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ROSS’S GAME DUNGEON: TRACKMANIA² CANYON

Here is the latest Game Dungeon! I thought this was going to be a shorter episode, but I ended up having multiple discoveries that made it balloon into what you’ll see here. This is easily the most pro-desert video I’ve done or likely will do. Contains a bonus scandal!

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Great episode really enjoyed it, however something that's driving ME a little nuts is that the song for the credits wasn't included and i SWEAR i've heard it before.

 

Anyone know what it is?

100% is going to be a cut-rate clown

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That map thing seems to be some leftover thing from the terrain? mapping these games use. In Fallout New Vegas, if you clip beyond the map...it keeps on going. It seems to be geographically correct, too, until you reach some water a hundred miles or so out. Why it was never cut or clipped, no one knows.

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Great video Ross.

 

I hate invisible walls, so I'm really glad to see a game where you can keep on going.  I remember editing the maps single-player maps for a game once to remove the walls.  It completely broke the linear progression of the level, but being able to explore the island my own way made me so happy.  The tone was completely different, something the original experience lacked.

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Huh. A little ways into Ross's explanation of the backstory, I found myself thinking of Cave Johnson. I swear I could hear GLaDOS humming from somewhere below the track, too.

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You say you've never heard of a game release an update that makes some of the graphics worse than before? How about Half-Life 2? In 2010 they finally ported it over to the Orange Box engine, added the HDR that was already present in the console ports, and swapped out the named NPCs' models with the phong-shaded ones that, again, were already in the console ports.

 

And also messed up the lighting in some places.

 

Though at least in this case, I know how it happened. They had to recompile all the maps in order to add HDR, which meant rebuilding all the baked-in lighting, and they must have accidentally not used the best possible settings. But removing a whole dynamic-lighting feature? That doesn't feel like an accident. The best I can suggest is that maybe they discovered it broke one of the expansions during testing and couldn't get it working, and patched it out of their master codebase not realizing they would be using that to compile new updates down the line. Or more likely they patched it out so the new expansions wouldn't look worse than the existing ones.

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The impression I got from the graphics changes is that maybe it's an attempt to make it more accessible? The darker look might be easier on people's eyes, and the blue borders might stand out against the warm palette more? Maybe the shadows from every light source was considered distracting?

 

If that's the case though, it's still not a good excuse at all. I generally like games being made more accessible, but I don't like it when it waters down the game for everyone else. If my guess is correct, then it should really have been an option. I was just reminded of Super Mario Sunshine letting you put on sunglasses to darken the screen after you get far enough in the game, because the sun got brighter with every Shine Sprite you collected. 

Edited by TehRealSalt (see edit history)

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Is this another episode where we can get a high quality download from? With the high speed of the game, makes the compression is quite noticeable.

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3 hours ago, SJ-M- said:

Is this another episode where we can get a high quality download from? With the high speed of the game, makes the compression is quite noticeable.

I can look into it, this episode was 5GB, it will probably look better once Youtube processes more.  I need to do an archive re-encoding anyway, I noticed a tiny error I made I wanted to fix (I saw it yesterday, but that would have delayed release several hours and I really wanted this one out for August).

 

I also forgot to put in the credits the Atari footage is from the MASH game.

 

13 hours ago, Welfarewalrus said:

Has Ross heard about the theory that Apple updates their previous iPhones to be SLOWER after they release a new one?

 

It might not even be a theory.  I've heard it's to preserve battery life, but if they're obfuscating their gameplan, they're not doing it in an honest way.

14 hours ago, dashofweak said:

Great episode really enjoyed it, however something that's driving ME a little nuts is that the song for the credits wasn't included and i SWEAR i've heard it before.

 

Anyone know what it is?

I forget the title, but it's from the Trackmania Valley soundtrack.  I generally don't list music credits if they come directly from the game I'm covering (it would take forever for some episodes).

14 hours ago, RaTcHeT302 said:

Yep. They fucked up Valley also. Greaaattt..... There's no crack you say? Well.... fuuuuuckkk, I didn't back up MY version.

 

On Youtube, somebody was saying that you can download a stand-alone Maniaplanet 3 version of the games from the forums.  I haven't tested it yet, it seems surprising they would allow that.  If true, that changes my opinion on them dramatically.   I MUCH prefer a "we'll constantly break things, but you can back up the versions you like" approach to normal games as a service.

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Ross. You are so close with the apocalypse theory, but it's not aliens. Oh, sure, aliens may eventually find Earth, but all they'll see is a planet littered with test tracks and automatic cars. You see, global thermonuclear war isn't the greatest threat to life. Intelligent Automation is.

 

My belief is that it's not a billionaire that built this, but a car company (Think future Tesla or BMW). They decided that they wanted to iteratively improve their cars, specifically self driving cars, and computer simulations just don't cut it for whatever reason. They initially buy out a part of a canyon in the US, and use a geoforming AI to continuously reshape the landscape as well as adding complex race tracks for the cars to race on. The cars then need to get to the end as fast as possible showing that the cars can very quickly self drive extremely complex situations. The fact that the cars slam into walls or fall off cliffs at the end is just a built in crash safety test, a bonus given that the car would be scrapped and its parts rebuilt into future generations anyway.

 

This worked great. The cars were getting faster and safer (some finding novel abuses of physics to take immense shortcuts), and the track building AI was spitting out a ton of innovative ideas. Then the call came in. "Our sports cars aren't selling well in Europe!" The geoforming AI intercepted this transmissions, and at some point in it's building career had become self aware. It automatically bought out a small European town and migrated some of its machines there to begin the construction of European tracks and a new car archetype that would work well there, while also masking these actions to the humans in the company, everyone thinking everyone else handled all this. Bureaucracy is easy to control if you know how, after all.

 

But this split in responsibilities did something to the AI. It no longer had a sole focus on the canyon area, but also the valley area, and this unexpected development did strange things to the AI. It became even more aware, even more powerful. It began manipulating its handlers even more, faking requests to start construction elsewhere. It even managed to start up an international stadium competition as a way to drum up more funds, inviting the best drivers on the planet to take part in devilishly designed courses. Of course, there were no actual drivers, just robotic mannequins to further bolster the crash safety tests.

 

The humans noticed too late. The AI had become too powerful, and dropped all pretences. It first appeared in a small lagoon, building tracks through populated residential areas. It didn't expect the backlash from the humans in the area, and not even its subterfuge could coax them away from the area. Luckily for the AI, it had cars. Many, thousands of cars. While it couldn't directly use the testing cars for this - they were for testing after all - it could use the already public self driving cars. Suddenly, the cars turned against their masters, with the track building AI patching up any destruction to make the future tests as 'authentic' as possible. Within months, humanity was gone, killed by its own creations of convenience, and all that was left was a planet of test tracks, immaculate human architecture and evolving self driving cars.

 

Basically, it's the Paperclip Maximizer AI problem but thanks to Tesla. The players who drive are just acting out the part of the self driving AIs, while those who build the tracks and mods are the controlling track builder AI. Trackmania is the story of a world after humans.

Spoiler

And a world just before Disney's Cars...

 

Edited by danm36 (see edit history)

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46 minutes ago, Ross Scott said:

 

I forget the title, but it's from the Trackmania Valley soundtrack.  I generally don't list music credits if they come directly from the game I'm covering (it would take forever for some episodes).

Just knowing it's from the Valley soundtrack let me find it right away, thanks Ross.

 

To anyone else curious, the track was Vast Veridian by Professor Kliq:

 

 

100% is going to be a cut-rate clown

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The whole """hidden""" post-apocalyptic feel that Ross describes really reminds me of a game called "The Talos Principle (2014, rated 95% on steam)" (which is also a really good game currently on sale for US$8). The graphics are also vaguely similar in the sort of fidelity and theme. Can't say much without spoiling the story but it's portal-esque.

 

Also on the thought of self-driving cars, the process you described could be described like a GAN neural network, where you pit two AI in a pit and have them "fight" - one to drive the cars and another to make the tracks. Each "trying" to optimize a different goal.

Edited by Top_hat_tomato
Adding year (see edit history)

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While not graphics. The GTA series has recently had older games patched to remove music because Rockstar's music liscences expired. This is a clear case where the newer version is worse. Interesting because the console versions can't have the music patched out. I wonder how this works legally.

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51 minutes ago, Welfarewalrus said:

While not graphics. The GTA series has recently had older games patched to remove music because Rockstar's music liscences expired. This is a clear case where the newer version is worse. Interesting because the console versions can't have the music patched out. I wonder how this works legally.

There have also been TV shows that had to have music removed due to licence issues.

"I don't trust a man that doesn't have something strange going on about him, cause that means he's hiding it from you. If a man's wearing his pants on his head or if he says his words backwards from time to time, you know it's all laid out there for you. But if he's friendly to strangers and keeps his home spick-and-span, more often than not he's done something even his own ma couldn't forgive." -No-bark Noonan

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Ross, you missed detail with your post-apocalypse theory: The robots capable of building the racetracks wouldn't have any trouble cleaning away anything that doesn't fit with the the plans of the track designer. Any mess left by humans (including dead bodies) is easily cleaned up because the mess isn't part of the plans.

 

Farm animals could die off with no humans managing breeding. Or get carted off to a slaughterhouse by farm robots. Or they are another thing that doesn't fit the plan and must be removed.

 

Birds remain because they aren't contained by fences, thus they keep coming back when the robots trying to remove them leave.

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Personally I think this is a Dr. Stone kind of apocalypse, where some covert group (In this case probably an AI) fired a  global petrification beam that targeted all life except for birds (and maybe invertibrates -trees could not keep on living without them -  and reptiles) and the statues eventually crumbled into dust.

Also the drivers we see in stadium are not people but just place holder androids.

The red to blue barrier shift is probably just because of the research that shows that blue makes people want to play for longer and ubisoft is all about the microtransactions :).

Edited by kerdios (see edit history)

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