Author Topic: VSI & time limits: Mumble digest 2016-04-21  (Read 1293 times)

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Offline Simon

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VSI & time limits: Mumble digest 2016-04-21
« on: April 22, 2016, 04:59:07 am »
I had a longer discussion with Icho in Mumble yesterday. Topics: Culling variable spawn interval (VSI) from Lix, culling time limits from Lix, culling fake & invisible gadget flags from NL.

Selected parts look like I'm making a fool of Icho. I want to write down my thoughts as raw as possible, for reference. This was late at night, Icho was desperate for sleep. I'll be happy if Icho comes in and clarifies.

I: I want Lix to become good, otherwise I wouldn't spend all this time.

I: By culling VSI and time limits, you'll shoot yourself in the foot.

I: My favorite level of all time is Nick of Time by Pieuw. That relies both on VSI and a time limit. All action comes together beautifully.

S: I want to cull singleplayer time limits.
I: People will play Lix, realize there are no time limits, and leave.
S: There are no time limits in most NL levels. People have stayed.
I: They realize that the feature is nonetheless in NL.
S: How do they realize that?
I: I don't know.
S: People play levels before building their own levels in the editor.
I: They would leave in Lix when they can't set time limits in the editor.

I: VSI is a tool for the player.
S: It's a new game rule that is unlike everything else.
I: New tricks are good, I love learning new tricks and their interactions.
S: This is not a trick, but a rule.
I: Yes, even extra rules are good. There's a limit to how many are bearable, but you're way below that.

S: What enables more levels, VSI or time limits?
I: Hard to estimate. About equal.

S: Fake and invisible should be culled from NL.
I: Only-on-terrain is important, that makes for good decoration.
S: I'm not concerned with only-on-terrain.
I: You need fake and only-on-terrain to make Pieuw's lamp.
S: Why fake? Do you want to put the animated deco right in the solution path?
I: You're confusing.

S: What levels would be affected by fake and invisible?
I: namida has posted a list. Even if they're only a few levels, they should be preserved.
S: Most of that is spurious design or can be fixed after culling the flags. The minesweeper level is probably the strongest level that needs invisible.
S: What happens when we only cull fake? That's the more problematic flag anyway.
I: I don't know. Look at namida's list.
S: That list is for fake or invisible, not merely for fake.

I: Every time I hear the word 'cull', I have to jump in and prevent that.
S: By never culling any features, you'll end up like C++. A ton of supposedly simpler languages have spawned, aiming to replace C++. The point of culling is to prevent simpler replacements from overtaking.

-- Simon

Offline IchoTolot

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Re: VSI & time limits: Mumble digest 2016-04-21
« Reply #1 on: April 22, 2016, 05:44:49 am »
A few statements here are quite a bit out of context  ;P   
So let me set this right:

I: Every time I hear the word 'cull', I have to jump in and prevent that.
S: By never culling any features, you'll end up like C++. A ton of supposedly simpler languages have spawned, aiming to replace C++. The point of culling is to prevent simpler replacements from overtaking.

Not every time! But I want to think about why it is getting culled and if the cull is really an improvememt or it makes the game worse. Simon is too easy on the culling path for my taste.
C++ is still widely used ;)

S: Fake and invisible should be culled from NL.
I: Only-on-terrain is important, that makes for good decoration.
S: I'm not concerned with only-on-terrain.
I: You need fake and only-on-terrain to make Pieuw's lamp.
S: Why fake? Do you want to put the animated deco right in the solution path?
I: You're confusing.

Ok that's quite a bit out of context and I'm kinda sounding dumb here. You asked quite a few other different questions right after another before my "You're confusing" statement. I sometimes couldn't get my statement clear before you intervened as you realised that it doesn't 100% met your question and asked a bunch of other ones right after. + Shortly before I went to bed where my mind is not fully online on top of that, so of course you totally confused me ;P
And fake isn't 100% needed there it would make the decoration just safer.

S: I want to cull singleplayer time limits.
I: People will play Lix, realize there are no time limits, and leave.
S: There are no time limits in most NL levels. People have stayed.
I: They realize that the feature is nonetheless in NL.
S: How do they realize that?
I: I don't know.
S: People play levels before building their own levels in the editor.
I: They would leave in Lix when they can't set time limits in the editor.

This doesn't 100% stress my point there:  If many of the original features are missing, the game becomes way less appealing for new players. After all nearly all people that come to us are searching for a Lemmings game. If key features are missing (and yes Simon most of the people count these as key if you want it or not) they will stay away.
« Last Edit: April 22, 2016, 05:55:23 am by IchoTolot »

Offline Simon

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Re: VSI & time limits: Mumble digest 2016-04-21
« Reply #2 on: April 22, 2016, 07:37:01 am »
Awesome, thanks!

Quote
And fake isn't 100% needed there it would make the decoration just safer.

Accident-proof, yes, at the cost of introducing doubt. Will everybody agree that it's deco? The lamp looks like the trap, I'd expect it deadly. You and möbius IIRC would not expect it deadly. The conflict of assumptions is a variant of moss on steel, is it moss or steel.

Quote
After all nearly all people that come to us are searching for a Lemmings game. If key features are missing (and yes Simon most of the people count these as key if you want it or not) they will stay away.

Yeah, this dips both into the identity question -- what is Lix? -- and where interested people come from. Among new users, I care most about who enriches the community.

Lack of Lemmings sprites is the main turn-down, not lack of secondary features. Heaps of potential users, I can't win them over already because of graphics.

When you want Lemmings exactly, you must play Lemmings.

-- Simon

Offline Proxima

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Re: VSI & time limits: Mumble digest 2016-04-21
« Reply #3 on: April 22, 2016, 04:28:44 pm »
We discussed this further in #neolemmix today. I watched rtw's playthrough of the level Icho mentioned, "Nick of Time". I can see the elegance in the way the crowd is not contained, but instead two worker lemmings are used to construct the route before they return from a journey along a walkway. (This is coincidentally similar to my level "The Hotel in Hell".) However, the time limit doesn't contribute directly to the elegance. It serves to prevent a backroute where the crowd is contained while a single worker lemming builds to the exit, turns on the steel platform the exit stands on, and goes back to build a landing platform for the crowd. This backroute could easily be prevented by alternate means.

Icho mentioned that there are other levels where the time limit is needed that, in his opinion, would not be so easy to fix by other means.

I have been thinking about this, and I think that levels with time limits can be grouped into the following categories:

#1 "Just a Minute" type: The level would be trivial, and the entire puzzle is to solve it within a time limit.

#2 Specific-solution puzzles, where the time limit is used to prevent one or more backroutes. (There may be multiple intended solutions, like the left and right exits in "Buridan's Lix", the left and right sides in "Close to the Edge", etc. However, these are more like multiple puzzles on the same level, rather than making the level into a Type 3.)

#3 Resource management levels: There is no specific intended solution, but the lemmings / lix must navigate through a complex terrain within the constraints of a limited set of skills. This does not mean "anything goes", as the level is spoiled if there is a solution (such as a floor or ceiling route) that is much simpler than the designer intended.

In levels of this type, the designer may impose a time limit as an additional constraint -- I mentioned the example of "Deserted Cities of the Heart" from one of namida's recent videos. In this case, running up against the time limit usually doesn't mean "redo and release the crowd earlier", but rather, finding a different way to approach the obstacles that permits solving in time.

#4 Multiple hatch levels where the purpose of the time limit is to enforce multitasking. Back in original Lemmings, this added challenge, which means a certain amount of frustration, and also a certain amount of satisfaction in overcoming the challenge. There's no point now in debating whether this type of level was a good idea: it is completely redundant now that there is framestepping and rewind.

#5 Levels where the time limit is primarily aesthetic.

* * *

As I mentioned to Icho: The evidence from looking at the Lix community set is that types 1 and 2 are extremely rare (one example of each), so the debate should centre around whether the good of allowing time limits in type 3 outweighs the bad. Icho has more experience of NL and Lemmini levelsets, and believes that type 2 is more common than I am allowing. Namida has made some excellent type 1s in NL, so there is the consideration of keeping open the possibility of future designers making more type 1s.

Back when we first debated time limits, NL was relatively primitive. It has now developed into a fully viable outlet for level designers. I would be quite happy to see time limits removed from Lix, and then I would still be able to use NL any time I got a level idea that absolutely depended on a time limit.

Offline Ramon

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Re: VSI & time limits: Mumble digest 2016-04-21
« Reply #4 on: April 22, 2016, 10:34:11 pm »
No. I didn't get why time limits should be removed. As of now, they're completely optional anyway and if someone is bothered by a time limit in a level they can remove it themselves.

Offline Simon

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Re: VSI & time limits: Mumble digest 2016-04-21
« Reply #5 on: April 25, 2016, 06:29:13 pm »
Why singleplayer time limits should be culled: They don't fit into the design of a pure puzzle game, and they don't fit into the game world. Lixes get killed by hazards, death falls, bottomless pits -- why should they die when they haven't found an exit within 5 minutes? I accept how the physics argument is weak, because C++ Lix closes the exits instead of terminating the level.

Few singleplayer levels depend on time limits. When there is a time limit, it doesn't catch our eye right away, even though we have to plan solutions with it. Running out of time is astonishing. A flashy message should notify about time limits at start of level, or the time limits should be culled from the game.

-- Simon
« Last Edit: April 25, 2016, 06:35:55 pm by Simon »

Offline 607

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Re: VSI & time limits: Mumble digest 2016-04-21
« Reply #6 on: May 01, 2016, 07:17:24 pm »
What is VSI?

Offline Simon

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Re: VSI & time limits: Mumble digest 2016-04-21
« Reply #7 on: May 01, 2016, 07:29:41 pm »
Variable Spawn Interval, player may change the release rate. Main thread about VSI yes/no in Lix.

Split off from this thread: redesign of of The Hotel in Hell.

-- Simon
« Last Edit: May 01, 2016, 08:06:26 pm by Simon »