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My (young) children are using the smart steering and auto acceleration in MK8D so they can get comfortable participating with less frustration, etc.

But they're curious about what it's doing when. (Okay, they're curious about everything. Why DO we wear ties?) Plus, since the goal is eventually to help them learn to control the Karts unassisted, it's important to be able to explain what it does, so they can differentiate what they're learning about how their actions affect the Kart, separate from when the aids are affecting it.

What are the key guiding rules or principles that define how each of these things work?

I'm not looking for degrees of rotation or sensitivity settings here, more along the lines of:

"Auto steering kicks in when you touch the edge of the road, then steers you back to the center, then de-activates again."

But I just made that particular one up.

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  • I have no technically details so I won't post this as an answer but you're essentially right about auto steering. It kicks in when you're too close to the edge and the only the edge. Auto-acceleration on the other hand is just the game holding down the acceleration button for you all the time. – BlueBarren May 5 '17 at 14:07
  • Not sure if that was just an example question, but todayifoundout.com/index.php/2013/03/… – Wayne Werner May 5 '17 at 19:24
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    I upvoted this great question. I also want to know why you wear ties. – Carsten S May 5 '17 at 23:21
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    Why... why do we wear ties? What the hell? Why have I never noticed that there's no reason for this?! – Fund Monica's Lawsuit May 6 '17 at 2:57
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Based on this article written about these two features, it looks like this is how they work:

The auto-accelerate feature seems made for newcomers only, or for those with serious conditions requiring them to use it. A big part of the Mario Kart experience is timing those button presses just right to get the starting bell boost. Letting go of the button to brake can also be used as a strategic play. In short, acceleration is one of the ways that players can exert their control in the game. To give that up seems, at first, unthinkable.

From this, it looks like the game accelerates for you so you don't have to hold down the acceleration button the entire time. However, it prevents you from not accelerating, which is useful strategically.

The smart-steering feature seems to work like this:

Smart steering works in reverse: It guides players’ karts so that they remain on the road at all times, turning them when they need to turn. Smart steering also makes all of the game’s skillful shortcuts inaccessible. It’s a useful option for those in need of additional help with the joysticks.

This prevents you from going off-road, but it also appears to prevent the player from going on shortcuts.

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    Smart steering also helps with various obstacles, like vehicles in Toad's Turnpike. – Batophobia May 5 '17 at 19:17
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I sort of touched this topic over in this answer for a similar question. The auto acceleration is pretty straightforward. All that does is keep the button for accelerating pressed constantly.

As for smart-steering, I'm not positive about when it kicks in, but from I can gather across the internet, it helps you stay on the track and prevents you from going the wrong direction. I assume it kicks in when you veer too close to the edge of the track or if you attempt to go the wrong direction. One source mentions this:

...it placed a small antenna on the back of each kart, a visual cue that lets you know that the console will help keep racers on the track and pointed in the right direction

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    The small antenna is actually what turns on for the icon as well; that's the only reason I knew what the first option was getting at, because the back of the game case also made it clear the antenna was related to the smart-steering feature. – JMac May 5 '17 at 14:37

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