Randomly Generated High Scores Leaderboard Impact

By Bradygoat Jan6,2024

Do you ever ponder the trivial and not so trivial aspects of the video game universe while you are engrossed in a digital adventure?

While playing a quick game of Glorkian Warrior: The Trial of Glork (Steam) this morning I was overcome with the thought of randomly generated level design and its impact on leaderboards.

In Glorkian Warrior you attempt to help the Glorkian Warrior and his Super Backpack fend off an onslaught of varying alien intruders. The developers Steam webpage describes the game as a “goofy mash-up of Galaga-style shoot-em-up, simple platforming action and Saturday morning cartoon.

Glorkian Warrior: The Trials of Glork, 2015 developed by PixelJam

In the early years of video games, we became accustomed to games which had static level designs. Each level was identical with nary a pixel out-of-place during every playthrough. To get better at a game, all one had to do was to learn the timing and patterns of the games level design and eventually you would beat it. This is of course as the old adage goes, is “more simply said, than done” in many cases.

More recently we have begun to see a greater number of games being produced with randomly generated levels, providing a different experience for the gamer each time they play. This concept of level design was most likely introduced to increase a games “replay ability” factor. In my opinion this is a welcomed concept. Let’s face it, who among us, outside of the few ardent and skilled score chasers, doesn’t eventually grow weary of the endless lines of invading aliens tremp, tremp, tremping across our tv screens?

Space Invaders, 1978 developed by Tatio

So, what am I on about with all of this randomly generated level design nonsense? I began to wonder what role randomly generated level design games play in the realm of high scores and score chasing?

In the games of old, I’ll use the previously mentioned Space Invaders game as an example. The current high score for Space Invaders according to Twin Galaxies at the time of this publication was 218,870 held by Jonny94. In 2nd place with a score of 184,870 is Richie Knucklez. So, what is relevant about these two scores? Both players experienced the exact same level design each time they played the game which eventually lead them to these monstrous scores.

Now take a game such as the aforementioned Glorkian Warrior or how about Satryn Deluxe for instance. Both of these titles produce randomly generated levels. Outside of the game specific leaderboards for these titles I was unable to find any third-party accredited high score achievement database for either of these games. That in and of itself may be the answer to my following question.

Satryn Deluxe, 2021 developed by maybell

How fair or maybe more concisely, how balanced are leaderboards in determining the true master of a game with randomly generated levels? Do you lose the feeling of accomplishment when you compare your score to that of others on the leaderboard? If you are a bit behind your archnemesis in a particular game, do you blow it off feeling they might have had a competitive advantage during their record-breaking round? Or do you take the “it-is-what-it-is” feeling eventually I will get an equally forgiving level design?

I can’t help but wonder how the advent of random level design has impacted the gaming landscape in regard to high scores. Even with leaderboards in these types of games, maybe they hold their own category in the world of high score mastery. Maybe this simply makes us the masters of our “own” domains in these types of games since everyone’s domain is different. Fortunately, or unfortunately I don’t have the gaming skill level to top many leaderboard charts, but it doesn’t stop from wondering how it impacts our gaming world as a whole.

Do leaderboards in games with randomly generated levels have less value than games with static level designs? Or do you feel a leaderboard is a leaderboard? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this subject. Please leave a comment below.

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2 thoughts on “Randomly Generated High Scores Leaderboard Impact”
  1. We chatted about this on the Saturday Recap Show for Bump N Jump, and told you then I intended to comment more here. Hoping others will add to this discussion, because it makes some good points.

    Here’s the thing, I don’t mind randomizing of levels as part of a game as part of the leaderboard, because we’re all subject to the same randomization. Yes, it does mean some players and/or if you play long enough you’ll receive more favorable randomization as far as difficulty goes. This means players grinding out a lot of games will have an edge over those that don’t play the game as many times.

    Since virtually every game we get better at as players over time, with repeated plays, this is an expected behavior. What I don’t like is when games are completely different, like when a new virtual pinball table adds additional scoring options, modes, etc, and the same leaderboard is used. In cases like that where gameplay for one player has changed — either way, worse or better — I think the leaderboards should be different.

    For completely procedurally generated levels with AI, this definitely muddies the water with leaderboards, but it would be nonsensical to have an unlimited amount of different leaderboards for every possible procedurally generated game. In games like these, we as players accept the randomization of it all and are playing the “same” game, even when every game is different.

    Hope this makes sense, at least from what I’m thinking. Good article, thought provoking!

  2. That’s a great reason why we are still playing arcade games from the 70s and 80s. Everyone has the same game to play and bragging rights if you can master it. But games with random generated levels there is also a luck component involved. Take the game poosh xl alot of us at PGM are playing now. Every run is different and there is no pattern to memorize to get better. There is a luck to your run as well. But you go play the challenge levels and those are memorization levels. Some like to chase leaderboards and some just like to play the games. Adding a leaderboard to a game does give it more replay value, at least for me, to compete with your friends.

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