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 Post subject: TrackMania Creations FAQ
PostPosted: Thu Mar 16, 2006 6:26 pm 
First of all...
Useful Tutorials and Guides:
- Camera switch tutorial for trackmaker newbies (Look at the bottom of the topic)
- BlackShark's custom music tutorial (Middle of the first page)
- Pr1m3's Photoshop skinning guide (In case you don't like the painter that cames with the game)
- Acegikmo's Color Text guide
- BLaHiTiS' MediaTracker tutorial

Useful custom stuff sites:
Nations Exchange - Upload your tracks and share comments with other trackmakers. If your track is good enough you may even get an award!
Trackmania Exchange - For Sunrise and Original
Trackmania Carpark* - Model and Skin site
TM Skincenter* - Another model and Skin site

*Note that for TrackmaniaNations, only cars that have "Nations Compatibility" will work correctly (Otherwise their wheels don't show, for example).

Useful (and free) Dev Utilities:
Racemaniac's animated Sign tool
Rad Tools (For .bik animation files)
nVidia's DDS Photoshop Plug-In (To edit .dds image files with Photoshop)
DXTbmp utility (To convert BMP into DDS, for example)
Audacity (Good for compressing music files effectively and converting them to .ogg)
TM Dedicated Server (Full description here)
Servermania (Needs the main dedicated server utility, full description here)

(Any questions on any of these utilities, just ask!)

Useful file locations:

Cars and skins (.zip format): \GameData\Skins\Vehicles\StadiumCar
Avatars and Flags (.dds/.bik format): \GameData\Skins\Avatars\Flags
Tracks (.gbx format): Usually in \GameData\Tracks\Challenges\Downloaded but any location works

Track Editor: ***NOTE: These require a Locator in order to make them work online*** (More info on locators below)

Images (.tga or .dds format): \GameData\Skins\MediaTracker\Images
Sounds (.ogg format): \GameData\Skins\MediaTracker\Sounds
Music (.mux or .ogg format): \GameData\Skins\ChallengeMusics
Mods (.zip format): \GameData\Skins\Stadium\Mod
Signs (.jpg, .dds or .bik format): \GameData\Skins\Any\Advertisement


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And now...
*FAQ*
Frequently Asked Questions
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How to use different signs/ads/arrow markers in tracks
You can use the "Paint pot" tool in the track editor > Image
With this tool you can also customize the appearance of inflatables, among other blocks.

To use your own signs you need an image. For large signs the size I usually use 280x140 to ensure an instant download, but some trackmakers go as big as 512x256 (It's always 2:1 ratio). Small resolutions don't look that bad in the game. Small signs should have 1/4 of those dimentions.
The image format should be .jpg (I think dds works too) for images and .bik for videos and animations.
If you want other people to see these signs, you need to host them at an internet location. I think freewebs allows file linking so it's ok for images, but I'd recommend your own reliable ftp server.
Once you uploaded them somewhere on the net, you just have to copy the URL of the file and paste it when using the "Paint pot" tool ("Select URL" option).
If a green sign appears, it can either mean that your file is being downloaded, or that it's too big (in size or resolution) or the URL just doesn't work.

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How to use videos and animations in your signs

Using the Rad Tools you can convert many animation files (Such as .avi, .gif, among others) to .bik.
These bik files can be used exactly the same way as jpg's, but they usually take some time to load into the game, so be patient if the "green sign" shows.

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How to make Custom Avatars (a.k.a. Flags)

Use any .tga or .jpg image you have and run the conversion tool that comes with the game. Just open the Trackmania Launcher, and go to Help > Custom Data > Avatar. Select your image, and the program will make any necesary changes to size. Your avatar should be ready to use in your profile settings.
You can also use a 128x128 .dds file. Transparency is allowed too. Just place it in your \GameData\Skins\Avatars\Flags folder with the rest of the flags.
Bik animations can be used too, if you like. They're usually pretty cool. They're not that hard to get, you can use animated gifs converted with the Rad Tools (Bink), for example.
They both show online, of course.

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How to make custom Stickers for the Painter

First you need an image. They can be of any size, but I don't recommend going above 400x400 or the image will look horrible when resized.
The format needs to be .tga. If you have Photoshop then you should have no problem, but if you don't you can use a freeware utility like Gimp to do so. (You can also use IrfanView if you just want to convert the image to tga without transparency).
Remember that if the image has no Alpha Channel (Transparency layer) it will look like a square image in the game.
Once your TGA is ready, create a folder with your sticker's name in the \GameData\Painter\Stickers folder (\GameData\Painter\Stickers\CrusardSticker for example). Place your TGA in it and rename it to "Sticker.tga" (Otherwise the game won't recognize the image).
We're almost done, all you need now is a representative Icon to display in the sticker menu (Like a small version of your sticker). If you have Photoshop, you should make a 64x64 image and save it as "Icon.dds" in your sticker's folder. Make sure you're saving it in "DX3" mode, any other mode will remove any transparency and make it look crappy.
If you don't have photoshop or any way to edit .dds files, you can just grab an "Icon.dds" file from the other stickers. The thumbnail will look like the one you copied it from, but the sticker will work just fine.
Making stencils is similar, but instead of tga you use dds format (and of course you put them in the Stencils folder instead of Stickers).

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Converting Music

You can use Audacity to convert .mp3 and .wav into .ogg format.
The game uses .mux format for music, so you can use the convertion tool that comes with the game. It's just like the avatar conversion tool, just open the Trackmania launcher, go to Help > Custom Data > Convert Music. The song needs to be in .ogg format before you can convert it. Also make sure you completed the ID3 tags before the conversion or the music title/author will show as "???". You can complete these spaces using Winamp, for example.
Once you use the conversion tool, the output file will be saved to \GameData\Skins\ChallengeMusics.

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Locators

What is a locator? A locator is a small file that tells the game where to get certain madia file (such as an image, music, even car skins) from a location on the net. They are meant to speed everything up when playing online without the need to use p2p. These are also generally used in tracks with custom signs, music or custom effects.

They are placed in the same directory and share the same name as the file they would refer to. For example the locator for "MySong.mux" would be named "MySong.mux.loc" and be placed in the ChallengeMusics directory (Like MySong.mux would). You just have to make sure that if you use a locator, the original file should be deleted from its corresponding folder to make sure it works (Except for car skins).

Making a locator: To create a locator, first you need to create an empty text file (.txt). To create it, you can use blockpad, or more directly ib a folder by RightClick > New > Text Document.
To make sure everything will work, you should first make sure your system is configured (if using Windows). In a folder window, go to Tools > Folder Options... and into the "View" tab. Look for the option that says "Hide file extensions for known file types" (or something like that) and make sure it's unchecked.
Now back to our empty text file, open it (with blockpad or wordpad). It should be empty (d'oh). Now type the URL address where the file you are trying to locate is (http://www.myhosting.com/myfiles/MySong.mux for example). Now save the file and close the text editor. Back to your browser, rename your file (if you haven't already) to the same name of the file you want to refer to as mentioned before (MySong.mux.loc, for the given example). It's important that the file extention is changed to ".loc". You can later edit this file with your text editor as well.
That's it, you should be able to select the file from the game now, and it should download from the URL location you specified. It may take some time for the files to download, especially for videos and sound, which may take up to a few minutes, so be patient if you don't see it working. Many players also use this for their custom car skins, which is usually much better than having to use p2p. Just create a locator of your .zip file (located in the Gamedata\Skins\Vehicles\StadiumCar folder). Just keep into account that the original .zip should not be deleted in this case, or you won't be able to even select your car!

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How to host a dedicated server?

First of all, you need to download two things. The dedicated server program itself and the Servermanía utility that makes it easy to operate it once it's running. I'll explain how the latter works later on.

You should unzip the first file to a temporary directory first. Windows' desktop is a good choice. A folder named "TmDedicatedServer" will be created. Open it, and copy all files and folders to your main Trackmania (Nations, Sunrise, or Original) directory. It may ask to overwrite files, you should make sure it does overwrite one that's called DedicatedTrackMania.TrackMania.gbx or the utility will close as soon as it's started.

Once that is done, let's prepare your Admin account. Open your TrackMania game and go to Internet play. Create a new account, the one you'll be using as an administrator account. Once it's been created, just exit back to the main menu.
Log in with your main account (The one you use when you play) and create a server. Select Show Advanced Options and pick the maps you want to put in your default server configuration (You can change them later on). Notice a button in the lower-right corner that says "Save Settings", and click it once you've selected the tracks. Save it as "MyTrackSettings". We will need this file later on. Now that our track selection is saved, exit the game.

Back in your Trackmania game's folder, you should open a file named "dedicated.cfg". This is actually a text file that you can open with blockpad. In that file you'll see a lot of configuration lines, but unless you know what you're doing, you should only change the following ones:

<login>YourAccountName</login> (Use your Admin Account here)
<password>YourPassWord</password>
<nation>USA</nation>

<name>Nameless Stunt Server</name> (Server Name)
<comment>Comment Away!</comment> (Server Comments)
<max_players>8</max_players> (Max number of players allowed)
<password></password> (Don't put anything if you want your server to be public)
<max_spectators>3</max_spectators>
<password_spectator></password_spectator>
<ladder_mode>forced</ladder_mode> (Use either 'inactive', 'normal' and 'forced'; forced is the TMN default mode)
<enable_p2p_upload>True</enable_p2p_upload> (Leave this as "True" if you want skins and everything to upload correctly)
<enable_p2p_download>True</enable_p2p_download> (same as above)
<callvote_timeout>60000</callvote_timeout> (Milliseconds in whitch given percentage of votes must be reached)
<callvote_ratio>0.5</callvote_ratio> (Set between 0 for direct vote pass and 1 for 100% vote requirement)
<allow_challenge_download>True</allow_challenge_download> (Leave it as "True" or players won't be able to play any maps they don't have!)

Of course, you should change the values that I marked in Red as you see fit.
Now that we have configured our Admin account and the server itself, all that remains is to make a shortcut. Make a shortcut of TrackManiaServer.exe by right clicking the file and clicking "Create shortcut".
Rename this shortcut to anything you like ("Server Start" for example), then right-click it and go to Properties. (The window looks like this). Put your attention towards the Target space.
Click on that box and add the following after what's already in there:

/game=nations /dedicated_cfg=dedicated.cfg /game_settings=MatchSettings/MyTrackSettings.txt /internet

So the full text of the target box should look like the following:

"C:\Program Files\TrackMania Nations\TrackManiaServer.exe" /game=nations /dedicated_cfg=dedicated.cfg /game_settings=MatchSettings/MyTrackSettings.txt /internet
(This is an example for TM Nations, also you may have the game installed in another directory. That's ok.)

Now we're ready to launch the server! All you need to do is open the shortcut you just created and the server should run. To change configurations, to add or change tracks, to boot players, etc. you'll need the othe program you downloaded: Servermania.

Install it to the folder of your liking. Open it and configure all paths to your game and configuration files as needed in the options tab. You can open this program once your dedicated server is running, or it will be opened for you. With this proggie you can change prety much anything for the server you're running without having to close it. It's a great utility.

For another in-depth guide about the dedicated server, or in case this guide didn't help, you should take a look at BLaHiTiS' dedicated server tutorial.

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Please let me know if there's something you'd like to correct/add to this FAQ!


Last edited by Crusard on Mon Oct 09, 2006 8:55 pm, edited 10 times in total.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Mar 17, 2006 1:49 am 
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TM-Patrol
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Great, now we shouldnt get too many questions.
Sticky this one.
Also, i think you should link to this color guide instead: http://www.tm-forum.com/viewtopic.php?t=1767 ;)

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Mar 21, 2006 7:53 pm 
UP.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Mar 21, 2006 11:54 pm 
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road tourist
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Great guide :)
you should sticky this one (if it hasn't been already)


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Mar 22, 2006 4:17 am 
I've asked Blahitis to sticky it almost a week ago, so I've been bumping this topic a lot (UP :P). Where's the moderator???


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Mar 22, 2006 11:38 am 
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Pit Crew
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Manialink(s): NazguL
TM CarPark & TM SkinCenter are in english too. Just click on the English flag (op right for CarPark, top left for Skincenter).

Don't forger TMX sunrise and Original

But comments are usually in the poster's language.

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 Post subject: Re: TrackMania Creations FAQ
PostPosted: Thu Mar 23, 2006 9:13 pm 
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highway camper
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Thank you Crusard :D I learned :D

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Mar 27, 2006 4:19 am 
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Pit Crew
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Location: Ireland/orginal SACHSE^^
Owned TM-games: TMS,tmn,TMU
:shock: now i see that... :arrow: NICE ONE :!: .. can i plz use the link on my site^^

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Mar 27, 2006 5:59 am 
Sure, why not?? :roll:


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon May 01, 2006 2:05 pm 
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swift roadking
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Joined: Fri Jan 27, 2006 4:45 pm
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Location: Ireland :D
n1 Crusard


You're a Legend ! ! !

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon May 15, 2006 5:01 pm 
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highway camper
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Joined: Mon May 15, 2006 4:58 pm
Posts: 4
Hey really nice tutorial, but how do you get the alpha channels to work when making your own stickers/stencils, what do you do in photoshop ?
Ive tried putting the background layer of the image to 0% but when i try to save the image it wont let me check the alpha channels box in the save options.

any ideas ?:)


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon May 22, 2006 9:21 pm 
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highway camper
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Joined: Fri May 19, 2006 2:57 pm
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Location: Poland
If you have Dxtbmp you see alpha chanell in top right corner.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Jun 02, 2006 6:21 pm 
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road tourist
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Will locaters work when using custom signs/adverts for tracks you build as well? And if it does, how would I do it? Is it enough to make a .loc file for the spesified sign/advert. and place it in the same folder as the original file? Will the game/editor recognize the locator file and implement it somehow in the track file so when other people download the track they instantly get the location of the sign/advert?

Great work on the tutorial :P

-Ferril-


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Jun 04, 2006 6:44 pm 
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pedestrian
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geat totorial crusard, u reli covered a the basic stuff :) the only thing i didnt understand is when u said "Now type the URL address where the file you are trying to locate is (http://www.myhosting.com/myfiles/MySong.mux for example)" i dont understand where u start off with my the url, the song i wanna on my track was send to me over msn messenger and is now in my computer... would this url be in your computer for example C:\Programs Files\ect. :?: or sumfin like that, so if u dont mind repling bac 2 me that would be a great help ,thanks


from d-dude

ps...great totrial


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 20, 2006 6:42 pm 
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tricycle manager
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Hey, nice tut you have here, thanks!

But would I need a Locator for my avatar?

Thanks in advance.

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