Poll

Which option would you personally use for time up behavior?

Do nothing (besides alerting the player to the time running out)
4 (66.7%)
Pause the game, but do not exit
1 (16.7%)
Exit the game
0 (0%)
I would leave the default setting, whatever it is
1 (16.7%)

Total Members Voted: 6

Author Topic: [SUG][PLAYER] Options for "Time Up" behaviour  (Read 1913 times)

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Offline Crane

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[SUG][PLAYER] Options for "Time Up" behaviour
« on: June 30, 2020, 08:36:04 PM »
I apologise but I think this has been discussed before, but I can't find the topic in question.

I would like to suggest two new configuration options for the engine:

1. Three 'radio' buttons (the circular boxes that you can only choose one of) for choosing the engine's behaviour if you run out of time:
  • Exit level (original behaviour - takes you to the score screen)
  • Pause (game pauses at 0:00, allowing you to step back or restart etc.  You can unpause if you like, which leads to...)
  • Continue (what happens currently - timer turns pink, the level continues playing, but lemmings can no longer exit)

2. A "on/off" option for if a sound effect should be played if you run out of time: (e.g. a boxer bell: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TvvTacquttk - this would play even if "Exit level" is selected above)

Thoughts?

ADDENDUM: A combo box (drop-down list) instead of radio buttons might be a better design choice if space is limited.
« Last Edit: June 30, 2020, 08:45:30 PM by Crane »

Offline namida

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Re: [SUG][PLAYER] Options for "Time Up" behaviour
« Reply #1 on: June 30, 2020, 10:21:52 PM »
I'm open to options around "does the game pause?" and "does a sound play?", but I'd need to see very strong demand for the old behaviour before I consider bringing it back - the "I'd personally use this most/all of the time" kind, not the "It'd be cool to have the choice" kind, and I'd even be wary of running a poll because it wouldn't allow the distinction between NL users who prefer the old behaviour vs the crowd who just expect that NL should behave exactly like DOS L1 without giving any actual consideration and/or trying it out. In fact - now I'm wondering if "all lemmings are dead", especially in cases where the save requirement hasn't been met and the nuke hasn't been activated, should have a similar behaviour to time running out - in that it doesn't automatically exit gameplay (a warning sound is likely less necessary there).
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Offline Crane

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Re: [SUG][PLAYER] Options for "Time Up" behaviour
« Reply #2 on: June 30, 2020, 10:40:44 PM »
It's tricky because a lof of the time it's down to preference.  The warning sound for running out of time is mostly to supplement the 'continue' behaviour when you might not be paying attention to the timer (even though you should be!), while pausing allows you to stay in the level to make corrections, while the "exit level" option is for those who do want to mimic the original game in a few ways, but is otherwise not enforced and would never be the default option (I would personally opt for the "Pause" option to be default).

I'm sure there might be some contrived argument for the "Exit level" option, although I do agree it's not ideal when put alongside the fine tuning abilities of NeoLemmix.  I suppose it's just my philosophy in a way... give people the choice.  If the answer is a flat 'no' though, then I'm happy with the compromise of a "Pause when timer reaches zero" checkbox.

Online Simon

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Re: [SUG][PLAYER] Options for "Time Up" behaviour
« Reply #3 on: July 01, 2020, 12:05:26 AM »
I sympathize with the argument that a level should always be solvable, and pause as it becomes unsolvable. Main reason is simpler presentation, no need to interpret what pink means.

Exploration of the unsolvable state is also very nice. This avoids weird pauses; the meaning of the pauses isn't 100 % obvious at first.

If you can explore past the time limit, should you also be able to assign arbitrarily many skills, making the skill count negative? I remember Icho felt strongly against exploring with negative skills. Is the feeling against negative skills stronger than any feeling against exploring past the time limit?

On losing all lemmings, should the game act differently than on reaching the time limit?

-- Simon
« Last Edit: July 01, 2020, 12:33:31 AM by Simon »

Offline namida

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Re: [SUG][PLAYER] Options for "Time Up" behaviour
« Reply #4 on: July 01, 2020, 02:02:16 AM »
Quote
If you can explore past the time limit, should you also be able to assign arbitrarily many skills, making the skill count negative? I remember Icho felt strongly against exploring with negative skills. Is the feeling against negative skills stronger than any feeling against exploring past the time limit?

I would argue that continuing after time runs out is more useful than continuing after skills run out, as well as that if it's possible, avoiding doing so may require a bit more focus (especially once the player becomes used to the feature existing) than acknowledging being close to out-of-time. Also - running out of skills prevents you assigning more of that skill; but gameplay never terminates just because you ran out. If you run out of skills before the last lemming exits, he can still walk to the exit, and still counts as saved. If you run of time, either gameplay terminates (classic / SL behaviour) or lemmings become unable to exit (modern NL / pre-time-limit-cull Lix behaviour) - time running out is directly a loss condition, unless you've already won before it happens; running out of skills is not.

However, I certianly wouldn't go as far as to say this outright means the feature is unworkable or a bad idea; just that I see it as needing to meet a slightly higher bar than the time limit.
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Offline WillLem

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Re: [SUG][PLAYER] Options for "Time Up" behaviour
« Reply #5 on: July 01, 2020, 06:31:10 PM »
+1 for pause on reaching time limit: it makes it clearer that something has happened and requires user input/acknowledgement before continuing with the level (a "TIME'S UP!" graphic wouldn't go amiss here either*).

Just the bell sound and the timer changing purple aren't really enough here, I feel. A player may have their game sound turned down, and may simply not notice that the timer has changed colour.

*It could even present a dialog: TIME'S UP! with 2 options: CONTINUE PLAYING or EXIT TO MENU... just an idea. Tbf, the game just being paused pending user input would be enough.

EDIT: Thinking about it, a player may just assume that they accidentally pressed pause... maybe a TIME'S UP! graphic is the way to go. It wouldn't necessarily have to present the suggested options, it could just be that it requires user input to then continue the game.

Online Simon

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Re: [SUG][PLAYER] Options for "Time Up" behaviour
« Reply #6 on: July 01, 2020, 08:08:44 PM »
Yes, a blatant text on pause-on-time-exceeded is good. It's better than a dialog, and better than the uninformative pause.

-- Simon

Offline namida

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Re: [SUG][PLAYER] Options for "Time Up" behaviour
« Reply #7 on: July 01, 2020, 08:14:07 PM »
Let's suppose someone is back-stepping and playing quite close to the time limit's expiry. Should this message be constantly popping up every time they cross it?

If not, what should the condition be? How far back in game-time should the player have to go? Or perhaps the better angle, how much real-life time (even if the game is paused, perhaps) must pass before it pops up again? I would assume if the user exits out to the postview screen, this resets it for sure, of course.

Maybe a mixed approach - "Continue", "Exit", "Continue and do not warn again until you have exited to postview screen" as the options. The third one needs a snappier caption, of course. Even here I feel there should be a very small tolerance - perhaps don't show it again until the user's gone back to at least a point at which 5 seconds were remaining (or to Frame #0, if the time limit is shorter than 5 seconds).
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Offline WillLem

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Re: [SUG][PLAYER] Options for "Time Up" behaviour
« Reply #8 on: July 02, 2020, 02:20:07 AM »
Maybe a mixed approach - "Continue", "Exit", "Continue and do not warn again until you have exited to postview screen" as the options. The third one needs a snappier caption, of course. Even here I feel there should be a very small tolerance - perhaps don't show it again until the user's gone back to at least a point at which 5 seconds were remaining (or to Frame #0, if the time limit is shorter than 5 seconds).

+1 for CONTINUE and EXIT prompts.

Mainly because if it just pauses and says "TIME'S UP!" with no interaction prompts, the user may simply press Esc, not realising that they can continue if they wish. This wouldn't have to be presented as a Windows dialog box, it could have its own graphic and custom buttons (consider that an offer to make these if needed).

As for "should the prompt appear again?", my vote would be that if a player selects CONTINUE, the prompt shouldn't appear again at all, and current behaviour would suffice (i.e. play continues, bell sounds, timer turns purple): at least the player is both a) aware of the time limit, and b) aware that they can continue playing to try and beat the time limit. Also, since that is a current behaviour of NL, people already know what it means. Newcomers would learn what this behaviour means very quickly having already been prompted.

If it's decided that the prompt should appear again albeit with the option for it not to, I'd suggest CONTINUE WITHOUT PROMPT as a snappier button label :lemcat:
« Last Edit: July 02, 2020, 02:26:08 AM by WillLem »

Offline Proxima

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Re: [SUG][PLAYER] Options for "Time Up" behaviour
« Reply #9 on: July 02, 2020, 03:06:44 AM »
I think it's important to strike a balance. The new user needs to be informed of what's going on; but the regular user shouldn't feel like their time is being wasted. Pause on reaching the time limit, sure (with an option to disable this), but let the player continue by unpausing as normal. You could put the words "Time's Up!" on screen, with "(unpause to continue)" in a smaller font beneath, and have them disappear if the user unpauses or frameskips. No need for a separate "Exit" prompt -- the user presumably already knows how to exit play of a level if they want.

I don't think we should worry that the user might have the sound muted. We already have sound cues for crucial information, such as offscreen lemmings dying; the player knows that if they mute the sound, they do so at their own risk. (That said, the bell is pretty annoying on levels where you are trying to optimise the last couple of seconds and have to hear it repeatedly, so I'd agree with having an option to disable it.)

Offline WillLem

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Re: [SUG][PLAYER] Options for "Time Up" behaviour
« Reply #10 on: July 02, 2020, 01:41:49 PM »
You could put the words "Time's Up!" on screen, with "(unpause to continue)" in a smaller font beneath, and have them disappear if the user unpauses or frameskips. No need for a separate "Exit" prompt -- the user presumably already knows how to exit play of a level if they want.

+1

I agree, particularly with no EXIT prompt being required.

TIME'S UP! (UNPAUSE TO CONTINUE), or even just TIME'S UP! (CONTINUE) would be sufficient. After continuing, I again suggest revert to current behaviour until the level is exited.

Offline WillLem

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Re: [SUG][PLAYER] Options for "Time Up" behaviour
« Reply #11 on: November 16, 2022, 10:12:35 AM »
Reading over this as-yet-unresolved topic again, I'd propose the following:

1) "All lemmings are dead" behaviour mimics "Time's up" behaviour, playing some sort of "level failed" sound and changing the lemming count to a red "0" but keeping the level active. I think people have been wanting this for a long time, especially for "1 lemming" levels.

2) The alarm (and "level failed", if accepted) sound should be F2 optional.

3) "Pause when timer reaches zero" should be F2 optional.

4) On second thoughts, I don't think it's necessary to show a "Time's up" graphic (with continue button). Ideas around its implementation don't seem to fit nicely with the way NL works, and it would just create extra faff. What I would propose here, though, is something which would provide a clear visual cue that something has happened, whilst also masking the wierd "bunch of exiting lemmings" thing that occurs after time has run out (which tbh has always looked like an unintended glitch or bug).

After the time has run out, a clock icon appears over the exit, like this:





5) Something that came up during a conversation on Discord: If a level's save requirement has been met, there are still lemmings in the level, and the time has run out, currently the level continues to play. Presumably this is so that players can go back to try and save more for talisman and/or challenge purposes, and whilst that's great, it does mean that players have to manually Esc or nuke the level to finish it during normal gameplay. Since they have actually completed the level, ideally it should finish when the timer runs out.
« Last Edit: November 16, 2022, 10:54:37 AM by WillLem »

Offline namida

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Re: [SUG][PLAYER] Options for "Time Up" behaviour
« Reply #12 on: November 20, 2022, 01:34:37 AM »
I've put a poll up about what option people would use.

To be very clear, some form of "allow continue playing" will remain an option, and in all likelihood the default option. That feature is not going to be removed. It also has to be considered - there will likely be one-off cases where a player wants to continue playing even if they usually set their option to "exit on time-up", so how to achieve that has to be considered (it may be that the answer is "don't; it's their problem, they can change their settings", but I want to at least give some thought to this).
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Online Simon

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Re: [SUG][PLAYER] Options for "Time Up" behaviour
« Reply #13 on: November 20, 2022, 05:51:37 PM »
On running out of time before winning: I'm 50:50 on whether I prefer pausing or continuing. I'm sure that I don't want to exit here.

On losing all lemmings (before winning, before nuking): I want to pause. Again, I don't want to exit here. I'll wager that once people get used to this pausing, most will never want to go back to exiting. And would rage, like I do, when play exits here. Icho tells me I shouldn't fast-forward that much into losing, but I tell Icho he's merely not used to the correct program behavior, which is to pause. :lix-evil:

I don't know what I want after winning in either case. Probably exit? Lix has no challenges for you after you win other than improving the highscore, and exits here. But NL offers talismans prominently enough to consider them here. I've never attempted them, let's hear from people who play with them.

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« Last Edit: November 20, 2022, 08:35:49 PM by Simon »

Offline Dullstar

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Re: [SUG][PLAYER] Options for "Time Up" behaviour
« Reply #14 on: November 21, 2022, 07:26:23 PM »
I agree with Simon regarding when losing all lemmings before winning and before nuking and mostly on running out of time before winning: I agree exiting isn't a good solution, but I'd lean slightly towards pausing instead of being 50:50; I think the main case for continuing would just be if I feel like I'm close and just want to see how far off I am. This might be a reasonable case for having an option. Regardless of whether or not there's a pause, I think WillLem's suggestion for a time-up exit graphic should be implemented.

After winning, generally I'd say end the level. There may be specific times where it might be desirable to try to improve the save rate further, but I'd argue most of the time you just want to beat the level. I mean talismans exist, but I think it's better to have the most convenient outcome for the most common situation (and you can always add options if it's controversial).

For the purposes of the poll, I have responded under the assumption that it's a failed attempt at completing the level.



On a related note, situations where you've beaten the level but there's some random blockers left on the map that clearly can't be saved (at least not without rewinding and trying something different) so you have to manually terminate the level. While perfect detection of this situation wouldn't really be feasible, it should be possible to detect many situations where it's definitely not possible without risk of false positives and automatically clean things up: If you have walkers, you might be able to do something, and if there's some close enough to each other you might be able to free one with a bomber, but otherwise the only thing you can do besides manually ending the level is to use the nuke, the exact timing of which no longer matters as long as there's enough time left (because blockers don't move). It would be convenient to end the level automatically (probably using the nuke just because theoretically it could result in more saves under very specific circumstances, whereas just ending the level will never result in more saves) in these cases where the game can be absolutely certain there's nothing else you can do to get more lemmings to the exit.
« Last Edit: November 21, 2022, 07:55:56 PM by Dullstar »