Ben Coveney

15 Second Dirt

Published May 14, 2023

After finishing my earlier 10 second dirt project I was still in the mood to make some trackmania maps. For the next set of maps, I decided to push the boat out and increase the length of the tracks from 10 measly seconds to a face-melting 15 seconds.

Map 05 from the campaign
Map 5, where you need to dodge as much of the sand as possible to retain your speed.

As mentioned in the last post, there were also some parts of the 10 second maps I thought I could improve on. To raise the quality bar a little higher this time, the first thing I did was make a checklist of all the small things I should do before considering each map finished. This included things like:

  • Striking a better balance for the routes, with a good level of challenge without relying on frustrating or fiddly tricks to get right.
  • Making sure the routes for the maps were as readable as possible, with no blind jumps and clearly signposted turns.
  • Creating a short intro video for each map, with some simple camera pans and fades showing off the layout before you began driving it.
  • Various small tick-box exercises, like generating high quality shadow maps and remembering to manually adjust the medal times for each map.

In addition to this checklist, I also spent some time up-front prototyping some different colour schemes, scenery styles and block combinations.

Style prototyping for the campaign
Some basic tests with colours and blocks on my style-testing map.

This didn't take long to do, but I think it was hugely valuable. Each map still has a distinct style and some unique flourishes, but now there is a consistent theme across the whole campaign that ties it together. It also made completing the scenery a quicker exercise, because I had some common elements I could use to fill any gaps between scenery elements on the maps.

Map 08 from the campaign
Map 08 incorporates some water hazards.

To top off the aesthetic I created some simple SVG art to use as textures for the Trackmania "club", which ties in nicely with some of the scenery elements.

Map 12 from the campaign
Map 12 has some long arcing banked turns.

I think I'm much better now at the short dirt style of maps now that I've made 50 of them. I think the curves and racing lines are challenging, and I've managed to get some fairly smooth transitions between track sections.

One thing about these maps that I have found, is that even the bronze times I have set can be quite tricky for players not so fluent with dirt driving concepts like managing gears or maintaining full grip of the tires. On reflection I think I'm okay with this - I think in all likelyhood any players who seek out this map pack and spend time hunting it are probably fans of the dirt surface and happy with a bit of a challenge on such short maps.

Map 13 from the campaign
Map 13 is decorated with a curved roof, neon lights and some hazy fog.

The most rewarding part of creating these maps is thinking that people are having fun driving them. A couple of players were nice enough to leave reviews on the maps on, giving me my first awards on the site. feedback

If you want to get a feel for the maps, the video is a compilation of all my author time ghosts. To play for yourself, search for "15 second dirt" in the Trackmania campaign library.