Damn Superflight is enjoyable. It’s something like an endless runner, apart from instead of running, you’re diving through randomly generated sets of mountains and cliffs, scoring points for getting close to walls and rushing through dangerously small tunnels. The closer you get to the walls, the higher the score! Perhaps you’ll come across a portal that will send you into an entirely new area on your same run! Try not to hit those walls though, as the speeds you’re going at will likely mean your demise.
No worries though, because a quick tap of the space bar and you’re back in for another run! You’ll get better and better each time as your get to grips with the handling using the simple controls (arrow keys!) to natigate the voxel world. Go too far off course and the game will teleport you to a new area to continue. It’s simple, it’s elegant, and it’s got leaderboards for high scores. Currently I’m ranked number #17,030.
Back in the day, I used to play Area 51 (a pretty good light gun game) at the local Laser Quest (think laser tag if you aren’t familiar with that name) and got fairly good at it, to the point where I could complete it in one or two coins. Whilst I don’t think I ever got my name on the scoreboard, I remember always being willing to chase that top 10 to have my name immortalised in a local bowling arcade machine. Those scores always seemed within reach and being in the top 10, even in just that local establishment, seemed to mean something to me.
Cut to present day. Every game has scoreboards now. Well, almost every game, but any game that has a score or time component to them has some form of scoreboard to rank yourself against the rest of the world. Younger me would have thought that would be fantastic, but the reality is something much different. I’m ranked 17030 in Superflight. I have no inclination to try to get onto that leaderboard, because there are just so many names on it. Getting into the top 10 would mean unfeasable amounts of time, endurance, and patience that the average human simply doesn’t have. Having worldwide leaderboards has, for the most part, made high score lists meaningless. What does 17030 mean? Is that good?
Simply put, the scale of modern gaming scoreboards makes your score utterly meaningless when compared to the best the world has to offer. Not to mention the fact that in a lot of cases, those top scores are the resul of people either boosting using groups or finding a way to cheat their way to the top for whatever reason. Im glad that there are still arcades dotted about that can give that scoreboard challenge without you having to compete against 420NoScopaXx who managed to cheat the scoreboard in some way or another. Perhaps I’m just bitter that I can’t compete with the best in the world.
It’s not all disappointment though, as there are a few examples of this being handled rather well. Games that offer a local area leaderboard as well as a global one are rare, but a nice thing to see. Knowing where you rank within your city is much more meaningful than being ranked in the 10,000s worldwide, when everyone you pass in the street could be someone you’re just about to leapfrog. Some leaderboards allow you to watch replays of the best players, giving you an idea of what you should be doing to improve. And then there are always friend leaderboards which can be fun (although still having Rank 758866 by your name doesn’t help much).
As I said, perhaps all this is just sour grapes. Perhaps it’s that all these other players are far better than me. But either way, the difference between rank 48,067 and 102,554 is numerically big, but does anyone actually care?