ShootMania Storm preview: how Nadeo plan to reinvent the competitive FPS

Players already familiar with the TrackMania level editor will instantly recognise the interface used in ShootMania. The simple block-based interface allows incredible maps to be made simply and efficiently. What's even more exciting is the idea of players influencing tournaments via map creation. With so many tiles and blocks, every map can be finely tuned to be perfectly balanced for a particular game mode. When asked about map-pools for tournaments, Beauchemin says that “[Nadeo] will publish official map packs that are 'ready to be used' for competitive modes. However, if organisers and players are organising their own tournaments, it is quite common that they will select the best maps in their opinion. Some might come from our official map pack, some might have been created by themselves or by the community.”

There are already plans to expand ShootMania beyond Storm. Last week, at Brighton's Rezzed convention, Nadeo announced that they are planning another two games which will each bring different environments and features to the series. Several rumours have been circulating that the second title will be set in a snowy environment and be called Cryo. Beauchemin downplays the rumour. “Somebody from Nadeo mentioned that it could be ShootMania's next game, but he was misinformed. It is nothing concrete at the moment.”

Despite still being in beta, ShootMania tournaments have been popping up all over the place. The Cyberathlete Summit in Paris last month allocated over €8000 in prize money to the game. Winners Team Colwn are led by Alessandro 'Stermy' Avallone, an Italian pro gamer who has been playing competitive Quake for over a decade.

As a Quake player, why have you chosen to move to ShootMania?

At the moment I'm still planning to play both games, and as a matter of fact we are trying to attend Quakecon next month. ShootMania just got into beta stage and it's already quite fun to play with a competitive team and has potential to become big, with many tournaments and events already taking place in different countries and as a professional gamer you always have to be ready for something like this. I remember back in 2004 when Painkiller came out, I was exactly in the same position as I am now. I was playing Quake III Arena but practicing tons of Painkiller because it was being used at ESWC 2004. Right after that the CPL picked it up and slowly became huge.

It's also nice to finally be back practicing constantly and looking forward to events each month. I really missed competing regularly and ShootMania at the moment is delivering that, which is great.

Do you think that Nadeo were right to simplify the FPS to such an extent?

I have to agree that it is a bit too much simplified, but that's the general direction games have nowadays since they probably want it more accessible to the casual gamers. Simplified doesn't necessarily mean worse compared to others, quality is better than quantity.

Which game mode is best for spectators?

Only the Elite mode is suited for competitive play at the moment.

Are there any issues currently affecting ShootMania's chances as a competitive e-sport?

I think it`s too early to judge. The Elite mode is fun - I have played two live tournaments so far with my team against the current best ShootMania players in the world and I have to say it was a great experience and we enjoyed the tournaments. Game wise, it still needs polishing and some important features and fixes and I wouldn't go into details because I'm sure the developers are aware of the community requests and they keep releasing updates every second day, which is great.

The learning curve might not be as high as it should, limiting the pro-player experience and skill in the long run. This could also go the other way around, since more and more teams will be able to compete for the 1st place, creating strong and exciting tournaments. After the summer we can have a better idea overall.

Can you see ShootMania being a part of tournaments like the IEM (Intel Extreme Masters) and Dreamhack?

I think so yeah. Servers are always full at the moment and a lot of people are enjoying the game. We have seen a lot of teams forming and there are full online tournaments popping up every week. The game definitely has potential. I love FPS and I just hope we can see them back in the big leagues.