integrating an events system, allowing organizers to make live reports of ongoing events for players or spectators. It’ll be also possible for groups to join these events. The events could have multiple steps, like weekly cups or qualifications on several stages.
The titles creators will have a generated website, dedicated to their title, easing the download of their experience and allowing to communicate information to an external public who will continue to have access at the titles for free in demo mode for a duration of one hour per day or for a solo content of the first maps of the campaigns.
We also work on the development of the Maniacredits so the contribution of each creator can be relieved and added to the credits of the titles. Each title can also give access to its collection of creations publicly, making the exchanges between creators easier.
For 10 years, Nadeo has been designing and honing ESport concepts and tools, going on events to feel the direction to take, and observing the evolution on different ways to practice this activity. Trackmania & Shootmania players got several events last year from dozens of competitions done each month online with what we can find on ManiaCalendar to the Paragon League, or big rendezvous offline with this year’s ESWC, the Gamers Assembly or the ZeratoR Cup from this month where 40 000 viewers have been able to attend to the great accessibility of an eSport-thought game like Trackmania, where we find champions that we know and yet who can also conciliate this with a normal activity outside of the game.
It’s one of our biggest pride, compatible with the sportive spirit, including in the universe proposed. And in this spirit, we’re reopening the project to develop the clubs that we have started several years ago, since we wish to follow our belief more than ever to make the eSport a model, for everyone, whether it is the player or the spectators, and with champions always more and more incredible at the top of all of it.
Tools will also be developed to allow even more simplicity for the organizers, who are those that these champions can congratulate so much in return. And they’re also the champions in their domain and few games can be as proud to have tools as good for the competitions. And it’s in this positive spirit that we’ll continue to support without failing.
Documentation, tips & support
As this Hello Planet witnesses, the creators should have more and more possibilities of creations. Moreover, as it’ll be possible to make tools for other people, we think that a kind of simplification/transfer of expertise between the players could occur. And for those inventors, at the very beginning of the chain, we work to revamp the documentation, we move forward on the fact to being able to communicate directly in the game to bring tips or to make reference to the documentation.
And we organize ourselves to become as efficient as possible on the support, with Cerovan at the heart of the measure, and a lot more members of the team who could be able to answer directly to your questions on the forums from the moment we’ll be in beta.
It’s also for this that we wish the forums becoming only a place of good relationship and debates, positive and constructive. We are several dozens now at Nadeo, there is a lot of players too who like to help the others and this could give a place of good exchanges, from the moment where those who want to do it will be in the good spirit. And count on me to be sure of it ^_^
Optimizations and new blocks for Trackmania Canyon, Valley and Lagoon. It’s an important work that is done and which require a lot of time and involve to come back on the blocks to optimize them, complete them with some missing variants and to add new collection that we’ll unveil later in the previews which will take place before the beta.
Trackmania & Shootmania Maker
The team works on two things at this level: on one hand a revamp of the menus of existing titles, on the other hand the possibility to create titles with titles themselves dedicated to their creation. In reality, we are going to do the Nadeo titles with these same titles to ease the evolution.
And the players themselves could do their own title creators. If it seems complex, it’ll be the possibility for those who wish to define a genre, like the idea of the Raid titles, and to allow others to make their own Raid. And we think that each time that we allow the collaboration between the players by creating transitional steps, we can see things going higher.
Trackmania² solo campaigns
It’s at the occasion of this update that we’ll officialize the records done in the solo on Trackmania and we’ll launch a new season on the campaigns of Canyon/Valley/Stadium/Lagoon which will integrate the modifications of the tracks, also allowing to integrate some new blocks and rules changes like the switch to the “always official”.
Warlords & others experiences
To test the possibility to create diverse experiences, we have developed several prototypes internally. One of them stand out from the others and we’ve been refining it for a while. At the occasion of Maniaplanet 4, we should be ready to release it. It’s a game mode which mixes a strategic and diplomatic game at a high level, in a spatial map, and Shootmania battles during the control point phases of the opponents fortress.
This experience is in “polish” status and we are eager to give you a preview. We think that it’ll also be a good example, so that other players can themselves imagine larger experiences. There are also tools like a map creator which could be useful for others types of experiences too.
Maybe some items will never get done and that’s the price to pay for talking about projects early. Doing that also lead to rising expectations. That’s why I’ll attempt to talk about release rythm, some know that you must take that with a grain of salt since it’s really difficult to be sure about a precise timing concerning technological projects. One thing is sure : we want to favor a regular schedule, even if it means to adapt the contents released, instead of stretching the period between releases.
Here’s how we intend to organize this schedule: 6 months of development on the major version, 3 months of beta, 3 months of updates and we start again with 6 months of major development, etc. And to reduce the waiting time during the 6 months, i’ll try to bring some previews on the last 3 months before the beta.
So, we would like to have years cut in 4 periods: 3 months following the Hello Planet, 3 months of previews, 3 months of beta and 3 months of updates.
Stadium & Storm players, and they are many, may have prefered more additions of blocks on DATA level. This is because we are working on long term plans, due for Maniaplanet 5. Of course, most of the features introduced here will also be useful to those environments. But I wanted to underscore that for us, these two gameplays must be the references in the race & shoot esport games, and we intend to support them by engaging the means on the long run.
By the way, a nice World Cup for Trackmania Stadium and Shootmania Storm in Elite mode is being organized and will take place at the end of the year around November. We look into the possibilities for the qualifications, and we would like them to start at the beginning of September. That’s when we’ll unveil more information about the final event. This summer should allow to define the rules, including the mappools.
Also, I know that some people wait more in-depth work about the finishing touches or the interfaces. It’ll be the purpose of the betas, and a bigger focus will be given to that on Maniaplanet 5, because there are too many systems changing right now, and we need them to be stable before investing time on UI.
We have spent a lot of time underwater and we know that’s difficult to wait, including for us. That’s why it’s also very important to stay positive in difficult times. There is only a few months to hold on, and i hope that the ascending slope of the unpcoming years be more clearer as we get there. We are also working on production and visuals, but this will take more time before we’ll be able to show this work. Ubisoft is fully behind this project, and thanks to the players who have been there all those years is seems obvious that there is something amazing to do with Maniaplanet.