Game Development

How does the On Point scoring work? | Feature Spotlight

by Rebecca McCready & Steve Halliwell · May 20, 2023

We spoke to Steve, one of Actuator’s developers, to gain an insight into the scoring system in our first game title, On Point.

Our demo at GDC had people fighting for highscores. An amazing result for us, seeing people so engaged in the game. Also some genuinely impressive lightgun skills on display. It did prompt what appeared to be fairly straightforward questions. “Is ‘x’ a good score?” and “What’s the highest score possible?”

There were 7 minigames in the demo, the score is a simple addition of each minigame’s score. Each of these awards points based on 3 metrics: accuracy, ‘quick shot’, and hits.


Accuracy is as you would expect, shots that were hits divided by total shots fired. To make that a score, it is multiplied by 1,000, so 100% accuracy gives the maximum of 1,000 points.

Quick Shot

‘Quick Shot’ is based on how quickly your first hit landed after minigame start. Shooting a target on the same frame as the minigame starts is the maximum 2,000 points, then linearly falls off to 0 points after 2 seconds (i.e. at 1 second 1000 points, 1.5 seconds 500 points).


All minigames have a required minimum number of hits to pass them, but their upper bounds vary.

Fixed Count

Some minigames have a fixed number of targets for you to hit, and doing so ends the minigame early. These are:

The 77 targets minigame, the shoot the leaf minigame, the many targets minigame, and the glass panes minigame.

(From left: Glass Panes, Many Targets, 9 grid, Shoot the Leaf)

These have 77 targets, 1 target, 29 targets, and 36 targets respectively. A ‘hit’ is awarded 110 points. So doing perfectly at these games gives 11,470, 3,110, 6,190, 6,960 points respectively (including accuracy and ‘quick shot’ bonus scores).

Time Based

The Ninegrid and Ninegrid Swap minigames do not have an explicit upper hit limit. They are time bound. They have a number of animations and delays. Time for the wave to animate in, time for the wave to animate out, time for the wave to be active, and a time between waves. That last one only occurs if the previous wave wasn’t cleared. It should help in making the game feel less chaotic if the player isn’t clearing the waves.

Similarly, if all targets in a wave are destroyed it immediately starts retracting and showing the next wave with no delay. This should help the game feel like it’s fast even to very fast players. I really appreciate these little moments of the game acknowledging the player experience.

It even creates a very slim space for player expression, in creating their own tempo that plays off against the existing pulse in the carnival music and the countdown beeps in the wave changing warning.

(9 Grid Target Swap)

The Ninegrid Swap has another wrinkle, if the player is too slow, the targets turn to bombs and the bombs turn into targets. This prevents the player from triggering the early end of a wave. Until everything swaps again. This tiny moment of frustration can be quite exhilarating. And reminds me of this. But this mechanic also allows a player to potentially shoot more targets, by waiting for bombs to swap. This is a risky gambit, mistiming it could lose you a life, and forcing the next wave early may result in more total offered targets anyway.

Anyway, scoring. The key to maximizing score here is clearing a set/wave of targets, the faster you clear targets the more total targets you are offered. Our estimates of doing exceptionally well result in 38 and 80 targets being hit for nine grid and nine grid swapping minigames respectively. So being both exceptional and perfect (which seems like a bit of a tautology) would net 7,180, and 11,800 points respectively.

The last minigame is Shoot the Can. The minimum ‘hits’ required is 1, but again, there is no upper limit.

(Shoot the can and leaf)

Just time, and your willingness to push your skill or luck. The more you shoot it, the faster and further it will drift from your position and less easy it will be to keep the can in the air. When the can touches the ground, the game is over. Here our estimate of doing exceptionally well is 10 hits, so an exceptional and perfect score being 4100 points.

Normal Human Speed

Our estimate for a pretty darn accurate player with normal human reaction speed is in the ballpark of 40,000 to 45,000 points. IMHO, if you got anywhere in there you are nailing it, I can barely make it through with any lives left, let alone good accuracy. And the Exceptional and Perfect player gets 50,810 points.

AI Terminator Mode

But what about non-normal human players? What about a perfect, game-playing AI, terminators of the future? Excellent question. Let’s take that Exceptional and Perfect player down a few pegs.

In ‘shoot the can’ you get awarded a hit for every shot that hits the can. And the only thing that stops you is the time limit. The game allows for a trigger pull every frame, so a hit could have every frame, the quest 2 can run 120hrz now. If On Point can maintain that framerate, our Gamer Terminator could earn 13,200 points a second. That minigame lasted for 12 seconds in the GDC build, a whopping 158,400 points! Just for ‘shoot the can’.

In the regular ninegrid game there is a known cycle, 1 target, 3 targets, repeat. And we know the timings for the animation in and out, it’s a little bit messy as you can shoot the targets as they are animating in. They are above the mechanisms that hide the spawn, after about a third of their tween. The game lasts 20 seconds, giving us a huge potential hit number of around 400. Our Game Terminator could get 47,000 points for this minigame alone.

In the target swapping ninegrid minigame the above all still holds true and our terminator isn’t going to be slow enough to have to deal with swapping mechanics that would normally slow down a human player, and they certainly don’t need to wait for the swap to offer more targets.

There’s no fixed cycle here but on average we have ~4.7 targets per wave. We can’t hit .7 of a target so we’ll clamp some of that in our estimate. This minigame is 30 seconds long. That’s a potential hit of around 1,500, and 171,300 points.

To conclude…

Wow. Ok, good to know. Don’t challenge the robots to a game of On Point, SpaceJam style, for the fate of humanity. They’re going to get 407,430 points. The best score in the office for the GDC build is 46,100. No amount of Michael’s secret stuff is going to close the gap.

I bet you’re wondering if there’s a spreadsheet, damn right there is, have fun: On Point Scoring Spreadsheet