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 Post subject: MTRA Farmland by Tarres
PostPosted: Tue Sep 09, 2003 1:30 am 

Joined: Wed Aug 20, 2003 7:22 am
Posts: 37
Track: MTRA Farmland
Type: Circuit
Checkpoints: 6
Garage Settings: 17 med tires/soft suspension
Lap time: 1:22
Music: Farmroad

MTRA Farmland shows a marked improvement in Tarres' track making. It's a fully functional course built from Farm Road 29 terrain textures and all of them are laid in properly, with an added bonus of hill tops and a couple off-road stretches done in contrasting dirt patches. Model placement, on the other hand, has a couple minor problems. The right-hand checkpoint marker for checkpoint two is floating, as are the telephone poles to the right of well, in a few places actually. While we're on the subject, you're going to have to drop us a line at MTMG one day and explain all the telephone poles. There are enough of em to go in four track lol. Maybe throwing in some houses would've help balance things out a bit, but we can't seem to come up with any sort of reasonable answer why one barn and a herd of cows need all of those telephone poles lol. At any rate, back to floating models, more often than not that characteristic can be attributed to them being placed in the track early and then changing the terrain afterward. A good rule of thumb when making a track is to leave models to the last possible moment, and for those that must be placed early to go back and reset them to be doubly sure they align properly with the terrain. One location where this wouldn't have helped is along the straight near checkpoint three. In this case, the outward edge of the telephone pole models are aligning with the upward part of the hill, thus causing them to float. The way around this is either to turn them ninety degrees so the upper cross part of the poles point in the same direction as the road, or set them to no collide, sink them down to a proper level, with the option of adding an object box for the post. One last spot where model placement isn't top notch is by the cows along the stretch approaching checkpoint four. In this case they're sunk into the ground and pop up as you approach them. This too is likely caused by changing the terrain after the models have been set. But these things are visuals and don't really impact on a race; that is, not unless you've got a thing for cows and running them over tickles your fancy lol.

The most striking thing about this track in our opinion was Tarres created a deliberate short cut, and he defined alternate paths for the different level computer trucks to follow. After passing through checkpoint one the first time, I saw the road go straight, the map followed the road but checkpoint two was an immediate right turn. It was only after some examination, prompted by the shortcut between checkpoints two and three that I discovered a preconceived design wherein you are presented with multiple paths from which to choose your way around this course. Needless to say this was a pleasant surprise given our experience with Percent One Racing. The intentional shortcut is not that difficult to navigate and will shave a couple seconds off a lap, but the speed and momentum from the straight approaching it, and the narrowness coupled with the jag in the middle is enough to trip you up easily if taken for granted. An interesting twist to this intentional short is that you can circumvent it with what appears to be an unintentional short by veering right after checkpoint two. It's somewhat rough, but if done correctly it takes about 2.5 seconds off the route using the intentional shortcut.

What may come as a surprise to some, maybe even to most, is this is actually a race worthy track in terms of fun, excitement, and level of difficulty. The cuts are pretty obvious, but each of them require some measure of deliberate execution or you'll be either laying on your side or watching everyone else's tailgate. The question to be asked is whether or not Tarres appreciates his just under 2:00 course being cut down to under 1:25 seconds. To some authors it's rather disheartening (understatement) to see their hard work and well thought out course dissected into what amounts to an entirely different track much like this one as seen in this replay. It's one lap, and anything but clean, that clocked in at 1:22.89, which says that if it were refined a little you'd see times around the 1:16 range, easily in fact. The shorts could've easily been negated had Tarres employed the use of competent beta testers (you guessed it - another plug for the MTMG Beta room). Two of the large shortcuts could be eliminated with the addition of a couple more checkpoints, and in the case of checkpoint five, just move it down the road a little bit more. Nevertheless, we have a hunch Tarres will learn from the experience, and learn to be mindful of "holes" of that sort in his future projects. Before leaving the subject of courses and cuts, I should mention that the front two trucks in the starting formation have an edge of about three truck lengths. I couldn't guess why this is so, and the difference is probably negligible, but it's there all the same.

It's obvious Tarres put some thought into MTRA Farmland, and we definitely give him the ole MTMG nod for that. Despite the plethora of outright shortcuts and corner cuts, it does in fact provide for some fast and furious racing. Heck even with all of the shorts, the 200 telephone poles he used should be enough to keep you on your toes by themselves lol. Also, we're pretty confident MTRA Farmland is not Tarres' second track, though you'd be tempted to think that since it has the same name as, and is packed with, his first. But pod file dates tell a different story and the quality of his other work suggests a more stepwise order in his evolution as a track maker. In any event, all that is beside the point. With very minor tweaking, MTRA Farmland would be a first rate track.

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