Author Topic: thoughts on Lemmings game design  (Read 149 times)

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Offline mobius

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thoughts on Lemmings game design
« on: August 05, 2022, 07:37:17 PM »
If I ever made my own Lemmings game..... this is how it would be!

Feel free to suggest your own ideas or disagree and argue or whatever!

1) Block based physics/non-pixel based.

This essentially means that the "pixels" or every place a lemming can be assigned a skill will be larger than the actual graphical pixels. The game's definition will be high so as to be beautiful but they'll be no more "pixel precision" in skill assignment (at least to the degree of classic L1). Though I don't think I want anything as extreme as Lemmings 3D or even L3, unsure I don't have much experience with L3.

2) Logic based puzzles instead of "trick" based puzzles

I consider there to be 2 (maybe more but I won't discuss them here) basic types of Lemming puzzles. A "trick" level is one that requires use of some type of features or mechanic of some skill or object or gameplay itself, that may or may not be intuitive. I don't mean to say that these levels are bad (some of my favorites are these type) but they have faults: Often, a level like this may appear very difficult at first, if one does not know the trick involved. However, once one is made aware of the trick it can becomes trivial. They often can be solved quickly and easily the second time around or quickly at first if one knows the trick from the start.
A pure logic level on the other hand relies on no such trick but rather simple reasoning; timing, order of skill assignments etc. These levels may not rely on any intuitive or non-intuitive knowledge of the mechanics. They may remain difficult even after solving as the number of steps required to remember may be large (or not they could be very easy as well).
Now, it's probably fair to say that most levels don't strictly fall into one or another category but are a mix of the two. And based on all the custom levels I've played over the years it seems logical puzzles are more difficult to create. In any case, I'd like to focus on the latter.

This means some core concepts of L1 will be changed such as; builders will not longer always turn around. If a builder hits an obstacle and could keep walking onward; they will. Almost everyone gets stumped at Postcard from Lemmingland during their first playthrough of that game. Why? I think it's fair to say because the fact that a builder always turns around when being stopped prematurely is not an intuitive design. Why should they turn around? It was an arbitrary design choice. It seems natural to us; only because we're used to it. Of course there are solutions that don't require that trick, but most people seem to resort to that one. At least one solution I know is more clever and also more difficult to see and arguably doesn't rely on any such tricks.

3) Ease of Use/intuitiveness

The sign of a good game imo is when the player starts it up, begins playing and feels like it makes sense from the very beginning. It may take a while or may not be easy for example the player may get stumped at something for a while but when they finally figure it out the reaction should be: "Oh! of course, why didn't I think of that! Or that's clever or elegant!" NOT: "how would I have ever known to do that???"

see #2; level design should not come down to obscure mechanics that don't seem to  propagate naturally from the rules.

Graphics are big thing for me here; there will be no "true physics mode" in my game because it won't be necessary. Terrain should always look like terrain, a button should look like a button, steel.. etc. Background images/colors should not be confused with foreground.

(to be continued......)
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Online Simon

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Re: thoughts on Lemmings game design
« Reply #1 on: August 05, 2022, 09:04:17 PM »
Interesting idea to distill the essence of non-trick, non-dexterity into something fresh.

Such a design can even benefit from distinguishing itself deliberately from Lemmings. Builders don't turn? Let your world's builder physics look/work different enough from Lemmings to not provoke thoughts of Lemmings builders. Find your own core ideas for the physics, and introduce puzzle elements that support that core.

You don't have to foster a community around tileset creation, then it's easy to keep the graphics clear. It's not strictly necessary to even foster custom level creation either -- but Lemmings Forums attracts level designers and we would certainly like to play around.

New projects are blissfully unburdened by existing physics/levels/... and you get to bloat features and physics elements at your leisure, then cull the set down to what makes most sense. A luxury to enjoy.

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Offline namida

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Re: thoughts on Lemmings game design
« Reply #2 on: August 06, 2022, 11:08:21 AM »
I would definitely agree with the use of block-based physics, after my experience in making my L3D pack. Not so sure about the point regarding tricks, though - rather than doing away with them, I'd favor introducing them more naturally. For example, if the builder turns around, before any level that requires knowing this to solve, have a level where the player would almost certianly discover this by accident while solving it.
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Offline Silken Healer

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Re: thoughts on Lemmings game design
« Reply #3 on: August 07, 2022, 11:28:55 AM »
I feel like lemmings "tricks" are kind of a spectrum from purely logic to purely tricks. Someone could argue the point that it goes from being logical to a trick is way further than somebody else would say. For instance, on one end of the spectrum you could have mining into steel to turn lemmings around example: , in the middle you could have the digging and building to turn around one lemming that mobius said (as this is pretty well known these days) and far on the other end you could have some really hard trick it'd take you ages to figure out otherwise.

I can see where both namida and mobius are coming from, though. Levels that seem near impossible but it turns out was trivial due to using a trick can feel cheap and annoying. However once you know how to use a trick it can really add to levels and feel satisfying to pull off.