A time or score is called maxed if it is considered that it cannot be beaten. It is based on the word "maximized", but doesn't always carry this exact meaning, for example for time-based records, where a maxed record would correspond with a minimized time.
Maxed records come in two varieties:
- A physical max is the best result that can be theoretically obtained if literally everything goes absolutely perfectly and the rules of the game are not broken.
- A human max or practical max is a record which will simply never be beaten, either because it is already a physical max, or because nobody will ever get lucky enough to beat it, or because nobody is good enough to beat it, or nobody will bother to play for long enough to beat it, and so on.
- Each player has their own personal human max for every record.
Clearly the physical max is always better than or equal to the human max.
The "maxed records" for any set of challenges are often highly subjective. What one person considers impossible can be easily within the reach of a player who knows more about the game or is simply better at it. For example, when the record on Chicago Agent in Perfect Dark was 0:16, the majority of the Perfect Dark community considered a time of 0:15 to be impossible, until Randy Buikema, believing otherwise, attained this very time on July 18, 2002.
However, equally often the maxed records are very, very well-defined. For example, the maximum possible score difference at the end of a four-player cooperative game of PD Challenge 30 is 34-0, and this can be very easily proven. (Get to 29-0 and win a five-person hill.)
In general, the longer the game, the harder it is to accurately determine the max record for that game.
Most videogaming world records of antiquity were either considered to be human maxes, or not considered to be maxed in any sense (i.e., it was always thought that the record would eventually be beaten). More interesting are the following:
A physical max which can never be reached
Taking into account the amount of time it takes a new letter to appear after the previous one is thrown, the maximum possible score in the Letter sorting sub-game of The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker is roughly 63 letters. This would occur if the player wasted no time targeting his thrown letters, and simply hammered the "throw letter" button as fast as possible - and all the 63 letters which appeared were exactly identical.
As the letters are apparently truly randomly generated, this could possibly even happen. However, the amount of time it would take to occur is astronomical. The human max for this game is 36 or possibly 37 letters.
A physical max which has been reached
The shorter the game, the more likely it is that the physical max record will ever be attained.
The minimum possible length of a game of Minesweeper is 1 second, because the game timer ticks up from 0 to 1 at the instant you release your mouse after your first click, and you must click at least once to finish a game. Games in Beginner mode lasting exactly 1 second have indeed been obtained many times. Minesweeper therefore provides an example of a physical max which has definitely been reached, and of a record which can truly NEVER be improved upon.
A "physical max" which has been beaten
Usually this only ever happens with a massive change in strategy.
For the longest time it was thought that the best possible time on Defection in Perfect Dark was 0:33, or possibly 0:32. However, the discovery of the Defection glitch lowered this record to 0:06 in a matter of days, thus providing an example of a physical max which was actually beaten.