A new Trackmania is racing your way. Announced at the Grand League Finals in Lyon, France, Ubisoft Nadeo took the wraps off its latest project: a remake of the popular Trackmania Nations. The remake will include an official season campaign and daily track selections, along with new track-creation options featuring new surfaces and special blocks.
We spoke with Florent “Hylis” Castelnerac, managing director at Ubisoft Nadeo, to talk a little bit more about Trackmania and how this new game builds upon a foundation that resonates so much with fans.
Since the release of the original Trackmania, how has Nadeo changed and grown as a studio over the past several years?
Florent Castelnerac: Creating a studio is a big challenge, and having it evolve in the right direction is equally difficult, but I think we succeeded in doing just that over the years. The team grew five times bigger than when we first began, and we have new spirit and strengths as a result, which is a very satisfying feeling.
What would you say were some of the biggest lessons learned from previous games in the Trackmania series, and how are you applying that knowledge towards the upcoming release?
FC: At first, we had a simple approach. Then we moved toward more rich, beautiful, and complex creations, including map-making, but lost simplicity in the process. Today, I would like to combine depth, beauty, and lightness. I think it is what people expect from modernity: to be powerful yet simple. I hope that’s what we’ll be with Trackmania.
The Trackmania community is very dedicated to the game. How crucial has community involvement been in that evolution? How does player feedback help shape the Trackmania experience?
FC: Racing is universal, and there is a wide range of people who like Trackmania. Sometimes in the forums, we ask players what they would like to see in Trackmania, and get pages of responses! Over the past 10 years, we’ve made updates to address many of them.
At the same time, we listen to casual and mid-core players, so our job is to sort the priorities of players, from casual players to the most engaged fans. For example, we designed features for new players who want to improve, and we hired a player and competition organizer, Softy, to join us and create the Trackmania Grand League.
Has the community done anything that surprised the team?
FC: What surprises me the most is how players continue to connect so strongly with the game. A lot of it is based on the social network that was created around it, but Trackmania has a marvelous community. The feelings they pour into the game inspires us; I was recently surprised by a video from a player, Peiks, who talked about reinventing yourself. We basically decided to redo a lot of Trackmania after watching videos from our community.
For those that might not be familiar, what are the core characteristics that define Trackmania, and how are they represented in this new game?
FC: Trackmania is based on three pillars: First, racing is universal, and progression is fun. Trackmania gameplay should always be intuitive, four arrows only, and allow easy respawn and improvement. In the upcoming game, we added subtle, but deep, gameplay enhancements to help players improve. For example, the ghosts at checkpoints (at every respawn, the players race their best ghost), or that players maintain their velocity when respawning at checkpoints.
Second, it’s a racing game with a track creator, meaning there is a near-endless supply of new tracks. In the upcoming game, we increase the amount of possibilities for creation. New physical surfaces and new "special blocs" can modify the car behavior. For creators who like to share and stream their creations, special effects will also be available. For example, a “slow motion” block placed just before a finish can spice up a show.
Thirdly, the game also offers competitions, from daily and casual ones to international pro-level leagues.
How will the game encourage and foster competition beyond normal races? Will there be an even stronger push for community and company-sponsored tournaments?
FC: In Trackmania, we will have daily and weekly casual cups, seasonal official campaign rankings, and a Grand League & Open Grand League happening two times a year. Community events and professional tournaments will have easy in-game access and will be advertised on tracks, bringing the fantasy of esports to Trackmania.
__Finally, with a lot of live online games, we’re seeing continual updates and ways for teams to keep releasing new types of content to engage players. What can we expect in that regard from Trackmania? __
FC: Historically, Trackmania has always had a large amount of content thanks to our players. However, we noticed that after releasing a game, players rush through the campaign and then stop playing. So we decided to create a seasonal game, with a regular official campaign and one daily track selection among all players submitted and peer-reviewed maps. Additionally, we intend to create regular updates of Trackmania for new seasonal blocks or new features.
Trackmania will be available on Windows PC on May 5. The new Trackmania will also be a part of the upcoming Trackmania Zrt Cup happening in Paris HotelsAccor Arena on June 13. For more on Trackmania and other Ubisoft games, check out our previous coverage.