Author Topic: [SUG][NeoLemmix Level Packs] Difficulty Ratings  (Read 260 times)

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Offline WillLem

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[SUG][NeoLemmix Level Packs] Difficulty Ratings
« on: February 28, 2020, 04:48:30 pm »
I'd like to propose the following sliding-scale difficulty rating for creators to assign to their packs, which may help to give a more specific idea of what a player can expect based on their ability. It may also help players to identify their ability level, and choose packs accordingly.

If adopted, creators would be encouraged to apply the ratings as part of any level pack upload in the following manner:

Pack Name [Difficulty 0-3] - this would indicate that the pack features levels which range in difficulty from beginner through to advanced, and therefore can be enjoyed by more casual players as well as more experienced players who wish to take a break from more challenging packs! It may also serve as an ability-boosting pack for less experienced players.

Pack Name [Difficulty 3-5] - this would indicate a more difficult pack that is best attempted by advanced players who are looking for further challenges.

Pack Name [Difficulty 4-6] - this would indicate a pack that is best attempted only by very experienced players who have established themselves as master solvers.

Pack Name [Difficulty 0-6] - this would indicate that the pack spans the full range of difficulty ratings.

Here are my proposed difficulty ratings explained:

0) Beginner - this rating indicates that the pack includes tutorial levels for the absolute beginner who has no prior experience of playing the game, and needs to be introduced to the skills, objects and their basic functions, and general gameplay.

Examples of levels in this category: Just Dig!, Only Floaters Can Survive This, You Need Bashers This Time.
Examples of techniques: Basic application of a few skills.
Examples of objects: The levels may feature fire, water and traps, but these will be very easy to avoid and may not even form part of the main route.

1) Novice - this indicates levels which expect that a basic tutorial will have been completed, and the player is able to navigate their way through reasonably easy levels with plenty of available skills and various possible solutions.

Examples of levels in this category: Smile If You Love Lemmings, Keep Your Hair On Mr. Lemming, Don't Let Your Eyes Deceive You.
Examples of techniques: Basic application of a number of different skills.
Examples of objects: The levels may feature fire, water and traps, but these will be very easy to avoid and may not even form part of the main route. The levels may also gently introduce objects such as teleporters and pickup skills.

2) Intermediate - packs with this rating will be generally easygoing packs that players of all ability levels can enjoy; the levels will be easy to solve and fun to play through, serving the purpose of keeping a player's basic skills well exercised. There may be the occasional challenge, but these will be reasonably solvable in the first attempt.

Examples of levels in this category: We Are Now At LEMCON ONE, Konbanwa Lemming San, Lemmingology.
Examples of techniques: Considered application of a number of different skills.
Examples of objects: The levels may feature fire, water and traps that require some thought to avoid. The levels may make use of teleporters and pickup skills to enhance the level, but not necessarily make it more difficult.

3) Advanced - this rating indicates that some of the levels will be more challenging and require above-average ability and a less casual approach to the game; solutions will be less obvious, and will include more advanced tricks, techniques and strategies more familiar with experienced players.

Examples of levels in this category: Turn Around Young Lemmings!, I Have A Cunning Plan, Compression Method 1.
Examples of techniques: Advanced application of a number of different skills, introduction of lateral-thinking puzzles and strategies.
Examples of objects: The levels may feature fire, water and traps that require considered strategy to avoid. The levels may make use of teleporters and pickup skills to enhance the level and increase the difficulty of the puzzle to some degree.

4) Expert - this rating suggest that the levels are of a very high standard of difficulty, requiring much more precise use of multiple skills and combinations of advanced techniques which would not necessarily be obvious to a beginner or a casual player. It will generally take several attempts to complete a level, and the levels will usually have a very limited number of possible solutions.

Examples of levels in this category: The Great Lemming Caper, Save Me, Lemming Tomato Ketchup Facility.
Examples of techniques: Precise application of a number of different skills, increasingly complex puzzles and strategies.
Examples of objects: The levels may feature fire, water and traps that require specific solutions within the puzzle to avoid. The levels may make use of teleporters and pickup skills to make a puzzle more complicated.

5) Master - packs in this rating will include levels of extreme difficulty, requiring established knowledge of most if not all advanced tricks and solution methods; levels will have very complex and precise solutions, and only the very minimum number of skills and time required for the intended solution. The levels will also expect perfect timing, knowing when as well as how to apply a particular skill.

Examples of levels in this category: It's Hero Time!, No Added Colours Or Lemmings, The Race Against Cliches.
Examples of techniques: Very precise application of a number of different skills, complex puzzles and strategies comprising very specific solutions.
Examples of objects: The levels may feature fire, water and traps that require specific solutions within the puzzle to avoid. The levels may make use of teleporters and pickup skills to make a puzzle more complicated.

6) Legend - these levels are only for players of the very highest solving ability. They will normally feature several combinations of extremely complex and painstakingly precise techniques, as well as pixel-perfect timing. These levels will often introduce brand new techniques not seen before, and use them in such a way to increase the difficulty of the puzzle considerably.

Examples of levels in this category: Anything from the final ranks of Lemmings Plus Alpha or Lemmings United.
Examples of techniques: Precise and unusual application of a number of different skills, extremely complex puzzles and strategies.
Examples of objects: The levels may feature fire, water and traps that require specific solutions within the puzzle to avoid. The levels may make use of teleporters and pickup skills to make a puzzle more complicated.
« Last Edit: February 28, 2020, 05:20:25 pm by WillLem »

Offline namida

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Re: [SUG][NeoLemmix Level Packs] Difficulty Ratings
« Reply #1 on: February 28, 2020, 06:48:57 pm »
Difficulty is subjective. What one person finds hard, another might not. On top of that, it's generally very hard for creators to accurately judge their own packs, especially relative to other people's packs (as opposed to their own earlier / later packs).

While I encourage creators to try and indicate the difficulty of their pack, I don't think a "standardized" system is going to work out all that well - and we certianly won't be enforcing one.

A more realistic approach, though this would be a "distant future" thing if it happens at all, would be a content database packs can be downloaded from, that would also accept user ratings re: difficulty. While still not super-reliable, players could then at least use these to get a more useful indication.

Offline Proxima

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Re: [SUG][NeoLemmix Level Packs] Difficulty Ratings
« Reply #2 on: February 28, 2020, 09:02:34 pm »
I fully support the idea of some sort of database or overview page that makes it easier for users to find content, and including difficulty ratings so that it's easier for users to find content appropriate to their skill level, so they can get more enjoyment out of the game and to help those who want to to gradually work their way up the ladder until they are ready to tackle the really tough stuff.

I think it would be great if we (as a community) could put our heads together, come up with a standardised system we can agree on, and apply it to existing packs (with each pack having a rating for its start and end points, since most packs have some progression from easier to harder within the pack). We might disagree on exactly where a certain pack belongs, but hopefully our ratings would average out to sensible decisions.

The current system of leaving it to the pack author is better than nothing, but has three obvious problems: some pack authors don't bother at all; pack authors are not the best at judging their own difficulty; and the lack of any discussion means that different pack authors mean different things by, e.g. "Easy" (see for example Lemmings Destination, which is rated as "Easy - Very Hard" by its author -- the first rank would be between 5 and 6 on WillLem's scale).

Since I've thought about this so much, maybe I'll have a go at writing up my own proposal for a difficulty scale to use as a starting point. I don't think we should start off from WillLem's, because it doesn't match well to the range of usermade content -- we don't need the first six gradations to cover the range from "Just Dig" to "It's Hero Time" when the vast majority of usermade content is harder than anything in the original games.

Offline WillLem

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Re: [SUG][NeoLemmix Level Packs] Difficulty Ratings
« Reply #3 on: February 28, 2020, 10:24:56 pm »
I agree that any such system ought to be compiled by the community, by gathering data and feedback from various users from a range of skill levels.

My proposal is mainly a template: I'm sure that the range of difficulty is wider than I've suggested and I think that really anything harder than the original games would be considered "Master" or "Legend" by my standards, but there are probably subcategories within and even beyond those that I haven't encountered yet.

I'd like to be part of the discussion for whatever system gets implemented, simply because I'm relatively new to NeoLemmix and I'm probably about average ability when it comes to solving; I think my perspective could be very useful.

I also think that Namida's idea of a content database is definitely a good proposal for implementation and could go hand in hand with this idea (downloading everything needed for a level pack from one place); collating all of the packs together and grouping them by difficulty would be a great development.