Poll

What's your thoughts?

No limit, a level should be able to use every type of skill simultaneously
3 (33.3%)
The limit should be greatly increased (~16 or so)
0 (0%)
The limit should be slightly increased (~10 or so)
6 (66.7%)
The limit should stay as it is (8 skill types)
0 (0%)

Total Members Voted: 9

Author Topic: [SUG/DISCUSSION][PLAYER] Expand number of skill types allowed in a level  (Read 868 times)

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Offline namida

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With the upcoming addition of the Shimmier, and a bit further down the track, the Jumper, we may be getting to the point where we want to allow more than 8 skill types per level. Indeed, even with only the current 17 skills (and even some cases pre-Fencer), I've occasionally found myself having to adjust levels to work with the 8 skill limitation.

What do people think here? Should we increase the limit? Should we get rid of it altogether? How should we allow for this on the skill panel? One possibility here is, if there are more than 8 skills, the furthest left / right turns into a "scroll left" / "scroll right" button, and only 6 skills are displayed at a time, or 7 if the user is at the edge. Another option might be to shrink the buttons to 2/3rds of their current height, and have two rows (increasing the skill panel's height by 1/3rd of a button), allowing for up to 16 skill types - and maybe more, if we also shrink the non-skill buttons accordingly.

Or, do people think this is fine as it is?
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Offline IchoTolot

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For now I tend to a slight increase, but the implementation is tricky and must be discussed. In that the main problem is located and if we find a good way, I would be completely fine with a higher increase.

Shrinking the buttons in width is only enough for a slight increase and will require customs buttons to be redrawn.

2 rows with a lower heigth would still have a limit of 16, would require redrawing of all custom buttons and would introduce the Lix "korean washing machine" effect of overloading the UI with tons of buttons.

The  "scroll left" / "scroll right" idea seems more future-oriented to me, while also avoiding the "korean washing machine" effect. A limit might still be desirable when the skill type number increases even more over time and I think nobody here wants to scroll through a huge list. ;)
This of course has the disadvantage of not displaying everything at the same time. Testing needs to be done here I think.......

Offline Strato Incendus

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YES! YES! PLEASE! :thumbsup: :thumbsup: :thumbsup:

For aesthetic purposes, though (and this included preserving visual similarity to the original Lemmings games), I'd suggest sticking to the classic 8-skills-bar as long as that threshold is not exceeded. The Lix skillbar, where all skills are visible all the time, including those you don't have any of in a given level, I find to be quite "cluttered" - too many buttons you don't need that can easily distract from the intended solution. I get why the Lix developers chose to have it this way, and I don't want to throw shade on them, but for NeoLemmix, I'd prefer a more efficient use of the space on the skillbar.

So there are basically three options, as far as I can see it:

  • When the number of skill types exceeds 8, the section of the bar dedicated to skills (rather than the Minimap, Replay/Rewind buttons etc.) remains the same size, but the cells for the individual skills get smaller. In this case, one would have to put this to a litmus test to see how small the individual skill button can actually get when you throw in all skill types which are currently available.
  • The skill bar expands - most likely to the right - when additional skills are added, at the cost of shrinking the other components. Most likely, this would mean making the Minimap less wide, since buttons like Pause/Nuke/Rewind/Clear Physics should remain the same size as the skill buttons. This would not require the buttons to be redrawn, but the Minimap would have to be able to adapt in size - not gradually, fortunately, but at least step-wise, becoming one step smaller for each increase of the skill bar beyond 8.
  • Scrolling through a skill bar which is only partly visible - totally had not thought of that. That somehwat violates the "immediacy" philosophy though, which has already lead to changes that follow principles such as "one should never have to use clear physics", the level itself should show you everything you need to know right from the start.
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Offline Simon

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Quote from: Icho
Lix "korean washing machine" effect of overloading the UI with tons of buttons.
Quote from: Strato
Lix skillbar, where all skills are visible all the time, including those you don't have any of in a given level, I find to be quite "cluttered" - too many buttons you don't need that can easily distract from the intended solution. I get why the Lix developers chose to have it this way, and I don't want to throw shade on them

Please destroy the Lix UI with the harshest criticism you can muster. I want to get brutal and honest feedback, it's the only way to improve Lix. "Korean washing machine", a 2016 thread on Lix skill panel

Lix limited to 8 first, then to 12 because everybody wanted more than 8, and then 12 out of 14 made no sense because all 14 is only 2 more and much simpler. Thus now 14.

Right, all this is really 2 questions, (a) what to allow in level design and (b) how to make the UI.

Quote from: Icho
The  "scroll left" / "scroll right" idea seems more future-oriented to me

This is dangerous. Information about leftover skills is so vital, I would not hide it behind buttons or scrollbars.

But I can't give a counterproposal yet, I'll sleep over this exciting design problem.

-- Simon

Offline Nepster

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My suggestion: Add potential for two more skills, i.e. 10 in total. By shrinking the minimap, we can fit them in nicely. As this would mean making the menu bar more adaptive to the number of skills in the level, I would go even as far as: Never display any empty skill panels, but use the newly freed space for the minimap (so that a level with just two skills would have a huge minimap).

When the number of skill types exceeds 8, the section of the bar dedicated to skills (rather than the Minimap, Replay/Rewind buttons etc.) remains the same size, but the cells for the individual skills get smaller. In this case, one would have to put this to a litmus test to see how small the individual skill button can actually get when you throw in all skill types which are currently available.
As we currently store everything in pixelated sprites, I fear that they will look horrible when shrinking the cells.

The skill bar expands - most likely to the right - when additional skills are added, at the cost of shrinking the other components. Most likely, this would mean making the Minimap less wide, since buttons like Pause/Nuke/Rewind/Clear Physics should remain the same size as the skill buttons. This would not require the buttons to be redrawn, but the Minimap would have to be able to adapt in size - not gradually, fortunately, but at least step-wise, becoming one step smaller for each increase of the skill bar beyond 8.
As mentioned above, I like a solution similar to this, but remember some previous discussions that this would only work for at most 10 skills in total. Note that even now NeoLemmix supports some different minimap sizes (IIRC depending on window size and zoom factor), so this should not be too much work regarding the minimap.

Scrolling through a skill bar which is only partly visible - totally had not thought of that. That somehwat violates the "immediacy" philosophy though, which has already lead to changes that follow principles such as "one should never have to use clear physics", the level itself should show you everything you need to know right from the start.
As Simon already mentioned, the skills are so vital to the game, that they should always be displayed.

PS: I prefer the NeoLemmix system over the Lix system of always displaying all skills, because the Lix system would mean lots of grayed-out buttons (because the skill is not used in the level) and less flexibility regarding additions of new skills.

Offline Strato Incendus

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10 skills would also be fine for me for the time being - oftentimes I only find myself one skill type short of implementing my intended solution, so these two could already make a huge difference! ;)

It just depends on how many new skills are going to be impemented over the years - and how they interact with others. For example, cloners and walkers offer lots of interactions with other skills, whereas jumper and shimmier do not (except for both interacting with the glider to some extent, e.g. you can jump on a stacker's stack by assigning a shimmier to a glider right next to the stack).

The more a given skill can interact with others, the more different skill types you can use to create interesting solutions, thus evoking the need in level creators to have more than 8 skills.

For shimmiers and also the planned jumpers, I don't see that issue that much yet, though. ;)
Ghost Lemmings - help us test a possible new NeoLemmix skill!
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Lemmings World Tour, my music-themed flagship pack, 320 levels - Let's Played by Colorful Arty
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Lemmicks, a pack for NeoLemmix 1.43 full of gimmicks, 170 levels

Offline IchoTolot

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2 more would already be good and only displaying used skill panels while ditching unused ones in favor of a flexible minimap sounds like a nice bonus on top of it. :)

Offline GigaLem

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I'm a little bit torn on this, while having every skill in the level would be stellar, i'm in the boat where around 12 skills max would be good enough for me.
The skill bar would need to both Expand and Collapse for that

Offline namida

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Quote
Note that even now NeoLemmix supports some different minimap sizes (IIRC depending on window size and zoom factor), so this should not be too much work regarding the minimap.

NeoLemmix only supports two fixed sizes, although simply the fact that code exists to account for that probably gives us an excellent starting point - if we can generate these two sizes, we can probably generate any arbitrary size. One size is used if the user has the Compact Skill Panel option enabled; the other size is used if they don't. IIRC, both minimaps are the same width, but the non-compact panel one is taller. That's it, currently; the minimap does zoom along with the skill panel, but this is just a direct zoom of the final minimap image, it doesn't show extra area and/or display at a higher resolution.

As I mentioned, I do find that on some particularly wide levels - some of the early levels in United, and in particular Revolution 13 "Sadistic Lemming Factory" in SEBLems which has an entrance on either side (and an exit in the middle) on a level I'd estimate as about 5 screens wide - the current minimap is already a bit small. The main points of the minimap are a level overview, and to quickly scroll; it doesn't achieve the former very well at all, and it's somewhat poor for the latter too, currently, and shrinking it would make this worse.

If we're going to downsize it even further - even as a "only happens dynamically when more room is needed for skills" basis - I think we need to discuss some approach to address that, perhaps allowing the minimap to increase or decrease its own zoom, either based on level size or based on user input (I would be okay with a slight further shrink to make room for clickable zoom buttons here, as the zoom feature itself would more or less make up for the lost size). Perhaps also worth considering, is not applying a dumb zoom to a rendered-at-1x minimap, but rather operating at native resolution regardless of skill panel zoom (and showing more area, or the same area at higher resolution, when the skill panel zoom is > 1x) - however this feels like it will be very tricky to implement.
« Last Edit: May 15, 2019, 08:56:57 pm by namida »
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Offline SQron188

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I'm sure what to think about this one. I mean, the limit was noticeable to me e. g. when I was making one of the recent contest entries, and thought that the tasks and tricks within the level could be more varied but at the same time those skills need panels, and panels need room in the UI...
Though I think that it may be possible to get rid of some of the less useful buttons in the expanded UI? Maybe? But the question of the standard UI still remains.

Offline mobius

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"The limit should be slightly increased (~10 or so)" is what I picked as it seems most are in favor of this or at least okay with it. I don't think I'd like to see a major overhaul of the skill bar (other than graphically, possibly with default color scheme but I know this is already customizable).
I wouldn't mind honestly if it didn't change; it's not a priority for me really.

on Lix: in multiplayer I find having more than 5 or so skills problematic. It's just too many variables to keep track of in the heat of battle. For single player that's not an issue however; I think ~8 has always worked for me in puzzle making and playing. It's not restrictive yet not too overwhelming. It feels right, not too much, not too few, but as I said 1 or 2 more wouldn't hurt I don't think. But I don't think I'd really like to see more than that.

on button arrangement:
1) how about moving or getting rid of the nuke? I never liked it next to pause anyway; chance of accidentally clicking that instead of pause (even though it must be double-pressed) and we have F12.

2) how about merging the two release rate buttons into one. left click could go down and right click could go up or visa versa.

-the pause is another option to remove/letting players know about a hotkey. Many games I've seen in the past (including Lemmings revolution) have no button but a hotkey for pause. Many steam games these days have escape as a default pause button.

on the minimap: now that we have the zoom feature I stopped using the mini map a lot less. Although the zoom feature apparently can't go all the way out (I learned this just last weekend), it would be really nice if it could. Also the minimap now not showing the entire screen lessened it's useful for me as well. The whole point I liked about the original L1 minimap was it let you see lemmings everywhere and let you quickly get to anywhere in the level. That use is almost totally negated these days by these factors.
« Last Edit: May 16, 2019, 10:32:35 pm by mobius »
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Offline namida

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on button arrangement:
1) how about moving or getting rid of the nuke? I never liked it next to pause anyway; chance of accidentally clicking that instead of pause (even though it must be double-pressed) and we have F12.

2) how about merging the two release rate buttons into one. left click could go down and right click could go up or visa versa.

-the pause is another option to remove/letting players know about a hotkey. Many games I've seen in the past (including Lemmings revolution) have no button but a hotkey for pause. Many steam games these days have escape as a default pause button.

A corrupted or just poorly-set-up hotkey configuration, combined with removing the nuke, could leave a player with no way to terminate gameplay. By keeping the nuke button, this cannot happen - the user always has that there as a way out. Pause is also an important enough feature that I wouldn't want to rely solely on a hotkey for that either. Perhaps some of the utility buttons in the non-compact skill panel could be removed, though.

Quote
on the minimap: now that we have the zoom feature I stopped using the mini map a lot less. Although the zoom feature apparently can't go all the way out (I learned this just last weekend), it would be really nice if it could. Also the minimap now not showing the entire screen lessened it's useful for me as well. The whole point I liked about the original L1 minimap was it let you see lemmings everywhere and let you quickly get to anywhere in the level. That use is almost totally negated these days by these factors.

The zoom feature is limited to zooming out as far as "1 physics pixel = 1 on-screen pixel". Note that NeoLemmix is not DPI-aware (and for good reason - the CPU-based graphics rendering is painfully slow on 1440p or 4K displays, if NeoLemmix has to resize itself, rather than letting the OS's resize take care of it; 1080p is pretty much the highest resolution you can get away with using without OS-based scaling), so if you have a high-DPI display, then this is more "1 physics pixel = 1 on-screen logical pixel".
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Offline Proxima

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I agree with increasing available skills to 10. I have occasionally seen designers complain about being unable to implement an idea they had because of the current limit. Also, it would mean that "crash course" levels (where the first levels of a pack introduce the skills as many at a time as possible) could get through all the skills in only two levels.

I don't like the suggestion to make the minimap variable-sized. It's true that it doesn't cope well with large levels, but there's no reason to think size of level is negatively correlated with number of skill types (if anything, you'd expect to see positive correlation).

Instead, we could get rid of some of the "Korean washing machine" buttons. Directional select can go; it's much more convenient to use a hotkey.

Nuke doesn't have much purpose any more; it's mostly a relic of L1. To namida's argument --
A corrupted or just poorly-set-up hotkey configuration, combined with removing the nuke, could leave a player with no way to terminate gameplay.
-- a simple answer would be to make Escape a non-remappable "exit" key. There might be a problem for new players if we remove the nuke -- they might solve a level but have remaining blockers, and not realise that exiting via Escape will count as solving the level as opposed to aborting it. Still, if we make a new intro pack at some point, it could showcase this exact scenario to teach the use of Escape.

The pause button is also not much needed, because NL has so many levels where assignments must be made precisely, now that framestepping tools allow for this, that moving the mouse down to the pause button is simply too slow most of the time. I somewhat sympathise with namida's point here, though, so if we decide on removing two buttons to allow two more skills, I would go for directional select and nuke, keeping the pause.

Offline Nepster

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I don't like the suggestion to make the minimap variable-sized. It's true that it doesn't cope well with large levels, but there's no reason to think size of level is negatively correlated with number of skill types (if anything, you'd expect to see positive correlation).

Instead, we could get rid of some of the "Korean washing machine" buttons. Directional select can go; it's much more convenient to use a hotkey.
If you select the "Compact Skill Panel" (which is the old-style one) in "Options -> Interface", you don't get the "Korean washing machine" button like directional select, you just have nuke, pause and fast forward.
Nevertheless suggestions like removing nuke and fast forward (and make Esc non-configurable, so that players can't lock themselves out) sound like sensible alternatives to shrinking the minimap.

Offline Simon

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Hard-binding Esc is conceivable, I have no opinion on this.

Removing nuke is a physics change, a handful of levels rely on the nuke. Nuke serves as a replay terminator: Solution creators prevent failing replays from running for 5 minutes. Otherwise okay.

You can put buttons in the info bar where the in-game stats get printed.

Minimap already fails at what it should do, see mobius. Minimap can be obsolete if zoom is good, apparently zoom is not good enough to see entire map. I never use the minimap, I have ultra-wide monitor at 3440x1440.

Make minimap toggle-able in-game? Then you toggle between full row of buttons (no minimap), and nice large minimap, some people want proper minimap.

Removing dir select buttons: Careful. What you remove from the UI, the new player will not try. People will not read manuals. Level designers get crazy about making their own skill tutorials (unnecessary, skills are in the panel, tutorial pack exist for skill subtleties that level designers can miss anyway) but haven't/won't make directional select tutorials (with good reason, it's the job of the engine to explain it). Also people won't play tutorials; people play packs, and not every pack has that; if every pack had that, people would skip it. Lix has tooltips for dir select whenever two opposing lixes are under the cursor, but I haven't user-tested those tooltips.

Splat ruler should get a button?

-- Simon
« Last Edit: May 17, 2019, 08:28:07 am by Simon »