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I'm developing a casual Android game in which the player's success can very easily be represented by a number (I'm not more specific because I'm interested in the topic in general).

Although I myself am not a highscore person at all, I was thinking of implementing a highscore for that game, but I see at least 2 problems in the classical leaderboard approach:

  • very soon the highscore will be dominated by hardcore players, leaving no chance for beginners, who are then frustrated. This is very severe especially in casual games.

  • there is no direct reward for being a loyal player who plays the game over and over again

My current idea is to "reset" the highscore every 24 hours (for example) and each day nominate the "player of the day" who then gets a "star". Then there would be some kind of meta-highscore of players with the most stars.

That way even beginners might have a chance to be "player of the day" once and continued or repeated play is rewarded much more.

The idea is still very rough and there are many problems in the details and the technical implementation but I have a feeling it is a step in the right direction.

Do you have creative and new ideas on how to implement highscores?

Which games are doing this well / what types of highscores do you find most engaging?

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These slides: slideshare.net/amyjokim/metagame-design-3383058 seem to offer some general but helpful guidelines –  Anselm Eickhoff Mar 4 '11 at 18:15
    
Make it hourly :P –  Jeff Mar 4 '11 at 18:17
    
Things like achievements, high scores, "social" interaction (through online multiplayer) etc are all there to keep your player addicted, not for fun. Making it hourly gives your beginner player an even easier entry into the reward part of the addiction –  Jeff Mar 4 '11 at 18:17
    
well it only becomes easier for beginners in the way that they can be lucky and no one better decides to play in that hour, which is random and not skill based. –  Anselm Eickhoff Mar 4 '11 at 18:28
    
Yeah exactly. I don't see the high score as having to be skill based. Its purpose is there to keep people playing. Seeing your name on a high score board is a very exciting thing. Why not make that as easy as possible? I suppose you alienate your truly hardcore players, but it is a casual game –  Jeff Mar 4 '11 at 18:34
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4 Answers 4

I like all time high score and daily high score board as well. But my favourite highscores is when they match it up with my friends scores, I don't care about some guy I don't know highscore, I want to see how well I do against people I know/in my area

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I suspected the social component would add a lot of meaning, how creepy is it considered to connect player profiles to facebook? –  Anselm Eickhoff Mar 4 '11 at 18:13
    
@Anselm if it's opt-in, I would say not very, but if any of it's done without the user's permission then I would say it's fairly creepy. –  Davy8 Mar 4 '11 at 23:46
    
The problem with all time highscores is that when someone finds a bug, cheat, or auto it stays forever unless you manually remove it (which can be painful.) –  corsiKa Mar 5 '11 at 4:46
    
@Davy8 I think it doesn't even work for facebook without the user's permission, but if opt-in is ok it's fine. @glowcoder Yes that would be another advantage of resetting/expiring highscores –  Anselm Eickhoff Mar 5 '11 at 9:38
    
@Anselm You probably can't get full profile, but I've seen at least a couple sites that can get your FB profile pic without permission. I love Pandora but I don't like that they grabbed my FB pic (I'm not quite sure how actually, maybe by email address or some SSO stuff) automatically. –  Davy8 Mar 5 '11 at 15:23
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Perhaps the best solution is to compile this in a community wiki:

Make your Highscore more meaningful:

  • integrate it with social networks your players are using (their friends are much more important to them than strangers)

  • make it local (because players care more about their city/country)

Make your Highscore more engaging and less frustrating

  • divide your highscore table in time ranges (e.g. last 24 hours) so everyone gets a fresh chance every once in a while (Risk: If there's no all-time highscore, the player's scores "expire" or are reset it feels like taking them away)

  • divide your highscore table in skill ranges to only show players opponents whom they can realistically beat

  • reward other things than raw points, like continued or repeated play

  • provide short term goals like achievements on the way to a highscore

Feel free to add your own guidelines/tips!

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As a player I would be very upset if my high score was reset. Hardcore players work hard to get that score. Taking it away would not be a nice thing.

You could have a hybrid approach. Have a high score board and a daily high score board.

As far as loyal players, you could add a third board for a type of overall or averaged score system. This could be a some factor of amount of time played, number of games and average/total score.

Just some thoughts.

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Yes I was worried about the taking away thing, that's why I thought of the stars and the "player of the day" title, but maybe it isn't enough. All in all I don't want to add so many different scoreboards as this is a really simple game. This might be appropriate for a more complex game. Thanks! –  Anselm Eickhoff Mar 4 '11 at 17:32
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If you keep all scores in the database, you can filter your leaderboards by scores that were received in the last 24 hours to get the best players of the day. Analogously, you can show the best players of the week or the month, or the best players in a specific location.

There is no need to reset the high-scores.

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I have thought of this but there's a problem: Player A becomes player of the week. Player B plays a day later and is a little less good. One week passes, Player A is not longer player of the week because his score "expired" and Player B becomes player of the week without direct action or notice. That's a weird situation. –  Anselm Eickhoff Mar 4 '11 at 19:26
    
I think of a week as an actual week, not a shifting time window of 7 days. –  Brandon Mar 4 '11 at 20:33
    
isn't it the same as a reset then? –  Anselm Eickhoff Mar 4 '11 at 21:20
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