Author Topic: Strategys and methods for solving levels  (Read 1005 times)

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Offline mobius

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Strategys and methods for solving levels
« on: August 18, 2012, 12:44:17 am »
(warning: this topic will have spoilers)

Since I recently solved a level I was working on for a while I can relate exactly my process for solving it. And I wanted to discuss this to hopefully better understand how other people solve levels and learn something about creating them.

The level is “Move on in two Separate Groups” (Sunsoft 23) from Genesis. *see attachment

I’m fairly certain if anybody cares to talk about their solution to this level it will be different.

The first thing I did was take a look at the terrain and look for the immediate apparent plausible route. Which I decided was going upward, through the large twisted pillar. I also considered going under that if it didn’t work but noted it would almost definitely take more builders.

You need 100% so the blocker seemed a ruse at first, because I always associate undermining blockers with glitchy behavior (idk really know why, you were required to do it in the first game; it’s a stupid association). Regardless I immediately thought of using the blocker on the left where I could easily free him by bashing under the steps. This takes up 2 bashers however, if I wanted to get a worker on that side, which I thought from early on I really needed one. You can bash right but then too many lemmings clustered out so I was forced the use more than just one builders to prevent them from dying so I pretty much ruled that way out. I found no way of bridging that gap from the other side. This also got me into a habit of using only one builder at the gap and prevented me from seeing the need for 2 builders there early on.

Letting that side go for now, I focused on the upper entrance. From that entrance lemmings will be trapped in the twisted pipe. With no climbers the only way to get them turned around and going left is to use a builder. First I just did that; making all the lemmings fall into the area around the steps and pretty much trapped for now. The fact that just two builders would get them out of that area wasn’t clear to me at all until I tested it out much later. I didn’t even bother testing because it just didn’t look possible. It’s kind of hard to tell but 1 builder will just make it from the left upper steps to the twisted pillar. Eventually I came up with the plan of;
-block on the left, build over that gap. Then free that blocker.
-on the right, build to turn around then when they get down in the small step space bash left to make a path for the left lemmings.

I then gave up for a while and when I came back to this level I first came up with the habit of letting 1 lemming (on the right) fall into the twisted pillar to bash right toward the exit then build above him to block off so I could bash again later to complete that way. This always ended in running out of bashers. Which led me to stop blocking on the left and looking for another way to hold back the left crowd, or just brute build over the gap.

Eventually I discovered you can build once on the right over the crack in the twisted pillar, bash, build and build only once more to stall/turn around one lemming and the way is then safe. There was then only two lemmings that went down to the left. The way was pretty much clear then.

So in the end it seems that a simple miss misunderstanding in the beginning combined with some stubbornness is what kept this level from me.
After I have a solution I can look back and say that the main problem here is that I didn’t test enough. 1 major stumbling block for me was getting up the stairs next to the twisted pillar. However I can say that if the designers purposely made that difficult to see; they succeeded. (If this was intentional or not, something tells me it wasn’t)
Visual elements effect me a lot so it seems.

The hardest levels, I believe, are those in which you need to ‘create a method to solve it’.
A good example is ‘No added colours or lemmings’ from Mayhem OL. the solution is a procedure not similar to any other yet in that game.

Another way is the old; “eliminate whatever is impossible and the solution will present itself”. While I can confirm this worked for me a few times, it’s doesn’t always work so well for me. Simply removing everything that’s impossible just makes it seem more impossible. :P

Offline Proxima

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Re: Strategys and methods for solving levels
« Reply #1 on: August 18, 2012, 01:23:15 am »
"I recur here to my personal point about the tendency to miss what the title means; or even what the title says... for there are more examples than may be imagined, in which earnest critics might solve many of their problems about what a book is, merely by discovering what it professes to be."
-- G K Chesterton

My solution to this level was to obey the title, i.e. move the right-hand group straight on to the exit. The first lemming falls into the gap in the twisted pillar and bashes; the second lemming reaches him before he breaks through and turns round; the first then has time to build over the small gap. For the left group, I started by seeing what skills I definitely needed. One basher to get through the first obstacle. Two builders to bridge the gap without losing any. Two builders to get up to the block below the stairs. Wait -- if I position my "delay" builder further back, so that he is also the first of the two used to get up to the block, can I still bridge the gap in time? Test. Yes, I can. Three builders left, then. Bash through the block, use one builder to stop the basher, two more to get up the twisted pillar and follow the right group's route to the exit, and we're done.

As for general strategies, when a brute-force method fails, I start to look around for possible oblique approaches, and enumerate the things about the solution that I do know for certain (or think I do). It hasn't happened yet with Lemmings, but sometimes with the very hardest levels in the other puzzle game I play religiously, Repton, actually trying to write out a proof of impossibility and seeing where the proof fails to cover every eventuality has helped me find the solution or part of it. And sometimes, it just comes when I've been staring at a level for too long, and then I leave it and go to sleep  :P I remember finding the solution to Insane Steve's "Attack of the Subconscious" that way, which was rather appropriate considering that's also how he created it.

Offline Clam

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Re: Strategys and methods for solving levels
« Reply #2 on: August 19, 2012, 01:44:24 am »
I'd suggest upping the spoiler warning a bit. To gain the most - or, well, anything - from this exercise, you should solve the level on your own and then come back and read the posts here. If you're familiar with the level (I wasn't too much, despite playing it once before) then try a different one.

Here's what I did in this level. These points don't necessarily form an ordered walkthrough of the level, but hopefully conveys some of the mental processes that go into solving it.
  • The very first thing you should always do: check the save requirement! Generally it's simplest to formulate it as the number you're allowed to lose. This level is simple enough: 100%. You can't lose any. This means you can't leave that blocker on the level!
  • Find the places where skills obviously have to be used. For example, a gap or a rise in altitude means you probably need a builder. That simplifies the level, and leaves fewer skills to find uses for. Here, it's clear that you need at least one builder over each of the water pits. Some caution advised - what's "obvious" depends on your experience and skill level.
  • Isolate a worker if possible. This game is practically founded on them :). Know what skills you need to block and release the crowd - usually one to block and one to release, but it can vary a lot depending on the terrain and skills. Here you get a nice stair setup that calls for a blocker to block and a single basher to release.
  • Divide up the level into sections and test them one at a time. Usually you can see roughly how many skills a section needs, but testing confirms it and can help you find improvements. This means retries, but in Lemmix that's no problem. Sections on this level are:
    - The lower left part, where you need to bash through the well and block/release the group. I include the release in this section, even though it's done after everything else. This means you don't forget it and use that last basher (needed for the release) somewhere else.
    - Getting over the water and up the staircase to the right entrance.
    - Going from the right entrance to the exit.
    The sections are fairly clear-cut here, but they aren't always. Sometimes the sections can merge together and you need to take care - on this level, if you start your builder over the water from the top of the well platform, your release basher will plow through it and end up in the water!
  • With that figured out, add up the skills you used in each section. If you've used too many of some skills, you'll have to find a way to use less in some part of the level. Use spares of other skills if you have them.
  • When you match or get under the available skill counts, then you can go on and start a full run of the level. This doesn't mean you've won though - there could be something else you didn't think of, like the transition between sections that I mentioned. In the worst case you might have to change your route and rethink what the sections are. But with any luck, everything works out and you pass the level. Yippee!

Other things I do in some levels/challenges, but aren't needed here:
  • Use your knowledge of the game mechanics. If standard techniques aren't enough, then dip into the non-glitch tricks, and then glitches. This should only apply to challenges and some custom levels, since no original levels require glitches, and "non-glitch tricks" are defined (in my topic at least) as tricks that you don't need in the original levels.
  • Use the Lemmix editor's features to test things. Move the entrance or other things around, add or remove things, change the level stats, whatever. Just be sure to reload the original level before you start the solution proper :)

Offline mobius

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Re: broken links
« Reply #3 on: November 22, 2017, 10:28:11 pm »
the links to the two topics clam posted are broken. [Lemmings glitches and non-glitch tricks] And I can't find them otherwise; I remember these topics here on the forum (it was on the older forum before the switch). I wanted to read about these; can they still be accessed somehow? I don't see why these would not have been saved with the rest of the forum

Offline Nepster

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Re: Strategys and methods for solving levels
« Reply #4 on: November 22, 2017, 10:44:03 pm »

Offline namida

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Re: Strategys and methods for solving levels
« Reply #5 on: November 23, 2017, 02:39:28 am »
the links to the two topics clam posted are broken. [Lemmings glitches and non-glitch tricks] And I can't find them otherwise; I remember these topics here on the forum (it was on the older forum before the switch). I wanted to read about these; can they still be accessed somehow? I don't see why these would not have been saved with the rest of the forum

Most (if not all) old posts are still here, but links from one old post to another will be broken due to how the import of data from old forum iterations was handled. If you can figure out some idea from context, the best approach is to use the Search feature.
My released level packs:
Lemmings Plus Series | Doomsday Lemmings