Author Topic: Puzzle Types  (Read 2912 times)

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Offline mobius

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Puzzle Types
« on: October 25, 2018, 01:17:05 am »
I've been thinking (maybe incorrectly) that there are two types of Lemming puzzles; a trick based level and a logic based level. Essentially what I mean is precision tricks like fancy builder tricks, basher half steps etc. These kinds of of tricks may be obscure and difficult to discover for a newcomer but once you know them; the trick is often easy to recognize and spotting them used in a level can be made quickly. Then said levels are not nearly as difficult as they are to a newcomer or anyone who's not familiar with the trick.

An example of this type of puzzle is  "Final Call" by Bullet Ride from his 2nd old pack.
http://lemmings-db.camanis.net/levelpack/ag1zfmxlbW1pbmdzLWRichALEglMZXZlbFBhY2sYhwIM/

spoiler:
the trick in this level is to turn a builder with a blocker at a specific point so that following lemmings will not climb up, which they sometimes do or not depending on positioning.

Now there is a totally different type of puzzle; one which doesn't necessarily require an obscure trick or feature but is centered around the placement or decisions of using basic game functions. I like this type of puzzle better because it can be a challenge to both newcomers and veterans alike in that it doesn't necessarily require or favor intense experience with the game and knowing more about the game doesn't automatically make it easier for a veteran.

an example of this type of level is Pyramid Scheme by Geoff;
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AaeeUloWzA4&list=PLVWvcY0oGEFydXW47eQEGKJjLJf4t_NIQ&index=15
A similar level/idea but much harder is Clam's "The Floodgates Open"

To be fair; I'm not saying the first example is 'bad'. I myself have made many such levels. I'm just saying I prefer the second type and other people seem to also enjoy those quite a bit. Admittedly the latter level type seems to be much more difficult to create, which is way I guess, there seem to be fewer of these in the custom level scene.
 
I've always wanted to focus on making levels of the latter type but found it quite difficult and many of my own difficult levels are the former. With most of my latter type levels being rather easy.
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Offline Strato Incendus

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Re: Puzzle Types
« Reply #1 on: October 25, 2018, 06:37:54 pm »
Mmh... the problem with this dichotomy is where you draw the line between normal, logic-based connections of skill uses and tricks. For example, is turning around a builder mid-building with a blocker a trick? Because it is usually fiddly to pull of and requires precise timing. Or is it just "normal" logic like 1 + 1 = 2? ;)

I've learned from one of your levels that you can use the Dolly Dimple-logic on builders, too, not only on diggers: Build into one direction under the hatch to steer the entire crowd into that direction, then use the last lemming coming out of the hatch to build into the opposite direction. This way, you isolate a pioneer lemming, and later on you can free the crowd by building towards the staircase from the opposite side.

Is that also a trick? Is Dolly Dimple a trick? Three builder-walls? ;)

As you said, once you know about these tricks, you can actively look for opportunities to use them in a level. That means you can do levels that require the synthesis of both: Largely logic-based, and the trick is just part of that. For example, you learn to view a blocker as a standard option to stop a digger or basher under certain conditions without actually having a lemming remain the blocker.

Trick levels only become boring when the trick is all that is required - because indeed, everyone who knows about the trick already auto-solves the puzzle. Such levels are good for teaching the tricks, for sure. But what's the point of teaching these tricks if we don't incorporate them naturally into standard solutions afterwards? ;)
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Offline Crane

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Re: Puzzle Types
« Reply #2 on: October 25, 2018, 11:41:23 pm »
It's a very fine line, and some are more obscure than others.  Old things like trapped climbers ascending through terrain I would consider unfair because it's not something you would normally find yourself having to utilise.  However, undermining blockers ("No added colours or Lemmings") I consider a good trick because the tool availability leads you in that direction, and does make you wonder what might happen if the Blocker is left in mid-air.  Even things like building slightly on steel, and then mining to turn around, to be acceptable because you often come across situations earlier on where you mine through regular terrain, hit steel, and you observe the Miner turning around.

I suppose, as a designer, you should ask yourself the question "How likely am I to discover this trick if I came at this level completely fresh?".  Other times it depends on the pack as a whole... for example, you are introduced to a trick in a 'safe' environment or are otherwise drawn towards using it in some way, and then you're expected to set it up yourself later on where you should be able to recall it.

Offline Proxima

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Re: Puzzle Types
« Reply #3 on: October 26, 2018, 11:15:04 am »
I think these discussions of "tricks" tend not to be productive, because we mean different things by the word, and also because it tends to have negative connotations, but some of us aren't using it negatively.

Suppose we talk instead about "mechanics" -- aspects of the way the game behaves. We assume the player knows (from the original tutorial levels, or NeoLemmix tutorial levels, or reading the manual) a basic one-line description of what each skill does, e.g. bashers go horizontally forwards through terrain and remove it. Now, consider the following three levels:

(1) You have only two bashers, but there are three pillars in the straight path between hatch and exit. You have to find an alternative way around that only passes through two chunks of terrain.

(2) You have to utilise the fact that lemmings turn round in the basher tunnel while it's in progress, but not after it's complete.

(3) You have to utilise the fact that bashers can move upwards on a sloped terrain–steel boundary.

In mobius's classification, (1) is a logical puzzle and (2) and (3) are both tricks, but I think (2) is actually very different from (3). (2) requires a leap of imagination or lateral thinking; (3) requires the player to discover a new game mechanic.

I think levels involving new game mechanics are the ones where we need to be careful to play fair. It's very frustrating to spend ages stuck on a puzzle because you assumed it could be solved using only the mechanics you already know, and then to ask for a hint and find out that it depended on a mechanic you didn't know. Puzzles of type (2), though, can be really satisfying to solve, because it feels great to have that creative leap or moment of insight. The example I always point to for this is "Attack of the Subconscious" (an Insane Steve Cheapo level), but there are plenty of others.

Offline Strato Incendus

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Re: Puzzle Types
« Reply #4 on: October 26, 2018, 03:51:31 pm »
Excellent distinction, Proxima! ;) I included tutorial levels for both (2) and (3) in Lemmings World Tour, without actually having thought about the difference. Although I did outline some tricks, like the double-builder turnaround or the miner-cancel turnaround, as more obscure than others. Lateral thinking, in contrast, can theoretically be inferred, although it usually also requires at least on example level to get the player used to thinking in such patterns, therefore recognising them whenever they appear in a level.

My example of "tunnel turnarounds" was a level by Nessy...
Spoiler (click to show/hide)
Ghost Lemmings - help us test a possible new NeoLemmix skill!
My packs so far:
Lemmings World Tour, my music-themed flagship pack, 320 levels, JUST RELEASED!
Paralems, a more flavour-driven one, 150 levels
Pit Lems, a more puzzly one, 100 levels
Lemmicks, a pack for NeoLemmix 1.43 full of gimmicks, 170 levels