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    TrackMania: distributed gaming

    18th March 2007

    As I earlier said, computer games are evil. After nearly half a year of not playing any computer games, I spent a few hours on “trackmania nations” racing.

    Probably the only reason of writing about trackmania is the system of “distributed gameplay” in this game. As I am not a gamer, I do not know if trackmania was the first to introduce the “distributed gaming and ranking system”, but the system itself is very appealing and even akin to the computational efforts like The GRID and seti/folding@home etc.

    In trackmania nations, you play online. First you select the nation you’ll be playing for, your login/nickname/password/car model etc. When you click the “Internet” button within the game, you get the list of your nation’s servers to choose from. You can also “Show all servers”, organized by country. I was playing on French and German servers, which have the lowest ping times for me.

    Despite thousands of players gaming simultaneously on different servers, there is evidently some universal scoring system, which provides for the national and global ratings of every player. As it appears to me:

    • every created server connects to and registers itself for players to see in their lists of servers
    • when a player starts the internet game, he connects to, which evidently saves individual players’ ratings and scores
    • if some conditions are met on a track/server (I suppose there is a limit on the minimal number of racers, and probably also the server/track might need to be registered on *.trackmania), the racing is started in official mode; otherwise, you get the message “You aren’t in official mode”
    • as soon as single race is complete (I mean the end of all laps, rounds won by someone, or reached timelimit in time attack), each player gets a score for that race, evidently based on the previous successes of the player, and on the current-game results. (Less experienced players get more points for worse times than more experienced players for better times.)
    • race scores are stored on

    This is how it appears to be working. This way, even tens of thousands of players on a thousand of servers can play nearly “together” in the sense of the ratings and scores.

    As for the “nations” part in trackmania: supposedly nation’s ranking is just the sum of the rating of all racers playing under the nation’s flag. (BTW, at the moment of writing the absolute leader is France – probably due to the fact that Nadeo, the company which created Trackmania, is a French one.)


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