Hotline Miami

### Hotline Miami

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Fuzzball Aug 13, 2013 @ 4:16am
How does the scoring system work?
I've thorughly enjoyed this game and have completed a lot of it, getting A+ ranks on several chapters. But I've realised I have no idea how the scoring system in this game actually works! I have a few questions:

1) Are points and letter grade actually related? It might seem like a dumb question, but after you finish a chapter, you get one screen that shows your point breakdown, then a separate screen that lists a bunch of other factors (e.g. "Exposure" and combos) before giving you a grade (e.g. A-). From the way it's presented, it looks like your letter grade is completely separate from points and only determined from those other factors on the second screen. I take it though this is not the case and points ARE used to determine your grade?

2) Why does the points result screen always show your score out of a fixed total that is lower than the score you've reached? The denominator number clearly isn't the maximum amount of points you can get on that level.

3) What do the different scoring categories mean? On the points page it lists (if I remember correctly): Killings, Boldness, Combos, Time Bonus, Flexibility, Mobility. The next screen then gives a long list of things like "Exposure", "Execution" and "4x Combo"; I'm guessing those are all the individual actions you did in the level? Again I'm wondering what each of these actions mean and if they're separate from your actual score or part of calculating it.

Hope I'm clear and can finally get some answers!
Skymirrh Aug 13, 2013 @ 6:29am
CAUTION: All the information written down here, I've gathered empirically. Although I think I've got most of it right (and actually have some good rankings in the leaderboards thanks to this understanding), I may still be wrong, so please don't hesitate to correct me :)

Originally posted by Fuzzball:
1) Are points and letter grade actually related? It might seem like a dumb question, but after you finish a chapter, you get one screen that shows your point breakdown, then a separate screen that lists a bunch of other factors (e.g. "Exposure" and combos) before giving you a grade (e.g. A-). From the way it's presented, it looks like your letter grade is completely separate from points and only determined from those other factors on the second screen. I take it though this is not the case and points ARE used to determine your grade?
Unless I am mistaken, only points matter: a certain amount of points => a certain grade, and so far I don't think I've seen a counter-example. I'll answer the other parts of your question in the answer to 3).

Originally posted by Fuzzball:
2) Why does the points result screen always show your score out of a fixed total that is lower than the score you've reached? The denominator number clearly isn't the maximum amount of points you can get on that level.
The "fixed total that is lower than the score you've reached" isn't actually always lower (even though it's not that hard to always be higher). It is the minimum required to unlock the mask tied to that specific level (it means: "not the masks you pick up in-game"). And I may be wrong here but I think this "minimum score" corresponds to a C- rating, which would mean you have to do C- or above to get the mask of a level.

Originally posted by Fuzzball:
3) What do the different scoring categories mean? On the points page it lists (if I remember correctly): Killings, Boldness, Combos, Time Bonus, Flexibility, Mobility. The next screen then gives a long list of things like "Exposure", "Execution" and "4x Combo"; I'm guessing those are all the individual actions you did in the level? Again I'm wondering what each of these actions mean and if they're separate from your actual score or part of calculating it.
You guessed right, the second screen is a just a recap of what you did in the level. Those "individual actions" are then aggregated to make your actual score, so no, they're neither separate from your actual score nor a part of calculating it: they're the score itself.

What is confusing is they show you first the aggregation and then the individual atoms, whereas it could have been arguably more sensible to show the individual actions first and how they mix to form your score.

Let's have an example. Say we have a level with a single mob. He stands in the middle of a room too far away for you to knock him down using the door. You are unarmed. You push the door, he sees you, you knock him down (1000 points), and execute him with your bare hands (600 points).

What happened here? The individual action/second screen will show ONE exposure and ONE execution. Exposure means one or more mobs saw you while you were knocking down or executing someone. Here the mob saw you coming at him with your bare hands, so you get one exposure. This Exposure individual action, and the other Exposures if applicable, get aggregated in the "Boldness" score factor shown on the first screen, so it will display "1000". The Execution individual factors get aggregated in the "Killing" score factor, which will display "600". Here there was no combo in the second screen so "Combos" will be "0". We won't take "Time Bonus" into account. "Flexibility" is "0" because there was no weapon involved. And we won't take "Mobility" into account either.

• Second screen: the individual actions, broken down into single elements (atoms).
• First screen: the score, which is calculated based on a set of molecules ("Killings", "Boldness", "Combos"), themselves built upon atoms from the second screen. The score is also based on other things NOT coming from the second screen, namely "Time Bonus", "Flexibility" and "Mobility".

See the concept? Good. Now let's dive into the mechanics.

Atoms from the Second Screen
• Exposure (also "Double Exposure", "Triple Exposure", "Severe Exposure" and "Big Balls"): this happens when you are seen by respectively 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5+ enemies while you knock down someone or execute someone. And not normal killing. Normal kills always grant a flat amount of points, whereas knocking down and executing have both a flat amount and a scaling factor depending on how many enemies saw you do it!
• Nx Combo (where "N" is a number): this one is straightforward, if you got a 17x Combo, it will be displayed here. Note that combos are one of the easiest ways to achieve A+ on every level.
• Execution: also straightforward, means you executed someone in any way. When scoring, always try to execute, it doubles your score if you do it for each enemy.
• Door Slam: straightforward. I don't know very well how Door Slams work since I'm not a fan of them, so share your experiences. Do they have a scaling factor like knockdowns (600 + exposure)? Or do they always grant a flat amount (600)? Note that using the Don Juan mask, Door Slams grant 2,200 instead of the regular 600.
• Sharp Shooter: means you shot someone out of your "regular" view (= without Shift). You usually get this when using Shift to snipe someone far away. I don't know very well how many points it gives.
• Projectile Kill: you get this when you kill someone using a thrown weapon (brick, anyone...?).
I may have forgotten other "atoms", please do add them if you found some :)

Trivia: you can get a "Play Style" displayed at the top of this screen, depending on how you behaved. Things like "Combo Trainee" or "Executioner" are usually indicating you're doing a good job at scoring :D

Scoring factors from the First Screen
In the following, references to "Atoms from the Second Screen" will always have a capital first letter. Remember: the first three scoring factors are based on actions described in the second screen. The other half is not.
• Killings: normal kills, Executions, Sharp Shooters, and Projectile Kills go in here.
• Boldness: knockdowns, Exposure and Door Slam go in here.
• Combos: Captain Obvious o7
• Time Bonus: The faster you completed the level, the higher the time bonus.
• Flexibility: Switching weapons as often as possible maximizes flexibility.
• Mobility: Constantly being on the move grants you good mobility scores. Staying still and thinking about what you've done is not good for your mental health anyway, sooo DON'T. STOP. ME NOW. Don't stop me now, 'cause I'm having a good time...! (sorry, had to do it :D)

How to get better at scoring
Just reading the above explanation should be sufficient, but I'll narrow it to some "choke points" I recommend you try to work on and improve, as it worked for me :)

The following list is organized by order of magnitude. The first point is more important than the second, which is more important than the following, etc. I suggest you try to improve each point one by one and once satisfied with your current skill, to carry on to the next point.
• Combos: good combos usually are the best way to score. The obvious reason is they give a tremendous amount of points when done right. The less obvious reasons is that getting good combos require to master intuitively most of the points of this list (except going bare handed and doing executions), because you have to expose yourself to do combos (Exposure), move fast (Time Bonus/Mobility), weapon switch fast (Time Bonus/Flexibility), and kill people from afar to keep the combo running (Time Bonus/Sharp Shooter). Do note that you can and should try to keep your combo running between stages of a same level. Tip: use and abuse weapon throws to keep the combo running when you're too far away from an enemy to take him down immediately. Knocking down with fists/weapon throws or door slamming will reset the combo timer. Killing or executing someone resets the combo timer and gives you a larger combo window than just knocking down.
• Go Unarmed: going in with your bare hands will grant you a net bonus, as you get 600 points when knocking down an enemy unseen, and +400 per enemy seeing you while you do it (including the knocked guy itself, so always wait for the guy to see you before knocking him down). Going unarmed also forces you to execute, which is good (see below). Side effect: you'll probably be very versatile (see below), so you'll have bonus Flexibility.
• Executions: Regular killing is not enough. To get highscores, you have to enjoy hurting other people. Executions with your bare hands/against the walls will give you 600 points (+400 per enemy seeing you). Executions with melee/thrown weapons will give you 1000 points (+400 per enemy seeing you) (and sometimes extra points for special weapons such as the Broken Pool Cue or the Drill). When possible, always go for armed executions as they grant you more points AND usually are faster to perform. This effectively doubles your score cause you have to go unarmed first (and get at least 600 for the knock down) and then execute (at least 600, most often 1000). Beware though: it is better to keep your combo running than to execute someone (unless it's the last guy of the level, of course). Keep in mind some executions are quite long to perform and could break your combo even if you killed a guy just before and use the Zack mask, so when combo-ing, avoid Machete and Pool Cue executions (there may be more "slow" executions, tell me if you find them).
• Grow Balls: no matter if you're a girl or a boy. In this game you're Jacket, and Jacket must have balls to get highscores (see "Big Balls" in "Atoms"). Knocking down an enemy with your bare hands while 5 enemies see you (4 other + the target) will grant you 2600 points. Think Stallone when you play. And if, after years of intensive practice, you can think of yourself as Stallone, then by all means do Executions while other enemies see you. You'll get Execution and Exposure AT THE SAME TIME. Now, that's some balls.
• Be Versatile: switch of weapon often to get a good Flexibility score. Easiest way to do this is to try and go barehanded to knock down enemies, and execute them with as many melee weapons possible, switching between each execution.
• Move Fast: the faster you go, the higher the Time Bonus will be. Plus, Mobility scales with how you move in-game.

I think that's it.

• Zack (Frog): Longer combo window. 'Nuff said. Probably the best mask to score.
• Don Juan (Horse): 2,200 points per Door Slam is a very good asset in tiny levels (you lose the execution points but it's still better), where you can keep the combo running without using Zack.
• Brandon (Panther), and alternatively Graham (Rabbit): walking faster is a viable alternative to Zack when trying to keep the combo running. By all means try it, you may be surprised, I assure you :)
• Carl (Grasshopper): used to give tremendously high amounts of point when executing using the drill, but now it only gives 1100 points per execution. Still can be used in tiny levels where you can keep the combo running without Zack and want to have a little extra on executions (although I think Don Juan have better score outputs than Carl).

Now it should be good :D

Hope that helps, and don't hesitate to correct me if I'm wrong :)
Last edited by Skymirrh; Aug 29, 2013 @ 1:53am
Fuzzball Aug 14, 2013 @ 12:03pm
Thank you very much, Skymirrh! That's an amazingly well explained and laid out post! You are an excellent person and I wish there were more like you. :)
Skymirrh Aug 14, 2013 @ 12:34pm
Glad to hear you liked it mate :)
Severstarr Aug 14, 2013 @ 2:45pm
I was originally going to suggest this guide, but there's not much point now; Skymirrh seems to have covered everything [even more] thoroughly. Here it is, if you want to compare, anyway.
http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=161855564

Also, I could be wrong, but I'm not entirely sure if score and your letter grade are directly proportional.
I've played a few levels in the past, where I got a higher score than before, but a lower grade.
Although, now that I think about it, I think all of those cases happened before I joined the Beta, so that could potentially be related.
Skymirrh Aug 14, 2013 @ 4:01pm
Originally posted by Severstarr:
I've played a few levels in the past, where I got a higher score than before, but a lower grade.
Although, now that I think about it, I think all of those cases happened before I joined the Beta, so that could potentially be related.

I don't think they changed the way grading works in the beta. If that's true (and it's entirely possible, I have not made a thorough examination of grading system because one can almost always get A+ with practice ^^'), then we'd need to explain which elements are taken into account for grading.
Last edited by Skymirrh; Nov 13, 2013 @ 4:45am
One Munch Pan Jan 12, 2015 @ 11:43pm
Hey! I have a theory but I might be wrong - do you have to score exactly twice the denominator or above during the first score screen to get an A+? It seemed that way to me when I was going for the "Get A Life" achievement!
Skymirrh Jan 13, 2015 @ 4:11am
What do you mean by "twice the denominator"?
a. Mar 5, 2015 @ 2:48am
Originally posted by Skymirrh:
What do you mean by "twice the denominator"?

I think he means twice the first high score, so if you get 30000 points the first time you need to get 60000 points the next time.
a. Mar 5, 2015 @ 2:54am
There's something i wonder. Is there any scale for how many points you need on any one level in order to get A+? I played through Hot&Heavy trying to get A+ (which was a major pain in the♥♥♥♥♥ I got around 70000 points but my score was a B+ (or an A- can't remember) So do i have to reach a certain score or do i need to improve my general stats?
Skymirrh Mar 5, 2015 @ 3:03am
Originally posted by -S-:
I think he means twice the first high score, so if you get 30000 points the first time you need to get 60000 points the next time.
Not needed.

Originally posted by -S-:
There's something i wonder. Is there any scale for how many points you need on any one level in order to get A+? I played through Hot&Heavy trying to get A+ (which was a major pain in the♥♥♥♥♥ I got around 70000 points but my score was a B+ (or an A- can't remember) So do i have to reach a certain score or do i need to improve my general stats?
Yes. Each level has its own ranking thresholds. The later levels obviously expect you to get a much higher score, and levels with more enemies expect you to get bigger combos.

For Hot & Heavy, get a full combo on first stage and carry it with you into the second stage: if you do it right it's not too hard to get a 20+ combo for an easy A+ ;)
Jackie Threehorn May 29, 2015 @ 12:36am
thanks
One Munch Pan Jun 19, 2015 @ 8:01am
Originally posted by Skymirrh:
What do you mean by "twice the denominator"?

OMG I'm so sorry - I haven't been checking my steam messages haha

When your score is given at the end of a level it will be / something right? For e.g. 7900/5000
So it seems like to get an A+ you need to score double the denominator (10,000 in this case)
That's what I noticed on my playthrough at least!
Skymirrh Jun 22, 2015 @ 9:26am
Just LOL, dude! This is like 2 years old :D
You may be right, I'm not too sure about that, and honestly I won't bother testing it out because it's frankly not that hard to get A+ when you try to score properly.