Before, we were expecting to make three main releases for the update:
1. In Febuary, one update based on making the existing game & system more solid + quick fixes updates
2. In March, more toward new possibilities, mainly with the action maker + quick fixes updates
3. In April, for the first anniversary of Shootmania, the universal demo
But unfortunately, the new target is (and it can still change):
1. March 12th, one update based on making the existing game & system more solid & quick fixes updates after.
2. For the action maker, we still have to see the dev schedule. I would like to try to make a beta in March.
3. In April, for the first anniversary of Shootmania, the universal demo.
My focus on this update is really to provide players the ability to make their best into the game, in all their great skills. It could be for sharing thanks to the store, playing thanks to Shootmania gameplay or Trackmania new mode, creation thanks to mixmapping, mods or innovation through scripting etc.
Since it's providing more capacities to the player, it will probably takes time to really see the full power of the next update, even once it's released. But it also mean a long time span of things to discover from other players.
Our goal is to make Maniaplanet, Trackmania & Shootmania to be of top quality, whatever time it takes. We know that many would like it to go faster, but Shootmania is going toward it's first year of release, which is still quite young, compared to the age of the most popular multiplayer FPS series, such as CoD, CS, TF, BF etc.
As for the the release content, here are the most important things, that I already announced in various places:
- most popular titles listed & simply downloadable
- a better navigation interface (quick overlays on all station & calling the stations menu from anywhere)
- improved Maniaplanet UI (buddies, loading time, quit/minimize shortcuts)
- mixmapping & new blocs for Shootmania
- action maker & improved AI capacities
- NetVision, a layer over the netcode to have maximum speed of vision of other players in Shootmania
- a small innovation into Shootmania gameplay that can ask some more skill to master
- a simple new mode for TM2, made for the only multi-environment title that will support Maniaplanet 3 atm.
- more capacities for items (lights, checkpoints)
- more capacities for scripting (playsound, minimaps, optimizations)
- universal demo (basically play 1 hour of SM per day for free or 3x20 mn of TM2, but that may change over time)
The changelog will be bigger than this, with various things from the wishlist, but these are the main points. I will communicate the changelog in March.
The goal is really to empower the players and to open the access to Maniaplanet to increase the number of players.
I must warn about the release date here.
One concern is about the Gamers Assembly need of a stable version for the nice competitions happening. Shootmania is one of the most popular tournament, with already 40 registered teams, and I don't want it to become under trouble of a big update.
So, the idea would be to release everything in one time, just after the Gamers Assembly (19th to 21st of april) but to still open the universal demo after, once it's stabilized.
We still have work to do. Our main work is dedicated to enable players to move forward themselves. I think that the store + universal demo are the two main advantages of the next update, on top of a better system & creative possibilities.
Our target was in 2 weeks, but I think that 4 would have been better. Now, it's 8 weeks, because it includes the Gamers Assembly.
In fact, my hope is to be capable to start a closed beta in 3-4 weeks, with some players, but I can not say we will do it. If we can do it, I think it would be really positive for the project: better tested before release, less number of quick fix after and more samples of the new functions at release (maps, modes, actions, items, titles etc.)
Be 100% that I am sorry since years of these delays, and I can only say again that I am sad of it. I really hope the entire update will be as good as necessary to make Maniaplanet a must have for tons of gamers in the future.