The problems with Follow the Leader

The problems with Follow the Leader

Postby Wuzzy » 15 Nov 2018, 19:13

I have thought about Follow the Leader (FTL) a bit and I think this game mode is a little bit problematic.
Don't get me wrong, I think it's still fun to play, but there are just some things which just strike me as odd.

The biggest problem is that karts can be eliminated mid-race, and there are tracks with branching paths. If the karts branch out, detecting the positions for all karts seems wildly arbitrary and random, and this is not really fair. Note with “branches” I mean major decision points which splits the whole track, like in. Minor sideways don't count. Shifting Sands and Cocoa temples are good examples.

As soon the karts branch, the rank quickly goes up and down, and if you're unlucky, you can surprisingly get knocked out.
For a mode in which the current rank is so important, it's not good that the rank can be so erratic. So branching paths are poison for FTL. Non-branching tracks are of course fine for FTL.

Another thing I often notice is that the space near the Leader tends to get crowded and messy if you play with many karts. If someone throws a cake, everyone including the Leader explodes, which creates hilarious situations in which everyone drives back and forth because you must not be in front of the Leader. It's a bit stupid if the knockout timer hits you in this phase.

I question if this mode really needs the Leader, after all. The Leader is not ranked but otherwise acts like a normal kart. The Leader does not seem to have any special defense mechanisms. The Leader is basically more an annoyance than anything else. The fact that you must not overtake the Leader forces everyone to slow down, especially when the Leader crashes. I don't see how this makes sense in a racing game. The Leader also makes the ranking weird. If you see rank 2 you are actually on rank 1 in the end result, because the Leader does not count.

What would be possible solutions to attend to branching paths?

Here are some possibilities:
- Ban tracks with branching paths for FTL. That would include Shifting Sands and Cocoa Temple
- Remove FTL and replace it with a round-based knockout race
- If you drive on a different branch than the Leader, you get knocked out (after a short tolerance time). This rule is only in place while the Leader is still driving on the branching part. After that, you can take any branch.
- Permanently block off certain branches when in FTL, so that only one path is possible

I personally would prefer just banning tracks with branching paths, as this would be the simplest solution and would only affect a few tracks, as far I know. The other solutions seem too complicated.

As for the Leader, I I think the mode could do perfectly fine without the Leader. Yes, I seriously propose to remove the Leader from “Follow the Leader”, just keep the knockout mechanic and rename the mode to “Knockout Race”.

And what do you think about FTL?
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Re: The problems with Follow the Leader

Postby Alayan » 16 Nov 2018, 01:51

I am among the people with the more reasons to hate that game mode.

I have actually release some videos about that, like a "why I hate FTL" or a fail compilation where the FTL challenges destroyed some speedruns :

On the development version, things are much better (mainly, the leader is faster so it slows you down much less ; there is an added delay before the next elimination if the leader is rescued or explode ; there is no cake at all in the game mode).

That you mention cakes indicate that your feedback is not based on that version, and so is significantly inaccurate.

Nevertheless, the multi-path issue still entirely exist in the latest version. I think that a correct solution is to force to use the same path as the leader, which is more or less the same thing as your third point. Banning some tracks from being used in the mode is pointless, it's a single-player mode and if someone don't want to use one of these tracks, avoiding them is enough.

I also am not so sure of how having a leader benefits the game mode in the first place... The only moment the leader matters is when it slows you down. When he's enough ahead, the race behaves as if he doesn't exist. Unless someone can propose a meaningful role for the leader apart from slowing down the other karts, the mode would probably be better without it.
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