RPG Track building - techniques, features & resources

There are some features and techniques around track building that can only be learned by long enduring self-testing or by other's experience - and as information are sometimes hard to find, I'm trying to cover here some things that are especially related to RPG track building.

But first of all we would like to announce that we now offer a zip-archive with a collection of all mods we list in the 'Mods'-section. If you already have many mods saved in your "...skins/stadium/mod"-folder then it will be easier downloading the files individually from the mods section, but for newcomers this 900mb big file will be useful both for racing and track building.
Many thanks to fallen.soul for hosting the file:

The first thing I wanna show is how to control ColorFX-effects in the MediaTracker for far- and near settings, like Enai Siaion did on his track 'Ex Gehenna', creating a fog-like atmosphere. Hageldave already made a very complete video tutorial about this a few months ago, so I recommend watching this:

If you are familiar with RPG tracks, you probably already have seen Platform blocks that are cut off at their bottom end to form a gap one can drive through. In case you don't know how these can be created, here's the explanation:

The first step is to create a heightened dirt area and place the platform block ("StadiumCircuitBase") directly on the heightened dirt, which would look like this:

Save the track and open it in ChallengeEdit (Download CE). Search for the block "StadiumCircuitBase", click it and then increase the Z-value by your preferred amount (it will raise the block).Click on "save block modifications to memory" and then save the .Gbx-file. When having done everything correct, you should see a shortened platformblock as shown below.

An even easier way of achieving this effect is to place the platformblock at the actual designated area and change it's Variation2 in ChallengeEdit to 16. The platformblock will then be shortened even without being on the ground. If you don't know how to change a block's variation, read the tutorials below.

Water blocks are very often used in RPG's but they have the negative side-effect that it's not possible to build under them and are hard to modify. I will detail a quite easy method of dealing with this.

Instead of taking the water blocks from a stadiumpool, we simply put other blocks on the exact same location we want the water to be and then transform the blocks into stadiumwater. Any block will work but I recommend picking one that you will later never use in your track, in my case the finishline-block.

Load the track now into ChallengeEdit and select the first "StadiumRoadMainFinishLine"-entry. The first block of one block type that has been placed in the editor (and is thus also shown first in the ChallengeEdit-block's list) is always the primary block for this specific block type which is marked with a "-P" before it's name (look picture below).
When having selected the primary block, you can now click the Unlock-Button below the block list and select a different block type (in our case StadiumWater). Pressing on "Save block modifications to memory" will then change all Finishline-Blocks to Stadiumwater.

With this result after having saved the .Gbx:

If you are now not pleased for example with the pipe that goes along under the water or want to add blocks under the water, you just have to reverse the process and turn the primary "StadiumWater" into "StadiumRoadMainFinishLine".

This process of transforming blocks can also be used to create dirt areas in the air very effectively.
Here's how my example looks before and after some editing in ChallengeEdit.

The end result is a natural-looking dirt area consisting of some dirt hills and flat dirt. For the flat dirt I placed Finishline-blocks and transformed them in ChallengeEdit into "StadiumDirt". The dirt hills I created by putting "StadiumPlatformLoopStart"-blocks on their location and transformed them into "StadiumDirtHill".

The problem though is that the dirthill-block comes in three different shapes. Just transforming a primary block into dirthill will produce the same shape for all dirthills, as can be seen in my example:

For this problem ChallengeEdit also offers a solution, the variations.
When having selected a block, at the lower right side of ChallengeEdit will appear four boxes with the according texts "Variation 1", ..2 etc. By default, all values in the boxes are at zero.
Because in the previous picture the variations of the dirt hills haven't been changed yet, they are in the shape of Variation {0,0,0,0}. For block 109 this shape is already correct so we don't need to change it, only rotating the block is necessary. By changing Variation 1 to "9" and Variation 2 to "16", we get the curved shape of the dirthill which we need for the blocks 105 and 112. The third shape (not curved) can be created by changing Variation 1 to "5" and Variation 2 to "16" which we need for all the blocks that are left.

The last thing I want to show also has something to do with the transform-feature of ChallengeEdit - but with the end result of mixing blocks ingame.

For this we first need a large area of blocks, all of the same type. In the example I'm going to use the FinishLine-Block again. The blocks need to cover the area completely without spaces. After having done that, save the track as a copy so you can later use it as a template. Start adding blocks over the area now. It looks like this in principle:

Change the primary FinishLine-Block now into some other block in ChallengeEdit ("StadiumSculptB" is probably best suited for this) the same way I already explained in the other tutorials. The StadiumScluptB-Blocks are mixed with the other blocks now and after deleting the Sculpture-Blocks, you can freely mix new blocks into the already existing blocks inside the editor. The blocks that were mixed with the Sculpture-Blocks always stay mixable, so even if you added new blocks to them, you can delete them and add different blocks.

This technique is mostly only useful for experimenting with blockmixes, not for making regular blockmixes in a track project as it is more time-consumptive. But the advantage when experimenting is that you can always test the mixes directly in the editor and can change them directly if needed.

For more detailed information about Blockmixing and ChallengeEdit, visit TM-Creative

Any questions left? Ask away in the comment section :-)


Brainshaker said...

very nice tut hawk!
Some points i knew alreaedy but some are totally new for me... thx for helping :D

HawkGer said...

thx, glad I could help =)

Voyager006 said...

About the watermix -
i tried it myself and what appears is the waterblock, and a big hole below it. What i've tried so far is to move blocks attached to grass below the waterblocks (e.g. a pipe or PlatformBase), and it worked fine until i modified them in-game. :)

But i got a case:
I redid the waterblocks into normal blocks, but when i try to move the block into water block to right place again, 2 of the 3 blocks disappear :S Maybe this is because there are already blocks at the space the waterblock should be located (not below) ;). So i guess i have to remove and mix these blocks into the waterblock again after implementing the water :P


HawkGer said...

Hmm you don't even have to move blocks to fix the holes. You can just transform the water into normal blocks and then place the blocks with grass attached to them on the ground. If that is what you meant... ^^

About your case: It is not possible to my understanding to have waterblocks through which normal blocks go through. So if you have a waterblock and a normal block looks over the water and you save the track + reopen it, the waterblock disappears because it is being written over by the normal block.
Maybe this was your problem but again...I didn't fully understand your description ^^

Oh and maybe a solution for this (but very complicated): The guy on this track http://tmnforever.tm-exchange.com/main.aspx?action=trackshow&id=1461196#auto
was able to build normal blocks over water. He also left a description in the comments.

Hope I could help you Voyager ;)

Chazu said...

Awsome !!!

Voyager006 said...

well that's a pity, because i'd like to mix blocks into the waterblock itself :P

Although i got a track where there is a block mixed into a waterpiece and it doesn't disappear :O (see pic: http://a.imagehost.org/download/0618/ScreenShot07)
But once i modify the earth in terraformer the game crashes ^^

I think you understood my earlier post right, as i could understand your answers :)

HawkGer said...

okay I take back what I said previously. I just made one test but it should work in general.
I placed a platformblock in the editor, created a waterblock and moved it in the middle of the platformblock. The water disappeared. Then I created a second waterblock above the platformblock and the first waterblock appeared again. See pic: http://h.imagehost.org/0659/TmForever_2009-09-23_23-30-03-42.jpg
Maybe you try this to be sure it actually works ;)

Voyager006 said...

I can try that if i remove the waterblocks and trying to modify the ground :P

thx :)

Pål / Tecfan said...

actually, you don't need to place the block on a heightened dirt area, you can just put the block on the grass, and it will automatically get "variation 16" in CE, and then move it up and/or away.

btw, how do we know which variation to put on which dirt blocks?

HawkGer said...

oh alright, didn't try that yet without dirt...was just told this method and never tried differently ^^ And you can see the specific variations of the three dirtblocks when watching a track in ChallengeEdit that already has dirthills in it built the normal way, the variations are shown then and you don't have to go try&error...

fallen.soul said...

Link looks much better now ;)

Link9 said...

And you actually don't have to place it on the grass. You can easily place your block on the right position and change 'variation 2' from '0' to '16' in CE.

Pål / Tecfan said...

yeah ^^ the important thing is variation 16

Enai Siaion said...


I figured out a way - with a hex editor - to create an entire stadium area of dirt at height 24.

Then this very easy trick comes along.


Anonymous said...

thanks very much for this tut, Hawk :)

-|MfG|-Big Al

Anonymous said...

Nice tuto Hawk, now I knew how to create this free room between 2 platform-parts. :>




Anonymous said...

Awesome tutorial Hawk, Really helped me :D
Thanks !

Chazu said...

My Challenge edit doesn't have the options variations and changing blocks .. Is their a new one?

HawkGer said...

This one is the latest version, try it out: http://skubidou.free.fr/TrackMania/Progs/ChallengeEdit04d.zip

Anonymous said...

Simplistic is no such mention as a trick, but an more effective method that makes sense... What an excellent tutorial!

Anonymous said...

please can you made an article who say how to do underground roads ?

Ps: sorry for my bad english, i'm french :D

HawkGer said...

I guess you mean roads which go under the level of grass? That's only possible with dirtblocks and it's very easy. Just place a dirtblock on the ground and change it's Z-value in ChallengeEdit to zero. Then it should appear under the grass.
P.S. haven't tested this, it's only my knowledge...

Derter said...

Really nice tut Hawk!

Anonymous said...

pls nekdo Jak mam Stáhnout otevrit deset problém upravit ... mam na v.. zip

Anonymous said...

Really good tutorial!
But i have a question about some trees, just follow this link http://forum.tm-creative.org/thread-2221-post-17998.html#pid17998 and you will find the quest. Please answer :D

popgun said...

Good tutorial. I have a problem when I cut the bottom off blocks by changing variation 2 to 16. If I later change blocks around near one of these (but not touching it) the variation resets to 0, on that block and others that have been shortened as well!
This means that I have to do them all again before I can validate the track, which can be really tricky in some places.
Anyone else had this problem?


Pål / Tecfan said...

I had this problem often when building Intronaut.. stuff I did far away from the var16-blocks reset it... I have no idea why :\

Kai / ///S Power said...

I have problems with challengedit.. don't know why, but i can't open some files, specially the "lines" with the P befor the others with @? have any idea?

Anonymous said...

popgun,i think it's because you use the "go back" arrow on editor try never using it.
I hope it'll work (:

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