Author Topic: Defining the classic 10 skills  (Read 394 times)

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Offline Strato Incendus

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Defining the classic 10 skills
« on: August 19, 2019, 01:20:29 pm »
No, you didn't misread the title. ;) namida's recent introduction of the 10-skill-panel added a lot more degrees of freedom to NeoLemmix. Still, as we know from earlier years, many people have a tendency to still want to create predominantly levels that feature the classic 8 skills. Since the 10-skill-panel doesn't expand with every new skill added, but simply features 10 slots all the time, I think this feature might actually break up the year-old "bias" for the classic 8 skills: If you want your skill panel to look complete - and let's be honest, who doesn't enjoy that, from a purely visual standpoint? ;) - then you have to add two more skills. And since there are no classic 10 skills officially, everyone will pick something different, thereby creating more diverse levels.

But let's say you want to make a level that feels "classic" and still has a full skill panel. Which of the 10 NeoLemmix skills do you choose?

While the introduction of the Shimmier brought the total number of skill types up to 18, they're not exactly split in half between Classic and Neo, after all.

As of now, I'd go with the two most unique skills that don't feel as if they could be replaced by any other Classic or NeoLemmix skill: Walker and Cloner.

The constructive NeoLemmix skills, i.e. Platformer, Stacker, and Stoner, all bear some similarity to specific skills from the Classic set (Builder, Blocker, and Bomber, respectively). And the Fencer is an upward Miner, the Glider a diagonal Floater. The Disarmer is too narrow in its potential for application to be worth a standard inclusion on a "Classic 10 skills panel", in my opinion. I guess one could make a case for the Swimmer doing something unique, but here something else comes into play:

Both the Walker and the Cloner are not Lemmings 2: The Tribes skills. Consequently, they don't feel like "just another skill from a random pool of many". The Walker is actually from Lemmings 3: An All New World of Lemmings, where skills didn't even really exist anymore as a clear concept: Lemmings could perform any type of "motion" infinitely often (walking, blocking, jumping etc.), while everything else had to be collected like a power-up, leading to the eventual development of pickup skills in NeoLemmix.

Speaking of jumping, though: Longterm, I think a "Classic 10 skills" concept should add the Walker and the Jumper, rather than the Walker and the Cloner, to the Classic 8.

Yes, the Jumper is a Lemmings 2 skill, in contrast to the Cloner. However, it can be considered a cross-platform classic at this point: Not only does Lix have Walker and Jumper as well (but no Cloner), but also other Lemmings adaptations, like the Linux version "Pingus", featured it.

But whether the Jumper or the Cloner should be the "10th Classic skill", I think this will be a continuous ground for debate.

Much like, until recently, there was no way to make a level featuring all NeoLemmix skills - because ever since the introduction of the Fencer, we had 9 NeoLemmix skills next to 8 classic ones. With both the Shimmier and the 10-skills-panel, this is finally possible (again)! :thumbsup:

...but of course, the introduction of the Jumper will remove the option of an All-Neo-Skills level again, by bringing the Neo-Skill count up to 11. As Spinal Tap said: "That's one louder..." :evil:

During the days of 9 NeoLemmix skills vs. 8 slots on the panel, I frequently used to drop the Disarmer - although, historically speaking, it would have to be the Fencer, because the Disarmer was indeed among the first 8 NeoLemmix skills to be introduced.

Thus, in the not-too-distant future, when designing an All-Neo-Skills level, we will still have to decide for one that we drop from the panel, and we will always have two empty slots on the Classic panel.

Unless we define a new "Classic 10". Again, for the overview, here's my suggestion.

Classic Ten: Walker, Jumper, Climber, Floater, Bomber, Blocker, Builder, Basher, Miner, Digger
Neo Nine: Swimmer, Shimmier, Glider, Stoner, Stacker, Platformer, Fencer, Disarmer, Cloner

In the meantime, the Cloner takes the Jumper's spot among the Classic Ten.

But of course, long-term, Classic Ten and Neo Nine seems inconsistent. :D Maybe we can still find a useful and unique 20th skill to add some time in the remote distant future, so that we would end up with two "complete" alternate sets of skills again.

Not only because the NeoLemmix skills are lacking in destructive skills, featuring only the Fencer, but also in general, I'm pretty sure such a skill would somehow revolve around the eternal issue of upward digging... (in L2-terms: either the Laser Blaster, Twister, or Magno-Booter)
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Offline Proxima

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Re: Defining the classic 10 skills
« Reply #1 on: August 19, 2019, 05:39:40 pm »
Interesting topic. This is pretty much exactly how I was thinking for RockLems: now that we have a 10-skill panel, it would be fun to choose two additional skills and have all levels draw from the skills in that "pool" rather than just the classic eight.

For RockLems, I chose the walker and shimmier. Shimmier because it's new and I wanted to play with it; walker because it's one of only two skills shared with Lix, so I'm already used to it being part of my pool of skills (and the other shared skill, platformer, behaves very differently in the two games and I don't like NL's version). The walker is also, as you said, unique in being the only skill outside the classic eight that's from an original game other than L2 (other than L3D's turner, which only works in 3D). Finally, walking is an action that lemmings could already take in L1, so adding the skill doesn't add a new action.

In the long term, my preference would be the same as yours: walker plus either the cloner or jumper. Cloners copy a lemming's action, so they also don't add a new action. But adding the cloner has a downside in that levels can have a save requirement above the original number of lemmings, which is fine in NeoLemmix but feels distinctly "non-classic". As for the jumper, again I'm biased towards it as a skill I'm familiar with from Lix.

That sense of familiarity is important to me, not because I understand the skill better -- I know how all NeoLemmix skills behave -- but because I'm familiar with how it can be used in puzzle design. In fact, one of the main uses of the jumper is to get a single lemming separated from the crowd, so it can be seen as a variant of the shimmier. The shimmier can travel longer distances, but requires particular terrain set-ups, so the jumper is often more versatile (although creating terrain for a shimmier is an interesting puzzle concept). So now that I'm already playing with a skill pool including shimmiers, transitioning to jumpers would probably be relatively painless.

Offline ccexplore

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Re: Defining the classic 10 skills
« Reply #2 on: August 19, 2019, 06:38:23 pm »
However people decide, I don't think I can ever call it "classic" 10 since by definition, the only skills that are truly classic are the ones from Lemmings 1. ;)

The so-called "bias" for the true classic 8 is obviously not because the skills panel had too few slots, it is simply because many people have only played the original Lemmings games and so the 8 skills are the ones that are most familiar, and naturally people like to design around what they are familiar with.  People who wanted to make levels using the newer skills would've already done so regardless of how many slots had been in the skills panel, and people who have consciously rejected the newer skills would not be swayed by a comparatively miscellaneous change in the user interface.  Even for someone who's open to the newer skills, it's quite sensible that if they were to purposely create a classic-styled level or levelpack, they'd still choose to keep to the original 8 just to keep it truly classic (not unlike how Lemmings 2 purposely disables the otherwise ubiquitous explosion knockback physics just for the Classic Tribe).  For something like that, they'd actually probably also ask for the ability for a level to go back to 8 slots in skills panel if they could.

Walker is the only one that to me intuitively feels like you could potentially include in a classic-style level and not feel too out of place, I think mainly because walking and turning already naturally happens in the classic game in other circumstances.  Neither cloner nor jumper feels quite as classic to me, but if push comes to shove I think the cloner is less non-classical--the motion of jumping just feels way too mobile compared to the classic 8.  I actually feel like stacker, platformer or fencer may in some sense actually be more classical, in that they are all (in my mind anyway) fairly minor variations of the classic building and digging skills.

Personally I find the idea of segregating the skills into old and new to be a bit limiting, though of course I'm not adverse to having a few levels here and there that align to such segregation, and I recognize there's a matter of taste for some level authors.  Keeping to the classic 8 seems to be a combination of nostalgia and perhaps better proficiency at creating levels with only such skills (for some people).  And then I suppose for some people there'd then be an impulse to do the opposite and create levels not using any of the classic 8, I suppose.  But in my mind, it's much more interesting to explore all the different combinations of skills, old and new, to fully utilize all their potential.  There are sure to be many interesting, puzzle-worthy interactions between skills from the "classic" subset and the rest.

Offline namida

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Re: Defining the classic 10 skills
« Reply #3 on: August 19, 2019, 07:55:57 pm »
During the days of 9 NeoLemmix skills vs. 8 slots on the panel, I frequently used to drop the Disarmer - although, historically speaking, it would have to be the Fencer, because the Disarmer was indeed among the first 8 NeoLemmix skills to be introduced.

It's a little-known point that the Cloner is slightly younger than the other 7 original NeoLemmix skills. It came one version later than the rest of them. NeoLemmix wasn't very popular yet at this point - the only dedicated content for it was Lemmings Plus III, aside from that there were just unofficial conversions from Lemmix of the earlier Lemmings Plus packs, and conversions of the official games - so this fact generally flies under the radar. (Holiday Lemmings Plus came soon after, which made use of 7 of the skills. It wasn't until Lemmings Plus Omega that the Disarmer - or as it was known at the time, the "Mechanic" - saw use in a level that didn't specifically exist to show off the disarmer.)

EDIT: No, wait, there was one level earlier than this - I made a 10 level pack with tutorial levels for these new skills, plus two puzzle levels using them. The second one, "Master of the System", used the disarmer. This level was remade in Lemmings Plus Omega as Perplexing 26 "Whisper of the Wind".
« Last Edit: September 11, 2019, 09:19:32 pm by namida »