Score, WHY?

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


Yeah. I may have said this in the other one, but it would be cool to make a game which is almost all based on time and you don’t have much of it, and you get “points” which count as minutes. But you have no real means of telling time, and the number of moves does not show.

So like, if you score 3 points it’ll be shown to you as:
“You pause to look around. Last time you thought about it, you said it was [current time/score], but that was probably about [number] of minutes ago, so now it should be, like, [new time/score].”

In this way, you don’t have much time to rest because you constantly have to keep up with the real time (which you don’t know) to be able to get a perfect score.

Of course, if you only have a score of 1:23 PM but it shows as nighttime in the game (ie. you are way behind schedule), then that poses a question for you. Because score (synonym could be TIME?) isn’t really a meta command here - you have to stop and think about your score/current time - and like I said, you’re thinking about the time, so you could get a message with the score, saying “What have you done with your time?!” :hourglass_flowing_sand:


I chose to use progress in my game because I wanted a progress bar. As such, it works well. So the scoring gives the player some orientation, but should definitely be a secondary game element.


I report score as a percentage. Then i don’t have to fiddle it to add up to a round number. Inevitably it will change anyway :slight_smile:


But isn’t that a bit boring? It could easily take on primary importance! How about starting at 100 and taking away one point for every move? In fact, make it part of the tutorial, in the style of a dutch auction: This is an easy puzzle, suitable for a beginner. Take the hint now for just 10 points off your final score, or take the chance to solve it in less. We will offer it again after ten turns, no worries, and it’ll be just 7 points then! And of course, you’ll have to INSERT COIN into the ticket machine at the end of act 2. So you’d better make sure you have at least one point left by that time.
Have the parser have discussions in two different voices on questions of scoring: “I’d be leaning towards awarding one point for effort here.” “I’ve told you before and I stand by it: we should fail this one quickly, the rest of the game will only be more frustrating to them.”
The game could offer you loans if you run too low to progress with the current task (at variable interest rates).


Isn’t score the same as the NSEW movement system? It doesn’t necessarily make sense in-game, but it’s there for the players. Some players are motivated by how far (or otherwise) they are through a game or want an indicator of how much they missed at the end of the game so they might be motivated to play again. Other players don’t give a hoot about that. So to be as inclusive of as many player types as possible, shouldn’t games have a score?

I guess you could metagame if you knew you were 97% of the way through the game and decide that you probably don’t need to carry around that piece of string you used to solve a puzzle 23 locations back, but I’m not sure such metagaming is relevant to interactive adventures anyway (or maybe that’s a topic for another thread…).


This seems almost too obvious, but since it hasn’t really been mentioned yet: a lot of players (me included!) find an inherent satisfaction in making a number go up. Which is not a reason in and of itself to have a score, but it’s a quirk of the human brain that you can take advantage of to motivate players and encourage them to try things.

I really liked the system in Low-Key Learny Jokey Journey where you get points for coming up with word combinations that are valid but not the solution to the puzzle. Compared to other similar wordplay games (including some other entries in the same series), it really lowered the frustration of trying to come up with the right answer. It felt like I was making progress and discovering cool (if somewhat extraneous) stuff and was more fun than either sitting there trying to work through the wordplay in my head until I was sure I had the right answer, or typing in everything I thought of only to get a bunch of generic “that’s not right” responses. It essentially allows a sense of “gradually getting closer to the answer” in a kind of game where the puzzles are otherwise kind of all-or-nothing, if that makes sense. That’s a very specific case and not terribly broadly applicable, of course, but it’s one way you can use points to make gameplay feel more rewarding.

The only games I’ve made that have scoring are the Lady Thalia games, which are pretty much doing it “wrong”—the scoring is an in-universe running joke between the PC and her friend, who steadfastly refuses to break down what she’s giving out points for. (Although I like to think that the games give you enough feedback in other ways that the score doesn’t come totally out of left field.) The only impact of the scores is that other characters are impressed if you do well and disappointed if you do badly. And yet people really seem to enjoy that element, which is interesting! I mean, I think some of the people who have commented positively on it just find the joke funny, but I’ve definitely also seen people say that they feel motivated to do well in the heist sequences to get better scores, even though the actual in-game impact of that is minimal.


I could go one step further and make a Free-To-Play-Game from it and let the player pay the loan in real money. Sounds promising. :wink:


Score is managing the economies of motivation.

Easier said than done.


Only Blue Lacuna makes movement work.

1 Like

Only Galaxy Jones makes scoring work.


You know, your game is probably the only game all year that I actually wanted to get points in so that I could get the graphic. I’m not sure exactly why that worked so well, but it really did.