The first time I met Winterkill was during the beta testing process for SLO_Fila’s classic, “SLO Mountains”. I knew the name, had seen a few of his posts in the forum here at MTMG, but had never actually met him. Even when we were beta testing we didn’t really interact with one another, but rather made suggestions and responded to posts by Fila and others. Still, it was abundantly clear this guy knew what he was talking about in terms of creativity and technical know-how. And although it’s fair to say I don’t know a great deal about Winterkill’s MTM legacy, I consider it a plus in a way because now that I’ve raised the issue, he has the go-ahead to expound on all the details of his impressive background. On the other hand, maybe most of you could care less about Wint’s MTM experiences, and in fact would consider such info to be about as interesting as watching paint dry lol. Maybe you’re saying to yourself, “Yeah, sure Copey, I got it; Winterkill – track maker/technical consultant extraordinaire, legend among legends, king among kings, blah, blah, blippety-blah. Can we get to the part where you talk about the track, now?” Well…sure, I suppose we can lol.
I’m going to get radical here and start off by saying “Wake Up!” is without a doubt a wham-bam, grand slam “10
”. I figured I’d get the Copey Rating part over and done with, because it’s infinitely subordinate to what I want to say about this track. For starters, it sets an extraordinarily high standard in terms of quality, creativity, and visual wiz-bang sssstuff (a little technical jargon there). In other words, if you’re a track maker, regardless of skill level, and you’re looking for that quintessential published work (that’s how you refer to tracks this good lol) to emulate in terms of texture making, blending & alignment, model construction/accuracy/placement, and a host of other intangibles…make no mistake, this is the one.
What I did learn about Winterkill during the time we were beta testing “SLO Mountains” is that he’s a self-professed sucker for winter-like settings – loves the flaky white stuff. With that said, it’s no surprise “Wake Up!” is set in what appears to be a winter resort area, and a dang nice one at that. The first thing to catch my eye was the custom-made cobblestone textures that make up much of the racing surface. He also combined grass and blacktop textures at different junctures along the course, and let me tell ya, the workmanship and how he seamlessly interweaved them together is second to none - masterfully done. To drive home my point, I typically do my first sweep of the texture work with the naked eye. If nothing turns up, I break out the ‘ole Micron microscope. On this track all I found were donut crumbs, hot chocolate stains, and about $1.49 – that’s it lol. Surrounding the track area is an assortment of housing units, to include lodges and cabins, as well as various types of trees. That statement alone may not sound all that impressive, but it’s all about “how” he did it. The atmosphere he created is breathtaking, and even that’s a gross understatement. As with everything else, he obviously put a great deal of thought into model placement, creating a sense of realism that can only be appreciated by viewing it firsthand. The impression you get is that everything is in exactly the right place, as though it was meant to be exactly in that spot, and in my book that’s not easy to pull off.
I’ve seen and heard comments about how confusing the map can be, and my answer has always been the same: don’t use it lol. In truth it is a little mind boggling from the onset because of how it overlaps in a couple of spots, but this is one of those tracks whereby after two laps you don’t need the map; the track is so wide-open you can basically see what’s coming next…I mean, for the most part. There are a couple of notable aspects about the layout I’d like to key in on. The first has to do with how he made it so that a few road sections are bi-directional. If trucks get spread out enough over the course of a 5 or 6-lap race, it could result in some pretty daring near misses…or not lol. The other characteristic is also a direct result of racers becoming widely dispersed during a race. I’m referring to how often times you can see racers going in different directions on the track even though they are three or four checkpoints behind…or more. It’s a feature (if you will) that’s directly attributable to how he laid the track out, and I love it. No matter how far back you get, you always have company lol.
Along with everything else that’s outstanding about this track, Wint introduced some new technology where MTM 2 is concerned during the production phase of “Wake Up!” Hehe that “new technology” line isn’t something you see too often (try never lol) in a track review, but it fits in this case. I’m referring to his use of EVO 4X4’s editing program, Tracked 3, which he employed for the purpose placing models. According to Wint, it has a level of accuracy that far exceeds Traxx, making model placement more precise the first time around. That's not a knock against Traxx or Guitar Bill--not at all. Besides, word has it Traxx is still the proggy of choice where some tasks are concerned, so uh…yeah, GB is still the man
lol. The point is Wint took that extra step in terms of striving for excellence, which to me is just one more thing I like about this guys approach to track making – he reminds me of me! I mean, if I made tracks, that is lol.
Getting back to the discussion of models, the casual racer probably wouldn’t notice (or care) if there was a tree floating here and there, or if a cabin was submerged too deep into the ground, and tilted too far to the left. And you know, in the grand scheme of things those minor flaws don’t really matter; they have no bearing whatsoever on a track’s race worthiness. But from an artistic/creative perspective it does matter, very much so. Guys like Winterkill, ZooN, & Malibu350 are not “just” track makers, even though that’s what we call them. Artistic presentation is very much a factor in their work, and I for one have a deep appreciation for what they’re capable of producing.
I honestly don’t have a single objectionable observation to make about this track. That’s not to say it’s perfect; maybe it isn’t, but as far as I’m concerned it is lol. The layout is superb – fun for rookies, a blast for intermediates, and absolutely great for pros. Everything works – the helicopter, the computer trucks, the hot chocolate machine at the lodge…everything! His models were accurately crafted and placed with unheard of precision, and the sheer creativeness is just…well it’s just spectacular. I assure you, he didn’t send me one bloody dime to say this stuff – honest. Would’ve been nice if he had, but uh…no lol.
In closing I’d like to call attention to the innovative and visually stunning billboards Wint made for display in “Wake Up!” If they don’t blow you away…someone needs to be checking your pulse, I kid you not! I’ve never seen anything like it before, and I would be remiss in my duties as a track reviewer if I didn’t give his efforts in this area the praise it undeniably deserves. By all means pull over and read them, take it all in. Even if you’re winning the race – pull over and check these babies out. Heck there’ll be other races lol. In short he pays tribute to Malibu350, Phineus, and everyone else associated with MTMG for their unparalled contributions to this game we play. He also made a billboard for Team SLO, which literally rendered SLO_Jumper speechless the first time he saw it. We were in the middle of beta testing when the display lured Jump in. He just sat there staring at it, I kid you not lol. Me? I can’t recall the last time I was speechless, but I’ll tell you this; his gesture transcends any words I could conjure up to describe how much it means to our team. Thanks a million, bud…from all of us, thank you!
It usually takes me at least two paragraphs to “close” so bare with me here lol. I’d like to make one last point: how many tracks have you seen with a moose in it? LOL I’ve run hundreds of tracks, and it’s a first for me. Just goes to show ya just how deep this guy’s thought process was when putting this track together. Absolutely phenomenal work, Wint…truly, bud.
Oh wait – one more thing! Ok two lol – if you like to wander around, you’ll find this one an explorer’s paradise. Lastly, I highly recommend checking out the readme.txt. Definitely pack a lunch and get comfortable because you’ll be there a while…but it’s definitely a worthwhile read.