Sunday, September 13, 2009

Some Thoughts About Trials HD Extreme Tracks

So I have been playing and enjoying Trials HD over the past few weeks. After replaying the tremendously enjoyable Beginner, Easy, and Medium Tracks a fair amount and getting almost all gold medals, the pace of the game began to slow down when I made it to the Hard tracks. The tasks I was being asked to perform were no longer a question of how long it took me to complete, but rather, could I complete them at all? After a bit of practice, and with some patience, I completed all the Hard tacks, albeit with few gold medals. Finally, I had made it to the Extreme tracks. Then, I actually tried them, and nearly passed out from exhaustion before hitting power button on the 360.

While the Extreme tracks are cool in theory, and serve a purpose in practice, I feel like they are a development boondoggle. The developers simply spent too much time on them, and too little time making more "normal" tracks which are actually fun to play and to replay. Trust me, if you do manage to finish an Extreme track, the last thought on your mind will be replaying it.

90%+ of the people who buy the game will never finish all of the Extreme tracks, so why spend 25% of the development time making and testing them?

The developers should have devoted those resources to building and testing more fun tracks and skill games that more people will actually play, and then want to replay. The Beginner through Medium tracks are faster and easier to develop and test, and they are by far the most fun to play and replay.

So what is the actual purpose of the Extreme tracks? Simply put, to satisfy the developers own tastes, and the tastes of a few sick Moto-Trials-fanboys. They have absolutely nothing to do with the majority of gamers, 90%+ who will get turned off by the endless restarts and quit in frustration long before finishing.

N+ had the same problem - too many restarts breaking the flow of the fluid gameplay - but Trials HD actually has it worse with these Extreme tracks. At least with N+, the level was over in a matter of seconds, maybe a minute at most. It was torture, but it was brief. The Extreme Tracks in Trials HD will take most gamers 10-20 minutes to beat, with hundreds of restarts, unless they practice them for days on end, like the guy in the video above, who actually just happens to be a developer. What a co-inki-dink.

Personally, rather than practice on a single track with endless restarts for days on end, I would much rather be playing simpler, easier tracks, and trying to best my own time and my friends top times on the leaderboards. Or just trying to do as many crazy flips as possible. Or, just trying to break as many bones as possible. On all but the Extreme tracks, its easy to have fun with this game no matter how you play it.

One day, I would like to finish the Trials HD Extreme tracks, but Im not sure if that day will ever come. The game is undeniably great and manages to be incredibly challenging while being still a lot of fun - for the entire experience up to the last 4 levels. Thats where the development team went off the rails into Sisyphean territory, and somebody at RedLynx or Microsoft should have had the wisdom and foresight to reign them back in.

One Extreme track, or a pack of Extreme Tracks as DLC? Sure. But FOUR?!? If building these epic torture machines took 25% of the total development time and money for the game, and will only be finished by a handful of players, how can anybody invloved with the project justify that as a responsible allocation of resources?

Id love to see the real numbers on how many players worldwide have actually finished the Extreme tracks. The game has been downloaded over 300,000 times; Id be very surprised if 30,000 of those people actually finished the game. Sure, its possible. But it just isnt fun, which is a true shame, as you only wonder how much bigger and better the game could have been if they hadnt wasted a quarter of their development budget on impenetrable nonsense, and instead spent it on "fun" levels.


Mipam Thurman said...

The game looks like a lot of fun to play. I like the jumpy acceleration. Are there more smooth parts to the game as well?

Chronic said...

Its a classic game; the whole experience is smooth up to the final 4 tracks. To be fair, the extreme tracks dont detract from the overall experience, but rather offer a serious challenge for those so inclined.

I just wish there were more normal tracks, because I dont find the constant restarting of the Hard++ tracks to be fun. So, I feel whatever time was spent on the many of the Hard and Extreme tracks could have been better spent on normal, "fun" tracks.

All that being said, there is certainly a place for hardcore games, and as long as you know that this is one, you should enjoy it.

umopapisdnpuaq said...

I was drawn in by the shared created levels but then found out it's only possible to share with people on your friends list. So that makes 99.9% of the user created tracks unavailable to everyone.

If the extreme's took up so much budget surely they could have sacrificed one or two for a real version of shared content.

So i'm not buying it yet since it's just single player and I can wait until I have more time for it and maybe it wil be improved by then.

Chronic said...

Little Big Planet set the standard for user created content - its all globally available and there are search criteria, as well as a ratings system. The way Halo 2 and 3 set the standard for matchmaking, LBP set the standard for sharing user created content. Anything less always feels somewhat unsatisfactory now.

si said...

I've just got "Going Up" on Extreme to finish. Personally I think they've got the balance down pretty good, it's called Extreme for a reason!

That being said, only people with OCD will probably find enjoyment with these levels ;-)

Anonymous said...

hey sorry for necroing but i dont agree...
dont complain about the difficult tracks...these are the ones that will keep you playing in the end.

i agree they will probably make u trash ur xbox before u beat em ...
but if u beat em at last u'll feel like a real pro, cuz u r one then:D

imo , screw all dumbed down video games ... its happening way too much lately!

WTB more hardcore competitive games like trials nao!

btw for the people complaining about not getting user made maps ...
go to and u'll see ...

Michael Stack said...

I used to agree, but now I'm not so sure. The extreme tracks are what give the game such great replay value. Sure, if you're interested in playing the game for fewer than 20 hours, the extreme tracks aren't for you.

If however you're really determined to get better at the game, they're really terrific. You'd be surprised at how much better you'd get on the extreme tracks with just a bit of practice. I started out being unable to even finish Inferno II, but now I can usually get through with just a few faults.