Track: Hill City Monster Drags
Type: Drag & Freestyle
We have a promising new track maker on the scene in PiTBUL, a fellow with prior experience in the MTM2 truck making world who is reported to be a veteran of everyone's favorite 3D model editing program: <a href=http://www.binedit.com target=binedit>BinEdit</a>. We'd like to welcome PiTBUL to the world of track making and express our appreciation for the fact that he has submitted his first track ever to our Expo, a pair of tracks actually, that are drag and freestyle sides of the same coin.
The Hill City Monster Drags take place on a fenced in concrete parking lot in the midst of a city, surrounded by grandstands and the cityscape beyond. The racing layout is an S-course, <a href=http://mtm2.com/~forum/images/hillcitycourse.jpg target=course>seen here</a>. After staging the trucks between the start poles the race proceeds to follow the S-curve, giving each driver one inside turn and one outside turn each before the finish. At each turn the inside lane consists of the tight path between the single inside pole and the arc defined by the five outside poles, the outside lane follows the outside of the arc of the five poles. There is a line of crush cars along each of the three straightaways, with an invisible object box placed in front of them as a ramp to get up and over them. The finish line is marked by two large poles just past the final set of crush cars.
Drag racing such as this is designed to be done online between two trucks pitted against each other in separate lanes. Since there are no actual checkpoints a third person is required to function as a race official, to start the racers and determine the winner. Although tricky at first, once you get used to the labor intensive nature of this style of racing it can be a lot of fun.
Despite the errors indicative of most new track makers, PitBUL shows signs of real promise. An outdoor concrete course is not something normally seen in the drag world, and it's design is impressive even while it's execution may leave something to be desired. It could have used better spacing, and the ramps are a bit sketchy and need more work. All in all one gets the impression the track should be wider. As is the course feels very crammed in, which may not be surprising considering the source of the parking lot itself--a pre-existing area used for convenience. Still, the layout itself is very raceable and enjoyable. While non-functional as far as computer opponents are concerned, the <a href=http://cownap.com/~mtmg/traxx/extend2.html target=mtmg>courses</a> in this track have been set up to provide a functional helicopter as well as race and blimp cams, which we must give PitBUL points for as a beginner.
The invisible object boxes used as ramps in front of the crush cars are problematic (example: <a href=http://mtm2.com/~forum/images/hillcityfloat.jpg target=float>truck parked in mid-air</a>). As is they are rather <a href=http://mtm2.com/~forum/images/hillcitythick.jpg target=thick>thick</a> and not aligned well enough with the cars. This blockiness, along with the imprecise alignment with the crush cars causes many instances of the truck being stalled or flipped unexpectedly, all of which does not bode well for competitive racing. There is a wedge-like gap between the ramps and the cars (<a href=http://mtm2.com/~forum/images/hillcitywedge.jpg target=wedge>depicted in red</a>) that tends to grab truck tires and cause the truck to buck and flip. A stint of beta tests with competent testers could have brought these things to the author's attention, and as such was a sorely missed stage in the development of this otherwise interesting track.
Freestyle Hill City, the second track, has been set up for a freestyle event, with everything mentioned in Monster Drags along with more goodies to get busy on. More ramps have been added to the lines of crush cars to provide multiple approaches. Clusters of new cars, trucks and even a recreational vehicle have been added. The poles have been made movable too, although their weight has been set too light and they often fly off into oblivion when hit. Very unique pyramids such as the double semi-tractor one seen <a href=http://mtm2.com/~forum/images/hillcityfreestyl.jpg target=city>here</a>, and other huge obstacles, make this arena special, but the downfall of this is that Pit may have gone a little <i>too</i> crazy. The obstacles block off a lot of space, and there wasn't much space to begin with on this pre-existing lot. It may have benefited from removing a few objects in favor of either smaller things or nothing at all to allow for a better "flow" from object to object when performing freestyle exhibitions. Also, a few objects appear hittable from multiple sides but in reality are not, which is disappointing. Again, the object boxes used as ramps and collision boxes, while very well done in some places, are problematic in others, giving unexpected results as you throw your weight around. Admittedly, object boxes can be tricky to place using Traxx, but when they figure so heavily into the design of a small course the time should be taken to make them as perfect as possible, something that seems to lie within the skill and imagination of this track's author. Despite being cramped the arena itself is visually interesting and nicely laid out for some freestyle action. If you exit the designated driving arena you can even find your way to the transport trucks and park up in them, or explore the ruins of the city at large. Nicely done Pit!
Now we need to say a few words regarding the work <i>not</i> done on this track, and about the city and the lot used to build the course upon. PiTBUL tells us in his readme <i>"I did not use the Traxx school to learn how to do this, I did have some much needed help from... (a friend) ...teaching me how to add models and make ramps... the rest I figured out completely on my own by trial and error."</i>
When learning, it is customary to learn the basics before tackling the advanced stuff. Race car drivers must first get their street license, infants learn to crawl before they can walk, actors rehearse before taking the stage, musicians learn an instrument before making an album, MTMers complete mdmre's repaint tutorial before building replicas, and while it's possible to get a track working, they also complete <a href=http://cownap.com/~traxx/ target=school>Traxx School</a> before they can hope to build complete or quality tracks.
What PiTBUL does <i>not</i> tell us is that he built his drag in the middle of a city made by another track author (<a href=http://mtm2.com/~forum/images/hillcityorigin.jpg target=origin>comparison shot</a>), one he makes no mention of in his readme. Now any track maker can surely relate to seeing possibilities in another's track, but one should not act on such impulses without the permission of the original author or without properly crediting them.
By skipping Traxx School PiTBUL seems to have bypassed learning how to properly lay down textures, among other things, and rather than <i>figuring things out completely on his own</i> he chose to use some that were already laid down by another author. <a href=http://mtm2.com/~forum/images/hillcitytextures.jpg target=tex>Seen here</a>, the comparison of the source track and his own track shows where only a single concrete texture was used to change a few squares of terrain and nothing more.
The terrain of the base track was wiped out completely except for the flat area of the parking lot, while all ground texturing (using dozens of otherwise unused textures) was left in place and all groundboxes (over 1000 of them) and nearly all models (hundreds of them) were left buried below the terrain or left poking up as the case may be. Warping the terrain as he did may have seemed a good way to wipe out the original track, but such an effort is insufficient considering all of the texturing and objects that were left in place all over the map. To have used a track so very full of models and textures, and to build a new track in the very midst of a buried city, is to create a tremendously bloated and inefficient pod full of unused material, not to mention creating performance issues relating to the extra and buried material, in range of the new course or otherwise.
PiTBUL says he enjoyed the experience of building his first track and that he plans on building more. We're glad to hear it and look forward to the future, but we also hope he will use the experience gained from this track in the future, as well as consider taking advantage of the beta testers and assistance available at the MTMG <a href=http://forum.mtm2.com>forums</a>.
Overall, PitBUL shows us that he is an up and coming track maker with great ideas, and if he sticks with it and hones his skills he will move up the ranks quickly and create some memorable tracks. Keep on keepin' on buddy!