" "

The Neon White leaderboards are being overrun by scammers

Neon White sinks in the ocean in Neon White.

screenshot: Annapurna / Kotaku

It’s like clockwork: a game comes out with a robust competitive component… and is immediately swamped by players shooting to the top through nefarious, unsanctioned means – in other words, cheaters. The latest victim is neon whitea multi-genre speed running game developed by Angel Matrix and published by Annapurna Interactive.

What is the strangest thing about this deceitful scourge in neon white is that there’s already an official way to seriously save your time – no cheating necessary. neon whitesupposedly a first person shooter, however probably more of a fast-paced puzzle platformer, is structured around bite-sized levels that you complete in a minute or less. Your goal is to race to the end as quickly as possible, killing all enemies along the way. If you’re fast enough, you’ll earn an “Ace” medal, which reveals the online leaderboards for that level.

It’s pretty simple, but most levels have a built-in shortcut: if you use the right weapons at the right time, you can skip entire segments and save precious seconds of your time. Part of the joy of neon white is in playing levels to find shortcuts and then run them. (If you missed it, check it out Zack’s paean to why finding her is so fun.) These shortcuts are why you sometimes see differences – gaps of 5 or even 10 seconds – between your rankings on the leaderboards and where you are at the top. In order to crack a place in the upper level, one must know and master the shortcut of a level perfectly.

These shortcuts are Nothowever, behind the extreme outliers that catch players’ attention.

Last week, just days after neon white was released, a player joked that each placement at the top of the leaderboards was occupied by a player with runtimes of 0.06 seconds (impossible for every level in the game). Other pointed out that a player named Nosee suspiciously hit a similar 15 second time on all levels neon white‘s eighth mission; At one of these levels, there is a 16 second gap between Nosee’s first place finish and the rest of the top ten people. There is virtually no way to achieve that score through official shortcuts; If there was an official abbreviation, players would probably have figured it out by now and shared it far and wide. On the Steam forums, a group of speedrunners bemoaned how many players are having seemingly impossible times and how they are preventing legitimate players from setting well-deserved world records. (One quoted the saying, “When there’s competition, there’s scammers.”)

It is unclear exactly how some players cheat. But even if I knew, I wouldn’t say it. Until Angel Matrix comes out with a fix, telegraphing the exact method of cheating would likely only spur imitators.

The cheating problem has escalated to the point where the player base is recognizing it, and has patchworked solutions with the game’s best players, driven by the community, and recalibrated their leaderboards to accommodate cheaters. In this clipFor example, a player on the “Forgotten City” level achieves a breathtakingly fast 26.85 seconds. Even though neon whiteThe leaderboards officially list them in tenth place, the player claims ninth place (rightfully) because the person on top is having a time that could only be earned by cheating.

Angel Matrix representatives told kotaku which the studio is investigating neon whitefraud problem but declined ckeep commenting. In the meantime, I think I have a solution: guys, fuck it, come on!