Game Development Reference
make it easy for you to track and filter results by relationship to the user.
Second, players care more about players (even strangers) who score close to
them on the leaderboards than those who are stratospherically far above or
abysmally far below them. Players tend to care about their competition more
than those who play far outside their league. This is another important rea-
son to have well-granulated scoring mechanisms. What players perceive as
their “league” may be different from a general stack ranking of player point
l Display scores in interesting ways. Flat, two-dimensional leaderboards are
at best dull, and at worst lazy and old-school. Present information about
your players and their friends in innovative ways that become part of the
entertainment experience, rather than merely an external measurement.
Project Gotham Racing 2 for the Xbox was an early pioneer of this tech-
nique. By giving a unique name to their scoring system (“Kudos” were
earned for driving with style as well as speed), they managed to make the
scoring model feel integrated, rather than tacked on as an afterthought.
Second, and more important, the game displays a constant newsfeed-style
crawler along the bottom of their main menu to alert the player when a
friend bests their score on a particular track or in a certain event. The
game added the ability to race against the “ghost” of a friend by show-
ing a greyed out version of their car racing alongside yours, following the
line they raced in their best session. This feature further added value to
the leaderboard system by allowing users to effectively race against one
another in an asymmetric fashion.
l Give users different events in which they might compete. A single leader-
board is too simplistic and reduces player engagement because only a par-
ticular kind of player who exhibits very particular types of skills can excel.
It's hard to get excited about being ranked 12,334,667th out of 39,775,448
players, even if it does mean you're in the top quarter of all players. In
addition to filtering players into smaller, more meaningful groups by social
network, region, or similar, consider offering different types of events. One
player may want to be recognized for the most creatively designed farm;
another might hope to be known as the player who harvested the most
rutabagas in the month of March. By breaking your game scoring up into
a number of different tracked events, you can give players more focused
goals and smaller groups to compete against. The more people who play
your game and feel like a winner, the stronger your player engagement,
the more friends they bring in, and the more opportunities you have to
l The gold stars matter only if they teach you. Generally speaking, no
one cares about the top score unless it happens to be them, or if they
are close to beating it, or it's a friend who they happen to be close to