With the release of the latest campaign all players rushed to play the maps and grind them out. However, this particular campaign has left many people disappointed.Lack of variety in styleConfusing inconsistency for difficulty
I would like to go into why this is from my point of view and from the views I have seen online to compile it all into an organized list and then also offer some solutions.
First of all I would like to mention that some people complaining is not always a reason for change, liking maps is very subjective and you can never please everyone. However, this campaign has received the most similar complaints and in larger quantity than in the past. This means that the community is not so divided on the matter which means change is likely a good idea.
So what are the main complaints?
22 is meant for ice players, but features barely an ice slides, compared to a map like 19 last season which was much more focussed on the main mechanics ice players know.20 seems to be meant for fullspeed players, but it doesnt feature any SDs or real fullspeed elements besides a looping, it also features a grass turn that you would not see in fullspeed normally.
I will go into both these points:
Lack of variety
Trackmania has many different mapstyles. Some players prefer to play only one style, while others like playing a variety. It is important to appeal to both of these groups.
Taking the Fall2021 campaign as example. There were dedicated ice maps (19), dedicated dirt maps (13, 22), dedicated speedtech (21). But also a variety of mixed maps (24, 9)
Because of this, every group of players had a set of maps to hunt.
Looking at the new campaign, the number of dedicated maps has drastically decreased, we see no speedtech, no tech.
Even the maps that seem dedicated to a specific community of players is lacking:
As far as I am aware, there are no SDs in this campaignthere are 3-4 iceslides in the entire campaignThere are somewhere between 5-10 drift turns, most by autoslides, barely any brake-slides
This means that almost every map this campaign is a mix of styles. Which removes a large amount of the playerbase from having a mappool they will enjoy hunting.
Secondly, the campaign seems to be very focussed on just a few core concepts. While leaving others out entirely.
Water is used in 8 maps, which is almost 1/3rd of the maps, many times being featured more than once
Overrepresented this campaign is clearly water:
Dedicate at least 1 map every season to every major style (tech, speedtech, fullspeed, dirt, ice, grass, plastic, mini-rpg...)Make sure these maps are built by someone who understands the style, to give these players the kind of map they would expect from their style.Potentially: Ask community members from these styles to build them, involve the strength of the community into the campaign could be a great step.
Besides this, dirt also seems to be a clear favorite this campaign, being the only style to actually have several maps dedicated to it (2, 6, 10, 14, 16)
I think it is obvious why there are complaints about lack of variety, every map seems to just be a mix of styles, which means that style-dedicated players dont have a spot in this campaign at all. And even people who like varied styles will still enjoy playing full 1-style maps as it is part of variety.
So what is my proposed solution for this?
Confusing inconsistency for difficulty
Difficulty can be something that is hard to describe. And it can mean something different depending on the context. However, I feel that the way difficulty is handled in the official campaigns is not the way to go.
From my experience in the past campaigns in TM2020 I have noticed that the further you get in the campaign, the tracks gain 2 things:
bad flowinconsistent tricksoverly precise lines
Length is a very fair attribute to increase difficulty, It means players need to do things more consistently and i have no issue with maps getting longer the deeper you get into the campaign.
Annoyance however, is not.
So why are these later maps 'annoying' rather than 'difficult'?
Maps that are annoying to drive will have one of the following:
The quarterpipe jumps on 17 are basically the entire map, the only thing that matters is how low you jump, there is not too much skill required in jumping low besides trying a lot until you get it just right.The jump between the poles on 20 after the looping, the cams here leave no room to aim, you can not see the poles and thus it is nearly impossible to do consistently.The drifts on the black platforms on 21 means that skidmarks are hard to see and the edges are very bumpy, allowing you to have almost no variance in your line or your run is over.In general, watersections.
The early maps are precise due to their short nature, in this short context, precise maps are no problem, however, when you get to maps around a minute long, a line that is that precise will be much more annoying to get than anything.
This ties in with inconsistency, a minute into a map you do not want to encounter a trick that you can't do 100% of the time.
Bad flow is a lot more subjective and some people will notice it while others wont, but I have noticed worse flow on later maps this campaign than early on (examples being the red booster nascar section after a techdrift on 23)
Some more examples of inconsistency/precision:
Avoid overly precise tricks in long maps, especially towards the endAvoid water, it is overused already, this campaign, so just tone it down and try to test it enough to know there are no weird edgecases involving it.Have more people test the maps, mappers view can easily block you from seeing the bad flow in your map. It is then important to have others look at it to point this out.
Water since its release has been problematic. It is an entirely different topic, but it boils down to the fact that action keys will always be better than analogue steering, and the bounces you get on/out of water are not always the same without a clear indication why. (on map 18 in the freewheel section you sometimes jump out and sometimes dont. On map 21 in the water section sometimes you bounce on the water and sometimes you dont).
These things all combined mean that the maps are mostly annoying to hunt and not just more difficult.
The best way for me to sum it up is as follows:
Instead of having to hunt a map 100 times to get a slightly better time each run, you hunt a map 100 times to get the trick once.
So what is my solution to this?
The current campaign is received badly because of a bad organization of mapstyles combined with misunderstanding in mapping that causes later maps to be more annoying than difficult.
This would mean that to improve, there needs to be an overhaul on how campaigns are structured and how mapping and maptesting is being done.
I understand that this could cause a higher workload but I believe it to be worth it, as the campaign is one of Trackmania main features.
I also believe that if needed, the community could be more involved in the process, I know the TM community to be incredibly helpful and always willing to improve. So I doubt it would be difficult to find help from the community.
To start that off, I hereby also offer my assistance. I am an active mapper, an active community member and very involved with the game. I would love to help take the game to the next level so feel free to reach out to me about this here or on discord ([SLURP] SparklingW#9287)
Happy new year to everyone and I hope to see TM go to this next level this year!