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How to get rid of the Blue Shell in Mario Kart

Discussion in 'Game Design' started by Not_Sure, Jun 17, 2019.

  1. Not_Sure

    Not_Sure

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    Just as a thought experiment I've been thinking about how I'd "fix" Mario Kart.

    As it stands, the biggest issue with Kart games is that the leaders have a huge advantage that they don't need to stumble over everyone to push forward. This leads to a vicious compounding "rich get richer" effect. Mario Kart famously solves this by giving this player weaker and weaker items as they reach the front. Then to really cut things down to size they have the infamous Blue Shell, a projectile that goes straight to whoever is in first and hits them with virtually no way to avoid it.

    I think that I've come up with a far better solution: Drafting.

    I don't think I've ever seen this done in a kart game before, and it's so simple it's stupid making me wonder why it hasn't been done.

    Basically have a jet stream that follows directly behind each kart and give a hefty boost of speed.

    Players would be constantly scrambling around, leap-frogging one another again and again.

    Then in addition to the jet stream right behind the player kart, I could also foresee a second much wider draft that covers the entire track.

    So whoever is in first would have the lowest top speed and whoever was last would have the highest.

    It may need some tweaking to determine what would be an appropriate speed differential, I'm thinking I'd start with a 25% cap, but it would sure beat the hell out of the current system.

    Any opinions?
     
  2. halley

    halley

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    This "jet stream" sounds a lot like rubber-banding, the usual term for giving mulligans or speed enhancers to the rear. It's exactly the same problem as sandbagging the leader. Both are masks for a bad game design where the racer's only challenges come from avoiding other racers.
     
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  3. neoshaman

    neoshaman

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    https://mariokart.fandom.com/wiki/Drafting

    Mario kart does it already,
    also the leader don't have weaker item, it has defensive item: banana, green shell, all can be hold down to protect the rear, which is where you are most likely to be hit, and banana can trigger the blue shell to evade it, and then there is the horn. Also the last person don't have stronger item, it has offensive or catch up item, blue shell is most likely not helping the last one catching up anyway. People in the middle get versatile item, like 3 shells that are both defense and offense and allow to deal with pack (being surrounded by people who can hit you. Also the leader can deny items by breaking items box in the fastest racing line.

    Mario kart is balanced so that you always have challenge, in the first place you have to avoid attack from behind and you are given the tools, in the middle you have can be attack from any angle so you have strong versatile tools. When you are last you are given tools to catch up (lots of mushrooms, bullet bill, invincibility helps you with hazard and off road). It's balance so that statistically the best still comes on top. I mean I still way ahead of most people even after taking too blue shells in a row.

    Also the game provide element to make solo racing interesting:
    - dynamic level that change over lap
    - road hazard where the timing can change your own road line
    - hard to execute shortcut for when you are safe of any disruption
    - lots off execution element (like trick) so you feel like you always do something and quickly recover speed from accident.

    Anyone who say rubber banding is bad design is ... well that debate is dead professionally already so ...
     
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  4. newjerseyrunner

    newjerseyrunner

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    Drafting is a staple of Mario Kart, it's been there since the N64. Besides jump-boosting, it's one of the main ways to gain additional speed. I didn't realize that it wasn't explicitly taught, but you can see the AIs doing it all the time and online players use it a lot, it's the reason that towards the end of the race leaders tend to start swerving a lot, to prevent people from drafting past them.

    Personally, I like the horn. Takes up your slot preventing you from using anything else and requires skill to actually kill the shell.
     
  5. Not_Sure

    Not_Sure

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    I did not know that you could draft in Mario Kart. The game has zero feedback to show this.

    And @neoshaman sorry I flat out reject that a banana peel is comparable to a bullet bill or a blue shell.

    The items are not balanced at all. The red shell is objectively better than a green shell. And you can get one or three

    @halley its only rubber banding if its not counter balancing a rich get richer mechanic. In Racers its WAY easier to go faster when you're not in a constant fight with everyone else, which the person in first place is usually free of.

    They can just floor it. Then there's a heard of people hitting and blocking one another.

    Its WAY easier to be in first than last.

    The only time rich get richer mechanics are a good thing is when it's explicitly the point, such as with an moba.
     
  6. newjerseyrunner

    newjerseyrunner

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    Again, that’s simply not true. That’s only true for Mario Kart 64. Every other game has visual and audio feedback.

    This is what it looks like when you draft. I play this game a lot. I was pretty high ranks in both Wii and MK8 in the worldwide and got gold on all cups at 200cc.
    DFA216C0-6EC9-41A8-A543-4E8BE844AE4F.png

    It’s quite common for two or three players to get into the front of the pack and constantly swap positions by drafting off of each other, combined with boost hopping it can take several seconds off of each lap.
     
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2019
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  7. BrandyStarbrite

    BrandyStarbrite

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    Exactly. And that is why the game, is so much fun.
     
  8. angrypenguin

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    Why is this a "bad game design"? I can understand if it's not the design a game is going for, but I disagree that it's "bad". By definition, in a race the faster person should win.

    The blue shell isn't an attempt to make the game a better racing game. It's an attempt to make it more accessible by de-emphasising racing skill. If it was all about racing skill then the person who owns the game wins all the time because they have the most practice and are the fastest. Among similarly skilled players that makes for the best racing game, but as a social experience it's crap.

    When playing socially, the blue shell either makes the best players choose to stay with the pack or it gives the less skilled racers a way to remain competitive. It's not a racing feature, it's a social feature.

    Edited for clarification.


    - - -


    Question: If the blue shell wasn't there, would the game still be as popular?

    People love to complain about it, but I suspect that if it weren't there then groups would quickly get a "best" player, games would get samey, and people would move on to other games as happens with pretty much any other racer. Mario Kart, on the other hand, has remained the leader in it's niche for... 3 decades?
     
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2019
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  9. neoshaman

    neoshaman

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    Ouch, someone isn't playing the game everyday for 3 decades straight I SEE :D

    They are not balance at noob level, it's not just a racing game, it's a fighting game, you need to practice your counter move too. Shells is general are YAGNI when in first place, by definition NOBODY IS IN FRONT OF YOU, what you need is to DEFEND people BEHIND you, hence the banana peel, there is many tactics with the banana peel anyway, first it's trailing behind, in case of incoming shell you must actually adjust your trajectory (racing skills) in order to put the peel between you and the incoming object WORKS FOR BLUE SHELL TOO. WORSE you can simply snake boost away from a blue shell! In fact there youtube compilation of blue shell dodge, after a certain level of familiarity, you simply don't fear it.

    Red shells in all mario kart are more like very short range weapon, they aren't that effective, they are easily fooled, are fragile and break on absolutely anything, in fact sudden acceleration tend to cancel their focus (use snake boost), and you don't have much control, in some mario kart (snes) I can even turn your own shell against you (I can just jump over them). Green shell give you all the control you need like ricochet fake out (miss on purpose to get on ricochet) and all sort of mind game. Triple shell have weaknesses, they looks like defiant protection, but anyone with a projectile can simply aim between the gap and hit you with all your pristine 3 shells.

    This remind me of arms or dead or alive, where some basic move looks straight up op, until you get familiar and they are like just jokes, in arms it's throw and rush, in dead or alive it is counter (don't fraking mash the button and you won't get predictable by everyone).
     
  10. Joe-Censored

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    The Blue Shell leads to the most exciting finishes for casual get together plays. Doesn't need to be fixed. In fact, the game would be a lot less of a party game without it.

    Games that only reward skill and prioritize fairness really aren't all that fun or approachable for casual novice players. Mario Kart is of course fun for serious players, but doesn't forget what makes the game fun for casuals. That one time a casual player was able to pull out a win against their experienced friend by getting the bullet item, moving them up to 3rd, followed by a blue shell coming down and taking out 1st and 2nd right in front of the finish line, is going to have the casual player cheering, and wanting to play again. Even if the casual player never wins another match that day, he/she is going to have a positive experience just from that one lucky win.

    Go get serious with a Formula 1 or NASCAR simulator, which goes for pure realism and fairness. Get good at that and go play that with a novice friend. It won't be much fun at all for the novice. Then jump into the unfair and semi-randomness that is Mario Kart. Night and day difference.
     
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  11. angrypenguin

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    And even if they don't get any lucky wins, the fact that it's possible makes the game approachable. On the flip side, if they know it's a simple question of skill between a practiced person and a newbie... why even bother?
     
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  12. Joe-Censored

    Joe-Censored

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    Exactly. In my Formula 1 simulator example, the novice is just going to consistently lose over and over to the experienced player. That can be fun if the novice is committing to put in the practice to get good, but that makes for a terrible split screen party game. No reason even to play.
     
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  13. Not_Sure

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    That’s a lot of compelling argument for it being a party game.

    I suppose I’m solely thinking it as competitive.
     
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  14. neoshaman

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    But it even work at competitive level, because there is a lot of nuance in the counter measure, like I said, most OP items aren't when you know how they actually work and have the skill to apply the counter. There is also a layer of strategy where you shift through ranking in order to get a desired items in anticipation of the final round.

    The thing is for the casual gamer, retaliating is fun when face with absolute prospect of losing, but for the skill player dodging all the incoming massive threat is even more rewarding.

    I think what's left out is the middle ground skill, when you are skilled enough to understand you can win, but not skilled enough to see through the pseudo randomness, there you feel like winning has been robed from you.



    If anything I would just balance a bit further by allowing players to cash (secure) point per lap using multiple scale (like the fastest, the first, the more agressive), because the stake is concentrated on the last lap and close to the finish line, and maybe design road sections with thematic challenge starting with item line, ending with cashing point (basically each section is like a single fighting round).

    Possibly adding a mechanic of cashing point vs getting items as a risk reward to spread the stakes along the whole race. Instead of strategizing only the finish line, you get multiple breaking point where you can have local victory and global victory is about the accumulation, which will sort skilled player from casual one, while allowing casual to have many small moment of victory and be rewarded in some way or another (using the multi dimension of reward at each cashing point).

    In some way that's close to the point system used per race in mario kart, the average victory matter more than winning a single race. But brought down to the section level of race (higher frequency of risk reward).
     
  15. neoshaman

    neoshaman

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    frame by frame explanation
     
  16. BrandyStarbrite

    BrandyStarbrite

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    I remember getting hit by a blue shell, in Mario Kart Double Dash, when I was a good distance away, from the finish line and ahead of everyone. And it pitched me all the way past the finish line, and I won the race. Good times.:p:D
     
    Last edited: Jun 21, 2019
  17. Not_Sure

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    All said, I still say making a huge emphasis on drafting would make for an interesting game.
     
  18. neoshaman

    neoshaman

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    Not_Sure likes this.
  19. Volcanicus

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    Honestly, there is nothing wrong with the blue shell and the level of mastery shown in Mario Kart allows for the blue shell to exist.
    You have drafting, you have jumping, you have a plethora of items, you have first place item nerfing and lastly they added a competitive blue shell dodge mechanic.

    This is not new to mario kart. Magic the gathering has had multiple 2 cost cards that dealt with many threats (doom blade, mana leak, lightning bolt, etc). Super Smash Bros had items, some bad, some very good. WoW had random boosts in battlegrounds. Randomness adds to the experience and is a part of the game that makes it interesting.

    The point is, every game needs a blue shell mechanic in order to balance it out. It is random and it can turn the tide if used properly. Additionally, players may play around it, thus creating a meta. I find that healthy. And finally, everyone can get blue shelled. Even if you do steal the first place, you may be the victim of it yourself.
     
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  20. Not_Sure

    Not_Sure

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    Well, as all good thought experiments go this has beared some good fruit.

    Albeit the fruit happens to be "Im wrong and don't know what I'm talking about".

    But that's still a good thing.

    Always have the point be the end goal, not your ego.
     
  21. angrypenguin

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    Another way to look at it is that Nintendo also think it's such a good idea that they implemented it. :)
     
  22. Volcanicus

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    Not exactly the best way to look at it, remember they made Super Paper Mario and it was downhill from there.
     
  23. Not_Sure

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    I LOVE paper Mario...
     
  24. Volcanicus

    Volcanicus

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    I am talking about this abomination:
    upload_2019-6-23_20-44-20.png
     
  25. neoshaman

    neoshaman

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    I'm part of the paper mario hate bandwagon (bring back thousand door) but each paper mario sold better than the precedent, even the most infamous one (sticker stars). I think Big N don't hear you and me, they have too much dollar in their ears.
     
  26. Volcanicus

    Volcanicus

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    I dunno about any bandwagon but i couldn't even get past the tutorial because of the massive walls of text... SO MUCH TEXT!!!!!
     
  27. Steven_Brown

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    I didn't play this game what you say means its really good game. Friend can I play this game on PC and Laptop if it than what configuration need to play this game where I can download this game any suggestion
     
  28. BrandyStarbrite

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    You need a Nintendo Switch.:)