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Location: Home  Blogs  Track Review #1 - Quantum Supernova 
Track Review #1 - Quantum Supernova
Track Review #1 - Quantum Supernova26 May, 2019
  v.neck (0 comments, 732 views)  
Hello everyone, long time no see (idek if anyone still reads blogs)

anyway I made a video review of a track I really enjoyed. You can watch the video here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_rysCD70wu8 or read the script below.

If you watch the video, please don't be shy to let me know what you didn't like about it, since it's my first video of that kind and I want to get better at it. I really like the idea of making more of these as well so maybe you will see more like these in the future.



Transcript of the video: (with a lot of typos)



Hello everyone,


in this review I'm going to talk about Sapphirons latest fullspeeder Quatum Supernova and look at what the track does well and what it could have done better imo.
Eventhough it's not perfect this track is among my all time favouirtes and it's a save recommendation for everyone who likes interesting fullspeeders.

Quantum released in September last year and currently has 36 awards as of writing this script. It's using the former ESL titlepack which is now called competition titlepack and is the second type of Fullspeed in this style that Sapphiron has made. The first one is called Aerogentic overdrive and has a similarly ridicolous name. It also shares a lot of ideas and concept that have now been refined and built upon.

For now though, in following the tracks footsteps I will not waste any more time, and jump straight into it.



The first thing you'll notice when playing the track is the intro, which is very unique and quite interesting I think. It reminds me of something that old arcade games and older games in general used to have, which is called attract mode. Basically on old arcade systems these idle screens showed a gameplay demonstration or a short cinematic to attract players to the system and give them an idea of how the game play before they would be spending their money on it. This can also be found in older games, that continued this tradition in order to avoid burning things into your monitor. Nowadays this is obviously not a problem anymore, so there's no need to have them, which is why you rarely see it in modern games, but I think it's still a nice touch and it fits the arcade esque style of trackmania quite well.

You get a nice look at some sections of the track here and overall it's a very calm and non-obstrusive presentation, which is especially apparent since you get the prompt to start the race almost immediately. Basically you're not really expected to sit through it all and you're free to start the race at your own leiszure which is a nice introduction I think.


Starting the race proper now we are greeted with a start that isn't wasting any unecessary time and puts the player right into action. It's quite common to have a slower buildup in terms of speed and how much you can relax before you ned to steer. Cutting this out here is pretty clever though I think. This track is all about fast paced action, so instead of trying to be more, it embraces this one aspect and in doing so stays very focused.

I always apprechiate it when a game stays true to its main goal and doesn't add any unecessary features or mechanics like f.e. crafting in an action game or combat in a game about sitting back and relaxing. Dissimilar from those games, Quantum understands its own goals perfectly and focuses on nothing but its main selling point. Those being high speed, gravity defying obstacles and a spectacular scenery.



The first turn follows really quickly and it reinforces the idea of immediate action. It's a turn where have to steer as much as possible and hold your button down for the duration of the full turn. I'm not quite sure why so many Fullspeeders emply a hard turn like this at the beginning, but I can't really complain about it, it does feel very satisfying for some reason. One therory I have is that the possible variance in trajectory is very small at the start, unlike later in a track where you can have a wide array of possible angles, so it really only works at the start, but it can also work if you just give the player a lot of space to adjust their lines.

I actually have quite a lot to say about turns in fullspeeders in general, especially when it comes to modern fullspeed, but before straying off too far from the start there's one more thing I'd like to adress before moving on.


I think we can all agree that Quantum is a pretty nice looking track. There's a lot of attention to detail and the scale of the towers and everything is very impressive. Because of that it's quite a shame that the track never really uses much of itself as backdrop scenery and never really gives the player a good view of other parts while they're driving. Of course you can always use the free camera, but idealy you want to show as much as possible from a driving point of view.

The track instead uses a much more claustrophobic type of scenery, which has other benefits such as guiding the player, but I think it would have been nice to experience the scale and height with some more open areas. The track does open up at one point towards the mid part, where there's this area that is being re-used later and it shows a farily large view of a loop and the surrounding areas. This part is really cool, and I think it would have been nice to have some more vistas like this early on in the track. Giving the player a good overview at the start and showing them something that they will later drive on is a good way to draw people in and make your track more attractive. The first impression is always important after all and it's the part that you are going to spend most time on anway so it's the most efficient place to put something you spend a lot of time and effort into, and something like an overview would have fit this criteria quite well I think.


Speaking about the first impressions, one thing the track does really well is the way it handles its learning curve.

Playing a map for the first time is always a learning experience. This can be a problem in the building process, cuz it's very easy to develop muscle memory and knowledge that other players cannot possible have. As such the learning phase can be very frustrating if the author doesn't pay attention to things like reacton time and blind turns, where you have to know whats coming or else you don't have a chance to make it. For this reason you should always aim to make your track fair and give the player enough space and time to react to things that are coming up.

A clear route is another important thing. Using borders to visualise the constraints of the route and highlighting the edges is something that makes driving a lot less ambigous and therefore enjoyable Imo. It's more accessible and doesn't rely on trial and error.



Quantum Supernova offers a nice amount of reaction time for the most part and has several parts where you can adjust your line, or even take turns slightly different. The edges of the route are highlighted quite well and look pretty nice overall, however there are some parts that are kinda hard to follow and understand if you're not familiar with the map.

You see there is a lot going here with different lightsources, moving signs, shining outlines and just a general high attention to detail. While this does look very nice, it makes navigation quite difficult, since these things are used way too frequently in order to really be helpful. The human eye naturally sees lights and moving objects before others and I do believe this is especially true when those objects are in peripheral vision. Obviously this can be very effective to set up important landmarks and spots that you want to draw attention to if you use lights and moving signs lightly, but here there are too many of them that it works the other way and highlights nothing instead, because everything is equally accentuated.

The track is set in nighttime so it's necessary to have a well lit route, and the track does this really well, which is oftentimes underapprechiated, but I do think some signs and lights of it could have been moved to make them more subtle and not steal the attention that is needed elsewhere.

To offset the frustration this might cause however are added respawn routes, that allow the player to get back into the race from any given checkpoint via a braching path that leads back onto the track with the right amount of speed. These respawn routes are a very clever addition I think and make a lot of sense in the context of this track. Quantum is not exactly easy to finish, at least I don't think so anyway. Among distracting lightsources, moving signs, details and how long the track is, there is a very good reason these exist and I think it was certainly worth the effort to put them in.

I think they feel really nice and intiutive and they transforms the way you can approach the track. You can play every part individually and once you're familiar with all of them tackle the track as a whole, which fits a difficult track really well.

While on the subject of what's fitting and what's not, it's always nice to have a goal in mind when working on a track. This can either be competetive hunting, crafting an experience, a puzzle or really anything you have a vision for. Excluding heavily conceptual maps, driving should always be the main focus, and making it fun in some way or form should always be a goal.

Fun is a very subjective topic though and not every track is for everyone. This is when additional goals come into play though and if you say, for example want to make a competetive tech track, then it should be your number one goal to get this aspect right. This means eliminating all the bugs, making it interesting and enjoyable to hunt and increasing the skill ceiling as much as possible should be your priority number 1. Similarily, when working on an rpg you probably want a more interesting route, so it's an acceptable trade off to have it less smooth and hunting friendly, to get some cool designs instead.

Of course not every track needs to follow any given rules, I personally I like my rpgs more for fit for hunting for example, so I make a lot of gameplay considerations that might make it less interesting as a whole, but more streamlined and more fun to drive. In the end it's all about your personal goal and preference you set out for your track.
The more ambitious a goal becomes then, the harder it becomes to reach successfully, especially if you wanna do it really well. You might have heard the phrase "Jack of all traits, master of none" and making something that's good at everything is very very difficult if not impossible. You can get away with it, if the experience is greater than the sum of its parts, but if you want to perfect one aspects then you're defintely better off with something more focused, and this is where Quantum steps in.

Quantum Supernova is a track that is very tightly focused in its design, since it's a pure fullspeed experience that focuses on fun gameplay, gravity obstacles and furutistic scenery.

These three elements form the core pillars of the track and everything the track does plays into these in some shape or form. The magnetic areas for example are used all throughout the track, and explore progressively cascading ideas, the scenery conveys a sense of speed and stays true to its design and the fun is being had by a fair, yet demanding route that isn't overly punishing.

Modern fullspeeders oftentimes use something I like to call "invisible borders" and feel very restrict as a result. It's almost like driving on invisible rails and one mistake means your out since you can't recover your line anymore or slow down because of speedcheks. In Quantum this is a lot more forgiving, since you actually get the chance to make some mistakes and can then adjust your line. With the added buffer of a bit of reaction time, this makes for a much more interactive experience that is not based on a restricted line and much more free and interactive.

SCENERY


One of the most striking elements in the scenery here are definitely the arches, which are made by using two quaterpipes that are put together. Arches in leveldesign are a really great tool when it comes to guiding the player since they create a natural funnel that is easy to understand and easy to follow.

Historically, they have been used ever since the roman era where they have allowed architects to build higher and taller structures. The reason why is because stone and similar material can support a lot of weight, but only when it's translated somwhere into the floor, which is exactly what an arche does. Now Quantum Supernova doesn't use anything like stone and being a videogame, doesn't need any arches or supporting elements to obey the laws of physics, but the aesthetic elements they provide are really cool and create a strong juxtaposition with the more futuristic style the track otherwise has. Blue neon lights and round arches in a city scape are a really nice combination I think and it gives the scenery and the track an unique personality and style.

To be fair though I'm a pretty big nerd when it comes arches and other architecture elements from the gothic and medival times, so I might be slightly biased.

Anways, speaking about tall structures, another element that is quite prominent here is the tower. Similar to arches, the concept of towers in architecture has been around for a very long time, in fact towers have been around for much much longer, dating back all the way to 8000 bc and the summerian era. These towers have some really interesting shapes and details on them, which makes them really pleasant to look at, be it up close or from a distance. The curvature towards the bottom reinforces elegance and the pipes almost make them feel industrial, which fits really well with the overall aestetic I think.
In other video games and media, towers are often used to get some more verticality and height into a level and I'm always a big fan of anything that uses the 3d space to its full potential.

Using all 3 axis in a 3 dimensional space is something not many tracks do. Most of them are rather flat, but Sapphiron used all the space available here, at least without hacking the game using a tool like openplanet. As a result the height changes add a lot of variance and make the route very dynamic. Seeing the towers in the distance while driving is another cool touch and supports the idea of scale.

A lot of the track is actually being supported by poles, towers or other scructues, which lend the track a lot more credibility. Of course you don't need to worry about obeying the laws of physics, but I think it's always a nice touch if you give it some consideration.

Unfortunately this is where one of the biggest missed opportunities comes in imo, because the track isn't showing any of these supporting structures in the gravity areas. These parts would benefitt the most from having them visible, because having visual context would really sell the idea of driving upside down. As it is now there isn't enough of a visual indication wheather you're driving on the ceiling, or just on the floor as usual. These tower bases here f.e. Look like they're regular spires and should have been extended all the way down to reinforce the idea and make it clear where you're currently at. The walled off ceiling is similarly damaging in that regard I think, since seeing the water and lower parts of the track above you would've contextualised your rotation and would have made for a really cool moment I think.

Additionally, leaving some parts open would also make for a better contrast between open and closed areas.

On a positive note though, the scenery is very consistent in its overall presentation and features many cool shapes and details. There's a lot of time and effort spend on it which you can definitely see. The lights you can see practically everywhere fe. are all hand placed, and if you ever worked with them then you probably know how finiky and annoying it can be to get them into the right place. Especially when working on curvatures or placing them underneath another block it can get very frustrating. The camera in the editor can't actually look upwards, so you kinda have to place them above a block and then carefully move them down a set amount so you get them into the right place, but it's essentially blind.

The scenery also features a lot of geometric shapes like circles and rectangles that are really well put together and have some pretty unique and interesting forms I think. I especially like the part here that uses more rectangular pieces and then transitions into more round objects as we approach the re-use.

As a concept I really like this re-use but I think it feels a bit forced. The parts in between just aren't as interesting and feel constrained due to the fact that it needed to end up at the same height and position to make it work. This entrance after the gravity section is also the tighest part of the track and doesn't feel particulairy flowy imo.

The borders of Quantum Supernova are quite nice and functional, with most of them clearly showing the edges of the route and not giving false information about too wide or too narrow turns.
I do have a few nitpicks here and there however.

First of all there's a gap here and a similar one here, where you can completely fly out. In and of itself this obviously isn't a problem, but next to it there is this border than isn't congruent with the edge of the route, and when you drive these parts, you want to be as close as possible to this edges in order to get the shortest and fastest line, so precision matters. But thanks to this border, is not really clear and looking at it suggests that you have all this space available, but in reality this is obviously false information.

As a whole these 2 wallrides are very bad at showing the player the line. There's an invisible border but nothing that you can actually see and digest in the moment. There are a lot of rectangles and other shapes but none of it is congruent with the the actual edges of where you can go and as such it's quite ambigous and not very clear. It also doesn't help that these wallride blocks all have shining outlines and are curved by nature which restricts vision and makes it even harder to see whats going on. I remember having some troubles on this part and I imagine it's a difficulty spike for other people as well. The part you see my flying out here doesn't have any borders at all and as I said you can't really see it coming.

This turn here is a bit tight. I think a few additional blocks in lenght and maybe half a block towards the right would have made it more open and enjoyable. The border can also be quite annoying, cuz it's not properly connected to the platform, so it's not 100% clear how far you can actually go. Again it matters because precision is important and given how tight the turn is, it's natural that you will get very close to this edge and maybe clip the wall since you can't tell exactly where it extends down to.


Another thing about the scenery that can easliy be taken for granted is he color pallet. Quantum supernova uses a constrast between orange and blue which is a combination that works really well togehter. It's one of the most commonly used constrasts in art and uses a warm and cold color to convey a sense of balance. The track is pretty consistent to not break this pallet but there are some yellow elelemts like the boosters, the upper part of checkpoints and some moving signs. The nightmood in trackmania kind of forces you to use blue, because wallride and roads blocks have a natural blue outline on them by default that cannot by turned off, so it's really just about chosing a complementary color to blue, but orange fits really well and I love these colors so I'm not complaining. The text in the intro and the trackname also use the same color pallet which is a nice touch.


Overall I really like the colors and the shapes and forms that are used in the scenery. I also like the speed and the gravity defying obstacles that made me question my sense of direction and the overall presentation, the intro and how interactive and fun it is to just play the map.

Quantum Supernova has a lot to love and my negative points are not there because it's a bad track, but because it's a great map, with some flaws. Making a map like this takes a lot of time and effort and it's easy to take things for granted, especially if you're writing a smug video essay. I hope I convinced at least some of you to try the map and I hope you enjoyed what I had to say about it. With all that being said thank you very much for watching and eat wheat.
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