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Global Leaderboard and Achievement Hunting Rules

TL;DR - Golden Ruleslink

Participants of the Global Leaderboard are required to earn their achievements fairly and legitimately.

In general, a player must unlock achievements:

  1. using the latest release version of an approved supported emulator;
  2. inside of a game by in-game actions;
  3. by their own control;
  4. without outside-modifying game files or game code;
  5. without using another player’s save file, and;
  6. without using outside cheat programs.

These rules are designed to keep players honest in their gameplay and honest towards each other in Global Leaderboard competition.

Table of Contentslink

Global Leaderboardlink

The RetroAchievements global leaderboard is the main official community competition. This includes a unique site rank based on the sum of achievement points earned in comparison with every other ranked player. Each account with points greater than 0 is ranked by default.

What is considered fair and legitimate play versus unfair (cheating) on the global leaderboard has been shaped continually by the community since it's inception. The rules below are what we expect from every player who would like to participate in the ranking system. Any indication of a player's failure to follow the rules herein may lose use of the global leaderboard, also known as Untracked status.

Hardcore modelink

Hardcore mode is a feature where the emulator disables all savestate ability, rewind and the slow motion. The fast-forward feature is the only accepted exception.

When playing in hardcore mode the points you earn worth double the achievement's points. So if the achievement set worths 400 points and you complete it in hardcore mode you'll get 800 points.

Users who take the global leaderboard seriously will most likely earn achievements in hardcore mode to get more points.

NOTE: when playing with hardcore mode disabled (also known as "softcore"), expect to have some issues. Read in this link Why you shouldn't use the load state feature.

Untrackedlink

An untracked account doesn't appear in the global ranking, its activities do not appear in the feed, it's no longer listed among all other earners of each achievement (on the achievement page) and their entries on specific leaderboards will not be publicly visible.

However an untracked account still can enjoy the RetroAchievements and get the badges for completing games.

This status was created so people can do whatever they want with their accounts (like cheating or sharing the account between friends/family) without messing with the fair competitive aspect of the global leaderboards. So, if you want to enjoy the RetroAchievements but not compete in the global leaderboard you can ask to have your account untracked. Just send a message to RAdmin requesting that.

Not Allowedlink

  1. Do not use methods that circumvent achievement code to instantly unlock achievements.
  2. Do not earn achievements in a way that is unintended by the achievement developer.
  3. Do not use save files that are not your own.
  4. Do not modify the game's file(s) or memory by any means.
  5. Do not use game files or programs known as "trainers".
  6. Do not use TAS (tool-assisted speedrunning), bots, or complex scripting to gain achievements.
  7. Do not allow other people to access your account and earn achievements for you.
  8. Do not be abusive to developers.
  9. Do not create or share cheating methods.

1. Do not use methods that circumvent achievement code to instantly unlock achievements.link

Even if you "should have" unlocked the achievement. Even if the game is bugged. Even if the achievement is removed or broken entirely. When it's detected it will most likely lead the account to be Untracked.

In the cases where you should have unlocked the achievement but it didn't triggered or it didn't get registered in the site due to a network problem, you should follow the steps described in FAQ to request a manual unlock.

NOTE: be sure you are using the latest release version of an approved supported emulator.

2. Do not earn achievements in a way that is unintended by the achievement developer.link

If you discover a back-door to an achievement this is a bug. Please report this bug using a ticket report.

See also the allowed rule 2.

Examples:

  • You unlock achievements for finishing levels via a level select cheat code, it's a bug and must be reported/fixed.
  • You notice that if you go back and forth between two rooms you unlock achievements intended for progressing though the game.
  • You've found a method of earning a damageless boss achievements while taking damage during the fights.

3. Do not use save files that are not your own.link

Even if your save got lost/corrupted or you need a save from earlier in the game because you missed something.

Examples:

  • Downloading a clicker game save online.
  • Begging a friend to send you his save file because your house burned down and you lost all your PC files.

4. Do not modify the game's file(s) or memory by any means.link

Examples:

  • Opening up specific game files with a text/hex editor and changing values to what you want; editing properties such as "read-only" for game files; etc.
  • Editing the stats or unlocks in a game, and then saving the data.

5. Do not use game files or programs known as "trainers".link

Programs which can boost your powers in games, unlock debug modes, speed the game up, modify game code, etc.

Examples:

  • Using a trainer program for anything.
  • Using trained ROMs for any game (they will not be linked).
  • Using unofficial/old mods/emulators that act as trainers or debug/cheat toolsets.
  • Game Genie / Action Replay and other such similar cheat tools.

6. Do not use TAS (tool-assisted speedrunning), bots, or complex scripting to gain achievements.link

These are all advanced scripting of a game far beyond simple tasks (sometimes even synced to clockspeed) to allow complex, unique, and/or non-monotonous/non-repetitive sections of a game to be played without human interaction.

Examples:

  • using a TAS to complete a difficult speedrun or no-death achievement.
  • using a complex script with advanced functionality.
  • using complex scripts that complete entire games or large portions of games with no human input but requiring many unique actions.

7. Do not allow other users to access your account and earn achievements for you.link

Including your "little brother" or your "cousin". You must earn your achievements yourself. Letting people earn achievements on your account is not allowed in general and if anyone cheats or breaks the rules on your account, you will still be held accountable.

Examples:

  • Having a friend who is more skilled at a game complete a difficult section for you in a single-player game.
  • Letting someone log into your RA account to beat a difficult part of a game for you.
  • Letting your little brother work on a grindy achievement for you.

8. Do not be abusive to developerslink

Via forums, PMs, discord, email, etc. You’re allowed to complain, ask for changes, leave negative reviews/comments and other such respectful criticisms, but you give all of us in the achievement hunting community a really bad name when you harass/attack developers because of what they did to their game’s achievements.

Examples: Issuing threats or flagrant insults to devs because they added achievements to their game that you do not like; using extreme/excessive rudeness while demanding a developer remove or change achievements; etc.

9. Do not create or share cheating methods.link

Examples:

  • Teaching someone how to use Cheat Engine.
  • Posting on the forums to promote an egregious game file edit method.
  • Sending someone a link to Cheat Engine or a trainer.
  • Teaching someone how to hide cheating.
  • Creating a non-allowed complex script and sharing it around even if you never use it yourself.

Allowedlink

  1. Fast-forward is allowed.
  2. When explicitly said in achievement's description, in-game cheat codes/modes and in-game debug tools are allowed.
  3. Making use of in-game glitches, in-game exploits, and "cheesy" tactics are allowed.
  4. Using online guides/walkthroughs is allowed.
  5. Playing co-op/competitive games with another player or players is allowed.
  6. Turbo is allowed.

1. Fast-forward is allowed.link

Even in hardcore mode fast-forward is allowed, as a modern convenience. It's almost a consensus that fast-forward offers no risk to the fairplay and then it's available for everyone to use it.

NOTE: in softcore mode savestates, rewind and slow motion are also allowed, but expect to have some issues. Read in this link Why you shouldn't use the load state feature.

2. When explicitly said in achievement's description, in-game cheat codes/modes and in-game debug tools are allowed.link

This is a complement to the not allowed rule 2.

The achievement developer's are instructed to protect their work so the achievements can't be unlocked easily by simply using a cheat code. However, some cool and fun challenges can be created taking advantage of some cheats. In these specific cases, using in-game cheats are allowed.

NOTE: if you find achievements unlockable by using in-game cheats with no pertinent description, consider opening a ticket and reporting it.

Examples:

  • In Tetris (Game Boy) you should activate the speed cheat to earn the Challenge of the Gods achievement, where you have to clear 20 lines on speed 19.
  • In Guerrilla War (NES) you're allowed to use the "level and difficulty select screen" cheat to earn the achievements where you have to beat the stages without killing any hostages.

3. Making use of in-game glitches, in-game exploits, and "cheesy" tactics are allowed.link

In-game glitches/exploits/cheesy tactics are allowed, however developers can code their achievements to disallow them programatically. It's usually mentioned in the achievement's description.

This does not include when there are flaws in the achievement developer's code. In such cases, please create a ticket report, and earn the achievement as intended by the developer. See also not allowed rule 2.

Examples:

  • Breaking out out of normal bounds to avoid enemies.
  • Doing something strange inside of a game to "bug a game out" so you become invincible.
  • Accessing powerful items earlier than intended.
  • Standing somewhere enemies can’t hit you.

Examples where developers disallow it: Megaman (NES) - beat bosses damageless without using the pause glitch.

4. Using online guides/walkthroughs is allowed.link

Examples: youtube video guides; GameFAQs; puzzle solutions; collectible lists; etc.

5. Playing co-op/competitive games with another player or players is allowed.link

Playing co-op is allowed, however developers can code their achievements to disallow them programatically. It's usually mentioned in the achievement's description.

See also not allowed rule 2.

Examples: a skilled friend playing Streets of Rage or Goof Troop with you; etc.

6. Turbo is allowed.link

Turbo is where you hold a single button down and the button is automatically re-pressed again and again quickly. Turbo is either built into controllers, or into emulation software. In either case it is allowed.

In cases where there is any more complex scripting than repeating the same button in quick succession, this is not allowed. See Not allowed 6.

Penalties for Cheatinglink

Upon cheating being detected, the account will be set as Untracked. There are some cases where the account will be banned.

How to Clean and Appeal Cheatinglink

The fastest way: Reset all your points. If you've been previously untracked and would like it reversed please inform RAdmin of your action.

If you have ways to prove you played without cheating, send a message to RAdmin, but keep in mind that RA staff are all volunteers and it can take time to judge your case.

If you wish to come forward and admit cheating, this will be greatly appreciated and taken into consideration during your appeal.

If You Need Helplink

If you ever have a question, comment, or suggestions - feel welcome to contact RAdmin or the RA staff (@mods and @admins) on our discord server.

These rules will be amended from time to time as needed.

Special Thankslink

This document is heavily based on the 100Pals Unified Achievement Hunting Rules. This version is trimmed down and tailored with topics that are relevant to the RetroAchievements context.

The 100Pals is a community with experienced achievement hunters that exist since achievements were first released on Steam in 2007.

Changeloglink

Last 10 changes on this page:

  • [2018-12-19 14:54] meleu: in tldr, replaced "Users" with "Participants of the Global Leaderboard"
  • [2018-12-19 14:32] meleu: breaking some "Examples" in topics, instead of a big paragraph, for consistency
  • [2018-12-19 14:25] meleu: fixed head level for "How to Clean and Appeal Cheating"
  • [2018-12-19 00:10] meleu: renamed