Thursday, June 5, 2014

By Jamaal Ryan

Well that didn’t take long.

The latest installment in the Mario Kart series, Mario Kart 8, hasn’t even been out a week, and already players seem to be abusing a new exploit called “Fire Hopping”.

 Essentially, Fire Hopping is used while the player jumps repeatedly after a speed boost, allowing their boost to last longer. This can be used from drift boosting, as well as item and strip boosting as well. Here’s a video below:

It’s been deemed as “controversial” as many players swear by it, while others are against the use of it. I’m of the later camp, looking at it in the same vein as “Snaking” (though not quite as bad). While both techniques are skill based, they offer an advantage over the competition, both AI and players alike, as Fire Hopping doesn’t seem to be programed into Mario Kart’s design; at least not intentionally.

As Fire Hopping becomes more and more popular, the balance of online play is likely to become unbalanced, causing a disproportionate gap between moderately skilled players and Fire Hoppers. Flipping through Mario Kart 8’s online features, I’ve thought of a way that could make your online experience safer.

Mario Kart 8’s Tournament Mode is surprisingly robust. As I said in my review, it offers an unusual level of specificity, especially with the tournament scheduling, and allowed skill level based on the players’ point ranking. Taking these two aspects of Tournament Mode, you can schedule your own tournament “daily”, gate the player level between 0-1500 pts, and in order to communicate your preference to other players, label the tournament “No fire Hopping” or something of the sorts.

Scheduling it daily of course allows you and other players to participate on a daily basis, and the title is important to notify other participants of your rule sets. Of course, there’s no way to kick or exclude players for anything, especially based on player behavior – and in this case, using Fire Hopping – however gating the point cap at 1500 narrows down the possibility of letting in a Fire Hopper user as a player who has mastered it will likely have a point value higher than 1500.

This is a very situational solution. It’ll be harder if your point value is higher than 1500, or if a player has managed to master Fire Hopping before jumping online at 1000 points; there are a number of variables that can interfere, provided if you even care in the first place or wish to master the skill yourself.

This isn’t meant to offend or target Fire Hoppers, as it is a skill, not a cheat. However not everyone is skilled enough or has the time to practice such a technique that grants such an advantage. Mario Kart is meant to be played by everyone without feeling that they’re at an unfair advantage.

Using tricks that can be considered exploitative in Mario Kart isn’t something new, however Nintendo has provided the tools that’ll allow you as the player to make your Mario Kart experience as safe as you could reasonably desire.

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