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Location: Home  Blogs  TM Interview Project - GanjaRider 
TM Interview Project - GanjaRider
TM Interview Project - GanjaRider28 Aug, 2013
   wormi (14 comments, 3277 views)  

Yo boys and girls! This time I can present you an old member of TM community! When I told that I will publish this interview to my friend, his reaction was “is he still alive?” He's also known from some full throttle maps... yep, it's GanjaRider! You can find more infomation about the project here.

1 .At first I'll ask something I've wondered for years: why is your nickname GanjaRider?
Well not much thought went into this name. In Unreal Tournament 2004 my name was GanjaGunner and before that I had the name Grooverider and for TrackMania I made a combination of those names. I first learned the word Ganja from drum and bass group The Ganja Kru and Grooverider is also a dnb producer so my name is actually an ode to drum and bass legends.

2. Could you tell us something about yourself?
Dutch, 36, gamer, audio slave, computer enthusiast.

3. How and when did you find Trackmania?
In 2004 I found the multiplayer demo of TMO which had the Rally environment. It got my attention right away. I think it's because I used to play games like Lotus Turbo Challenge on my Amiga 500 (*cough* early nineties) and later Mario Cart on SNES and N64. I loved to play those arcade racers with friends on split screen. And TMO was just that but online with others. But I really started playing TM a lot in 2005 when Sunrise was released and that's also when I started building tracks and joined clan OTMB (Old TrackMania Bastards).

4. Fire$tarter, island in TMS, over 60 awards. T-junction, stadium in TMNF, over 100 awards. Tiger Blood, canyon in TM2, over 130 awards. Night Hawk, stadium in TMU, amazingly over 300 awards. Dutch Delight, stadium in TMN ESWC, mind-blowing number of over 400 awards. You are such a legend in Trackmania.
It was quite a surprise to say the least. In Sunrise 2005 I considered myself as just another unknown builder and fame never crossed my mind. Even when Fire$tarter became a small hit I still thought it would be a one day fly. But then 2006 changed everything. I released Dutch Delight in the first week of Stadium ESWC and it became a huge hit and suddenly people placed me next to Panis and Ron Turbo. It was very surreal but I sure enjoyed it. It was something really special. It took me a year to find the right route in track building and the moment people start telling you they like what you're doing is very satisfying. But I also know I was just at the right place at the right time and I realize the amount of attention I got was over the top. Well that goes for most of my track building colleagues back then. 2006 had the highest peak of players in TM history and this generation of (known) builders completely stood out in terms of quantity (awards, downloads and online plays).

Fame sure has influenced my way of building with so many people judging my tracks. I started spending more time per track but because of this I made less tracks. But the ones I made became hits and people remember you by your hits which made me even more known. I never planned this. It just happened that way. But one thing is for sure: less is more.
The moment I got famous is also the moment I lost my 'street credibility'. I became a commercial track builder, a 'volksbuilder', which you either love or hate. In 2007 I first saw the downside of my fame. My track Full Contact had 70 awards in the first 12 hours after release and was probably the start of the never ending award discussion. Although it was a discussion about the system it felt like I got the blame. I took a step back from track building and committed a year to raiding in WoW. I also passed on making a track when TMNF came out in 2008 to make room for new talented builders to end up in the all time favs, not knowing it would be crowded with px tracks so I kind of regret that now and it's probably the reason why I tried so hard on getting a number 1 in TM2 to make up for that (Tiger Blood). Anyway when I went back to TM in 2009 I was surprised to see my tracks still being hosted online. I was like dafuq. What! How? Really? I expected them to be replaced by forever tracks. I realized people still appreciated my tracks and that gave me an extra boost to start building again.

By now I expected the overrated discussion to be over but on the contrary. Still often when I join a server I either get showered with compliments or it's the complete opposite and get told I'm overrated. There doesn't seem to be much in between. But I still feel like the unknown builder that I was in 2005. I don't feel special and I'm just as passionate about track building as any other builder. Sometimes I wish I was unknown again but I'm not going to start over with a new identity and I'll try to accept these consequences of fame.

5. If you had to list your best maps, which maps would make it into the top three? Why?
This list is just a moment in time but here we go:
1. Hellbender (TM2: Canyon 2012): I feel like I've made better tracks in the past three years and this is an example. Every inch is tuned over and over. For every section I've built many different constructions and kept deleting and rebuilding until I had what I wanted. It might look like a simple track at first but it's made for replayability so the more you drive it the deeper it goes.
2. Full Contact Ultimate² (TM2: Stadium 2013): My 2013 remake of the 2007 version. I always felt that Full Contact was technically my best track of old TMN ESWC but after the physics changed in Forever it needed drastic upgrading. I mainly had to lower the hight of the loopings but that meant I had to reposition the rest of the track too. So this remake would not have been possible without TM2's copy/paste tool.
3. Black Velvet (Nations ESWC 2006): Technically not my best track but I think it's my most original. The backwards start is unique and I'm still proud that I thought of it and people liked the top-down micro machines cam. I also 'invented' the zigzag corner which has been used in many tracks since, both flat and banked and I've even seen transition variations (too bad it's not possible in Canyon). It's the first track where I pretty much perfected my 'easy to finish, hard to master' philosophy. The whole track has a simplicity that I had been eagerly looking for back then.

6. Your genre of building is and has always been fullspeed or almost fullspeed. Why just fullspeed?
I'm really bad at thinking 3 corners ahead so hardcore tech isn't my thing. I guess I just feel comfortable at building full speed so I always ended up doing that. But lately I have built some speedtech's in Canyon and Valley and I think I'm more all-round then people might think since I started building normal race tracks back in 2005 and I still have this style in the back of my head.

7. What is your style then?
Pop. I've become obsessed with flow and smoothness. You could say I build the Apple way: simplicity above everything and the art of leaving out. Like a musician makes pop music and thinks about catchy parts in the song and how to make it easy to listen to and know what the people like and, most importantly, don't like.

I made up names for two types of full speed tracks: dynamic and static. While I still see the majority of full speed builders build static tracks (need-for-speed), I like to make dynamic tracks with enough margin that have a noob and a pro line. Which I think is harder to build because you need to tune for instance 20 race lines to make it drivable from all angles. Plus players should still be able to finish after they made a mistake and lost speed. So it needs margin in both width and length. Static tracks on the other hand only have 1 or 2 race lines in width and are unforgiven in length which I think takes less tuning and concessions. Those kind of tracks may be an A way of driving but to me are a B way of building. Just ask any game developer what is the hardest game to build and they'll answer a game that is appealing to both pro's and casuals. Sometimes I think where are the dynamic builders? How can it be that this trade has almost vanished from tmx? Well I still see them in servers. At least server owners understand that smooth tracks work best for online. But most of these tracks have less then 5 awards so it's a shame they're not taken seriously on tmx.

The reason I build pop is because my style is 100% focussed on multiplayer. This started in Sunrise 2005. I hosted my own server which was quite popular those days. That's because there wasn't much competition yet from other servers and I always had some clan buddies from OTMB joining who attracted more people. I hosted it from my pc and didn't have fast internet yet so it only had 20 slots. But whenever I opened the server it was filled within 10 minutes and people were waiting in spectator mode. Oh those were the days. I hosted my own tracks (mainly Island) and some tracks I liked from other builders (ron turbo, pitstep, panis, andree, kenny, etc.). The feedback I got online is the best feedback you can get. Just hearing people say where they crash and spectating players made me learn a lot. Also seeing people leave the server when a certain track came by said a lot about what people don't like. As a server owner it's not fun to see people go so I made sure my next tracks were even online friendlier. That's the blueprint of my style till today. And it was great to see that my tracks worked so well online that other server owners added my tracks by default to increase their chance of having a successful server. At least several server owners told me so many years later.

In 2012 I've hosted a server in TM2: Canyon and this year in TM2: Stadium because after so many years I wanted to look through the eyes of a server owner again. Thinking about the types of tracks to host. Seeing feedback from players on my server. Well it didn't teach me many new things but it was good to refresh my insights again of what makes a good online track and I recommend hosting your own server to all multiplayer builders.

8. Having seen Trackmania for years, can you tell us some of your favorite tracks?
3 tracks is really too few so this is just a random selection:
-Rushhour 2 by [K]enny (Sunrise 2005): First time I've seen an Island track with wide roads and full speed madness. It totally changed my way of building. See question 11.
-Rage Mode by Smok3y (TM2: Canyon 2011): My first thought was: this is Tiger Blood with transitions! Adrenaline pumping high speed track that just feels good everytime. The start inspired me for my track A&G '12 - GRid.
-FS | equal. by hacker (TM2: Stadium 2013): Natural fullspeeder with modern feel. A pleasure to drive online. Instant classic.

9. Have you driven leagues or other kind of tournaments or matches in Trackmania?
No leagues but in Sunrise (2005) I've driven about a dozen clan matches with my clan OTMB but I don't think we ever won. I remember training the tracks and feeling confident before the race and then getting our asses whooped everytime lol. We actually had some top drivers but we just weren't good as a group. But it was epicly fun!

10. You played Shootmania already in alpha stage. What do you think about the game?
It's hard for me to be unbiased since I'm already a Nadeo fanboy but it's absolutely great! No really, it's like going 10 years back in time when multiplayer fps games were simple and fast. But now we can make our own maps (much easier)!

11. Is Shootmania similar to some other fps game what becomes to handling or is it a brand new concept?
There are so many fps's made since Wolfenstein (1992) that you can't speak of a new concept. But ShootMania sure has typical movement. To me in the first ten minutes it felt very familiar and it reminded me of old fps games like Unreal Tournament and Quake. But after playing more I discovered differences in movement. Jumps are higher then UT2004 and feel like a moon jump. I timed the jumps: in UT2004 it's about 0.7 sec, in SM it's about 1.3 sec. This doesn't sound like much but it makes it possible to jump way further, especially in combination with sprint, so jumping from object to object flows much better than in UT.
But there are also some downsides. Deathmatch is the basis of any fps but I can hardly ever find an active Melee server. And Obstacle, I mean wtf, this is a shooter, if I want to race against time I'll play TrackMania. And the game is promoted as a simple shooter with just 2 buttons but at the same time you have a zillion game modes which make it complex and divide players.

Anyway the standard weapon is the rocket gun and because the rockets are slow they cause a completely different way of playing. Most fps games have bullets with direct impact. Of course SM has a railgun with direct impact too but the main weapon imo still is the rocket launcher so it's all about estimating where the opponent moves to. At first it's a bit of gambling where to shoot but after a while opponents get predictable. And it's up to pro gamers to make their movement unpredictable again. In UT the rocket launcher was one of my favourite weapons so it's not hard to tell why I like ShootMania so much. And it's so cool that after so many years I fell in love again with a fps that's made by the same makers of the best racing game ever. Nadeo rocks! But like I said I'm a fanboy so this opinion is totally biased.

12. You probably are a mapping idol for many, but do you have your own mapping idols in Trackmania?
Yes I do. [K]enny was my big example in Sunrise 2005. His track Rushhour 2 blew me away. It was a very fast Island fullspeeder with wide roads, loopings, jumps and great flow. Things that people now take for granted or find oldskool but back then it was fresh and new. It totally changed my way of building and my track Fire$tarter was my first track in this new style. And all my tracks after that are made in that style. Kenny quit building a long time ago but recently he thanked me in a pm after he had seen my tribute video. I told him there's a Kenny in all my tracks and he was pleased to hear that. Watch this video I made of Kenny's Rushhour 2.

13. How do you build your maps?
The answer to this question would have more text then this whole interview so I'll try to keep it short. In some of my first Sunrise tracks I started building somewhere in the middle and added a start and finish. But once I started building full speed that wasn't possible anymore. In FS it's essential to see how the speed progresses to build the next part.
The start is the hardest part for me. I try a lot of different things before I'm satisfied. That also goes for all the parts I build after that. I focus on a part and test drive and tune it over and over before I build the next part. Most of the time I add a little scenery while building and add full scenery after the track is done. In some tracks I had already made full scenery halfway building and then decided to move parts but that's a lot more work, even with the copy/paste tool, so I quit doing scenery too early.
The copy/paste tool also lead to a change in building. Since TM2 I make a lot of use of moving, rotating and sometimes mirroring parts. In TM1 (before tmunlimiter) I have moved big parts block by block but rotating and mirroring were out of the question because it was way too much work. Now that it's so much easier it leads to new possibilities.

14. What do you think about Questmania that will join the ManiaPlanet family later?
I'd like to answer that but since there's not even a screenshot of it it's hard to tell. I played WoW and other mmo's so I'm interested in rpg's but I've heard Hylis say it will not look like traditional rpg's. But I think it could very well be like Neverwinter's user generated content. My idea of QM is that it will have a main hub where you can choose custom instanced quests that you can join with a party. Builders will be able to design rooms, outdoors, make objects interactive and make dungeons with strategically placed mobs. The big question is if mobs (bosses) will be programmable which would make it really interesting. So many questions and so few answers but I'll sure keep an eye on QM.

15. Your top 3 websites, games, songs and movies.
1. (T)MX
2. Twitch
3. Reddit
1. The Ganja Kru - Super Sharp Shooter (Best DnB song of the 90's. Nr1 because I countlessly made a fool of myself on dance floors any time this song came by but it was sooo worth it)
2. Slayer - Angel of Death (Rock rules and this is rock in it's purest form. R.I.P Jeff)
3. Jeru the Damaja - Ain't the Devil Happy (From the best hiphop album in history: The Sun Rises in the East)
1. ManiaPlanet
2. Minecraft
3. Battlefield
1. Crank: High Voltage
2. Beerfest
3. Big Man Japan

16. What’s your idea of a perfect vacation?
New Zealand. I've been there on a road trip for 2 months around the millennium. The nature in NZ is so pretty and diverse that once you've seen it you're not easily impressed by nature else where. I traveled 6000 km around the north and south island and still haven't seen it all. Best experience ever! Whenever I watch LotR I say hey I've been on that mountain!

17. Sounds cool. Describe yourself with four words.
creative geeky rebel something

18. If you have something else to say, please write it here.
I have to finish this interview with sad news. You might have already read it on the United frontpage. Some months ago my clan OTMB lost one of it's members: Geronimo Dubois a.k.a. GD. He died at the age of 47. He's been with us since the start in 2005. He was an experienced driver and has build many great tracks for United. But most of all he was a friend and made us all laugh so many times. He was Dutch like me and we've met twice irl but most of all we used to play a lot online so I still can't believe he's gone. It shows how relative life is and that people you know in virtual life are more important then you think. We all miss him very much and will always remember the good times we had with GD. Watch a video of his tracks here (made by HawkGer).

Well said. Thanks for your interview GanjaRider, see you guys next time! :)
14 comment(s).
  GR. writes ... 28, Nov, 2013  
Cheers and peace ZopUH ;)
  3onyx™ writes ... 17, Nov, 2013  
very interesting to read
this interview paints a portrait of an intelligent and creative person
We will always remember and l (l) ve you GR ;)
  GR. writes ... 02, Oct, 2013  
Thanks sbone! Go go CSb1! (y)
  sbone writes ... 28, Sep, 2013  
Very thanks for this nice and interesting interview !

"You are such a legend in Trackmania. ":award:
All is said ;)

You already know that im a big fan of your work since a long long time ;)
Big up for all the great job you did for the community along thoses years

  GR. writes ... 27, Sep, 2013  
Cheers MrA. I never thought words like that would apply to something I wrote. ;)
   MrA writes ... 25, Sep, 2013  
I only just read it. (sorry) :$

Brilliant and insightful and refreshing.
  GR. writes ... 13, Sep, 2013  
Ty Hans! :build: Hey Haagse, great words and thanks for hosting all these years. You (and smurfs) also did alot for the community. Always fun to join a smurf server! So cheers and cya on the tracks! (y)
   HaagseSmurf writes ... 11, Sep, 2013  
Nice interview and also interesting point of views regarding trackbuilding and hosting servers.
We talked several times with each other online but that was more small talk;)
I also liked to see the point of view from someone allmost my age, because the average player / builder is a bit younger then we are.

We allready had a lot of your tracks on our TMN-server and later on our TM2 Canyon and Valley server. We even have a Royal map of yours on our SM-server. Like you just mentioned in your interview, people love or hate your tracks, there is no middle of the road. Allways interesting comments when we play your tracks, and its good to hear you can step back hearing those comments and put things in perspective. I hope you keep on building like you do and try to be innovative in each environment we ever play in. So a big thank you for what you did for the community from my side.

  Hans Holo writes ... 07, Sep, 2013  
  GR. writes ... 05, Sep, 2013  
Thanks marius. I remember you used to drive many replays on my tracks back in eswc. Great to hear you liked them so much. I still have the idea to make more modern stadium tracks but for now you'd have to check out my (later) canyon tracks for more diversity. :build: Cheers eyebo, glad you enjoyed it! :build: Ty gado, good luck with building! :build: Hehe thanks tcq, I guess I talked a bit too much about the old days, but hey they were good. =]
  tcq writes ... 05, Sep, 2013  
Very interesting interview and it made me quite nostalgic when remembering the good old TMS.
  gado writes ... 31, Aug, 2013  
Very nice and interesting interview. it shows once again how complex building simple maps actually is. I totally agree with your point of the forgiving routes in maps. this makes me wanna build something right now :cool:
   eyebo.wp writes ... 30, Aug, 2013  
Thanks for this great interview! I thoroughly enjoyed reading it! (l)
  Marius 89 writes ... 29, Aug, 2013  
very nice interview ;)

Some of your ideas like the backwards start in BlackVelvet I used in my tracks later as well. I still remember how often I raced your maps online back in TMN. It was always fun!
Nowadays I don't like it to have maps with only loops/wallrides and ultra-big platform turns, though. But I remember you did also a pretty diverse map, which I really love:
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