Add Track Guidance

Overview

Verified users have the right to create tracks (or variations or courses or other terminology depending on the game) on the scoreboard for competition. The track creation process gives the user a blank canvas with which to express their idea of a worthy track: the creation process leaves little limits to the imagination. So, if an achievement on a game is already tracked but you believe there is another way to track that achievement, there is a place for that alternative.

The Help page has a brief overview of the process which covers the sponsorship process. The Help page does not give any description of the form nor does it attempt to give any guidance to filling in the form. It indicates simply "Please fill out the submission form completely and accurately."

General principals that should be considered when adding a track are that it should:
  • Not impose artificial limitations on who may compete (no rules limiting people by name, location for example).
  • That the track gives a level playing field to compete on (choice of difficulty or specified difficulty, for example).
  • The track be measurable in some numerical sense (to fit the score entry requirements).

When adding a tracks there are multiple separate fields on the Add Track form that need to be considered: Platform, Game, Title, Score Type, Ranking Method, Description, Rule, Game Specific Rules and General/Additional Info.

Philosphy and Practice

The track and its rules are a factual representation of a process of measurement. They must not represent opinions in their textual content.

Conceptually, however, the creation of a track is an expression of the individual (or group) opinion on how the game can be tracked. When creating a track you are expressing your opinion through factual instructions. As the designer of a track or series of tracks, your tracks are only your opinion on how to track a game - they are not the limit of how the community can use that game and other participants are free to make their own tracks independent of yours. This also means you do not need to cover all possibilities just because you are adding tracks. Also, no-one in the community is given the right to prevent a track from being created and no-one is forced to support a track through sponsorship.

The only barriers as to what sort of track can be created are within the confines of the scoreboard capabilities briefly highlighted in the Overview. There are only light limits on the membership requirements as to whom may perform these actions: verified users with a significant Credibility Rating and there is the need to meet to the sponsorship requirements in Submission Points.

In practice, it is often the case that a game (with one or more tracks) is added by one member and no further new tracks gets added. Community interest in a game will typically shape its form on the scoreboard.

Note: Twin Galaxies reserves the right to prevent, amend and remove tracks. Changes by staff are usually limited to helpful clarifications, correcting typos and perhaps moving the track to a different platform where hiccups in understanding occur. The community generally helps out identifying the necessary clarifications via the Report Error thread. However, there are cases where tracks have been merged due to insufficient uniqueness and also cases where tracks have been deleted for reasons known to Twin Galaxies and/or the track creator(s).

Platform

The scoreboard tracks each game separately on the scoreboard by platform. The user is limited to creating tracks on existing platforms (note: users cannot create tracks for the --GWR platform) but can freely add new Games to the scoreboard in the process of creating the track (the first track created will add the Game). If a platform is not currently represented by the scoreboard, the user will need to discuss the merits of the platform with the Twin Galaxies staff.

There is no current implemented feature to track a single game/track across multiple platforms. If you wish to track a game on multiple platforms, multiple tracks are necessary.

Conceptually, the platform is the commercial hardware the game was coded for. There are sub-platforms shown on the scoreboard which have caused some confusion - like the PlayStation Network games where the single game is played on different hardware. The scoreboard offers the sub-platforms "PlayStation 3 PSN", "PS Vita PSN" and others to differentiate the hardware on which the game is played. Generally, however, if the game was available on original media (disc/cartridge) for the platform, then leave out the sub-platform.

Game

In this context, the Game is conceptually the commercial entity that is loaded onto the console/computer and so could be in reference to a compilation of other games. For example, adding a retro compilation to the scorebaord would typically constitute a single Game (Taito Legends, Midway Arcade Classics). However, if the purchased entity is broadly speaking a bundle of separate games or is a compilation of titles which were individually released earlier in the platforms life, then this are typically listed as separate games on the scoreboard. For example, on the Sega MegaDrive/Genesis, Sega released multiple cartridges under the title "Mega Games" - each release having multiple previously released titles on them. These are traditionally tracked as their separate games.

Games which have downlodable content (DLC) usually have their DLC tracked within the same game. Depending on the DLC, the track creator may wish to make specific rules which cater for the DLC existence.

Score Type

The scoreboard is capable of tracking only a small number of different styles of values. It may initially seem these are insufficient for your tracking requirements and so some lateral thinking may have to be applied.

Score types are: Integer, Floating Point, Time, Levels and Completed Percentage.
  • Integer: whole numbers only.
  • Floating Point: numbers which include decimals.
  • Time: any amount of positive time. Negative time is not currently accepted by the scoreboard. The scoreboard is currently limited by the submission form to a maximum of 23 hours 59 minutes 59.999 seconds.
  • Levels: a different way of specifying Integer. It is a superfluous legacy option. Advice: don't use it and use Integer instead.
  • Completed Percentage: a different way of specifying Integer. It is a superfluous legacy option. Advice: don't use it and use Integer instead. There has been problems in the current implementation but these may have been fixed.

There are cases which are not a perfect fit for the the above options. One typical example is a score-line from a sports games, such as Football, Rugby, Tennis, etc. The traditional approach for such games is to track the difference of the score by deducting the opponent's score from the player's score and the exact method of how to calculate the score the track should be explained in the rules.

One obvious interpretation required is Golf games where a below-par score achieved is entered as a negative. The track designer may prefer to alter the perception of the achievement to a positive number and for golf courses this is easiest by tracking the stroke count instead of par.

Ranking Method

Simply whether the value of the achievement is better as a lower number or a higher number. Some simple traditional examples:
  • Points score: Highest is best.
  • Times where the shortest is the aim: Lowest is best.
  • Times where the longest is the aim: Highest is best.

Description

This is a summary of what is being tracked by the variation. The more possible variations the game offers the longer this tends to get. Try to use succinct phrases but be aware that it the Description has to be unique across all variations for this Platform+Game combination.

For simple games where there is only one score shown by the game, "Points" is often used. As the game gets more complicated you may wish to include the areas of the game to aid in menu navigation. For example, the TrackMania series of games (racing games) have unique names to each course in the game but spread those course names through multiple sub-menus. Including those sub-menu choices can aid understanding for both the newcomer to the game and the adjudicators.

Game Specific Rules

This is where a good track design can shine and where detail is often missed or exaggerated. Rules must never be blank and history informs us they should never assume settings as these lead to different interpretations ("Default settings"). The rules should explain any detail that must be selected by the player and explain any unusual scenarios that need be met. If the achievement being tracked is not made obvious by the game, the rules should explain how to measure the achievement and to cover scenarios where ambiguous measurements can occur.

For many games there are settings which are superfluous to measuring an achievement. For example, if tracking the time it takes to race around a course then there is probably no need to specify that the speed be measured in MPH or KPH.

As the designer, you may wish to impose unusual limitations to the generally accepted method of playing a game. It is here that you need to describe those limitations.

General/Additional Info.

This is a field added to the scoreboard in 2015. For the majority of tracks the field is blank. As the designer you should be aware that the field is generally ignored - even by the submission process - and so should not contain any rules or pertinent facts about how an achievement is to be processed or how a submission should be adjudicated.

Derivative Tracks

Sponsorship of new tracks can get expensive and many games are large enough to deploy multiple methods of tracking (different difficulties, different courses, songs, vehicles, etc.). To this end, for each track that is fully sponsored, the creator and sponsors have access to create free derivative tracks for that same Platform+Game+Scoring Method+Ranking Type+Rules combination that they have already sponsored. The new derivative track must differ only in the Description of the track, however, so there can be a little art in designing rules of tracks to facilitate this reduction in the overall Submission Point cost of adding a suite of tracks to the scoreboard.

Design Guidance

Each track can only be added to one Platform+Game combination so the design phase should centre on one game. It is important to remember that only the Description of the track can be changed during a derivative track creation. The Scoring Type, Ranking Method and Rules cannot be changed. So if you wish to create a Points and Time track for a single game then one cannot be a derivative of the other. However, when designing rules for a range of tracks which have the same Scoring Type and Ranking Method, derivative tracks may still be possible.

Make a list (a simple spreadsheet with columns) of each possible track variation you would like. Generate the rules needed to meet the minimum for each track in your set. During this phase it is quite likely you will start to see patterns in the tracks being designed - not least the course (racing genre)/song (music games) being the only difference between the tracks.

Once you've finished your list, identify the current number of unique different rules that have been designed. Are you repeating the same thing but with a minor variance? For example, does one rule set specify "Easy difficulty" and another rule set specify "Medium difficulty" or perhaps your rules specify the course/song explicitly. In these circumstances, the rule can usually be rewritten to suggest the requirement is in the Description field. "Must use the specified difficulty" as a rule and then in the Description supply "Easy difficulty" in one track and "Medium difficulty" in the next track. The idea is to reduce the number of unique rules to a common set.

In this process you will be better able to identify where two unique rules are in conflict: perhaps one rule set says you can use a particular item/circumstance/vehicle where another rule set explicitly forbids that use. In these circumstances, you should be creating a original tracks for those differences (and then derive those pair of uniques into other tracks).

Simple Advice

One simple piece of advice to give: do not use the Back navigation when entering derivative tracks. Even though the form looks like it will create another derivative track, it will instead consume 10 SP for a new track in the marketplace. Always navigate forward to the Add Track, either allowing the form's confirmation to move you forward to it or by choosing the Add Track option from the navigation bar.

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