RSS iconTwitter iconFacebook icon

The Trek BBS title image

The Trek BBS statistics

Threads: 138,325
Posts: 5,352,914
Members: 24,617
Currently online: 725
Newest member: CaptXeno

TrekToday headlines

Drexler TV Alert
By: T'Bonz on Jul 26

Retro Review: His Way
By: Michelle on Jul 26

MicroWarriors Releases Next Week
By: T'Bonz on Jul 25

Ships Of The Line Design Contest
By: T'Bonz on Jul 25

Next Weekend: Shore Leave 36!
By: T'Bonz on Jul 25

True Trek History To Be Penned
By: T'Bonz on Jul 25

Insight Editions Announces Three Trek Books For 2015
By: T'Bonz on Jul 24

To Be Takei Review by Spencer Blohm
By: T'Bonz on Jul 24

Mulgrew: Playing Red
By: T'Bonz on Jul 24

Hallmark 2015 Trek Ornaments
By: T'Bonz on Jul 24


Welcome! The Trek BBS is the number one place to chat about Star Trek with like-minded fans. Please login to see our full range of forums as well as the ability to send and receive private messages, track your favourite topics and of course join in the discussions.

If you are a new visitor, join us for free. If you are an existing member please login below. Note: for members who joined under our old messageboard system, please login with your display name not your login name.


Go Back   The Trek BBS > Entertainment & Interests > Gaming

Gaming Non-Star Trek Gaming

Reply
 
Thread Tools
Old September 7 2009, 08:05 PM   #1
Rii
Rear Admiral
 
Location: Adelaide
Rethinking the Blue Shell

The Blue (or "Spiny") Shell is one of the most controversial items in Mario Kart. Penny Arcade's take illustrates conventional wisdom on the issue: it's unfair. For some, this represents a flaw in the game, for others it's but one expression of a multiplayer philosophy encouraging competition between players regardless of skill level.

Some recent experiences with another weapon-based racer, Wipeout HD, have led me to question both of these positions and propose a third: that in its own, imperfect way, the Blue shell actually makes for a more balanced game.

At the core of any multiplayer racer is a positive feedback loop. A player in first position merely has to drive to the track, whereas those behind him must drive both to the track and to the other players on it. There are exceptions to this both when the player leading does so by a very small or very large (i.e. he's lapping some of the other players) margin, but the point remains: gaining an early lead is disproportionately beneficial over the long-term.

Positive feedback isn't a bad thing, which is fortunate as it's almost impossible to eliminate entirely. Even games and sports which eschew positive feedback in their design are subject to it in the form of player/team morale. Too large a degree of positive feedback in the game, however, can significant impact how enjoyable and meaningful the latter parts of it are. If the game is essentially decided at half-time, why bother playing the other half?

Weapons-based racers inherit the positive feedback effects common to all multiplayer racers, and significantly strengthen those effects by adding weapons to the mix. Whereas a player in first position must deal only with incoming fire from his nearest opponent, and can focus all of his own weapon deployments on enemies to the rear, players in the middle of the pack must deal, and deal with, fire from both directions. The chaos for such players is multiplied not only directly through the presence of multi-target or area-of-effect weapons, but indirectly through a significantly increased potential for collision resulting from the unpredictable behaviour of other players in reacting to and being affected by the weapons fire around them.

The upshot of all this is that Wipeout features an unusually large degree of positive feedback. The regularity with which first place finishes first by a bloody long way is conspicuous, and can't be entirely attributed to skill on account of the fact that the player finishing first will often change from race to race even amongst the same group of players. This is an indication of an unhealthy degree of positive feedback in the game.

The Blue Shell and rank-sensitive item system in Mario Kart, rather than unbalancing the game as is generally perceived, actually works to compensate for this effect to ensure a more balanced and engaging game where the outcome doesn't necessarily hinge on the first half-lap of the race. The recent alteration of the Blue Shell to include an area-of-effect explosion also makes for better game balance, as it prevents a player leading only by a slight degree from being unduly singled out, and provides a skill-based mechanism on the part of both first and second place by which they're able to attempt to respectively ensure and avoid a collective fate.

All hail the Blue Shell!

So, who wants to do a study investigating the correlation between early and final race leaders across various types of racing games and real world motorsports?
Rii is offline   Reply With Quote
Old September 7 2009, 08:19 PM   #2
Yoda
Rear Admiral
 
Yoda's Avatar
 
Location: San Diego
Re: Rethinking the Blue Shell

I've been saying forever that the blue shell isn't as unbalanced as people were making it out to be. I hardly think that you need to write a doctoral thesis in order to figure it out though!

It does cost me some races, but not as many as you might think. If I'm playing with people of similar skill (9000+ rating) then I'm not spending all my time in first place anyway, so I'm not that likely to be hit. If I'm playing with people below my skill chances are that I'll build up more than a 'one blue shell' lead... so really the only thing that will screw me is maybe two or three blue shells, or some item that strikes precisely when I'm over a gap causing me to fall off the map or something.

Being in first place gives you a great position to deflect attacks... you get lots of banana peels and the like and as you said, the only attacks are coming from the rear. Even if 2nd place gets three red shells (which is pretty rare for second) chances are I'll have enough items to defend against it.

If anything there's strategy involved in dealing with the blue shells... there are times where it's advantageous to stay in second place... or if you know you're significantly better than the player in first you should pass him and build up a blue shell proof lead.
__________________
Yoda is offline   Reply With Quote
Old September 7 2009, 08:32 PM   #3
Akiraprise
Moderator
 
Akiraprise's Avatar
 
Re: Rethinking the Blue Shell

There are times when I've been hit with 3 or 4 blue shell hits in succession. That pisses me off. Then there are some races the player in first never even sees a blue shell, and they are almost a lap ahead, while I'm stuck in the middle fending off attacks from all sides. That also pisses me off. I've gone from first to last place many times because of a blue shell in close races. I hate that blue shell.
__________________
Satan Alien: "You're in a dangerous profession Captain. You face death everyday. There will be another time, and I'll be waiting. Eventually you're coming to my matrix and you will nourish me for a long long time."
Janeway: "Go back to Hell. Coward."
Akiraprise is offline   Reply With Quote
Old September 7 2009, 08:38 PM   #4
Yoda
Rear Admiral
 
Yoda's Avatar
 
Location: San Diego
Re: Rethinking the Blue Shell

Akiraprise wrote: View Post
There are times when I've been hit with 3 or 4 blue shell hits in succession. That pisses me off. Then there are some races the player in first never even sees a blue shell, and they are almost a lap ahead, while I'm stuck in the middle fending off attacks from all sides. That also pisses me off. I've gone from first to last place many times because of a blue shell in close races. I hate that blue shell.
You should try driving better.
__________________
Yoda is offline   Reply With Quote
Old September 7 2009, 08:45 PM   #5
Jax
Admiral
 
Jax's Avatar
 
Location: England - "The Home of Football"
Re: Rethinking the Blue Shell

Yoda wrote: View Post
You should try driving better.
Wonderful advice

I regulary play with a group of friends on Mario Kart and we all agree the blue shell was better in Mario Kart 64. I wouldn't mind it so much if there was more of a 50/50 hit chance to hit and that races were 5 laps not 3 to give you time to catch up if your hitl ate on...Not too mention the dam thing should be banned on the last lap.
__________________
World Cup Thread 2014
Jax is offline   Reply With Quote
Old September 7 2009, 08:49 PM   #6
Yoda
Rear Admiral
 
Yoda's Avatar
 
Location: San Diego
Re: Rethinking the Blue Shell

Jax wrote: View Post
Yoda wrote: View Post
You should try driving better.
Wonderful advice

I regulary play with a group of friends on Mario Kart and we all agree the blue shell was better in Mario Kart 64. I wouldn't mind it so much if there was more of a 50/50 hit chance to hit and that races were 5 laps not 3 to give you time to catch up if your hitl ate on...Not too mention the dam thing should be banned on the last lap.
Well, the blue shells actually can be avoided, but it's not exactly easy. Also you should just drive better.
__________________
Yoda is offline   Reply With Quote
Old September 7 2009, 08:57 PM   #7
Jax
Admiral
 
Jax's Avatar
 
Location: England - "The Home of Football"
Re: Rethinking the Blue Shell

Yoda wrote: View Post
Jax wrote: View Post
Yoda wrote: View Post
You should try driving better.
Wonderful advice

I regulary play with a group of friends on Mario Kart and we all agree the blue shell was better in Mario Kart 64. I wouldn't mind it so much if there was more of a 50/50 hit chance to hit and that races were 5 laps not 3 to give you time to catch up if your hitl ate on...Not too mention the dam thing should be banned on the last lap.
Well, the blue shells actually can be avoided, but it's not exactly easy. Also you should just drive better.
Actually I win a lot and I know a well timed boost can help avoid the blast but the odds are stacked against you. However your drive better comments make it nice to know that the typical fanboy has arrived in our gaming section who offers nothing more than comments to call everyone who might have a problem with a game crap gamers.
__________________
World Cup Thread 2014
Jax is offline   Reply With Quote
Old September 7 2009, 09:45 PM   #8
darthraidr
Commodore
 
Location: irvine, ca, usa
Re: Rethinking the Blue Shell

mario kart tends to go overboard when it comes to "keeping a game competitive." i remember in MK64, i could start a lap behind and still manage to win thanks to all the crazy item drops.
darthraidr is offline   Reply With Quote
Old September 7 2009, 10:09 PM   #9
Alidar Jarok
Everything in moderation but moderation
 
Alidar Jarok's Avatar
 
Location: Norfolk, VA
Re: Rethinking the Blue Shell

The items don't bother me (with one exception, see below). It's the rubber band effect that annoys me. I think it's just with computer players, but it always feels like, if you're ahead, the players behind will start speeding up. When I'm going at full speed and hit someone, causing them to spin away, they shouldn't be able to pass me two seconds later. Why are they going faster because they aren't in first? Blue Shells (and lightning bolts, which are worse) help balance things out. They can't bring you back if you're completely out of it, but can help even the odds.

The one item I hate, which I saw the one time I played the Wii version (reason I don't play the Wii version) is that bullet bill. That thing not only knocks out everyone in front of you, but takes you to the front. That's game changing because it can erase a lead at any point in the game.
__________________
When on Romulus, Do as the Romulans
Alidar Jarok is offline   Reply With Quote
Old September 7 2009, 10:17 PM   #10
Akiraprise
Moderator
 
Akiraprise's Avatar
 
Re: Rethinking the Blue Shell

Yoda wrote: View Post
Akiraprise wrote: View Post
There are times when I've been hit with 3 or 4 blue shell hits in succession. That pisses me off. Then there are some races the player in first never even sees a blue shell, and they are almost a lap ahead, while I'm stuck in the middle fending off attacks from all sides. That also pisses me off. I've gone from first to last place many times because of a blue shell in close races. I hate that blue shell.
You should try driving better.
I can drive excellent the entire race and still lose thanks to that cheap ass blue shell. It's also kind of hard to catch up when you're in the middle of the pack and getting pounded by red shells, stars, and lightnings. Oh, and the various bullet bills bringing the last place racer up to the front of the pack. It would be great if multiplayer allowed you to select the items used in a race, kind of like Smash Brothers.
Jax wrote: View Post
Yoda wrote: View Post
You should try driving better.
Wonderful advice

I regulary play with a group of friends on Mario Kart and we all agree the blue shell was better in Mario Kart 64. I wouldn't mind it so much if there was more of a 50/50 hit chance to hit and that races were 5 laps not 3 to give you time to catch up if your hitl ate on...Not too mention the dam thing should be banned on the last lap.
I agree. The blue shell in MK64 was better, and there weren't as many being fired in a race as well. So it wasn't as cheap.

Oh, and for the record I've got an 8000+ rating with the Wii version. So I have won on occasion.
__________________
Satan Alien: "You're in a dangerous profession Captain. You face death everyday. There will be another time, and I'll be waiting. Eventually you're coming to my matrix and you will nourish me for a long long time."
Janeway: "Go back to Hell. Coward."
Akiraprise is offline   Reply With Quote
Old September 7 2009, 10:22 PM   #11
Yoda
Rear Admiral
 
Yoda's Avatar
 
Location: San Diego
Re: Rethinking the Blue Shell

Alidar Jarok wrote: View Post
The items don't bother me (with one exception, see below). It's the rubber band effect that annoys me. I think it's just with computer players, but it always feels like, if you're ahead, the players behind will start speeding up. When I'm going at full speed and hit someone, causing them to spin away, they shouldn't be able to pass me two seconds later. Why are they going faster because they aren't in first? Blue Shells (and lightning bolts, which are worse) help balance things out. They can't bring you back if you're completely out of it, but can help even the odds.

The one item I hate, which I saw the one time I played the Wii version (reason I don't play the Wii version) is that bullet bill. That thing not only knocks out everyone in front of you, but takes you to the front. That's game changing because it can erase a lead at any point in the game.
The bullet bill is nowhere near as bad as you think. Very rarely will it dump you in first... maybe if the last place player grabs it right off the first turn or something... otherwise it's not putting you in first unless you grab it and hold onto it until you're at least in the middle of the pack, which is treacherous because you have no other items to defend with. I'm not sure exactly how it works, but if you're way back (say almost a lap behind everyone) it's going to take you right to the back of the pack... and if you use it when you're in last place but not by much it tends to dump you somewhere in the middle.

You can avoid bullet bills as well, but you do have to be paying attention to what's going on behind you, and if they're right on you when they use it, you're screwed. I tend to have more trouble with people hopped up on stars... unlike bullet bill you can't just hop out of the way, those bastards will hunt you down!
__________________
Yoda is offline   Reply With Quote
Old September 7 2009, 11:52 PM   #12
Mr Light
Admiral
 
Location: Pennsylvania
Re: Rethinking the Blue Shell

I have prob with the spiny shell. I like the fact that anyone can win.
__________________

Mr Light is offline   Reply With Quote
Old September 8 2009, 01:17 AM   #13
Jax
Admiral
 
Jax's Avatar
 
Location: England - "The Home of Football"
Re: Rethinking the Blue Shell

Normally I will carry something behind me to block incoming attacks though the blue shell of course has no defence other than luck and timing...luck being having a booster on standby. My problem is that I have been 1st from virtually the start and on the last corner or close too on the final lap I get hit by one and lose...

Nothing to do with my driving, well actually it is because if I weren't driving so well to be 1st I wouldn't of gotten hit. The blue shell does provide some decent comic value I remember a virtual 3 way tie for 1st and the shell took us all out.
__________________
World Cup Thread 2014
Jax is offline   Reply With Quote
Old September 8 2009, 01:44 AM   #14
-Brett-
Rear Admiral
 
Re: Rethinking the Blue Shell

The blue shell isn't a bad idea in principle, MKWii just overdid it big time.
-Brett- is offline   Reply With Quote
Old September 8 2009, 03:17 AM   #15
Robert Maxwell
Respect the Beef
 
Robert Maxwell's Avatar
 
Location: Right behind you!
View Robert Maxwell's Twitter Profile Send a message via ICQ to Robert Maxwell Send a message via AIM to Robert Maxwell Send a message via Windows Live Messenger to Robert Maxwell Send a message via Yahoo to Robert Maxwell
Re: Rethinking the Blue Shell

I don't have too much of a problem with the blue shell in the DS version. The Bullet Bill also isn't that great, it just helps you make up for being stuck in the rear. I've never had it put me in first.

My favorite item is a set of 3 shells. Red or green, doesn't matter. I am just as deadly with the green ones. I deploy them as a barrier, and if I can't ram some sucker who is trying to pass me, I'll just whack his ass from the rear.
__________________
"Holy shit! It's Beef Supreme!"
The Journeyman - Buy it now! Maybe?
My world simulation project!
My blog
Robert Maxwell is online now   Reply With Quote
Reply

Bookmarks

Thread Tools

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump



All times are GMT +1. The time now is 06:42 PM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.6
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
FireFox 2+ or Internet Explorer 7+ highly recommended.