We chat with Florent Castelnerac about how Nadeo plan to change the online shooter landscape.
Referring to Nadeo as just another developer in the increasingly corporate games industry does the community-driven outfit a massive disservice. They fundamentally shifted the way gamers viewed the racing genre in 2005 with a sleek time trial-based experience known as Trackmania which not only sported its own engine, but also an incredibly powerful editor which enabled creatively minded motorheads to put together the physics-bending layouts of their dreams.
Now Nadeo have set their sights on conquering the online FPS genre with ShootMania, and we had a brief chat with CEO Florent Castlenerac to discuss what their latest creative endeavour is about and where it fits in the incredibly competitive shooter market…
GamerZines: TrackMania changed the way people think about arcade racing games by fostering a great community and an innovative creator toolset. Do you anticipate ShootMania doing the same?
Florent Castelnerac, CEO of Nadeo: Absolutely. It’s great to hear this as the first question, as it shows you understand the project very well. In ShootMania there is the word ‘Mania’, which means great creative instruments and places for the communities to develop themselves. It also means a lot more creative possibilities, thanks to ManiaPlanet. Competition, sharing, watching matches. Many cool things are developed with community in mind.
GZ: Where would you place ShootMania’s gameplay on the first-person shooter landscape? Is it more like Quake or Call of Duty?
FC: A bit of both and none of those at the same time! ShootMania is unique; it’s new and it’s fresh. You can try to compare it, but in the end, it’s like asking if a banana is more like an apple or an orange. ShootMania is a pure and simple FPS game, and it’s fun and fast. It’s more of a fast FPS, with a great deal of fun moments. It’s creative and it’s 2.0 community based. If I would really have to choose, it’s more of a fast FPS like Quake, but it offers way more than that, and the game mechanics are completely different. So it will be interesting in its own right.
GZ: How has Nadeo changed since it was acquired by Ubisoft in 2009?
FC: Quite a bit! First we are a lot bigger. We have better support for the games and a bright future ahead. And we can share the privilege of working in the video-games industry with many more people. At the same time we have a complete liberty and trust from Ubisoft. They also believe strongly in our project and this is really pleasant for us.
GZ: Making a good racetrack is, by its nature, a lot simpler than making a compelling multiplayer first-person shooter arena. How complex is ShootMania’s level editor?
FC: An excellent question, and I’m addressing that sort of speculation quite a lot at the moment. I shall disagree with you, as it’s actually easier. The level editor is more complete for sure, with more options, but making a map takes less time, and requires less capacities. Just like you, I thought that it would be long and complicated, but it’s actually easier. With a good idea you can create a very fun map in 10 minutes. The complexity lies in the quality of the ideas.
GZ: Will you be able to create new weapons and level elements like teleporters or jump-pads as well?
FC: There are already jump-pads in the game, and you can choose the angle, height and distance of them. It’s up to the level designer to decide what weaponry is used on any level. This means setting up sniper positions, short-range weapons etc. or leaving the choice to players. For the moment we are focused on creating a homogeneous kit of blocks, and balancing the gameplay accordingly. We’ll see in the future how things evolve, because leaving block creation to communities could also complicate things too much.
GZ: Will it be possible for players to create classic FPS maps like Facing Worlds or De_Dust?
FC: In a way, yes, but as it is a block system, it won’t be a perfect replica with all the same volumes and textures. I haven’t tried, but I guess it could probably be achieved with a reasonable level of similarity. My thinking is: why would you want to do that when you can try to create the next classic FPS map?
GZ: How many environments will be featured in ShootMania: Storm?
FC: Storm is one title, with one ‘environment’ as it was traditionally understood in TrackMania. Given the number of blocks there are several different ambiances though, from sandy grounds to forests to hills. Construction can be either medieval or techno or a mix of both. As a result there is a lot of diversity in the type of maps you can encounter.
GZ: How far along in development is QuestMania?
FC: We’ve been working on it for quite a long time and we’ll be working on it for quite a bit more! QuestMania is the last genre of ManiaPlanet, and gives people many ideas for creating a great creative game. So we’ll talk more about it when we get closer to release. We’re focusing on making the best FPS experience right now.
GZ: What sort of customisation will players be able to apply to their online persona?
FC: They will be able to wear their own colours, and also have their shield of arms (designed by themselves or downloaded easily from the shields of arms created by the community). When you capture an objective, you can see your shields of arms rising to the top.
GZ: Will players be able to test drive their created map with bots?
FC: We’re working on something regarding this, but it’s too early to talk about it.
GZ: How many weapons will be featured in ShootMania: Storm?
FC: Still too early to talk about this I’m afraid. Storm will have a limited arsenal and each weapon will have their own characteristics. We’re definitely not going to ship tons of weapons sharing too many similarities.
GZ: When do you anticipate that the ShootMania’s Beta will be open to the public?
FC: When it’s ready! As the game evolves all the time, before and after the open Beta, it doesn’t make sense to set ourselves a hard deadline. Hopefully everyone can start playing soon.
GZ: Amen to that! Thanks for your time Florent.
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