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Trackmania Nations Forever has undergone a bit of a interface design cleanup from the point of view of the editor, but not so much that if you have created tracks and content for the previous Trackmania Nations that you'd be lost through any apparent differences, the most obvious of which is the introduction of two track editing modes - "Simple" and "Advanced".
Editing tracks in Simple mode gives track creators access to a limited amount of content from which new tracks can be built, basically, enough to build some interesting initial tracks but not so much to overwhelm new users. In Advanced track editing mode track creators have access to the full gamut of content used in the game which allows for some quite complex layouts.
Creating a new custom track for Trackmania Forever
As with creating tracks for Nations, Forever uses the same system so track sections can only be placed in 'valid' space, indicated by a green box around an object. As there is only a limited amount of content to select all that needs to be done to select a component to lay down it to click on it as it appears in the menu at the bottom of the screen.
LMB to place an object, RMB to rotate objects, MMB scroll raises/lowers the height of objects from the ground. Movements in Simple Editing mode is done using the four direction pointers lower right.
Attempting to place objects in invalid space results in an orange box around the selected track component.
Scrolling the Middle Mouse Button up/down will raise or lower an object relative to the ground surface allowing tracks and objects to have 'layers' and/or numerous 'floors', this is especially useful with multi-story buildings and track overlays.
Clicking on the little floppy disk icon lower left hand side opens up the "File Save" dialogue box, enter in the filename a click "Save".
Once the new track has been saved Trackmania Forever will ask you if you want to compile the light maps for use in Forever itself - light maps are a graphic effect that have to be compiled relative to the design of the track that's been built, so every time a change is made the light maps need to be recompiled and updated. Depending on how complex the track is, compiling light maps for Forever tracks may takes a few minutes.
Once all the above steps have been done, the track will then need to be validated before it can be used as a normal track (by the track author or anyone else); it's necessary to do this so track times can be set, which then become part of the track itself, loading in as default statistic when the track is played by other people.
Validating the new Forever track
Once all the step above have been done the new track will then be ready for 'publishing'; this usually entails the track author uploading the track to a web host so it can then be downloaded by players and server admin's that want to try out the new Forever track.
If you got this far, well done! You created your first racing track for Trackmania Nations Forever!
The main difference between 'Simple' and 'Advanced' track editing modes are; the amount of content available for building tracks - there are now additional track sections that cover different types of and transitions between surfaces; and the navigation system - using the 'Alt' key plus any one of the left, middle or right mouse button now navigates the scene, so gone are the navigation arrows of 'Simple' mode.
'Alt+LMB to pan across the scene. Alt+RMB to rotate the scene and Alt+MMB scroll to zoom the scene. Normal mouse button functions are as above.
The video below shows the basics of what you need to do to create a 'dirt' style track.