The wrong evolution of level designing?

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jonsterion
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The wrong evolution of level designing?

Post by jonsterion » 14 Mar 2008, 20:50

About 3 years ago having a small pipe in a cup level was considered “annoying”, now it is, I think, tolerated. Why?

The gaming level of Elma has risen up a lot in the last years, with the mad TT improve and with new players joining the scene with Belma. Those cool tricks that amused us so much are now completely and old-fashioned. Tricks such as a Deadbounce or a cool Brutal-volt are common in cup events and not so spectacular.
The level-making has evolved a lot too, and we can see a lot of good, well thought and designed levels in most of the cups, even the less played cups, due to this demanding community and it’s constantly evolving players.

If you look closer to most of the cup levels, they are either 30-40 second hoylas, or above 1 minute stylish levels. In this last category, they seem very confusing by the first look, but after an hour or two you find the winning style and then it is just a matter of pure boring hoyling. Why does this happen? Should the level be bigger or made with a lot more caution and thinking? Nope, it’s the opposite.

What makes a good level a good level?

Usually the designers aren’t top players and can’t predict every possibility on that level. Some times, really low skilled players can make complex levels: Balasz and Csaba (was this his name) for example. They were the first ones trying and testing the game and they made the best 54 levels ever created. Just take a look at levels such as Enigma, Zig-Zag, and even Warm Up and count how many different styles made the WR.
A cup level hasn’t got this much possibilities because it was over-thought. Every computer game evolves and you can’t predict what will that evolution just by thinking. You would have to spend HOURS if you wanted to make a level like Lab Pro for example (if you were predicting the current style and making the level just to work with it).

What we are talking about here is randomness.

Not totally random, but less tested levels have more possibilities to surprise the designer and the players. If you make the level with the possibility of 4 starting routes and all of them working and giving you the possibility to go back to the start at any time (which is a hard thing to do) you have a good level. Then you just have to add some fancy stuff if you like it and give a sexy shape to your polygons and it’s done. If you make a tricky part and you can’t make it by the first time you test it, don’t change it. Someone will eventually make it and, who knows, finds a viable alternative. If the level is too much manipulated, it will be de designer playing and the players hoyling your predefined route till exhaustion.

You may be successful using this method or not, but insane guy, the internal levels, chazz, (can’t remember more atm) have done this and succeeded making awesome levels. I remember chazz making battle levels really fast, but so god damn complex. He didn’t test those styles, but he knew they were “probably” possible and let the hoyling process to the battlers. Most of the time the winner came up with a really cool style the designer didn’t thought of. In about 15 minutes. Now imagine that level with a week deadline like in cups.

Random levels are always superior to those super hyper over-thought levels with lot’s of possibilities, because in the end there will only be one route to choose.
Of course we can’t be radical and must test them and remove the annoying parts.
Px made a very nice aproach to this theory when he choosed wcup levels. If you notice, most of the levels accepted are "ugly" and made but unknown designers.

I thought about this about 2 years ago but never bothered to share it because I’m too lazy, but here it is. Agree or not I think this applies to all the non-hoyla levels. Hoyla levels are a totally different subject and these also have they’re secrets. (veezay’s old battle hoyla levels rule)



So, has the level making community developed in the wrong direction over the years? Was Balasz correct since the beggining and one of the best designers ever?
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Post by zebra » 14 Mar 2008, 21:44

At least I'm pretty satistified with the current level making community: there are pretty much good levelmakers around making levels. Older ones like me, Jappe2, ramone, 8-ball, antz, insane guy, umiz and newer ones like devin, bjorn, pab, igge... the list could go on.

But there is a difference between making a battle level and cup level. In battle no-one expects any fully designed and polished level with multiple styles---though sometimes there are such battles and they are refreshing. Though many ppl are able to make battle levels, not many of those have the patience to use multiple hours to make a cup level. Though many hours are not compulsory to get a good level but the more you test, the better the lev usually is.

There is surprisingly little difference between a good and a bad level. One tiny fix to a bad level can make it playable. I don't mean grasses and stuff here---they are after all pretty trivial to make (even more trivial with ALE). The most important thing is the flow from polygon to polygon. Even better if you can hide a style which isn't apparent at first sight. Though such situation usually occurs by accident.

Jonsta has sometimes warned me of not polishing my levels too much. I maybe do have the proclivity to refine my levels quite long. Maybe I should stop earlier to give players more headache. But on the other hand, then ppl could start complaining about the hardness/irritatingness of the level. If you don't test the lev well, it's pretty much a good luck if the level turns out to be a good level.

ok, i mostly agree with jonsta, so i'm not writing all the same stuff here. But the question about Balazs. I think he was the great innovator and contrary to us, he had one 'designing' thing which we can't use: modify the game itself. Maybe he even modified the physics so that the levs were more playable? Times change and designers change but I have to admit that internals are very good levels compared to all the levels I have seen. But that doesn't mean we couldn't be good level makers as well. After all, ppl like different kind of levels.

edit: we discussed with jonsta about this 'problem' and we agreed that we have quite a lot of different way to design a level. The kind of randomness and not-so-polished way fits to his levels, when in turn the höylability and well-designed styles usually belong to my levs.
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Post by Zweq » 14 Mar 2008, 23:36

this is exactly the reason I prefer teajay battle levels, which are created in about 2 minutes each. You said it very well jonsta "less tested levels have more possibilities to surprise the designer and the players". Also total noobs often create funnier battle levels than "pro-designers". As long as some random lev by some nab doesn't have annoying killers or gravities, it most often feels very much like an internal. Kind of a feels like a sandbox instead of "forced" to do certain tricks. I at least am pretty bored to the "pipe-run" levels most of the people want to create. You know one of those 3d games with a hallway but only one of the 10 doors isn't locked?

The downside of a random level though... it can be crappy as hell ;). But I think all designers could consider changing designing style sometimes.
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Post by Costya » 15 Mar 2008, 00:02

nice talk
i have once initiate such talk on russian forum but translate my thoghts on english was impsy. sorry for some sumbur and my runglish in following text.
yes levelmaking process became different. it haven't became bad or good. it have became other, more rational mb. battle levs has one rational point: little stylish quite easy levels. cups lev has other: designer must create such level that only some persons drive planned style. so it must be hidden, it must be hard thereby it must be tested and polished. pack levs (and wcups levs too) must be potencially rich on styles and little tricks due to on this levs kuskis spend much more energy than on others. And if first two categories is eazy (such levels may done any levelmakers with simple sence of level), third category is very curious.
Lets try to see on evolution of the pack levs.

Internals just grate. Simple, stylish, and improved till now. Fenomen is that Csaba haven't imagined about curent styles and tricks and abscence of such reflexy tend him make with so many styles wich he can't supposed
Olp. Ugly antiinternals. Just stage.
ALP. Skinternals. Levs consist of planed tricks. But skill of designers, and quontity of known tricks are huge and possibilitys of other routes decrises. This is new mode which subordinate the one mere wish: drive this cool way with cool uniqe trics rather that stupid way which i simple eliminate and add some additional less stupid paths. So it became new measure of levelmaking tallent. Cool tricks plus fundamented multystylish.
New wave of packs of levels which becomes more and more battle-like.

So we found that
1) quontity of packs gross
2) quontity and complexity of tricks gross
3) levs themselves are overthinking

a) 1 implyies to decreasing of time spending on hoyling pack,
b) a+2 implyies that tricks must be more and more polished, so this time will be spending with much more effisiency,
c) a+3 implyies to lesser possibility of finding new styles

This inexorable tendency which increases by battles. There is lack of time to hoyl packs rather balles and there is tendency to create levs more and more battle-like. Battlelevelmaking are serious problem for makers couse levs becomes cloned and unanimated. And really fresh and cool ideas i find only in cooperating with Dime and Lozkin during third Daisycup, cause they don't plays balles and don't make levels for them. Their mind pure as Csabas but they have large baggage of modern levelmaking. Maybe Jonsta's levs in this list too.
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Post by teajay » 15 Mar 2008, 01:48

When I read your introductory post, I recognised a lot in my own quest for levelmaking. Let's get one thing clear: I never was good at creating sophisticated levels and I still make some horrible shits once in a while.

The turning point came, however, when I met up with insane guy. I was always astonished by his early jungle style - impsy tiny vertices, weird loops. Then he shifted towards more conventional types of levels (at least by the general outlook). When seeing how he made the most illegal kind of skillhill multistyle and smooth even level, in barely a minute or two, my jaw dropped.

I can assure you, he is a living legend for me. Insane guy's the one who got me inspired to finally dare to spread out onto the editor the silliest things I could come up with.

When I boot up belma, I just fiddle around in the editor a random shape, and try to see if I could get a figure out of it. Then afterwards, I place apples. But also I sometimes think of some concept before drawing out. One key factor is the amount of time spent; never too much.
And that is what makes a level internallistic, or in another word: unpolished.

Yes, I feel honoured that a guy like zweq likes my levels on occasion. But the most fun thing about this new thing for me is the fact that I can just draw anything I like, without much fear, and seeing it under development by all kinds of people who make the funniest set of styles possible - some that I indeed planned, but most that I didn't even notice myself.

EDIT: Too sum it all up, I can give this advise to all you levelmakers: just don't think too hard, and let the randomness prevail for the best part.

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Post by gimp » 15 Mar 2008, 02:55

i personally think it all has to do with what you begin with, we all started with the original game of the internals, thus we like them the most, their least foreign to us and feel the most natural. and had the original internals been really polished and full of planned tough tricks, we all probably wouldve quit elma then because theyd be to frustrating for our current skills.
take ramp frenzy for example, on your first run, it was a tough level, you went on the designated path, and when you saw that huge opening to the left, you might of jested with a friend that you could make it through, and gave some half assed try and hit your head on the roof, and declared it impossible. as your skills got better, you did the designated path even faster, doing the simple nooks we all learn. then comes the shortcuts, they go pretty step by step in that level, each shortcuts difficulty giving you a better time, and maybe every now and then, you try that dream style, and it becomes not as impossible as you thought before. you end up making it through the opening soon enough, but still theres that more direct style that baffles your brain. and when it finally is completed, you cant help but gasp, and that somewhat childish giddiness can well up in you.
these types of moments in elma can never occur in a newer level, those of us that are good will get a reasonable time and never play them again.
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Post by insane guy » 15 Mar 2008, 12:18

thank you tj!
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Post by FinMan » 15 Mar 2008, 13:24

Hmm. So much text there. :D

That why internals are the best or at least near the best. I think it would be something like he didnt know anything about sick shortcuts and didnt make some apples much up, some holes much wide etc. Like Zigzag and bumpy journey, circuitos, animal farm and every other internal. I dont think if he tried to make more than one style on every level, except some apple harvest and Trix abound.

Sorry if some 2 times posted words or smthing. :D
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Post by Igge » 15 Mar 2008, 13:34

Warning: This is a rather long story, or actually, 2 stories. Don't whine about it being long and/or boring. It's your chiose whether you read it or not.

I do agree with this topic at some point.

Sometimes I find myself playing my old levels from a couple of years back, and I'm amazed over how you can find new styles on them. In fact, you can find almost amazing styles, which could compte with any cup level anytime.

An example: This level, created by me 2.something years ago, is a perfect example.

Back when i made this level i was a complete noob. I had probably never played pipe level in my life, not to mention brutal!
So anyway I had just discovered this new trick, the bounce, and I was startign to master it in some ways, so then I was like "now I gotta make a bounce level and own everyone, cause I'm so good at it.."

Anyway here's the attempt I made at some bounce level. Along comes the rec with the style the level was intended to be driven with.
VSK056
VKS056ez

Now this may look like a multistyled level, but to me it wasn't. I could see no other possible style at all, being that I didn't know any other tricks than the bounce. It never ever crossed my mind that you could do something else than the bounce in this level.

Then when having made some rec with this style, (not this rec, this I did today) I immediatly uploaded the level on elmasite, and challenged everyone to beat my time. after maybe a couple of minutes AKB responded with a rec, that was like 4 seconds faster than mine. I was amazed how perfect his run was, it looked like he had known the level for years!

So anyway I put this level on hiatus, as did I with all my levels, by now I had understood what I wanted to do. I wanted to do levels. By this time i could spit out 3-4 levels/day - all of them actually playable. Anyway when i had made smoe 150+ VSK levels i started making new packs, and around here I also started playing internals.

Then, about a year ago, I played my VSK levels again. I was very pleased , because now I had played so much I could beat about all of my previous times. Then I came across this level, VSK056. I was sure I could now beat AKBs time, and i played and played and played, but no. However, by this time I had played the PTL levels (thank you wezz and cmc <3) So now, i could see a new style opening up. There was a pipe in this level. I had never noticed this before, but now it was as clear as ever. I played and played, and finally i got it. I made the pipe. I was certain only I had found this style.

VSK056

And what's more, I broke the 1 minute barrier. I was so confident no one else would find this style, so ofcourse, once again, I uploaded the level to elmasite - this time without the rec. I wanted to give the guys a challenge. Then, amybe 1-1,5 hours later, a new post. AKB had replied with a rec, and when i saw the time beneath the download link, I didn't know what to think.

46,78

At first I thought that he had died before finishing, but maybe found my style and wanted to show me. So i downloaded the rec. At first I was ready for the pipe, but then I noticed he bounced. I thought "Hah, he'll never beat my time if he still does the bounce" Then, I saw it. What he did next blew my mind away. I think I watched this rec about 5 times in a row before realizing what he did. (By now I had only seen such a trick in the mopo recs, but i thought like "oh that can only be done on those levels, and it probably takes like years and years of practicing...")

VSK056AK

Still, I find this rec amazing. I can't do it, even today. It's so perfect to me. He did this trick, on some random noob level. He put so much effort into it, just to do it. Not to win some cup or so, but just to do it. I'm gonna stop this nostalgia trip now, and hopefully I leave you, atleast a bit, amazed? But I do think it's time to wrap this up.




So, why did I post this little piece of nostalgia in this topic? Well, mainly cause I think it's a lovely story, but secondly, it does have some sort of relevance to this topic.

Why do I like this level, this noob level, even after 2 years? Why do I consider this one of my mst succesful levels? It's because, to me, it's a perfect level. Why? For the same reason most of the internals are perfect levels - Because I was unaware. Unaware of the tricks, unaware of the styles, unaware of the possibilities. I made this level for 1 trick and one trick only, instead, it holds some very nice styles, and one, nicer than the rest. Exactly the same thing goes for some internal levels. Let's take ramp frenzy as an example. This level was probably made for one style only, but then people started trying new things, and thatnk to Balazs unawareness, it was possible to find new styles. He didn't force you to do the style he wanted, he let you decide. And thanks to some random coinsidences, like the angle of the slope and the angle of the ground beneath, someone found a style, a very nice style, which allowed you to play this level on yet another level, and because balazs was unaware of this, he didn't think of blocking that shortcut, like many others actually might have done. "I want them to drive this style and brutal here. Oh wait, maybe you could do this and that and you'll beat it faster? Well, that's not the trick I want, so I'll block it, or put an apple here" And so, maybe a perfect shortcut was blocked. It's as if Balazs would have said "Oh wait, maybe someone could go down here, in this thin pipe, well, that wouldn't be the way I want them to play this level, I'd rather hve them play it the way I intended it to be played, hence I will block this pipe on headbanger. But he didn't block it. He never even thought of blocking it. Why? Because he was unaware. Unaware of the fact that someone would make it. On VSK056 i could easily have put the apple a bit higher, being that I wanted the level to be driven like I wanted it to when I made it, but I didn't, why? Because I was unaware. Another more "up to date" example is the I-level I04.

I04

I left a shortcut there, which i, honestly, never thought could be done. But then one day, I see markku's new time. 10,83. And here I had been struggeling to clear this level in under 20 seconds, and he comes, and totally blows my mind away. Now, I could have blocked that shortcut, cause I wanted this level to be a bounce level, but when I made it i thought something like: "this shortcut will probably never be done, 1. because it's hard, 2. Because it's some random level no one will play more than 3 times. So I decided to leave it, and so an amazing style was born.

Megathanks to markku for letting me publish this rec :*
I04M

And also max thanks to Boomer for upping his rec aswell :*

Anyway, I hope somenoe is patient enough to read some random Igge stories, and I hope you udnerstand what I'm trying to say.

Keep making levels! Keep exploring and exploiting styles!
Last edited by Igge on 15 Mar 2008, 14:13, edited 3 times in total.
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Post by Boomer » 15 Mar 2008, 13:41

Igge wrote:I04

When markku comes online I'm gonna ask him If i may upload his rec here, cause I do believe it deserves some attention.
I honestly think that lev is funnier with shortcut, it doesn't remind me of any other shortcut I've seen really. Very fun to höyl =)

Well, until Markku upload his rec, here's my 11,05:

http://up.k10x.net/igwebqpyzncqk/i04Boom.rec
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Post by niN » 15 Mar 2008, 17:49

I'm sorry to say that I found this topic pointless and uninteresting. Every person has his own opinion of what makes a level good, it has nothing to do with when it was made. The only different between a level made four years ago and today is the experience the designer has. I can still make levels like I did my first year, but I choose not to because I don't like them that way. In the end, it all comes down to what you like/dislike, and that's why I find this topic pointless.
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Re: The wrong evolution of level designing?

Post by Xratio » 15 Mar 2008, 18:35

jonsterion wrote:About 3 years ago having a small pipe in a cup level was considered “annoying”, now it is, I think, tolerated. Why?
I think its cause not very excperienced players hate pipes.

Pipes suck for me :D

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Post by Palme » 15 Mar 2008, 19:07

niN wrote:I'm sorry to say that I found this topic pointless and uninteresting. Every person has his own opinion of what makes a level good, it has nothing to do with when it was made. The only different between a level made four years ago and today is the experience the designer has. I can still make levels like I did my first year, but I choose not to because I don't like them that way. In the end, it all comes down to what you like/dislike, and that's why I find this topic pointless.
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Post by Zweq » 15 Mar 2008, 19:10

niN wrote:I'm sorry to say that I found this topic pointless and uninteresting. Every person has his own opinion of what makes a level good, it has nothing to do with when it was made. The only different between a level made four years ago and today is the experience the designer has. I can still make levels like I did my first year, but I choose not to because I don't like them that way. In the end, it all comes down to what you like/dislike, and that's why I find this topic pointless.
it is not pointless. If even one designer after the feedback will make just one more random nab battlelevel, I'd find this thread a huge success.
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Post by niN » 15 Mar 2008, 19:45

If a designer would make such a level because of this thread he's not a designer I would care for. See, I've learnt over my years in the scene that making levels isn't about making what the scene considers great levels, it's about making what you feel like.
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Post by Zweq » 15 Mar 2008, 21:33

niN wrote: See, I've learnt over my years in the scene that making levels isn't about making what the scene considers great levels, it's about making what you feel like.
well, that's certainly true. In fact you nailed it there. The problem (for me) exactly is that some designers build battle levels that are approved by the majority of the scene, they think that level must be exactly like this: this. In worst case an olliz lvl alike speedy straightforward hoyl level. Some people consider it as a stereotype or something, I don't know.

here TJ, ramone, whatever levs come into play. They are different from the mass.

however, this lead me to thinking if 95% of levs were TJ levs, how would an insguy lev feel like then. It's probably about seeking for new and different experiences in elma, as impossible as it sounds. After such a huge playing time, levs simply have to be crazy, innovative, to be entertaining, not generic. Not even when it's battle lev.

Your battle levs were quite different from the mass anyway nin, as I remember it, so thumbs up :P
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Post by niN » 15 Mar 2008, 21:38

Zweq wrote:
niN wrote: See, I've learnt over my years in the scene that making levels isn't about making what the scene considers great levels, it's about making what you feel like.
well, that's certainly true. In fact you nailed it there. The problem (for me) exactly is that some designers build battle levels that are approved by the majority of the scene, they think that level must be exactly like this: this. In worst case an olliz lvl alike speedy straightforward hoyl level. Some people consider it as a stereotype or something, I don't know.

here TJ, ramone, whatever levs come into play. They are different from the mass.

however, this lead me to thinking if 95% of levs were TJ levs, how would an insguy lev feel like then. It's probably about seeking for new and different experiences in elma, as impossible as it sounds. After such a huge playing time, levs simply have to be crazy, innovative, to be entertaining, not generic. Not even when it's battle lev.

Your battle levs were quite different from the mass anyway nin, as I remember it, so thumbs up :P
okay, I understand your point now. I didn't realize (probably since I haven't played any new levels from after 2007) that people made levels this way. It's an issue indeed and all we can do is to inspire the scene to make levels their own way. Now I get what this topic is for :)
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Post by Zweq » 15 Mar 2008, 21:59

would like to show some funny example how 100% randomly placed polygons can sort out on extreme cases:

http://up.k10x.net/xtxsylgbaljhm/Amppe047.lev
http://up.k10x.net/glniywuhaxsek/Amppe047_692jay.rec

jaytea won this battle by around 14 seconds and it was prime battling hour. It was extremely fun for me to observe it.

made about 10 similar levs but they just didn't get anywhere near to this level results. What can we say. Randomness can sometimes offer true gems just like mentioned in this thread earlier, but most of the time they're crap
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Post by zebra » 17 Mar 2008, 09:50

Zweq wrote:made about 10 similar levs but they just didn't get anywhere near to this level results. What can we say. Randomness can sometimes offer true gems just like mentioned in this thread earlier, but most of the time they're crap
yep, that's exactly the problem, and that's why i usually plan my levels quite well. Randomness is, well randomness, so you can pretty much end up with any kind of level.

It's also sad that ppl think that the experience of the designer wouldn't matter how good levels he can made. Some ppl here are kind of saying that it's useless to even try to design your level well. Just place random polygons to the level like a noob and magically it will be a good level.

The system how I make my levels is usually this:
1) place random polygons into the level
2) test the level and try to find some styles
3) for each of the styles I find: polish the routes, remove some irritating parts, make the styles easier, add the höyläbility
4) make even more styles possible
5) intelligent placing of apples and flower, so that there are usually more than 1 good style
6) test, test and test
7) add grasses and stuff

So, if I would stop after the 1st step, I guess I would end up in a random level, which might be good but probably crap. Is that what you want?

Someone might say that random levels are more interesting because there aren't those designed styles. And I understand his point. But still I prefer the intellectual way of level design...
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Post by Zweq » 17 Mar 2008, 10:20

hmm dunno why I said that because I've always liked random polygons as long as it has been tested to be finishable. I meant what people generally think about random levels :P (and what they thought about my random levels)
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Post by Costya » 17 Mar 2008, 13:05

zebra, the major point of jonsta's topic problem is that "test,test,test" trying to simplify some irritating or kickass parts you just make level more obvious and zestless.
randomless is another radical point. i like drive on such random levs and find styles couse i had to drive at my random levs in editor such, but i prefer that lev will be minimum shaped.
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Post by FinMan » 17 Mar 2008, 14:04

Hmm I make levels as same style as zebra sometimes, or i make cruise level as balle. :)
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Post by Mawane » 17 Mar 2008, 17:21

I have a question for you: do you prefer the result of apple harvest or Lost54.lev which is thought for some styles?
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Post by jonsterion » 17 Mar 2008, 19:38

When I was talking about randomness I wasn't refering to making totally untested levels... Just some parts such as a brutal shortcut, but not working perfectly, where the player would have to find the best way to outcome this tricky part. When I say brutal it could be any other trick, brutal was just an example. If you make levels this way it may result in a funny outcome such as mc209 which put an ended with axxu's winning spree in mastercup2. If it would have been a really obvious winning style axxu would have won since he hoyls a lot. The top3 was zelter akb and lukazz, with a 4 second diference between axxu's time.
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Post by teajay » 17 Mar 2008, 22:57

zebra wrote: The system how I make my levels is usually this:
1) place random polygons into the level
2) test the level and try to find some styles
3) for each of the styles I find: polish the routes, remove some irritating parts, make the styles easier, add the höyläbility
4) make even more styles possible
5) intelligent placing of apples and flower, so that there are usually more than 1 good style
6) test, test and test
7) add grasses and stuff
Try to skip these steps: 3, 4 & 6.

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Post by gimp » 17 Mar 2008, 23:36

personally, i dont think we're really ones to give zebra advice
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Post by teajay » 18 Mar 2008, 00:11

It was a suggestion, not really some sort of advise. Ofcourse I should've made clear that zebra is a designer of superior level incomparable with human earthlings like us humble slave shit-levelists, but I for once felt too lazy to add that.

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Post by zebra » 18 Mar 2008, 09:39

lolz @ tijsjoris :]

I guess, after all, my way of making the levels isn't the worst available because i happened to win designer GAA once and generally ppl like my levs, though there are always exceptions. I think planning the styles and testing the lev thoroughly is the thing which separates pro designers from newbie designers.

There is actually a problem if i try to avoid testing: with my experience, I can see most of the possible styles, without even testing the lev. Then if I don't test the levs, there might be those irritating parts which ruin the level. The styles are there but they are only available for pros because they require more skills now.

After seeing many levels from jonsta, I think he tests them as much as I test my own levels. But the difference may be there that he can make polygons more random shaped so that you can't see at first sight which is the best style. That's a skill I don't have. I try to learn it some day maybe... :)
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Post by teajay » 18 Mar 2008, 22:57

Sure, I don't mean to devaluate your accomplishments as a designer, you're still top notch and top of the bill when it comes to levelmaking. Still, you could experiment with those things mentioned above, just to explore newer sides or forgotten sides of your creativity.

I think your across levels were like that, less focused on being rectangular, symmetric or shaped. They seem somewhat more sloppy, but in a good sense.

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Post by 8-ball » 18 Mar 2008, 23:46

i think it was Ville_J's lgr/map?
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Post by The_BoneLESS » 19 Mar 2008, 00:51

8-ball wrote:i think it was Ville_J's lgr/map?
it was

and the fact that it lost to highQ lgr in GAA is pretty much the most fucked up thing ever.

lgr and level are in Moposite's lgr download section...
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Post by Antz » 19 Mar 2008, 02:41

i can definitely relate to this topic! (if this is TLDR, just read the last line)

while i appreciate levels where you can come up with your own style when playing, i don't like designing them. the main problem for random quick levels is that the vast majority of them will end up crappy, at least for me. maybe some elma designer guru could create fresh unique enjoyable levels consistently in a few minutes, but i know for certain i can't. when i design levels i usually like to try come up with an original style or trick, then build the level around it. i build a fast play-style around the trick-part, then hide it as best i can, and add a slower easy style to finish the level. with a good idea to start with, that level can be a very simple 20-second level with normal style and 15-second with the trick one. usually they're abit longer though. naturally those tricks and styles will likely end up quite difficult, and some of my battle levels don't really work that well as battles due to that. not many have the patience or interest to play full 30 minutes of a battle even if the level had enough depth to support it.

while some people might say it's better to make quick random levels, rather 1 good level out of 10 that took 5 mins each to make than 1 'mediocre' out of 2 hours of work, i don't want to make levels like that. from a design-point of view they're like throwing paint on a canvas and hoping some good patterns emerge, versus a real painting. a true artist wouldn't resolve to blindfolded paint tossing just to please the audience!

unfortunately in a way, this designing method has backfired somewhat, and people find the hidden styles in my levels just because they're already expecting them to be there. (at least that's what i tell to myself for comfort! well, ofc the really pro people will see nearly any style right away, 'maybe you could get this apple straight' etc). i've gone abit further with this though sometimes, by having three or even four separate styles with varying difficulty and quickness mixed together. this all does however take considerable effort, and i end up feeling the level was sort of wasted, hours of levmaking for 15 minutes of battle, especially if no-one finishes the fast style. it was the main reason why i started gathering some of my battle levels in levelpacks, to get more play time for them.

in the end, i make the levels for myself, for my own enjoyment. not for the joy of myself playing the level, but for seeing my designs being played out in a replay! the best feeling i get is when i'm spying a battle on my level with the majority of the people driving the 'obvious' easiest route i've designed, with one or few of the skilled kuskis going for that hidden trick route i've laid out oh so precisely. that expression of surprise from the mundane kuskis when they see that skilled guy doing a time that is clearly not possible with the style they've been hoyling for 10 minutes is worth all the effort it took to make the lev.

for the past few months i've been building a new levpack, trying to make levels that are fun to play and have difficult styles in them. i've battled the levels i've finished and most of them have gotten quite positive rating from people (this might be more thanks to the theme of the levels though :) ). many of the styles have gone unnoticed or at least unfinished, which is both positive and negative. while i still feel the similar 'wasted level' feeling from normal battle levels, i'm also gladdened at the fact that people can spend more than 15 minutes on the levels when they're playing the finished levelpack without ending up with pure hoyling. but overall, whether they're good as /battle/ levels, is up to debate. i'd have to lean somewhat towards saying no due to the complexity, but i was positively surprised a few times.


since others upped levels i guess i might as well,

>> ecchi02 [18+] is one of the levels in the upcoming levpack and i think i succeeded quite well in it overall. best time secret for now :).


a friend of mine from back in high school some 6-7 years ago made about 40 levels of expected noob quality with his younger brother. it's been fun discovering completely new styles in them he would never have thought of in these following years as my elma skillz have improved somewhat. if you've played my levels in battle you might recognize a few of them, since i've remade several of them into my own levels after discovering the fast styles :P.

>> aih-levs. try beating my times, not all ez!



well, that's about it. a load of useless debate without really getting anywhere. i make levels that i enjoy making, if you don't enjoy playing them you can go diaf for all i care :D
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Post by veezay » 18 Apr 2008, 01:53

very many interesting topic!

i've always been fascinated about elma (and across) and its overall "modularness" (precise style of control and physics-based actions which depend on each other). compared to just about any tile based 2d game, there's obviously a lot more freedom in elma in terms of how one can finish a level. when you add timer to all of that and start competing, you have the most addictive game in the world, where you can play everything all over again and still get original, surprising and innovative results.

when i made my 100-lev höylä pack back in 2003-04 i was all about times. i wanted to know how crazy times people could pull off in the most basic and ezerest situations, so i made a bunch of different-ish levels each consisting of one (or sometimes less, subzero?) idea that you had to do well. i didn't want people to get bored of the levels, so i tried to minimize their hardness to some degree. i always find it depressing to play too hard levels because i die a lot :(. i wanted to make levels that were ezily finishable for everybody, eventhou they'd only be cruising, hence giving the player a result even after a bad run; at least they finished.

another thing which i dislike, is slightly related to the hardness factor and cruising. if a level is made too tight, i feel it's limiting me too much and it's uncomfortable to play (excluding pipes of course :P). excessive use of pictures is also a huge part of this, especially if they are distracting me on top of my bike >:( but i really don't want the level to look crap either.

so these two main things, eziness and freedom, are undoubtedliz the things i look after when designing a level. i want to make it so easy even the crappiest nab can finish it, but still give the freedom to more experienced players to pull off all those crazy tricks that can make them go ten times faster. i hope anyone who has been playing my battle levels (vzba??.lev & vzbb??.lev, he he originally meant veezay battle obviously, but after vzba99 i had to move on to another letter ¨=)) in the last, uhm, 6 months or so, has noticed these "designing guidelines" of mine.

when i'm in the mood for making a level, i always make a small triangle in the corner so i can delete that default crap box out of my way. then i'll start placing random vertices here and theer pretty horizontally, eventually becoming a small flat trackish level. shorter, longer bumps, maby a short hill or a few somewhere, without thinking any routes, styles or if they are even needed. when i add height to the level instead of leaving it as a simple flat trackish level, i usually go for some simple hills and maybe hangs somewhere, nothing too fancy. i like to add very gentle slopes and bumps everywhere so the level doesn't feel static and you really have to control the bike. these usually make sick styles and speedtakingz possible, which i enjoy observing very many much.

on the apple and flower placing issue, i try to make people move as much as possible with as little apples and actual physical size of the level as possible (without making the level TOO small thou). i try to avoid the common "hæ hæ" -style levels where you need to go another full 2min round to get the apple which was right under the flower. instead i'll just make these bumps and hills that would maybe allow players to get to places and gain speeds i never thought of being possible. i usually have a few styles in mind when placing all the objects, but i never test them thoroughly. if an apple can be taken with the most basic and easy style and all of the parts are finishable and do nat irritate too much, it's fine. one thing i really love to do is place an apple next to a wall or such so that it might be faster to drive all the way to the wall OR just turn back at the apple. it's easy to think of other similar examples. these might also allow some additional styles to the rest of the level. generally every choice a player can make is good.

most time i spend on making a level goes to making the grass. i want it to look subtle, pretty and well controlled. ALE's autograss is horrible, and i dislike that editor in general. don't use it. it's horribel. ingame editor ftw.

as a player, i hate complex levels and want to be told where to go. that's why i love pipes ;D

edit: oh and tanks for everybady who plays (with) my balles! ¨=)
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Post by zebra » 18 Apr 2008, 08:29

veezay wrote:generally every choice a player can make is good.

as a player, i hate complex levels and want to be told where to go.
Hmm, i see a little contradiction there: you want to design multistyle levs but don't like them. Does that mean you don't like your own levels?

And if most of your time goes to making grass you are either
1) very bad at making grass
2) not paying enough attention to the real level designing.
For me like 90% of time goes to design the lev and styles, 5% of making grass and 5% of making pictures.
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Post by Igge » 18 Apr 2008, 09:02

I begin my levs almost exaclty like veezay, except i put the triangle around flower, so I can try lev even if flower is nat "in the level". Hate that annoying "An object is outside the level borders" or wateh.

For me the time taken to design the lev and making visuals is totally random. Sometimes I'm in a visual mood, and nat only make grass, but also experiment with it. - Same goes for pictures.

Even if the level is just some random 17sec hoyl, which i made on the first try. (I tend to make a level as if drawing frame first, and then just adding some hangs, kinda like veezay, and then i just put some hangs where i think they could enhance the multistyled part of the level. And if I then realize I don't like the level, i just overwrite it. (Some levels have taken about 15 overwritings ina row before I was happy)

So anyway, if i directly succeed in making a nice level, then I'm happy, and glad to put pictures and grass. In those cases, the visuals can take far longer times to make than the level itself, because the level was just a couple of random verticies which worked well, and the images are placed with 'loving care' ;D

I like to see pictures used in a way I've never seen them before in a level. Makes me feel like the creator has really put time and effort into it. And I like to do it aswell, because I want my levels to look nice, no matter how many broken fingers I end up with.

I remember this huge triangle, which I had to fill with stone1 and mask lit or wtf it heter. And to make it i have to hold my "little finger or wateh" on S, and my thumb on enter, so I can hold my other hand at the mouse. Makes me wish my hands were as elastic at the wheels on mr. kuskis bike.
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Post by veezay » 18 Apr 2008, 13:08

zebra wrote:
veezay wrote:generally every choice a player can make is good.

as a player, i hate complex levels and want to be told where to go.
Hmm, i see a little contradiction there: you want to design multistyle levs but don't like them. Does that mean you don't like your own levels?
no, because i don't play them in battle and thus am free of the pressure to find the fastest style, which i don't like doing, because i sax at it. it's amusing for me to watch people trying to do different things in a level, because the outcome is usually a surprise for me too. basicly i only want to höyl a level when i know exactly the route and style so that my playing doesn't go to "waste".

so: i do like my levels, because i usually succeed in what i'm trying to include in them: easiness and freedom. i occasionally cruise them myself, and enjoy watching others play them. having multiple styles is a nice thing to have, because it might somewhat shorten the actual höyling time and sometimes provides funny and interesting results when somebody has finished the level 10s quicker than others.

edit: oh forgot very many important thing: i don't consider my battle levels COMPLEX. they are fairly simple with a design that usually allows for more than one definitive style. what i mean by "complex" is a typical semi-tight mastercup 2min level with a million polygons everywhere.
And if most of your time goes to making grass you are either
1) very bad at making grass
2) not paying enough attention to the real level designing.
For me like 90% of time goes to design the lev and styles, 5% of making grass and 5% of making pictures.
obviously, that opinion is only powered by the fact that you don't make random levels. shouldn't be a surprise for any of us.
Last edited by veezay on 19 Apr 2008, 13:25, edited 2 times in total.
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Post by Mawane » 18 Apr 2008, 14:17

zebra wrote:For me like 90% of time goes to design the lev and styles, 5% of making grass and 5% of making pictures.
For my MLP + MLPpi:
0,1% goes to grass putting (ALE);
5% goes to modifying grass to remove ugly parts;
2% goes to the pictures;
30% goes to making the main idea of the lev;
60% goes to the visual (same thickness everywhere on poles, 90 degrees in corners, same lenght and angles for vertices in curves, forms and textures for more originality, words are made carefully, reduce the number of vertex and polygons to the minimum without removing fun (except curve levels made with B-Spline)).

I know, I'm perfectionnist but I don't care of the time spent on a level, it can take me 4h, doesn't matter. In fact, 4h is the average time spent on MLPs.
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Post by John » 18 Apr 2008, 17:50

what u do the remaining 2.9% ? :)
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Post by 8-ball » 18 Apr 2008, 19:16

to me it's like 20% designing lev, 0.1% autograss, 1% pics and the rest for testing...
people who say ALE is horrible are full of shit, it's not perfect but the grass just needs a little adjusting most of the time. besides i like to place pics and masks precisely without playtesting for every pic, that's where ALE comes in again. mirroring and polygon splitting/merging options are used often too.
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Post by Igge » 18 Apr 2008, 19:24

8-ball wrote:to me it's like 20% designing lev, 0.1% autograss, 1% pics and the rest for testing...
hehe ye, testing is like a vital part, and often takes up the most time. Guess the others just forgot about teh when doing their fancy percentage thing.
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Post by FinMan » 18 Apr 2008, 20:03

Sometimes i make over mins balle-pie, and test only first pie. It rulz. 8)

What means 90% making, 5% testing, 5% putting balle. :D
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Post by Igge » 18 Apr 2008, 20:55

Igge wrote: I remember this huge triangle, which I had to fill with stone1 and mask lit or wtf it heter. And to make it i have to hold my "little finger or wateh" on S, and my thumb on enter, so I can hold my other hand at the mouse. Makes me wish my hands were as elastic at the wheels on mr. kuskis bike.
might not look much, but took sach long time, cause had to rest my hand like every other minute


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Post by 8-ball » 18 Apr 2008, 21:39

That would take about a minute to make in ALE.









BWAHHAHAHAHAHAA.
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Post by Mawane » 18 Apr 2008, 22:52

that's why i don't understand why people refuse to use ALE, there is so many way to save time if you master ALE (like me :) )
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Post by Polarix » 18 Apr 2008, 23:11

yeah true, but as long you keep the design simple, i think the intern levelmakingprgram is better
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Post by Costya » 19 Apr 2008, 08:25

ALE sucked in testplaying, but for some adjusting of lev such cutting, splittyng, scaling polygons, or maing these weird operations with pictures its very powerfull.
so use both redactors with leading role of internal editor.
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Post by teajay » 19 Apr 2008, 08:28

I fuck you all with my levels which are 90% click, 5% typing and 5% starting it and testing (when I test).

Then again my fish are more 'battlegrounds' than actual levels.

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Post by FinMan » 19 Apr 2008, 20:55

That igges poly would be like 1 or some maskbig here and 1 maskbig more down, with littler distance-number.

And one what have i wondered why some ppl who wants to make visuality to best possible, forgot that 501-600 (like that nubers) is distance what is behind kuski but grass is behind it.
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Post by Igge » 19 Apr 2008, 21:02

FinMan wrote:That igges poly would be like 1 or some maskbig here and 1 maskbig more down, with littler distance-number.
Well, if you watch closley, you'll see that it's a pretty thin poly, and over it and beneath it there's air, so a mask big would have to be concealed with air pics, which would look terrible
And one what have i wondered why some ppl who wants to make visuality to best possible, forgot that 501-600 (like that nubers) is distance what is behind kuski but grass is behind it.
601-999 is behind grass and kuski. I use this for all pics in the lev (also textures which are nat used to hide grass)

600 - 500 is in front of grass, and behind the kuski (I alway use 500 (but dunno why nat 550 or sach) on walls etc where the grass is continuing a bit, cause otherwise if you bounce there or something, youll see that the bike goes 'behind' the wall)

<500 is nab number
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Post by Costya » 20 Apr 2008, 08:58

as leveldesigning, topic becomes evolving wrong too.
sad things =(
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