Author Topic: Level design contest #1 - preparations  (Read 4349 times)

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Offline geoo

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Level design contest #1 - preparations
« on: January 18, 2013, 06:00:43 AM »
With the forum in quite a lull right now, I was wondering whether people would be interested in some sort of level design contest. This is actually one of the things that I liked about lemmingsheaven: There were things like this going on, and people were motivated to do something. So even if we won't get something like this to run, some discussion about it might spice things up for a while at least. :)

So one of the ways to run it could be like this: People sign up for the contest, and then there's a level design phase where people have to come up with some level, and then there's a solving phase where people try to solve the levels. So the way it was originally run over at lemmingsheaven was that you get points for each level you solve, including your own level, and whoever gets most points wins. Note that you don't have to create a level to participate, but it gives you the advantage of getting a free point. So in this system you want as few people as possible to solve your level, so you try to make your levels as hard as possible. Perhaps getting levels as hard as possible is not too much fun for everyone, especially in the playing phase, so perhaps the scoring system could be redesigned:
Again you score a point for each level you solve, but this time you don't score points for solving your own level. Instead, every level designer scores points for his level depending on how many players solve the level. The aim could be e.g. that exactly 3 players are able to solve your level, so you get 1.5 points if 3 players solve your level, you get 1.0 points if 2 or 4 players solve your level, you get 0.5 points of 1 or 5 players solve your level, and you don't get anything if no-one or more than 6 players solve your level.
Another possible variation would be, the each player can guess the amount of players who will solve his level, and gets points depending on how close he is (and you may not guess no-one or everyone, and the scoring system depends on the number you guessed, and could be designed so it's desirable not to make too hard or easy levels).
To make the contest appealing to a wider range of people, there could be more scoring categories (with a voting system),
like:
  • category for most fun level
  • category for best looking level

One obvious question would be which lemmings game to use. It should be able to record replays, so the choices are:
  • Lemmix
  • Lix
  • Lemmini
Another question is how to make sure no-one can view other solutions before the contest is over. If there's someone who choses not to participate, all levels and solutions could just be sent to that person. If not, we could just pick some trustworthy player to do the job. More complicated solutions are an automated system (probably not gonna happen), or a system where players post the hash values of their replays publicly, and once the contest is over, they post their replays and the others can verify that the solution of the replay was already known to the player before the contest ended because its hash value can be verified.

Another question is, how long should the level design phase and the solving phase last.

Obviously, the contest would be just a friendly one with nothing to win, the winner only gets banned bragging rights.
With only one level to design (or none if you just want to join the level solving), and as much time effort spend on solving levels as you like, the contest would probably be not too time consuming either.

Ok, enough ramblings, so who of you would be potentially interested in some sort of contest, and which format/platform/etc would you prefer, or do you have any other ideas/comments/suggestions/etc?

EDIT: Changed '?' in the topic title to a '!'. This is a thing that's definitely gonna happen now!

Offline ccexplore

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Re: Level design contest?
« Reply #1 on: January 18, 2013, 07:12:26 AM »
For me it is purely a time problem at this point, so as much as I'd like the idea normally, I probably need to go out of my way to avoid this kind of contest so I don't get sucked into a time sink (even the most recent feud round is already more of a time sink than I wanted, though granted I wasted more time than necessary when I misread how the scoring works for one of the questions in that round in particular).

Offline Clam

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Re: Level design contest?
« Reply #2 on: January 18, 2013, 08:54:22 AM »
geoo's post doesn't mention this, but the motivation for this topic was the recent discovery that the Lemmings Heaven site (lemmingsheaven.info) is down, and suspected dead. (On a sort-of-related note, so is Nekoro aka. French cat-lemmings. Not the greatest time for lemmings fansites/games :()

Offline Akseli

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Re: Level design contest?
« Reply #3 on: January 18, 2013, 06:04:05 PM »
Now I got excited.

I just say that since then I registered to the forums (both this and Heaven), I've been in contact with those fellows who made great stuff in Lemmings Heaven Contests. We have been discussing about this topic and I know that some of them have waited for the next contest and wondered if it will never come up.

I mailed some people a moment ago. :scared: Let's see if there's still enough interest!
Gronkling is the only one still active on the forums who made levels in those contests as far as I know.

I'm really displeased that Lemmings Heaven is down now. :( Although there wasn't much action last years and the forums had a spam problem, I discovered so many interesting stuff, level makers and levelpacks from there.


And yes, I'd like to participate. Maybe I'll even try to design a level now when only one has to be created. :XD:

Offline Gronkling

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Re: Level design contest?
« Reply #4 on: January 18, 2013, 07:13:22 PM »
If this happens I'll enter and it could get me back into this game. It's a shame lemmingsheaven basically died, the community was so nice there. 'n'
Instead of the 3 people winning rule or something we could introduce a level design restriction such as 'one of each skill' or something along those lines and possibly ban glitches as well. I think virtually all of the members here are trustworthy enough to not look at replays.
I'd rather play in lemmini as it's what I'm used to but I wouldn't really mind that much if I have to use lemmix.


Offline chaos_defrost

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Re: Level design contest?
« Reply #5 on: January 18, 2013, 10:46:31 PM »
a level design restriction such as 'one of each skill'

+1  :P
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Offline geoo

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Re: Level design contest?
« Reply #6 on: January 19, 2013, 06:39:42 AM »
Yeah, a theme for this, like one-of-each-skill levels is definitely something worth considering, especially if we intend to host more than just one contest, to give them different flavours.

However, using the standard scoring system (you get points for levels you solve only) still turns this into a "design your level as hard as possible" contest. The scoring system I suggested (try to get exactly, say, 3 people to solve it) was merely intended so the levels won't be insanely hard. Obviously, the scoring system could be combined with design restrictions.

One thing I just noticed, another advantage of using Lemmix vs something else is that Clam has made topics listing glitches and non-glitch tricks, which could just be used as a reference to resolve most issue whether something is a glitch or not.

I just say that since then I registered to the forums (both this and Heaven), I've been in contact with those fellows who made great stuff in Lemmings Heaven Contests. We have been discussing about this topic and I know that some of them have waited for the next contest and wondered if it will never come up.

I mailed some people a moment ago. :scared: Let's see if there's still enough interest!
Gronkling is the only one still active on the forums who made levels in those contests as far as I know.
Wow, that's awesome. I hope some will consider coming here. So you kept in contact with them via mail? I don't remember your username from the time I checked that forum, then again I wasn't really active there.
On that note, if those people somehow revive the interest in Lemmini here and enough content is created, one could also consider opening a Lemmini subforum like we have for Lix here.

Offline Akseli

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Re: Level design contest?
« Reply #7 on: January 20, 2013, 11:11:42 PM »
Yep, via mail. My username in Heaven forums was exactly the same which I use here. :P But I registered there on March 2012 (like here also), and there wasn't action anymore at that time, and I never wrote any reply there. I was so excited to get and try levels of those guys so I messaged them. Afterwards I've taken look at Lemmings Heaven Contest (2009 and 2010) levels. I also found geoo your replies on that site relating to the earlier contest, for example, you had said that you found solutions for all the levels except one level called "Derangement of Science", designed by Lacktardo. I admit, that memorable level had a somewhat cheap solution, and I never figured it out myself. There really were some ingenious and unforgettable levels to my mind.

One person has already replied me! He is excited about this like I supposed. He even said that he'll also try to gather people for this. I think he's the one who probably has waited most for the next contest. I encouraged him to join the forums and the discussions. We'll see... ;P

I also think that it wouldn't be so fun if everybody tries to design as hard level as possible. And I definitely support the idea of voting for the best looking and most fun levels etc. :)

Offline geoo

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Re: Level design contest?
« Reply #8 on: January 21, 2013, 05:05:17 AM »
Awesome, I hope he'll get a few more to join!

One thing I just noticed, voting for the most fun level might be a bit tricky, as some people might not solve all levels and then it's hard to estimate how fun/nice/elegant a level really is, as usually one should take the solution to it into consideration. Should think of something if we want to do a voting on something like this.

Yeah, I later found out that the solution to "Derangement of Science" is really cheap, and I was quite disappointed, especially considering the work I've put in trying to solve the level. Usually after a while I'd look at a level in the editor to see whether something fishy is going on, but there I didn't because (I think) I would have had to set up Lemmix to work with the Lemmini .ini files to open the level.

Offline geoo

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Re: Level design contest?
« Reply #9 on: January 24, 2013, 05:15:17 AM »
Ok, I want to get this going before the topic dies again.

So, I suggest the following setup, complain now if you want something changed!


1. The level design phase will last 3 weeks, the level solving phase will last 3 weeks as well. (This should give enough time to get something done, even if one is pretty busy. Any objections, or does this sound reasonable?)
You don't have to design a level in order to participate.

2. The topic of the contest will be: Design a 1-of-each-skill level.

3. The game the levels have to be designed for is Lemmix. I suppose this is the platform the greatest number of players is familiar with. And I think everyone who has Lemmini uses Lemmix for level editing, so they should have it set up already. Lix would be nice for the extra skills, but I think few people are familiar with it, and there are some compatibility issues on Win 7.

4. Levels must be solvable without glitches. To determine what is a glitch and what isn't, use these lists for reference: non-glitches and glitches. If some behaviour is not listed, but turns out to be needed in a level later, I suppose we could have a judge or discussion, and give the benefit of doubt unless it's something really obscure. Just don't use too weird stuff in your levels to be on the safe side. Note however that other players may use glitches to solve your levels, so you should try to protect your level against glitchy solutions.

5. Scoring: 3 categories:
  • The main category
  • Best looking level
  • Most fun level
The last two will be decided by voting: each player has 6 votes (you can opt not to use all of them), which can be distributed over different levels, and a level can receive up to 3 votes. So e.g. you could give one level 3 votes, another 2 votes, and a third one 1 vote; or you could e.g. give 1 vote each to 5 different levels (and don't use the last vote). Level with most votes wins the category. I realize that it might be hard to judge how fun a level is if you haven't solved it, but I think you can cast votes on every level, whether you solved it or not, it's all just for fun.
For the main category, here's the interesting question: How shall we score it? Please post to tell which option you prefer, I'll pick the most popular one. I don't have a strong preference myself, but I think it might be interesting to try the second version, in both version, players who design a level will have an advantage over those who don't design a level:
(A) You get a point for each level you solve, including your own one. This motivates designers to design their levels as hard as possible.
(B) You get a point for each level you solve, but not your own. At the end, you get additional points depending on how many players (apart from you) solved your level:
4 players: 2.0 points
3 or 5 players: 1.5 points
2 or 6 players: 1.0 points
1 or 7 players: 0.5 points
no-one or more than 7 players: 0 points
This favours making levels that are not insanely hard, but rather levels that are of moderate difficulty. It might also be an interesting challenge to find out how hard to make a level. For this, it would be good if everyone would post at latest during the level design phase how likely it is that they'll participate in the second phase.

6. Organization: There should be someone everyone would send their levels to. Someone who doesn't intend to participate would definitely work, but it's not really necessary. I want to participate, but I'd offer to do the organization stuff in addition, unless someone else wants to do it/you'd rather prefer if someone else does it. If you don't want to disclose your levels or especially replays until the respective deadline (I/the organizer won't look at them before, but in case you don't trust me/the organizer), one option is also to pack your levels/replays into a password-protected archive, which you send me before the deadline, and you disclose the password after the deadline. I think e.g. WinZip and 7zip should have a feature like this.


That's it. Please post your comments!

Offline Gronkling

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Re: Level design contest?
« Reply #10 on: January 24, 2013, 10:42:04 PM »
I'd choose option A because it's fun creating and solving really hard levels. I'm happy with everything else.

Online Simon

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Re: Level design contest!
« Reply #11 on: January 25, 2013, 05:54:37 AM »
A (make hard levels) is good. It has the simplest scoring scheme, without any constants to tweak in case of very few or very many participants.

The prize for hardest level is also just one of the prizes you can win. There are two more prestigious prizes worth shooting for. Unless the solution for a super-hard level is very elegant, it won't win the fun prize.

-- Simon

Offline Pooty

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Re: Level design contest!
« Reply #12 on: January 27, 2013, 05:04:57 PM »
I prefer option A. Option B is a bit complex, and doesn't scale with turnout.
SEGA Master System version
100% on 110/120 levels (92%). Other levels [Lemmings lost]:
Fun 03 [3], 06 [2], 18 [5]   
Taxing 19 [5], 27 [1], 28 [3]
Tricky 15 [5], 17 [2]
Mayhem 19 [7], 26 [10]

Offline geoo

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Re: Level design contest!
« Reply #13 on: January 28, 2013, 05:42:52 AM »
Well ok then, looks like it's option A.

I'll write up a post and get this started tomorrow.