We chat mods, Steam and shooting fools in an exclusive interview with the managing director of Nadeo Live.
Modern shooters just don’t float out collective boat, not when you compare them with the blisteringly quick Quake 3: Arena or the increasingly marginalised Unreal Tournament. At the UK’s premier PC event Rezzed we had lost all hope of finding an old-school multiplayer shooter and then we found ShootMania; the next big online phenomenon from the minds that brought you TrackMania.
Now we could tell you all about why this is the next big online shooter and why you should do everything short of selling your nan into slavery to get a beta key, but we won’t do that – you should check PCGZine for that sort of commentary – instead we decided to have a chat with the managing director of Nadeo Live, Anne Blondel-Jouin to ask how the supporting online framework ManiaPlanet has evolved since its unveiling almost a year ago.
GamerZines: Maniaplanet is going through a bit of a relaunch at the moment with ShootMania, it’s very much a platform unto itself. What are the challenges of putting it together?
Anne Blondel-Jouin: The first challenge is to make sure that people understand it’s a platform and in the beginning that wasn’t easy because we were just releasing one game on it; TrackMania 2 Canyon. Now that ShootMania is coming out people finally understand it, that was the first challenge. The second one is that when you’re bringing something innovative, people just look at it and say, “Why bother? We have Steam, Origin etc.” So we tried to take the time and show the benefits of being on our platform and I must say so far so good, people are starting to get it as well, to appreciate what is does different. I would say those are the two main challenges. Technically I’m not saying it was easy, but Nadeo is known for being very good at dealing with networks. It was their thing, this is what they had in their mind, it was easy for them.
GamerZines: One thing that we’ve found really interesting with ManiaPlanet is that the community-made game modes like Joust and Elite are given just as much attention as Nadeo’s games themselves, like TrackMania 2 Canyon and ShootMania Storm. Why are the menus set out like that?
Anne Blondel-Jouin: We feel that we’re good at what we’re doing, but there are many, many more people and players out there that are even better than we are. We want them to have the same play styles that we do, why would we want our stuff to be bigger and better? No, what we want is for our players to enjoy the best from the game and if that’s coming from Nadeo that’s great, but if it comes from the players that’s even better. There’s no ranking that pushes our stuff rather than player stuff, the only ranking we have is quality. We know that if something is good players will grab it.
GamerZines: It almost sounds like you guys are enablers than more like developers to a certain extent.
Anne Blondel-Jouin: Absolutely! Considering that we’re giving away our tools and instruments, it’s one of the reasons Nadeo Live has been put in place. It’s to give the instruments to the players, so that they can make our games their own. Some players are really creative, like Mozart or Beethoven. You know that they can compose things, and all we’re giving them is the best piano possible. We’re giving the instruments away and then if there are great composers out there even better. When you’re a piano you love being played by somebody like Beethoven right? I like the word that you said though, ‘enabler’ – I think that sums up the relationship very nicely.
GamerZines: I think that’s what makes the relationship between Ubisoft and Nadeo a bit confusing for gamers, as on the one hand you have Nadeo saying players can do what they want and on the other there’s Ubisoft with their restrictive DRM. Are Nadeo completely free to do what they want?
Anne Blondel-Jouin: Ubisoft has been amazingly supportive since we joined them. They understand how different we are, and the reason they bought Nadeo is because we were so specific and so different. It would be weird for them to try and transform us, because they would lose what they had bought. They would lose the values of the development team; what they feel about making games and how they want to respond to the community. Ubisoft are very respectful to that and Nadeo’s way of doing things. They have not imposed anything on us, they’re just telling us, “This is the way of doing things traditionally, if you want to have a look at it that would be great.” So we take the time to look at it, and decide whether we want to adopt those methods and if we don’t, there’s no pressure at all. Yes we have uPlay and ManiaPlanet, but Ubisoft cover everything. Having ManiaPlanet is a new way of doing things, whereas Uplay fits everything else.
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