The More Things Change…

After spending more than 15 years in bands and getting nowhere I figured I'd try again... but the guitarist just wanted to stand around looking menacing. Typically.

When I was a kid, I wanted to be in a band and so a group of us decided that we’d ask our parents for instruments and we’d just form a band.  It was, of course, that simple.  I got a guitar, Oggie got a bass, Sweeney already had drums and it was decided that we’d work on a singer once we’d written our debut album – just before heading out on the road for our first world tour.  Life was simple back then – we came up with ideas and acted on them.  That band didn’t actually happen, but I stuck in with the guitar and actually wrote some pretty decent songs.  Over the years my ability grew, as did my frustration.  The funniest thing happened… as I learned more techniques, writing good songs grew difficult because I wanted to use those new techniques and innovative ideas.  This ultimately meant that the “song” had gone out of the song, and it became more a case of seeing how many different techniques and tricks I could fit into each song.  The more I learned, the more difficult it became to just sit down and write.

The same has happened to me with my gaming.  When I first started tinkering around with the Trials HD track editor, I really had no idea what I was doing and so I’d place objects wherever I felt they posed the greatest threat to the player’s ability to get from A to B with ease.  My first real track, Fumblerunner, took me almost an entire weekend for something like 45 seconds worth of track (assuming you can play straight through without faults).  The more I learned what each object did, and how best to utilise them, the more difficult it became to create a new and exciting track.

It really shouldn't have been that difficult... "lift goes up... lift goes down". The Trials HD physics preferred "lift does whatever it wants".

Over the last few days, I have spent perhaps 15 hours in total contructing, then deconstructing and reconstructing a series of objects which would, I hoped, form a simple elevator that is triggered by the rider hitting a switch.  No matter how many ways I tried, I couldn’t get a pulley system to work and so I had to opt for a leverage system instead, which is certainly more crude than a pulley but uses a lot less objects.  I finally managed to achieve this last night and enjoyed playing over that particular part of the track several times to make sure that it was genuinely possible for other players to reach the elevator and trigger it without knowing the actual mechanics of the objects, or the physics involved.  The entire process from reaching the elevator to landing at the next floor down takes around two seconds… yet it took 15 hours to create.

The problem is the new DLC… it contains 50 new objects for use within the track editor.  This means I not only have my renewed knowledge of the previous objects to contend with when deciding what to include, but I also have the new objects to learn and think of ways to use them within the tracks.  Although some of the newer objects are genuinely quite impressive, I feel they spent too much time replicating similar objects (why five almost-identical cars?) and not enough time improving on the game.

As incredulous as it may sound, given my apparent enthusiasm for the game as a whole, the track editor is massively flawed for two reasons.  The first reason is that you are limited to the number of objects you can use per track and the second, unbelievable, reason is that there is no way of knowing how many objects you’re limited to or even how many you’ve actually used.

It may look simple, but constructing a huge ferris wheel that didn't wobble all over the place or become dislodged was incredibly taxing

It wasn’t until I’d finally completed my latest track, Platform Wheels, that I was confronted by that damning message of “Track could not be saved” because I had used too many objects.  How many was too many?  I went back to my sublevel route of the track and had to painstakingly remove whatever I could to salvage the overall track and yet, after removing HALF of the sheets of glass that made up my brief homage to Fallout 3, I still had too many objects and so my track was forever sitting in limbo as I sat in fear of a power cut that would lose my third day’s work forever.  After removing countless ambient objects such as burnt out cars, crates, additional lighting and even part of the final stage of the track… I still couldn’t save.  Ultimately I stripped everything out of the final room and left just the finish line.  I cannot think of a greater anticlimax than this, especially after three days work and so many physics objects… to simply “end” the track with a finish line, but I had no choice.  At last, after one more object was removed, I was able to save my track.

In retrospect, I wouldn’t say that my tracks are any more complicated than the other GOOD custom tracks out there, and they’re certainly not any larger as I’ve seen tracks last more than five minutes, albeit with a lot less going on in terms of physics.  I do feel hindered, however, because I have these new objects to play with as well as a lot of new track ideas… yet I don’t think they can be executed due to restrictions within the game.  With one hand, they gift us with tempting treats and yet, with the other hand, Red Lynx leave the number of permitted objects as an obscure formula known only to them and so there is no way to fully utilise everything and expand our imaginations because of their imposed limits.

I will, of course, continue to build… it’s what I do.

Completed Tracks…

The section below lists all of my custom tracks in reverse order of creation, with the most recent at the top.  The HD versions will be stream for anyone with a 6mb/sec connection or higher and the standard def will be best suited for those, like me, who have to suffer with lower connection speeds.  Personally I’d rather watch the HD and put up with the buffering!  Please note that the videos have been edited to remove any repetition of faults.

Platform Wheels
View Video | View HD Video
Fruity Loops
View Video | View HD Video
How Do You Do It?
View Video | View HD Video
Fumble Runner
View Video | View HD Video

Last five articles by Mark R



  1. Rook says:

    I watched the videos from earliest to latest, keeping the anticipation for the latest track. I look forward to trying out the finished course myself…. I think (some of your other tracks have caused nervous breakdowns :D).

    Alot ot the Trials editor is down to trial (no pun intended) and error as they is no tutorial within the game. There is the help menu which tells you what things do, but not to the extent to explain how to make it work, or what to do when something doesn’t work.

    However, when you have an idea to make a track and you have certain set pieces in mind, it is fun to build. I thought I would use the editor to save a ramp just to get the achievement, but I have made two tracks now myself. It’s great to build a track and test out every part, especially when you have physics objects or clever paths for the rider to take.

    What I would like added to the game, is to have access and play more user created tracks without having to add a random person.

    I still have an idea or two for tracks, so hopefully I will have the inspiration to build more myself.

  2. Mark R MarkuzR says:

    One thing that I seriously long for, but which I didn’t want to get into in the article as it’s not a review, is the ability to visit an existing track you’ve created and copy an object to memory or save it as a placeable object to use within another track. When I started with Platform Wheels, the idea was to use lifts and wheels to get from one place to the other but I had to build the wheel from scratch rather than just lift it from my Fruity Loops track… although, in retrospect, the wheel in Platform Wheels is much more secure. I perfected it this time around!

    I would definitely like to be able to browse an online area, view a preview and download a track that someone else has built without having to add them to my friends list. For sure.

  3. Lorna Lorna says:

    Still, it is pretty impressive that this level of customisation and track building is available and actually works on the Xbox. And all for 1200 msp :)

    Your tracks are a masochist’s wet dream!

  4. Ben says:

    I’ve still not picked Trials HD up, I’ve had the points sat on my account for a while now. The demo gave me nightmares, especially after thirty minutes when my controller was almost wrenched apart in unbridled fury. Still, the level creation part of the game really interests me, and have to agree with Lorna it’s quite impressive that it works on the 360 out of the box.

    I’d love to see a PC version that had less limitations in placed upon the editor.

    Your levels look very impressive :)

  5. Mark R MarkuzR says:

    It IS a very addictive game, although I stopped playing through the tracks in the middle of the medium level when I got the hang of the editor. I still have half the medium tracks, all the hard tracks and all the extreme tracks to finish… but I’m having so much more fun building my own than playing the defaults.

    I’m the type of gamer that plays maybe one or two games at a time but no more… so a game such as Trials HD is something that should be considered carefully if you play the same way as it WILL swallow your time. I remember playing through one particular track for hours just so I could get a clear run with no faults within the allocated time for a Gold medal. On my Platform Wheels video, it took me more than two hours just to get that one run with four faults… I still can’t play it all the way through faultlessly.

    One day ;)

  6. Pete Pete says:

    4 faults?? I got 45 my first go and over 50 my second!! :D

  7. Jace Jace says:

    Yes, all well and good, but you’re the very reason I can’t play Trials HD any more. You can’t exist in the real world with such competitive friends in the virtual one. I wasn’t going to bed any more! I get to that point with some games, they saturate me, I can think of nothing else, I dream of them. So many games in my cupboard have seen the same fate, Advance Wars, Klax, Goldeneye…

    I think your new tracks are amazing, they look better than the ones in the actual game! If you’ve got the time to dedicate to creating such wicked tracks on Trials HD, you need to get into Little Big Planet and really set your imagination free. I’d love to see what you’d do with that, I made a jet powered double decker bus with a driver that looked like a fluffy Melvyn Hayes, so I could be Cliff the sackboy and play out my fantasies with Una Stubbs the robot cat.

  8. Kat says:

    I keep hearing of your tracks and keep looking at Trials HD in the marketplace but I think it’d leave me a wailing heap on the floor after about ten minutes.

  9. [...] boiling tracks.  Others among us have been content to punish the rest of the gaming community by creating their own, spitefully difficult custom tracks, so this is a series we like to keep an eye [...]

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