Is High Score Dead?

I have recently played with the thought of the classic high score system being “dead”. These viewpoints are from the perspective as a player rather than a developer.

Remember the good old days of playing Pac-Man at the arcade, burning quarter after quarter until you were #1? You could then laugh in the face of the last high score holder, and brag to all the local children and challenge them to beat your score. (Or maybe not, I was born a few years too late for the glory days of arcade games, so I’m guessing at how the high scores worked back then)

But today, with the rise of flash games, no matter how hard you work at getting to the top, your fantastic score of 189,335 points will place you at position #24,890 in the high score list, with the top scores always being held by cheaters or some Asian kid with an abnormal talent for games and hours of time on his hands.

Perhaps I’m just a pessimist, but if there is no cosmic chance of me even showing up on the top 100, what’s the point of replaying the game to get a better score?

So, what do you think? Did the widespread availability of the internet and the surprisingly large amount of people on this planet kill the classic high score system? (leave a comment if you disagree, I could be wrong)

Or is the high score system still kept alive by Facebook games where you only see the scores of your friends?

High Score done right!

I recently purchased the game SpaceChem by Zachtronics Industries.

SIDE NOTE: I have long been a fan of that developer’s flash games, and I’m happy his newest creation is having so much success. SpaceChem is one of my favorite games, and I would really recommend it if you enjoy puzzle games, and it definitely helps if you have a “programmers mindset”. You can grab the demo if you want to try it before purchasing the game.

SpaceChem does an amazing job at including a high score system without “intimidating” the score you worked so hard for.

When you have finished a working design, you see a bar chart of how creation’s efficiency compares to the average user. This allows you to see which areas you could realistically improve your score without being blown out of the water by Sum Yung Gui from Beijing.

If you know of any other games with unique and brilliant high score systems, share them in the comments.

1 Comment

From: Philippe
2012-03-08 15:37

I suppose that's why games add "achievements" to reward the user performance in a more concrete way.

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