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Offline Minim

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Challenges board: How it works
« on: October 21, 2019, 08:07:08 am »
*Thread updated with new information displayed by asterisk.

Welcome to the Challenges board. To avoid confusion, here is an introduction as well as some reminders as to how they work, and how you can take part.

Each challenge thread is traditionally based on the whole set of levels from one game and finding out what are the best records - or if that doesn't apply, which levels can be solved - under one specific criterion. One example is the Maximum Lemmings Saved Records thread, where the record for the most lemmings saved on each level is kept on the opening post. Of course, there are some challenges that only relate to one individual level. For this, we have the Oh No! More Challenges thread.

The results for each challenge are used by a certain engine. Each engine has different physics which can affect the solution for the same level. The engine must be displayed before the thread's title, written in square brackets. If a topic doesn't have an engine / version tag, you should assume it relates to the DOS version.

The format needs to be used like this:

Code: [Select]
[NeoLemmix] My NeoLemmix Challenge
The link to these engines can be found here. For DOS challenges, DOSBox and LemmixPlayer are acceptable engines. NeoLemmix is not allowed. To clarify, the version of LemmixPlayer allowed is the older versions with seperate EXEs for each pack (downloads archived on the NeoLemmix website); there is a newer all-in-one version that has not yet been verified as accurate-to-DOS (and was known, at least at one point, to have some intentional inaccuracies by the developer).

Incomplete Challenges
Any challenges that are incomplete will be displayed in paraphrases (circular brackets) at the end of the thread if needed. The incomplete tag should only be applied to the main set of levels of each Lemmings game only. Games such as Oh No! More Lemmings and Xmas Lemmings are regarded as expansion packs rather than a main set; whereas Lemmings 2 and 3 are regarded as main groups of levels because they play completely different to each other.

Replays
For solutions to more complicated challenges, a replay is recommended. *To ensure that they are the best quality, it is encouraged that all replays (including screenshots) should be captured from a PC and not from external sources, such as a video recorder or camera. Blurred content would make it unnecessarily harder for readers to understand one's uploaded content.

LemmixPlayer's replay files use the .lrb file extension. The controls are:
L = Load replay
U = Save replay
R = Restart level

NeoLemmix is able to save your level automatically (Unless you've turned this off) when the level is passed. The "Load Replay" icon appears on the far bottom right corner of the full-size skill panel. If you can't find it, Go to the Main Menu, press F3 and click on the "Interface" tab. Uncheck the "Compact Skill Panel" checkbox and the icon should be there the next time you play a level. Modern versions of NeoLemmix use the .nxrp file extension.

For games involving the DOSBox (2, 3, and 3D), you can use a video recorder - There's a useful document here on how to use it - but if you don't know how then using screenshots is fine, as long as you include text as well as precise cursor locations and lemming placements. A .png file is preferred for uploading screenshots.

For Lemmings Revolution, unfortunately I haven't found any information on how to save replays there. You'll probably have to record a video or make some screenshots with descriptions.

Uploading the replay is easy. Clicking the "Attachments and other options" button followed by "browse" should open up a window for you to find the replay you want to upload.

So there you go. Hope everything is clear. Have fun playing the Challenges board! 8-)
« Last Edit: April 15, 2020, 06:52:49 pm by namida »
Musical fact: All of Tim Wright's compositions for Original Lemmings are 125 BPM.

Offline ccexplore

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Re: Challenges board: How it works
« Reply #1 on: October 21, 2019, 10:05:05 am »
A .png or .jpg file is preferred for uploading screenshots.

I would go slight further and say to use PNG only, especially for the games that have pixel-precise physics (so I guess the ones based on Lemmings 1 or Lemmings 2 physics).  JPG's compression is lossy and will tend to blur out some pixel-precise details, and with challenge solutions you can bet there often will be critical moves that are pixel-precise.

For screenshots, one key thing would be to depict any precise locations and/or timing a lemming needs to be assigned skill to.  Or for something like Lemmings 2's archer or roper skills, I would also try to make sure the screenshot depicts the precise cursor placement for the target point of the skill, especially if it needs to be pixel-precise.

A video is likely easier in explaining all the intricacies of a solution.  If you can't do videos, consider having some text as well as screenshots.  Note that DOSBox has video capturing feature built-in, please consult documentation on use.

Offline Minim

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Re: Challenges board: How it works
« Reply #2 on: October 21, 2019, 12:56:57 pm »
Thanks for your useful technical input. 8-) I'll see if I can reword this.
Musical fact: All of Tim Wright's compositions for Original Lemmings are 125 BPM.

Offline WillLem

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Re: Challenges board: How it works
« Reply #3 on: October 26, 2019, 05:41:10 pm »
Thanks for the clarification on these points. I'm guessing that NeoLemmix is not an acceptable engine for challenges due to its precision capabilities (timestepping, etc)...?

Offline Proxima

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Re: Challenges board: How it works
« Reply #4 on: October 26, 2019, 06:46:24 pm »
Not at all. Lemmix has all that and is perfectly acceptable. The difference is that Lemmix is a perfect clone of the mechanics of DOS Lemmings, while NeoLemmix has many, many mechanics differences (steel glitches are fixed, there is no "sliding", etc). That means that results for NeoLemmix don't give us any confidence about what would and would not be possible on the original game.

Offline namida

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Re: Challenges board: How it works
« Reply #5 on: October 26, 2019, 06:53:02 pm »
I don't see any issue with using NeoLemmix for challenges, as long as NeoLemmix results are kept clearly separate from DOS / Lemmix results - they should probably be their own separate topic, and we'd need to also agree on which version of the levels to use (as the official-pack-conversions and the Redux versions of levels are not always identical; eg. Redux removes most time limits and often reduces the lemming counts).

Likewise, NeoLemmix results would need to be kept separate from, say, SuperLemmini results.

The main concern is, yeah, we do not want to mix entirely different engines together. We generally even separate almost-but-not-quite identical ports, such as Amiga vs DOS (almost identical, but Amiga lacks the nuke glitch and has slightly different digger physics, and has water across the bottom of most levels which usually doesn't matter but can make a difference in some levels, such as Save Me).

Let's also not suddenly spam the board up with every possible engine-challenge combination. We should start with a simple and common challenge on one engine, perhaps "maximum saveable on NeoLemmix". If there's enough interest, it could then expand to other common challenges (skills you can't live without*, or minimum total skills, are usually the next step). If interest still sticks around, it very well might be time to try some of the crazier ones. I really don't think SuperLemmini challenges are worthwhile; I know you're personally a fan of it but you're part of a very small minority (ie: pretty much just yourself) on that one so unless you intend to go through the entire game yourself for that challenge...

* In short, the "skills you can't live without" challenge is about finding what skill(s) are common to all possible solutions. For example, if a level has three solutions - one of which uses 2 builders + 2 bashers, one of which uses 5 builders + 1 basher + 2 miners, and the last uses 10 bashers + 10 miners; the "skills you can't live without" is 1 basher, because no matter which solution you use you need to use 1 basher; everything else can be avoided by using a different solution. If I remember correctly, this challenge has been done for all L1-style games as well as 3D Lemmings.
« Last Edit: October 26, 2019, 06:59:18 pm by namida »

Offline Proxima

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Re: Challenges board: How it works
« Reply #6 on: January 17, 2020, 03:42:52 am »
For NeoLemmix challenges, the tag in the topic title should be "NeoLemmix", with no version number. It's understood that if any results vary from one version to another due to changes in the gameplay mechanics, only the latest version counts. Also, now that new-formats is out, mechanics are pretty much stable and I don't think there should be too much worry about results being obsoleted.

I don't want to sound like I'm picking on Minim, but just to use an example -- his "Which levels could be beaten with the new skills?" topic was tagged [NL 12.7.3], which could easily give the misleading impression that participants were required to stick to that version even after 12.7.4 comes out.

Offline namida

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Re: Challenges board: How it works
« Reply #7 on: January 17, 2020, 03:57:19 am »
Quote
Also, now that new-formats is out, mechanics are pretty much stable and I don't think there should be too much worry about results being obsoleted.

The only physics changes in the foreseeable future are:
1. Fixing the "survive ridiculously long fall" bug that would not be possible to set up in any official level anyway
2. Adding the Jumper, which is again irrelevant to official levels

So indeed, it's safe to make this assumption. Keep replays of any that aren't trivial, of course. ;)

Offline namida

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Re: Challenges board: How it works
« Reply #8 on: April 15, 2020, 06:54:37 pm »
I've updated the original post here to clarify, for now, that when it says "Lemmix may be used for DOS challenges", it's referring to the old versions of Lemmix. Last I checked, the new one deliberately chose not to reproduce a few edge cases accurately - I believe EricLang is working on implementing these. On top of this, most people are still using the old one, and replays from the new one are not backwards-compatible.

If / when someone with good knowledge of DOS mechanics (such as ccexplore) can confirm the former issue is resolved and the new Lemmix is suitable for these challenges, I'll remove that note and point towards the new one instead.

Offline WillLem

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Re: Challenges board: How it works
« Reply #9 on: April 15, 2020, 09:28:40 pm »
What about when a challenge specifies a particular platform, but the OP clearly states that any platforms can be used to participate in the challenge - is this OK etiquette-wise?

Offline Proxima

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Re: Challenges board: How it works
« Reply #10 on: April 15, 2020, 09:47:09 pm »
Usually, it's up to the person starting a challenge thread what platforms they want to accept. If the challenge title and OP contradict each other, post to ask for clarification.

DOS is considered as the default and should always be acceptable except for challenges that don't apply to DOS at all (e.g. SNES point scores; these are a feature only found on SNES Lemmings). Lemmix (original Lemmix, not the new versions) is always acceptable for DOS challenges because it is designed to mimic the physics of DOS Lemmings exactly.

Offline ccexplore

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Re: Challenges board: How it works
« Reply #11 on: April 15, 2020, 10:57:40 pm »
On top of this, most people are still using the old one, and replays from the new one are not backwards-compatible.

That's a little disappointing.  I seem to remember back when I updated Lemmix to support a few DOS glitches that weren't being reproduced or recorded, I still managed to have it such that at least for solutions not making use of those newly-supported glitches, the resulting replays remain fully compatible with older LemmixPlayer versions without my updates.  At least I think that's the case, it's possible I remembered wrong.

If / when someone with good knowledge of DOS mechanics (such as ccexplore) can confirm the former issue is resolved and the new Lemmix is suitable for these challenges, I'll remove that note and point towards the new one instead.

Hmm, that might take some time but I'll keep that in mind.

===========================

For challenges that don't request a specific platform, you should always be very clear in your posts which platform you used to produce the particular results you are reporting.  In most cases, records from different platforms will be tracked separately for obvious reasons, though I supposed it's up to the person starting/maintaining the thread.

Offline namida

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Re: Challenges board: How it works
« Reply #12 on: April 15, 2020, 11:47:47 pm »
On top of this, most people are still using the old one, and replays from the new one are not backwards-compatible.

That's a little disappointing.  I seem to remember back when I updated Lemmix to support a few DOS glitches that weren't being reproduced or recorded, I still managed to have it such that at least for solutions not making use of those newly-supported glitches, the resulting replays remain fully compatible with older LemmixPlayer versions without my updates.  At least I think that's the case, it's possible I remembered wrong.

If / when someone with good knowledge of DOS mechanics (such as ccexplore) can confirm the former issue is resolved and the new Lemmix is suitable for these challenges, I'll remove that note and point towards the new one instead.

Hmm, that might take some time but I'll keep that in mind.

===========================

For challenges that don't request a specific platform, you should always be very clear in your posts which platform you used to produce the particular results you are reporting.  In most cases, records from different platforms will be tracked separately for obvious reasons, though I supposed it's up to the person starting/maintaining the thread.

The versions on neolemmix.com include your changes, as well as some subsequent ones by me (most notably, fixing a bug where traps finished 1 frame faster than they were meant to, and implementing the pause-for-time glitch). EricLang's new releases continued from his old source code, not from our upgraded source code. He did reimplement some of the missing features, but not all.

Offline Minim

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Re: Challenges board: How it works
« Reply #13 on: April 16, 2020, 09:11:28 am »
For challenges that don't request a specific platform, you should always be very clear in your posts which platform you used to produce the particular results you are reporting.  In most cases, records from different platforms will be tracked separately for obvious reasons, though I supposed it's up to the person starting/maintaining the thread.

That's a good point. At the moment it is hard to tell which challenge threads are DOS only and which ones allow all engines. I could add the [Free] tag to any challenge thread that doesn't limit the use of multiple engines/consoles, like this one for example.
Musical fact: All of Tim Wright's compositions for Original Lemmings are 125 BPM.

Offline Proxima

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Re: Challenges board: How it works
« Reply #14 on: April 16, 2020, 01:45:36 pm »
That thread, and nearly all threads here, are for a specific version: Genesis when we cover its unique levels, DOS Lemmings for everything else. Sorry to fans of other versions, but that's how it is.

The Challenges board has evolved and now has two main functions: one is to post our achievements and challenge others to match them; the other is to maintain compilations of best known results for the various challenges. So as to maintain the integrity of our results compilations, we must not mix results from different versions. (That also means staying away from the new Lemmix players, unless they can be confirmed to be valid.)

As far as I know, the only challenge thread at the moment that's truly "free" is the no-pause challenge, because that one doesn't include a list of results; we know every level is technically possible without pausing; it's just a topic for posting what we personally have achieved.