nintendo, Propensity Modeling, Super Mario

Recipe 014: Smash Brothers Main Selection

FerraraTom

In this recipe I’d like you to chow down on a Smash Brother analytical approach to selecting your main character.  The approach I’m going to introduce you puts an emphasis on what makes a character unique.

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Before I start diving into the Smash Brothers data, let’s discuss the k-means clustering approach.  A k-means helps paint a clear picture of our data, in this case specifically it will identify Smash Brothers Characters by their attributes to create picture for who your main should be.  Our characters will be assigned into segments

(tiers… everyone loves to put tiers around Smash Characters but they’re based solely on opinion and player preference)

based on trends in our data, and how closely a character is to the a group.

Take the above picture, without applying this approach we are in the top left quadrant, we only have a faint idea of who should be our main.  As we apply more segments and more trends in the data we’ll eventually end up in the bottom left quadrant.  A clear picture of who our main should be.

Now I keep mentioning trends in our data.  How do we find trends in data where attributes are on the surface completely skewed and non-normalized?  Take for instance a characters weight as a whole number will be larger than a characters acceleration rate in the air (aerial attacks).

We can achieve these trends by standardizing our variables, setting all variables to have a mean of zero.  In doing so this analysis focuses strictly on the trends in our data and we can have a pretty interesting discussion: i.e. Yoshi is more similar to Kirby, than he is to Pac-man.


 

Super Smash Bros Ultimate Mural

 

In preparation for this data story I came across the following article, on Business Insider: “These are the 11 best ‘Super Smash Bros. Ultimate’ characters, according to the world’s number-one ranked player

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

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And here is ZeRo being named the best overall player:

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This triggered a thought in my head and I haven’t done this on the Pancakes Analytics page yet, but typically you would bring a k-means cluster in production and re-score your segments on an agreed upon cadence.  In this case I’ll treat the release of a new game as the cadence.

I’ll run a k-means clustering on the character attributes in Wii-U version and then a k-means clustering on the same character attributes but for the Switch version.

While going through this process I’ll only be including those characters who were in both games and where the data is clean: i.e. all characters have a weight and all characters have available acceleration data.  Sorry Inkling, you’re not in this segmentation.

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Above are both segmentation cadences and characters will be split into these segment tiers:

  • Floaters (Far right circle)
  • Jack of all Trades (Smack in the middle)
  • Dashers (Faster than your Jack of all Trades segment but not fast enough to be elite in that attribute)
  • Air Tanks (The bottom left circle)
  • Speedsters  (Top left circle)

These aren’t ranked by what tier is the best, but we can make some assumptions.  The Jack of All Trades segment, most likely you won’t be winning matches often but you’ll be competitive.

Smash Brothers is a unique fighting game, so characters do have a weight to them.  Being light weight does have it’s advantages, but the learning curve of playing as a Speedster might be too high risk high reward for you.

The Floaters, if you select someone with a weight advantage in this group, you’ll likely to win your match but you have to master the move set (your smash move).

Air Tanks, is a no brainer I think for any skill set.  If you want to have a high likelihood of lasting till time runs out, be an Air Tank (this won’t guarantee a win, that really depends on your competition).


 

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I’m hoping visual this stood out to you the reader: Ganondorf made a large leap from the Air Tanks to the Floaters.  This doesn’t only speak to Ganondorf but it also tells you information about Bowser as well.

When I speak to this to clients and those wanting to learn about a particular data, this is how it translates:

Ganondorf has more in-common with Jiggly Puff than he does Bowser.   The reason being is he’s quicker and can adapt well in aerial attacks and in falling than Bowser can.

On the flip-side of this I can also say Bowser more accurately represents how he’s viewed from the super Mario franchise, in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.

Neither one of these characters were “nerfed”, only re-calibrated so there’s a distinct difference between the two.

What do you do with this information?  If you’re main is a Floater, Ganondorf would be a good transitional character if you were looking to play as a character with more weight.  Or say you always play as an Air Tank, because you have the assumption anyone who has Kirby as a main shouldn’t be playing Smash Bros. then Ganondorf is a good transitional main for you when you eventually given in and select Kirby, “by accident”.

Image result for kirby smash


 

Below are the segments a brief overview of those characters within each segments:

004_floaters

This segment has high variability and you can see this from the oblong shape of the circle.  Ganondorf and Jiggly Puff are driving this shape, all though they are in the same segment and are more similar to each-other than are to other segments, they are the furthest apart within this segment.

Now hold up… wait a second.  Didn’t I just try to prove a point of how similar they are?  Yes, but in relation of whose more similar to Ganondorf: Jiggly Puff or Bowser.  But if I posed the question who is more similar to Ganondorf: Jiggly Puff or Kirby… that answer is Kirby.

This group on average are the slowest by run speed and lightest by weight… they Float.


 

005_jackofalltrades

This segment is the medium of everything.  There’s no uniquely distinct trend in their data.  Now playing as Pikachu vs Mega Man would have so game-play differences but statistically speaking you are starting with same underlying stats.

If you’re new the series this a good group to start with… they’re a Jack of All Trades.

 


 

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The Dasher segment is very similar to the Jack of All Trades segment, only slightly faster.  Playing in this group you could potentially do more harm than good, if you’re selecting because you want to stay middle ground. You could… Dash yourself off the area.


 

007_airtanks

Air Tanks are fast in the aerial attacks… and the heaviest?  I’m anticipating this group will be re-calibrated by the next release.  In other words… Bowser has no business being as effective as he is in the air as he weighs, normally these two variable don’t correlate.  I guess all the time battling a plumber who can flip and jumps is finally paying off.


 

008_speedsters

This is your high risk high reward group.  Characters in this segment are the fastest and the lightest.  I personally am awful playing as Sonic, he’s too fast for playing level but a seasoned player could probably mop the floor with Sonic.


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So who should be your main?  In this segment I rely on industry knowledge as well (ZeRo’s tiers as dependent variable).   I’ll build propensity score with the following independent variables:

  • Change in air acceleration
  • Base air acceleration
  • Base speed in the air
  • Base Run Speed
  • Character Weight
  • Ultimate Smash Bros. Cluster
  • Wii-U Smash Bros. Cluster

propb

The output will give me the likelihood ZeRo would rank the character as a top tier character.  The highest influencers on predictability were:

Change in air acceleration

Run speed

The lowest influencers were:

Base air acceleration

Ultimate Smash Bros. Cluster (this highlights the bias towards the Wii-U stats, influencing ZeRo’s rankings)

Drum roll please….

main1

main2

main3

You should have your main be one of the above three.  This is the data solution to selecting your main.

Really looking forward to the comments section on this one 🙂


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nintendo, Regression Modeling, Super Mario

Recipe 010: Mario Kart Game-play Improvement Controller Trials

FerraraTom

Before I dive into this week’s data story, let me state why I love the Nintendo Switch.  I personally feel there’s a need for video games to be a social event, and couch co-op is a must have feature.  The Nintendo Switch offers several games which meet this need.

My family loves playing video games and most of all we love playing video games together.

Most of the Nintendo games I’ve grown up on and have played over the years, Mario Kart by far is one of my favorites.  I’ll admit my wife shows me how it’s done.


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What I do find interesting about the Nintendo Switch is the joy con controllers, there’s a learning curve (but a huge improvement on the Wii-mote) and most veteran gamers prefer an alternative.

One alternative is the wireless controller, very similar to the X-box controller format.  I did pick up the Yoshi version for my wife and she loves it and personally feels it improves her game-play.

I’d thought it was time to put this notion to the test, what impact if any does a wireless controller has on game-play performance versus using a joy con.

Mario Kart seemed like the logical choice for this is experiment, it’s a multiplayer game, you can standardize your users (via ride type and modifications), and performance is measured in a continuous variable of points.

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A total of 8 trails were ran under these conditions:

-Standard Kart

-Standard Wheels

-Standard Flyer

-Mushroom Cup

-50 cc length race

-2 gamers

Half through the trial one gamer switched to the wired controller (Test group) while the other gamer stayed on the single joy con (Control group).

Results were documented, and the etl. process began, points scored each race would be used as the key performance indicator.

I next ran a linear regression (great for evaluating an A/B test), with my dependent variable being the points scored after the event (introducing the wired controller) the two independent variables: Treatment and Pre Points Scored.

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In this model I wasn’t concerned with the r-squared value or the significance level of each variable.  The sample data was not large enough, this was closed circuit small market test.

The model itself did show to be significant, which is a good indicator I can continue with the results.  Evaluating my Q’s graph, I see the model fits well, the trend goes through all the data points.

In my summary fit I notice there is a positive relationship between treatment (group) and post points scores.  At first glance this says you improve your Mario Kart game-play performance if you play with a wireless controller.

To complete this story I want to know my upper confidence level to be able to know by how many points and is this enough to move me up the rankings.

Using a wired controller has the potential to increase a gamers point performance by over six points each race.

The average points differential between race placement is 1.2 points.  This 6-point increase is enough to move you roughly 4 places, depending on your historic placement.

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What have we learned from diving into the Mario Kart Data?

The controller you play with matters, switching to a traditional wired controller can potentially improve your point score by 6.5 points,

which depending on your average race placement can move you up 4 places in the final standings.

Observing the CPU controlled racers, Shy Guy performed the best with an average final placement of 2.8.  The heavy class overall was the weakest group but without Bowser, it could have been worse.  Bowser’s average final placement was 4th.

 

After you have consumed this meal, I hope you take these findings and enjoy your next Mario Kart Grand Prix.  Also as always enjoy the featured pancake recipe below!


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