On Track Making
(Reprint of the Zone's interview)
- used with permission -
The Zone is proud to offer this follow-up interview with Yeastman, a popular track maker for Monster Truck Madness and MTM2. He's got some great advice for those of you just starting out with racetrack design. We'd like to thank Yeastman for his time and his insight into this fascinating behind the scenes world.
-- The MSN Gaming Zone --
1) You've had great success with your tracks from MTM and most recently, you designed a track for our Vegas Tournament. Tell us a little about that track.
Well, the track for the Vegas Challenge was by far the most ambitious MTM project I have ever undertaken. Since this was going to be a special track for the Vegas Tourney, I wanted it to be one for the history books... an all-new, groundbreaking track that surpassed all of my previous efforts. I began by deciding that I wanted to make a road that winded and twisted much like roads and highways in real life, rather than one that had the traditional MTM style 90-degree corners. I wanted the road to feel real, rather than giving off the 'cartoonish' arcade type feel that the stock MTM1 road textures had. This idea was the main basis of the track, and was the reason for the next 3 months of headaches.
Creating the bending, turning roadway from scratch was nothing short of a monumental task. I spent most of the month of May just looking for, and learning graphics software that would do the things I needed. Once June rolled around, I had finally made a basic set of about 75 textures. From these 75, I would modify, bend, manipulate, and then spend hours cutting 64 by 64 pixel textures from them, which eventually became the roadway for the track. This process was much more work than I had anticipated. Each corner was taking 4 hours or more and often created 50 or more new textures. After working through June and July almost daily, I wondered what I had managed to get myself into.
Once the textures were finished and laid, the rest of the work almost felt easy. From there, I polished up some new models, as well as some donated from other authors, recorded and added in the custom sound script, and podded it. Near the end, I even had to take 2 days off of work to meet the Vegas deadline. Unfortunately an unforeseen checkpoint bug went out to the Vegas tourney, making the racing not as enjoyable as it should have been. However, the final version given to the public and available at my site, is bug free, and race ready.
2) What new or different tools do you use for creating MTM2 tracks that were not available for MTM?
Probably the most used, and most important, was the new version of Binedit. Oliver Pieper's newest version of his Binedit program was far and away superior to the one that was available in the days of MTM1. The new version of Binedit is what allowed me to make such realistic looking models, including the signs and lighthouses. Pixel3d was also a new program to me that helped with designing the wireframes of the models in ways that I couldn't do with Binedit. Also, MDMRE's winpod utility was something that wasn't around then, that sure makes track-editing life a lot easier these days.
3) In your opinion, what are some crucial elements of a good track?
My personal opinion would be (in no particular order):
4) Do you make novice tracks as well as expert tracks? How do they differ?
I did make one track aimed at the novice racer, "Snoshone Heights" for MTM1. It is rather flat and fast, as opposed to the constantly changing altitude of most of my others. The trouble with making novice level tracks is that the racers get better very quickly, and soon thereafter, they leave that track for a more challenging one. Since then, I've made them challenging to me personally, which should be a nice medium between making them fun for pros, yet able to be learned by novices.
5) How would your advice to beginning track makers differ now that MTM2 is out?
For someone just beginning to jump into MTM2 track making, my advice would be to seek out the program "Traxx" for your editing needs. With its extensive Help section and Windows type interface, it is much more friendlier than TrackEd from TRI, and should be a lot less intimidating, as well as a lot less frustrating. I certainly wish it had been around back when I began.
6) The MTM2 community has been talking a lot about Motocross Madness. Have you dabbled in making tracks for Motocross Madness as well, and how have your approaches differed?
Yes, I have already designed one MX Madness track, but was a bit disappointed with the simplicity of the editor. It is very difficult to get creative with it, some would say darn near impossible without cracking into the .asc files, which requires an awful lot of work for seemingly little reward. For the time being, I just try to use the existing jumps to create replicas of tracks I personally remember racing on, tracks that emphasize qualities of real life MX, like timing, memorization, and throttle control.
7) What is your favorite aspect of designing tracks?
While designing, what keeps me going and motivated is seeing the landscape slowly turn from a barren shapeless nothing, into whatever I happen to be making. Creating a coastline, road or track is a lot of fun in itself, especially when trying to recreate something based upon reality. Making grass, gravel, dirt and everything else conform into a beautiful setting is very rewarding, and when it goes well, it tends to draw me inward, making me more and more interested as I go. After it's all completed, seeing others racing them at the Zone is an entirely different reward, and it makes all of the trouble worthwhile.
8) Do you have a favorite all-time track? Is it one of your own design or someone else's?
Well, I really enjoy the occasional drive on both Highway 101 and Cape Hatteras, mainly for the coastal atmosphere and lighthouses, but I'm still a really big fan of an MTM1 track by a different author. Jeff Barnes made "Andies Mountains", which was the first add-on rally track for MTM ever made, and ironically, was one of the best ever as well. It was the first MTM track to give the feeling of putting the player vs. Mother Nature. It's still fun and well made, even by today's editing standards.
9) Is there a location where Zoners can see your tracks and try them out?
You betcha there is! Everything I've made for MTM and MTM2 can be found at my website, "Yeastman's Corner." While you're there, be sure to read the MTM newspaper, the MTM Street Journal.
10) What sage advice to the MTM2 community would you like to share?
To aspiring editors: Read read read! If you use Traxx, read the Traxx homepage and the Traxx help section. If you use TrackEd, read the readme, FAQ, document pack, and any info you can find in the MTM and MTM2 section of my web page. To the racers, I would say to remember how much time, effort and pride some editors put into their creations, and to be easy on them even when the finished product doesn't match your expectations. Don't discourage new editors, putting personal sweat, blood and tears into something, then placing it in the public domain can be a humbling thing, and negative comments can really be a big downer.
11) In closing, is there anything else you'd like to share with the Zone?
Hmmmmm, well... it was supposed to be a surprise, but I do have some
plans floating around in my head for some new circuit tracks that would
be great fun to race online here at the Zone. For now, I'll only say to
keep the letters 'M' and 'X' in mind.... :-) Oh, and to all... "Unity -
as one stand together" -- Yeastman
© 1998 Microsoft Corporation.