Author Topic: Difficult level packs make for bad Let's Plays: An opinion piece  (Read 537 times)

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Offline Colorful Arty

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Difficult level packs make for bad Let's Plays: An opinion piece
« on: November 17, 2019, 02:23:58 am »
Hello friends. I'm not one for making serious, big posts like this, but this is something that has been weighing on my mind, and as one of the main Let's Players who plays Lemmings packs, I want to share my thoughts.

As the title suggests: I believe difficult Lemmings level packs don't make good Let's Plays. Here is why:

Let's Play videos are typically around a half hour in length on average. Some videos are closer to an hour, and some are closer to 15 minutes. Generally videos around a half hour are good, because it's a good amount of content without being overwhelming; I've personally noticed my shorter videos get a lot more views, because most people don't want to spend an hour watching a single video.

This is where we run into problems. Difficult level packs have difficult levels. Difficult levels typically take a while to solve. It may take 30 minutes to solve a single level. It may take an hour to solve a single level. It may take DAYS to solve a single level.

What happens when Let's players play levels that are this difficult? Well, what happens is it takes a long time to record, and a single video will likely only contain a single level. As a Let's player, when this happens (like with Gravity Coaster in SEB Lems), I get very frustrated because I want quality content for my viewers, and when I have to spend a whole video on a single level (especially when said video is over an hour), then I feel that I have not delivered quality content for my viewers. I remember in rtw's DoveLems LP where he spent one video on a single level (The Spring in the Maso ranking) and I did not enjoy that video. It wasn't because the level was bad (it's a pretty awesome level) but I want to see multiple levels in a single video; I don't want to see a whole bunch of failed attempts at a single level. Personally, I think a video of someone playing a Lemmings level should contain their thought process behind solving a level, some different attempts at a solution, followed by the success of solving the level. When you devote whole videos to single levels (or worse, several videos to a single level) this stretches out the Let's Play, and in a level pack that generally has 80 levels MINIMUM this means one can spend months on a single levelpack.

Let's take a REALLY difficult level pack like Lemming United. The levels in this pack are really good, but don't make for an enjoyable Let's Play. Not only is it a ~200 level pack, the levels get brutally difficult pretty quickly (at least for a scrub like me). This would mean a Let's Play would be probably >100 videos, with most videos being long (over an hour), and only covering 1 or 2 levels in a single video. Does that sound enjoyable to you: several months of hour long videos focusing on a single Lemmings level that I end up solving off-screen anyways? Maybe it does to you, but to me and many others, it does not, and when these levels frustrate me because I want to have quality videos, my commentary suffers, as does my view on the levels and pack by extension. This often leads to me giving harsh criticism towards levels (like Gravity Coaster) that I wouldn't give if playing casually. This is no fun for anyone.

Please don't think I'm attacking anyone. I'm not saying this is the pack designers' fault; it's not at all! Difficult level packs can be really fun; but they're meant to be solved on your own time and taken slowly, which isn't possible when recording. When my family and I played the original Lemmings, we spent years on it, often getting stumped on levels for months at a time, and we loved it! We loved taking the time to think and rethink things through, trying different things, and when we eventually solved them, we felt very accomplished and proud! When you spend a long time solving a level on video, you aren't really happy at the end, you're often roaring with relief and foaming at the mouth over how annoying that level was to solve, all because of time pressure and the editing involved with cutting out useless footage (if you do that at all). Difficult levels require time to solve, which is not a grace we are given when Let's Playing the levels. Difficult levels are fun when you can pick them up, put them down, and not have to worry about solving it quickly nor having witty commentary during them. It's a disservice to difficult level packs to play them like a Let's Play, which is why I think Icho's method of recording saved replays of levels on his channel is the right way to go for difficult levelpacks.

I have loved Let's Playing every single level pack I've taken on, but there's a reason I haven't tried LPing Lemmings United, Lemmings Plus V, NepsterLems, or the like; they're too hard for a Let's Play (especially for one of middling intellect like myself ;) ) The level packs I have played have been pretty easy on the whole, with only a small handful of videos being devoted to a single level. If Lemmings Plus I had reached a point where every video was focused on one level with the time taken to solve it being over an hour, it's likely I would have stopped the Let's Play, or continued it out of stubbornness but not enjoyed it at all. At this point, most level packs being released are what I consider too hard to Let's Play, at least by me. And this is one of the reasons I'm announcing that after finishing Lemmings World Tour in the future, it is unlikely I will Let's Play another Lemmings pack. There are many reasons for this, but this is the big one. It's possible I will LP a smaller, easier level pack in the future (such as Proxima or Nessy's future packs), but I'm actually thinking about moving away from Let's Plays entirely in the future; there are many other things I want to do with my precious free time.

Now that I've said my peace, do people agree with this? I know there are people who don't mind >1 hour long videos devoted to just attempts at solving a level, but I disagree greatly. I may be wrong. I may be in the minority. I just wanted to say this and see peoples' thoughts. Let me know your thoughts below! :thumbsup:
My Youtube channel where I let's play games with family-friendly commentary:
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCiRPZ5j87ft_clSRLFCESQA

My levelpack: SubLems
For NeoLemmix: http://www.lemmingsforums.net/index.php?topic=2787.0
For SuperLemmini: http://www.lemmingsforums.net/index.php?topic=2704.0

Upcoming levelpack: ArtLems
Development Topic: http://www.lemmingsforums.net/index.php?topic=3166.0

Offline Minim

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Re: Difficult level packs make for bad Let's Plays: An opinion piece
« Reply #1 on: November 17, 2019, 09:53:28 am »
While I'm not a Let's player, I totally agree that diffcult level packs that are frequently updated and/or playtested such as Lemmings United make for bad Let's plays. I like a little bit of freedom while I'm solving levels, like increasing the lemming total to 100, adding more skills or replacing steel with normal terrain, particularly on that two-entrance spiral lab level that takes around 20 minutes to solve. :sick: The 100 Lemmings idea could be quite fun when there are hazards around the landscape.

This thread is making me wonder though, what lemmings pack has been your favorite Let's play so far?

My level of the year for 2020: Let's block and blow

Offline IchoTolot

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Re: Difficult level packs make for bad Let's Plays: An opinion piece
« Reply #2 on: November 17, 2019, 01:11:51 pm »
That's exactly why I do mostly just replays for my lemmings series. When I am at a difficult level, I like to take my time and think in peace. The contest levels are an exacption as most of them are quite solvable in reasonable time.

United was never made with main focus of being let's play friendly. It was made to create the ultimate challenge, to provide minbreaking levels that give the statisfying feel of accomplishment when you beat them that I crave so much for when playing other levels. In the process of playing the player should reach their limits while also increase their solving capabilities over time.
Of course that makes it very difficult to let's play.
The style solve first then show+maybe exaplain (if you want commentary) replays would fit much better here.

I personally don't mind longer videos though.

The new introduction pack and my next planned project should fit a bit more into that let's play category anyway.

Quote
I remember in rtw's DoveLems LP where he spent one video on a single level (The Spring in the Maso ranking) and I did not enjoy that video

"The Spring" is one of my alltime favorite levels, but yes it takes quite a bit to solve.
I would put it is way:  Not every great level is a good let's play level and not every great let's play level is a great level (not a bad level nessesarily just not GREAT/memorable).

Offline Colorful Arty

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Re: Difficult level packs make for bad Let's Plays: An opinion piece
« Reply #3 on: November 17, 2019, 01:25:55 pm »
I would say my favorite Lemmings Pack I've LPed has been Lemmings Plus I. It was short, fairly easy, but had some really cool levels and taught me how to be very efficient with the classic skills. I also liked how it only used the Original and OHNO tilesets, as I think you can't beat the official tilesets!
My Youtube channel where I let's play games with family-friendly commentary:
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCiRPZ5j87ft_clSRLFCESQA

My levelpack: SubLems
For NeoLemmix: http://www.lemmingsforums.net/index.php?topic=2787.0
For SuperLemmini: http://www.lemmingsforums.net/index.php?topic=2704.0

Upcoming levelpack: ArtLems
Development Topic: http://www.lemmingsforums.net/index.php?topic=3166.0

Offline Proxima

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Re: Difficult level packs make for bad Let's Plays: An opinion piece
« Reply #4 on: November 17, 2019, 01:48:54 pm »
This is an interesting discussion for me, as on a gut level I feel similarly to you, that LPs of difficult Lemmings packs, where the player tends to get stuck on each level for a long time, are not very interesting; yet I really enjoy LPs of difficult DROD holds. I don't know exactly why this is, but I've had a think and come up with three explanations that may factor into it:

(1) DROD has you control a player character, whereas Lemmings is more akin to a simulation that the player can interact with. This might give the LPer more to say, along the lines of "this is what I'm doing..." "let me try this..."

(2) In DROD, if you are stuck in a particular room then it is very easy to leave it and move to another room, and the player may have several in progress (in the sense of having progressed towards a solution) at once. In NeoLemmix this is possible, but moving to another level is less immediate. Also, it may be a community habit that we prefer to solve levels one by one even when the engine no longer enforces this.

(3) DROD is tile-based, so the viewer has almost all the information available to the player (the only exception being which orbs affect which doors; but the player usually checks this early on, and there are usually few enough that it's easy to remember). This makes it easy for the viewer to engage themselves by trying to solve the room before the player does. In Lemmings, this is still possible but the viewer has less information, being unable to directly check how wide each gap is, how high each fall, how long it would take lemmings to travel from A to B (and the player may not have the full level on screen).

Offline Strato Incendus

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Re: Difficult level packs make for bad Let's Plays: An opinion piece
« Reply #5 on: November 17, 2019, 03:49:17 pm »
Quote
And this is one of the reasons I'm announcing that after finishing Lemmings World Tour in the future, it is unlikely I will Let's Play another Lemmings pack.

Well, it's on honour to be last in line, then! :thumbsup: Although it also creates some sort of pressure for the last pack you LP to be a real zinger... maybe IchoTolot can get up to the Rockstar rank and beyond and find some more backroutes in the meantime. After all, you said it would be a while until you pick up LWT again, so maybe IchoTolot will catch up with you before you get there.

I repeatedly thought about getting into LPing Lemmings, too - but most likely, I just would have gone with post-play commentary to each replay. Flopsy and nin10doadict have already been using the "play live as long as possible, then switch to post-play commentary" method for a long time; there's nothing stopping people from using that method right from the getgo on a pack that is well-known to be extremely difficult.

Indeed, if a player gets stuck on a difficult level for several episodes - e.g. namida on NepsterLems - the player will usually do one of two things:
1) If they just want to know the solution, they're either going to jump to the end of the last video featuring that level, or simply going to IchoTolot's channel. ;)
2) If they want to see the Let's-Player "suffer", they probably already know the solution themselves. Sometimes, however, this might be exclusively the perspective of the level creator.

For me, however, even when I'm the level creator, I prefer to see more levels per video than a video of somebody getting stuck on a single level. Even though such a video could be flattering in the sense of telling the creator that they've designed something challening, it could just as well be that long simply because the Let's-Player is overlooking something obvious. In other words: A video can get long because of the level creator having created a difficult level, or just because of the player being "stupid". Or just because the level is difficult to execute, rather than being a challenging puzzle. In that case, it will most likely be a long video of the player getting angry at the level creator, which is no fun for anyone to watch.
Quote
but I'm actually thinking about moving away from Let's Plays entirely in the future; there are many other things I want to do with my precious free time.

Does this have anything to do with the upcoming COPPA laws and your channel being deliberately family-friendly, by accident? ;)

I was thinking about creating a separate thread on that anyway. Especially with Lemmings being a game that many of us played when we were kids ourselves. There's no guarantee that other Lemmings LPers won't have their videos labelled as "child-friendly" without their intentions, as well, simply because we're playing a game that can be considered "for kids". Of course, our custom packs are probably way too difficult for any non-genius child to solve; and also, I for one have created levels that look like various offensive hand gestures, or other certain limbs of the human body, but sure... Lemmings is for kids... :evil:

So theoretically, anyone could be affected, but I thought of your channel specifically when I first heard about this, because you specifically emphasize the "family-friendly" part.

Earlier this year I may have worried a little too much, when I wondered about whether the forum itself would be affected by the EU copyright directive. In this case, however, this is US legislation, it's specifically about YouTube, and since they're situated in the US, even Let's Players from other parts of the world are going to be affected.

Of course, no channel from the Lemmingsforums is big enough to be eligible for monetisation anyway - BUT this is another thing: Given YouTube's recent announcements that they can just "terminate any channel that is no longer 'commercially viable'", whatever that is supposed to be.

I mean, technically any regular viewer with an account also has a channel, and as long as that person isn't uploading content, they're not "commercially viable" either. And even once somebody starts uploading content... usually it takes a while until anyone even makes it to a number of subscribers that allows for monetisation.
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Lemmings World Tour (New & Old Formats), my music-themed flagship pack, 320 levels - Let's Played by Colorful Arty
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Pit Lems (Old Formats), a more puzzly one, 100 levels - Let's Played by nin10doadict
Lemmicks, a pack for (very old) NeoLemmix 1.43 full of gimmicks, 170 levels

Offline Colorful Arty

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Re: Difficult level packs make for bad Let's Plays: An opinion piece
« Reply #6 on: November 17, 2019, 04:17:45 pm »
Don't worry about pressure for my last Lemmings LP to be spectacular Strato; I've immensely enjoyed the pack thus far! ;)

And no, my contemplating leaving Let's Plays has nothing to due with the new COPPA Laws. It's more of a matter of they're taking time away from other parts of my life, and I've debated starting a different channel where I talk about serious real-life issues. I feel like I could exact positive change much better that way. That said, it will be a while before I stop uploading videos (I have several LPs already recorded that WILL be getting uploaded). I still enjoy recording videos, especially with my sister, but I'm going to be more selective about which games I LP, and will likely stream more games that I would have LP'd in the past.
My Youtube channel where I let's play games with family-friendly commentary:
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCiRPZ5j87ft_clSRLFCESQA

My levelpack: SubLems
For NeoLemmix: http://www.lemmingsforums.net/index.php?topic=2787.0
For SuperLemmini: http://www.lemmingsforums.net/index.php?topic=2704.0

Upcoming levelpack: ArtLems
Development Topic: http://www.lemmingsforums.net/index.php?topic=3166.0

Offline namida

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Re: Difficult level packs make for bad Let's Plays: An opinion piece
« Reply #7 on: November 17, 2019, 06:13:16 pm »
I have to say that there's a distinction between my own packs and other people's packs here. For my own packs, it has to get seriously out of hand with "multiple videos for one level", at least on the difficult puzzle levels, before I'm not interested in watching. I'm more likely, if anything, to skip watching levels that inherently aren't that interesting (but might not take very long) than ones that are good levels but take the player a long time. For other people's packs, on the other hand, I'm going to lose interest quickly if not much is happening.

Part of this is that with my own levels, it's interesting to see what alternate approaches people tried, whether distractions I've put in the level have worked, etc. Even if the player doesn't find it, something they do might lead to exposing a new backroute. With someone else's levels, firstly, I'm not going to watch it at all if I haven't solved the level myself; and then beyond that, while it might be interesting to see the final solution they produce if it's different, all that's really catching my interest during the gameplay is the commentary. There is the slight chance that they'll try some trick I didn't think of, that gives me an idea to build a new level around, but in practice I haven't seen this very often with LPs of other people's packs. I'm certianly not going to get the same feeling of achievement from watching someone else's level trip someone up, basically.

Of course, there are limits even to this. When I do my own LPs, they're always on a "just record most / all gameplay, let people decide how much of that they want to watch" basis; but I don't personally think I'd want to sit through some of the more extreme cases (like the levels in Reunion that took 3 or 4 videos each) even if it was for my packs - one level to a video is probably fine. This may, of course, depend on the commentary quality of the creator, and how interesting the level is (eg. if they're actually trying heaps of different new approaches, it would take longer to get uninteresting, for sure).