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Messages - geoo

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I was just wondering, because I loosely remember from your introduction post that you enjoy the classic Lemmings experience: Are you aware of Cheapo lemmings?
It's a lemmings engine that was quite popular before the Lemmix times. It only features the classic 8 skills, and I think the only special object that behaves differently from traps is an antigravity object (and rarely any level ever uses it). There is support for custom styles, and there is a replay feature akin to WinLemm, but other than that I don't think it has many fancy features. The title screen might be a bit of a turn off at the beginning, but the gameplay feels very classic and a lot of excellent levels have been made for this engine.

The download is available in this post. The website only has a few levels, but if you're interested I can dig out a few nice level packs from my hard disk.

Lix Main / Re: Spawn interval fixed per level, 2020
« on: May 27, 2020, 10:06:22 pm »
I know. Clam's "Fill the floor" (I think that was the name) was also a pretty clever level that exploited changing the RR from high to low and back to get desired spacing to make a solution work out, and that is one of the levels that had to be culled. One of the few instances where there was no reasonably elegant way of achieving the same in another way. I liked the level a lot, but in the end it's just a very small number of levels, and that might not justify adding this conceptual complexity which is quite significant because other than that the only way of meaningfully influencing the game is skill assignments. (The nuke, at least in Lix, is only a means of ending the game, but because the exits close it doesn't serve any solutions. Note that this was also changed, because before the nuke worked like in original Lemmings, where it was exploitable in some very clever ways, like in another one of Clam's levels that had to be culled.)

For the occasional level where as a designer you do want to exploit these features there are still the other engines. If you were to limit yourself to Lix (like I do, though mostly for technical reasons) those are probably lesser losses to have, considering you're also missing out on a lot of more widely used features, like all the NeoLemmix-exclusive skills.

Lix Main / Re: Progress to next level without getting back to menu
« on: May 27, 2020, 09:50:34 pm »
I see the points either way, and at this point I don't really know which I prefer, but there are three reasons why when you first changed it I found it a bit jarring.

- Game just stops when the last lix dies but you haven't saved enough. The indication of what is going on is just a small text in the task bar, and I was confused at first. I generally also used to restart the level and fast-forward rather than step back a few seconds, so the advantage of having the latter option wasn't really of much value to me, though objectively I guess it should be considered as a plus. I think back when the dialog appeared, I was used to just pressing Space to retry, and now I have to press a hotkey that's slightly more out of the way, but this is a personal issue and shouldn't be held in favor of or against this.
- It's definitely less evident where the stats from your last try are displayed. The menu already has so much information that it stands out less, and because the context is wider, it is probably also less clear what it actually means. ("99 Lix saved" is reasonably clear, but strictly speaking could also refer to your personal best or something like that.)
- Data loss. If you don't have auto-saving enabled, the "Save replay" button is similarly hidden like the stats. Easy to miss and once you swap to a different level, your replay is lost.

Lix Main / Re: Spawn interval fixed per level, 2020
« on: May 27, 2020, 02:32:43 pm »
Let me chime in with some high level points about the RR issue.

From my point of view elegant game design, especially for puzzle games, is about having a few core features which are rich and interact a lot, so that even with rather simple rules, there's a lot of things you can do as a level designer. As a player is to figure out creative ways of using and combining the things that you know well. If you add additional features that are only used a few times, you're requiring the player to learn more stuff, only to forget about it again (and then maybe not think of it anymore when it's finally needed again, or conversely try to apply it everywhere without needing it). It can often feel tacked on. Of course, that's just a rule of thumb.
If you push this too far, you get something like all the gimmicks that were at some point in NeoLemmix, and if each level you play is about something new it breaks coherence, and in the worst case can make the player frustrated because by the time they encounter a feature again they might have forgotten about it already.

My guess is that the RR was initially added to lemmings as a substitute for fast-forward (maybe due to performance reasons), so once you're done you crank up the RR. Now one sneaky level designer in ONML figured out that it can be used for something else, and then of course custom level designers used it to some extent. Custom level designers (me included) also used all kind of glitches and particular behaviors in their levels, back in the day at least. These "features" also got removed in Lix and NeoLemmix, and their removal broke many levels. (I wouldn't be surprised if some of them were maybe more widely used than RR?)
Anyway, back in the day when fixed RR was not an option yet, I remember cheesing a lot of custom levels exploiting RR when the level designer didn't intend (of course challenge solutions also fall in that category). As a level designer it can be a nightmare to backroute-check your levels because even with a few skills, variable RR allows the player to do a lot of things which as a level designer you have to think of, and vice-versa, can provide a lot of options for the player to think about even when the level designer didn't intend for it to be used. For example, I wouldn't want any level to require RR manipulations like in that Tame 13 solution. The long-term effect of RR changes can sometimes be hard to predict without trying out; I remember some challenge solutions required a lot of trial and error until you got everyone spaced perfectly, Tame 13 is pretty tame by those standards. Even if the level doesn't require it, as a player in hard levels you'll still think of all these possibilities, and if the level designer is unlucky you actually manage to cheese the level with that. Of course, nowadays from a level designer's perspective you can at least fix the RR, but the player still has to deal with it whenever you don't.

When the variable RR was eventually culled in Lix, not that many levels were affected in the end, like maybe 10-20 out of 500? And that doesn't mean that these levels had to be culled, many could be adapted. I'm not sure why the discussion is all focused on runners here in that regard, to answer Simon's question:
Hmm. I feel there must be better game designs than either VSI or runner to bunch the rodents.
How about a good old digger's pit, for example? Why do you want to cluster your rodents in the first place? Unless you're trying to get everyone through a fast triggered trap, that's probably good enough (and at least Lix has slow traps where this would be sufficient too). If you really need perfect clustering, how about squeezing between blockers, or as a level designer set the RR in such a way that it happens automatically? If you don't want it to be too obvious, maybe make the player dig the pit to cluster the crowd themselves (digger tunnels have a fixed width), or place a cuber to get the right width for the pit? Clustering as a level solution tool is not specific to variable RR. In the end, if you look at the levels where the use of RR can not be reasonably elegantly replaced, you're probably down to the (low?) single digits now. It doesn't live up to even the least useful skills, in terms of required usage. And then the question is, is it really worth it to require the player to learn a new feature (and one that's not that straight-forward, to boot) just for that? If you could choose one single feature to add to Lix, would it be this? Not cloners, not hang gliders, not whatever other more useful features there could be that would qualify as a core feature in the sense I introduced at the beginning?

Let me upload my challenge replay archive here, I used to download pretty much every replay back in the day until some point, so you might find some of the missing replays in there.
For the "Skills you can't live without" challenge the subfolder is ch_mineachtype.
(I only grabbed all .lrb files, so this might be missing a few replays contained in zip archives which I didn't unzip. I checked the subfolder ch_mineachtype and at least this one is complete though.)

Tech & Research / Re: Extracting levels from the Amiga version
« on: May 07, 2020, 04:45:43 pm »
I found these sitting on my hard drive. Is this what you're looking for?

Engine Bugs / Suggestions / Re: [DISC][PLAYER] The final new skill
« on: April 13, 2020, 08:39:29 am »
For starters - what happens with the inbetween pixels? For example - a faller moves down 3 pixels per frame. A jumper could make a total of up to 6 "one pixel horizontal or vertical" movements in a single frame - and possibly more vertical movement at the end under specific conditions when hitting a wall as a climber / close to the top.

But the thing that really set off alarm bells for me here is the fact that the placed terrain could interfere with the lemming's own movement. Of course, ideally, it wouldn't, but special handling would be needed to ensure that - especially in cases where it might affect future frames.
I specifically mentioned a 4x4 block of terrain, not a single pixel. That's why I was surprised you'd mention the jumper specifically; does it move more than 4 pixels horizontally or vertically in a single frame? For example, a vector of (3,4) or (4,3) pixels would still be fine with the blocks connecting to each other and being walkable. (Of course, it doesn't have to be 4x4: I chose it because 4 pixels high would ensure lemmings following the main lemming would not get stuck in its terrain). Implementation-wise I would have thought you'd just cache the last (say) 3 or 4 positions of the lemming, and then place the block in the location the lemming was 3 or 4 frames ago, which would make sure the lemming wouldn't bump into its own terrain unless it's moving slower than 1 pixel per frame or changing direction.
So the cases you'd have to worry about would be the slow skills, and directional changes (horizontal and vertical). I believe that these can be solved by specifying a position offset for certain action types: E.g. so climbers don't get stuck in the terrain they create, the blocks could be placed, say, 2 pixels below their effective coordinate. (I guess you could also specify different delays per skill, but I think that would be more complicated and more error prone for skill transitions). That would keep the skill conceptually simple and predictable for players and at the same time make it simple to implement.

For the slow skills:
- I guess terrain creators wouldn't be too much of a concern as if you assign it to a builder and it immediately stops, so be it, applying it to terrain creating skills isn't really a use case.
- Terrain destroyers wouldn't really be affected, just possibly leave a little trail in their tunnel (for diggers and miners, depending on your offset of choice, you could allow them to continue working in mid-air by creating terrain under them if you wanted that behaviour).
- The disarmer stays still for a while, so it would create terrain around itself and then move up onto it when transitioning into walker, creating a little bump; I'd argue that's a corollary of the rules and totally fine.
- Climber I just discussed.

For directional changes:
- Walker turning around (against wall, blocker, or walker skill assignment): should play nicely with the parameters above. The walker would walk up onto its terrain block from 4 frames ago 2 frames after turning around, continuing a nice smooth trail.
- Terrain creators or removers turning on a blocker: see above
- Glider bumping into wall: Not sure how the collision works exactly, but with an offset slightly above it should be possible to have the glider glide under its previously created bridge due to the delay.
- Jumper jumping against wall: depending on whether the jumper is in its upward or downward phase, it might end up landing on its trajectory trail or jump under it. That's a corollary of the physics and seems like fine behaviour to me.
- Climber reaching top and falling down: due to the delay/offset it should land on its pile below and walk off it.
- Shimmier jumping up without reaching ceiling: Same as climber. With repeated assignment could be used to reach higher ceilings

I would guess that by choosing a good delay value and specifying appropriate offsets you would get good behavior for all reasonable cases, avoiding the need for special case handling. Finding these offsets might take a bit of experimentation, but wouldn't add to the code complexity.

In fact, I'm pretty sure if we exclude Kieran's levels (just to get a sense of how other people designed their levels), the remaining custom L2 levels in this forum either never used the bazooka/mortar, or maybe at most one or two levels did.  At least that's how I remember it, feel free to correct me though. 
I remember making "Friendly Fire", but that exclusively relied on the knockback effect of the bazooka. I believe you can use the bazooka/mortar also to pop balloons, but that obviously wouldn't be a concern in NL.

This seems more to me like an argument against any further new skills than against the Slider specifically.
I am also totally fine with that to be honest! ;)
Haha, that's what I was talking about in my first post in this thread. :P

Engine Bugs / Suggestions / Re: [DISC][PLAYER] The final new skill
« on: April 12, 2020, 11:29:27 pm »
That's surprising to hear, I would have guessed that to be very simple to implement. What kind of mess is the code if this is tricky to do?
I mean, if you know the coordinate where to draw the lemming you also know the coordinate where to place the block?

Engine Bugs / Suggestions / Re: [DISC][PLAYER] The final new skill
« on: April 12, 2020, 10:38:45 pm »
Reading (and misunderstanding) the proposition of the creator gave me a different idea for a very versatile skill that could in particular increase the value of any existing movement skills:
The trailer/tracer: Once assigned, for a fixed amount of time (e.g. 2 seconds) it would, each frame, place a small block of terrain (say 4x4 pixels) at its current position (above its feet). In other words, it would trace out the trajectory of the lemming with a terrain trail for 2 seconds.
- with a walking lemming, it would simply elevate the floor by 4 pixels
- with a jumper, it would create a bridge between the jump starting point and its destination
- with a hang glider, it would make a slope that lemmings can walk up or down
- with a faller or floater, it would create a wall that can be climbed
- with a shimmier, it would create a platform below the ceiling (not sure how useful that is...)
- walking over a shallow digger hole that's currently being dug, it could plug up the digger's hole.
- with a swimmer it could close up a water gap

I guess it would make the stoner somewhat redundant, though it would bring a lot of new things to the table to be a valuable addition regardless. (Also see discussion below.)
Furthermore a weaker skill is not entirely useless, sometimes the levels designer might want to give the player a weaker skill to prevent alternative solutions.

The slider overrides normal rules at some future time: The next/every time the lem would fall, the lem slides instead. This breaks mental pathfinding. The skill must bring a ton of design goodness to overcome this massive burden.
I consider this a boon rather than a burden for the slider. Having the slider turn always around was core to many puzzles in QFK, and I found it to be quite refreshing.
That said, it is true that the glider can provide this feature with appropriate terrain design (i.e. a wall that the glider bumps into and turns around), and in that sense makes the slider a weaker addition to NL than it is in L2. It still has the link-up with the shimmier going for it which you can't replicate with any other skill, but maybe that's not enough.

I'm happy to see that Kieran has chimed into the discussion, if anyone he should be the authority on the usefulness of L2 skills.
It seems like we agree on the rather limited use of the laser blaster and projectile terrain creation skills, though I also personally find the use of projectile terrain destruction skills rather limited as well from my experience.

Simon's proposition of the angled laser blaster seems definitely better than either of those. Fast upward gain seems to be something new, and at the same time with a sufficient blasting range it could emulate the ability to make dents in remote walls or ceilings of projectile destructive skills without having the liability of their rather awkward projectile arc.
I guess like projectiles it could be nerfed by making the laser beam lethal; at the same time it poses the risk of making certain things possible but fiddly, e.g. timing the blast into terrain populated by lemmings in such a way that no-one gets hurt, something that a level designer cannot rely on for backroute prevention, but at the same time won't want the player to require doing.

With regards to this making the fencer redundant: As before, I don't think that should be an argument against a skill if it brings enough new things to the table. It might just mean that the fencer shouldn't have been in the game in the first place; in many instances a basher does the job just as well too.

Permanents introduce state that is hard to see, and come with lots of special interaction rules. Have too many permanents, they'll get in each other's scope, and thus the need for rules grows quadratically.

And permanents have a higher chance to turn out the weakest in hindsight. The floater is the weakest skill in Lemmings 1. Runner and floater are the two weakest skills in Lix. The disarmer is the weakest skill in NL.
Just because some engines made bad choices in which permanent skills they chose doesn't mean that permanents generally make bad choices. The climber is one of the best skills. I rather think that their limitation is that they basically have to be movement skills, so you cannot have too many very unique ones of those. So if you do have many of them it's very likely that some of them suck or are redundant. But that just means that they need to be chosen wisely. One unique thing they bring to the table is that they allow you do to multiple things with a single assignment, which I think is always a good feature to have in a level. The floater is weak because you need to put a lot of effort to make use of it more than once. The runner is weak because it doesn't do anything (in L2 it would hop over small gaps, setting it apart from the rest of the crowd at least). The disarmer and swimmer are weak because their use cases are so very specific. I'm pretty sure if there'd been a lengthy discussion like now, the runner wouldn't be in Lix and the swimmer wouldn't be in NL.

The climber, glider, slider and L2 runner all bring good features to the table with a lemming having that skill easily employing its feature multiple times in a level. On their own they are great, but with the jumper in the game the L2 runner becomes less unique, and similarly with the glider in the game the slider becomes less unique. It always depends on the context. Now if a new skill is more versatile but makes another one redundant, that's more a point saying the old one shouldn't have been there in the first place rather than a point against the new skill. But with things being the way they are and skill cullings being quite unlikely, in practice it might make the new skill a less attractive addition even if it is a good one.

Live Event Scheduling / Re: Ultimate Chicken Horse Multiplayer
« on: March 22, 2020, 02:21:28 pm »
Let's make 19 UTC today. Happy to play for a while even if we're just two, but anyone else is free to join.

Live Event Scheduling / Re: Ultimate Chicken Horse Multiplayer
« on: March 21, 2020, 03:35:08 pm »
4 PM Eastern is 8 pm UTC/9 pm UTC+1, works for me, though I wouldn't mind if someone wanted to start a bit earlier already.

After reading the above comments, it seems the best option would be to have the Slider as a non-permanent movement skill that can be assigned to a Climber (in the same way that a Jumper can). You get the best of all worlds that way.
Strongly disagree here. Most of the value of the slider in QFK to me came from the fact that it would always slide (and in particular turn around at the bottom of the slide unless it is a corner), requiring you to carefully plan around this, and allowing to separate a single lemming from a crowd multiple times. Similarly, like for climber puzzles, it can require you to force one and the same lemming to go to multiple places to do a slider-only action.

Also while a lot of the discussion seems to be focusing on surviving long falls, during play that seemed to be a minor aspect to me, while turning around or getting to the underside of blocks to shimmy along was much more important.

Possibility to have the same lemming climb, shimmy, then slide (or any combination of those)...
I don't see how a permanent version wouldn't allow for this?

If a shimmying (or climbing) slider reaches a corner with a wall facing down (like in the sketch below), the slider can just slide down that wall. If I recall correctly that's also the behaviour in L2.
Code: [Select]

Btw just curious, in NeoLemmix, if a shimmying climber reaches the end of a platform (i.e. a corner with a wall facing up like below), does it climb up the wall? I assume not?
Code: [Select]

Possibility to assign a Slider for one lemming for one drop, but then require other splat-prevention skills for any other drops in the level (or to put it another way, we'd now have a non-permanent way to get a single lemming down from a height)...
That sounds more like a disadvantage to me? If you wanted a lemming to come down a splat fall twice, just assign the floater from the beginning, and the slider is useless unless you want to exploit on of its other features?

No need to lose the Jumper>Slider interaction...
To me this seems to be the only challenge with a permanent slider. And it can be resolved by choosing which to prioritize when a slider/climber jumps into a wall. (My suggestion would be the climber? If a wall the lemming jumps to tops out in a ceiling, it will still slide down afterwards. The reverse wouldn't work.)

Live Event Scheduling / Re: Ultimate Chicken Horse Multiplayer
« on: March 20, 2020, 09:06:41 pm »
I'm pretty flexible, anything between 7 and 11 pm UTC+1 should definitely go and earlier probably as well.

Live Event Scheduling / Re: Ultimate Chicken Horse Multiplayer
« on: March 18, 2020, 06:13:19 pm »
Considering most of us are grounded (or will be soon), who's up for some rounds of UCH?
Most evenings should work for me on a relatively short notice, including weekdays; anyone got a suggestion for a date?

Engine Bugs / Suggestions / Re: [DISC][PLAYER] The final new skill
« on: March 16, 2020, 06:55:21 pm »
Just wanted to chip in as I've played Quest from Kieran in Lemmings 2 which heavily featured the slider in one or two tribes as well as the bazooka/mortar/laser blaster (and which I recommend everyone to play btw, it's an excellent pack):

The slider was crucial to many puzzles. In particular, the fact that the slider is a permanent skill and that it turns around at the bottom of a cliff would separate it from lemmings walking the same way, which could be key to solutions or foil various other solution attempts. Unlike the floater, it can't get down a thin platform high above the floor, but on the other hand can be used to get down to a lower platform if two platforms are on top of each other and their edges are aligned, and in conjunction with the shimmier it can climb on the underside of platforms (I believe it also slides down walls if a shimmier bumps into a wall). I don't know how the jumper interacts with the climber in NeoLemmix (climber sticks when jumping into a wall? climber can jump off a wall?) but if these behaviours are implemented, the slider could be consistent with those (i.e. starting to slide when jumping into a wall/slider can jump off walls).

Both mortar/bazooka and laser blaster on first glance seem more useful than the slider, but after playing QFK the slider is definitely more memorable to me, somehow.

On a more general note, "20 is a nice round number" is a horrible reason to have exactly 20 skills. I would argue if the discussion doesn't bring up any fully convincing skill sticking with 19 is preferable; similarly if multiple very strong candidates come up (they might even interact or complement each other in some way) then adding more than 1 is preferable.

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