Author Topic: Feature requests for next version of SuperLemmini  (Read 3068 times)

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Offline WillLem

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Feature requests for next version of SuperLemmini
« on: October 30, 2019, 06:51:19 pm »
Hi Tsyu,

I know I've already mentioned these in reply to a PM, but I thought it best to also post a topic on the main board as per forum etiquette.

Here's what I think would make SuperLemmini brill:

Backwards framestepping. A great feature which saves a lot of time replaying a level from the start each time you make a mistake.

User hotkeys/mouse button configuration. This would be a very welcome feature if possible.

A levelpack creator, right there in the levels menu. Since importing external levels is already possible, it would be even better if there were a way of compiling levels into a pack, complete with difficulty rankings, music selection, and other stuff generally associated with making a simple level pack. The current method for compiling levelpacks is way too difficult and frustrating if you don't know what you're doing (which I really don't!). The PackToolKit for NeoLemmix is kind of what I'm imagining, but integrated into the main GUI (I've attached a picture of what I mean - the creator itself could be a separate mini-application, but launched from within the level selector).

Compatibility with the latest NeoLemmix Editor, or - a SuperLemmini level editor capable of saving levels as .ini, .lvl and .nxlv. This might be a whole other project... I'm currently taking beginner lessons in Java so I might be able to get on this myself before too long. Maybe. :P

A "SuperLemmini" title graphic on the main menu screen, to distinguish it from the original Lemmini. I'd be more than happy to design one for you if you like.

That's it for now! Great to see you on the forum!

Best regards,

-WillLem 8-)

Offline Tsyu

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Re: Feature requests for next version of SuperLemmini
« Reply #1 on: November 06, 2019, 09:35:12 am »
Backwards framestepping. A great feature which saves a lot of time replaying a level from the start each time you make a mistake.
This is far from a trivial task, since it requires remembering the state of every frame, or at least the difference between each frame, which SuperLemmini does not do. Still, I will look into adding it, but don't expect it to be in the next version.

User hotkeys/mouse button configuration. This would be a very welcome feature if possible.
Yeah, I'll try to add this to the next version.

A levelpack creator, right there in the levels menu. Since importing external levels is already possible, it would be even better if there were a way of compiling levels into a pack, complete with difficulty rankings, music selection, and other stuff generally associated with making a simple level pack. The current method for compiling levelpacks is way too difficult and frustrating if you don't know what you're doing (which I really don't!). The PackToolKit for NeoLemmix is kind of what I'm imagining, but integrated into the main GUI (I've attached a picture of what I mean - the creator itself could be a separate mini-application, but launched from within the level selector).
I should be able add this.

Compatibility with the latest NeoLemmix Editor, or - a SuperLemmini level editor capable of saving levels as .ini, .lvl and .nxlv. This might be a whole other project... I'm currently taking beginner lessons in Java so I might be able to get on this myself before too long. Maybe. :P
NXLV level support is planned, but isn't guaranteed to be in the next version. I'm not quite up to speed on the format right now, but I'm pretty sure it references objects and tiles by name rather than number, so I would need to think about how to work with that.

A "SuperLemmini" title graphic on the main menu screen, to distinguish it from the original Lemmini. I'd be more than happy to design one for you if you like.
If you can make a new logo, I'd love to see it!

Offline WillLem

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Re: Feature requests for next version of SuperLemmini
« Reply #2 on: November 06, 2019, 02:13:23 pm »
Backwards framestepping. A great feature which saves a lot of time replaying a level from the start each time you make a mistake.
This is far from a trivial task, since it requires remembering the state of every frame, or at least the difference between each frame, which SuperLemmini does not do. Still, I will look into adding it, but don't expect it to be in the next version.

Fair enough, I'm very much a beginner (currently learning Java and Python) so I'd have no idea how to do this myself at the moment. How about, in the meantime, adding a restart button to the panel? Like in NeoLemmix, it could restart the level instantly into replay mode and save time having to nuke-then-view-replay when a mistake is made. I've attached graphics I made for this, including for the xmas mod, if it would be easy enough to implement (see attached PNGs).

User hotkeys/mouse button configuration. This would be a very welcome feature if possible.
Yeah, I'll try to add this to the next version.

A levelpack creator, right there in the levels menu. Since importing external levels is already possible, it would be even better if there were a way of compiling levels into a pack, complete with difficulty rankings, music selection, and other stuff generally associated with making a simple level pack. The current method for compiling levelpacks is way too difficult and frustrating if you don't know what you're doing (which I really don't!). The PackToolKit for NeoLemmix is kind of what I'm imagining, but integrated into the main GUI (I've attached a picture of what I mean - the creator itself could be a separate mini-application, but launched from within the level selector).
I should be able add this.

Great stuff! Looking forward to seeing these, particularly the levelpack creator. :thumbsup:

Compatibility with the latest NeoLemmix Editor, or - a SuperLemmini level editor capable of saving levels as .ini, .lvl and .nxlv. This might be a whole other project... I'm currently taking beginner lessons in Java so I might be able to get on this myself before too long. Maybe. :P
NXLV level support is planned, but isn't guaranteed to be in the next version. I'm not quite up to speed on the format right now, but I'm pretty sure it references objects and tiles by name rather than number, so I would need to think about how to work with that.

This would be great as it would be possible to effectively make NeoLemmix and SuperLemmini levels at the same time, plus the whole inventory of nxlv packs currently available in NeoLemmix would be available to play in SuperLemmini (well, those that use the standard graphics sets or that provide hi-res graphics, at least). Plus, Namida is planning a hi-res update for NeoLemmix which should mean that, in theory, more hi-res content will be produced.

I'm not really sure how any of it works at a coding level tbh, although I am willing to learn so that I can understand the magic a bit better and have a better idea of what it is I'm suggesting/requesting...

A "SuperLemmini" title graphic on the main menu screen, to distinguish it from the original Lemmini. I'd be more than happy to design one for you if you like.
If you can make a new logo, I'd love to see it!

See attached prototype! ;)

Thanks for considering my feedback and requests.

All best,

-WillLem 8-)

Offline namida

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Re: Feature requests for next version of SuperLemmini
« Reply #3 on: November 06, 2019, 05:31:02 pm »
Quote
This is far from a trivial task, since it requires remembering the state of every frame, or at least the difference between each frame, which SuperLemmini does not do. Still, I will look into adding it, but don't expect it to be in the next version.

Lemmix implemented this via the replay system. Let's say, for example, that a user is at frame #1000, and presses "back one frame". Internally, the game restarts from the beginning of the level, and (without rendering anything until it's done) executes the replay up to frame #999 then stops.

This does result in poor performance, so NeoLemmix improves on the above by using a combination of the "remember state" and "use the replay" system. Not every frame is remembered, but rather, the state is saved from time to time, and the replay method is used to cover the gap between the most recent save-state and the target frame. In the case of NeoLemmix, it saves every 10 seconds, and over time, discards some of the older states. The state at frame #0 is always kept; as is the state at every 1min interval. States at 30sec intervals are kept for about 3 minutes, while states at 10sec intervals are kept for about 1 minute. (All times here are in-game clock time, not wall clock time - no new states would get saved while the game is paused, for example. I might also be remembering the exact intervals / cutoffs wrong, but the general idea is right.)

Lix's system is similar, but with different timings, that were designed more with the multiplayer mode in mind. The basic idea is the same, though.

Quote
NXLV level support is planned, but isn't guaranteed to be in the next version. I'm not quite up to speed on the format right now, but I'm pretty sure it references objects and tiles by name rather than number, so I would need to think about how to work with that.

The best way would be to change SuperLemmini to also reference pieces by name. Such a system is a bit tricky to get backwards-compatibility with (though NeoLemmix has a way - will explain later in this post), but going forwards it makes things much tidier when pieces need to be added to or removed from a style.

However, if you're not willing to do that; NeoLemmix still supports older formats (for now - this is intended to be dropped in the near-ish future). These old formats, of course, reference pieces by index numbers still. In the "data/translation" folder of NeoLemmix, there's files that are usually called "translation tables", with an NXTT extension. These tell NeoLemmix how to translate the index-based scheme to the name-based one.

These tables are not designed to be used in reverse as-is (for example, modern NeoLemmix no longer has separate bodies and tops for exits, they're now one large object; so the translation table says "replace with this and move slightly" for the exit object, but "just delete this piece" for the exit top), but it could be done with slight modifications, or with some special logic on SuperLemmini's side. You're welcome to use the NXTT files, as-is or modified, if it helps.

You'll definitely want to read this: https://www.lemmingsforums.net/index.php?topic=4334.0

This explains the basics of how text-based NeoLemmix data files work. This is applicable to just about every text-based data file in NL, including both NXLVs and NXTTs. Pretty much the only exceptions are a few INI files used to save user configuration, which are just the basic "XXXX = YYYY" format you usually see in INIs.

This topic specifically explains the level format: https://www.lemmingsforums.net/index.php?topic=4336.0

There are a few tweaks to this format that are occuring with the next major update. The topic is already updated for this, and references to the old cases have been removed. Examine some existing level files or look at NL's source code (Delphi) or the editor's source code (C#) if you want to figure these out; I made an intentional choice not to keep them documented. Alternatively, you can simply tell people "NeoLemmix levels created for versions older than NL V12.7.0 need to first be run through V12.7.0's Cleanse Levels feature" (a feature that takes an existing level, and re-saves it in 100% up-to-date NL format; this can be used for just outdated NL levels, or for a few other formats including DOS, (Super)Lemmini and Lemmins).

If you're planning to make your own editor, you are more than welcome to use the NL editor's code as a starting point if it suits; it's under a CC-BY-NC licence (so is the engine's code). For the "BY" part, you'd need to credit both myself and Nepster, unless your starting point is commit 2a6218e or older (in which case only Nepster would need to be credited, as none of my code is in the editor prior to that).
« Last Edit: November 06, 2019, 05:47:43 pm by namida »

Offline namida

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Re: Feature requests for next version of SuperLemmini
« Reply #4 on: November 06, 2019, 05:41:03 pm »
Quote
This would be great as it would be possible to effectively make NeoLemmix and SuperLemmini levels at the same time, plus the whole inventory of nxlv packs currently available in NeoLemmix would be available to play in SuperLemmini (well, those that use the standard graphics sets or that provide hi-res graphics, at least).

To some extent, although there's still the matter of feature mismatches. Going from NL to SuperLemmini, there's a whole lot that's not supported - most new object types (though SuperLemmini does support the force left / force right fields), all of the new skills, zombies and neutrals, lemming count limits on entrances and exits, etc. The other way around isn't nearly as severe, but there's still a few things that SuperLemmini supports that NL doesn't, such as invisible / fake terrain and objects, or various choices of how exactly steel works in a level (NL used to support many of these, but support was dropped either due to them causing coding mess just for situations that are very rare anyway, or because they had little use outside of the creation of troll levels).

In general - once you step outside of features that are supported by the official games (or direct clones thereof), there are very few features that are supported in the same way by both engines - only the one-way force fields (which technically aren't new - DOS Lemmings can do them too, it's just never used in any official style), infinite time / skill counts, and resizable levels (in both directions) come to mind, though there's probably a couple more.

Even when you stick to features that are supported in both, there's no guarantee that the level will work as intended on both sides. There's the subtle physics differences, and the not-so-subtle differences to how the release rate works. RR1 in NeoLemmix would be roughly equal to RR negative 99 in SuperLemmini; while RR1 in SuperLemmini would be equal to about RR50 in NeoLemmix. The only RR that would be identical (after adjusting for resolution / framerate differences) in both is RR99.

Offline Tsyu

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Re: Feature requests for next version of SuperLemmini
« Reply #5 on: December 04, 2019, 10:03:12 am »
Terribly sorry for neglecting to reply for nearly a month.

Fair enough, I'm very much a beginner (currently learning Java and Python) so I'd have no idea how to do this myself at the moment. How about, in the meantime, adding a restart button to the panel? Like in NeoLemmix, it could restart the level instantly into replay mode and save time having to nuke-then-view-replay when a mistake is made. I've attached graphics I made for this, including for the xmas mod, if it would be easy enough to implement (see attached PNGs).
You can use Level -> Restart Level to restart the level more quickly than nuking (although it doesn't currently run the replay; I will change this).

To be honest, I'm not sure about having a restart button next to the skill panel, since it's easy to accidentally click it. Still, your buttons look good, so I'll use them if I decide to implement it.

See attached prototype! ;)
Looks good! Remember that both the PNG format and SuperLemmini support translucency, so you can have antialiasing on the edges. Also, I can work with pretty much any animation that you want (and can produce); it doesn't have to flip like the current logo.

Lemmix implemented this via the replay system. Let's say, for example, that a user is at frame #1000, and presses "back one frame". Internally, the game restarts from the beginning of the level, and (without rendering anything until it's done) executes the replay up to frame #999 then stops.

This does result in poor performance, so NeoLemmix improves on the above by using a combination of the "remember state" and "use the replay" system. Not every frame is remembered, but rather, the state is saved from time to time, and the replay method is used to cover the gap between the most recent save-state and the target frame. In the case of NeoLemmix, it saves every 10 seconds, and over time, discards some of the older states. The state at frame #0 is always kept; as is the state at every 1min interval. States at 30sec intervals are kept for about 3 minutes, while states at 10sec intervals are kept for about 1 minute. (All times here are in-game clock time, not wall clock time - no new states would get saved while the game is paused, for example. I might also be remembering the exact intervals / cutoffs wrong, but the general idea is right.)

Lix's system is similar, but with different timings, that were designed more with the multiplayer mode in mind. The basic idea is the same, though.
Thanks for the technical info. I think I will still implement it as frame deltas, since it seems like it would use less memory.

Offline namida

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Re: Feature requests for next version of SuperLemmini
« Reply #6 on: December 04, 2019, 05:31:43 pm »
Quote
To be honest, I'm not sure about having a restart button next to the skill panel, since it's easy to accidentally click it. Still, your buttons look good, so I'll use them if I decide to implement it.

NeoLemmix has had such a button for quite a while now, and I haven't heard a single complaint about people accidentally clicking this. It is possible this isn't because it hasn't happened, but rather because due to it going into replay mode, nothing is lost so it isn't a serious problem. If I remember correctly, Lix has such a button too, and I haven't heard complaints there either.

Quote
Thanks for the technical info. I think I will still implement it as frame deltas, since it seems like it would use less memory.

The memory usage isn't really all that bad. I just fired up the final level of Lemmings Plus V (which if you haven't seen it, is a very large level - slightly more than 3 screens wide x 3 screens tall), in the work-in-progress high resolution mode of NeoLemmix (as SuperLemmini's resolution is the same as NL's high-res mode resolution), and used timeskips to jump to 20 minutes - this would mean about 25 ~ 30 saved states for a huge level in memory. Memory usage was just over 400MB, which is basically nothing these days. This fits with what I expected - I know memory use on such situations to be around 150MB in low-res mode, and the difference is that the visual terrain map (but not the physics map - that's still low-res) has double the resolution, so would take up 4 times as much memory.

I suspect that any device that can't afford to spare 400MB or so of memory, probably also won't have a powerful enough CPU to be running SuperLemmini anyway. (Although maybe that's not true - I don't know how CPU-intensive SuperLemmini is. NeoLemmix would defintely run into performance issues in high-res mode - and probably even in low-res mode - on any device where 400MB comes even close to being a problem.)

Now with that being said, there is one way in which your idea may make things tidier - when relying on saved states, it's a lot harder to make sure every important detail is saved and loaded. With frame deltas, it's probably a bit harder for this to happen.

Offline WillLem

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Re: Feature requests for next version of SuperLemmini
« Reply #7 on: April 01, 2020, 09:34:30 am »
Just to summarise a few feature requests that have recently come up on the main SuperLemmini topic:

  • A level editor with the ability to easily compile level packs

EDIT - It's already been half-confirmed that the following list items may be implemented as a catch-all difficulty toggle, which is great, but I'd still suggest allowing the option to toggle them individually as well:
  • An option to enable/disable timed bombers
  • An option to enable/disable directional select
  • An option to enable/disable assign-whilst-paused
  • (An option to enable/disable any other player assist tools which may be implemented)

  • Lemmings-holding-cards graphics for the main menu screen would also be a welcome addition (I can provide some if needs be), but this is less important than the other features at this stage

EDIT - How do we feel about Direct Drop? Could this be brought back as well?

Offline Proxima

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Re: Feature requests for next version of SuperLemmini
« Reply #8 on: April 01, 2020, 04:14:53 pm »
EDIT - How do we feel about Direct Drop? Could this be brought back as well?

I don't have a big stake in this as I don't and probably won't play SuperLemmini myself, but I want to add a word of caution.

It's not clear whether you're asking for a player-side option or a designer-side option, but both ways have their problems. If the player can choose whether direct drop is enabled, then designers can never make levels that rely on it, but still have to protect levels from direct drop backroutes, so you get strictly the worst of both worlds. If the level designer can choose, then the player has to check which mechanics are in play for every level, and will get stuck through getting the mechanics wrong.

This is why, in the debate over direct drop in NL, we agreed that we should make a firm decision one way or the other rather than having an option; then we voted over which way that decision should be. In particular, geoo's post on the last page sets out clearly why this kind of option is bad. One game, one set of mechanics. (And yes, I know it's on record that I was on the side of having an option at the time, but I have very firmly changed my mind since then.)

The other options you mention are also problematic, because they don't just change how the player interacts with the level but actually create new possibilites for actions the player can take. Untimed bombers allow the player to explode lemmings in the first five seconds after they come out; directional select allows the player to assign to a single left-facing lemming in a right-facing crowd; assign while paused allows the player to assign two skills one frame apart. In short, these are actually game mechanics changes, not just UI options. Sooner or later, the player is going to run into a level that's impossible because they selected the wrong options; and bear in mind that there are more players than just the active forum community and they may not have the recourse of posting to ask for help.

Offline WillLem

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Re: Feature requests for next version of SuperLemmini
« Reply #9 on: April 01, 2020, 08:31:23 pm »
EDIT - How do we feel about Direct Drop? Could this be brought back as well?

It's not clear whether you're asking for a player-side option or a designer-side option... This is why, in the debate over direct drop in NL, we agreed that we should make a firm decision one way or the other rather than having an option... One game, one set of mechanics.

Ah yes, perhaps I should have made this clear - I wasn't so much referring to an option, when it comes to Direct Drop. I'm talking about bringing it back as a feature full stop. If implemented, it should of course be in affect at all times.

The other options you mention are also problematic, because they don't just change how the player interacts with the level but actually create new possibilites for actions the player can take... Sooner or later, the player is going to run into a level that's impossible because they selected the wrong options;

OK, fair point. But then... if a player encounters such a level whilst playing a particular pack, they can simply adjust the options accordingly.

If all player-assist tools are enabled by default (and I'd strongly suggest that they be so), then a player would have to consciously go in and change them to increase the game's difficulty: thus, they are likely to be a player who is aware that they could encounter a level which requires the assist tools to be enabled. Or, at the very least, savvy enough to know that if a level demands split-second skill assignments far apart from one another (for example), that they should probably turn the assign-whilst-paused on for that level, or maybe the whole pack.

I understand your caution regarding this, but I ultimately think it's best to offer these options. IIRC, even Windows Lemmings offers direction select as an option, maybe even assign-whilst-paused...

The bottom line under all this is that SuperLemmini seems to be most attractive to those who prefer the mechanics of the original game, or at least appreciate the option to have them there. It makes sense that SL would go in this direction and thus live side by side NeoLemmix in complimentary fashion.

Offline Proxima

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Re: Feature requests for next version of SuperLemmini
« Reply #10 on: April 01, 2020, 09:47:31 pm »
I understand your caution regarding this, but I ultimately think it's best to offer these options. IIRC, even Windows Lemmings offers direction select as an option, maybe even assign-whilst-paused...

I only played that version once and very briefly, but I think it had directional select as a game mechanic, not an option.

Quote
The bottom line under all this is that SuperLemmini seems to be most attractive to those who prefer the mechanics of the original game, or at least appreciate the option to have them there. It makes sense that SL would go in this direction and thus live side by side NeoLemmix in complimentary fashion.

But which original game? There were many versions and they all had different mechanics -- even just talking about control options, some versions allowed RR changes while paused, directional select, fast forward, walker-only select, hotkeys for next skill and previous skill, individual hotkeys for each skill....

I agree that it will be difficult for SL to find a niche at this point. NL is far ahead in terms of offering fine control, and for those who want the experience of playing the original game, they can get that at any time by playing the original game. If SL wants to survive, it will have to offer something unique, and at the moment I'm not sure what that could be.

Offline WillLem

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Re: Feature requests for next version of SuperLemmini
« Reply #11 on: April 01, 2020, 10:54:51 pm »
But which original game? There were many versions and they all had different mechanics

I'd say SuperLemmini has the look and feel of a graphically improved Amiga version. I wouldn't suggest that SL should be completely like the Amiga version, because that doesn't even have a Fast Forward button, and SL is capable of replays which is definitely a good thing. Also - as you've alluded to - if people want the Amiga version they can just use an emulator.

If SL wants to survive, it will have to offer something unique, and at the moment I'm not sure what that could be.

At the moment, I'd say it's fairly unique already: it looks great, it can be played on Mac and its various graphical nods to the Amiga version are pleasing for fans who grew up with that version.

If SL implements the various options I've suggested, plus a level editor, it'll be the only Lemmings clone that can perfectly replicate the experience of playing the game on the Amiga, but with a better graphical interface, the ability to create levels easily, and the option to tailor the playing experience to your desired difficulty level. That alone would more than justify its existence even alongside NeoLemmix.

Furthermore - as someone who enjoys the action-based execution difficulty offered by classic Lemmings, the Amiga emulators I've used have no way to adjust the mouse pointer speed and sensitivity from within a loaded ROM of Lemmings, which is absolutely crucial when playing the game this way. SuperLemmini doesn't have this issue, and so would be a better choice even for a reason that has nothing to do with the engine itself!

To be honest, the more I think about it, the more sure I am that having the choice of either engine depending on whether you want a more action-focused or puzzle-focused playing session will be very welcome, not just for me, but for fans of both classic and modern Lemmings in general.

Offline ccexplore

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Re: Feature requests for next version of SuperLemmini
« Reply #12 on: April 02, 2020, 12:25:36 am »
I'd say SuperLemmini has the look and feel of a graphically improved Amiga version.

If you are aiming for Amiga, note that direct drop does not work on Amiga Lemmings.  The reason it works in DOS Lemmings is almost certainly a bug when you examine what is actually happening in the game's programming.  Genesis Lemmings may be the only other version that it's known to work, most versions I believe don't support direct drop.

If SuperLemmini's current mechanics already has direct drop then fine, keep it so existing levels aren't affected, or maybe we can disable it anyway going forward if few enough existing levels used direct drop to matter.  If it doesn't already have it then I wouldn't entertain adding it.

The idea of forcing players to have to potentially tweak some random settings hidden away in some secondary screen, in order to solve a level, seems decidedly user-unfriendly.  Keep in mind that you don't start off knowing what the level solution is supposed to be.  Therefore to be conservative, the player would have strong incentive to pick the settings that maximize solvability (ie. not the problem of execution, but things like you can literally never explode anyone in first 5 seconds if bombers are timed, so objectively less levels are solvable with timed bombers even if you're god-like in your execution), which would mean untimed bombers, allow directional select, and allow direct drop, for example.

I actually don't feel like directional select is even in the same class as assign-while-paused, framestepping or untimed bombers.  It's also somewhat interesting that Lemmings 2, while still arguably retaining a lot of execution-style gameplay, does offer some form of support for both directional select and assign-while-paused:  at least on some versions you can right-click some lemming to lock the cursor to that lemming, and then the cursor will follow the lemming as it moves and you can then right-click a skill to assign the skill to that same lemming the cursor has locked to.  This is actually in some ways even more powerful than directional select.  As for assign-while-paused, it's available on most versions of Lemmings 2, the only difference is that the game immediately unpauses when you assign the skill.  That may be a decent compromise actually.

Offline ccexplore

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Re: Feature requests for next version of SuperLemmini
« Reply #13 on: April 02, 2020, 06:26:51 am »
(ie. not the problem of execution, but things like you can literally never explode anyone in first 5 seconds if bombers are timed, so objectively less levels are solvable with timed bombers even if you're god-like in your execution)

Maybe a better way is for untimed bombers (when enabled) to not be assignable to a lemming in its first 5 or so seconds after coming out of entrance hatch.  This would remove at least that difference that could affect solvability of level.  It doesn't completely remove it because depending on what other tools are available/enabled for skill assignments, and what other moves the solution requires and how precise they need to be, it may not be possible to assign skill to the lemming 5 seconds ago vs now, and vice versa.  But at least it closes an important gap where untimed bombers allow more opportunities to use them that timed bombers can't.

Offline WillLem

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Re: Feature requests for next version of SuperLemmini
« Reply #14 on: April 02, 2020, 09:10:18 am »
If you are aiming for Amiga, note that direct drop does not work on Amiga Lemmings.

As stated above, I wouldn't necessarily suggest that SL be exactly like the Amiga version, as the latter doesn't have a fast-forward button, or replay capability, or - indeed - direct drop. Besides, we have Amiga emulators for when we want that exact experience. SuperLemmini's strength is in its improvement and enhancement of the Amiga Lemmings experience.

I'd probably put direct drop mechanics forwards as one such potential enhancement: it opens up more possibilities for alternative solutions, and level designers can build levels with that in mind. At the moment, the only way to make it possible in SL is to provide floaters for every lemming, which is not ideal.

If SuperLemmini's current mechanics already has direct drop then fine, keep it so existing levels aren't affected... If it doesn't already have it then I wouldn't entertain adding it.

Why not? We already have NeoLemmix as a clone engine that doesn't include direct drop; why would you be against the possibility of it making an appearance in SuperLemmini?

The idea of forcing players to have to potentially tweak some random settings hidden away in some secondary screen, in order to solve a level, seems decidedly user-unfriendly.

Which is why such options are exactly that - optional. If all player assist tools are enabled by default, then a new SL player doesn't need to tweak any options, and all levels that they play will be possible. Those who do wish to tailor their experience accept the possibility that they may occasionally encounter a level that requires them to change their preferences slightly.

As for assign-while-paused, it's available on most versions of Lemmings 2, the only difference is that the game immediately unpauses when you assign the skill.  That may be a decent compromise actually.

Good shout. This is actually already possible in SuperLemmini - it has an option for "Unpause after assigning skill". I usually have this option enabled as it allows for precise skill assignments but also keeps the game flowing.