Lum wrote:I can only confirm what DD says about racing games. The rubberbanding-method was there from the dawn of times in this kind of games (and I played a lot of them, so I should know). While in the beginning the games were so simple that this, if obvious, wasn't much of a problem, from the moment in time where player performance wasn't dependable of four keys in a keyboard or two buttons and the cross in a pad anymore (as in, steering wheels being the proper way to play the games and the first simulators with physics built in the engine, proper setups, etc. started to appear) this method becomes an annoyance to most players. Even an insult.
That is absolutely not what I said. In fact it's almost counter to what I said.
Rubberbanding is necessary for fun between two players (either human vs. human or human vs. AI) that are anything but exactly matched in skill, and even the games that you think don't use it use it. As you've shown later in your post.
What is an annoyance to most players is having opponents that are either too easy or too hard. Which is why games use rubberbanding in the first place.
Lum wrote:When the performance of both players and AIs is dependable of an ever increasing amount of parameters, using a simple turbo-boost to push the worst positioned and/or an inexplicable engine-debuff for the top drivers, you're throwing everything to the trash can.
Woah there. Nobody mentioned using a turbo-boost or an engine-debuff. There are lots of ways to do rubberbanding.
Lum wrote:Why the hell do you make an engine with almost perfect physics for everything, from weather to track conditions, to tyre behaviour, to tarmac properties, realistic setup possibilities (nowadays there are games with the same telemetry apps than real reacing teams use) and so on if you can't make believable AIs with pros and cons, strong features and weak ones, with flaws as human drivers so that proper racing is the only way to play the game without fear of being boosted or capped for the sake of fun and entertainment?
Question: How can you tell how good the player is at the start of the game?
Answer: You can't! The best you can do is ask them, and unless you give them a hundred difficulty options they're going to struggle to find one suitable for them. So as they play, you have to improve AI performance when they're behind and reduce it when they're ahead. Otherwise, the AI cars either speed ahead of the player or lag behind them.
This is rubberbanding.
Lum wrote:Well, there are such games. They're called racing sims and not racing games. Telling the ones from the others is important to not get frustrated. Of course, as concluded by Jensen and Grønbæk, the best course of action is let the player decide how much of sim and arcade you want for your experience.
This is especially funny because racing sims typically have rubberbanding AI. Gran Turismo? Yup. rFactor? Yup.
And let's assume you've crafted this amazing AI that somehow can instantly assess a player's skill level before they even start the game, and provide the perfect competition.
... What are you going to do about multiplayer? You can't make players play better or worse.
I used to play OutRun Online Arcade. I don't anymore, because nobody else does. I typically preferred catch up on, even though it was pretty draconian (and engine-boosting), and even though I was the one typically in the lead. Why? Because otherwise it was a single player game for me. I'd drive off, and then never see any of my opponents.
And that'd be fine, except in single player I get to finish races. In multiplayer, they quit. Why do they quit? Because there is no competition. Without competition, the game is not fun. Without fun, why bother playing?
I'm going to quote one of the papers cited in the previous article, although I no longer have the original to hand (only the quote). It used "heart rate scaling" as the catch up mechanic in a competitive cycling scenario:
Heart rate scaling should increase competitiveness of players with radically different fitness levels while not negatively impacting the competitiveness of players of similar fitness levels. When examining the results of all races, we saw no significant difference between the conditions. When we separately analyze close versus “blowout” races, however, a more interesting picture emerges. In blowout races, HR scaling enormously improves competitiveness, while in close races, it actually worsens competitiveness. This implies that HR scaling might be applicable when there is a large difference in players’ ability, but should perhaps be avoided in cases where abilities are similar. Interestingly, the speed difference for the HR scaling condition is similar in both the close race and blowout race clusters (7.8% versus 8.0%).
Together, these results suggest that HR scaling is limited in how close it can bring players together, but is a highly promising technique when players’ capabilities are significantly different. It is interesting to note that races fell into either close (up to 4% speed difference) or “blowout” (over 15% difference) categories with no races in-between. We conjecture that when races are close, players are motivated to try harder to close the gap. This is shown by the statements made by some of the participants. For example, “it (the game) was demanding but it depends on the person and how much they want to win” and “it (the game) is powered by competition, so there is no limit. It depends on your competitor, because if they are more competitive than you, then you are going to go and try to get above him.” It is possible than when the speed differences are higher, players perceive the situation as hopeless, and therefore do not make an extra effort to catch up.
Engagement scores were similar between the two cases. No significant difference was found. (Power was low, indicating the possibility of a type 2 error; however, the difference observed between the two cases is very small.) This suggests that participants did not find HR scaling to be jarringly unnatural. This is a positive result, given that (as is suggested in figure 3) HR scaling does behave quite differently from speed computations based on pure player power. This is reflected by player comments, such as “I didn’t really notice a difference,” “I didn’t really see a difference,” and “they were both ok, no difference.”
However, in some instances of “blowout” races, where a player lost by a significant amount in the standard case, the losing player identified a preference for the HR scaled condition. For example “I like the second one (the HR scaled condition) better, because it was more competitive so I had a better work out” and “I think the second one (the HR scaled condition). I’m not entirely sure what the difference is; it seemed to be responding a bit more.”
TL;DR: Games between players with different skill levels are provably more fun for both
players when catch-up mechanics are enabled within the game; certainly in the case when HR scaling is used as the catch-up mechanic (which is unfeasible for most consumer games). The paper I cited first makes the case for other forms of catch up. Most racing games have catch up; very few racing games have players complain about this catch up.