Saturday, August 30, 2014

Waaaaaah!!! Muh VR!!!

One of the less-documented effects of the recent MK8 update is changes to the way VR works. Previously, it was capped at 9999, but such a score was much too easy to obtain, as the old VR system was sort of a hybrid between a ladder ranking system and an experience point system. Of course inferior players such as myself could never have achieved it, but anyone with actual skill could do it given a LOT of time. As a result, VR was less centered on skill and more on dedication, which is hardly fair.

So the update introduced a new system that raised the cap to 99999, but paradoxically made it much harder to remain at the old cap by making points much harder to attain. Of course, top (or should I say "top") players are complaining because the changes make them lose something like 200 points an hour, simply because they absolutely need to win EVERY SINGLE RACE just to keep their VR intact. It goes without saying that it sucks to see something you worked so much for vanish in smoke like that, but one fact I believe the naysayers like to forget is that a VR of 6000 is much more valuable now than a VR of 9999 ever was before the update.

One problem high-ranking players face, though, that makes it much trickier to keep those high VRs is that the matchmaking system makes it hard for them to race against each other, instead preferring to put them in rooms where the next highest ranking is 2500. I don't think I need to explain why this is bad - since your VR is so much higher than everyone else's, it means you HAVE to win to have any chance at keeping all their points. And this being Mario Kart, no one's immune to blue shells, lightning bolts and what not, even when you're five seconds a lap faster than everyone else. At least if the high-ranking players were paired together, you could conceivably finish, say, seventh, and your VR would still remain relatively unchanged. That is unfortunately not the case, presumably because such an overwhelming majority of players have a VR below 2500. Heck, I'm at 3000 and I'm consistently the highest or second highest VR in any room I join.

Either way, people are NOT happy that they're losing their VR, which is understandable given how much work they've put into it (even though, as I've said, a lower VR now is more meaningful than a higher VR was before). Some say a full reset should've been done, but it would've wasted even MORE of their time - and everyone else's, for that matter. There is, naturally, a lot of complaining over the fact that they can't be expected to win every race because, well, this is Mario Kart. And yes, even the best players will finish in the midfield every now and then. But, and I know what I'm saying because I play Pokémon, the effect of bad luck in one race will mitigate itself over the course of many races. After 20, 30 or 50 races, if you still win a large chunk of them, then your VR won't be going down as fast as if you're on the receiving end of a blue shell screwjob every single race, and it's eventually going to stabilize at the rating you're supposed to have.

Is the current system perfect? Of course not, and a lot of it has to do with matchmaking, as I've said before. But you don't see Elo or Glicko-based ladders hand out points like they're an experience point system, so it's definitely a step up.


  1. This is a different subject but I've been looking at Pokemon Showdown a bit as of late and I've noticed something. Ever since Segislash and Mega Mawile were given the boot to Ubers, battles seem to have slowed down. I've been seeing more battles pass the 100 turn mark than I have done before. Has anyone else noticed this or have I had some weird luck?

  2. Isn't the whole idea of VR to be a general indicator of your skill level over many matches? In a somewhat luck-driven game like Mario Kart, skill level only becomes apparent over the course of many, many races, and VR is supposed to be the most accurate way of judging skill. Once you reach your peak and can't seem to rise any farther, that's where your skill is.

    I do see how the matchmaking system could be a problem, though, but there may not be any other ways to fill a room other than loading it with a lot of mismatched players. The higher your VR rating is, the fewer people that will be at or above you.