Poll

Should we cull the Fencer? (please consider sharing your thoughts in a post however you vote)

Yes
2 (15.4%)
I don't mind either way
1 (7.7%)
No
10 (76.9%)

Total Members Voted: 13

Voting closed: August 04, 2023, 01:14:12 AM

Author Topic: [DISC] Should we cull the Fencer? [RESOLVED - Fencer will not be culled]  (Read 1516 times)

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Offline WillLem

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It's in the title.

We now have the Laserer, which is a much better way to create a horizontally-upwards tunnel through terrain.

And, for those levels that need the slower movement of the Fencer or the Builder-bridge compatibility, the Miner can be used instead to achieve the exact same end result.

Furthermore, both Miner and Laserer tunnels are already Shimmier-compatible - the Fencer would require significant work to meet this same standard, and it just doesn't seem worth it at this point when there are so many other features and suggestions that need attention.

Finally - I've never really thought that the Fencer made any sense aesthetically. Although, I realise that simply changing the name and animation would be enough to fix this particular issue.

Added a poll - please vote and share your thoughts. Thanks!
« Last Edit: July 28, 2023, 11:39:05 PM by WillLem »

Offline GigaLem

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Re: [DISC] Should we cull the Fencer? [POLL]
« Reply #1 on: July 28, 2023, 01:49:44 AM »
Personally I don't think it would be a good idea to cull skills especially when cross engine compatibility is taken into account.

The fencer is good for the levels that require the need to dig slowly upwards rather than sharply. Like if the laserer resulted into digging into a hazard why a fencer can ignore it.
And having options for differing altitudes of terrain destruction is appealing and it'd be a good idea to keep those options open.

Like the Lazerer has some advantages over the fencer but it shouldn't completely replace it. Removing it means any level with a fencer is completely incompatible without changes.

Offline WillLem

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Re: [DISC] Should we cull the Fencer? [POLL]
« Reply #2 on: July 28, 2023, 02:12:50 AM »
Personally I don't think it would be a good idea to cull skills especially when cross engine compatibility is taken into account.
---
Removing it means any level with a fencer is completely incompatible without changes.

I'll take this into account as promised elsewhere, but do you have any reasons other than cross-compatibility as to why the Fencer should be kept?

Like if the laserer resulted into digging into a hazard why a fencer can ignore it.

OK, but that depends on the layout of the level - the hazard can be moved so that the Laserer will also bypass it.

And having options for differing altitudes of terrain destruction is appealing and it'd be a good idea to keep those options open.

I agree that more options is generally more appealing, but we still have the Miner as a way to create a less-steep diagonal tunnel. I suppose the direction is reversed, and gravity is a factor, but is this enough of a reason to keep an otherwise redundant skill?

With this said, it's looking like there is more support for the idea of keeping the Fencer. It won't get culled unless people agree that it ought to be.

Offline jkapp76

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Re: [DISC] Should we cull the Fencer? [POLL]
« Reply #3 on: July 28, 2023, 02:33:54 AM »
I've always thought the act of fencing has nothing to do with tunneling. But Lemmings 2 started it.

Shoveler or something seems more lifelike. But Lemmings made the fencer a thing, so it's canon.
...Jeremy Kapp

Offline Strato Incendus

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Re: [DISC] Should we cull the Fencer? [POLL]
« Reply #4 on: July 28, 2023, 08:10:06 PM »
Hell no! :evil: :lem-shocked: I see the point with the Stoner vs. Freezer, but just because skills have a slight similarity, that doesn’t make them redundant.

This is precisely the kind of discussion that I feared — I jokingly teased it for Stacker vs. Freezer. But now you seem to actually mean it, and this could spread to any other skill.

Quote from: “WillLem”
We now have the Laserer, which is a much better way to create a horizontally-upwards tunnel through terrain.

I beg to differ. I actually consider the Fencer superior for that purpose.

Have you ever tried connecting several Laserer tunnels with Builders?
;) I tried to make it work on a Lemmings: Hall of Fame level. I’ve found out the Laserer tunnels are too steep to be connected with Builders — there is remaining vertical height that only Climbers (perhaps Jumpers) can get over.

The Fencer is great because its angle is exactly the same as that of the Builder. This also enables solutions where Builders are used to make a single Fencer go through — much like the Miner can go down Builders, too.

The SuperLemmix Laserer, with its unlimited range, can also do a lot more “collateral damage” to terrain you don’t actually want to destroy, which the Fencer doesn’t do, and the NeoLemmix Laserer does to a lesser degree than the SuperLemmix one.

The Miner is not an appropriate comparison or replacement for the Fencer at all, since it obviously operates from the other direction than the Fencer. Worker lemmings would have to be sent on a completely different path in order to mine a crowd out vs. fence them out. Just compare the first two levels of Lemmings World Tour and then tell me again that a Fencer could be swapped out for a Miner. :lem-mindblown:

That’s also why comparisons to Lemmings 2: The Tribes aren’t helpful here, because the steeper angle of the NeoLemmix Fencer makes it much more useful than the “glorified Basher” that is the Lemmings 2: The Tribes Fencer.

Quote from: WillLem
Furthermore, both Miner and Laserer tunnels are already Shimmier-compatible - the Fencer would require significant work to meet this same standard

By “work”, I assume you mean “for the player” — not for you as the programmer? What exactly has changed about the Fencer or Shimmier that would cause you additional work at the moment? I’ll also reiterate that skills are far more integral to the game than Zombies & Co. ;)

The fact that the Fencer tunnel isn’t Shimmier-compatible from the get-go is precisely what can be used for interesting puzzles. In fact, I’ve done exactly that in Lemmings Open Air. Just like the fact that the Slider is more restrictive than the Floater, in terms of where it can get down safely vs. where it can’t, is an interesting restriction around which level solutions can be designed.



On a general level, though, I feel far less confident about creating any type of content for SuperLemmix (and yes, that includes porting my NeoLemmix packs over to SuperLemmix, which I’ve already started working on) as long as fundamental changes of long-established features are even just up for debate. :8():

Where is this supposed to end? If “it’s always been this way” isn’t an argument, are we eventually going to consider culling the Blocker, because the Freezer might be considered “superior”? :evil: You might say this is an exaggerated example, because the Blocker is one of the classic eight skills — but by itself, that’s just as much an appeal to tradition as making the same defence for the Fencer (or any other NeoLemmix skill, for that matter).

The Culling Frenzy is the primary reason I refused to shift to NeoLemmix New Formats a few years ago. I only did once the first new skill (the Shimmier) had been introduced, which added so much to the game that I was ready to give up fairly fringe features like Radiation and Slowfreeze for it. But I can already say I won’t start giving up established NeoLemmix skills for other new skills like the Spearer, Grenader, Ballooner etc.

I’ve stated previously that I’d rather see no new skills added to SuperLemmix than to see any further old ones (i.e., aside from the Stoner) removed from it.

For this discussion, specifically, keep in mind that “we now have the Laserer” is an argument that could also be made for NeoLemmix. If the Fencer and Laserer were that similar, the Laserer wouldn’t have been introduced into NeoLemmix in the first place.



I think you weren’t around yet at the time, but during the shift to New Formats, Nepster proposed to cull the Disarmer (arguably the least-used NeoLemmix skill). Even that didn’t happen. ;) So don’t expect to get a more positive response regarding arguably one of the most useful NeoLemmix skills, which is precisely what the Fencer is. And thus far, the poll results are in accordance with that perception.



Finally, another historical anecdote: During the shift to New Formats, Nepster once said that “existing content were irrelevant”. Granted, this was a more controversial statement at the time, since with the name “NeoLemmix” remaining, that of course comes with a stronger expectation that Old-Formats content should be made available in New Formats than SuperLemmix being an engine of its own. Then again, SuperLemmix is also still being referred to as a “fork” of NeoLemmix.

I still stand by what I said back then: I have yet to hear somebody convincingly explain to me the actual benefits of culling anything — aside from making programming easier. For the latter reason, I understand why e.g. the gimmicks were culled from NeoLemmix. But from both a player and level designer perspective, where’s the use in “taking some of people’s toys away”?

Culling therefore seems especially inappropriate for SuperLemmix, which so far prides itself of offering more options to players and level designers alike. If I recall correctly, you said that “more options” is the only main “philosophy” SuperLemmix has so far ;) (rather than, as I initially understood it, “more of a mix between puzzle and execution difficulty, compared to NeoLemmix”).



I don’t like to escalate such discussions, since I honestly believe, with regards to culling, we shouldn’t be having them in the first place.
But precisely for that reason, as explained above, I’ll always side with the established skills over the chance to play with fancy new toys.
Therefore, I’ll make this as clear as possible:

If ANY further NeoLemmix skills are indeed removed from SuperLemmix for real, I’ll return to NeoLemmix and won’t look back.
Not as a “threat”, but simply because this will then be the only way to keep using those skills.
And because I cannot trust an engine enough to invest time and effort into it if it keeps changing in such fundamental regards. It’s one thing if the behaviour of an existing skill is changed (such as what we’re doing with Swimmers at the moment). But where changed skill behaviour might make replays breaking more likely, outright removing skills is guaranteed to destroy both existing solutions and existing levels. By that, I don’t just mean old converted content, but also any dedicated SuperLemmix levels that are created in the meantime.

If it ever gets to that point, I’d also request the removal of any unofficial conversions of my packs for SuperLemmix. Yes, that would be me “taking people’s toys away”, but only because I could no longer guarantee that my NeoLemmix levels ported to SuperLemmix (such as Lemmings World Tour) would continue to work. Fewer and fewer levels in these unofficial conversions would feature a solution I actually intended, so with two skills missing, I wouldn’t want those packs to keep running under the same names (and therefore also under my username) as the NeoLemmix versions.

As stated before, I’m working on an official SuperLemmix conversion of Lemmings World Tour, with modified intended solutions; so those I’d actually get to sign off on. However, that’s enough work with just one skill (Stoner vs. Freezer) being different. Swapping Stoners for Freezers often just requires the level designer to replay the level exactly as before, and manually assign Freezers in the spots where Stoners used to be assigned. After that, the majority of levels will play out the same way.

This would not be the case if Fencers had to be replaced with Laserers. GigaLem has already outlined a few differences, I’ve added a few more. I can think of a couple of my World-Tour levels just off the top of my head that would become completely unworkable with Laserers instead of Fencers. And that’s just the ones I can name by heart; most likely, there would be a lot more.



So, as you can see, I’m still willing and eager to commit and contribute to SuperLemmix, in parallel to NeoLemmix. :thumbsup:
Both in form of original, dedicated levels and converted level packs.
But discussions like these don’t make it easier for me. :8():
« Last Edit: July 28, 2023, 09:35:29 PM by Strato Incendus »
My packs so far:
Lemmings World Tour (New & Old Formats), my music-themed flagship pack, 320 levels - Let's Played by Colorful Arty
Lemmings Open Air, my newest release and follow-up to World Tour, 120 levels
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 WillLem

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Re: [DISC] Should we cull the Fencer? [POLL]
« Reply #5 on: July 28, 2023, 10:36:24 PM »
OK, there seems to be very strong consensus against removing the Fencer, so it won't be culled. However, I also probably won't do anything to change the current behaviour of the skill unless I have time and if active SuperLemmix players request it.

Anyway, the Fencer stays :)



To address some of Strato's points:

By “work”, I assume you mean “for the player” — not for you as the programmer?

No, I mean on the programming & graphics-maintaining side of things. Increasing the width of the Fencer tunnel isn't a simple case of changing a few numbers, it would mean completely re-drawing the sprite and the destruction mask to adapt to the change in the Fencing method (which itself wouldn't be trivial), and also re-programming the skill shadow. In other words, near enough rebuilding it to the point that it might as well be a new skill!

Since I'm now more aware of how much work this would be, it's something I'd probably only take on if people who were actually using SuperLemmix requested it.

skills are far more integral to the game than Zombies & Co. ;)

Perhaps, but they still need to be discussed and decided upon. And, it's never a case of "because we're getting this feature, it means we won't be getting that feature" - any and all features can be implemented (or not) independently of what's going on in other discussions.

The fact that the Fencer tunnel isn’t Shimmier-compatible from the get-go is precisely what can be used for interesting puzzles.

Yes, this is a good case for leaving the Fencer as it is, which - as stated - I'm more than happy to do at this point.

On a general level, though, I feel far less confident about creating any type of content for SuperLemmix ... as long as fundamental changes of long-established features are even just up for debate. :8():

I really don't understand this point of view at all. We are developing a new engine, and have a chance to make improvements wherever we like. The basis of discussion should always be, ideally: "do we like the idea?"

And, in all honesty, it probably isn't a good idea to make any content for SuperLemmix during this transitionary period anyway. I'd advise people to hold off any big projects until I announce that a more or less stable version is on the way - and, I will absolutely make this clear when the time comes.

With that said, it's become abundantly clear to me that existing content is important to people, and I've already said that I'll take it into account when making decisions. It's not necessary to keep repeating this with every discussion that gets brought up.

If “it’s always been this way” isn’t an argument, are we eventually going to consider culling the Blocker, because the Freezer might be considered “superior”? :evil:

That's a strawman. Just because one feature is up for discussion doesn't mean every feature is.

During the shift to New Formats, Nepster once said that “existing content were irrelevant”.

Sounds like he and I would've seen eye to eye on the best way to develop a new engine. Although, from some other things I know about Nepster, we probably would have disagreed on a lot as well! ;P

I have yet to hear somebody convincingly explain to me the actual benefits of culling anything — aside from making programming easier.

I mostly agree with this, and so far there has been precious little that I've actually removed from the game. Given the overwhelming response to this particular topic, it's very unlikely I'll put anything else up for culling either.

But yeah - please stop worrying that we're going to have another "great big cull" or whatever else happened in the past. I'm working from the much more solid platform that is new-formats NeoLemmix, where many ideas have been tried and tested, and for the most part I'm prepared to learn from a lot of what has already been and gone.

However, SuperLemmix is a project that I'm doing because I want to try out some ideas for myself, regardless of how they were implemented in the past or whatever the result of that was. As the saying goes - "it's been done, sure, but not by me!" ;P

Anyway, with that said - unless it's adding a small feature like zombies being able to press buttons, I'll likely put most things up for discussion and take the majority vote as the ultimate decision, as I have done here :lemcat:
« Last Edit: July 29, 2023, 02:10:24 AM by WillLem »

Offline Strato Incendus

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Quote
No, I mean on the programming & graphics-maintaining side of things. Increasing the width of the Fencer tunnel isn't a simple case of changing a few numbers, it would mean completely re-drawing the sprite and the destruction mask to adapt to the change in the Fencing method (which itself wouldn't be trivial), and also re-programming the skill shadow. In other words, near enough rebuilding it to the point that it might as well be a new skill!

Since I'm now more aware of how much work this would be, it's something I'd probably only take on if people who were actually using SuperLemmix requested it.

Thanks for clarifying this point ;) . Indeed, I had never thought of widening the Fencer tunnel at a game-mechanics level, and I wouldn’t advocate for it, either. If I talk about widening a Fencer tunnel to make it Shimmier-friendly, that’s an in-game action the player can perform, by merely sending a single Basher down a Fencer tunnel (the Basher continues automatically, due to the downward-sloped terrain). Since Basher tunnels are 9 pixels high, they are not only Shimmier-friendly themselves (something namida intentionally took care of when first introducing the Shimmier), but can also make Fencer tunnels Shimmier-compatible.

In short: Leaving the Fencer as it is should indeed mean less work for everyone. :thumbsup:

Quote
And, in all honesty, it probably isn't a good idea to make any content for SuperLemmix during this transitionary period anyway. I'd advise people to hold off any big projects until I announce that a more or less stable version is on the way - and, I will absolutely make this clear when the time comes.

Yes, I thought of that yesterday, too — so thanks for confirming this.

I think my confusion arose from the simultaneous push by other SuperLemmix users to convert my packs to SuperLemmix — while at the same time, fundamental changes to the engine itself are still possible, due to that transitioning phase.

Specifically, jkapp76 reached out to me for that before I had even started using SuperLemmix at all. And jkapp76 isn’t “just a SuperLemmix player”, but someone who contributes to the development of the engine, too, by capturing sprites for it from Lemmings 2: The Tribes etc.

I guess what this demonstrates is that SuperLemmix players would already like to have something to play — whereas level designers can’t feel confident yet that any of the things they might create or convert will continue to run in the future.



That’s why NeoLemmix uses the distinction of “stable version”, “experimental version”, “release candidate”. I guess as long as SuperLemmix only uses regular version numbers (with the next being 2.5), players can easily assume it were a stable version.

Of course, “stable version” doesn’t mean “there will never be any changes again” (that would be the “final version” that NeoLemmix is currently working towards). Only that there most likely won’t be any fundamental changes, at least not frequently. Continuous maintenance, and possible updates going along with that, are of course still possible.

In NeoLemmix, content creation for experimental versions is clearly discouraged (aside from test levels). Hence, I haven’t created any levels involving e.g. portals yet.

With what you’re saying now, I take it that all of SuperLemmix is essentially still an experimental version. Rather than the current engine being stable, and version 2.5 being the next experimental version that might include some of the proposed new skills (like the Ballooner, potentially the Ladderer).

If that is indeed the idea, then it’s definitely too early to attempt converting any existing packs for it. In that case, I can only ask anyone who is already pushing for conversion of my packs to be patient. ;)
My packs so far:
Lemmings World Tour (New & Old Formats), my music-themed flagship pack, 320 levels - Let's Played by Colorful Arty
Lemmings Open Air, my newest release and follow-up to World Tour, 120 levels
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 WillLem

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If I talk about widening a Fencer tunnel to make it Shimmier-friendly, that’s an in-game action the player can perform, by merely sending a single Basher down a Fencer tunnel

Yes, and a neat trick to discover as well. Better to leave the Fencer tunnel as it is, then.

That’s why NeoLemmix uses the distinction of “stable version”, “experimental version”, “release candidate”. I guess as long as SuperLemmix only uses regular version numbers (with the next being 2.5), players can easily assume it were a stable version.

To be honest, I guess I just didn't think it was worth doing the Experimental/RC/Stable Release thing due to SLX being a relatively experimental and not-widely-used project in and of itself. But, it has since been suggested to me that I ought to consider releasing new versions in this way, so that people are aware of how "stable" or not a version should be considered to be.

With what you’re saying now, I take it that all of SuperLemmix is essentially still an experimental version.

Yes, this is probably closer to the truth, at least in the sense that the next version might come around fairly quickly, and that significant things might have been changed in that version.

To be fair, though, I have started using this topic to make it clear to everyone what can be expected from the next version, and what possible changes might be implemented in future versions. So, notwithstanding any wild suggestions that might come up in the meantime (and that would be properly discussed before anything is done anyway), SuperLemmix development is about as transparent as I can make it without streaming my dev sessions!

Offline WillLem

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Re: [DISC] Should we cull the Fencer? [RESOLVED - Fencer will not be culled]
« Reply #8 on: November 29, 2023, 03:25:41 PM »
Closing this topic as resolved - if you wish to reply to anything in this topic, please use the SuperLemmix Discussion Topic.