Poll

Which option would you personally use for time up behavior?

Do nothing (besides alerting the player to the time running out)
7 (58.3%)
Pause the game, but do not exit
2 (16.7%)
Exit the game
2 (16.7%)
I would leave the default setting, whatever it is
1 (8.3%)

Total Members Voted: 12

Author Topic: [SUG][PLAYER] Options for "Time Up" behaviour  (Read 2867 times)

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Offline WillLem

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Re: [SUG][PLAYER] Options for "Time Up" behaviour
« Reply #15 on: November 28, 2022, 06:08:05 AM »
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

Hmm. I like the idea, and it could also be applied to levels with remaining neutrals which can't possibly be saved. However, allowing the engine to determine what's possible might open up a huge can of bugs, as well as being potentially quite jarring for those who prefer to be more in control of the gameplay. Such behaviour, even if implemented, definitely ought to be optional. How about this:

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)
...
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 ... 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)

These can both be addressed with an "Autonuke when level is complete" option in the F2 settings. So, if the save requirement has been met and either time has run out or there are unsaveable lems onscreen, the nuke is applied.



To be clear, here's what's being suggested:

A) Save requirement is met | There is time remaining | There are saveable lems remaining onscreen = Continue playing as normal
B) Save requirement is met | There is time remaining | There are unsaveable lems remaining onscreen = Continue playing as normal/Autonuke then Exit the level (depending on user preference)
C) Save requirement is met | There is time remaining/Time has run out | No lems are remaining onscreen = Exit the level
D) Save requirement is met | Time has run out | There are lems are remaining onscreen = Continue playing as normal/Autonuke then Exit the level (depending on user preference)

E) Save requirement is not met | There is time remaining | There are lems remaining onscreen = Continue playing as normal
F) Save requirement is not met | There is time remaining | No lems are remaining onscreen = Pause/continue playing (depending on user preference) the level and indicate that there are no lems remaining (suggestion: red 0 beside lem count)
G) Save requirement is not met | Time has run out | There are lems remaining onscreen = Pause/continue playing (depending on user preference) the level and indicate that time has run out (suggestion: clock face over exit)
H) Save requirement is not met | Time has run out | There are no lems remaining onscreen = Pause/continue playing (depending on user preference) the level with both indications applied

So, the above would add 2 options to the F2 menu:

- Pause when level is unsolved and time/lems have run out (with the alternative being current behaviour, i.e. continue playing)
- Autonuke when level is complete (with the alternative being current behaviour, i.e. continue playing)
« Last Edit: November 28, 2022, 06:23:58 AM by WillLem »

Offline Simon

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Re: [SUG][PLAYER] Options for "Time Up" behaviour
« Reply #16 on: November 29, 2022, 12:25:00 PM »
Yes, separating cases is necessary for the various ways of losing.

I don't see how you want to distinguish between savable and unsavable lemmings. I accept that when all lemmings left alive are blockers. Is that worth the hassle of defining extra rules?

Is your autonuke always compatible with nuke routes?

Do you view the autonuke as automatically generated player input (and thus write the nuke command into the replay) or do you view the autonuke as game physics (and thus not write the nuke command into the replay)?



namida: Topic mixes two concerns:
  • Pause or continue on running out of time,
  • Pause instead of exit on losing all lemmings.
#2 (don't exit on losing) feels 10x as important as #1 (do X after time limit). Shall I move #2 into separate thread? Have you sliently accepted the importance of #2? I don't see #2 in your replies so far.

#2 surprised darkshoxx on stream. He fully expected to be able to rewind after losing all lemmings. I believe exiting on losing is a leftover from Lemmings 1 where it was the only possible way to fix the attempt. Do not exit here!

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Offline namida

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Re: [SUG][PLAYER] Options for "Time Up" behaviour
« Reply #17 on: November 29, 2022, 07:47:05 PM »
Let's rule out any distinguishing between "saveable" and "unsaveable" lemmings, except for the special case of zombies. This one is simple because zombies are never saveable - they cannot exit and cannot be transformed to a state where they can. Anything else, such as a blocker, needs further checks to confirm if it really is unsaveable or not. Even a neutral blocker requires "do only neutral blockers, who are not overlapping teleporters, remain?" Whereas "do only zombies remain?" is already tracked, and will always be tracked as part of calculating the remaining alive lemming count.

Let's also be clear that, I'm not going to implement every option that simply "might" be liked. If there is no or little interest in a particular behavior in practice, it doesn't need to be added, especially if it only saves a single button press. Poll results show no interest at all in the exit behavior; not much for pause either but not outright nothing.

Distinguishing between "player has nuked" and "player has not nuked" is worthwhile to consider as a special case. There is always the option to add a delay of a few seconds after the last lemming dies, to handle rewinding in nuke solutions.
« Last Edit: November 29, 2022, 08:23:10 PM by namida »
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Offline WillLem

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Re: [SUG][PLAYER] Options for "Time Up" behaviour
« Reply #18 on: November 30, 2022, 12:20:56 AM »
I don't see how you want to distinguish between savable and unsavable lemmings. I accept that when all lemmings left alive are blockers. Is that worth the hassle of defining extra rules?

Tbh no, it isn't. I'm probably not in favour of the engine attempting to handle this sort of thing, I just added it into the suggestions for the sake of completeness. I've now retracted this and updated the suggestions below.

Is your autonuke always compatible with nuke routes?

Hmm. Not sure what you mean...

Do you view the autonuke as automatically generated player input (and thus write the nuke command into the replay)

Yes, since I suggest that it be a user-configurable setting. It's essentially just performing the nuke so the player doesn't have to. It's probably only necessary in cases where time has run out and lems remain onscreen (as a way of ending the level iff the save requirement has been met before time ran out). If the idea doesn't gain any support or traction, I'm not too fussed about pushing for it. I'm more interested in helping to get the "times up" and "no lems remain" behaviours sorted.

Let's rule out any distinguishing between "saveable" and "unsaveable" lemmings, except for the special case of zombies

Agreed, consider it retracted. Below is an updated version of what's being suggested, just to aid further discussion from this point.

Poll results show no interest at all in the exit behavior; not much for pause either but not outright nothing.

Yeah, I'd probably say -1 for pause. Level should continue, but with a clock graphic over the exit/red 0 if lems have run out. If it's an easy enough thing to make the game pause though, maybe it can be user-configurable?



A) Save requirement is met | There is time remaining | There are lems remaining onscreen = Continue playing as normal
B) Save requirement is met | There is time remaining/Time has run out | No lems are remaining onscreen = Exit the level
C) Save requirement is met | Time has run out | There are lems are remaining onscreen = Continue playing as normal/Autonuke then Exit the level (depending on user preference)

D) Save requirement is not met | There is time remaining | There are lems remaining onscreen = Continue playing as normal
E) Save requirement is not met | There is time remaining | No lems are remaining onscreen = Pause/continue playing (depending on user preference) the level and indicate that there are no lems remaining (suggestion: red 0 beside lem count)
F) Save requirement is not met | Time has run out | There are lems remaining onscreen = Pause/continue playing (depending on user preference) the level and indicate that time has run out (suggestion: clock face over exit)
G) Save requirement is not met | Time has run out | There are no lems remaining onscreen = Pause/continue playing (depending on user preference) the level with both indications applied
« Last Edit: November 30, 2022, 03:18:52 AM by WillLem »

Offline namida

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Re: [SUG][PLAYER] Options for "Time Up" behaviour
« Reply #19 on: November 30, 2022, 04:04:49 AM »
Is there any real need to distinguish between the cause of termination (ie: time ran out vs no lemmings left), if we make "nuke has been activated and no lemmings remain" a special case?
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Offline Proxima

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Re: [SUG][PLAYER] Options for "Time Up" behaviour
« Reply #20 on: November 30, 2022, 07:06:28 AM »
Sorry for not replying sooner; I have had very low energy recently and have been sleeping a lot. And now the points I wanted to reply to have started to pile up.

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.

I consider "player has met the save requirement, but may want to continue play to save more lemmings" much more important than talismans. For one thing, saving as many as possible is the main aim of the game; for another, it potentially applies to all levels except those where 100% is required, whereas talismans are relatively rare.

These can both be addressed with an "Autonuke when level is complete" option in the F2 settings. So, if the save requirement has been met and either time has run out or there are unsaveable lems onscreen, the nuke is applied.

Namida says later that it would be too complicated to check if all remaining lemmings are really unsaveable. Doesn't this kill the "autonuke" idea, by removing the only use case where it would have an advantage over either exiting or continuing? Once time is up, nuking remaining lemmings has no gameplay purpose and is just a colourful way of transferring the player to the post-level screen; but this would be very annoying for speedruns, and annoying for "Just a Minute"-type levels where you might be playing close to the time limit and trying out different skill assignments just before the end.

Is there any real need to distinguish between the cause of termination (ie: time ran out vs no lemmings left), if we make "nuke has been activated and no lemmings remain" a special case?

I can see the case for treating them together, so long as there is a configurable setting for whether to continue or exit. Continuing would be the default and the friendliest option for casual play, but you definitely want exiting when no lemmings remain for speedruns.

However, "time is up" and "no lemmings are left" are very different things and I think we should discuss what we want for both cases separately. I think new players would be confused if the game just keeps going when no lemmings are left, expecting something to happen; they might not even know how to rewind or move on if they haven't looked at the hotkey setup yet.

Offline WillLem

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Re: [SUG][PLAYER] Options for "Time Up" behaviour
« Reply #21 on: December 01, 2022, 12:34:59 AM »
Namida says later that it would be too complicated to check if all remaining lemmings are really unsaveable. Doesn't this kill the "autonuke" idea, by removing the only use case where it would have an advantage over either exiting or continuing? Once time is up, nuking remaining lemmings has no gameplay purpose and is just a colourful way of transferring the player to the post-level screen

Agreed. I'm not overly enthused about the autonuke idea myself, tbh. I just thought it could be one way to solve the problem of "I have solved the level, but it is still playing because the engine carries on after time has run out". There may well be other, better, more preferable solutions (e.g. just simply exiting the level immediately upon time running out would be sufficient).

I can see the case for treating them together, so long as there is a configurable setting for whether to continue or exit. Continuing would be the default and the friendliest option for casual play, but you definitely want exiting when no lemmings remain for speedruns.

+1 for this.

I think new players would be confused if the game just keeps going when no lemmings are left, expecting something to happen; they might not even know how to rewind or move on if they haven't looked at the hotkey setup yet.

And +1 for this as well. NeoLemmix is a complex enough engine that most players realise it's capable of advanced gameplay quite quickly, but it's still worth taking into account players who may be unaware of its capabilities. This is why the engine should very clearly display that something has happened if the default behaviour is to continue playing (which is currently is in the case of "time's up".)

If it is important to look at the different cases separately, then here's my take on it:

No lemmings remain:

If the level is solved, the game should exit. Otherwise, a level like Tailor-made For Blockers would theoretically never end, even after nuking.

If it isn't solved, then play should continue with a clear red "0" next to the lem count. This gives the player an opportunity to rewind back into the level and try again without having to completely restart.

Time has run out:

Again, if the level is solved, the game should exit IMHO. If I'm speedrunning (or even just playing normally), then I want the level to end if it's solved and time has run out. Otherwise you end up stuck with the purple timer counting up for no reason. This is what sparked the idea for a way to automatically end the level in this case.

However, I also see Proxima's point about wanting to play for more saves, and it is an important one. This is where user config comes in; if it becomes an option (A: Always exit when level is solved and time has run out, or B: Always continue playing when time has run out), particularly one that's toggleable from within gameplay, then players can switch this behaviour on and off depending on what type of situation they're playing in (A: for casual/speedrunning, B: for challenges/talismans/etc).

If the level isn't solved, then current behaviour is ideal. All I'd add is the clock graphic over the exit, to make it extra clear that lems can no longer exit even though play is continuing. Maybe lems should walk past the exit as well, rather than getting stuck mid-exit-animation; this would have the added bonus of leaving them in play.
« Last Edit: December 01, 2022, 12:50:43 AM by WillLem »

Offline Simon

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Re: [SUG][PLAYER] Options for "Time Up" behaviour
« Reply #22 on: December 01, 2022, 04:29:06 AM »
Interesting use case where you want to optimize a winning solution even more, and you're working close to the time limit or close to death of last lemming. Yes, we should support that. I'll have to sleep over it more. User option sounds considerable. Lix doesn't support it. Proxima, has Lix annoyed you in the past by exiting on winning attempt? (Lix N/A because Lix has no time limit, and I imagine that exiting on winning attempt is most annoying on time limit, and less on last lemming to die.)

Pausing on death of last lemming (rather than continuing on death of last lemming) makes it easier to frameskip back: You can't overshoot into death during fast-forward because it pauses. At least that's the design reason in Lix, where you have turbo-fast-forward and nothing interesting can happen after last death. NL weakens it with the zombies, but rarely we want to watch and examine those past death of last good lemming. Thus, I still recommend to pause here. Continuing feels slightly worse, and exiting is brutally worse.

I like the big clock that WillLem wants to paint over the exit. Glaring, but still reasonably unobstrusive. Adequate display of of winning/winnable/losing status of the attempt is important and delicate. Let's avoid mere color-coding of numbers, that's at best a supplement.

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« Last Edit: December 01, 2022, 04:44:25 AM by Simon »

Offline Dullstar

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Re: [SUG][PLAYER] Options for "Time Up" behaviour
« Reply #23 on: December 02, 2022, 07:50:29 PM »
For what it's worth with the autonuke suggestion it's more of a "regardless of time remaining" sort of thing and I think we'd accept that it won't detect EVERY situation and only go for the obvious ones where there's clearly nothing else you can do except rewind. This would require only blockers remaining, because with nuke solutions the exact time you press the button can matter if there's still moving lemmings in the level (blockers only + no bombers/walkers means no regular skill assignments are possible and no lemmings are capable of movement). Using the nuke instead of exiting without it has two advantages: 1, if it's a nuke solution, you can still potentially win, 2, the animation takes time so if you're intending to rewind you can, and if you aren't you can just hold down the skip forward button.

With time up specifically (actually, honestly, all failure conditions), I still think Simon's solution of pausing is the best one. But there should definitely be an option to just exit if the level is already beaten. That said, I can see a situation where you might be interested in testing how much time you need to save to pass the level or observing zombies, so the user should be able to unpause if there are any lemmings at all remaining (although ideally if you're, for instance, holding down the skip button ideally you'd need to release and press again).

Offline namida

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Re: [SUG][PLAYER] Options for "Time Up" behaviour
« Reply #24 on: December 03, 2022, 11:10:48 PM »
Here's a proposal. Let me know what you think of it, and in particular, if you would personally want a setup that this does not allow for.

Firstly, bring the behavior for "no lemmings left alive" in line with the "out of time" behavior, with the exception of a different sound effect. There would be a special case where, if "no lemmings left alive" occurs after the nuke has been activated, the game exits - possibly with a short delay first to give an opportunity to rewind.

Secondly, allow two options for what occurs in either of these cases - either "pause the game" or "do nothing" (or more accurately, "play a sound but otherwise do nothing"). The former (ie: pause the game) would be the default setting. I expect most people would change to use "do nothing", but (especially in light of the next point) this would be a more newcomer-friendly default.

Thirdly, if the user has the "pause the game" setting, then when such a pause is activated, flash a message saying "No lemmings left - Nuke to exit" or "Time is up - Nuke to exit" in place of the usual data above the skill panel. This could also be intermittent, ie: alternate every few seconds whether this message or the usual stats are displayed. Only activate this message once per play attempt (the primary purpose would be to help new players figure out how to exit). This message disappears when the game is unpaused, rewound, or advanced via framesteps / skips.

Some finer points need to be considered here. For example - let's say that a user who has the "pause" setting, activates the nuke, then the time runs out or the last lemming dies while the nuke is counting down. Do we still want to pause in this case, or just immediately exit? Another case to come to mind - let's say the user (who still has the pause setting) triggers such a pause, then framesteps backwards, then does something else and runs out of lemmings/time again, do we want to pause a second time? (Perhaps a workaround for this latter case is to provide a way to change the option while in-game.)

I would also consider whether "every lemming has been saved" should perhaps be a special case where the game would just exit. I'm leaning against it, but feel it's worthy of consideration.
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Offline Simon

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Re: [SUG][PLAYER] Options for "Time Up" behaviour
« Reply #25 on: December 05, 2022, 02:22:34 AM »
user (who still has the pause setting) triggers such a pause, then framesteps backwards, then does something else and runs out of lemmings/time again, do we want to pause a second time?

If out of lemmings: Yes, pause again. Same reasoning, I don't want to fast-forward into nothingness.

If out of time: I have no feeling for this, I'll likely set timeout behavior to (sound effect and continue). In particular, if I choose the combination (pause on losing all lemmings) and (continue on timeout) I expect the game to pause when, after I've run out of time, all lemmings have exited. Reason: We have no more lemmings but haven't won the level despite satisfying the save requirement.

I appreciate this concern about clear communication to new players. Regardless of whether the default is to pause or to continue, we're breaking away from every other Lemmings-like (besides Lix, but we don't expect new players to know Lix). It sounds sensible to always give the player something to do: Either lemmings left alive to click on, or a large text that you should rewind/nuke/Esc/etc.

You're pointing to several delicate design questions, and I don't have full answers ready yet, especially around the nuke. What do others think?

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Offline namida

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Re: [SUG][PLAYER] Options for "Time Up" behaviour
« Reply #26 on: December 10, 2022, 07:24:23 AM »
To clarify Simon, you are saying you'd want to have seperate settings for out of lemmings vs out of time? (Or different fixed behaviors, same diff)
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Offline WillLem

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Re: [SUG][PLAYER] Options for "Time Up" behaviour
« Reply #27 on: December 10, 2022, 08:13:55 AM »
bring the behavior for "no lemmings left alive" in line with the "out of time" behavior, with the exception of a different sound effect. There would be a special case where, if "no lemmings left alive" occurs after the nuke has been activated, the game exits - possibly with a short delay first to give an opportunity to rewind.

+1, I like this. Would be good to have the opportunity to try this out in an RC to see how it handles.

flash a message saying "No lemmings left - Nuke to exit" or "Time is up - Nuke to exit" in place of the usual data above the skill panel ... Only activate this message once per play attempt (the primary purpose would be to help new players figure out how to exit). This message disappears when the game is unpaused, rewound, or advanced via framesteps / skips.

I like this, too. Flashing the message intermittently brings attention to it, as well. I'd still suggest the "clock over the exit" + "lemmings walking past rather than exiting" behaviour in the case of a timeout. The latter of these suggestions has the added bonus of allowing play to continue after time has run out (i.e. for trying other strats, etc).

let's say that a user who has the "pause" setting, activates the nuke, then the time runs out or the last lemming dies while the nuke is counting down. Do we still want to pause in this case, or just immediately exit?

Exit is preferable here. "Nuke always = exit" is easy to understand, consistent, and gives the player complete control.

let's say the user (who still has the pause setting) triggers such a pause, then framesteps backwards, then does something else and runs out of lemmings/time again, do we want to pause a second time? (Perhaps a workaround for this latter case is to provide a way to change the option while in-game.)

I agree with Simon that always pausing if lemmings have all been lost is preferable, no matter how many times it happens in a single playthrough; my only caveat would be that this should only happen iff it's the applied user setting. If a user has chosen "continue + sound" behaviour, then it shouldn't pause at all. Meanwhile, allowing the setting to be in-game toggleable is always a good thing, and I'd personally make a hotkey for it if playing a level which demanded multiple re-tries.

I would also consider whether "every lemming has been saved" should perhaps be a special case where the game would just exit. I'm leaning against it, but feel it's worthy of consideration.

Could you elaborate on this? I can't see any reason to continue playing a level in which all lemmings have been saved other than to try and satisfy talisman conditions related to skills, time, etc. Under normal playing circumstances, the level should exit and the player can go back in to try for other talisman solutions having reached the goal of 100%ing the level. Or, of course, continue playing through the pack (the most likely gameplay scenario).

Exiting the level is not always a bad thing. It brings about a sense of achievement, and provides the player with information about their gameplay (how many lemmings have been saved, what their time records are, etc). If all lemmings have been saved, exiting is definitely preferable in order to bring about a sense of "full stop, new paragraph" to the gameplay.

I appreciate this concern about clear communication to new players. Regardless of whether the default is to pause or to continue, we're breaking away from every other Lemmings-like ... It sounds sensible to always give the player something to do

Exactly, this is the crux of the matter here: giving the player as much information and control as possible in order to reduce confusion and improve flow.
« Last Edit: December 18, 2022, 10:36:43 PM by WillLem »

Offline mobius

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Re: [SUG][PLAYER] Options for "Time Up" behaviour
« Reply #28 on: December 10, 2022, 10:59:56 PM »
the option for "exit the game" I'm assuming actually mean "exit the level"? basically what the original game does? Honestly I'd be fine with this over anything else. I never had a problem with the level ending when you failed for whatever reason, but I understand why the changes were made. In Lix the level doesn't end if all lix die or exit but you haven't solved it. That's okay with me.

Gotta say I really don't care for that big clock appearing over the exit. Just seems out of place. The timer/bell going off was a good enough indication for me.
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Offline Proxima

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Re: [SUG][PLAYER] Options for "Time Up" behaviour
« Reply #29 on: December 11, 2022, 12:12:40 AM »
Here's a proposal. Let me know what you think of it, and in particular, if you would personally want a setup that this does not allow for.

...

Secondly, allow two options for what occurs in either of these cases - either "pause the game" or "do nothing" (or more accurately, "play a sound but otherwise do nothing"). The former (ie: pause the game) would be the default setting. I expect most people would change to use "do nothing", but (especially in light of the next point) this would be a more newcomer-friendly default.

The problem with this proposal is that it doesn't allow "just exit" in any circumstance, even with a user option. And if we're going to lose the ability to do different things on no lemmings left and time up, then to be honest, that would push me further in the direction of wanting "just exit". Just a Minute-style levels where you need to assign skills and experiment close to the time limit certainly exist, but they are not that common -- indeed, levels with no time limit outnumber time-limited levels by a wide margin.

Quote
Thirdly, if the user has the "pause the game" setting, then when such a pause is activated, flash a message saying "No lemmings left - Nuke to exit" or "Time is up - Nuke to exit"

I would prefer the message to say "[hotkey] to exit" (obviously using the player's currently assigned hotkey -- maybe fall back on "Nuke" if they don't have a hotkey assigned for exiting).