Author Topic: A small piece of history of the forum and the challenge board  (Read 347 times)

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Offline Turrican

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A small piece of history of the forum and the challenge board
« on: November 14, 2019, 02:50:42 pm »
Hi! This post was inspired by a groupie level on Strato Incendus lemmings world tour levelpack. The level in question was inspired by Clam , and it inspired me to put some thoughts about Clam's level design philosophy, chalenge solutions in general , and how Clam was influenced by the challenges board. Originally I had posted this post in the world tour thread , but it was way off topic so I instead , decided to put it here.

 Original post:

Hi Strato! After seeing the description for the groupie level for Clam, I decided to put here some thoughts about the author, and more importantly to put here a small piece of the lemmingsforums history , back in the beginning of the decade. Personally I joined the forum in 2013. There were several authors whose packs made me solving custom packs , but Clam was the main one and he is still my favourite level designer. This post is not a critique for the groupie level . Unfortunately I didn't have the opportunity to try the pack , very probably I will try it next month. This post is just an opportunity to put here some small pieces of the history of the forum.

Clam's main characteristic is that he liked small levels. I remember him saying that he liked to see what you can fit in one screen in terms of level size. Now for the exact quote I need to dig older threads but that's I remember him saying (another older user can correct me if I am wrong here). In any case he seemed fan of the idea that "less is more".

Also the way he designed his level had influences from challenge solutions in the challenges board ( ther were also other authors that had the same phlosophy like Geoo and Tseug). Back in the day almost every old member were participating in the challenges board. Clam was one of the most regular members there. There are still a lot of members here that were regulars in the challenges board, but unfortunately that board is not visited often nowadays because almost everything in terms of records has already been achieved. But you can still have a thread like the "oh!no more challenges" one and you can even make it Neolemmix exclusive if you want.

The vast majority of the challenge solutions were the several records that we have now, but you could setup a challenge solution with adittional requirements if you wanted ( for example: save 100% in the "what an awesome level" without the use of builders ). One characteristic of the challenge solutions is that the concept of a backroute was nonexistent for them . You needed to achieve the record period. For example Alfonz1986 , a regular of the challenge board achieved the world record for Wicked 9 by using a not known before builder trick that took his name afterwards. Ccexplore achieved the same record but with a different method. Both the solutions were legit.

And you could find other stories like this from that board. A newcomer back then named Fernito was browsing the max savings thread and he was stunned because of the "save me" record (78/80 lemmings saved). He was like " save me Is my favourite level and I was proud of my 95% solution . How the 78/80 solution is possible? " And then a regular of the challenges board , Lemsteven, guided him step by step and gave him all the hints needed. Fernito then managed and completed his favourite level with the world record solution. Here is the link for his awesome solution: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qX9UTfUNrOU

Also I can't leave a post talking about challenges without posting Geoo's legendary Tame 13 , 1 bulder , save 100% .
link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=by3MunMkw1M

Clam not only had been influenced by the challenges board for his design philosophy, but released two packs that were practically challenge solutions.
These were called cstame 1 and 2. These were practically the onml tame levels "challenge edition" . Instead of describing how the challenges are setup he made two packs with challenge levels. There were some easy levels there , but most were pretty challenging. Several of the levels had very strict time limits (because there were practically speedrun challenges) , with most characteristic the final level called "speedrun challenge" and it was tame 20 , but you had to complete it in less than 30 seconds ( and things like framestepping and rewind didn't exist back then ).The pack also had some levels that required the use of glitches in order to be solved. That's was because using glitches was pretty common in challenge and world record solutions back then , and the cstame packs as I said, were challenge solutions. Two examples of glitch levels from these packs were " now you are struck" and "the squares fight back"
« Last Edit: November 14, 2019, 03:50:40 pm by Turrican »

Offline ccexplore

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Re: A small piece of history of the forum and the challenge board
« Reply #1 on: November 14, 2019, 07:03:31 pm »
Clam was an amazing contributor to the challenges, and a pretty valued contributor to custom levels as well.  He'll be greatly missed. 8-)

I haven't checked, but I seem to remember there are actually still quite a number of challenge threads that I believe still has "open" levels not looked at or not looked at seriously.  But I think the people that are most skilled at doing challenges simply have a lot less free time on their hands nowadays due to adulthood, and it's fair to also say that a lot of the more "usual" challenge criteria have already been explored pretty extensively, so you're kind of left with more esoteric challenge criteria that may appeal to fewer people.  A lot of the challenge threads only look at the pre-Lemmings-2 games in the series, and almost invariably the DOS/PC versions, so there could still be opportunities for people to take some of the challenges and apply it to the other games, or even to just other ports.

Also worth noting that due to various factors, the challenges historically hasn't focused as much on minimizing time, in other words speedrunning like in many other games.  So I think there is still fertile ground in exploring speedrunning-type challenges, though people who do so may be more inclined to participate in speedrunning-oriented forums rather than here.

It can be interesting to apply special techniques observed from the world of challenges to levels that are meant to be difficult, but even then I wouldn't overdo it.  Many glitches in DOS Lemmings wouldn't work in NeoLemmix anyway, and oftentimes the techniques used in challenges also require quite a bit of precision to execute.  Indeed, one of the reasons for having replays and framestepping in Lemmix was to make doing challenges easier than in DOS Lemmings.  It would be better to maybe take some more general ideas and inspirations from challenge solutions, things like release rate manipulation as a tool for level solutions, delaying/diverting the crowd instead of trapping them as a way to handle crowd control, taking advantage of interactions amongst skills and transient effects of skills, and so forth.  Alternatively, in the spirit of challenges, you could try designing the level in NeoLemmix so that it can be solved more easily without requiring a challenge-grade solution, but also have it support one or more Talismans that do require a challenge-grade solution as well.

Offline geoo

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Re: A small piece of history of the forum and the challenge board
« Reply #2 on: November 16, 2019, 09:55:20 pm »
I remember when Clam signed up to the forums in 2008 and right away posted his first level pack. If I recall correctly I managed to solve all the later levels, but I was really stuck on the first level of his pack (and I think I wasn't the only one). Considering Clam was completely new, there was some speculation whether there was just a mistake in the pack and the level was actually impossible. Of course there wasn't and we were just blind, having to see a clever trick and using it twice. Which is what to me is a characteristic feature of Clam's levels. Many authors, me included, stumble across some trick (or back in the early days glitch) and then often build a level around it, trying to disguise it. Clam was a bit different in that regard that often in his levels some kind of trick or move would be used multiple times, or variants thereof, without too much other fluff around it. Sometimes you'd have to figure the key idea and apply it, sometimes it would look like the main idea is clear, but there are subtleties or variations that you'd have to figure out that make up for the main challenge. Either way, I felt that solution-wise, his levels would often have a theme to them, making them feel more unique and memorable. Interestingly, I don't necessarily associate small levels with Clam, and the ones that spring to mind first are actually not that small.


And to add a bit of trivia to the Tame 13 solution:

At some point Clam posted the following challenge (maybe in the context of which skills do you absolutely need to solve each level): Solve Tame 13 with just 1 builder. I looked at it and was intrigued because I had tried it before but given up. The only way I saw this as being possible was to somehow make a way up one of the pillars. I put in some thought and work and in the end I did manage, saving 100% to boot, which I posted about in the thread, assuming I had found Clam's solution probably with just a minor tweak or so to save those last one or two lemmings. Now Clam was intrigued, because his solution definitely couldn't be tweaked to get 100%. It never came to my mind that you can send up 20 climbers and use the nuke percentage glitch.

Offline 607

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Re: A small piece of history of the forum and the challenge board
« Reply #3 on: November 30, 2019, 12:09:18 pm »
At some point Clam posted the following challenge (maybe in the context of which skills do you absolutely need to solve each level): Solve Tame 13 with just 1 builder. I looked at it and was intrigued because I had tried it before but given up. The only way I saw this as being possible was to somehow make a way up one of the pillars. I put in some thought and work and in the end I did manage, saving 100% to boot, which I posted about in the thread, assuming I had found Clam's solution probably with just a minor tweak or so to save those last one or two lemmings. Now Clam was intrigued, because his solution definitely couldn't be tweaked to get 100%. It never came to my mind that you can send up 20 climbers and use the nuke percentage glitch.
Haha, that's great! :D