As with the Zelda fanbase, there seems to be a schism in the Mario Kart fanbase. There's the Double Dash folks and the Mario Kart Wii folks, and seldom shall the twain meet. (And then the MK64 weirdos off in the corner (Battle Mode was awesome, though).) Of course, that's a somewhat simplified take, and ignores the solid handheld entries. But I wonder if this has become a Zelda-like situation, where the fans want very different things.
What do you want to see from the next/future Mario Karts? Feel free to give pie-in-the-sky answers like track creation, but focus more on realistic elements that you want to see represented. If you want to create a Frankenstein Kart from Mario Karts past (track design from MKx, battle mode from MKx, etc.), you can do that. And/or you can suggest improvements to the formula.
Also, are you still invested in the series? Or has it become ho-hum for you at this point?
I started thinking about this after playing Double Dash with my nephews. They had never played much Mario Kart before and were totally loving the Battle Mode and the Super Weapons. After they went back to their house, my sister called me up and asked what Wii game(s) she should buy for them next. I said Mario Kart Wii, since their Wii doesn't have the Gamecube controller ports. Apparently, after they played it, they panicked and exclaimed, "B-but wait! This isn't the fun one!!" Even though my suggestion bombed, I was pretty proud of them. I freaking hate Mario Kart Wii.
The core Mario Kart gameplay works awesome online. It's just the options and stuff surrounding it that need work. I don't think they would need to go to a pay model to justify fixing that stuff up necessarily.
PC multiplayer is your answer then. Free and way more advanced than what Nintendo offers. Don't think for a second Nintendo wouldn't charge for online if they thought they could get away with it. Hell they are charging for the Pokemon storage app on an annual basis. It isn't some noble principle. They just wouldn't be able to sell what they currently have.
@Zero@Stephen Oh of course, I'm not saying that the online in MK8 can't be better than MKWii, it's on a much more powerful system so it should be. I just think that it's unrealistic to expect a free service to be the same as a paid service.
@GameDadGrant I'm not so sure about that. There are people who are rebuying a GameCube game for $50 on the Wii U, and there are people who buy multiple iterations of the same Nintendo handhelds, among other examples. I think millions of people would pay for Nintendo's online. I'm not one of them, but there are plenty of Nintendo nuts who buy whatever they dish out. Then again, the sales of Nintendo's online-enabled games would probably be less if there were a fee to play online, so it probably wouldn't be worth it in the end.
I would hope that we can at least get a lobby system. If it's one thing I think MK (and Smash Bros.) needs it's a lobby system. It would be cool to set up your own Gran Prixs and other custom rules and such. Also voice chat would be nice, but I can't see Nintendo doing that for matchmaking anyway.
@Mop it up I wouldn't say it's realistic at all. Steam manages, and for the most part, it's just as good (dare I say better) than Xbox Live. PSN isn't bad either.
Paid or not, I think at this point we should be able to lobby up with each other and then hop online, rather than wait for a race to finish. How many times have I tried to play online with 4 or so other people, but it was difficult to get everyone together? "Oh, sorry, this race is full." How does that even happen?
MKW was very functional but it wasn't without its frustrations. We couldn't talk with each other, couldn't simply invite someone to play via the system itself, couldn't lobby up before a race. You couldn't even re-select your character/kart without either quitting the game or resetting the system. These are all things that really don't require a paid service.
Again, of course it was fun because we all got to play together, but we couldn't really do anything without having to be in a chat room at the same time. That's pretty archaic by today's standards, I don't think there's any way around that.
How about if it can match a paid service from 10 years ago? Because Nintendo online is still worse than Live on the original Xbox. No voice chat, no easy way to invite people to play the game you are currently playing.
But it doesn't really matter if it is a paid service or a free service and here is why: You aren't actually paying for anything other than the service itself. Now Microsoft and Sony are getting in to cloud servers and things like that but this past generation it was basically all peer to peer networking. The actual costs incurred for maintaining a service like Xbox Live were fairly small. You would need some servers to host the content people see on the marketplace and some information like which friends of yours are online.
Microsoft (and starting in a month or 2 Sony as well) feel that the service they offer is good enough to ask people to pay for it. Some people do, some don't but it is a huge revenue stream in addition to the typical software sales model (and hardware after enough time I suppose).
Nintendo on the other hand, they just flat out don't care. I am pretty sure the Wii U still doesn't have a first party online multiplayer game. Who cares though as long as Mario Kart comes out alright right? Well this is part of the problem. Mario Kart won't come out alright. The rate at which Nintendo iterates on their online models is just too slow. So it is almost assured that Mario Kart online is going to have some oversight which is going to keep it from being as good an online multiplayer experience as it could be. Voice chat may be missing, invites might not be cross game, options might be left out etc. And then what happens? Wii U has its Mario Kart game. Now we just have to wait for the next system and its Mario Kart to try again to get it right.
The weird thing is with Nintendo is that it is a total apathy that causes this. They don't particularly care about having a strong online presence. If they did we would see more attempts to make already multiplayer games online. We never do though. Nintendo is more content to just try to put something together for a title where it actually does make sense like Mario Kart or Smash Bros. and then that's it.
So sorry, but in my opinion Nintendo isn't to be lauded for this free online multiplayer they've bestowed upon us. Like I said before it isn't that they could charge for it but decide not to out of some ethical obligation to the general gamer. It is that they literally don't have anything people would pay for in the online space. This isn't out of ineptitude, it is purely out of apathy. I am not sure if that's better or worse.
Ask yourself this though, are you apathetic because you don't care for online or are you apathetic because the online is bad?
If Nintendo had a good online set-up akin to Xbox Live I think easily over half of NW would be subscribed to it. We already have a strong community if we could play games together without the need for scheduling it way in advance so people could be in chat it would be even stronger. People would pop online see various NW peeps playing all sorts of different games and could join up with any of them. Something like that would be incredibly powerful.
@Stephen Yeah, I think Nintendo should push online more, because I think advertising free online over the competition's paid service would make the Wii U look more attractive... if it were close to being the same.
You've seen me in chat playing with others so you know I care about online play, but it still isn't something I'd ever pay for. Gaming is already pretty expensive as it is, with the cost of hardware, price of games, add-on content, and the occasional accessory, that paying a fee simply to play a game is something I'm never going to do. So I'll take missing features over paying money. Hopefully the Wii U, being more powerful, will have better online, but even if it's still Wii-level, I'll happily enjoy what it is instead of cursing what it isn't.
I think I'd still come to Negative World (and other places I visit) to schedule nights to play because that's a lot easier than just trying to randomly see who's on.
Since I'm hard of hearing then I don't use voice chat and don't care about it, but I can see why some people do. But since the Wii U has a mic built-in then I think we'll see it in more games. If Pokémon has it these days then Nintendo can't be too worried about children and voice chat anymore.
I think apathy is better than ineptitude because if they change their mind about being apathetic then they could implement good online, but if they're inept at doing it then it will never happen. Neither are ideal of course, but one has more hope than the other.
I still disagree that people wouldn't pay for Nintendo's previous online, because it isn't like you could get online Nintendo games on other systems. Considering some of the products Nintendo release that I scratch my head why people buy it, I have little doubt that millions would pay for it.
@chrisguy This reminds me of something I'd like to see: [San Francisco] Rush 2 on N64 had tracks that had really crazy short-cuts. You could play it safe and stick to the roads, or you could take a detour into an alley and jump your car through the 10th floor of an office building to avoid a crowded turn. You could drive into a subway or sewer and go through half the race-track underground.
Mario Kart adopting Rush's level of short-cut placement would be a good way to increase the exploratory factor of each track while preserving the racing atmosphere.