So I spewed a few thought out ideas awhile back into a thread or two addressing how the leaderboards currently function and how to change them. Since then, a few people have asked me to construct my idea into one solid readable entry so they can get the gist without having to sift through pages of other posts. So here goes...
Since the current model of the leaderboards is not intelligent enough to decipher what is legit and what is not, many people have suggested removing 0.00 times and resetting leaderboards entirely. I say leave them as they are since fixing the current model would be beyond messy and less than fulfilling. My idea is to create an unlockable feature after a certain game progression. Allow me to delve into specifics.
The game currently has code to handle ghosting. Meaning it will accurately save your attempts in a condensed format. This is what operates the Brownie and Dr Fetus stages, as well as the replay feature. I'm suggesting that be expanded upon to allow the game to create user ghost files (similar to the replay files) if the user opts in. These ghosts could then be activated via the pause menu. Your own personal files could save onto your pc making them easily accessible, but could also be uploaded to a server just like the level portal will. I'm thinking this pause menu feature should be something similar to the leaderboards where you have yourself and then you have the top 10 submitted. When activated, you will see the ghost running the level in semi-transparent. This ghost shares no object collision with you, doesn't activate keys, buttons or Bandage Girl in your run, but pseudo activates them in the same way it does in the replay *as in walks through keyblocks and button walls*. This means less overall coding, on top of the fact that it becomes an interesting feature to the game.
Because I'm suggesting an upload oriented solution, xbox users are shit out of luck. Sorry, but your leaderboards aren't even remotely as bullshit as the steam version. Anyways, I'm thinking the server should have something similar to the current level portal teaser posts in that it will have a rating system of some kind. That way if someone cheats, it becomes apparent. If a specific ghost gets both over a certain amount of votes and a certain percent of bad to good votes, then it will be removed from the top ten. To handle this, the server will store the current 20 best entries per level. 10 will just be backups to handle the inflow of glitch clears and garbage submissions. I realize this method breaks the whole "how did he/she do it?" but truthfully, most of us can figure it out or find it on youtube easily; not to mention, some people lack the skill entirely to replicate a really tricky run (which is what the leaderboards are all about, competition).
Now for the meat and bones of how and why. To make this semi-fair, I was leaning towards A+ing a specific chapter in a specific version (light or dark) should unlock this feature for that level and version. Meaning, if you A+ all of Forest light, you will gain access to ghosts for forest light. This also makes it so people intentionally cheating to pass levels will be less likely to cheat again to submit a crap time since 90% of these people are just doing it for steam creds and bragging rights (ie: I beat super meat boy with golden god status and all achievements!). Another perk to this system is that if someone submits an exceptional amount of voted to oblivion ghosts, they can be banned from participation entirely (I am considering 3 to be the limit and it will become clear why in a few sentences). Upon opting in to the ghost feature for a chapter/version, you will have all your A+ times set to current level pars. Why you may ask? Because this would allow users with insane times to be able to submit current data for use on a new leaderboard that doesn't conflict with their current best. This does not mean your times have vanished. You can always turn off ghosting to go back to the prior way of handling things, including your prior times (I'm treating this like a switch of sorts). Once opted in, every time you beat your previous best you will get a confirmation window to either scrap the run or submit the ghost. This would allow people who accidentally glitched a level to undo that glitch so that they don't get a negative mark on their record later on. Also, the times will submit the same way they do currently so that any time in ghost mode will be donated over to the plain old boring steam boards. In this manner, you don't have to try keeping track of two boards and redo any epic run you may have gotten in one for the other.
With this method a new, more stable and cheater unfriendly leaderboard can be constructed and linked into the game. One that doesn't icon glitch, time glitch, wall glitch, cheat engine, save state edit, etc etc. I do not believe this is too much to ask for since all the code exists and requires minimal tweaking to initiate. The ghost code is in games, as in the menu code, code to handle swapping the chapter; not to mention the code in the portal to handle uploading small files to the server and how the server addresses them from there, including the rating system. Tweak a few parameters, add a few inherited classes and you're golden. My solution is elegant, functional and doesn't require a few hundred hours of coding and cursing to implement. I do not expect this to come to pass by any means, it's merely a suggestion on how to address the problem since Tommy did promise ages ago on the steam forums to address it.