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  Still zooming along 03:00 PM -- Tue May 8, 2018  

I don't have a lot to report, or rather I do have a lot, but it's all little things. We continue to grind away on Robot Wants It All, and it's going really well. But there are constantly things that feel like they need to be done before we have any testers.

Right now, we're neck-deep in save games. We initially had classic saves like the Flash games did - it would remember the basic stuff like what powerups you had, and just put you at the last save point (and penalize your time, so it was like you had just died). This turned out to be a bit of a problem with various game elements, like the Mutators that add randomly placed things onto the map. So now we've moved on to the most hardcore of save features: full game states, like emulators use. Assuming this all works, it will save every last detail of your game every time you exit, so you can continue from that exact moment.

Which leads me to the biggest problem we face with this game, and it's one that I fear has no solution at all: cheating. Obviously, it's a single player game, so to a degree, we don't care about cheating. But there are online high scores, and those high score boards are 100% guaranteed to be filled with cheaters, and become completely useless to any real players. It's trivial to cheat at an offline single-player game, it takes literally less than a minute to set up a "game shark" style software to lock your time from changing, or to simply set your time to zero right before you finish, or any number of other cheats. We could spend weeks trying to plug every imaginable hole there, but it's pointless. In the end, what you have is a piece of code that is in the hands of the player, so the player can do whatever they want to it. There is no way to stop them from just removing any checks or limitations you place. Imagine handing a padlock and a key to the same person, and trying to figure out a way to keep them from unlocking it.

That problem has been a constant thorn in my brain for a couple of weeks. My original solution is probably the only good one: limit the leaderboards to only show people who are on your friends list. I don't like it because it removes the worldwide competition and the fun of trying to beat the top players, but as soon as you introduce real competition, everyone will cheat anyway, so it is fundamentally unsolvable. I suppose if there develops a community of people who are serious about speedrunning these games, they will have to share videos of their runs to prove them. There are a lot of technical solutions we can use to try to verify scores (or even manually check them, but that's completely insane), but in the end, there will always be ways around them, and they could cause our leaderboards to use an unreasonable amount of data - we do have something like 8000 separate leaderboards for every combination of levels and mutators.

So yeah, didn't mean to turn this into a big rant about high score cheating, but that is clearly the big thing on my mind. I'm pretty much ignoring it as we continue to develop though, so I can focus on actually creating fun content like this...

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