Superflight and the Death of Scoreboards

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.

The sensation of speed as you dive into another set of canyons is pretty intense.

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.

Look at my score and rank! AREN’T YOU IMPRESSED?!

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.

Area 51
Damn this has aged well…

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?

Going into any opening is risky as there’s no guarentee you’ll have a way back out.

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.

420 noscope
Yeah. That guy. (Image from

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?

18 thoughts on “Superflight and the Death of Scoreboards

  1. I hear you. Even just 15 or so years ago I remember local battles with my mates for points on games like SSX Tricky or for lap times in MotoGP games – these days knowing that you are just fighting it out for ‘add-meaningless-number-here’ takes the shine off that.

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  2. Honestly I love global leaderboards, but I can see the argument against them. It would be great if there was an option to toggle it off for those who don’t like it. I see it as an incentive to keep playing because just a few more points can have you jump ahead of dozens of people. There’s always that big incentive to try to get to the top. The only game where I almost made it was Draglade where I made it to 8th in the world at one point. By now I’m sure that I’m off the top 100, but the servers went down anyway so it was a fitting way to end things. If Super Smash Bros for Switch gets a leaderboard then that’s a game that I’ll give a real try to make it to the top. Dealing with the cheaters up there will be annoying though

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    1. That’s the thing though, when you’re near the top you do have that incentive, but the vast majority of the time you’re so far down the list that it doesn’t mean much. With score attack games I find that a bit of a killer unless there’s a really small player pool. Those bear the top though? I fully get that!

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  3. I got up to the first page of the leaderboards in Dystopia once, but the game was still in beta and one day an update wiped all the scores. That was the first and last time I ever tried something like that. That was tough enough when there were probably not even 2000 players total, I can’t imagine making a career out of a game like that.

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    1. The most frustrating thing is when you start working your way up the board and then you start to spot the players that have clearly glitched/hacked the board and have lap times of 0:01, or scores 10 billion higher than your own.

      I hate those people.

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      1. I got so into it that I actually got into the high rankers secret club where they all kind of soft-cheated and communicated secretly outside of the game to coordinate attacks against each other without hurting each other. It’s very effective, but it also sucked all the fun out of the game for me because there was almost no challenge anymore.

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  4. I cheated a bit when Rise of the Tomb Raider came out; I had it preordered, and one of the first things I did after playing the story for a couple of hours was to start playing around with the challenge rooms – which naturally people weren’t bothering with since it was launch weekend. I managed to get to the top of one of the leaderboards, triumphantly took a screenshot and was happily the Best Player In The World at that particular challenge room for all of about a day. I should go back and see if I’m even in the top 100,000 now. 🙂

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    1. Nothing wrong with that. You were there first, and whether or not there were lots of players, you were at the top! That does raise a good point though, the earlier you start, the easier it is to get a high position on the board. I’ll have to keep that in mind next time I play something new.


      1. Surprisingly, I’m still in the top 1000. Unsurprisingly, the top spots on all the leaderboards for that particular game are ridiculously fake scores. It’s not even a competitive game! Sometimes you just have to wonder. 🙂

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  5. I never pay attention to leaderboards because there’s no way I have the time or patience to get anywhere near #1! I did always try to beat all my friends when it came to high scores on games we could play at home as well as in the arcade though 🙂 Much more attainable goals!

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