Conducted by Adam Ames
TPG jumped at the chance to interview Edouard Beauchemin from Nadeo on their newly released racing title, TrackMania 2. You will read how TrackMania 2 was born and his thoughts on the PC gaming industry.
Please tell us a little bit about yourself and your role with the development of TrackMania 2.
In-game I took care of the music. But I’m an International product manager, I take care of everything in relation with the World: events, video, and answering journalist demands
How did you get started in developing PC games?
I was first interested in video games, I studied media and communication, and then joined Nadeo.
Where did the idea for TrackMania 2 come from?
We wanted to offer a better game to the large TrackMania community, with better sensations and better graphics. Also more creative possibilities with a new gaming system called ManiaPlanet.
4. What are some of the successes and failures you learned from in developing TrackMania 2?
That crunch time is really intense! I think overall the game is a success, players like it and we like it as well.
In its current form, how close is TrackMania 2 to your initial vision?
Very close, but as we develop Tools and Instruments and people use them to create, I believe that creativity is more in the hands of players.
Some devs admitted their games were too hard upon release because they became experts as they developed the game. Talk about setting the difficulty levels for TrackMania 2 and if you faced a similar challenge.
Well, It is always hard to keep things accessible and interesting for better players at the same time. But thanks to me and some of my colleagues, the studio can always test the game with “less skilled players” :). More seriously, since the difficulty level is designed by the track maker, we just had to make sure the easy tracks were really easy, and the hardest one more interesting for skillful players.
Were there any challenges you faced in ensuring TrackMania 2 would run on the various PC system configurations?
Yes, many. Creating a beautiful game is difficult, but making it run on almost any PC is much harder. We optimized graphic settings in all ways possible, so even low-end machines can run the game. We’re very pleased with it.
Outside of creating the game itself, what is the toughest aspect of being a PC games developer?
Long working hours, but it’s ok, we’re passionate about it. When you do what you like, you don’t really see the time passing. Well, until you get home very late and she reminds you.
Were you inspired by any other PC racing titles when developing TrackMania 2?
Well, not at the time we started. After the first prototype, many players pointed at similarities with Stunts. We played the game at that point and agree with them. But now the game is a whole lot different, because it is online and so much like a social network of gamers.
How much pull do you have when setting sale and regular pricing through digital distribution channels? Did you research similar titles when trying to come up with the launch price?
No, we design our own business models, trying to offer the best value possible to players. The game is available on Trackmania.com, and as such, it offers the best deal to players.
Walk us through the process of developing the multiplayer component of TrackMania 2
Well, we’re developing our online technologies all the time. For TrackMania², we have the TrackMania base. We improved some things in the menu and options in-game (such as voting the map). We mostly make sure to bring back all the key game modes from the previous games: Time attack, Round, Team, and we added a script mode, where advanced players can design custom rules and share them with everyone online.
Please talk about developing the art style, track design and music for TrackMania 2.
The car is a heavy muscle car, designed to feel sturdy. The paintings remind us of cool cars from various iconic moments for automobile history. The track design offers a good progression for everyone. As for the music, we tried to offer something modern, influenced by DnB, but keep it accessible for everybody, and make sure it is not “too intrusive” but give people the feeling to drive fast. I think it works well.
Will you offer a demo or trial for TrackMania 2?
We have no plan of doing so at the moment. There is already TrackMania Nations Forever offering all of TrackMania’s experience, for free. If people want to play in the Canyon, they have to buy the game.
How important is it to get instant feedback about TrackMania 2 from users through online message boards and other social networking sites?
Very important. We like very much interacting with people on our forums. It’s great source of motivation.
How much value do you place on the opinions of those who review TrackMania 2 professionally?
We value it a lot! We prefer to rely on a good word of mouth and quality reviews. This is what helps make a great community of players like the one we have in TrackMania.
How do you feel about the various indie bundle promotions and the “Pay What You Want” pricing methodology? Would you be interested in contributing to a project like that in the future?
I think it is great for Indie studios to have this initiative. We prefer to keep the classic business model. It makes more sense for our game, as you pay once and can create and share as much content as you want afterwards. We have to pay for servers and support of everything, so obviously this business model is not really made for us.
What are your thoughts on how the PC gaming industry as a whole are dealing with the problem of intrusive DRM and piracy?
Hard to speak about the industry as a whole, as there are so many actors having so many different attitudes. We prefer to protect our game with the less intrusive technology possible. As the fun of the game is online, it does not make sense to pirate our games.
Bill S.978 was introduced to the Untied States Senate earlier this year which could make it illegal to post unauthorized copyrighted content on YouTube and other video sharing sites. How do you feel about individuals outside of Nadeo posting gameplay videos of TrackMania 2?
I’m not familiar with this bill, but as we offer a video making tool in-game, we indeed encourage people to produce their own content. First, it’s always fun to watch. Second, if the video is good, it is positive for us as well. Third, if it is not too good, people won’t watch it, so it doesn’t matter at all. TrackMania is a create and share game, so we like individuals from everywhere posting, sharing, and having fun with our games.
How do you feel about DLC and its current implementation in the PC gaming industry?
As for question on DRM, I would stay away from generalization. For some games, it adds good value for players, in others less. I think if DLC is well done and offer a good extension for a low price, then it makes sense.
Recently, there has been a lot of talk about modding of PC games and the relationship developers have with modders. How do you feel about the online modding community in general and specifically if mods were created for TrackMania 2?
Yes, there are already 4-5 mods for TrackMania². As we are putting up the most creative gaming system on PC, we believe that we will have always more to do with them, by offering always better tool, and access to a great community well aware of what mods can add to their game.
What advice would you give up-and-coming PC developers who are trying to break into the business?
Work hard, have fun and enjoy what you do, and don’t forget to bring her flowers when you come home after midnight. Most importantly: just bring value to players. If you feel your project has soul, is entertaining and original, it’s good. If others feel the same about it, it looks real good. And if your first project doesn’t work, just try harder. -End
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