# Score, WHY?

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?!”

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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.

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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

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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).

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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…).

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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.

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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.

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Score is managing the economies of motivation.

Easier said than done.

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Only Blue Lacuna makes movement work.

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Only Galaxy Jones makes scoring work.

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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.

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