Score, WHY?

Look, so I know most of you don’t like score.

But I love it. I dunno why, but I do. My next game (if I can get the yearlong task of making images work in ZIL) will include a score that goes, +1 point, then next time, +2 points, etc. It’s very linear.

But even I found a way to make that add up to 400 in the end! And yet some games (stares directly at Mulldoon Legacy) can’t be bothered to make their scores add up nicely. You end up with something like 163 points by the end. Which personally I can’t get over.

(And for those who don’t look at the score, you’ll need to in Milliways. Just saying.)

Sorry if it’s really ranty, I just think that score can be an interesting way of pushing new limits, as long as it either relates to the plot, or is an important part of the plot (such as surviving entering the Pantry in the Hitchhiker’s Guide). I dunno if that’s what you mean, though. :smile:


I’ve found score is a good way of telling players how far they’ve gotten in the game (“you have 2/7 points”) and also of showing them they’re on the right track. It’s like when you’re flailing around at random in a Zelda game and hear the “secret” chime: you know you’re doing something right and should pursue that.


I’m considering adding score to my game, but specifically you only see it when you win or die, and it will be a count of all the secret items you found, and how many are still out there.

During normal gameplay, you’ll only see the turn count.


Yeah, but isn’t that just as good as “You have scored 549 points out of 550, give you the rank of Nearly Happy Tourist.”?


I prefer scoring when it’s not arbitrary. Why do I get 10 points for picking up a lamp but 5 for unlocking a door? If there’s 10 treasures to collect 1/10 makes sense or 8 heroic deeds 6/8. Although sometimes it’s a meta game if you finish a story and there’s points left over, or the “last lousy point” trope. In that case it can be an oblique indication you missed something.


So sort of like in Plundered Hearts, to convert to something I can get off the top of my head.

That one also adds 2 points for winning, which I think is better.


Why would you get 1 point for accomplishing an easy puzzle and 1 for a really hard puzzle?


Sure, I’m just saying scoring should make sense. Each puzzle is a milestone, but yeah, if it’s a game with different levels of puzzles that makes sense. As long as the scoring structure works.


If it’s something like that, yeah, I definitely get it. And games like A Mind Forever Voyaging, no score at all works best.

EDIT: @HanonO said this also, sorry! Didn’t see the “1/10 treasures” part, just the heroic deeds. And for some reason they’re different to me. But yeah, I get both of your reasoning now.


I’m agnostic about IF scores in general, but if your goal is to telegraph what’s “important” to the player I think there are better ways to accomplish that specific goal.

“You’ve found 4/10 vintage Swanky Swig cheese glasses” conveys more information than gaining 5 points when you pick up the 1953 yellow tulip pattern cheese glass. I think this is particularly true when scoring happens “generically” instead of for specific classes of objects: if you gain a point when you pick up a treasure and never get points for anything else, then scoring unambiguously tells the player if they’ve found a treasure. If you get points for finding the brass lamp same as you get for finding treasure, then I’m not sure what you’re trying to tell the player here—they should be able to figure out that the brass lantern is important regardless of how many points it’s worth.

And if you’re just trying to telegraph “that was important” to the player, then you could just use an achievement-like system: that is, just call out individual things “You discovered the terrible secret in the garden shed” or, reframing the earlier example to conceal the absolute amount of progress “You have found 2 vintage Swanky Swig cheese glasses”.


This is where I’m going with my current project. There’s a long list of clues that can help solve the murder; most players will never see all of them, or maybe even a majority of them. You just need enough to figure out the solution.

But which ones you’ve found will be listed as your “score”: “these are the discoveries you’ve made so far”.

In Enigma of the Old Manor House, on the other hand, the intended gameplay is extremely linear. There are seven specific things to do to get the best ending. So a score out of 7 is a good way of conveying that.


My scoring could be construed as arbitrary, but I chose point values based on how difficult I deemed the puzzle to be or perhaps how critical the puzzle was to advancing the storyline…


I’m agnostic about scoring, too. I don’t really care if it’s there or not. I probably won’t type SCORE in a game to see what it is, but it’s not offensive to me if there’s a score displayed. I care about finding all the widgets so that I can get the machine running, but if I don’t need every widget, it won’t bug me to get that 499/500 as long as I can complete the game.


All of my points are mandatory, so it’s like a gauge of your completion progress, but gives (hopefully) an extra feeling of satisfaction when you solve those 8-10 pointers instead of a bunch of 2s and 3s…


Like anything else, it is up to the author to make it interesting. I do think we should give the author that chance. Who knows what they are up to, if we don’t investigate?

However, it is simply a convention of classic adventure games. To a lot of us, they were video games, and video games tended to have scores. Just like pub games (darts, for instance) had scores preceding the advent of video games. Someone wanting to make a classic-feeling game would probably consider including a scoring system as a period detail, if nothing else.


Yeah full disclaimer: I 100% got my point-scoring idea from the original Doom game, which shows the percentage of kills, items, and secrets you got during the level. Modern games with similar gameplay loops wouldn’t score at all, but I rather enjoy the role that such scoring can play. Sometimes there’s value in calling back to the games that came before, and sometimes there’s value in utilizing their mechanics, which worked well for specific purpose.

Absolutely agreed.


download (1)


Swear I responded with the above before I got this far.


I was playing with an idea a while back with a web-hosted parser game that gapped the parser input and response (basically a server between the player and the game). The reason is making a publicly viewable arcade-style leader board for highscore where folks could enter their name next to their score. This becomes meaningless with offline play or decompile. I’d eventually make the game downloadable, maybe after a couple months, but the leader board would be frozen and immortalized at that point for ultimate bragging rights.

Anyway, I had some ideas for mixing it up. For example, interpreter-level undo would be impossible. Undo would be allowed, but it would cost the player points from their score. Also, there is no hint system. Instead, you can choose to use the help system. This system tracks which obstacles you’ve encountered, but not yet solved. It then creates a numbered list of these unsolved puzzles with a point cost next to each. Select one, it deducts that amount of points from your score total, and a solution (not one of the ones intended) materializes in front of the player. For example, perhaps finding a way through the locked pantry door for a 15 point cost is one of the options. You select it, and, instead of revealing where the concealed key was, POWWWW, a coconut-sized meteorite coincidentally falls from the sky, punches through the roof at an angle, through the locking mechanism of the door, and neatly punches through the floor into the inaccessible crawlspace. The door is now unlocked. I was also considering offering 3 save slots that could be initially and voluntarily destroyed in exchange for 50 points each. I even considered different difficulty levels that would grant more points for harder puzzles and obstacles in your playthrough. Upon beating the game, a final point bonus is rewarded for how many turns you took, the fewer turns, the more points.

The idea being folks who solve these puzzles the quickest on their own at the hardest difficulty without using save or undo would get higher scores on the leader board.

Alternatively, you could use up more points than you have, resulting in negative scores. This would allow someone to coast through the game with ease if they chose.


This thread reminds me of the question I posed a while back in To score or not to score - Authoring / General Design Discussions - The Interactive Fiction Community Forum ( I have to agree with @zarf that scoring should somehow make sense to the protagonist.

Since in my current game the player has to pursue a number of goals which I do not want to sum up into a single numeric score, I have implemented a journaling system, then I can keep track of progress for each goal: Keeping track of quest progress using a journal