Author Topic: How do you get level ideas?  (Read 394 times)

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Offline Shmolem

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How do you get level ideas?
« on: May 14, 2020, 06:33:01 am »
So recently I’ve been struggling to get level ideas for my in development pack (Shmolems) and I’m curious to know how some people here get their ideas because some of you have created packs with hundreds of levels and my pack is only going to have 40 but I’m still struggling to find ideas. So how do you do it?

Offline Minim

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Re: How do you get level ideas?
« Reply #1 on: May 14, 2020, 08:42:33 am »
My levels were designed to faithfully recreate the nature of Oh No! More Lemmings, but with Original graphic sets included. These levels generally weren't too hard and some of them contained a few challenges in existing levels I was able to discover.

The time limit as I remember for most levels were no longer than 4 minutes. As soon as I figured out how to use the Windows Level Editor properly (This was a long time ago BTW, the Lemmix Editor way back in 2008) and realised how much easier it was to use in comparison to LemEdit I got motivated and created many levels (about 250) within an approximate two-three month period.

When I discovered you can post them online I cut down most of the ones that were plain bad or copied from somewhere else and ended up with about 150.
Musical fact: All of Tim Wright's compositions for Original Lemmings are 125 BPM.

Offline mantha16

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Re: How do you get level ideas?
« Reply #2 on: May 14, 2020, 10:15:14 am »
other peoples levels can give you idea for puzzles but then you design them to your own preferences for terrains etc.

If you pack has a theme that can help like my 6 nations pack I've got the whole of rugby to pick from as well as things synonymous with 6 countries.

Particular skills you want to focus on can help. 

I've only build 40 levels so far so I don't know if I will get stuck as The 6 Lemmings Nations is hopefully going to be 120

other games can inspire Flopsy has used sega for inspiration.


Offline IchoTolot

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Re: How do you get level ideas?
« Reply #3 on: May 14, 2020, 03:48:40 pm »
I can only say it again and again:

Playing, playing, playing and even more playing. The more tricks and different types of levels you encounter, the more experiences, tricks and knowledge you gain for your own stuff.

Before I created a level, I played through several packs back in the days (Revenge of the Lemmings, DoveLems, PimoLems). This helped me a ton with my first pack, Lemmings Reunion.

I also have periods where I lack ideas or great motivation as well. Sometimes I don't create a level for like 2 months, but then at some point it gets going again.

Lemmings United, for example, took over 3 years to make so it's no shame if you need longer. Often things that take longer get more fleshed out in the end as well.

Offline Strato Incendus

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Re: How do you get level ideas?
« Reply #4 on: May 14, 2020, 05:25:15 pm »
I may be the opposite to IchoTolot here, because I've definitely spent a lot more time creating levels than playing them. ;) Maybe this is the reason why my levels are easier than IchoTolot's on average, but given that the majority of New-Formats content seems to be up there with regards to difficulty and intermediate-level packs are still somewhat lacking, I don't necessarily consider this a bad thing. :P

Of course, if your goal is to "beat the player", as IchoTolot has stated in the past it is for him, then you want to get ideas that are as difficult as possible. I however see myself more like a dungeon master in a roleplaying game whose job it is to entertain and challenge the player, but not defeat them like in a direct competition between level designer and player. With that perspective, if you make too many levels too hard, you might just frustrate the average player in our already small community so much that they give up just halfway into the pack.

Designing the Groupie rank for Lemmings World Tour required me to play packs by a bunch of other content creators. This was like a bit of active research on my part; I deliberately played those packs to get inspirations for my own levels, because I wanted them to be similar to other people's levels and recognisable as such. But it's not like I didn't have enough level ideas of my own - otherwise, Lemmings World Tour wouldn't have had 280 other levels outside the Groupie rank. ;)

I certainly agree with IchoTolot that, if you feel like you're currently out of ideas, playing other packs is a good starting point. I currently do this every now and then with Lemmings 2: The Tribes levels (both the original ones as well as Quest from Kieran 2). But sometimes it also just helps to take a couple of days off and allow your creativity to recover "naturally". ;) I definitely sometimes overdid it and may have created more level quantity than quality when I designed several levels a day.

Some users even said that one level per day might be too much. On the other hand, namida seems to be pretty quick at creating entire packs, so I'm pretty sure he had to make multiple levels per day, and those are of high quality and difficulty nevertheless.



When it comes to how I get my ideas, there are a couple of starting points:

- recently, all my levels are song titles, so those can provide some framework, either through the title itself, or the story they tell, and/or the tileset(s) they suggest to be used

- I like to use somewhat obscure skill combinations for tricks, rather than plain-sight puzzles where all the skills are used in standard fashions and just add up to something that, for some reason, isn't as obvious to solve as you would expect it to be

- sometimes I also do "bottom-up" level design, starting with just casually and arbitrarily placing terrain on the screen, and then the ideas come only while I'm already building the level ;)
My packs so far:
Lemmings World Tour (New & Old Formats), my music-themed flagship pack, 320 levels - Let's Played by Colorful Arty
Paralems (Old Formats), a more flavour-driven one, 150 levels
Pit Lems (Old Formats), a more puzzly one, 100 levels - Let's Played by nin10doadict
Lemmicks, a pack for (very old) NeoLemmix 1.43 full of gimmicks, 170 levels

Offline Shmolem

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Re: How do you get level ideas?
« Reply #5 on: May 14, 2020, 07:20:21 pm »
Thanks everyone! I have plenty of ideas for my moderate ranking which includes levels that are focused around one “trick” with a skill/skills. My ranking simple is hard to think of ideas because they are mainly just little puzzles. My advanced ranking might be a bit difficult to make because I’m going to put the theme for moderate and the theme for simple together so it will be puzzles that also include some kind of trick.

Online namida

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Re: How do you get level ideas?
« Reply #6 on: May 14, 2020, 07:29:07 pm »
The vast majority of my levels - including what some people would say is my best level, Panic Attack from LPII - I simply opened the editor, picked a style, and started making stuff that looked / felt cool. Usually, by the time I got even a quarter of the way through making a reasonable-sized layout, I've gotten some cool idea about the direction the level can take. (For L3D levels, this needs to be the point at which you stop and put the level aside if it isn't taking shape, because it's not really practical to continue with this method in 3D. For 2D though, keep going.)

If that doesn't happen, then when I've made a complete layout, I'll just give it heaps of skills and mess around until I find something interesting. If I still can't find anything, I turn it into an early-pack easy level with lots of spare skills.

I should note this isn't always the case. Sometimes I have a particular idea in mind for part of the solution, so I'll build a level around that - what do I need to do to force the trick to happen? What do I need to do to make the trick possible? What can I add to disguise the trick a bit better? A fairly notable example of a level that was more this way is "Drawing Dead" from LPO2.

Side note, this topic is better suited to the "Level Design" subforum so I've moved it there.
« Last Edit: May 14, 2020, 10:20:32 pm by namida »

Offline Ron_Stard

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Re: How do you get level ideas?
« Reply #7 on: May 14, 2020, 07:37:13 pm »
A good way to get ideas is to try to find backroutes in levels, even in those where a backroute is impossible due to skill limitation.

Offline Shmolem

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Re: How do you get level ideas?
« Reply #8 on: May 14, 2020, 09:03:27 pm »
Wow I wasn’t expecting such a huge wave of response! I think the first thing I’ll try is playing other levels. Though sometimes an idea just randomly comes

Offline WillLem

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Re: How do you get level ideas?
« Reply #9 on: May 14, 2020, 10:26:51 pm »
Three methods I use:

  • Imagine opening a new level pack. You've never played it before, and it's called Lemmings Levels Made Just For You!. You press F2 or click the mouse to open the first level. Now think: what do you want to see. Then go from there...


  • Create a level without worrying about solution/skillset/tricks - just make a cool-looking design that you like the look of. Then, give yourself loads of skills and have a go at playing it. You'll naturally create some solution or other. Whatever skills you use for that solution, make that the skillset for the level. Of course, you can tweak from here as well to make the level more ergonomic. And, alternatively - you can simply allow the player the same freedom to create their own solution by giving more skills than is needed for the solution that you found. These usually make good "x-of-each" levels.


  • As Icho said: play lots. At some point, a specific level idea will just occur to you seemingly from nowhere, and you can go ahead and make the level just as you imagine it. Levels made this way tend to be either extremely backroute-prone or completely unbackrouteable/one-solution-only, depending on the complexity of the idea/the number of skills it requires/the layout of the level - there never seems to be an inbetween for these kind of levels!

Offline Shmolem

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Re: How do you get level ideas?
« Reply #10 on: May 15, 2020, 01:02:45 am »
Yeah those methods could totally work for me to! All of my levels give you EXACTLY the amount you need to solve them.

Offline Strato Incendus

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Re: How do you get level ideas?
« Reply #11 on: May 16, 2020, 08:05:36 am »
Ah, that makes me much more interested in your levels specifically, because, as most people here know, I'm not a particular fan of X-of-everything levels where you have a lot of spare skills left at the end. :thumbsup:

So namida's description of "if I can't find anything, I just make it an easy-pass level for the beginning of the pack" is precisely what I do not want on early levels, because I think precisely this state of mind is what makes those levels boring. If the level designer himself already doesn't care about finding a proper solution to this level, why should the player? This is precisely what I meant in earlier threads by "the level designer relegates the task of inventing a solution to the player, when it's actually his own job".

This also explains the sudden spike in difficulty I experienced on several Lemmings Plus packs: It occurs precisely when these open-ended levels stop and the first genuine puzzles start. Because those are a lot more challenging, obviously, and thus, these are the types of levels I of course admite namida for! ;) I just don't like this standard open-ended prelude that a lot of packs seem to have.

I'd rather have easy puzzles - 1-of-everything levels, or just a couple different skill types with a few iterations of each. Maybe it's just more obvious on those easy puzzles where which skill has to go, but it's still a puzzle - just an intentionally easier one. ;)
My packs so far:
Lemmings World Tour (New & Old Formats), my music-themed flagship pack, 320 levels - Let's Played by Colorful Arty
Paralems (Old Formats), a more flavour-driven one, 150 levels
Pit Lems (Old Formats), a more puzzly one, 100 levels - Let's Played by nin10doadict
Lemmicks, a pack for (very old) NeoLemmix 1.43 full of gimmicks, 170 levels

Offline Shmolem

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Re: How do you get level ideas?
« Reply #12 on: May 16, 2020, 05:34:32 pm »
I agree with you. Most open, giving you way more than you need levels are definitely not my thing. I do find them boring and just a waste of a level. (I also find it satisfying to finish a level with every skill used) and if you’re interested I posted some pictures of some of my levels on my Shmolems: For Real This Time topic on the in development board.