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Showing content with the highest reputation since 01/02/2012 in Blog Entries

  1. 10 points
    There's a thread on this forum dedicated to what we as Chip's Challenge players called certain game elements when we were younger that really intrigued me upon first glance. Some of the names given to the various monsters have been quite funny. (For instance, I didn't know that thieves have been called both "firemen" and "policemen"!) But I feel like another one should be made about the misconceptions we had concerning certain game behaviors when we first started playing. Wouldn't that be interesting? Perhaps part of my perspective stems from being only 5 years old when I first started playing the game, so reading the help file provided only limited understanding compared to engaging in actual gameplay and the experimentation that came with it. I'm assuming that's the case for most first-time players, though. I didn't understand what "following the left wall" meant for bugs - I just assumed that the game programmers somehow instilled set paths for them - nor did I understand that all grey walls were actually permanent. When I tried Nuts and Bolts for the first time, I saw the thief and the bombs above the opening area and thought that there was supposed to be some way to break through those walls to get to them! But no - the only walls that I could break through were blue, of course. Why do I bring this up? Because we've taken upon ourselves the rather awkward task of evaluating and voting on levels for a level set whose target audience is comprised of people who are the exact opposite of us veterans. These are the people who will struggle not only with understanding the game and its elements, but also with being able to control Chip to begin with. These are the people who will make the mistakes that we forgot we once made when we first started playing. These are the people who would lose patience with the game if the CCLP1 of today were constructed exactly as CC1 was, with a level like Nuts and Bolts throwing newcomers into the fire and steeply escalating the difficulty curve immediately after the tutorials. And sometimes, I think it's difficult for us to cast aside our veteran sensibilities and remember how these people feel - how we felt - upon playing the game for the first time. At the time of this post, there have been 10 voting packs (500 levels) for CCLP1 released and nearly 6,600 votes cast. Although the voting process is far from complete, I've begun noticing an interesting trend in the results - most of the top levels so far are either hodgepodge or "themed" levels with some degree of variety and (usually) moderate difficulty - though for a beginner, many of these levels would probably be fairly difficult and would fit right at home in the last quarter of CCLP1. In contrast, most of the CCLP3 top levels were those that obviously involved a lot of time and effort spent to build them, which typically meant that they were also the hardest of the bunch. A lot of these levels were also hodgepodge or themed levels as well, or at the very least, they were non-homogenous. But the irony of this penchant for non-homogeneity in individual level design was that by primarily using the voting results as the determinant for what was inducted into the final set, CCLP3 was a rather homogenous set when viewed as a collective whole. "Puzzle," "long campaign level," and "hodgepodge" would probably be the three main descriptors players would give CCLP3 if asked what kind of level best described the set. On the other hand, it's hard to nail down a specific type of level that CC1 featured a lot, mainly because the set itself had so much variety. (The same may be said of CCLP2, though some people might answer "invalid tiles" if asked that question.) So how can we avoid making the same mistake with CCLP1? Thankfully, the CCLP1 staff will be making the final decisions on what's inducted into the set and what's not for the sake of variety and the establishment of a friendly difficulty curve. I think this is important for any CCLP for the former reason, but it's especially important for CCLP1 for both reasons. But since we will be using the voting results as a guideline, we need some way to know what levels everyone enjoys besides the aforementioned hodgepodge and themed levels. If voting continues to go as is, there's going to be a huge mass of levels below the top tier that are averaging around 4.00 or so and a whole bunch of easy levels that aren't even reaching that point. So here are a few tips that I thought I'd pass on to all of you voters out there that I thought might be helpful to keep in mind when rating levels - especially when it comes to making sure easy levels get their due: - Not every level needs to be "extraordinary." It's true - the CC community of today is a very, very tough crowd to please. For the most part, we have a tendency to play and rate levels based solely on how interesting we find them. And we've seen and played so much that even our level design tendencies can often reflect this; many levels out there today try to outdo each other by trying to include just one more trick in their compositions than the last one. Again, though, there's an irony in this, especially with respect to designing for beginners. The easier levels that we often deem "boring" are most likely going to be the ones that newcomers would find interesting, whereas those that we find interesting would probably also be intriguing but sometimes frustrating for first-time players. The other major takeaway from this point ties in with the above bit about CCLP3: individually great levels do not necessarily make a collectively great set. A set composed entirely or even primarily of "epic" levels would get frustrating and repetitive after a while (in fact, some people would say that CCLP3 was exactly this), even if they weren't all difficult. Easier, smaller levels do have their place, even if they may not seem quite as engaging as the epic ones. - Try to avoid comparing apples and oranges. It's very easy for us to look at the easy, simple maze we're playing and think about the thrilling campaign level that included every game element or the level that reinvented the wheel for a familiar concept to which we awarded a 5. But why can't all three levels succeed on their own terms? While a collection of individually great levels doesn't necessarily make a collectively great set, a collectively great set is composed of individually great levels - specifically, a variety of levels that do a great job being what they were designed to be. Almost no one would say that it would be fair to compare Sampler with Four Plex from the original game; yet both of them are often praised - the former for being an excellent, simple itemswapper, and the latter for being an excellent campaign level. Is it fair to give that excellent maze a 3 just because it doesn't feel quite as thrilling as that giant hodgepodge level? For instance, I've given Chip Be Steady (Lipstick #50) a 5 out of 5 rating. It isn't a mind-blowing level that left me with a sensation of "Whoa!" when I solved it, but in the context of being a maze in which you had to avoid touching toggle buttons and a level that beginners would find inventive, it succeeded. The only other levels I'd even be thinking of when looking at it would be similar mazes in which the player isn't allowed to touch the "walls," not the campaign level with every game element included that I may also enjoy too. The reason why this one in particular stood out was because of its symmetrical "border" with the colored doors and teeth waiting to be released, which made it look a lot neater than similar levels. - When evaluating easy levels, don't look for the interesting - look for the uninteresting. Yes, you read that correctly. But it deserves a bit of clarification. The aforementioned designing tendency to outdo other levels by including more "tricks" in them is especially harmful to easy levels. As veterans, we tend to frown upon levels that feel more minimalistic - though not necessarily trivial, even for a beginner. Maybe this is because we've played the game so much that so little feels original to us anymore. We play through a level and immediately turn to one of those prepared level categories we've already created in our head so we can file it away under something like "blob level" or "ice maze." We may also turn to our preconceptions about those categories as well, some of which may be negative, even if the level would be ideal for a level set targeted at beginners. Sometimes, we may even have specific levels in mind that the ones we're playing remind us of, so much so that we're willing to discard them just because they feel like yesterday's news to us. But there's a difference between a level that's a blatant ripoff and one that does a commendable job being simple and generic, either by presenting its concept in an approachable way or by demonstrating some degree of artistic merit. Many of CC1's levels accomplished both of these objectives well. The problem with us is that we not only want to throw away these types of levels out of comparative instinct, but we also prefer easy levels that are inherently more complicated because they feel "more interesting." In many cases, these levels would be an inappropriate, muddled teaching tool for beginners and would be too uninteresting for later portions of CCLP1. Don't be afraid to give a deserving easy, generic level a good rating because it's generic and does a fantastic job being so, especially when that level excels with respect to design quality and playability. - CCLP1 may be a CC1 replacement, but it need not succumb to its shortcomings. I remember the very first time I went to a Chip's Challenge website. I was eight years old and was nearly done with the game, with the exception of "Totally Unfair." Richard Field's site had a complete walkthrough that came in very handy, but what was even more interesting than that was the collection of testimonials on the site about the game. Some of the levels that other people listed as the hardest to beat may surprise us today - levels that we as veterans find easy, such as The Last Laugh, Knot, or even Blink. It may seem unbelievable to us that they could be a challenge, but they certainly were. Another common thread from first-time players was that Nuts and Bolts presented a huge step up in difficulty from the lesson levels that preceded it. And I could totally empathize with that sentiment, as Nuts and Bolts took me an entire month to complete. Does CCLP1 need a "Nuts and Bolts" equivalent immediately following its lesson levels, or could there be some space in between to amp up the difficulty a bit before such a large level? Do we need to wait to introduce partial posting until level 138, for instance? Or is there a level simpler than Partial Post that could teach the concept in a different spot in the set? We shouldn't feel obligated to give CCLP1 all the trappings that made CC1 what it was; rather, we need to recognize what made CC1 work and avoid the areas in which it fell short while still being flexible. - Don't forget about what made you love the game when you first played it. Whenever I vote, this is the principle that I try to come back to - but it's also the one that I so often neglect. That desire to break down those walls on Nuts and Bolts is something that I forget when I play the game now. But when I think about what got me hooked on Chip's Challenge in the first place, it was that. It was that desire to break out of the box, to explore, to see what was around that next corner. In hindsight, I was so thankful that the gameplay window was only nine by nine tiles. I would spend hours trying to figure out the secret to the opening room of Paranoia while looking wistfully at the bugs roaming around in the room on the left. I didn't know what else was over there, but I was determined to find out. Sometimes, I think we now focus so much on dissecting the game, cram in as much content in as little space as possible in our levels, and find it easy to turn to the editor for a level map that we've forgotten the joy of walking around in open space, exploring that newly opened path, and remembering what made Chip's Challenge so fun to play to begin with. It's my hope that CCLP1 can recapture that sense of awe and wonder for a new generation through top-notch level design and accessible gameplay while still retaining the "challenge" part of the title that kept us coming back for more. Let's not forget about the easy levels along the way that prepare newcomers for those challenges!
  2. 8 points
    Once upon a time, there was a period in which Chip’s Challenge levels were fairly manageable. As I mentioned in my very first blog post on here, one of the first CC level sets I ever downloaded was just called “LEVELS01.dat” and contained the levels that would eventually grow to become CatatonicP1. There was also a set called “New Levels.dat” that had an unsolvable first level and an open melee level called “Guard Dogs” that involved teeth, which later inspired me to create my own version of the concept. And despite the shortcomings of these levels, I could tell that their designers wanted to create their own version of the CC1 experience that made them fall in love with the game in the first place. But oh, how far we’ve strayed from that since then. The years that followed brought about thousands of levels, and as far as I can tell, the simple life principle of “just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should” has gone out the window. “Bigger is better” became the mantra of level design for many, with several designers who felt obligated to fill up the entire map just because, well, they could. And if they wanted to make a smaller challenge, the design principle of choice would be to cram in as much stuff as possible in one tiny room because, you know, anything less would just be a waste of space.. And on top of that, the natural tendency of many was to complicate a level and feature as many of the game elements as possible because, hey - easy and homogenous have to equal boring, right? The sad truth is that when examined in light of assembling a set like CCLP1, all of these design principles fall short of - and in some respects, run diametrically opposed to - the design principles that made levels generally considered CC1 favorites what they were. In past blog posts, I’ve discussed why variety is important for any CCLP. However, in this blog post, I’d like to focus on something else, especially with respect to CCLP1: consistency. Now, that may sound rather self-contradictory at first. But let’s take a moment and think about all the different types of levels out there: Feel: open / closed Design: matriced / organic Gameplay: action / melee / puzzle / maze / speed / collection Size: small / medium / large Length: short / medium / long Structure: linear / non-linear Dominant tiles: hodgepodge / element(s)-focused This may not be an exhaustive list, but I hope we can see each of these types of levels well-represented in CCLP1. Now, I’d like to present a notion to you. It may sound radical, but just hear me out. What if, among all these different types of levels, design principles that transcend their differences existed among many of them in CC1? We toss around the term “CC1-ish” quite a bit, but considering that CC1 has been hailed as a variety-filled set, what does that really mean anyway? We seem all too content to just find “equivalents” to many of its levels for CCLP1, but if CCLP1 is meant to be a CC1 substitute featuring today's levels, shouldn’t we at least take some time to nail down what characteristics defined many of the most-loved levels from the original game and keep them in mind while we vote and at least clarify what we mean when we say “CC1-ish” so we can give each level the consideration it’s due? Or are we too afraid that establishing such standards would eliminate levels that fit our veteran sensibilities and steer us toward those that may feel less interesting to us? It may sound impossible, but I believe I’ve found three characteristics that fit the bill - characteristics that are conducive to beginner-friendliness and (at least so far) seem to have been forgotten by many voters at the ballot box. I’ve mentioned them here and there in passing, but I’d like to examine them more in-depth in a different context. If you examine CC1 closely, you will find that many of its levels exhibit at least two of these three characteristics. Hey, whenever we play any other game, we expect both variety and consistency in quality, so we can't the same be true for CCLP1? Freedom. This is a big one. It’s probably the biggest one that’s often overlooked in today’s level design paradigm. Remember how most of CC1’s levels allowed players to run around without the fear of tripping some button or collecting some item too early? Or just to experience the joy of running around to begin with? Whatever happened to that? This isn’t an issue of “open” vs. “closed” levels. It’s an issue of gameplay rigidity. It’s a tendency that manifests itself in level design because as designers, our natural tendency when we build levels is to think in goal-oriented terms, like this: 1. Decide what the player has to do to get to the exit. 2. Build everything such that every tile in the playing field contributes in some way toward that objective. 3. ??? 4. Profit! Okay, scratch those last two items off, but the second point is the clincher here. It’s the major contributing factor to an issue I like to call Designer Disconnect. In the previous blog post in this series, I talked about another tile-based game called Escape, which allowed the player to see the entire map and provided an unlimited undo function - both of which made it much easier to attempt hardcore puzzles. Chip’s Challenge, on the other hand, is not only more than just a puzzle game, it also allows the player to see only a 9x9 grid! This should give a lot of designers pause, but the sad truth is that it does not. Designers have the freedom to see the complete 32x32 map, and all too often, levels are designed as if the player could see the complete 32x32 map - or wants to see it. Is it possible that maybe - just maybe - we’ve forgotten about the thrill of discovering what’s around that next corner? What this all boils down to is that Designer Disconnect often interferes with a player’s natural desire to explore and experiment. When a designer builds a level with a solution in mind and throws down the pieces of that solution, it’s easy to forget about what happens or what is attempted when a player has no idea what that solution even is. Generally speaking, the more complex that solution is, the less freedom the player will have to take a look around and the more the player would have to remember, especially since the game has no checkpoint / undo feature. And the more the player has to remember, the more the game feels like work. I’m just going to speculate, but if I had to guess why CC1’s levels were not exactly all that complex, this is probably at least one reason why. The issue of rigidity may not be the same as distinguishing between “open” and “closed” levels, but our fascination with rigidity has certainly thrown many “open” levels under the bus. I honestly have to wonder how many of CC1’s simple, open levels would do if we had never seen them before and they were in CCLP1 voting today. Would we vote down Nice Day just because it wasn’t hard enough, and it didn’t give us that sweet satisfaction that comes with figuring out something difficult? Would we have a negative view toward Force Square because the wide open rooms around the titular square weren’t jam-packed with puzzles and were just nearly empty spaces? How about Metastable to Chaos and its spacious dirt room to send the bugs into? After seeing how voting has proceeded so far, I honestly have to wonder. CC1 often flew in the face of modern level design by not reducing everything to function and not resorting to irreducible complexity. Instead, we had arbitrary pieces of fire littering some levels, open spaces with absolutely nothing, and dead ends without any items to collect here and there. They may have seemed random, but from a design standpoint, they contributed to the aesthetic of each level and, in many cases, were quite calculated in their placement. At the end of the day, freedom is not just limited to the feeling of openness in a level; it’s a state of mind with which one can approach the game. Let’s take one of the more difficult, confined levels of CC1: FireTrap. This level has a variety of challenges involving monster manipulation and chip collecting, but although these tasks must be completed in a certain order, the player is left to discover what that order is without too much fear of necessitating a restart. It’s relatively simple to roam around without accomplishing anything for a while - and for the most part, there’s no need to worry about cooking the level! There’s even an extra block toward the bottom - how about that! This is a perfect segue to… Difficulty management. In the previous entry in this series, I briefly mentioned this characteristic as a positive trait of difficult levels. However, much like any transcendent quality, it can be applied to just about any level of difficulty when making a level that can be universally enjoyed. The premise behind managing difficulty is this: a game with over 40 unique elements is inherently going to be complex; therefore, a designer must manage a level’s inherent complexity if the level’s goal is to provide a fun experience. I understand that we’ve got levels in our midst whose sole purpose is to stump players everywhere and encourage them to draw diagrams that are meant to be studied for months before a solution reveals itself. And that’s great. But, for the purposes of this blog, I’m talking about levels for CCLPs, which are meant to be played by all types of players. The first step toward difficulty management is to identify exactly what component(s) of a level contribute(s) to its difficulty. Some levels are a challenge because of the concepts featured in them, and for those of us who are veterans, this type of difficulty is easy to spot. However, difficulty can also manifest itself purely on the basis of design, and I believe it’s this form of difficulty that we as designers and veteran players often underestimate. Levels that take a long time to solve or levels with a linear structure are, by their nature, at a disadvantage in the difficulty management arena. This is not to say that these types of levels are bad. It’s just that CC itself is limited because the measures that games often provide to make these types of challenges more bearable, such as checkpoints, aren’t available in this game. And if the level’s goal is to provide a fun experience, then the other elements in the level that contribute to its difficulty must be constructed with caution. What CC1 accomplished quite brilliantly was limiting its difficulty to one component throughout the vast majority of its levels and dialing down other components to help the player focus more easily on that particular one. Notice, for instance, that almost none of the pure melee levels in CC1 are linearly designed (and if so, they take on a simple A → B structure like the one in Problems rather than a complex A → B → C → D → E structure). Instead, they take place in wide open rooms where the player has the ability to walk wherever he or she wants while avoiding the monsters. The CC1 designers understood that something like monster dodging was going to be no easy task for their audience and tried to implement measures that would keep the player focused on the task at hand - dodging - rather than creating constraints to make things more difficult just because they didn’t look hard enough. So let’s take that principle back to the realm of linear/lengthy levels. Notice how CC1 hardly ever resorts to pulling out increasingly harder challenges as an extremely linear level progresses, nor do most of these levels punish players for making poor choices at a late point. This is because the more opportunities for failure are presented in a long level, the much greater the likelihood for failure and, by extension, the much more frustrating it would be. The hardest sokoban in Mix Up, for instance, was toward the first half of the level, whereas most of the challenges that followed were arguably easier. Even Four Plex, which is probably the most rigidly linear variety level in CC1, had challenges that were fairly self-explanatory. As the level progressed, the challenges became less ambiguous. The opening ice maze contained lots of different possibilities, fake walls to uncover, a few unknowns to discover, and a healthy dash of guesswork. In sharp contrast, the second area’s only big surprise was the bouncing blocks (if one didn’t explore before activating the cloner). From that point onward, there wasn’t really anything unexpected in each room. The northeast room was a monster manipulation puzzle. The next area involved navigating walls. And then, the final challenge was a simple itemswapper. Players could tackle each of these challenges knowing what they were and without any sudden bursts of designer trickery late into the level. Unfortunately, we as voters have tended to approach difficulty management with a stringent “all or nothing” standpoint based almost entirely on our playing experience (“How did this level make me feel?”) when evaluating levels for CCLP1. For many of us, it seems like the general rule of thumb is that if a level can’t be solved on a player’s first try, it must not be beginner-friendly at all and should be automatically discarded. I’m sure we’d have voters giving the proverbial thumbs down to Four Plex purely on the basis of the first room offering a few opportunities for failure. But not only would this voting approach be unfair to many levels, it also fails to recognize that failure is inevitable and to distinguish between different placements of opportunities for failure and how they affect the propensity for an enjoyable experience as they relate to a level’s structure. An isolated tough puzzle in a non-linear level, for example, that allows the player a greater degree of freedom in choosing the order of tasks to complete would be theoretically much less frustrating than a linear level that strictly establishes that same puzzle’s placement in the level at a late spot. The same could be said about the level that involves a bit of guesswork but actually contains multiple solutions or is somewhat open-ended. A similar principle applies to navigation challenges involving recessed walls, especially if there are multiple solutions involved and minimal complicating variables entering the equation. I’m sure even a simple (in design) navigation challenge like Apartment would be slaughtered in CCLP1 voting just because someone didn’t quite get it on their first try. The reality is that Apartment is manageable because it understands just how far it needs to go. Chips, walls, and recessed walls define where one can travel. That’s it. No force floors, no boots, elements, or thieves, no doors or keys. The level works because the design is basic, consistent, and symmetrical, and the end result is a beautiful challenge. But just watch well-designed navigation challenges like Anaconda (Omicron #2) and Cell Swapper (Mushroom #48) or open-ended, multiple-solution levels with a bit of guesswork like Puzzle Box (Jacuzzi #35) fall by the wayside because some people rely solely on feelings and not on discernable principles that helped make CC1 what it is to determine their landscape of CCLP1 ratings...even though both of these levels exhibit a remarkable degree of simplicity and difficulty management. And speaking of simplicity… Identity. This design principle worked in tandem with difficulty management for much of CC1. In fact, you could say that all three of these characteristics worked hand-in-hand throughout many levels. Once again, let’s start with the basics: identity is, in essence, a level’s ability to effectively manage itself. Levels with a strong sense of identity tend to be easily describable, primarily because designers who create such levels actually think through what they want their levels to be before dotting the map with tiles and building away. Levels that don’t have an identity crisis usually contain a discernable objective (or two) that doesn’t require a ridiculous amount of lateral thinking to discover. When we play, say, Digger, we know that the point of the level is to collect chips and find ways around teeth monsters to do so. When we play a level like Mishmesh, we know we're going to be pushing some blue walls. Once again, this type of level design feels so foreign to us today. I’m just going to speculate here, but if I had to make an educated guess as to why, it’s probably because to us veterans, such levels feel all too predictable. And predictable must equal dull, right? That’s probably why many of today’s levels feature room after room filled with completely different challenges that require the player to switch gears and think differently every time the gameplay shifts. It’s certainly a far cry from the low-key days of Tossed Salad or even Mixed Nuts. We’ve gotten to the point now where we recognize that trying to be too clever by injecting CCLP3-esque obfuscation and deception won’t win people over, but we have yet another quantum leap to make: recognizing that building a jumble of stuff just to say that our level is amazing and has more tricks than the previous one also isn’t really all that clever in an age where practically more than half of the levels out there aspire to do the same. Maybe I’m just old-fashioned, but personally, I find it much more impressive when a designer knows how to exercise restraint. It’s easy to see all 1,024 tiles in the editor and feel inclined to fill them all up. It’s much harder to know when to stop. Predictability to a person who has command over what to build on a 32x32 board is certainly not the same as predictability to a player who’s exploring that 32x32 board with only a 9x9 square viewport to look at while exploring. Thankfully, for the most part, CC1 knew just how far to go. Do you know, for instance, that adding a border around your level reduces the size to 30x30, eliminating 124 (over 10%!) of the 1,024 tiles? And if you stripped the level down to a more manageable 24x24, you’d be eliminating 448 of those tiles? CC1 certainly isn’t perfect at knowing where to stop, as there are definitely some exceptions - long block-pushing levels like On the Rocks come to mind - but even they avoided the pitfall of “breaking up” the homogeneity by forcing players to get their minds and fingers off block-pushing and onto something completely different in the name of “being more interesting.” From a difficulty management standpoint, it’s much easier to temper the inherent difficulty that accompanies length or linearity with simplicity and straightforwardness in the challenge. What I have to wonder is - why do we carry around a stigma toward homogeneity in levels? CC1’s levels managed themselves well because they understood that the game was interesting enough to warrant that focus on individual concepts more often than not instead of flitting around from concept to concept and - SQUIRREL! You get the point. So, to wrap this series of blogs up, I’m going to pose a challenge to you. As you rate the levels in voting, ask yourself the following questions: 1. If I were to take all the levels to which I’ve awarded my highest ratings, how consistent would these levels be with the design principles that made CC1 what it was? 2. From that list of most highly-rated levels, could I build a set of 149 levels that included a proper difficulty curve, levels that explored each of the game’s elements, and plenty of variety throughout? Be honest with yourself. Then play the levels. Examine them in detail. Think outside the fact that you failed or solved a level on your first attempt. Then get back to the ballot box. You’ve got an opportunity to help craft CCLP1 into a suitable CC1 replacement that is one of the greatest, most diverse, beginner-friendly level sets ever made by examining what made CC1 work and applying those principles here. Or, you can undermine the purpose of the voting process and throw around ratings solely based on how the levels make you feel. The choice is up to you.
  3. 7 points
    CCLP1 is old news. A cry goes out in the night: What next?!! It's good for us as a community to produce something together. Granted, it is not easy to work together, but so far the sets that have resulted from community collaboration have been well worth the effort. So what is the next project we should embark on together? Below are a few options. CCLP2 Lynx So this project is nearing its end, as the release date has been announced as August 9th. Fortunately, there are still things you can do to contribute. Stay tuned for more info upon release! CCLP4 This is the next natural set to work on as a community. However, when it will become a reality and in what form has yet to be decided. There are some who would like to get it started straight away, while others would gladly wait years before doing so. One side of the argument is that we already have tons of decent levels that just were not right for CCLP1 but could go in this set, while the other side is saying that we don't have enough new levels since the release of CCLP1 for this project to be useful just yet. Perhaps some of the staff members of CCLP1 (and CCLP3) are just worn out by the previous process, while some others are eager to be part of something communal. In the end, at this time, it is hard to say what the right next step is, as a common understanding of what goals this set should be are yet to be discussed. Is there a way for invalid tiles to make an appearance? When should the staff be assembled? Will there be teeth on level #123?? I believe these things will sort themselves out and this set will eventually happen, but it is possible some of these other ideas in this post will be finished earlier. Veteran Pack Another direction to go after CCLP1 is to make a set for experienced players. The exact difficulty of the levels in the set is not set in stone, but it could match the hardest ones from CCLP3. Having this set would open up CCLP4 to be easier, while still finding something for the audience who cares for difficult puzzles. I think this set would work with as few as a dozen levels. It could have a sequel every two or three years. I also imagine that there could be a ban on releasing solutions to the levels, so that solving the set would really be a challenge and a badge of honor. A major issue that should be addressed as soon as possible would be to settle upon a good name for this set. It should be succinct, different from CCLPn, and still be immediately descriptive. Post your suggestions below! CCLP3 for dummies This is a fun idea that I like a lot. The concept is to take a bunch of high concept levels, break down the key concepts and build them up again into something that a beginner could solve. In other words, take each level of CCLP3 and dumb it down. I think the key for this project to work would be to act more as a homage to CCLP3 by people who love that set, rather than just making fun of how difficult it is overall. It's hard to say if this will ever happen, but it would be fun to see a few levels designed in this vein. This is also another project where we could experiment with a different way to compile a community made set other than just voting from a large pool of candidates. CCZone-1 Over the years many levels have been made for the competitions here at CC Zone. I feel many great levels in those competitions are sadly soon forgotten. They are of course still available in the collected sets, but the presentation there is different from normal. Those collections do not provide a narrative or a difficulty curve, as they just lump together levels mostly chronologically. On the positive side, we now have the option to take a look at those levels again and try to see when we would have a critical mass of levels needed to build a new set from them. I imagine that point has not yet been reached, but perhaps soon we could attempt to select about 50 levels and create something cool. Stay tuned, and keep submitting your creations to the competitions! Remember, you can also try to make a Time Trial or Treasure Hunt level, and someone on the staff can use your level in a competition. Secret Project I can't say much about this one. If you want to be part of it, just hope you are in the right place at the right time. Deadline for this thing is way, way in the future, so don't expect it and it might just manage to surprise you. (Okay, a short hint: tentacle cornea) CCLP0 So by almost all fronts, CCLP1 was a success. I think a lot of this had to do with two things. First, the set had a clear goal in mind, and everyone knew what it was. Second, the set went back to the basics and emphasized the core of what is Chip's Challenge. Is the correct next step for us as a community to make an extra difficult CCLP4 after this success? I don't think so. Either CCLP4 has to be much easier than CCLP3, or else we need to make something else first. The name of this set hints at the idea that it would be even simpler than CCLP1. Or it could just be at the same difficulty level, but in an alternate universe. The point is that we still have a decent name to use for another set full of simple levels. So don't be afraid to make more fun and easy levels! Something Completely Different I am by no means a master of knowing how the wind turns, so I don't pretend to know how the community feels in five years, or what the next community project should really be. Perhaps someone already has a collaboration in the works that I have no idea about. What project would you like to see happen? How do you think we should keep compiling new sets for others to play? I feel that the way to make the next sets we produce together great, is to have some good discussion about them as well as some hard work. Talk more! And then go grab a friend and start experimenting with ideas for what would make you happy. Let's see what we all come up with! -Miika
  4. 6 points
    February 9, 2002. Many CC veterans and long-time community members will recognize the significance of this date. It was the release day of CCLP2. Excitement pierced the online air. After years of playing and optimizing CC1 and being disappointed with the lack of release for CC2, the CC community finally had something different and official to get behind. New levels! New challenges! New records to set! It was all so fresh, teeming with possibilities to be explored. After the set was released, the first few months brought about a flurry of activity on the newsgroup. Scores were being reported every day. Busts were discovered. Records were being broken. People were threatening to rip each others' heads off if their records were broken. It was a level of involvement for the game that I still hope can be rivaled in the years to come. And in the wake of the optimization rush, people started thinking ahead: where do we go from here? What will CCLP3 be like? Let's start collecting levels and build something new! It should be fairly simple. It wasn't. CCLP3 wasn't released until almost nine years after CCLP2. Much of the delay has been attributed to the waning community involvement of the original staff and the piling up of submissions that took place over that time. Even though submissions didn't start until 2006, many sets were already created specifically for CCLP3 in the years beforehand that immediately followed CCLP2's release. When a new staff was finally formed, it took a mammoth undertaking to play catchup and test the gigantic mound of levels. But it finally happened at the end of 2010, and a new official set was born. Fortunately, CCLP1 managed to avoid many of CCLP3's delays by positioning itself as a specific kind of set, with a specific goal to achieve. Even though the work was plentiful, it was much more manageable. So...where does this leave us with CCLP4? After looking back at how the previous CCLPs were constructed, what the level design scene was like in the past, and what it looks like now, I've come to the conclusion that CCLP4 needs to become a reality sooner rather than later. This isn't normally where I'd land on an issue like this. Many of you reading might know from previous comments I made during CCLP1 production that I'm the last person who would ever want to rush production on a new CCLP, and that is still true. But I think we're dealing with a very specific set of circumstances this time around that need to be recognized. I'd like to dedicate this blog post to explaining my reasoning. Please note that although I'm not mentioning any other potential level packs that could be built in the near future (like a "hardcore" set, CCLP0, etc.), I'm still behind the idea of making them at some point. - We've already got a solid collection of levels from CCLP1 voting. This is probably the most understandable reason. We can all agree that the CCLP submission periods are typically kept open for a while so plenty of levels can fill up the pool, and thus, there can be plenty of options from which to choose when voting. But there's a difference here between what these pools theoretically looked like between CCLP3 and CCLP1, in which many new levels congruent with the set's purpose had to be created, and CCLP1 and CCLP4, in which there are (so far) no such restrictions, and many existing levels can be submitted again. It's especially worth noting that a lot of deserving difficult levels were given the shaft for CCLP1 for a number of reasons: they were too complex to begin with and didn't even make an appearance in voting, some of the ones that did were perceived by voters as less beginner-friendly than others, and the staff's attempt to establish a gentle difficulty curve meant limiting the number of difficult levels in the final tier of the set. So although there are also plenty of levels in this bunch that didn't make the cut by virtue of being poorly designed or not very fun, there is a very strong collection that could perform quite well in CCLP4 voting. - We've already got a solid collection of levels created after CCLP1 voting. The term "level factory" has been tossed around in reference to some very active designers in our midst, but it's also an interesting statement on the state of level design in general today. Although the number of designers may have decreased since, say, the age of heavy activity on pieguy's site, the rate at which levels - specifically quality levels - are saturating the potential submission pool is quite astonishing. The past year and a half has seen the release of and/or additions to sets like JoshuaBoneLP, The Other 100 Tiles, JBLP1, TS2, ZK2, ZK3, Ultimate Chip 3, JoshL4, JoshL5, and many more, with even more additions to some of these and entirely new sets on the way. What's really encouraging for a CCLP staff is that many of these sets have tried to incorporate some kind of difficulty curve, which helps introduce a form of variety into the submission pool. One of the indicators that can be an effective way to determine when it's probably a good time to start looking at working toward a set's production is to see if it's theoretically possible to construct a decent 149-level set from the levels available, especially if it's difficult to choose between a number of quality options. Personally, I think CCLP4 submissions are already at this point, though it doesn't hurt to keep them open for at least several more months. - The set needs to be constructed with CCLP5 in mind. This may seem like an odd reason, but it's an important one. If CCLPs are meant to represent the best of what the community has to offer, waiting too long can end up putting deserving levels under the bus - not only during the current set's production process, but also during the next's as well. Many designers who walked away disappointed after not seeing a favorite level of theirs in a CCLP have been encouraged to submit it again for the next. And as levels like Lazy Hourglass, Yet Another Yet Another Puzzle, Rhombus, Double Diversion, and Traveler show, it is indeed possible. But it's much more difficult when these levels are up against a brand new bunch that's taken the spotlight. Alongside that, waiting too long will bring about way too many "147 candidates" (read: ultra-difficult levels) from which to choose. Of course, the staff would need to be responsible for maintaining a proper difficulty curve for the set, but it would be that much harder for them and voters to make the difficult choices when there are so many of them. Plus, again, the levels that get shafted will have a much harder time competing for a spot in CCLP5 with so many new options available by then. I don't think we need to have CCLP4 submissions open past the end of 2015. In fact, I'd even go as far as to suggest that they should be closed in the middle of 2015. We've got the components for an amazing set at our disposal right now. Let's move forward. Though I personally don't intend to get involved with its production, I hope we see interest in staff positions from the community in the days to come.
  5. 5 points
    Level 91 "Pipe Maze" The atmosphere and name of this level is meant to evoke an underground pipe maze from the Super Mario Bros. series, and I'm quite pleased with how it turns out. There are a few places where you have to push a block and not follow it, but I always allow the player to look ahead and see that. The hint is meant to remind you that there's a water tile at the end of the slide leading out of the southmost section; I probably could have worded it better. I didn't notice until much later that you can't actually see the water at (10, 9) before you step into that slide, but I'm sure 99% of players pushed the block ahead anyway. At least if I had to accidentally leave an unforeseeable deathtrap in a level, I put it right near the beginning! Level 92 "Square Dancing" (CCLP1 Level 18!) I was getting close to the end of the set. I needed another level. I didn't have many blob levels. And so I constructed this level in approximately 2 minutes. At least for a blob level, it's not really stressful or frustrating, so I think it's fine for CCLP1. I wouldn't be surprised if this level had the shortest design time out of all CCLP1 levels. The name is a reference to Blobdance from CC1. Level 93 "Progress Ball" The name is a pun on "progress bar", which I later found out was also a custom level title. As this is a late level in the set, it includes a bit more trickiness than usual, such as the fact that you have to enter the glider/fireball room through a recessed wall the first time and through the force floors the second time, as well as the fact that stepping on the button at (30, 26) will get you stuck unless the ball is in the proper position. Of course, these details are probably still pretty easy to figure out for experienced players. Another one I'm pretty pleased with how it turned out, and though it might've had a chance at CCLP1. You can pretty easily run through the big line of tanks in the southwest without using the blocks to block any of them off. Didn't feel like changing it since it's not really an important part of the level. I added the force floor at (19, 1) in an update. My reasoning for that was that if someone had astronomically unlucky timing, they could step on the (30, 26) toggle button while the ball was on the (18, 1) toggle wall and get it stuck on the left of that wall. But oh wait, if that wall's closed, then the ones next to the button are open, so no cook. Silly unnecessary fix (just realized that now) Level 94 "Bridges for Bugs" You know what the set really lacked, I thought? A long block-pushing level. Why did I think that? No idea, especially when Level 86 is already kind of the same thing. But as far as block-pushing levels go, at least this one is somewhat interesting since you're building paths for a bug and not just for Chip. It could also have been a lot worse; note that I limited it to about 1/3 of the map. This level introduces reuses (from Level 30) a mechanism I call "double cloning". Note that the clone button doesn't directly clone a bug; instead, it clones a ball which clones a bug and promptly dies. This way, the ball acts as the bug's controller boss and forces it to exit the clone machine to the north in MS, no matter what any previously cloned bug might be doing. Level 95 "Chomping Swarm" Remember Jumping Swarm and Slimy Swarm? This is like those, but with Teeth. I made a version of this in Levelset 1 that didn't quite work because if Chip was too far left, the Teeth wouldn't enter the force slide. I fixed that issue by designing it so that the entire playing field is several spaces right of the cloner, except for the path from the socket to the exit since the Teeth cloner is moot at that point. Also, the use of traps instead of walls to help keep back the swarm is kind of neat, I suppose. Using traps this way is a coincidentally similar concept to "The Grass is Greener on the Other Side", a Josh Lee level in CCLP1. Level 96 "Chip Away" The title is a pun I was surprised never got into an official set. The concept is based on the part of "Oh-Ho!" from CCLP3 where you have to clear some dirt and make a ball's bounce cycle longer, letting you sneak in behind it. In this case, you have to "chip away" at the dirt, locked doors, or chips to increase the bounce cycles and get the rewards at the ends. I think the level had some neat ideas, such as the multiple uses for the ball at (1, 22), but the core concept dragged at times. The chip line right before the chip socket didn't need to be that long. The hint is meant to get you past a couple of tricky decisions with your keys. You have to unlock the blue door at (3, 17) before the one at (13, 13), and at the end of the level, you have to unlock the yellow door at (17, 2) (which you can reach earlier, though it's farther from the yellow key) before the one at (6, 2), though in that case you can clearly see which choice is correct. I'm not sure the hint wording is quite as clear as it could have been. This level saw a couple of updates. First, I added force floors between the toggle walls in the bug line because I was having trouble with the bugs getting turned around in Lynx. Second, I changed the ball at (14, 18) into a fireball and added a water tile at (7, 17) so you could drown it and not get surprised by it when you're coming back through the (20, 17) force floor. Level 97 "Guardians" In Levelset 1, I made an extremely generic dodging level called "Guardians" that just consisted of concentric squares of monster paths, separated by full-tile walls, with chips in between the paths. Something like this: Well, I wanted to make it more interesting this time, so I compressed the old "Guardians", so there was no longer safe space between the paths, and put it in the middle, with four unique dodging challenges around the outside. I decided to have the monsters in those four areas be released when you grab the keys because that reminded me of the trope in various other video games or movies where a character grabs treasure in an ancient temple or something, and some monsters/spirits/golems come to life and start chasing him or her.... The first three dodging rooms look trickier than they are; in each of them, there's a spot in the middle where you can stand and the monsters won't get to you before you have a clear path to the exit (in the walkers' case, this is usually true). The Teeth room surprised me by being harder than I expected, but it's still doable. Depending on how you unlock the locks in the middle, you can make a swastika, but if you do that, you have no one to blame but yourself! Level 98 "Rube Goldberg" Whoo, boy. This is one of the hardest--if not the hardest--levels in the set. Tricky because you need to think ahead and keep track of what parity toggle walls and tanks will be in as things happen.... It includes a couple of concepts inspired by CCLP3. First of all, the level idea as a whole, where you need to set up an elaborate path for a monster to go through while Chip is stuck in a trap, is totally inspired by You Can't Teach an Old Frog New Tricks. Also, the key section in the west was inspired by Vulcan. Of course, a massive difference between this level and Old Frog is that in Old Frog, you have to make a lot of decisions that could cook the level before you can see the whole thing. In this level, I let the player see nearly all of it, enough that they can make the correct decisions without guesswork. For example, I even let you walk through the fireball/trap mechanism in the east yourself so you can see what will happen to the glider there. In an update, I added chips and chip sockets to the level, forcing you to explore the northeast before you start unlocking doors in the west. This way, you can see what positions the toggle walls and tanks are in, and therefore know how many times to hit each button. As a bit of trickiness, the only solution for the key section (as far as I know) involves making the glider pass over 1 green button...and 3 blue buttons. One annoying thing about the level is that once you clone a glider and hop into the trap, you have to wait quite a while to see if it releases you or not. To alleviate this, I tried to add some sound cues to the level that would play as the glider went through. The string of balls exploding bombs in the northwest is unmistakable to the ear when it happens. Also, in the same update where I added the chips, I added a toggle wall in front of the fireball cloner so it would shut off (and shut up) a short while after it had done its thing. Level 99 "I Wanna Be the Bit Buster" This level takes everything the set is about--friendly, intuitive, fair design--and throws it all out the window for one level of sheer evil fun on the part of the designer. It's only fitting for a level named after I Wanna Be the Guy, a game infamous for its extreme difficulty and traps that are unfair, creative, and made to do the opposite of everything the player expects. This was incredibly amusing to design, and apparently some players thought the traps were amusing to fall for, too, since a few people gave the level positive reviews. (And some gave it negative reviews, as I expected.) Just how many traps are there in this level? I'll count them below. Please don't look in there until you've tried the level for yourself! The hint for this level says "EASY" in all caps because, well, I figured some people might not like this level, so "EASY" is the password for the next level! Level 100 "Boss Battle" Even though this is the last level, I designed it pretty early...around 12th or 15th. It was supposed to be the midway point of Tiles 200 back when that was a thing, but I figured it also served fine as a finale for this set. The password is EASY because I think this level really is easy--much easier than #99 and miles easier than the previous action level (Water Slide). Fine by me; I generally dislike boss battles in video games, so the easier, the better. This is based on danmaku (bullet dodging) games. Since Chip can't really kill things in this game (other than by directing them into water or bombs), the "story" is that you're trying to infiltrate and sabotage a spaceship, so you have to dodge a barrage from its guns (which are shooting monsters at you) and press buttons to turn them off, then go inside, dodge the crew members, and bridge to the exit (simultaneously clogging its engine coolant tank and dooming it to overheat and break down). I intentionally made the patterns of the balls and the tanks pretty easy to discern and dodge. The fireballs are a bit trickier, as they're cloned randomly by blobs. The inside should be relatively simple. I'm slightly disappointed because when I built this level in Tiles 200, the spaceship actually looked vaguely spaceship-shaped. But that version was lost to the bit bucket along with the rest of that set. Try as I might, I couldn't pull off the same look here. At least the gameplay turned out the same. Conclusion What do I think of this levelset as a whole? I was quite pleased with the levels in terms of how fun they are to play, and I was especially happy to see the generally positive feedback from most of you who played the set! I'm also incredibly proud of getting 26 levels from this set into CCLP1 (and possibly some into CCLP4). One thing that I think of as a shortcoming of the set is that most of the levels are very easy to medium in terms of difficulty, and the difficulty curve is pretty flat until the last 15 or so. It's possible that, as the designer, the levels seem easier to me than they do to others. Still, there aren't any I would consider a challenge on the level of CCLP3 Level 100 or onward. (I've learned to appreciate difficult levels like the ones in late CCLP3 after playing them, though I didn't much like them initially.) Part of the reason for this is that I find it hard to design levels that are extremely difficult while also making them fair (giving the player all the information they need to solve them). I would try my hand at making a few more difficult levels in the sequel set, The Other 100 Tiles. I also think I tended to "play it safe" with the design in this set, not really toying with the player's expectations very much (level 99 nonwithstanding). Again, I would aim to change that a bit in To100T. Thank you to everyone who viewed my commentary! I hope it was at least a little interesting and taught you things you might not have known about my thinking and level design processes. I'll be starting the Developer's Commentary for To100T soon. Have a happy holiday season, everyone!
  6. 5 points
    Quite frankly, I wonder. Last night I had a crazy dream about Chip's Challenge. This isn't the first time it happens. I once dreamed that J.B. phoned me to ask me to help his wife get the role of Melinda in a film adaptation of CCLP1. I originally got the ideas for several of my levels (Two Sets of Items, Flying Saucer, Container Ship in a Cyclone, etc.) in dreams. But this time, it is even more nonsensical. I was checking CCZone, like I do almost every day. There was Markus' post about CCLP1 in the blogs section, but there was also a new post in my blog. That was strange, I didn't remember posting anything. I checked out the post and saw that it was an early draft of a post I had wanted to make for a long time. It was divided in six groups of three paragraphs each. The first paragraph of each group was about CC. The second paragraph of each group was a deep question and I asked that the readers post their answers in the comment sections. The third paragraphs were in spoiler tags. They were supposed to contain pictures from another forum, along with captions, but only the captions were there, and they made no sense without the pictures. I then check the comments section. There is only one comment, made by a member who doesn't exist in real life. His username starts with the letter r and he has no avatar. He answered all six questions. I give him a reputation point. I go back to the main page, and see that there are 11 members in the chat room. I then see that two members are following the blogs section, and I decide to follow that section too. After refreshing the page, I see that there are 49 members in the chat room. I put my mouse pointer over the link to the chat room without clicking, and this opens the chat room. Then, I see that there are two types of visitors in the chat room: registered members who are allowed to post, and unregistered guests who are not allowed to post. There are 49 registered members and a large number of unregistered guests (five digits). Nobody reacts at my arrival. I post this picture by accident and I don't know how. I didn't post a link to the picture, but the picture itself. Then, another member, probably random 8, posts a cat selfie. However, the cat in the picture looks a lot like my cat. I don't have a cat in real life but in this dream I do. I am horrified at the fact that a picture of my cat is available on the Internet and briefly consider deleting my Youtube channel and all my levelsets. Luckily, I soon realize that it's not my cat, because of the computer in the background, an old laptop running Windows XP. There are two open windows: a maximized browser window showing a forum (it's not CCZone), and a Chip's Challenge (MSCC) window that cannot be seen entirely. random 8 writes in the caption that the set being played is DwanT1.dat. Then, several other members post various websites. They don't post links to websites, but the websites themselves. Josh posts a magazine advertisement from the early 1900s. I try to copy all three pages of chat messages to a text document on my computer, but then I wake up. While this dream does not make a lot of sense, it made me discover one thing: I wish CCZone was more active. What do you think?
  7. 5 points
    I'm still letting that sink in. 500 is such a small, unassuming number as a number. It's a fairly short period of time in seconds, being just over 8 minutes. You can't do very much in 8 minutes. You can do a lot in 8 minutes (complete all but 5 or 6 official CC levels). It's an incredibly long time to have to make 0 mistakes during (Warehouse II, Cityblock). And when taken one item at a time, 500 is a veritable mountain. I'm not done optimizing, nor am I done with any of these scores (ok maaaaaybe done with CCLP1), but this is a good point to take a hiatus. These past dozen bolds have all taken a lot out of me and I definitely need the break to work on other pursuits, so for now I will just reflect on what it took to get here. (as well as the Chip Cup from the past 2 years, since I need to average 7th to lose this year... heheh) 500. Wow. February of last year, I scored 700 on Cake Walk to take 10th place in the original set and claim the Bit Buster award. I had 403 bolds at the time. Trying to go chronologically from here would be confusing, since I don't remember a lot of the specifics, but I do remember Ruben gained 1 second each on Teleblock, Lemmings and Jailer to reach 5,977,030 points and knock me out of the top 10 (November 30th). Naturally I refused to let this stand and went to improve my 413 Blobnet. That same day I spent a couple hours playing the level, at first copying Miika's 422 safe route directly and later using judgment to skip waits (but still no risks). This resulted in a quick 427, settling me firmly in 7th for the time being. But then I realized I could take a couple risks early on, cut a few corners and before long reached 431, meeting my goal of 430+ for the level. I am still yet to improve Block Buster or Cake Walk, but I'm much more confident in my ability to get a solid score now. The new goal is to pass Andrew Bennett on all sets: this seems doable with significant effort, but it feels like it can't be a bigger mountain than 500 bolds from 0 in this span of time. CCLP2 I'd gone through and picked off the easy bolds while playing through for the first time. This left me with some fairly significant execution challenges to overcome, and I made the mistake of sorting these into the same classifications I gave CC1 levels: Definite, Probable, Unlikely and HAHAHANO. Funny aside about HAHAHANO- originally CC1 had 4 levels in this category, being Blobnet, Blobdance, Cityblock and Doublemaze (I could see Block N Roll being something that happens at some point as 433 takes very little reacting). Now there are three, as I not only found 549 on Cityblock, but found and scored 550, beating pieguy!!! I'm not convinced my route is optimal, but I'm in the CC1 MS evolution page now anyway and nothing can take that from me (of the 500 bolds I have this is one of the ones I'm most happy with, and if you want to match it...well, don't be afraid to break the patterns.) Anyway back to CCLP2. The Definite pile was fairly small and easily scored. The Probable pile had a couple naive placements, like Jungle (seriously me?) and Island Hopping (only took about a half hour or so, wasn't too bad). Working through these didn't take too long to reach around 120 bolds, at which point I hit a wall. Oorto Geld II was a pain and I had to score it twice as the first time I missed the -.9 and got a -.0 instead. Iron Mysticus and Key Color also both proved much more challenging than I expected (Key Color in particular with a 1/10000 string of bad luck with the blob cloner blocking me the first time 10 times in a row...), but as usual persistence in attempting and practicing specific sections helped significantly. Wrongly pegging difficulties of levels continued as Icy Moat fell quickly (I expected to struggle with the timing, but it was close to 49 Cell which I already knew) but Madd Maze was a full day grind, with an abyssal RFF room success rate (my route through has an extra input compared to the AVI or TWS routes, but this extra input helped me as it meant I had a consistent input rhythm), and then the blobs kept directing the gliders wrong >_<. Eventually I worked through all the easy levels, and so progress slowed significantly at 480ish total (I'd been working on other sets during the CCLP2 focus, but not as much). Pauseless Captured and first try traps Gauntlet helped, as well as saving a bunch of long sokoban routes for all in a row. After Cityblock, I moved to CCLP3, scoring two new records (Countdown with Hornlitz and Get a Clue solo!) and copying a bunch more routes. Checkers and Flame Thrower were two non-public routes I was able to find with minimal difficulty as well. Flame Thrower in particular was a lot of fun to work out a route for in the editor, and then I just adjusted when I would pick up certain chips and scored 370.6 immediately. A small tweak to the last room to trade [1] for [2] and a chip was all it took for the bold of 371. I also found the Alphabet Soup route a few days before scoring it (thanks James for pointing out that my 948 was the 949, but missing a move in execution which snowballed >_<). Three days ago I got access to MSCC. It was the second most frustrating experience I've had with this game (I'm getting to the most frustrating, don't worry) as Every. Single. Input. was delayed by an entire move. I had to count out how many times to press the key individually, then not screw up the rhythm and on the longer walks I was counting "1-2-3 1-2-3 1-2-3 1-2-3 1-2-3" or "1-2-3-4 1-2-3" or something else like that. The actual teleport skip in Graduation was trivial. This was bold 493. The previous two days were spent on long sokobans. On the Rocks and Mind Block were both very simple to score, especially after noticing Mind Block had a consistent pattern and 'merge point' in cloning another block. One of the biggest route memorization aids I've found is finding a place that must be visited between phases and remembering what happens between those visits to that point. For Warehouse I, the next bold I scored, that was dropping a block into a bomb. Executing and remembering the route took a couple attempts, but was ultimately much easier than I anticipated. Yet Another Puzzle took a few more tries than I expected but was still fairly easy. And then we got to Warehouse II. I tried scoring Warehouse II back when I first played through CCLP2 last year. It didn't end well and I took b-191 initial solve. I expected a repeat, but all the maneuvers made sense to me this time around (thank you, optimizing Shifting Maze out to 832!) and I was able to score the perfect decimal after only about 60 minutes! I expected it to take much longer than that. Oracle II on the other hand, was an interesting blend of everything thus far. Long opening (2.5 minute first room, very easy to remember) and then a more complex second half that I kept making small mistakes during. I was still able to score 598 after another hour or so, though it nearly gave me a heart attack when I lost 3 moves on the final trip up from the bottom! (oof, oof, missed spring slide) And so I reached 499 MS bolds. All the way back at 470ish I decided that number 500 should have an appropriate title and you already know it's Which One Next? This was a dumb decision. I regret everything. This was the most frustrating experience- not for remembering the route, no, that was easy with a carefully notated map ( http://i.imgur.com/VldpXwA.png). All of my frustration here came from execution, as there is really nothing hard in this level (other than the 11 teleport run about halfway through). But I kept screwing up the simplest things, and it took me 3 hours of attempts (over the span of a lot longer than that) to realize I was trying to teleport too fast. Slowed down the pace, found the right rate, and had a flawless run going all the way until 30 seconds left, where entered a station from the wrong side. Then I had another perfect run to the very last teleport sequence, where I still went too fast. Finally, I managed to not screw up the ending after losing [1] in the 11 teleports to take my 795 and 500th bold. I am not looking forward to Oversea Delivery after that. Anyway, thoughts on a couple levels and stuff! CC1 levels Lesson 7: Taught me how to boost sort of okay. I kind of brute forced attempts until scoring bold 20+ months ago. Trinity: Taught me how spring slides sort of worked. I kind of held the key every time and hoped to change directions right. Now I know to double tap things. Hunt: Taught me that following every step exactly the same as a reference route is a recipe for dumb mistakes. I copied the beginning and then just made up a path for the rest as it really didn't matter. Blobnet: Much much later, taught me how to spot whether blobs were on their moving turns or their non-moving turns. Blink: Taught me how to spring slide properly- with the double tap and then direction change. I do still hold sometimes for when all the direction changes are equally offset, however. Arcticflow: Taught me that practicing specific areas was much easier with a copy of the level edited to only be that area. It still wasn't an easy bold at all. Mishmesh: Taught me how to play off a map. This has come in handy a LOT. Seeing Stars: Taught me that pausing to help remember routes was viable. I've since honed this quite a bit farther, but for the sake of real time I rarely use this technique. I Slide: Taught me the value of good notes. This has also come in handy a LOT, and not just with simple moves. Combining an encoding, textual instructions and a map on the side is how I execute routes with a lot of variety and backtracking. Spooks: Taught me that pieguy is unsurpassable, and sometimes unreachable. Also taught me that J.B. is nearly on the same level. Four Plex: Taught me that the publicly available route, even when it's the bold, isn't always perfect. Cityblock: Taught me that pieguy is beatable, hooray! Mixed Nuts: Chips under blocks are apparently my specialty and I learned more about how spring slides work to save time here. Still not enough for a new record.. :/ Mix Up: Taught me I could remember long sokoban routes. It was around here that the reasons why certain orders saved time started clicking for me. Yorkhouse, and to a lesser extent Catacombs: Taught me not to trust Andrew Bennett's probability calculations. They always err on the side of optimistic, as Catacombs is 1/655 and not 1/455 and Yorkhouse is way below 10% odds. The grind was annoying, but... CCLP1 levels Graduation: Taught me that MSCC is garbage and how did I ever play with this and how did anyone ever put up with this and how does James even manage now it's impossible. Also, Teleport Skip Glitch is easy someone add to Tile World please so I can score Skelzie. Wedges: I can blocks! Tetragons: RFFs aren't that bad... Square Dancing: Always test your routes before counting moves, and always count the free first move when counting moves. Descending Ceiling: If something seems weird about the scores people have, there's probably a couple tricks to find and each person missed a different thing. Applied to Get a Clue. (hint, hint) Who's the Boss?: Shift-O is dumb. H2O Below 273 K: holy crap this game gets hard to execute fast wow (273 -.9 still very happy with this thanks) Mini Pyramid: Yeah, chips under blocks are definitely my specialty. Chip Kart 64: Note to self: sliding less tiles is faster than sliding more tiles due to more overrides and boosts. Colors for Extreme: Keep an eye out for blocksliding opportunities. Technically applies to Booster Shots as well, but this came first chronologically so Bowling Alleys: Just because a lot of the top players have the score doesn't mean it's optimal. Also applies to Get a Clue, but this came first. Also, just because you barely scraped another second out of the level doesn't mean that your decimal is optimal. The Shifting Maze: Yep. I can definitely blocks. Shuffling everything around, more loops, small timesaves, small "hey I don't need that!" moments... this is probably one of the most complex CCLP1 routes to develop. Time Suspension: When grinding RNG, set aside an entire day, have other things prepared to keep from getting bored, and the pull of a new record can outweigh a lot of tedium/boredom. Also, walkers are worst monster. By a lot. Portcullis: You can slip by the single ice tile clone thingy in Lynx. Huh. Easier Than It Looks: Ok seriously if the same route hasn't scored a second higher yet it's not going to without a change. Also, pay attention to teleports and where they lead. This can shortcut (hi Countdown!) Cineworld: Half waits suck. CCLP2 levels Use the Fish: Taught me to just boost for it when failure means death: going to slow means a restart in this setting! Madd Maze: RFFs suck. Just thought you ought to know. Just Enough: Tedious, tedious, tedious, so glad I get to copy a route instead of have to iterate the timing of everything myself...ugh. Roller Coaster: Just because the AVI is perfect doesn't mean I have to be perfect. Think through if moves can be lost, and if so, where do they start mattering. This goes double for the TWS losing 0 to the blobs but 6 to the walkers. I lost 8 to the blobs and 0 to the walkers in my run, since the walkers will often either let you past or kill the attempt. Monster Factory: Sideswipes exist. Better routes for travelling salesman problems don't. CircleMaze: Pay VERY close attention to heavy boosting sequences. 475 takes very little luck and 476 does not require >R (override) >R (override) >R at the end. Captured: Mouse clicks aren't so bad... Gauntlet: Random results will behave differently for everyone. I knew this already, but James mentioning how bad it feels getting stuck in the trap on 458 potential had me expecting it to happen on my first try past the walkers, so I was pleasantly shocked when it didn't! CCLP3 levels Lot in Life: Illogical routes sometimes trump logical routes. My poor 95 MS....my 95 Lynx though is pretty logical. Not easy to find without the right insight, though. Map the Path: It pays to be in the right place at the right time for the scoreboards. I was around when J.B. found 245, and was able to find it before anyone else came online. Looking back, I think this is the moment I realized "yeah. I can actually do this optimization thing." Recess: Even bad levels make CCLPs sometimes. Spiral: See previous level comment. Blazes: James gets ridiculous insights with monster interactions. Pay attention to them. Get a Clue: Pieguy is not perfect. I am able to find things he missed sometimes. (This, combined with the imminent J.B. look got me to take a look at Cityblock and score 550). Flame Thrower: Just because one person found routing the level easy/hard does not mean I will find it easy/hard. J.B struggled, I had no trouble. Conversely, James found 825 on ACD and I still don't see how an improvement isn't 826. I suppose finding a "half cycle" on the balls would be the key. Once Upon a Troubadour: Moving mouse clicks are a pain when boosting is involved. At least it's short. Countdown: Just because bold has been reached doesn't mean you should stop looking. Shoutouts to Shane for finding the trick I missed to raise 71 to 72, though if we hadn't, triple joint bold with J.B. would have ensued Checkers: Miika is really good with blocks. Listen to his ideas. In Lynx, slaps are awesome, splash delay is not, avoiding splash delay is. Mediterranean: Collabs are awesome. Long teleport runs are not. Which One Next?: Ok, what did I just say? Oh right, long teleport runs are not awesome. This is a bad level. Yay 500 bolds with appropriate title (and 501 has a recommendation already). Lead Us Not into Temptation: Walkers are still worst monster. Also this is more likely than Time Suspension, which is still unconfirmed. Despite the route having been public since I scored it. Manic Depression: Sometimes, just sometimes, randomness will go your way the first chance it gets. Also cross checking into rams is awful and the first bunch of this level is a huge pain. Mr. McCallahan Presents: Some busts are convoluted and use every part of a level and several obscure mechanics. This helped me fix Fish in a Barrel before anyone else caught the ridiculous MS only bust in UC4. Chip Cup I would have had a real shot in the 2014 Cup had I been around to enter the super competition...oh well. I still did well for what I was able to enter. I went into the 2015 season aiming to win, and so far I've built up quite the lead. Got sniped on the pieguy award with the survival competition last year by pieguy himself. Still haven't had a single treasure hunt competition to enter. Sometimes, the rule that better Lynx scores are counted as equivalent is silly when Lynx is clearly faster by a significant margin. The Power of Slide Delay Compels You! is a great level and I had a lot of fun trying to make everything I wanted to do with it fit into the level, as well as tweaking the slide delay rooms. J.B. is not infallible with optimization and can be beaten in time trials (I did so twice!). If a level gets updated, always look over the new possibilities. The past 22 months have been a ton of fun. Here's to another long period of time, more intricate routes, more fun levels and stellar community packs! I'm coming for that CCZone Awards Leaderboard overall first
  8. 5 points
    Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve had the opportunity to playtest the forthcoming CC2 for bugs and other issues before its May 28 release. As part of that, I recorded a blind Let’s Play of the stock game and its 200 levels, which will go live on YouTube starting on release day. What can you expect to see in the game? Here are a few hints… WARNING: Minor spoilers! There’s quite a decent difficulty curve and plenty of variety to satisfy players of many tastes, with many levels of different sizes and gameplay styles. If you’ve played Chuck’s Challenge, it’s worth noting that quite a few of its levels were based on CC2 compositions. There are at least three levels that reference CC1 in some way. There are also plenty of level titles that would later be used again in custom and official CC1 sets. A few level titles: CHAMBER BOMB, SMUGGLER, PATTERN BUFFERS, IN THE SLIME, SAUCE FOR THE GOOSE, CHAOSLANDS, IDENTITY CRISIS. No worries - there aren’t any levels that are quite as long as ON THE ROCKS or PAIN here! One level is an early version of a level that would later appear in CCLP3. Speaking of CCLP3, some of the late game arguably approaches its difficulty, at least in the early triple-digit range. You can place doppelganger versions of yourself or Melinda on the map to do your bidding (defined by a red, opaque background), but you can also place multiple copies of yourself or Melinda as well. In the latter case, you’ll have to get everyone to the exit, making for some interesting puzzles that involve switching between characters. Want all the collectible bonus flags in the game? You may have to wait a while. The levels were designed before the turn of the century, so if you’re familiar with the level design techniques commonly used back then or in CCLP2, you know what to expect here. Before it was ever used in “Chance Time!” or anywhere else, the “choose your own adventure” level layout was first introduced in CC2, as shown in the level pictured below. There’s a level with 207 teeth. Get ready for a lot of strictly timed levels. Using other items or enemies to pick up and drop items will really mess with your head. There’s a level with 900 chips, and yes, they’re all required. The yellow teleports truly are a precursor to Portal. Not only do you have to think about where to place them, but in some cases, you have to place them in such a way that you can later partial post and pick them up for subsequent uses.
  9. 5 points
    Background information (VERY LONG VERSION): Background information (VERY SHORT VERSION): Levels 1-10:
  10. 4 points
    Chip's Challenge 3 is apparently happening eventually. Here are some improvements from CC2 that I would like to see. Need-to-haves: A sand tile. This would block monsters and blocks but allow Chip and Melinda (with hiking boots?) to cross. There is no tile with these properties in CC2 while even Chuck's Challenge has one. Using fake green walls as a block blocker is awkward. A no-drop tile. An overlay tile that prevents boots from being dropped on it. Blank no signs and no signs with irrelevant tools technically do the job but they are unsightly and don't convey their intent as well as a dedicated tile would. Native support for zero-directional blocks. This is the most commonly used "hacked" tile and is a logical extension of the other directional blocks. Wiring on a separate layer. Wiring in CC2 is powerful, but still held back by their restriction to being placed on just floor and steel walls. The ideal solution is to combine the best of CC1's connection system and CC2's wiring system and allow wires to exist on a dedicated layer. Visibility while playing a level could be toggled by a key and they could appear as a transparent overlay. This would also fix the oddity of pink and black buttons not appearing when hide logic is on. More consistent monster behavior. Bugs and rovers should not avoid canopies. Fireballs and ghosts with flippers should not avoid turtles. Rovers with fire boots should not avoid fire. Support for bowling balls starting on clone machines. The ghost setup takes up an absurd amount of space for such a simple result. Allow blocked green teleports to be skipped over. Support for lowercase letters. Give teeth monsters north-facing tile, and give blue teeth the same number of animation frames as red teeth. Automatic recording while playing a level, like Tile World's. This should be easy to apply to normal play since it already exists in the editor. Higher res graphics, 64x64? No 3D graphics like Puzzle Studio or Chuck's Challenge please Extra green chip/bomb tiles. More diverse sound effects. CC2 has fewer sound effects than the original Lynx game despite the wealth of new elements. Important bug fixes: Disallow hooks from attempting to pull monsters. Disallow the player from being able to slap monsters. If blocks can be pushed consecutively on floor, allow them to be pushed consecutively on force floors. Trap logic fix, including multiple trap button problems and the issues with wired traps Consistent snatching and hook block slapping behavior (i.e. not monster order related) Flame jet max distance fix The two disappearing Chip glitches and the Waterbirth glitch Thin wall on closed side of railroad should not have any effect except when the RR sign is equipped Allow player to step off force floor if they start the level on them Allow key inventory to exceed 255. Want-to-have fun stuff: Allow blocks to be pushed at 2x speed when Chip has speed boots. Make blocks have no effect on recessed walls. This would revert their behavior back to CC1. Ice blocks and directional blocks would still be able to be pushed on them, and turtles could still retain the CC2 "flicking" behavior. More thin tiles: walls are the only tiles to have thin versions of them even though other tiles could be adapted to this concept. Puzzle Studio has thin toggle walls. Thin gravel, thin force floors, thin recessed walls, etc. have potential. Lasers: Puzzle Studio and Escape have these. A beam it shot in one (or more) directions until stopped by a wall and other elements like blocks and perhaps monsters. Chip dies when hit by the beam. Maybe a beam receiver that converts the beam to an electrical current. Reflectors: Chuck's Challenge has these, though they apply to the spitter enemy. Pushable block that reflects bowling balls and lasers 90 degrees. Could be rotated with train tracks. Logic gate enhancements: Add NOR and XNOR gate for completeness. Add diodes which allow current in only one direction, the ability to specify a delay in frames from 1-10, which will make synchronizing circuits easier and remove the need for chained OR gates (Circuit City contains an example of long OR gate chains) "Frictionless" blocks (don't have a better name): Copy of the yellow blocks from Escape. These are blocks, once pushed in some direction, that continue on a straight path until they hit an obstacle. Think of tanks but pushable in any direction by Chip. Score gate: Exists in Challengo, essentially a socket that the player can open if they have enough points but will deduct from their score.
  11. 4 points
    Yep, it's that time again, where a designer puts some record of their thoughts about their levels for everyone else to read. Today I'm going to be talking about Ultimate Chip 6, which contains 60 levels and will probably not be updated for quite a while to come. So let's dive right in! 1. Welcome to the 21st Century This was one of the first levels I put together after the time trial designs, and the goal was to craft a simple itemswapper with a very sprawling feeling to it. Does it feel like something that would have been made around the time CCLP2 was made? Possibly- but the design still has the modern touches of no rooms or hallways being diagonally adjacent. That's something that I personally don't like the look of in most cases, and that's why this level curls back in on itself. In hindsight, it's not the best introductory level for this set, but I didn't really have a better one, and I'm not unhappy with it as it shows that UC6 can and will contain... whatever I felt like throwing in. 2. Quantum Tunneling After Miika ran a mini TT with his own level, Twice the Fun, I decided I liked running through the upper ball corridor, especially with how the balls would bounce off to always allow passage if the first was survived. So I went with that on a smaller scale, added a bunch of bombs and a force floor slide to give the balls a second purpose, and had an easy level that was pretty fun to play. 3. Snowball Mountain Back to back ice aesthetic levels! I tend to use ice and force floors a lot in my designs, and also have an aversion to large empty spaces (that I'm working on, thankfully). Anyway, this level was originally conceived as a maze TT level, but it proved too easy to route. Level name borrowed from Ape Escape 2, continuing the trend of monkey game named ice themed levels after UC3's Frosty Retreat, UC4's Hot Springs, and UC5's Snowy Mammoth. Unfortunately, I'm out of Ape Escape ice levels without monkey puns in the name for the future! 4. Repetitive Repetition I had just watched the Game Maker's Toolkit episode on Hitman and the art of repetition, and had the thought- what if I could turn that into a CC level? That's kind of what optimizing already does, but how can I capture that feeling to create an entire level around it? Then the concept kind of morphed into "hey, let's make the same room 3 times but with minor variations that allow shortcuts lol" and it's not that good of a level. However, I've since re-used this repeated room idea to make a much better level that very few people have seen- I'll release it eventually guys, but for now, James says it's super legit. 5. Key Free The original idea here was a puzzle level where you'd alternate sides taking keys and boots and having to move several objects around in a multi-stage puzzle. Then I couldn't figure out how to begin designing such a puzzle and still don't have a clue (concept is up for grabs!), so around Thanksgiving I sat down at a relatives' house and threw this together. One of Tyler or Shane got tripped up by this level, surprisingly. It's pretty easy with a load of extra keys, but as a little optimizing bonus it's possible to end with the fire boots on the left side, saving some time. Honestly, that little tidbit is why this level stayed in its current form- I added a decent amount of little bonuses for the attentive in this set, and I'll point them out in these musings. 6. Sneaking in the Back Door Ahhh, this level. When I set out to build this level, I knew I wanted it to be rotationally symmetric and on an island, but beyond that I didn't have too much of an idea. Then I decided to place chips with a lock on one side, and a bomb on the other. This led to adding a teeth monster in order to skip a key, and the original design had 2 of each key and 1 teeth, requiring 0 teeth bombs. Then I changed it to 4 teeth and 1 of each key, and wasn't sure which version was better, as this was meant to be a fairly easy level. Mostly thanks to Miika's suggestion, I took a third option of 3 teeth (better symmetry at the start!) and 1 of each key, requiring 3 back door entries. You do have to be a little careful, but it's still not too difficult. 7. Tonberry Estates Walls from Key Farming, was entered in the Walls of CCLP1 create competition. Again, I'm mentioning Miika, but I'm sorry- that sokoban is clever and fits perfectly in the room. Oftentimes teleport sokobans revolved around partial posts, so I set out to build one that was non-trivial in that space and used the teleports as alternate loops. The rest of the level is some simple itemswapping, dodging and chip collecting, before some semi-blind fireball manipulations with a toggle button. I went through great pains to keep this part from being cookable, and I think I succeeded- though if you're not careful with the locks used earlier, you can render the fireball stuck. Don't do that. 8. Encased, Just In Case Oh look, a Time Trial level! This sort of chip collecting romp isn't too interesting to just play, but routing it was actually quite interesting. The original version of the level had recessed walls instead of red and blue obstacles, which would have created easier shortcuts but ultimately been less interesting. Other than that, there's not much to say here. 9. Tunnel Boring Machine I do like monster manipulation challenges quite a bit, and this level is nothing but a monster manipulation challenge, albeit a very lenient one with respect to monsters. You only need 8 or 9 total I think, and there are 16 in the level. That said, the dirt involved is a limited resource that has to be used somewhat carefully in order to access the central chips. Some will probably find this level boring (insert rimshot here) but I liked playing it in testing and still think it's a fun level- takes a little thought, but not full focus. 10. Tesla Foil Josh mentioned a concept about unmaking partial posts, so I tried my hand at building a level like that. Unfortunately, teleports can be pretty broken and the level is irredeemably busted. Despite this, the intended path is pretty interesting, using symmetry in design but distinct rooms to keep a theme going without overstaying its welcome. Oh and the ending has been described as "what" and "bonkers", even though it's just a toggle door path Even with the bust, this is one of my favorites from the set. Now I see why Andrew has done his designer commentary in groups of 10 levels. Must upstage everyone though- onwards to another... 5. 11. Red, Brown and Red Another time trial level, this time with a cloning theme and obviously inspired by Red, Green and Blue. Optimizing cloning is very difficult, as it generally devolves into chaos and just trying everything. My goal with this and the other level was to craft a cloning level based around ideas and specific smaller scale collisions, rather than spamming the button and hoping everything works. Did it work here? For the most part- the toggle door at the end was the trickiest part to try to route, and a solution one second faster than my 90% logical solution exists. When I was optimizing this (as I did so before the competition to ensure the process was reasonable) I identified a timing that would clear out the lowest bombs, and then tried a few variations with the spare moves I had until I found one that was fast. As a casual level, it's okay, borrowing more from Four Plex without the toggle buttons. Slightly tedious perhaps, but not uninteresting, thankfully. 12. Primordial Ooze Mazes with force floor walls have become slightly overdone in recent times- Forced Circuit by Josh, Jungle Fever by J.B., Cluttered Crosswalks and Bisection by me... these all do different things with the core concept, but ultimately are mazes where the walls aren't always walls. In this level, named after the second level of Ape Escape, I didn't really do anything to spice up the force floor sections. However, the water mazes I took advantage of the fact that they're water and added a few blocks to bridge to otherwise unreachable areas, adding a small thinking element to the maze. A few toggle doors to take advantage of the force floors later, and I had a symmetric chip placement maze that's actually pretty fun to play. The time limit is 280 because my time attack time is 2.80, though this will be dropping about .05 soon 13. Transmission After You Can't Teach an Old Frog New Tricks came onto the scene, full level monster guidance puzzles have almost universally been difficult, with Andrew's One Tank's Adventure being the easiest. Others that come to mind are Guiding Light (me), Set-up (Shane), Get the Ball Rolling (J.B.) and A Bug's Life (me), using most of the monsters in the game. I'd even tried making a level like this before I'd played OFNT that featured a blob, titled... A Boy and His Blob in UC2. However, that left a gap in easy guidance levels, and the humble paramecia is often forgotten, so I elected to change that. Side note- gliders and walkers still need this kind of level, unless there is one for either of them that I'm unaware of. Anyway, this level has another one of those bonuses for the attentive- there's no chip socket, as the chips were a last minute addition to try to trick people into doing extra steps. The dirt section can be done from either direction, the toggle and tank rooms require active attention (and setting up the tank room was a pain) and the ice room has been complained about, but it can be set up in advance or you can actually move the blocks with the paramecia chasing you! Yes, it's possible! 14. Interdependent Line Walls from Eddy's Honey Bomb, found in NSG-Rejects. This one was honestly inspired by The Witness, in a weird sort of way. There's nothing too out of the ordinary here, just a key ordering puzzle with a simple gotcha, a recessed wall section outlining some gravel, and luring a teeth through half the level to gain access to the exit. The means of exiting was something I'd specifically wanted to use for a little while, and the socket being only the first step out of several was another common design trope I wanted to avoid. Yep, UC6 as a whole looks at conventional design decisions, uses them for the most part, but the moment they became inconvenient I ignored them... which wasn't often. 15. Crazy Box LOL walker level. I still think Hysteria from UC5 is my best walker dodging level, but come on- it's practically mandatory to include one of these.
  12. 4 points
    First levelset dedicated to Miika: After being away from the game for over two years, I got interested in playing and designing Chips games once again. At first I just wanted to chose one of my favorite levels - "Road to Chip's Heaven" and totally rebuild it - which I have now done- called BRIDGES.. I started looking around the site to catch up on what has been going on. I realized that I had forgotten so much that I needed to email a few of my Chipster friends to relearn a few things, etc. Josh Lee was the only one that I was able to contact for help, which he has gracious been doing. When I was looking around the site, I read Miika's blog and noticed that Miika had also recently returned after being away for while. While reading Miika's blog, I saw a man that plays the game with integrity, not looking at an editor to see what to do. (I can't say that I do that) He likes to have the time to figure things out on his own. That is why I made the BRIDGES levelset. The two levels are just about the same except for the North West corners. The first level has no time limit to give the opportunity to figure out the level without running out of time. For those that like to approach the game like Miika, I had the idea that once the player knows the scheme of the layout, the player can then move on to play the second level to see how well it can be plaid - time wise. Also, the second level has a stealthy shortcut, which could be fun to discover. Due to Miika's approach to the game, and him coming back at about the same time as myself, I want to dedicate my first levelset to Miika. I have called it "BRIDGES" and have upload it. Note: Since I first made this blog (the first time), I discovered a mistake that I had made in my first upload, as I had added some block in the South East corner to make it look more symmetrical (that was a mistake) because I should have checked the level out before uploading the set. Well, since I had to fix that, I have made other improvements as well. plus redesigning the North West corner area. I left the North West corner in the second level the same as it was in the first upload. So, there are two version of that area. The first level's is probably a little more difficult. I apologize to those player that have already downloaded the mini level-set. I promise to do much better about checking things out. I am confident that BRIDGES is right now. It's good to be back! Ian Wilson-( thinker I.D.)
  13. 4 points
    This about the CC2 game engine compared to CC1. Not the levels or game elements. First of all, years ago; When I was first forced to start using tileworld [because MS chips challenge doesn’t work on 64 bit Operating systems] I used the MS rule set. That’s what I was used to and I liked it better. Lynx seemed very weird at first and I didn’t really like how a few amount of seemingly simple rule set changes really made for some major changes in level design. After a while however I got used to Lynx and grew to like it better. Now, I pretty much prefer it and I can’t really stand MS anymore. The main reasons; smooth animations not only look nicer, they make it much easier to play, to see where monsters are going and easier to follow chip around as well. Now whenever I play MS it feels so choppy and annoying. Secondly the glitches in MS are a pretty big hassle. Most notably slide delay and the controller/boss glitch. So it’s really nice to not have to deal with that. But now that CC2 has been released I must say that I like that so much better than either MS or tileworld’s Lynx. Not only because the game and the new features are awesome, but I like the game engine better. I feel like movements are slightly smoother and more fluid. It also feels like the hit-detection on enemies is friendlier than Lynx. So often when playing in tileworld I die while trying to step into a line of enemies or get caught by a monster when I wasn’t expecting it. I often misstep, either moving too far or not enough. If I’m really honest my playing experience with Tileworld’s lynx has been quite frustrating. Since I started playing CC2 I haven’t found any of these frustrations, at least not nearly to the degree of tileworld. The hit detection is very nice imo, the controls are slightly easier and feel better. I like the ability to reveal walls while passing by them, and the “splash delay” is minimal too. This was another nuisance in Lynx.* CC2 has its share of glitches too of course; some of which while I haven’t run into yet myself, I would image may be quite frustrating. But so far, nothing I’ve encountered has been as game-breaking as the MS glitches. Overall I really feel the improvements on CC2 far outweigh any negatives verses CC1. So for the most part I’ve stopped playing CC1, though I still play a level or two occasionally, I haven’t deleted the game forever or anything like that. But from now on it’s primarily CC2 for me. And any level sets I make will be for CC2. What other people’s thoughts on this? *this is a side point but that splash delay is weird imo. I recently saw a video of the Amiga version of chips challenge [which in graphical quality looks very similar to the Lynx] there is no splash delay at all!
  14. 4 points
    Hi, I guess I'm momentarily back. Recently I was hungry for a new puzzle game and decided to play through CCLP1. I was heavily active in the months before CCLP1, but burnt out too early to really play through it. I beat about 25 levels when the set was released, but quickly lost motivation and quit CC. So this was, for the most part, blind. I played the game on tile world lynx (as opposed to the awful, buggy and somehow popular 5fps port) and beat all but one level in 4 days. This isn't my return to the community, I simply felt like playing CC recently. I feel like I have somewhat of an outsiders perspective and haven't really been influenced by the hype. The set starts of exactly as you'd expect. However, after the well-picked lesson levels, CCLP1 presents a medley of about 80 levels which were all designed for the level 15 slot. No individual level was actually bad, however by level 100 I noticed that the set I was playing through hadn't reached Tossed Salad difficulty yet. Am I really not trusted to figure out how to dodge the enemies 2 seconds into Starry Night, or experiment on puzzles? I remembered back to the strategic dodging on Digger and Blobdance; the creative puzzles Four Square and Catacombs; and Blobdance and On The Rocks, which dared to be difficult. Due to an excessive focus on beginner-friendliness and "fair" design (can it be beaten it in 1 try), CCLP1 is simply boring. This is not a replacement for CC1. I understand that this game was targeted at beginners, not me, so please don't get too offended by anything I say. I know I'm being harsh. But this is just how I personally felt about the set. After the early-game snoozefest, however, the set becomes a lot better, and I enjoyed most of the triple digit levels. If only the set had reached this point sooner, and I see no reason why it didn't, I would've really like it overall. Thief, You've Taken All That Was Me was hands down my favourite level in the set. I guess that shows what kind of a game I was hoping for. Will I come back for CCLP4? Perhaps. Right now I'm even entertaining the idea of LPing it, but who knows how many times I'll change my mind in the decade before it gets released. One thing's for sure: if I ever play that Chips Challenge set, it's because I want a challenge. Something with a difficulty peak that puts CCLP3 to shame. But that seems unlikely, since certain members of the community will denounce anything that takes them more than one attempt to beat. At the very least, I want that feeling of being stumped by a puzzle. And that feeling of solving it after so much time and thought. I only weakly felt that twice in the four days it took me to finish this set.
  15. 4 points
    Okay, so for the last few days y'all have been making me look bad because, oh wait, I HAVE A LIFE. Well, a job anyway. Chip's Challenge 2 is pretty fun so far, but I'm only about a third through so we'll see. I would imagine that the call for new level packs will come in time. Some of you have already finished all 200 levels. WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU? I really hope we see some way to import levels into the editor, or make complete level packs in another tool. In the meantime, there is no reason to drop CCLP4. It might, in fact, play a supplementary role to CC2. People play all the level packs and say "isn't there more than this?" YES THERE IS.
  16. 4 points
    Shortly after I finished playing CCLP3, I started calling for CCLP4. Larry, in his infinite wisdom, said (and I'm paraphrasing) "Slow down there, young Newly! You don't wanna go off half-cocked." In the intervening years we got a very nice set put together (CCLP1), and it resolved the "we must do SOMETHING" feeling inside me. However.... Now we are at a bit of a crossroads. It takes at least a year to make a set. We went four years between CCLP3 and CCLP1. That is the outside limit in my mind. If we don't make a plan now, THIS YEAR, then CCLP4 will languish like CCLP3 did, and it'll take new "annoying boys" to get it going again. So, let's "DO SOMETHING!!!"
  17. 4 points
    Where was I? My friend came over to install Jezzball for me, and while he was at it, he also installed Chip's challenge. Then he opened it to teach us how to play, which probably was a good idea because I doubt I would have bothered to try it if I had never seen it played. (Oh, all the great computer games I might have missed because they look boring at first sight and I haven't bothered to try them! Just as well perhaps.) I'm sure all of my siblings where there to watch this new game. You're a guy named Chips and you collect chips. Yes, we thought his name was Chips. So what are chips? Who knows, they are something to do with computers and you need them to get passed that grey gate that guard the exit square. I remember that the game seemed quite dull. I mean, how much fun is Lesson 1 really? Still, I was a little bit proud after finishing it. I know that most of you guys beat a great deal of CC1 at the age of five or so, and here was I, 13 years old. But please bear in mind that my experience of computer or video games was (and still is) very limited. This was mainly due to two facts, general disinterest from my side, and lack of equipment in my home. We got a TV when I was four, VHS player when I was 12, and computer when I was 13. And my brother eventually saved enough money to buy an xbox360 long after I left home. Before CC, my computer game experience was limited to Free Cell, Solitaire, some other card games, Mine Sweeper, Pipe Dream, Jezzball and Snake. Plus some Super Mario on Nintendo 8 bit at a friend's place. Later on, I played quite a bit of Sim City 2000, and my boyfriend (now husband) taught me StarCraft (so that I would let him play with his brothers and cousins). Still today CC is virtually the only computer game I play. Anyway, my siblings and me fell in love big time with Chip's Challenge. I remember thinking that it was so perfect. It had everything it needed, neither more nor less. Four elements, four boots. Two elements that kill you if you don't have boots, two that don't. Water can be overcome with the help of blocks. Fire cannot. FFs can be forced through, ice cannot. One monster can walk in fire, one can swim. One monster turns left, one turns right, one turns randomly and one just bounces back. One follows the left wall, one follows the right wall and one follows you. And one is simply random. Another one is controlled by buttons. I could go on about everything that is perfect in this game, but you all already know it. I do think however that the ice block would have completed the tile set in a nice way, but back then I knew nothing about it. I did miss a key stealing thief, and in the beginning we thought he took both boots and keys. My one sister is just a year younger than me, the other & my brother came about ten years later so they were very young at that time. They would come and ask me or my sister to play "Chips" so they could watch. But we had to turn the sound off, because my youngest sister would start crying at the "bummer"-sound when Chip dies. We tried to teach her to play, but she wouldn't get longer than Lesson 1 as she refused to play any level with a monster in it. We also loved the music. Well, the happy one more than the scary one. My sister has it as her ringtone today, and "bummer" is her text message sound. Guess that means she's overcome her fear.
  18. 4 points
    Towards the end of 2011, a team of Chipsters formed to assess the need and plausibility of creating a new edition of CCLP2 for Lynx mode. We want to now issue an update on what has been slowly going on and some of the motivation for this project. Chip's Challenge Level Pack 2 was the first collaborative production of the Chip's Challenge community, collecting the favorite custom levels made by players for all to enjoy all in one package. Many of the levels utilized behavior of the game that were not possible in the original levels, most notably the use of layered tiles to hide objects beneath others. A scoreboard was (and is) kept and the levels are currently highly optimized. As a collaborative effort of the whole community, it is considered perhaps the most official custom set to be collected, and was followed up by CCLP3 and the forthcoming CCLP1. At the same time some ten years ago, the first version of Tile World was released, allowing players to emulate the Microsoft rules or, for the first time on PC, the Atari Lynx rules. The MS rules were the default that players were used to and the Lynx rules remained mostly a curiosity. However, somewhere along the way it was suggested and accepted that the next set after CCLP2 should also be made compatible with Lynx rules, slowly leading to more levels that were compatible in both modes of play. Over the years Lynx mode has gathered more and more fans, many of whom prefer the Lynx rules for their smooth animation and lack of MS glitches. For these players, it has been natural that some of them also want to take a look at CCLP2 and see how it plays in Lynx. The answer is that it plays poorly, which comes as no surprise since the levels for CCLP2 predate the option of playing in Lynx, or even knowledge of how those rules work. About half the levels in CCLP2 are not solvable in Lynx. Fortunately Tile World can recognize that a level with so called "invalid tiles" is not playable in Lynx and does not allow those levels to be attempted, but there are still over twenty levels that masquerade as playable levels that ultimately are not solvable. It is frustrating to attempt a level without knowing if it is solvable, so at the very least this information should be easily available to players. In addition, some of the unsolvable levels are frustratingly close to being fine and need only slight tweaks to be solvable. Some levels can even be "fixed" in ways that are indistinguishable to the MS player, while others would require more work. This has lead to some players making their own unofficial changes to the set. Releasing such a self-modified set brings forth both the question of ethics and creates confusion about which set to actually play. We feel that this process can be done better with input from more than one person and an agreeable version of the set can be released that addresses these concerns. Here follows some principles that guide our motivation for this project. 1) Admitting that there is a need to address this lynx-playability of CCLP2. Some of this reasoning is listed above, but forming a team and acting on the idea still needs this step to be taken mentally. This point gives purpose to the project and show others that we want to do something about the situation. 2) Honoring the past. We never wished to head into this project lightly or to offend anybody for changing part of the community's history. CCLP2 in its original form is a precious part of our past, and we wish to honor the set rather than supplant it. 3) Keep this a collaborative community effort. Part of honoring what has come before and part of allowing this project to be accepted, is to have input from many members of the community. And of course, it is more fun to build something together than alone. 4) Document the process and keep it transperant to help others see why things were done the way they were. This aspect is perhaps more important in a project like this that builds upon something that has been made by others, than something completely new, like CCLP1 for example. We wish to show our reasoning behind the decisions that lead to whatever it is we are making. 5) Release something in reasonable time. One could keep honing a project like this forever, always making small tweaks that make the final product just a bit better. We have already been discussing the levels for over a year, and while that is not unreasonable in itself, nobody wishes to see this drag on indefinitely. Now we are at the point where we haven't released anything but want to start more discussions with the rest of the community about this project. Please feel free to post your comments, concerns, and wishes below. This mission statement is the first explanation of what type of things we want to accomplish with this project, as well as an announcement of our continued existence. Next, we will discuss more about the practical goals we have considered to achieve, and then give an update on what has already been done and what still needs work. Anyone willing can still help us out in realizing this project, and more information on how to exactly do that will be coming shortly! Thanks for your time, and may the paramecia never clone when you feel Trapped! On behalf of the CCLP2 Lynx Team, -Miika Toukola
  19. 4 points
    With the addition of blogs on CCZone and all, I thought this would be a good way to discuss my first experiences with CC, CC1 in particular, since I did not have much knowledge of the different extensions, the level editors, or any of that complex (well, for me as a five to seven year old, I'd say it would have been pretty complex.) stuff. I'll start, in this first entry, by talking about some of the earliest CC moments I ever had, the first ever computer video game I had ever played, and is still my favorite video game on PC to date. So let's go back to 2004. My grandpa had an old computer, a Windows 98, that he didn't want anymore, so I asked my mother if we could keep it, and of course the response was yes. The entire BOWEP (Best of Windows Entertainment Pack, for those who haven't heard of it) had been installed on that '98, and I had fun playing all the different games, some of my favorites being SkiFree, Rodent's Revenge, and, of course, Chip's Challenge. The first time I ever played it, I figured out how to play pretty quickly, and sped through the first nine levels on my first day. I think after that was when I quit playing that day. I remember later that night I had a dream about a teeth monster in a factory-like building with thin walls try to eat me along with a pink ball somewhere. I'll remind you I don't really remember much of that dream, mainly because that was nearly eight or nine years ago. I spent five minutes admiring the first level of CC.. LESSON 1. I went on to complete the lesson levels and, either completed or gave up on Nuts and Bolts, the infamous first real level of the game. Without realizing it, at one point during that day, I had enabled Ignore Passwords with Ctrl+K (I think I used +K, not one of the other... two?). The next day, or, my second day of Chip's Challenge-ism, I figured out that all the levels had suddenly been unlocked! So I spent my time playing the ones that looked pretty cool, like Cityblock (you gotta admit, that's kinda colorful) Four Plex (my favorite CC1 level ever), and especially All Full. I can't remember that much of the early days of my CC childhood, but from what I do remember I'll try to explain in best detail in the next entry of this blog, which I could probably write a series of novels on. Let's just say I loved Chip's Challenge as a five, six, and seven year old.
  20. 3 points
    This is it, the final showdown with my thoughts. Wait, this is a thinly veiled FFX reference isn't it. HA HA HA HA HA okay this joke is overdone. 46. Synthetic Coral One thing I find quite interesting to play is a field of blocks and water or bombs, and all you have to do is move around, building islands as you go. In particular, Plastic in the Ocean from UC5 directly inspired this- what if instead of having to bridge to the corners, you just had to pick up chips? Ultimately, it's quite easy- no Pentomino Lake without picking up the flippers, that's for sure. Unfortunately, splash delay does seriously hurt the level in Lynx... and I still need to finish CCLP4 in Lynx, right. 47. Blast from the Past Finally, the first level I designed for this set! The only goal I had was to throw back about a decade, with pointless rooms, diagonal walls, and pointless boosting! Unfortunately, the level still ends up being fairly modern in its design, but hey- it's a fun variety level with 12 completely separate rooms with absolutely no interaction between them, nope. Don't even try sending the fireballs and gliders into the bomb room, I definitely didn't plan that to be a useful strategy and it most certainly wasn't forced on an older version of the level. 48. Happy as a Clam I think few levels show my usual design style more than this level. I built the central room first (symmetry, level branching off of one core interesting room) and then the fireball room to the right. The gliders followed (single block+monsters in varied forms, simple collision telegraphed) and the rest of the level followed in the order it gets played. I'm especially happy with the fireball stream trick to get the blue key, and the final tank shuffling puzzle. Unfortunately SOMEONE (Tyler) busted this level and didn't get the full experience... but Shane did because I fixed the level. 49. Confusion Cave My designer note for this level simply reads "Creative One Ways, Part 3?". I'm not sure how accurate that is, but when I tried resolving it well after I'd designed it I was quite confused, so I guess it does what I wanted it to. The highlight here is the fireball room and how it's completely impassible without a block. 50. Opal Shrine For this level, I used the walls of Wall Jumping Up Waterfalls to craft a non-linearly ordered variety level. The very first thing I tried to build in was a very lengthy final block path that would reuse most of the level, but this kept having to be scaled back and nerfed as there were ways around most of it. The initial release didn't require the block path it currently does as I had liked the shortcut, but after Tyler didn't even entertain the possibility of the intended path I took another look at the level and managed to require the oversized loop. In the final form, it's a fun level- I only wish the fireball manipulation was a little more clearly telegraphed in advance, as it's possible to fail right at the end. 51. Despotism Walls from Communism. There are some weird hallway block loops to manipulate a single fireball through most of the level. It's not too interesting to play, but I'm still proud of the fact that I fit a completely different level inside Communism. 52. Outlast Say hello to probably the only original concept in the entire set, because truly original concepts are hard to come by. Original executions, sure those are easy. But concepts? Have you ever seen a room where you had to keep a teeth from leaving a certain range, while also having to leave that range? The left room came first while experimenting with the concept of extending where you could step, and is rigid as a result. The right room followed as a "alright, now you understand it, now apply what you've learned" kind of room. It is possible to extract all 10 blocks, albeit not easily and it's not required in any case. 53. Immersion Circulator Walls from Miika's Hexominoes. While I was skimming through custom sets for interesting arrangements of walls, that level jumped out at me. Sure, it was originally used for a collectathon, but there was some serious potential for reinvention there. Once I stripped the level bare... I had nothing. So I built the outside aesthetic, laid down a few objects to partition the level (most notably the tank guarding two red keys) and just built upwards from there. This is probably the longest level in the set despite only having a 496 time limit. Why 496? Because it's the third perfect number, after 6 and... 28. Naturally, I ensured that's how many chips there were. That sounds like something Miika would do. 54. Navigating Neptune Obligatory blue wall maze with some shortcuts and I made the fireball puzzle first and kept that theming for rooms to open shortcuts. Okay bye. 55. Lebanon So, funny story about skimming through custom sets for interesting walls- Cyprus was a given. I immediately hit on the idea of limiting cloning to make a sardine can and then blockslide multiple blocks off of the same slide... but then actually executing the area took hours and was still broken for quite a while. Eventually though, I had a first puzzle and the tanks always changing (everything up to the fireball+tank room) and had no ideas for the remainder of the level, and it'd been sitting there for a while. Well, I had clone machines in place as partitions, but still. A month or so later Josh and I collabed and I sent him the half finished level. I got back the dodging sections and outer block part a day or so later- not what I would have gone with, but hey- it worked and was pretty fun! Though I noticed a few ways to squeeze out extra blocks from the end and made it required (touching the border is also required!) and telegraphed the gimmick of all blocks having gravel under them early, as it could be seen as unfair without that first block. Then I added my own block manipulation section to reach a hidden hint and called it a level. Time limit is 961 because apparently that's the area code of Lebanon. 56. Monotone I hope you don't dislike invisible walls. 57. Mystery Caves Mission statement: difficult linear campaign level. The first section was meant to have a bit of tangential story to it of a prison, and also set the tone with an "In a Nutshell" style area. In hindsight, it's a little mean to start there and force redoing it every time the teeth+ball room goes awry. I went back and forth on whether that dodging and manipulation was fair, but ultimately decided that it was since you can see what needs doing in advance. That said, the tank button to start the manipulation was the last thing I added to make it a little easier. Then you have a fantastic blockslide puzzle before a really cool ball room and a few assorted puzzles before a fake-out exit. I wonder if anyone will ever die to that walker. Probably not, but the room is lol. 58. Flight of the Prince Entered in the Movie Madness Create, which it won. Inspired entirely by chasing Snape down in Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, and the gameplay suits this. You see a green flash and something go off the tower, immobile, and then get to move when it dies, just like the story. Then you have around 20 seconds that demand perfection in Lynx and near perfection in MS, with some pinpoint dodging checkpoints and minor itemswapping. I love how carefully tuned this level is to work in both rulesets, something I couldn't manage with Extreme Hold Right Adventure. I do wonder if the design is too mean, though, as you do need to get a decent amount of boosts to even solve the level in MS. Regrettably, I couldn't keep a section in which the glider would merge into a 3 tile gap of pink balls and clone another, blocking the path for Chip. Why? Slide delay- waiting at the upper force floors would allow the glider to delay, bounce off a ball instead of merging in resulting in its death, and Chip could just walk into the fake exit. I tinkered with a few potential fixes, but ultimately settled on just making the slide delay not matter. 59. The Party We Have Never Seen Soundtrack for this commentary. Fire and water have such a lovely aesthetic that I underuse. Open-ended cloning puzzles are such an interesting design that, again, are underused. Sooooo I made one with a semi-open order. Gotta get to the bug on the right first to open the block cloner, then do the three chip challenges before the two socket challenges that subvert the normal flow. Shane picked up on the main trick pretty quickly, likely because I telegraphed it in advance. He also spotted a solution I didn't catch to the upper area, which I'm not unhappy with. Originally I wanted to force bridging around the bomb, but he found a clever way to use the existing blocks to guide a fireball over- nicely done! I'm not sorry for the random force floors on the exit path- good luck J.B., and at least it's untimed 60. A Chip Down Memory Lane And finally, the walls from Archie's RUN OUT OF GAS in a spiritual sibling to Mental Marvel Monastery. Fully intended alternate solution follows, with the description copied below: Everything seen here is intended- I designed the level to have two solutions, and this one to feel busted. But nope- every little detail that juuuust works out is completely intended! That being said, I did not tune any of the monster order or timings for this route. I'm pleasantly surprised by how little waiting around there is here. The overall design goal was to make a level like Josh's Mental Marvel Monastery- a throwback medley, of sorts. Strengthening the connection, I used the walls from Archie's "RUN OUT OF GAS" as my starting point, as Josh used Andrew R.'s "Producing". I also took care to make each part try to feel like something out of CC1- I'm not sure I succeeded, but that's why there are the (few) random pointless bits and certain other design choices. Levels referenced in some way: Nuts and Bolts, Elementary, Tossed Salad, Oorto Geld, Scavenger Hunt, On the Rocks, Lemmings, Seeing Stars, Chipmine, Bounce City (skipped), Reverse Alley, Block Buster, Now You See It, Short Circuit, Torturechamber, Miss Direction, and Alphabet Soup.
  21. 3 points
    Another day, another 15 levels worth of thoughts. 31. Blocks Aren't Us I remember I was just toying around with bridging levels and hit on the teleport arrangement in the southern room, and how just those teleports would allow access to an entire room of water. From there, I decided to make a symmetric minimalist bridging level, because it's a rarely done genre. Bridging levels are really hard to keep from being tedious, and I figured that 4 distinct approaches/minor deviations from full water would work perfectly for making an enjoyable bridging level. With those two thoughts in mind, I built the force floor room, then the ice room and the glider room. In the first version of the level, the glider room had 2 gliders and it was manageable, but ultimately I decided it didn't really mesh with the rest of the level so I removed one of them. 32. Autumnal Forest This was the last level I made for UC6, and stemmed from realizing I hadn't built the obligatory "variety/puzzle level where all the walls are actually blocks". While trying to come up with some new ideas of what to do with that design trope late at night, I had the following thought. "heheheh, what if instead of blocks I used LOCKS lol". Naturally, this turned out to be a legitimately great idea. The individual challenges aren't too complicated in this level, but to me it's one of those fun levels that just flows. I also love revisiting older areas, and passing back through the fireball room was something that I felt just needed to be included as one of the final steps. Keeping the current key count in memory while designing was pretty tricky, and keeping it bust-proof was trickier. 33. Betwixt and Between Walls from Fossilized Snow, before it became a CCLP4 level but after it was pretty clear it was going to make the cut. Around halfway through the sets' construction I looked through a bunch of custom sets for interesting walls to use as launching points, and figured that this could be used for... something. Quite some time later, I built a one block glider manipulation puzzle, using gravel and water to set two sets of boundaries. Finally, the means of exiting was something I hadn't really seen done too much, being a blind partial post off of the glider. Unfortunately, this wasn't very fun/fair, so I added the tank buttons to give an auditory cue. I play with sound on basically always, which seems to be a minority stance- but it makes sections like this so much easier! Oh, and the level is named after an area in Kingdom Hearts 2. 34. Hyperspace Runway Walls from The Last Starfighter and level originally made for the Walls of CCLP1 create. TLS was selected not because the walls looked interesting, but because it was level 28 and I asked Jessi what level I should use. Naturally, 28 was selected because a while back, I got a 28 cycle Specter in an any% no infinite jump run that still turned out to be the record (linked below). From there, I realized that TLS was actually quite an interesting layout, so I ruined it with a bunch of force floor slides and blocksliding. At least the glider room is legit. 35. Snow Worries Hey, another level named after a level in a game I used to speedrun, this time the 6th level in Ty the Tasmanian Tiger! In hindsight, this and the previous level probably shouldn't be next to each other, as Snow Worries is a blocksliding puzzle where the puzzle is figuring out how to set up a blockslide. Honestly, this is a level because I noticed the socket puzzle was possible (making a block bounce off a bouncing block) and wanted to make a level around it. The ending can be a little mean, but it's not too bad I don't think. 36. Center of Attention Nothing too special here, just a four quadrants variety level with a sokoban, a monster manipulation, and some dodging. Sorry about the ending, I realllllly shouldn't have left it like that but since I found a way to do it without precise timing or the monster partial post, I left it >_< 37. Unlicensed Archaeology Level originally designed for "The Five Rooms" create, where it placed second. I really didn't have any ideas for how restrictive the guidelines were for quite a while, and then I decided to just theme a level around blocks. Not just use blocks, but actually have that as the core theme. From there, the first room became an explosive romp, the third room a simple tank bypass, and the final room a simple symmetric bridging puzzle. That still left the second and fourth rooms, and the fourth seemed to fit a partial posting puzzle and socket clearing fun part easily. I can't think of a better description for the blue key search than "fun part" lol. Anyway, the second room was actually the first one I built and sent me down the rest of that path. I'm not sure exactly why I decided to use single blocks as walls with dirt as the enforcer, but I'm glad I did because it creates a natural series of small puzzles to figure out how to progress, and as the designer I had to make sure to leave a way back! Level named while streaming Tetris Plus and just discussing random things with Jessi. The phrase came up, and I knew it fit this level perfectly. 38. It's a Small World The very... second level I made for this set! Nothing too complicated here, just a teleport puzzle. I still had a lot of fun working out how to build 7x7 rooms in each corner, and I very much like the starting FF spiral. I guess being able to touch the border is unusual, too. 39. Christmas Armament This is easily one of my favorite levels in the set, less due to how it plays and more due to the combination of concept and execution. Basically, I had the idea of farming red keys to get to the next room from the center, but wasn't sure how to fill each sub-room. Cue me (blob) pestering my brother (tank), my sister (walker), and my mom (teeth) to each build a 7x7 and 8x8 room. The tank maze room and block/bomb room are probably the best two, but the teeth puzzle is interesting as well. The force floor room underwent a lot of iterations before I settled on the more complex variation- originally it was a lot simpler. 40. Obligatory Block Shuffling Level I needed to make a block shuffling level. I made a block shuffling level. The upper room came first and set the shape of the level and honestly isn't too hard, but the lower room took me a solid hour of tweaking to come up with. This is probably my best sokoban design to date with a couple tricky steps involved in the solution. What more is there to say about it? 41. Just Another Regular Thursday Walls from Dave's A Puzzle. Other than the invisible wall with the tank (not required to make the level possible, but made it more fun) and the throwaway joke of blue walls + deadly obstacles in one of MY levels... there's not much here. It's kind of generic in a charming sort of way. Hey Dave, if you ever read this does this level look/feel like something you'd have built? 42. Choice Tools Walls from Nitroglycerin, and entered in the Walls of CCLP1 create. This ended up being Miika's preferred level of my three submissions, but it couldn't go too far due to only being a maze. Which is a shame, because I put a solid 3-4 hours into making sure every combination was possible to beat the level with! Not even building sections, just tweaking the "final" level until I had a version that didn't care what you picked. The inspirations here are quite obvious I think- choices, choices and Tool Shed. This level is the reason I ran the mazes only create, which my brother ended up winning with TOTALLY RANDOM MAZE. I could be accused of nepotism with that judgment... but even Josh (runner-up) agreed that it should win If you're reading this Andrew- make more levels! They're good! 43. Fahrenheit Frenzy About halfway through construction, I decided I wanted to make a time crunch level. A linear fire themed gauntlet named after another Wrath of Cortex level. So I built the bug dodging area, and then it all went downhill when I couldn't resist from building a puzzle. However, I think the puzzle is actually pretty good despite relying on stuff under blocks (I may or may not have been trying to make a statement) even if Tyler busted it with spam cloning somehow. Another of my favorite designs. 44. Celsius Scramble Another of my favorite designs- Doublemaze already overlaid 2 mazes on top of each other, and Archie's Double Puzzle overlaid 2 sokobans on top of each other. What if we took this further with larger tiles (3x3) and took full advantage of the fact that there was ice? The result was this semi-maze, semi block moving, semi dodging/timing variety experience. The two best moments to me are using the tank to deflect a sliding bug into the teleport, and pushing a block into a teleport and then walking around to push it as it pops back out where it started. 45. Blue Narciss After designing time trial levels, I felt like making a level with the aesthetic of Eddy's Melody Rain. A single block monster manipulation puzzle followed. Those are kind of a theme in this set, aren't they.
  22. 3 points
    Onwards to the second quarter! 16. Arctic Antics I've noticed there are a lot of horizontally designed levels compared to the amount of vertically structured levels, which is interesting. Specifically, mazes often seem to have more horizontal paths with vertical connectors compared to vertical hallways with horizontal doors- not counting curvy paths. It's a strange observation to make, and this level was designed in response to that observation. It's "only" a maze with a blue wall/blue lock aesthetic and long vertical ice slides, but some of the blue walls are fake and there are a few extra chips. Just a couple more of those bonuses for the attentive, though of those who've streamed the set (Tyler and Shane), I don't think either of them caught the fake blue walls. Named after the first level of Crash Bandicoot: The Wrath of Cortex. 17. Retroactive Invocation Most keyswapping levels have you pick up keys, go somewhere with that key, and pick up more keys behind a lock. More advanced keyswapping levels will use the locks as the only gates to progress in a denser environment, such as Three Color Problem (me), Thinner (Cyberdog I think?), or even too many keys (pieguy). This level tried to do something a little different- recessed walls to "break into" the keyswapping area and get some early keys, and a way to save extra keys. Of course, some of those keys end up used in the second half of the level, which gives the monsters circling an extra purpose. Dual purpose design is always pretty cool, and something I've been trying to include more often. 18/19. Tanks / Tanks, But No Tanks Ahhh, yes. One of the few levels where I came up with a title before the contents. I don't make tank levels very often, and J.B.'s Genetic Experimentation seemed like an interesting set of walls for a constrained idea. After I set out to make a tank level, I had the brilliantly terrible idea of copying the level, but removing all of the tanks from it to make a pun. From there, I just built a few distinct challenges for Tanks, and added hidden walls and tweaked areas for No Tanks. There should honestly be more level that build off of/toy with adjacent levels- neither of these are too special on their own, but as a combination I absolutely love how they work. 20. Special Little Snowflake One of the sillier ways I make levels is to just start toying with interesting tessellations and see how they develop. Fossilized Snow and Three Color Problem are two examples of where I've done this in the past, but there are others. Anyway, this level is just a blocksliding challenge with an interesting twist- in MS, a ram is required. This was somewhat controversial, and Shane though it was unfair, so I'll defend this decision a little bit here- this could easily have been relegated to i^e, for instance. I decided to keep this level for three main reasons, but first, watch the Lynx solution if you haven't already. 1. There was no easy way to change the aesthetic/ice placements to make something else interesting, but non-trivial. 2. The solution plays out nearly the same in both rulesets. 3. After the Rainstorm has already canonized the ram. Now, point 3 on its own is fairly weak as it can create an inequality, and that's something I try to avoid. But that combined with point 2 was enough for me to give into point 1 and keep the level in its current form. Hope that makes sense! 21. Deflection Field Another level originally conceived as a time trial that was ran as one- though it turned out to be fairly easy to route. In the first version, the exit was where the suction boots are, but Miika had the idea of adding a runback and I liked it for both optimizing and casual play. Though there are 2 balls on every line, the dirt makes for a lot of safe places and ultimately makes this a very cerebral dodging level, which naturally is the kind I prefer. There's just something fun about alternating bursts of preplanning movements and mad dashes/quick reactions to things that you just don't get with a lot of melee levels. Naturally, Seeing Red is one of my best examples of this design style. 22. The Sound of Silence More than any other level in the set, this is the one that got me designing heavily again. After releasing the update to UC5, I really didn't have any more ideas for levels. Sure, I built the stray level here and there, but it seemed unlikely I'd have a large CC1 release again. After a couple months of downtime, I tried designing some levels meant for time trials, to varying degrees of success. But even that didn't really get anywhere, and roughly 6 months after the UC5 update, I had maybe a dozen levels. For comparison, I've built more than that in the past few weeks! Anyway, CCLP4 construction was ongoing at the time- I think voting had just opened, and I'd spent a lot of time playtesting the submission pool alongside the rest of the staff. And then, Idle Contrast by Eddy came up as a topic of discussion. Was it better or worse than Suspended Animation, which used the concept of trapped monsters springing to life first? Was it too simple? Was Suspended Animation too complex? Why was there no middle ground? Well, I decided to try my hand at designing that concept with the goal of settling the debate. In favor of my own newly design level, of course I started with the ball rooms where you start- I figured the best way to immediately communicate that this used the Suspended Animation concept was to have a visible exit blocked by trapped monsters, in a room that would allow passage if they started moving. From there the level built off naturally, with various challenges, connections and revisits. By far the hardest part was getting the controller/boss glitch to cooperate. If you look at the bottom right, when the tanks switch the pink balls can start moving, alternating directions every move. This conveniently matches the 5 moves between traps for the paramecia on the left side. The bugs were even trickier, and required some careful tuning of locations and sliding tiles, controller by the fireballs on the bottom left. The ice makes sure they alternate facing up and right when the bugs try to move. Finally, the teeth was the hardest of all- I needed 2 teeth, as only one would have it be released in the opposite direction. Even still, I couldn't find a way to make the teeth release in any direction, so I settled for just up/down. I'm really happy with how the flow of this level turned out, and even though it uses an existing concept, I think I changed enough and added my own flavor to it to be an original level. Besides, did the monsters ever... stop moving in the original? 23. What Lies Beneath And now, another level that was used for a time trial! Unlike the other time trial levels in this set, I didn't intend for this to be one. I just built another maze where the walls could be pushed (and had to be in the outside areas) hid 4 chips under blocks that lined up with the pattern (not required, of course) and noticed that it would probably be quite interesting to optimize. Well, it was, and Miika ended up sniping first by 2 seconds This is probably my favorite maze level that I've ever designed. 24. A Glide Amongst the Clouds Late in construction, I realized I didn't have a glider level yet! So I made one. The ending underwent a lot of changes, and I went back and forth on if 2 gliders were fair in that toggle room, but ultimately decided that yes, they were. One was too easy, anyway. Other than the ending, it's just some cloning to disrupt and some simple dodging. Enjoyable enough, but not really standout. 25. To the Dungeons! Recommended viewing: Alright, you back? Great. I'm sure you can see the obvious inspirations, with traps, layout, unreachable objects, and a leap of faith for that blue key. By far my favorite part of this level is the bottom right- the force floors spice up some otherwise simple ball dodging, and the single block manipulation of 2 gliders is . Also, that's going to become a recurring theme here... 26. A Wish Upon a Distant Blob Obligatory blob level but more interesting than the obligatory walker level. The lower left can be a little mean, but with the right strategy it doesn't actually take very much luck to complete. The middle section has a minor bust, but I'm okay with its existence. Overall, this level has some really weird moments and I think it succeeds as a blob level. Time limit is 436, the current bold to Blobnet. 27. Uphill Battle Hi I like hand-built block shuffling puzzles and you can't adapt them with ice or force floors and there's a gotcha/minor shift in style right at the end and I really really like this level. The force floor puzzle in particular, as it's half sardine can, half "how is this even possible" until you use the force floors to your full advantage. Another of my absolute favorites from the set. 28. Demolitions Expert Yet another time trial level- we're running out of those This one was paired with Red, Brown and Red and uses gliders as a counterpoint to the fireball cloner. It can get a little out of hand with routing, but ultimately I think it succeeded as a reasonable optimization challenge. Especially because everybody missed something sizable here. I couldn't figure out a way to clone all the gliders at once, and both Miika and Ruben missed the method of using only 5 red locks instead of all of them! I'm still surprised at this, as I specifically designed that in as a shortcut and I thought it was obvious... anyway, building the layouts was quite difficult to keep them rotationally symmetric and nontrivial, but also hard to cook. 29. Congregate Just a fun little monster dodging collection level with a blob and teeth that can wreak havoc if released early, but screw up fast routes if released late. Have fun J.B.! 30. Dissonance Amid the Storm Title taken from Touhou 14's Stage 4 title. Random force floors look quite nice, and using them as a path for hidden walls I thought was a really neat idea. Mostly, those paths just break up some precise running from monster in varied arrangements. Oh, and there's a joke at the players' expense here with the teeth. Another 15 bits of behind the scenes knowledge tomorrow, probably! Unless I'm too busy with a tournament. Or practicing for said tournament. Or working on CCLP4. Or working on Ape Escape time attacks. Or job hunting. Or relaxing. Or level designing. Or playing FF9. Or working on my backlog. Or coming up with more "or [activity]" phrases to include here...
  23. 3 points
    ...which you might have known if you've been paying attention. I had a good clean break of one year from this game, and now I plan on hanging around for a bit again. It's nice to be back. I see most of you are still here and even some new people have joined the mix. That's great! If our community wants to survive for another decade, we need new blood. Do hang around for a year or two, and maybe a couple of you will stay for longer. And for those that feel they've had a good time but need to move onto other things, do take a minute and say good bye. You'll always be welcome back! Last year I got a new job and moved to another country. It was good to have a break from CC. Things have settled down a bit now, and it's good to not be away anymore. However, I'm going to try to manage my time and efforts better than I have in the past. There are simply so many interesting things to do in the CCverse that I will need some focus to get anything done without having it overwhelm my life. Mainly this means I won't be optimizing the official sets as much as I'd like but will rather try to chat and create content here. It's very likely you'll still see an occasional score report from me, and in particular working together with other people on problematic levels is something I'll gladly be doing. I was going to list some of my goals and plans for the coming year, but now I feel like any such list would be lacking as I haven't yet totally caught up with everything in my mind. I did read my previous blog post and was happy to see I did most of the things I was hoping to do last spring. I would like to post on this blog about once a month if I can find the time. I would like to finish CC2; so far I have played half the levels. Of course I also need to sort out my scores and totals on the official sets, even without any improvements. I'll definitely be running some competitions and judging them, even though those always take up a good chunk of my available time. I haven't decided on what I will do with CCLP4 voting, but at least I'll keep an eye open. (To clarify, I don't know if I will vote on all the levels this time.) Finally, I have a ridiculously long back-log of semi-interesting semi-important projects that I'll try to wade through every once in a while. Thanks for having me back. Let's have a great time again! -Miika
  24. 3 points
    CCLXP2. I recently finished playing through this set and to say the least, it was a different experience than back when I let's played the MS version. Not by much, but different enough to call it out. The CCLXP2 project dates back to as early as late 2011. As we all know, CCLP2 was not crafted with the lynx ruleset in mind, due to the fact people were far more aware of the MS port instead of the original version. Over the years and especially after CCLP3's release, Lynx compatibly became more common of a ruleset, with many more designers crafting levels with both MS and Lynx rulesets in mind, instead of just the former. Because of this, various community members, including myself, took it upon themselves to make CCLP2, Lynx-compatible. For players who prefer the Lynx ruleset over the other to enjoy the first offical level pack (at the time at least). I was once part of this project in its early days, since I am a big fan of CCLP2. But as time went on and going through many hiatus periods, eventually I disbanded from it due to other reasons. Despite the fact it has been released for quite some time now, I finally found myself to take the time to play through it. I was very tempted to LP this, to go along with my old out-of-date MS run back in 2011 but I decided against it. As far as feedback goes, I will leave some for any level I found particularly interesting or more of a challenge. This includes the fixed levels and even some where the gameplay was slightly different but was still Lynx-compatible from the start. Warning, spoilers. (I mean if you never played the original CCLP2 at least?) --Feedback-- 14. The Parallel Port This was the first level in CCLP2 to use invalid tiles. Originally, every collectable item was under a fake blue wall and the path to the exit included an ice corner, which can't be passed through in Lynx. The fix to this was shifting all items to the upper layer and over some to require close to the same amount of time to obtain as it would in MS. While the level itself wasn't really interesting even in the original, I found it enjoyable to finally play it in Lynx. 15. Debug File I always choke myself up whenever I go back to watch Rock's run of this level and dying hilariously. This level went under very little fixes actually. Aside from the monsters not being on top of blocks, the way to collect chips was interesting. This was possibly the best (and only) fix for this and it was much appreciated. Got the bold on my first try too, without trying! 17. Double Trouble The fix to this was simply making it possible to move at the start. Originally, the glider would kill you instantly in Lynx. Not that this mattered because the level was unplayable anyway due to the thin walls being under some fake blue walls and normal walls under chips. I found it a little amusing that the pop-up walls in the fixed version aren't necessary. 19. A Sample of Things to Come I never was a big fan of this level but the fix to it was pretty simple. I like the new mechanism that replaced the original buried pop-up walls under the red locks at the start. 20. Ranger Denmark This level was always silly to me, but this version is very obviously different. Such that the fire was replaced by water and most the monsters were swapped with their counterparts. Still was simple as ever to solve though. 21. Block Away! I hated the original version but this one did it some justice, though not that much. I remember looking at this level upon this project's early days, figuring out what could be done if the wrong red buttons were pressed. That fix was clever, I never thought of it. The fact the blue keys next to the tanks were still there when viewing in the editor was nice to see, though me personally I would have swapped through some keys as to not add some like the lower right did. Finally, the way to exit. Great change. I disliked the original with traps under locks. Even though I didn't trapped in this run, had I done so I wouldn't have minded as much. 22. How Goes? Pretty good. (see what I did there?) I remember this change being brought up and it is indeed a great one. Does not affect MS's solution at all, which was part of the goal whenever possible. 26. Work Fast Surprisingly, I had a hard time at this one. I was so used to the way monsters moved in MS that it's completely different in Lynx. The glider section below was also a challenge to go through since splash delay is a thing. Overall, I enjoyed it but I probably won't replay it ever. 28. Madness I (LX) So this was the first level that had to undergo a big change. While it's appearance is quite similar compared to viewing the original, the gameplay is slightly different. Blocks moving against each other while on traps is actually a pretty clever concept and I liked it. I did get killed by the first attempt though, since I didn't pay attention to the display message before. 31. Well of Wishes While this level was already compatible with Lynx to begin with, I felt the gameplay was different enough to review it - notably, the glider part at the start. For the longest time, I kept thinking it was possible to go through it the same way in MS but I don't believe it is. Until I realized the flippers can be used to collect those chips. Even though it's possible to do that in MS as well, I never noticed that and I really liked that it was used here. 47. Tele-Rooms I really found it fun that I was able to obtain all the first chips in the east fireball room without stopping. A lot of levels in this ruleset do this and I found it nice. The only other difference I found cool was the blobs on ice. The timing to get past them a few times was a good challenge. 48. And Then There Were... Four? Of course those fire boots are still in the third column. I liked this fix, I remember it being brought up and it was well-received. Though, I don't think all the other red buttons needed to be there. 59. Lot of Danger The beginning was much more difficult, since you have no control over the random force floors. I honestly really dislked the paramecium part after this. I felt it could have had more wiggle room and less of a chance of dying by it. Other than that, this level was pretty good. 68. Madness II (LX) I just realized both Madness levels changed in this set. Anyway, the only changes were the hidden items and the force floors underwater right at the beginning. Mostly everything else is the same. It was a good level to play again. 70. Killer Spiral One of the few levels that I actually suggested the fix for (The other being Frost Swirl)! And a different style gameplay, since I couldn't rely on boosting like I could in the original. 82. The Block Stops Here (LX) The bomb section at the bottom was a well done fix. It was appreciated that I could actually kill off some of the gliders, if I really needed to. 85. Follow the Glacier Brick Road It was sad to see the original level's concept go but there was no way to replicate it for Lynx. So arguably this one was a lot, lot easier to solve. 87. The Walker Machine (LX) An actual level that requires you to erase blue keys? This may be my favorite level in this Lynx version. It was just a ton of fun to play and has so much replay value. I loved it, well done to whoever's idea this was! 92. Abandoned Mines The blob section was a lot more challenging here, since blobs act weird in Lynx. The force floors at the end gave me a headache. That's mostly the animations fault but still it was a pain collecting the chips there. Was still fun to play again regardless. 93. Exit Chip Okay. This level wasn't nearly as evil as the original. I actually kind of liked it? That's kind of hard to say though! Thankfully I didn't die by any ball on that ice slide, though I did almost get killed by the block containing suction boots in the NE. 94. Checkerboard II (LX) A good fix to the level but I didn't enjoy playing it. I found it easier to mess up guiding blocks in this version. I might have been impatient though. 96. Glider and Fire I remember there being debate on whether this level should stay or be replaced by a mirrored version that I made back when this project was first starting out. I'm honestly a little disappointed the mirrored version didn't get used here, it would have been much easier in my opinion. Anyway I had to watch Miika's lynx solution to this level to solve this. I especially hated the ending that requires nearly perfect timing to exit or you'd get killed by a glider, which is completely out of your control. I wish some were removed at least but oh well. In general I can't say I liked it, but it was definitely a challenging level. 99. One-Block Sokoban Lol I accidentally erased the blue key on the first attempt. Backtracking to get the green key before pushing the block was not fun. It couldn't be helped though. What could have been helped though was the teleport/splash delay cook at the very very end. That wasn't very nice, Lynx. 105. Yet Another Puzzle (LX) Still remained just as fun as the original, despite the change. It was a little harder to outrace the glider before getting stuck. 107. Joyride I I recommended a time limit increment for this level but unfortunately it didn't receive one. So the bold time is 2, which I find funny. 108. Tricks Block slapping made this level a lot easier. 112. After the Rainstorm (LX) Even though its not required here, I love the fact the force floor remains in that once called "Ram" section. Nice touch. 113. Oorto Geld II This is the true definition of a lame sequel. And the walkers didn't do it any better. Did not enjoy this one. 119. Teeth I never did play the version that required odd step but this was a good level. I appreciate the teeth in NE no longer releases out of it's trap. 120. Frost Rings (LX) Even though it's concept couldn't be retained, it was still enjoyable. Nothing beats the original though 123. BlockSlide No changes but because slide delay does not exist in Lynx, this level played sooooo much smoother. Loved it. 130. Frozen Birdbath (LX) I raged on this level in my MS run. I despised the original so much, it's my top least favorite CC level. BUT. This version did it so much justice. I loved it. Considering to replace my #1 least favorite level now. 131. Time Bomb (LX) I'm surprised this was mirrored and Glider and Fire wasn't. But it makes sense with this level, since the original had fire all over the place. The level was great. I don't know if it's the same gameplay just mirrored but it seemed harder to me. Great fix (or replacement I guess?). 132. Captured (LX) This one wasn't as annoying as the original. Quicker to solve as well! 136. Switch Hit I'm surprised the AVI for this level claims this to be unsolvable in Lynx. It was definitely more interesting here though, it had me stomped on how to exit since the way to in MS couldn't be done. 139. Frostbite (LX) I found this to be a little more timing based. Enjoyable to play though was never much of a fan of the original. 140. Keep Trying Moving with random force floors everywhere was more difficult than it should have been. But still fun to play! 143. Trapped The fact there still resides a bust here makes this level better. Didn't catch it until I completed it the first time, so I went back and executed that bust. 145. Gauntlet I don't know if it's possible to collect all 15 chips in the teeth corridor, but I didn't chance it. Thankfully the 2 at the end were useful for something! The walker clone machines also acted out with me and caused me to die several times. 146. Run-a-Muck Hated the original. Hated this version even more. I especially hated that a fireball in the west room goes in the ball/chip room which only made it unnecessarily harder. Sorry. 147. Cloner's Maze Just because gliders don't die in fire here, I went all out with the cloner and spammed it for a good 30 in-game seconds. Don't do that, it ain't a good idea. Anyway I had to watch chipster1059's video of solving this in Lynx because I was at a complete loss on some parts. While I'm pretty sure it's possible otherwise, I relied on collisions to collect the yellow key and one of the chips. I hated one collision but loved the other. Thanks chipster for the video assistance! 148. Neptune Liked the fact the traps made getting blocks in those spots for gliders to destroy the bombs much easier. I didn't enjoy this level that much unfortunately. --Final Review-- Overall, playing this was very interesting and most, if not all, the fixes were excellent. Thank you to those who worked hard on completing this project and I apologize for disbanding in the middle of it. You did CCLP2 some justice with this. I highly recommend playing this, even if you weren't a fan of the original. Rating: 8/10
  25. 3 points
    So I've got this problem called Life (capital L) which continually manages to get in the way of my CC2 time. Wife, daughter, work, home improvement, photography, reading, artwork, etc. I keep meaning to contribute to the community but lately I'm realizing that it will never happen if I don't figure something out. So, this week I've been trying something new. Every day, no matter how busy, I'm trying to spend 10 minutes playing through someone else's levels and 10 minutes designing my own. (I'm using the extremely useful app Habitica lately, and these are marked as daily tasks. Since I've come to terms with the fact that I'm unlikely to ever have the discipline to LP anything, I think the next best thing is to share short blog reviews every time I beat a level. It's something at least! Today's level is (drumroll)... GLASSACRE by Josh Lee, from Flareon1 v1.7.1. Chips: 72, Time: 750 (SPOILERS, obviously) Concept (3/5): It's a pretty basic idea, a 32x32 maze where the walls are all ice blocks sandwiched between thin walls. There are numerous short ice slides as well, many of which have bombs that need to be cleared. Gameplay consists of pushing blocks into bombs to collect chips, and is about as fundamental as it gets. The yellow and red keys open up rooms to a few more chips but they are trivial. And then there's the glass eye right at the beginning which, unless I'm missing something, does nothing at all, except to reveal that there are force floors under all the ice blocks. Puzzle Difficulty (2/5): It's a casual play experience. The sokobans are easy but not trivial; my first time through I cooked the level by using a block on the wrong bomb, but overall it's pretty obvious which blocks go where. I particularly like the upper and lower rows of 6 bombs each, and for thematic continuity I could wish to see the yellow key placed at the end of the upper row to match the red key at the bottom. Action Difficulty (1/5): There's plenty of time and no reason to rush. That's not to say I didn't totally and stupidly run into a bomb on my 2nd attempt. Fun (4/5): I really enjoyed the level. It was fun and methodical without requiring a lot of focus. I liked the look of the ice blocks/thin walls. The ice slides through and between rooms really add interest to the maze. And I've always liked pushing blocks into bombs. I was a little disappointed by the secret eye. When I saw all the force floors under the blocks I was expecting some sort of grand finale or bonus area, especially with the missing thin wall at (18, 6). I also felt like the keys didn't add much to the level. But overall, I enjoyed it. Thanks to Josh for the experience. Finally, here is a zero-commentary, completely unoptimized of my solution. Please let me know any comments, recommendations, or thoughts on how to make these short level reviews useful and informative!
  26. 3 points
    Now You See It: J.B. said this would would be really hellish in Lynx, so after making a notated map I attempted it there first. Took 3 tries, then 1 to match the 906 in MS. The map I used replaced all wall/floor equivalents with wall and floor tiles, then marked the path to the exit with dirt. Paths to chips had gravel, dead ends were marked with a single trap at the entrance. I also had recessed walls for the fork to take second, but these were obsoleted by the dirt/gravel notation. Skipped ahead to Perfect Match at this point because the solution I had was 964 and I was missing something. That something turned out to be the additional clone and kill to block the fireball stream earlier. I scored 968 on the 2nd attempt. In Lynx, it only transfers as a 965...but the trick to 966 is really neat and feels good to execute. Paranoia: At first, I thought the boosting was 4 ice tiles, so I could drop 1 boost and just spring slide to not waste any time. Unfortunately, it was actually 5-but fortunately, I could do it every time! I forgot to wait at the paramecia once, but beyond that this was a fairly easy bold to score. Catacombs: 1/455 shot. I've had worse. (on later calculation & anecdotal evidence, it's more like 1/655.) 3 minutes later, I had 379.8. Reason for the lost move? Being sent left at the first RFF and overriding right. Ah well, going in 379 was what I was going to go for, due to having to head off to class soon anyway. But with how quickly and painlessly that came, I knew in the hour between classes, this would be the goal. Unfortunately the luck was not on my side, though I did reach the final RFF 3 times. Amusingly the second RFF moved the block where Chip was supposed to go and Chip where the block was supposed to go 6 times in a row! After arriving at home, I spent another hour and a half on it-still without success. A couple days later I spent a half hour working on it again, got nowhere, hopped in a call with Zorasknight, got it 17 minutes later. Pretty convincing anecdotal evidence towards RNG-based CC levels playing nice while I'm in a call with an Ape Escape speedrunner. Unfortunately LUNiT had to go kill this plan to score luck based bolds before it could begin... Colony: It took me more time to note down room directions than to score. For completions' sake, here are the notes I used (an * denotes skipping the chip in the room). DLUL* DULLL DLUL DDDR* DULUR RRURD RRRLD DLD* RLURR DDL* DRLU LDUL* DU* L* UDRUUL LDDDR LD FINISH I used FINISH because at that point, the remainder of the path is obvious. Apartment: Watched the route once, wrote down directions as above, scored it in one try. Icehouse: See above, but without notes and 2 tries to execute. The first attempt forgot to take the ice path to the red lock area. Memory: I expected this one to take a few tries, but like Colony, encoding the route correctly resulted in a quick execution of the route: actually first try! LU U*R D LLL U*LD D*R R LL*UUR*L L D*D*ULD L RURD*ULL*R U L U*R U*L U*R L*DR*DL*DRDL*RR*URRU*D*R U U*DR*R U L RU*U LL R*RU*L L RR*DL*RD*DDL*LU*DDL*UU UR LU D*DL D*L*U RU U*U R LD*DDLU*U*L D L RUL Every directional input was which direction I needed to leave the room from. An * meant hitting the button in the room was required. Every space was used as a separator for chips, allowing me to remember when I was supposed to pick certain chips up. I still messed up and grabbed a chip early, but played the rest perfectly and still got the 488. Jailer: I had to wait in the northwest for 2 moves, which fortunately is allowed by the route. Aside from forgetting where to go after the 2 chips on the right wall once, this was an easy route. Short Circuit: I expected this to be an easy first try bold, but my first attempt came up 1 second short. My second attempt turned the wrong way with 7 chips left, and my third got it despite seeming the same as my first. Kablam: This one proved rather boring. Thankfully, I got it first try. Balls O Fire: Took 2 tries. I forgot what to do on the first and got 258. Block Out: I repeatedly messed up the ball section at the bottom, mostly because I watched the AVI once and went "alright I know how to do this, let me do it real quick before homework". 10 minutes later, I had bold but was in no mood for homework, so I pressed on to... Torturechamber: ...a dumb idea. My very first attempt forgot to wait at the last chip, and then I could not do the boosting right. After another 5 minutes, in which I died at the last chip another 3 or 4 times, I finally remembered to wait...and then waited too long. Thankfully, the next attempt got the 133. Blah blah blah CCLP1 public routes blah blah blah Cineworld sucks blah blah blah public half of CCLP3 for 76 bolds & 6,000,000 points blah blah blah tried Block Buster a bit and the first 2 seconds didn't work repeatedly because half waits. Specifically, my down input is ignored half the time and the other half the time my second right input was ignored. Have I mentioned I hate half waits? I'll try this again after other routes with them. I took a 387 with "fast" green key, though I messed up and cloned extra blocks. Chiller: A route that was both surprisingly difficult and surprisingly simple. At first, I had trouble remembering what to do, but after following the top row block once (and playing the rest out to be 274) I had very little difficulty remembering what to do. Time Lapse: Boosted wrong, [963]. Open Question: I've gotten better at dodging levels. Specifically, playing my own level "Amorphous" (currently unreleased, but will probably be in a demo of sorts for UC5, yes, that exists, fairly soon). Said level has lots of pink ball dodging in similar patterns to this level, and block pushing through it. I watched the public TWS route for the general route between chips, and scored 462 in one attempt following. Deception: Watched once, played once, made a mistake, still got bold. This keeps happening now: I've noticed I have a lot less difficulty remembering longer or more involved routes than I did when I started out. I had trouble remembering the sequence of actions for Iceberg before, but now I can remember the entirety of things like Paranoia easily, and for routes like Colony and Memory I can encode the route in such a way so that I can reference while playing and easily score bold. Oversea Delivery: hahahahahahahahaha later. Even after that spiel this route is still a little too involved and a little too execution heavy for the moment. It does allow 2 mistakes, but remembering the route and then having to execute...I'll definitely be back later. Block Buster II: Oh, you again. I don't like you. I was able to get the first half down pretty quickly and reliably, but, again, the half waits refused to cooperate. After a dozen successful first halves, I finally got the 1st 2 half waits...and realized I didn't know what to do after that. An hour or so later, I was getting the first half 25% of the time, and the first half wait about half the time. However, I still couldn't get the slide delay shenanigans right, with my best attempt moving up after 'button 6' instead of half wait DL. My hand had slowed down at this point and I could no longer get the boosting in the first half, so I took a break and moved on. The Marsh: It took me a couple tries to remember the block pushing at the end, but it was easy. Miss Direction: First try, bad boosting at the end . On checking my Partial Post decimal with the command line -t, I found out that this was a -.9. Slide Step: With my hand still not fully back up to speed, I knew this would pose an interesting challenge. I watched the route in the public TWS, and scored 208 on the first attempt. That wasn't too bad, 210 should be easy, right? A couple restarts later, 209 with mistakes in the bugs. A few tries later, I oofed twice after the bugs, but played the lower half perfectly to score 210. Alphabet Soup got a skip for now: untimed, non-public bold. I'll look for it eventually. Totally Fair: Took a few tries to manipulate the tooth monster correctly, but it was a simple enough level. The Prisoner: It took me the longest time to direct the fireball into the bomb, and then I kept mis-ordering the rest of the 'prison'. When I finally escaped, I forget to take the ice slides as a shortcut, scored 271, but scored 272 immediately after. Fun fact: at this point I was missing more untimed CC1 bolds than timed CC1 bolds! Tried Block Buster II a bit more. Decided to do an easier route if I dropped any boosts in the beginning. Ended up with 693. Another hour of attempting later, I forgot to wait before following the final block and ended up with a 713. Since it was now 2 AM, I let the time sit there for the night. Firetrap: I watched the route once, thought I had it down but when I went to score it, I kept making small mistakes. Forgetting to get the red key, forgetting to get the blue key, forgetting there's a wait before pushing the block onto the fire, forgetting to wait for the tank before the fireboots, forgetting where to go after the ice corner hit after the fireboots...after about 15 minutes I had the 667, though, without having to reference the route again. Block N Roll: SKIP SKIPSKIPSKIPSKIPSKIPSKIP NO WALKERS RIGHT NOW, NO THANK YOU All Full: As a kid this was one of my favorite levels. Scored bold on the 2nd attempt, because the first took the ice slide and cloned a bug. Ice Cube: 2 attempts, going off the directions on the wiki. The first misinterpreted (2R) to be right, right, backtrack instead of right, right, left, left. I clarified the notation and scored 933 on the 2nd try. Totally Unfair: Made the mistake of setting odd step first attempt, bold on the second. Common theme, that is. Recommended listening music for the remainder of this post: . This is what I was listening to during everything from Mix Up onwards. Mix Up: I expected this to be a torturous endeavour, and I was not mistaken. However, I expected the reason to be remembering the 5+ minute sokoban route, not execution mistakes outside of the boosting! My first few attempts at the level were with heavy pausing, alternating between gameplay and the public TWS every block. In the bomb room, though, there would be stretches of gameplay only 7 moves long-that room was complicated! The farthest one of these pause attempts went was 717 seconds remaining: the tooth dodging. I accidentally ran into a wall after the sideswipe, then input down left...but the down was post oof so the left input went after, stepping onto the tooth. I wasn't pleased, but get trying. At this point, I found I knew most of the route by memory, and get forgetting minor details in the bomb room. Eventually, I executed correctly to the tooth room again, with 3 or 4 pauses to catch my place in the route, and dodged the tooth monster right! After taking the chip, I paused again and checked the TWS to make sure I wouldn't lose this attempt. The boosting went perfectly...and then I spaced out and didn't move for 2 moves in the bug room. 682.8, I pulled a Spiral (Andrew Bennett's Spiral route in the CCLP3 public TWS was a 395.8, with a move lost after picking up the final chip). I was actually somewhat angry, now, but kept going, determined to pull off a 683 without pausing. 2 attempts at the bomb room later, I messed up the boosting at the end and lost 1 move but that was still good enough to score 683. I can safely say that's one of the most difficult bolds I've ever scored, as the next longest route I've executed correctly is (I believe) Metal Harbor Lynx, at 208 seconds, though Seeing Stars at 203 MS seconds is longer. This comes in at 316 seconds: the longest timed route in CC1! Blobdance, Pain, Doublemaze: hahahahanope, hahahahahahahafinemaybelater, hahahahahahahahahahahahahanotachanceidon'tevenhaveH2Oyet. Goldkey: Forgot to tap up 3 times at the end of the force floor area, forgot where to go after the northwest, 392. That's one forgiving route. Partial Post: After attempting to remember after a single watch, and failing horribly, I fell back on the old standby: notes. Teleport x5 Feed 3 blocks in up Adjacent block in, swing around DOWN UDUD Loop around, stagger 3, swing around UP DUD Next in, swing around UP DUD Straight shot, swing around DOWN UD Clear the bottom, swing around UP DU Closest in, swing around D U Closest in, swing around D U Stagger 2, left and feed down, feed left Bottom block left 3, middle left 3, bottom down 1, topleft left all the way Set up post, feed 2 down and slide 3 in front Swing around to the left, then the top Partial Post 2, then D(LU)R The first attempt with notes scored 237. Many, many attempts of ignored inputs later, I had what I thought was perfect, but it turned out to be a 239.6, 2 moves lost. A few attempts later, I realized I had lost a spring slide on the DUD® stretch and another on a R(DL)U(UU). It didn't take too much longer after that to score the bold. Yorkhouse: New day, new attitude towards random elements. How bad could it be? Well, I made some dumb execution mistakes but still scored a 919 on the 3rd attempt. When going for 920, though, everything seemed to go wrong. The first 2 walkers seemed to strike 50% of the time apiece, but surviving them would guarantee passage to the right side of the level. The next 2 walkers were murderous, though, and I died many times with 143 chips remaining. Finally, I survived that walker...except the final caged walker killed me. I even had a cool reactionary route change to avoid a walker pileup, too... The next attempt died at 86 chips remaining. Next 2 long attempts died at 207 and 293, both from ridiculous collisions and forced chip takes. Then 198 releasing the right corridor walker...you get the idea. Lots of dumb unavoidable deaths. Finally, I was able to survive releasing the final walker and wasn't killed cleaning up the last chips. That was rather annoying. Icedeath: Woohoo, boosting! Another level where I looked at the route on the wiki and executed. My first attempt clocked in at 262, and my second attempt at 262.8. This was surprisingly easy, as not 5 minutes later I had 263.2. Underground: Notated the route onto a map of the level, took a while to score because I kept making small mistakes. Stripes?: Made an altered map of the level with gravel and keys, scored 856 on the first attempt. 858 followed immediately after. Fireflies: Noted down the chip orders and when to wait on an image of the map, scored bold in 2 attempts. The first forgot the 2nd wait in the southeast. Cake Walk: Some other day I'll execute the "proper" route. Right now, I just played the level once to remove my initial time, scoring a completely improvised 681. I even made the mistake of going for the yellow key before picking up the green key! Force Field, Mind Block: Some other time. Special: Overboosted once to score 954, 955 next attempt. At this point, I went back for Block N Roll and scored 432 in one attempt. The walkers played really nasty and I had to wait a lot, so I went for another attempt. That died on 436-437 pace at the last walker. And another, that got 431. Then I got 434 (stalled a bunch approaching the top...). The 4th completion was my initial goal of 437, and I'm more than satisfied with that for now. This reminds me too much of Time Suspension, but with more walkers involved. A few days after the original posting I played Cake Walk again and scored 700. And that's it for the initial pass through CC1, aside from some untimed levels near the end. Here's the current score/bold/seconds to gain breakdown. CC1 MS score: 5,977,020 (131 bolds), 10th place Missing seconds: Blobnet: 413 (-23) Spooks: 547 (-1) Block Buster: 387 (-15) Block Buster II: 713 (-1) Block N Roll: 437 (-6) Skelzie: 453 (-1) Cake Walk: 700 (-17) I'm planning on picking up a 430 on Blobnet, 400+ on Block Buster if not the 402 outright, 714 on Block Buster II, 439+ on Block N Roll, 454 on Skelzie when I have access to MSCC (eventually), and a 710+ on Cake Walk. Once these are completed in the least optimistic scenario, my score would be 5,977,460, which would be enough for 5th place currently, 1 second ahead of James. Missing untimed bolds, entirely from lack of trying: On the Rocks, Rink, Writers Block, Cityblock, Oversea Delivery, Alphabet Soup, Blobdance, Pain, Doublemaze, Force Field, Mind Block. Of these I will probably be scoring On the Rocks, Rink, Oversea Delivery, Alphabet Soup, Force Field and Mind Block. Writer's Block and Pain, being public, I may go for eventually. Cityblock, Blobdance and Doublemaze are on the HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHANOTLIKELY pile. Perhaps in a few years. Well, I suppose next on the list is CCLP2 since there's a lot of public routes I haven't attempted there. After that, finishing up CCLP1 (gotta get that 6,005,xx0!), and then I can turn my attention towards CCLP3 and beyond! Oh and Lynx. There's a lot left to do, but rising to 10th on the CC1 MS scoreboards from having never finished the set in a little over a year? That's been fun. - Jeffrey/IHNN
  27. 3 points
    What? Retrospective? But the set hasn't even been out 2 weeks! Well, I think it's worth putting down my initial thoughts on the set, partly due to the way I experienced it. Some of you may know that I played through the entire set in one sitting, in a blind race.[1] I had not played any of the levels in the voting packs (though I had played through some of the levels from their original set, though I only remembered about 4 in any detail, and certainly not enough to remember the exact solution), and so it was a fresh experience, a new set to play through. I expected to have a bit of difficulty with some of the levels, but for the most part blast through and have a blast playing. I could have been a bit more accurate with that assessment. For the most part, I did speed through the levels, figuring out the trick to levels such as Loose Pocket (#100) in around a minute (my solve time was a 315 with a 326 reset after exploring past the pink ball, totaling 59 seconds playing the level) while taking forever on Deserted Battlefield (#99) and some other levels. And yet, as I've gone back and optimized, these levels are about the same length. I did struggle to solve some of the puzzles, especially in the 130s and 140s, though I think the easier levels are perfectly placed between the harder ones. I do still have to complain about Clubhouse (#149) as I don't think it's particularly engaging, being a simple Sokoban level with nothing really memorable about it other than the crude cooks possible in the starting room. I don't think it's a bad level, or a bad level for CCLP1 even (I just wish there was a bit more fire in the first room to remove the possibility of cooking the level by moving the block to the top left), but I don't think it was suitable for a level 149. On the whole, the final part of my expectation going in was met: I had a lot of fun playing the set, and the people I raced generally agreed, though none of them had time to finish the race, they have gone on to complete the set. I even got someone who'd never played the game to join, and they got quite stuck on #37 (Habitat) for over a half an hour before finally breaking through. For comparison, I had solved level 25 by the 28 minute mark-certainly a slow pace if I was executing all the bold routes, but for blind, that was fast! (Hornlitz was around for the first couple hours before having to leave, and was playing alongside-I was keeping pace with him and even passed at one point). Overall, this shows CCLP1 is definitely a good CC1 stand-in; I had more fun playing through this set than CC1 (in Lynx), both of which I did in the past couple weeks. The race shows it's good for beginners as well, and it proves to have a few challenges for experts. Still, it has a few shortcomings for me... The first and most glaring to me may come as a bit of a surprise, but I feel like the lesson levels are too long and involved on the whole. I'm going to take just the first level from each set here, as it shows my point the best I feel. It's a sense of scale that the rest of CCLP1 does better, I feel. These levels both teach you the exact same mechanics and Lesson 1 did it near perfectly, showing almost everything you need from the first window. As the introduction to the set, no, the game as a whole it's not very overwhelming, in fact, it's quite welcoming. Key Pyramid might as well be pieguy's "too many keys?" compared to Lesson 1. You can't see the exit from the starting point, and though the order of unlocking doesn't matter like Lesson 1 there's a lot more running around. In fact, Key Pyramid takes 32 seconds to Lesson 1's 17, with only one additional key/lock pair. As an intro, it's much more overwhelming. I feel like the lessons could have been more compact and gotten the same point across, but that's coming from someone who solved them all in 5 minutes. This sense of scale is gotten absolutely correct, however, by Present Company (#3). Even Block Party (#4), despite being a 43 second bold compared to Lesson 2's 10 second time, nails the sense of scale. Every room is different and shows something new about blocks, and you're constantly doing something instead of running from small room to small room. Key Pyramid is a small complaint, and since it's my biggest that speaks very well for the set as a whole. Graduation (#10) vs. Nuts and Bolts is another no brainer-Graduation is the better level for the recap. The red herring exit still shows a new concept, similar to what I believe Nuts and Bolts tried for in the end with the fireball and trap room (monster guiding-or at least that's always what I did as a kid). Graduation nails everything you could want as a first campaign level-no difficult parts, room to explore, and yet a clear progression and goal in mind. As I played through, I had a few levels that I really really liked, easily becoming some of my favorite CC levels. In the order they appear in the set... Tiny (#17): A perfect example of how to teach a concept without explicitly stating what needs to be done. Moving 2U to the fireboots immediately cooks the level, but due to the small size this is an "ohhhhh, so that's what I do" moment. Similar to Lesson 7 from the original CC, it teaches "when in doubt, don't get a boot", though in a more up front manner-Lesson 7 is so stealthy about it I didn't even notice until recently, while this does it perfectly. Also, this took longer for you to read than the level takes to solve! Generic Ice Level (#21): This is anything but generic. I've never seen another ice level give you skates immediately (Dodge! doesn't count!), the blocks sliding feel natural and everything about this level just screams win, aesthetically and gameplay-wise. Easily in my top 10, if not top 5. Repair the Maze (#22): One of the few I remembered from before CCLP1, I love the concept of having a maze being able to breaking through parts-in CC1, Strange Maze was one of my favorites as a kid. Like the bold route, I would always end with the sockets, though unlike the bold route I would go through and dispose of every single socket in the level before walking to the exit! Now, if this had 3 color keys and 2 of each... The Last Starfighter (#28): Perfect use of blob cloners, blowing up the walkers with no randomness is cathartic, the aesthetic is beautiful and the level is pretty fun too. Spitting Image and Alternate Universe (#33 and #111): These are just such a cool concept of taking one room as an exact forecast of what's in another room. For the most part, I hate hot blocks. These 2 levels use them perfectly with no treachery involved. Sundance (#48): It looks like a difficult dodging level, but it's simpler than meets the eye. Perfect appearance as well, I only wish it were a bit longer, though I suppose that would ruin some of the appeal. Juxtaposition (#70): I was wondering why there hadn't been any blue wall mazes up to this point, as CC1 had Mishmesh and Chipmine by this point in the game. Then this level came up and I couldn't get enough of it. Thin walls don't see enough use, and fake wall mazes are incredibly difficulty to design without being predictable or overly tedious. This level uses all of them flawlessly. Another top 10 for sure. Colors for Extreme (#81): The opening room is amazingly designed to manipulate the glider in a progression, the level is another itemswapper but it feels like such an epic campaign level. It's also relatively simple, though certainly not easy. A perfect fit for the middle of CCLP1. Loose Pocket (#100): Though I figured out the trick fairly quickly, it's a perfectly executed twist on the Trust Me style level. Most of the red herrings are obviously so, but that only makes some of them look more realistic. It's short, simple, and arbitrary in its design in places. Frozen in Time (#102): Chip's Challenge is not an eerie game. It's not a spooky game. It doesn't have an environment. It doesn't have anything that creeps the player out. This...this manages to do all of the above. It's incredibly simple, and yet it's perfect. I remarked in the call when I got to this level that it was spooky, and wasn't exactly believed. Well, someone else got to this level around the time I was in the 140 range and immediately gave a cry of shock at the teeth, and then agreed that yes, it was spooky. Beautifully done, and not what I was expecting at all. Not needing the chips is a nice touch, too-now I wonder what the level would play like if everything were to be unfrozen... Tunnel Clearence (#105): Amazing concept, amazing design, almost goes on too long but in the end it's just the right length. The ability to ignore the red key at the start and explore makes this level just that little bit better. Exhibit Hall (#108): A level I'd seen a variant of but never played. Said variant being the background for J.B.'s commentary on Chuck's Challenge 3D, which I had watched less than a week before CCLP1! (by the way, I agree with pretty much everything you said-if I wasn't optimizing the game, it'd have been over and done with very quickly, though the editor has a lot of nice possibilities) The avoidance level is a rarely seen concept, due to its difficulty to pull off well. This does it with 8 4x4 rooms, some with puzzles, some with dodging, some with simply items to collect. The ability to skip the fireboots by taking a block from the water room doesn't hurt either. Incredibly fun level. Runaway Train (#118): This level has such an amazing aesthetic to it, and the design, through cramped, still feels exploitative. The teleports to switch cars and give the illusion of a longer level space than actually exist is pure brilliance as well-I caught it immediately, but I've been playing this game for years. A newer player would probably wonder how the designer made a level bigger than the grid, if they even thought about it. Oh, and the level is fun too. Automatic (Caution) Doors (#140): Another level with lots of branching paths, lots of exploration, lots of ways to go-and yet, it's linear. The concept is unique (I've never seen it done before) and beautifully executed in how each step grants you access to another area. The chips are only the first step in this epic level. Easy top 5 level right now, and it will probably remain in the top 10 regardless of what CCLP2 and 3 hold for me. Of course, there were a few I did not enjoy that much-in the same order... Quincunx (#31): Too easy to die, not very interesting either. If it was smaller (say, lop off the bottom 2 rows) it might be better, but it's one of only 3 levels in the set I would rate as Just a Bunch of Letters (#34): The cypher level of the set, but it's very dull. The original Cypher was cryptic yet obvious in hindsight, Cypher II was brutally difficult but the name and connotation it came with was a useful hint, Motion Blur was an amazing concept and beautifully executed, and this falls flat in comparison. Maybe I'm being too hard on it due to it's slot, but I don't enjoy it as a level either. Design Swap (#62): CCLP1 has a lot of itemswappers, and this is one of the most bland. It's also hurt by its huge size, though it gets better when you open up the center, it's still very boring running back and forth across the entire length of the grid. New Block in Town (#63): Another level. Too many things that must be done in the exact right order or the level is unsolvable, and then right at the end subverting the order that had to be used for the rest (chip then button). Thankfully, I didn't run into the hidden wall, if I did I would have been seriously pissed at this level. As it is, cool concept, poor execution. Ruined World (#83): Bleh. It's one of 2 "push all the block" levels in the 81-90 decade, along with Chip Block Galaxy (#88). I was neutral on #88, but I do not like Ruined World. In both it's very easy to miss a block, but here it's easily lethal while in #88,the worst that can happen is trapping the block-though there are many places to put the used blocks, mitigating it. Time Suspension (#101): The button device is cool. The toggles and tanks are interesting. However, I absolutely detest the walkers in this level, mostly the one in the 3x4 room. Retrieving the blocks for the bombs is so much of a hassle, and there's quite a bit to do on each run up that just gets old fast. Comfort Zone (#114): Incredibly easy to cook the level, especially if you stay in the comfort zone given as long as possible. I can't really say why I dislike it as much as I do, but it falls into this bottom CCLP1 levels list. Utter Clutter (#124): Very long, very tedious level. It feels like it attempts to emulate All Full from CC1, but it fails in that its puzzles are based around key snatching and then realizing something incredibly non-obvious near the very end-which, for me, took 5+ minutes to reach every time. Requiring all the chips works for forcing all the puzzles to be completed, but works against the concept. Amphibia (#143): The final level. If you were around at the end of my stream you would have heard a LOT of raging at this level. I hate it. There's a lot of waiting for cycles that aren't exactly clear, and though it's similar to Fireflies, I liked Fireflies. However, I figured out why-Fireflies is completely symmetrical and has a much lower monster density, and loops around to itself. Amphibia forces a specific path to each chip, turning a monster dodging cycle waiting level into an incredibly tedious and lethal maze. My only praise is that it's infinitely better than a similar level I played in a voting pack (more on that later). And finally, my top 5 hardest levels in the set. 5: Bummbua Banubauabgv (#142): I took forever to figure out this puzzle, even though the solution is painfully simple. 4: Flush (#141): This is a flawlessly crafted puzzle (barring the bold route, which I've figured out the method but not the timing...) where every step is timed with a pink ball chute that holding a trap button drowns. Avoiding the keys took 2 plays to realize, and even still I cooked the level several times after that point. However, every time it was my fault and foreseeable in advance, so I can't hold it against the level. (related note: levels 141-145 took me nearly an hour, with the last 2 of those taking about 10 minutes. 141-143 are the hardest run of levels by far!) 3: Double Diversion (#69): Didn't see that coming, did you! I struggled quite a bit with this level, triggering things too early, too late, standing in the wrong spot, moving at the wrong time, into toggle walls...it's a simple level, but I struggled quite a bit finding the solution. 2. Utter Clutter (#124): I covered this above. I believe this is the level I spent the most time on, due to the length before the part I screwed myself on. Twice. 1: Thief, You've Taken All That Was Me (#147): Of course #147 is the hardest level. It's an amazingly crafted puzzle, up front with what it expects you to do. The 4 sections of the level are all tricky puzzles in their own right, with special mention going to the sokoban in the bottom right-that took me a solid minute of looking at to figure out, and there's only 3 blocks in it! Nothing is unreasonably difficult, 3 of the 4 puzzles are logic based, the order they can be tackled is up to the player-everything is done to make this as anti-frustration as possible. The result is a puzzle that feels right at home in the #147 slot, alongside the fast paced Force Field, the monster manipulating Cloner's Maze and the ultimate (outside its sequel) sardine can level, Avalanche. CCLP1 does capture everything I liked about the original Chip's Challenge, avoids the long tedious block pushing levels, is fairly varied and unique in places. I've been playing through the voting packs after the release as well, not for the award okay maybe slightly but for a sense of perspective-I can appreciate the final product that is CCLP1 much better if I have a frame of reference for what didn't make the cut. If the voting packs are the best levels the community had to offer for the set, then CCLP1 is made up of the best of the best. So far, I agree with a vast majority of the levels that made it in (though I still don't like Amphibia or Blobs on a Plane, and think that Asteroid #44, Chip Joins Mensa Club would have been awesome to see) and most of the ones that got cut (Asteroid #3, !? for being what is this I don't even, I still don't know how you would solve this in Lynx as my route was VERY MS only, Baguette #44, I Hate You for being unnecessarily sadistic, Bookshelf #35, Coovet Blocks taking 10 minutes and having difficult dodging AND easy screws, Bookshelf #44, Audacious Scavenger Hunt for being incredibly overwhelming in its design and easy to screw without realizing it, and Cardboard #39, What's Rightfully Mine for taking its concept too far). I would give CCLP1 a 9.5 out of 10, compared to about an 8 for CC1 (I still want to finish CCLP2 and 3 before I can fairly compare to them, but I'm pretty sure my order will go CCLP1>CCLP3=CC1 for different reasons>CCLP2). Job well done CCLP1 staff. Mission accomplished. [1] If you desire, you can watch my playthrough here.
  28. 3 points
    I haven't spent so much time on CC stuff during the past year. This is mainly due to a little girl, my daughter Siv, being born on Valentine's Day last year. Suddenly, there wasn't much time to just sit down by the computer. Now, I'm thinking that perhaps blogging on CCZone is something I can do. This can be done from my phone, which is good. And I can write a little now and then in Notes and post once I have enough for a blog post. I have hesitated to start a CCZone blog before because I'm thinking perhaps you guys aren't very interesting in reading what a 29-year-old mum is writing. But I'll write more to satisfy my own desire to do something CC related, so it doesn't really matter how many will follow my posts. I'll start with how it all started. I've already written some of this in various threads in this and the old CCZone Forum, but this is a good place to collect it all, I think. My CC story started with Jezzball. It was at Christmas in 1996 and I was 11 years old. At this time, not too many people had computers at home. (Or at work for that matter, they had type writers.) But for the Christmas holidays of 1996 we went to a family that had a computer. And I spent too much time playing on it - mainly Snake and this fantastic game Jezzball that I immediately fell in love with. So, when we finally got our own computer, perhaps a year later or so, I started thinking of how to get Jezzball on it. I asked my computer geek friend, and he happened to have this game in his possession. He was happy to help. I later learned that he was in love with me. I didn't know it at the time, or maybe I sort of felt it and took advantage of it to have him help me... Anyway, he came over with a floppy disc with Jezzball for me. And he said, "I'll give you another game at the same time. I'ts called Chip's Challenge"... This seems like a good cliff hanger so that'll be it for now
  29. 3 points
    It all started on a lonely day at work. I was finishing up one of my internships during college and was taking a break, planning out a list of levels I had intended to include in my set. The CCLP3 submission deadline was approaching. I figured submitting a set with a nice, round number of 100 levels seemed like the proper thing to do - after all, one of my favorite sets, DanielB1, had that amount! And as I was nearing 100, I began thinking of a level I was hoping to place as #39 or so in my future 149-level set. The level, quite simply, would involve tanks. I never really had a tank-centric level in my set up to that point. Well, back when I was a kid, I made a rather lame level called "TANKX" (because the tanks were in the shape of an "X!" - get it?), but that was about it. But this would be different. This would be...the ultimate tank level. The tank level to end all tank levels. At first, I started with some dodging rooms. One of my favorite DanielB1 levels involved dodging balls and tanks at the same time, and it seemed like a good idea here too. Then came a little puzzle: it wouldn't hurt to have a small challenge where Chip had to push a block into a room of tanks to make them push some trap buttons, right? I could even add a hint that spelled out what to do to be nice! At this point, I figured another round of dodging was in order, and then came a point where I couldn't resist building a device that I had seen in a CheeseT1 level called "Weaver": tanks traveling on twisty, icy, checkerboard-esque paths! So far, the level was coming along well. But then I had a realization: what if...all the tanks could stop? What if the level could have an intermediary section in which Chip would have to manually control the tanks? Thus began a new quest to include some amount of challenge in this section. I had a little room that was meant to be reminiscent of "Refraction," but that wouldn't be enough, right? Eventually, I had an idea: what if Chip had to make something control the tanks temporarily? Then it dawned on me: I could use a device I had seen in MikeL2's "Bug Arranging"! Just ferry a bug over to a tank button and kill it once the tanks needed to stop! Finally, at the end, I included a mechanism to get the tanks rolling again and allow Chip to return back to the original chain of rooms to exit. By the time the level was finished, I certainly felt like I had accomplished my goal of building the most epic tank level EVER!!!!!!1, but it was definitely a far cry from the simple, placed-at-#39 level I had also hoped to build. In fact, the level was a hit among the skilled veteran crowd and eventually made it into CCLP3 at the #133 spot. So what happened? Why did my original vision to make a level that would be placed relatively early in my set turn into a monster challenge? Did my hopes for making the Ultimate Tank Level get in the way? Well...yes and no. Because while making the Ultimate Tank Level was in no way a bad goal, perhaps what it ended up involving was the issue. I've been working on a theory. I don't really know what to call it yet, but the crux of it is basically this: as designers, we often forget about just how our levels will be played by someone who's never laid eyes on them before. It's especially the case when someone plays our levels unassisted, without the use of maps in front of them. As designers, we have the ability to see our levels from the ultimate bird's-eye-view in the editor, as everything can be seen on a single map all at once. It's a far cry from the small 9x9 window to which players are confined when they take on the challenges we make. And on top of that, we know what we intend to do when we add another room or another puzzle. We know the solution. We know what comes beforehand. We know what comes afterward. Everything feels so obvious to us because we're the ones in charge. And as a result, we continue introducing more and more opportunities for players to fail when they play a level, just like I did when I built Think Tank. So what's the antidote to this problem? Quite simply...I think we can call it simplicity. And I think it's a timely topic to talk about with the next major phase of CCLP1 production in our sights. Now, before I elaborate further, please know that simplicity doesn't necessarily equal easiness. Simple levels can be quite difficult. In fact, a lot of simple levels in the original Chip's Challenge were devious, especially to players undertaking the game for the first time. But for the most part, they were also manageable. Here are a few qualities that I believe define simplicity in Chip's Challenge levels: - Allowing the player to understand what the objective of the level or section in a level is. One of the most distinct qualities that permeates just about every universally lauded level is that understanding what the level is all about isn't a chore. The end goal that must be achieved in order to reach the exit or the next room is fairly simple to understand, whether it's a specific way to solve a puzzle, getting through a series of rooms alive, or just making one's way out of a twisty maze. This doesn't mean, however, that the tasks required to reach those goals are easy. In fact, they can be difficult. Let's use the original set for reference here: Blink, Rink, DoubleMaze, Jumping Swarm, and Force Field are all levels that, according to some testimonials on Richard Field's site, were among the hardest for those who had never played Chip's Challenge before. But let's break these levels down. They're not filled with devilish puzzles and red herrings. In fact, all of them use only a few of the game elements. The first three are navigation challenges, while the latter two are tests of skill. But in every case, what needs to be done - whether it's surviving a horde of walkers while collecting chips or navigating a series of teleports - is obvious. Even levels that involve puzzles can apply this principle when the objective of the puzzle isn't difficult to understand. A great example of one in the CCLP1 submission pool is Ida4's "Lean Thinking." - Resisting the urge to be clever. Here's a mistake I've made plenty of times as a designer. If you think your red herring, guesswork challenge at the end, or making-the-player-realize-that-he-or-she-had-been-doing-everything-incorrectly-for-20-minutes moment is going to make someone go, "Oh, that was just brilliant!", chances are that it probably will frustrate more people instead. I speak painfully from experience. I'm not saying that every level that includes these sorts of mechanisms is bad; in fact, the veteran in me enjoys some of these levels. But more often than not, the average player doesn't have the time to wade through a level obfuscated by layers of deception just to understand what the point of all of it is or how to get to the next room or the exit, especially in our on-the-go, pick-up-and-quickly-play world - and especially for a game like Chip's Challenge where failure involves returning all the way to the very beginning. - Remembering that just because you can do something doesn't mean you should. This was the big mistake I made when designing Think Tank. This one right here. All those moments I had of, "Oh! I loved this mechanism in Level X; let's include it here!" neglected one issue: the landscape of my own level. And by "landscape," I'm not referring to the design quality of the level. I'm talking about how the level plays, especially when it's long and includes multiple types of challenges. That skill-intensive task far into the level may be something you can include, and it certainly may add variety, but is it really necessary, or will it just frustrate players even more? The same principle applies to the size of a level as well - and this, unfortunately, is probably one of CC1's biggest shortcomings. Did Rink need to be as large as it was, for example? Some of the best levels are those that know just how far to go before they become too repetitive. - Defining what you want the level to be before designing it. There was an active topic on CCZone back in the day when this question was asked: do you plan out your level before you build it, or do you come up with ideas as you go? Both certainly work in level design and have produced many great levels, but the former is certainly much more helpful in preventing another Think Tank. Ask yourself: what do you want this level to be? What kinds of game elements do you want it to include? How difficult do you want it to be? Some of the best levels are those that are very deliberate and measured in their design. Come up with a list of goals for your level - they don't necessarily have to be lofty or extensive - and check what you're doing with those original goals as you design to ensure that things don't get too out of control. Some tried-and-true design tactics involve focusing on a theme, limiting the number of game elements in your level and exploring a few different concepts with those elements, or doing the same thing with one easy-to-pick-up gimmick and including a gentle difficulty curve within the one level that explores that gimmick. EricS2's "They're Not Called Blocks for Nothing" is a great example of the latter that is both challenging and accessible. I hope the above qualities help further define what I personally consider "simplicity" to be and why I believe it's important for CCLP1. One of the questions I've been asked since posting the voting lists for CCLP1 is what I personally consider to be too difficult for it. I could just point to a level number in CCLP3 and say, "Everything beyond this is way too hard!" But I think treating levels on a case-by-case basis is the best approach. While evaluating various levels and sets for CCLP1, in addition to including general enjoyability and design quality in mind, I tried to keep the original Chip's Challenge in the back of my head, especially considering that CCLP1 is meant to be a legal alternative to the original game that's at least comparable in difficulty. This doesn't mean that we would automatically eliminate anything beyond Force Field's difficulty, for example. Neither does it mean that CCLP1's levels would need to contain the exact same concepts or gameplay as CC1. But I tried to keep the principles that defined CC1 levels and made them accessible to beginners - even the frustrating ones - in mind throughout this process. In the future, as CCLP4 and future level packs are produced, I hope simplicity can still be a part of level design, even among more difficult levels. Apologies to anyone who did enjoy Think Tank, by the way.
  30. 3 points
    Mazes are level genres that truly have been overlooked during CCLP2 and CCLP3 voting. There are about nine in CCLP2, and CCLP3 only has four (though, depending on your interpretation of what a maze is, these numbers could be slightly greater or fewer). How many did CC1 have? Around 23. The distaste in mazes can be attributed to the fact that they don’t offer much optimization potential, and many of them are just plain monotonous. Look at CC1 and some of its most despised levels. Rink, Doublemaze, and Stripes? are all mazes. Levels like Scavenger Hunt, Chipmine, and Now You See It aren’t too exciting either. On the other hand, mazes are excellent for beginners because failure will rarely occur. Time is the only enemy. I compiled a list of what I consider 10 well-designed mazes that I would like to see in CCLP1. A-Maze-Ing Ida4.ccl #11 Remember playing Strange Maze and feeling that great sense of triumph after collecting all the chips and being able to bust open all the chip sockets? This level extends such a concept throughout the whole level, though in four separate quadrants. However, the keys that are just out of reach truly make this level interesting, and would make a wonderful level early in the set. Chip Be Steady CCLP1Submissions-KTNUSA #17 J.B. has praised this level in the past, and although I initially thought this level was nothing special, I am starting to agree with him. The “avoid the toggle button maze” is a concept that has been around for ages, but this level truly perfects it. It has the best aesthetics of levels I’ve seen of this type, and the actual maze is confined to a space small enough as to not make the level tedious. Choices, Choices pieguy1.dat #11 This choice may surprise many of you. Pieguy isn’t exactly known for his beginner-friendly levels. This level is seemingly complex, however, one must realize that all sixteen combinations that the player chooses in this level are solvable. This, while additionally being extremely impressive conceptually, adds a ton of replay value for the player. Plus, it’d be neat to have a computer generated level in an official CCLP. Elemental Park ajmiam-the-other-100-tiles #13 The four element maze is a concept explored quite often, and Elemental Park is probably the only one that has done it right. Eight chips per element, and no unintended shortcuts to be found. That teleport is an excellent touch as well. Invisibility Cloak Markus_CCLP1 #38 Here’s a word of advice – avoid invisible walls as much as possible. Blue walls and hidden walls are more reasonable, as their true identity is revealed after a simple touch. Invisible walls are often abused to hell, sometimes filling up entire levels (cough cough Stripes?), but this levels confines its invisible wall usage to a 9x9 space, and uses normal walls to guide the player. It is amazing how the addition of the invisible walls actually make the level more intriguing. Fiery Fogstorm JCCLP #48 Here is yet another acceptable use of invisible walls. Their usage, along with the usage of the fire, makes this level quite appealing to look at. While the force floor navigation could possibly be tricky for beginners, this level is wonderfully straightforward but its design choices elevate it above other mazes. Frozen Labyrinth JCCLP #37 Everyone knows that I am in love with this level, so there is no real need to go into detail. Just the sheer concept of this level is brilliant and nothing in the level is arbitrary. The fact that the thin walls and ice can combine to form a straightforward maze is incredible. Slide Labyrinth GAP’sSub.ccl #24 Very few levels seem to have a large open space with rooms arbitrarily scattered. I think it creates a unique atmosphere. Ice mazes are too often made to span the entire 32x32 map. This level cuts the ice maze in half and adds in some neat pink ball dodging rooms. Play it yourself; it’s really fun to navigate. My only qualm is the short time limit, which can easily be changed. Tunnel Clearance TS0 #11 Yes, this is my own level, but it is one that I am very proud of. It is a maze concept that to my knowledge had not been used before, coupled with symmetry and some cool aesthetics, this one belongs in CCLP1. Whirlpool JBLP1 #82 This level is quite beautiful, and uses blue walls in a wall that is sensible, i.e. not filling the entire level with them. A beginner may easily get lost, but we need higher difficulty mazes in the set too
  31. 3 points
    If you saw my post a few months ago in the "Ten Levels You'd Love to See in CCLP1" thread, then you'll recognize some of these levels. But then I had a thought: why not add ten more and post a blog entry about it before voting started? It never hurts to take a break from talking only about level designing! It's not my "top 20" in any way, but these are all levels I'd absolutely love to see in CCLP1 that haven't been in the spotlight or mentioned much - made by 20 different designers - along with a brief explanation about why I enjoyed each. So, in no particular order: And the Buttons Were Gone (Ida Roberthson): One of the most fun aspects of CC1 was its wide open levels. Who didn't love running around Nice Day or walking around the room in the expanse outside the room in Lemmings? It's just one of those original game charms that was lost with the "compressed cleverness" of CCLP3. In this level, there's a puzzle, but the puzzle is quite simple, isn't crammed into a tiny room, and certainly isn't obfuscated by layers of deception. There's freedom to walk around, which is a plus. All in all, probably one of the most non-complicated and enjoyable "monster manipulation" levels out there. Celtic Rotation (Ben Hornlitz): Though the name may bring back memories of CCLP3, the implementation of the concept here is much less complicated and feels like a clean, symmetrical CC1 level. There are only four traps, which makes everything much simpler, and the itemswapping isn't excessive at all. Very well-designed! Firewall ("tensorpudding"): CCLP1 needs some good old-fashioned dodging levels. I've always said that one of the hallmarks of a well-designed CC level is knowing just how far to take a concept. It's especially difficult with levels that are purely about dodging because of the lack of an undo or checkpoint feature in the game: the longer the level, the more frustrating failure can be for a player. This level, however, is just the right length. It takes a concept that feels easy at first sight - fireballs traveling through lines of teleports in a predictable manner - and forces the player to learn the gimmick as he plays at a pace that's reasonable. What's even better is that the linear "maze" through which the player travels starts off incredibly simple so the player can get used to the dodging and then gets a tad more twisty toward the end. Very well designed! Chip Be Steady (Kevin Stallman): The concept of creating Strange Mazes that extend into the realm of not pushing buttons or collecting boots in order to make it out alive may not be new in the custom level designing world, but it certainly would be for a first-time player, and this level just hits all the right notes. Many of the KTNUSA levels extend to the edge of the map, and while this may be overkill in some of the other levels, it certainly doesn't hurt this one; in fact, it helps it by creating an expansive maze that never quite gets old. The neat door arrangement seals the deal with all four colors represented in each section. Stairs (Archie Pusaka): There's a level called Skiing from TomR1 that played around with this zig-zag design style, but unfortunately, it fell into the trap described above of filling up the entire map with the same concept. This level, on the other hand, features a single set of "stairs," but the challenges therein consist of four different "stages." It's actually a really simple itemswapper, but it's just so fun to play that it's hard not to enjoy it! The end may look like a cheap "dodging near the exit" challenge, but thankfully, the hint reveals that it's quite a bit more straightforward than it appears at first glance. Good stuff. Burn Out (Grant Fikes): Much like the level above, this level reminded me a lot of another one - in this case, EricS1's Separation and Regrouping, in which two cloners would clone on the same column using a force floor, separate into two streams via toggle wall, and then merge via another force floor before the monsters died. The challenge in that level mainly involved collecting all the chips before time ran out, but here, the objective is to evade the two less concentrated fireball streams while working against the flow. Much like other great levels, this one knows just how far to go, never overstaying its welcome. Perhaps the most satisfying moment is blocking the clone machine at the end to get to the exit located by the "merge" area. That always feels relieving after all that dodging and weaving! Corral ("ajmiam"): Some people who may think this sounds crazy, but I actually enjoyed Blobdance from the original CC. This level features a similar challenge with rectangular rooms and blobs, but it's a lot less frustrating and includes a fun strategic element: using arsenals of blocks to box blobs in. I can think of a lot of players who'd have fun with that outside of the goal of exiting, but beyond that, the level itself doesn't feel stale. The rooms have a variety of sizes, which make the smaller rooms a lot more intimate in terms of blob dodging and boxing. Overall, this level is very enjoyable to play and just screams CCLP1. Blocked Alley ("Syzygy"): One thing we often forget as designers is that playing a CC level isn't just about getting to the exit. It's about the experience too. The atmosphere we create lends itself to that experience for better or worse. Here, it's definitely for the better. I've always believed that permanently invisible walls work well when used sparingly or in a way that doesn't make the player feel like he or she needs to rely hopelessly on sound to find the way out. In this level, they work brilliantly to enhance what's already a wonderfully claustrophobic environment and to make players feel even more lost. The narrow time limit works well too, and the monsters inside the "buildings" give an even greater sense of urgency, bringing to mind CC1's Nightmare. Roundabout ("jbdude55"): There have been many levels over the years that have emulated what CC1's Colony achieved, but this is one of the few levels I've seen that takes the concept and breathes some new life into it. The elements in the spaces between the rooms add some itemswapper fun to the mix, and the ones that seem a bit iffy at first (blue walls, invisible walls) are used to great effect and don't feel cheap because each room is 4x4 and contains only one monster, allowing the player plenty of time to explore. Aesthetically speaking, the level is a triumph. Note how the spaces between the rooms alternate from room to room - the pattern they form when all four are viewed from a single room has a beautiful symmetry. Fiery Fogstorm (Josh Lee): CCLP1 needs a force floor level or two. Sadly, many force floor-centric levels fall prey to one of the following pitfalls: (a) ripping off Forced Entry, ( B) ripping off Force Field, or © presenting a sidestepping challenge that's just way, way too hard, sometimes with no opportunities for subsequent attempts without a restart. This level does none of those things, with a simple-to-understand maze and only one major mid-force floor navigation challenge that presents no penalty for initial failure and an aesthetic that I can only describe as unique. There are also multiple entrance points to some of the chip hiding places, which makes the task at hand much less rigid and more friendly. And the title itself just screams win. They're Not Called Blocks for Nothing (Eric Schmidt): So far, I've been listing levels that have been rather easy - or if moderate in difficulty for a beginner, at least easy to grasp. The concept here is quite easy to grasp, but the level in which it's featured is what I like to call a "difficulty curve" level: one that teaches the player the "trick" at the start while steadily increasing the difficulty throughout. Thankfully, the challenges here are quite reasonable. The last room, while being the most challenging, is actually deceptively simple. And to top it all off, there's a nice "end at the start" touch that brings everything full circle. Chip Alone (Tom Patten): "Be a good little fella now and open the door!" Tom's original classic sadly didn't make it into CCLP3, but its sequel did. CCLP1 would be a perfect opportunity to use the original while paying a masterfully designed homage to a quintessential Christmas movie. The layout is much simpler than the sequel, with little preparation needed before the monsters travel through the "house." Speaking of which, it's fun to speculate about what rooms of the house are represented throughout the level. Is the area through which the bottom fireball travels supposed to resemble the basement? Only Tom would know, but I suspect yes. Also, if the extra room with the boots outside is supposed to represent either the treehouse or the neighbor's house...well played. ChipWeave (Henri Potts): CC1 had its fair share of maze levels, and CCLP1 could use some, if only to get things "back to basics." This level combines the game's objective of chip collecting with a maze that looks easy but is actually a tangled web of well-laid paths. Incredible design here, and a lot of fun to navigate. Skydiver's Maze (J.B. Lewis): Okay, I'm not usually one for self-promotion, but I couldn't resist here. This level is hard but manageable. One of my favorite difficult level qualities is the ability to explore before making any big decisions that could lead to a restart, and I tried to apply that principle here. The objective is to get a block down to the trap button at the bottom. Thankfully, the high time limit allows for plenty of study and path-tracing before any actual pushing is done, and the final solution is pretty satisfying to find. As an added bonus, I placed some tantalizing ice skates that can't ever be collected - whatever happened to the days when we put items in our levels that were obviously unreachable without having to experience a Trust Me-style red herring? Badlands (Tyler Sontag): I absolutely adore this level. It's not only a fun level to play, but it also looks beautiful. Remember back in CC1, when levels like Drawn and Quartered or Spooks would contain tons of dirt without requiring the player to be incredibly precise with how it's used, as was the case in CCLP3? Here's one of those levels. Much of the dirt here is used purely for aesthetic effect, but it works. The spacious room at the top is also a welcome touch. There's something about a level that starts off in rather close quarters and then "opens up" into a grand room that's just so satisfying. The challenges around the edges of the level are fun and non-complicated. It's also welcome to see a room with fireballs that isn't meant to be a "monster manipulation" section. And how about that fire! I can't help but be reminded of CC1 levels like Paranoia, Slide Step, and Corridor when I see "arbitrary" fire like that. This level feels just like the CC of old. Cell Swapper (Markus): Some of the most clever puzzles from CC1 were those that involved navigation - though Short Circuit may not make anyone's CC1 top 10 list, I did appreciate how there was almost always a method to determine which path to take whenever a fork was encountered. Unlike that level, though, this one does allow for exploration and a map to be drawn before tackling the actual navigation when the toggle walls close. The result is a well-calibrated puzzle and a beautifully matriced design. Just perfect for CCLP1. Heat Wave (Daniel Bouwmeester): If you were to ask most veteran chipsters what they think of when they see a level that involves fire and water, as can be seen from the start of this level, they'd probably go for CC1's Steam or the many ripoffs of it that have been made over the years. Thankfully, this level is its own animal: a fire maze with walker dodging. It's reasonable enough for the neophyte crowd, but it's a fun ride for players of all skill levels. It takes full advantage of fire being a "safe spot" against walkers, with its chip-snatching challenges reminiscent of the northwest room of Nuts and Bolts. There are also walkers that occupy their own squares and exist only as pure obstacles, which is a neat touch as well. The water is used to great effect as the "barriers" for the player, but the way it's laid out makes it look like several rivers are flowing and criss-crossing throughout the map. Plus, for anyone out there concerned about optimization, it's not terribly difficult to achieve the optimal time here. All in all, an enjoyable and well-designed level. Assassin (Rock Généreux): Who doesn't love a good teeth-evading level? CC1 brought us Victim and The Prisoner, but this level dares to be its own animal and succeeds. What makes this level work is that isn't neither too claustrophobic nor too open; there are defined paths to travel - and multiple ones at that, which make running away even more of a fun, panic-driven decision-making process. The structure of the level also includes the diagonal lines that are useful for trapping teeth while making one's way over to another area. This level is definitely one of my favorite dodging levels in recent memory, and I heartily recommend it for CCLP1. A Puzzle (Dave Varberg): This level combines the bottom water section of CCLP2's Yet Another Puzzle with the obstacle-course sokobans of CCLP3's Yet Another Yet Another Puzzle. But unlike either of those two levels, this one isn't overly difficult, though it may pose a challenge to new players. Veterans may be fooled by a mechanism at the start of the level that usually requires an additional block, but thankfully, the level actually is solvable with one block remaining. The objective is fairly obvious once the first room is cleared, and thankfully, the level can be explored fully without having to wade through lots of challenges before one knows what to do. The actual manipulation of the glider may be a bit tricky at first glance, but the level's design allows for careful study of just how far a bridge would need to be built in order to direct the glider to its final destination. Overall, this level exemplifies what one may term "simple complexity" quite brilliantly. Straight Forward (Trevor Hedges): In racing games, there's a certain smooth "flow" to a track that has had a lot of thought put into its design. Trevor, who designs custom tracks for Mario Kart Wii, has obviously thought of that same "flow" in designing this CC level. It's only appropriate that I end this list with an epic campaign level. This one is fairly easy and is placed right after a bunch of tutorial levels in Trevor's custom set; however, I think it's better suited for CCLP1's 30s or 40s. (If I had my way, I'd use Chip56's Chip Suey as the "tutorial review" level in CCLP1, providing it was voted highly.) One of the dangerous aspects of building a lengthy campaign level for CCLP1 is that the longer it is, and the more opportunities exist for failure, the more frustrating it can be to inexperienced players. This level is certainly long, but the tasks to perform are anything but frustrating. The linearity is refreshing, with a return to the start that just works. So what are some of your favorites you're hoping to see in the final product? Sound off in the comments!
  32. 3 points
    After yesterday's stream of Giraffe set, discussing with other players and reading your thoughts on what I've already played, I feel that I have to write this. I've pointed out issues in the stream itself, but with 3 watchers, I was not expecting a miracle, also given the fact that they're in the CCLP1 staff so they probably already have some form of consciousness about the whole thing as well. First point and most important point to make, if you had to read and remember only one thing about that whole charade, that would be it. We're making a community pack, so everything should be in there. Someone's favourite level isn't necessarily a best fit for CCLP1, and so far that's what I've noticed with you guys. I feel too many levels are currently victim of their "hit or miss" factor, making them absurdly low in the rankings just because they don't happen to be of the right type... So, liking a level doesn't mean it fits in the mould, and disliking it doesn't mean it doesn't. Before going ape about a level (because you don't like the type or you haven't gotten the gimmick), you might want to stop and understand its purpose, and analyse what it could bring to CCLP1. I've seen way too much negative things about pearls, just because it doesn't suit one's particular taste. Also, dying in a level shouldn't make the rating go down. Dying has to be expected, and who wouldn't die while playing the original 149? I dare say no one. So we could probably do with a little more thinking and a little less selfishness, perhaps, maybe, question mark? As part of the staff, I'm going to tell you right now that our first priority in building this set will always be variety. Again, we're making a community pack. As veterans, we probably all hate playing a long and basic maze. But truth is, we still need some of those. Why? Try playing 100 itemswappers in a row, and as you blaze through, just realize how your mood would wear off. Yeah, exactly, the magic slowly dies and the whole thing gets heavier and heavier. This is why we certainly don't want to go "this-level-is-the-best-let's-have-149-copies-of-it-into-the-product". But wait, more than that : we have some of those mazes in the voting, and they're pretty darn gosh good! So why voting them down just because we don't like playing them?! That feels so selfish to me... What I like to do when playing a level is comparing it to the best levels I know of this particular type. If it's a dodging level (and you know I love them dodging levels), I'll ask myself if it's the best we could do for CCLP1 in terms of dodging. Same goes with every other type. How about I give you some personal favourites now? These are some levels that in my opinion are worthy of CCLP1, from what I've played so far (which is not a lot). They're not all there, some I've loved a lot as well, but here's at least some thoughts about some particular levels I've enjoyed a lot : -- From Giraffe Sleeping Dragon : Amazing concept, I haven't seen enough levels where you have to drain the exit path. The only thing I had against that one is the partial post trick involving the blocks, which makes me place that in late game situation. Cross Over : A very creative maze, not much else to say. Very well crafted. A (Mostly) Simple Maze : When I finished this, I stopped and thought "what did I just play?!" We need something like that in the early game, and I love the fact that you can solve it 358 different ways. Finding : It felt like one of those Hidden Danger ones, where you just keep on rambling everywhere not exactly understanding what's going on and eventually find yourself collecting everything. Pretty great. -- From Cardboard Blobs on a Plane : Was it to be expected from rockdet or anything?! Despite dying quite a lot when I played it (which isn't a bad thing), it was exciting and deserves a spot in the major league for me. Courtyard : I never praised this level enough, everything about it screams win. -- From Flouncy Balls. : This level reminded me of Four Square, it really made me smile a lot. Secret Passages : An amazing level, a maze without feeling like a maze. I'd be clearer with the chip hint thing, but nonetheless a fantastic composition. This is rockdet signing out, keep up the good voting job folks!
  33. 3 points
    Welcome to J.B.'s Level Design Musings! I've thought about starting this blog for quite some time, but I haven't really set out to commit to do so until tonight. So, here it is. Basically, I wanted to provide fellow Chipsters with a place where we could talk about the merits of quality level design, what level design preferences have looked like in this past in our community, and where things appear to be going in the future. I certainly don't consider myself to be the ultimate level design authority, but I'm happy to share my thoughts about what I've observed to work the most when designing levels, and at the same time, I'm ready and willing to learn from others as well. So why don't we start from the very beginning? Custom level design has almost always featured an overarching desire to explore new territory. When I discovered ChipEdit back in 1998, along with one of the first sets uploaded online (which is now much longer and called CatatonicP1.dat), I was intrigued by the use of invalid tile combinations. In fact, much of my time was spent playing around with invalid tile combinations, precisely because it was "that thing the original game just didn't have!" After a few years away from the game, I returned to the online CC world to discover many more sets had been uploaded, including an epic (then) 149-level challenge called EricS1 and an invalid tile lover's paradise: DaveB1 and DaveB2. From what I could tell, many of the seasoned designers were all about boldly going where no level had gone before. By the time CCLP2 was assembled and released, this same paradigm applied to many of its levels: sokobans, joyrides, a new type of puzzle called "Cloner's Maze," the use of random force floors, and other elements that had never been explored to much extent in years past took center stage. And at the same time, the interest in optimization started to reach a fever pitch. The years that followed were largely spent dissecting the game and analyzing its various bugs and idiosyncracies. Some designers built entire levels that revolved around "insane" level behavior or the other strange workings of Microsoft CC. Much of the community at the time played the game for optimization, too. In fact, many levels were built specifically for optimization; the introduction of pieguy's custom scoreboard site was very instrumental in ushering in an era where custom scores could be reported on any set that was uploaded. Throughout this time, submissions for a new level set called CCLP3 were open - and for quite a very long time. With so much of the game's mystery taken away, the biggest satisfaction most people found was in optimizing it, and many of the levels submitted for CCLP3 consideration reflected this desire. When CCLP3 voting was finally completed, most of the levels that the community had favored were the most difficult ones out of all that were submitted. But ironically, though the set was built mainly for the veteran players who enjoyed complexity and puzzling brain-teasers, what followed in the community was an unexpected but quite welcome shift. New players began to join the fold, and many of them weren't interested in optimizing the game, analyzing its intricacies to meticulous detail, or spending hours solving giant puzzles. They just wanted a game they could pick up for a brief period of time and enjoy playing in manageable chunks. The rise of Let's Plays on YouTube also proved to be conducive to casual gameplay, and once again, CC felt new again for a brand-new generation. Design was no longer about finding something new; it was now about presenting the familiar in innovative ways. It also wasn't long before the idea to create an official set specifically for new players that served as a replacement for the original CC1 was brought forth, and from that, the CCLP1 project has since launched and is currently in production. Since CCLP1 submissions have closed, I've tested thousands of levels in the running, and I can safely say that the future is looking bright for level design. The objective of creating a level set that's beginner-friendly has sparked a revolution in level design where casual gameplay is being considered, and I believe that can only be a good thing, particularly for the next generation of CC players who will likely search for more challenges after completing CCLP1. In the days to come, I'll be sharing my thoughts on level design, how I believe the best levels consider all styles of gameplay, and some difficult lessons I've learned as a designer. Where will community preferences with respect to level design go in the future? The answer is anyone's guess, but I can only hope that it's a place where players of all skill levels can feel welcome.
  34. 2 points
    Just finished voting on CCLP4. And by "finished" I mean finished with the first round. I intend to go back and update. Some basics: 1. I don't have to finish a level to rate it. This explains why I finished first. Finishing levels can be very time consuming. If I can't figure out what the level is about in a few tries, I mark it with 3s and move on. 2. Any level I've played before may not get played at all before voting. I probably already know how I feel about it. 3. A level ending in ing is scored with great skepticism. If you don't know why...lucky you. 4. I didn't rate all of my own levels a 5...wait, maybe I did. I took care to submit only levels I personally thought were very fun this time around. Given enough time, I'll go back and perhaps update my votes, but they are good enough if I don't.
  35. 2 points
    Today's levelset review is of the custom CC2 levelset "Explorer's Delight 1.2" by H2O. The set contains 6 levels. As the name suggests, the levelset features very large, sprawling levels where exploration is as much a part of the gameplay as the puzzle solving. The full video of my playthrough can be found at the following link: Summary: Overall, I have mixed feelings about this levelset. 1) I absolutely love the idea of focusing on exploration. When I think about what it was like as a kid to play the MS version, I remember more than anything the excitement of discovering new rooms and exploring new passageways. That's one area where I think the official CC2 levelset could have used a lot of improvement, with its focus on small puzzles (often 20x20 or smaller). This levelset does a good job in general of capturing that feel. 2) The puzzle design is top quality. The author consistently puts together puzzles that are interesting, fun, and challenging. 3) The epic reach of the levelset is in some ways its own undoing. Levels 3, 5, and 6 all stand out in my memory as being incredibly frustrating. The problem (of course) is that whenever a level is very long, any late mistake results in the player having to replay the entire level. The challenge for the designer is to find a way to mitigate that. Difficulty by itself is okay, and campaign-length levels by themselves are okay, but when you factor both together you run the risk of player frustration. In my case it took me over 4 hours to beat 6 levels, with the majority of that time spent on the last 2. Granted, I'm not the best CC player, and my dumb mistakes may have contributed to that, but the fact is if this hadn't been a Let's Play, I would have given up. Now, I really do appreciate the attempt to create an exploration-themed set, and I did enjoy my playthrough, although I felt it involved a lot of unnecessary frustration. I personally really liked the first two levels. They both did a great job with the exploration element, and they each had ONE central puzzle. My feeling is that this levelset could be a great success if each level centers around 1, 2, or maybe 3 puzzles at maximum. So, to the author, thank you for uploading! I hope you continue exploring (pun intended) this concept. My personal feel is that large levels should be mostly casual play experiences, and therefore I'd like to see the difficulty dialed down a notch or two. Individual Reviews: 01 ABANDONED MINESHAFT As described, a great intro to the set, love the deco walls/gravel combo. The 'mineshaft' feel was evident with all the broken railroad sections. I loved all the inaccessible areas with extra chips and all the random monsters. The central puzzle with the three blocks was interesting, I didn't know the first time I played it that you could push a dirt block with a directional block. But I liked how there was really nothing else to try. The maze at upper left added a lot to the feel as well. 02 FIERY CAVES A beautiful exploration level with a straightforward concept. My favorite exploration experience of the set. Again, some really cool areas along the sides of the map that you can't quite reach, but they look so cool! 03 SUBTERRANEAN ADVENTURE The first level where the problems inherent with large levels begin to show up. All of the individual puzzles are lovely. I particularly love the opening with the ghost and the great hint. Together, though, the combination just begins to cross the line of frustration. I do like how each puzzle is fully visible before committing, but still, I think the average player will have trouble thinking ahead through the recessed wall and railroad switch portions, and it's a lot of level to replay when you cook it. 04 POWDER MONKEY If FIERY CAVES was my favorite exploration experience, then this is my favorite puzzle experience of the set. All three block puzzles were ingenious and very fun to solve. The difficulty overall was about medium, which is just perfect in my book. I may have busted the west room, since I never opened the red door in the corner. My only critique is that this didn't feel much like an exploration level, and therefore felt out of place in this set. Excellent level however. 05 SCATTERED I think I may have made my peace with this level, despite the frustration exhibited on the Let's Play. One issue that's debatable is: My personal feel is that certain gameplay mechanics are 'bonus' behavior and shouldn't be relied on to solve a level unless help is given either in the form of a hint or else careful level design. Obviously these are up for discussion, but things like monster order, ultra-precise monster timing, block-slapping, or covering up wires are examples of things that are somewhat 'unfair' in my opinion and should be used with caution. This level absolutely tested the limits of my patience, but in retrospect I do think it was kind of cool. It would make a good level towards the end of a difficulty curve, especially if the set containing it already has examples of the previously mentioned gameplay mechanic. The beginning was delightful. The 'exploration' aspect significantly added to the difficulty, as the inaccessible areas with extra keys made it more confusing. But once explored, it was absolutely a memorable puzzle, with quite a lot of 'how is this even possible' moments and a great, if slightly unfair 'crux'. 06 SMALL OBSTACLES This level, coming after SCATTERED, gave me the most grief of all. Like SUBTERRANEAN ADVENTURE, it's definitely got the exploration theme going for it. And like that level, it has a collection of individually wonderful puzzles which together are just... frustrating. It's a great feeling to solve another section, but when you cook it instead and have to replay everything, it gets old really fast. Additionally, a couple extra factors made this not so fun to play: Also, the later puzzles are HARD. I'm not a particularly good CC player, but I'm pretty sure almost anyone who plays this will mess up the yellow teleport section multiple times and have to replay pretty much the entire level on each go. This adds a lot to the frustration, and makes it more likely the player will make stupid mistakes earlier in the level (a few of which you don't realize until much later). Finally, the last puzzle on bottom left relies on a gameplay mechanic that most people probably haven't tested. In a short level this wouldn't be a deal-breaker, but coming at the end of what was for me a 2+ hour ordeal, it felt pretty unfair to try out something new that might require yet another replay. So, I didn't like this level at all, despite it consisting of some great puzzles. I'd recommend splitting it up into either 2 hard puzzles or, even better, 3 medium puzzles.
  36. 2 points
    Hey remember that post? That was a few months ago. So what happened? Well...since I posted that, the only levels I played were in C1059-CC2, with the exception of that collab level I did with Josh, and maybe a few others. Either way, I did not play any other custom sets, nor any CCLP4 voting packs. And unfortunately, it feels good. CC is a good game, there's a reason why it's still popular over 25 years after it was first released. But honestly, now that I stopped playing, I can't say I miss it. I think that my life has actually been improving since then. Not playing CC anymore gives me more time to focus on things that I find more important. So essentially, I'm leaving CCZone. This time it's for real. It was good while it lasted, but now it's over. I released an update to C1059-CC2 yesterday; I reached my 149-level goal, nearly all levels have replays, and they shouldn't contain any major busts. If I ever update it again, it will take a while. Also, some of you may have noticed how I uploaded a bunch of videos on Youtube on Christmas Eve. These videos were filmed a while ago, I just didn't upload them. Now that everything I filmed has been uploaded, I won't be uploading anything else for a while. If anyone wants to continue my LPs where I left off, feel free to do so. TCCLPRejects Jacques.dat LizzyB1 I may visit this site again sometimes, but don't count on much. I may come back for CCLP4, but I won't guarantee anything. If anyone needs to contact me, please email me: myusername at gmail dot com (of course, replace myusername with my username). I have one last request. Please consider C1059-CCLP4 for all future official CC1 sets, and C1059-CC2 for all future CC2 sets. Tyler will have to give his consent for 110 to be submitted, and Josh, for level 147. I don't have anything else to say, so just goodbye. Thank you for being a part of my life for the past three years or so. Be positive and amazing.
  37. 2 points
    Level 81 "Follow the Leader" This is inspired by Socialist Action from CC1, which includes a line of bugs marching around a bank of invisible walls. I'd also seen similar concepts in a few custom sets, where you had to join a line of monsters that are walking a path through a maze of invisible walls. Follow them exactly, or you'll fall behind and get run over. My one complaint with many of those levels was that the monsters tended to be placed unreasonably close together, so one or two mistakes was all it took to die. Thus, I made sure to spread the monsters out here, and include plenty of chips that act as safe spots where you can wait for a monster to pass if it's getting too close to you. Originally there were no visible-by-default walls in the starting area, but I added them to make for a more gentle introduction. Also, in the set's first update after release, I added a bit to the hint explaining how to beat the fireball-cloning section. I think the level may have been slightly too large and didn't necessarily need to fill the whole map. The top-right section seems like the most redundant part. Level 82 "Automatic (Caution) Doors" (CCLP1 Level 140!!) YES! This level. I had the idea for this concept for a while as I was building Po100T, but didn't know how exactly I would execute it. I kind of improvised it, but nevertheless I'm extremely pleased by the result. It was fun for me--the designer--to play, and also for a lot of other people judging by the reviews of my set. Anyway, I started off making the beginning room--requiring a little dodging in order to reach the doors from the button--and then thought of a few ways to make paths from a button to a set of doors, such that the paths are completely walkable but are too long for you to make it in time unless you find a shortcut. These paths include the twisty floor path through the water west of the start, the path around the blue lock east of the start, and the path parallel to the water-guarded ice slide north of the start. I then built the level in pretty much the order you solve it, but not necessarily decidng how things would be unlocked until later (like the green doors or the aforementioned water path). I believe a lot of the enjoyability of this level comes from seeing these inaccessible paths, the suspense and uncertainty in how to unlock them, and the realization upon acquiring the proper tools to do so. Also, it's relatively safe to explore and try things without cooking the level. (The fireball stream in the northeast is a potential exception to this, though you can see from a safe space that their path passes through the fire before you head past the point of no return.) One unusual aspect of this level is the chip placement. All the chips and the chip socket are contained in the first 1/3 of the level or so. The reason for this was to encourage the player to explore the starting area and see all the places they'd be able to get to later, and what they'd need to get to those places. I did something similar for a later level (#98 Rube Goldberg). The means of exit (opening a seemingly-useless red door to lure an unseen Teeth into hitting a red button for you) was an accidental innovation. In a test run, I'd just solved the Teeth section and headed back to the starting area, only for the Teeth to trigger the doors, something I didn't realize would happen. I decided that could be made into an intended level mechanic. It's not something the player will likely think of; it's more that they'll just try unlocking that door and it'll happen. In the more confusing original version of the level, the final locked door led to the sprialing exit path instead, and the player had to step into a pointless-looking alcove to lure the Teeth south and trigger the toggling. The exit path is a bit awkward, as the buttons will occasionally clone a ball when the previous one hasn't died yet, stopping the doors for a second or so. Oh well, it's a minor annoyance and not life-threatening. EDIT: Oh, I suppose I should explain the title. It's based on those yellow-and-black signs you often see on automatic doors in the real world, e.g. at your local supermarket if it has them. Like this: Level 83 "Chip Compactor" Another where I thought of the core concept (a ball is controlling tanks and you have to unlock doors to increase the time between switches) before the actual layout. The chip at the beginning is tough to snatch right away, but it's possible, and you can always come back later if it's too hard for you. After that, the only really tricky part of this level is the top-left, especially in Lynx, but there are more blocks than you need. I do kind of like the atmosphere of the giant crusher you have to run through to exit once the tank cycle has been extended to its maximum length. In the title, I mean "Chip" in both senses of the word Level 84 "Tangled Web" This level is based on the "path tracing puzzle" you often see in children's activity books, where there are a bunch of criscrossing overlapping lines and you have to determine which line leads from the start to the goal, sort of like this: In this case, since you don't have full view of the map normally, I had to add a couple of vantage points on the ice at the start of the level so you could see the full paths, and therefore know which starting point leads to which obstacle. You can always go back to those vantage points as you're solving the level. When making the paths, I of course had to be careful that the ice corners for one path wouldn't get in the way of another, but that wasn't too difficult. Level 85 "Disappearing Mazes" This level is super easy! What's it doing in the #85 slot? It's meant to be a relaxing level to give the player some relief after the challenges they've just been through, as well as before the upcoming one. See http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/BreatherLevel. The whole concept of the level (including, naturally, the last room with all the sockets) is inspired by being able to eat through all the chip sockets in Strange Maze from CC1 once you get all the chips. Level 86 "Laser Refraction" Oh dear. This level is probably the hardest in the entire set, even harder than #98 and arguably #99. The concept, inspired by the Thermal Discouragement Beams and Discouragement Redirection Cubes from Portal 2, is about pushing blocks to deflect "lasers" (streams of fireballs spaced 1 apart) into bombs, allowing you to get red keys. The problem is that once a block is in the path of a laser, you can't move it out unless you succeed at a "50/50 timing" challenge, which I HATE. So why's the level in the set? Because if you think through your moves VERY carefully, you can solve the level without ever having to extract a block from a laser stream. I know because I managed it once. Once. This is notable for being one of the only untimed levels in this set that doesn't involve luck, just because it's THAT complicated. I believe the time it took me to solve this without any 50/50 timing is comparable to my casual first-time solve of On the Rocks. Level 87 "(Ir)reversible" (CCLP1 Level 134!) Just as the title and hint suggests, it's all about choosing two paths, one of which lets you go back after getting the chip and one that doesn't. I think the decision I like the most is the block-sliding section (the 2nd decision point in the level). Note that at the tank part, it turns it's possible to take the "wrong" path first and still get back (the right side), but it requires good timing. One funny-looking mechanic is the pair of teleporters you see at (29, 20) and (31, 20). Each one leads to the other, as Rockdet discovered to his surprise and amusement when he played this level for the first time. So why are they there? It's because it's actually very tricky to make "one-way" teleporters in this game. Just putting a force floor before or after a teleport doesn't do the trick since backwards force floor boosting exists in MS. So, having the teleport pair there ensures that the other horizontal teleports in the level send the player on a one-way trip to that pair. I would go on to reuse the concept in Level 82 of To100T (but vertical this time!).... Level 88 "Outwit" A very bare-bones dodging challenge. Well, 4 challenges. Actually fairly difficult for this set. There isn't much rhyme or reason to the thin wall placements; I just tried to make sure there'd be plenty of obstacles to get the Teeth stuck on. The teleports are there for easy movement around the level--as well as making sure the Teeth can't trap you in the gravel strip between the two rooms on the left or the two rooms on the right. The border with the thin walls and walkers are just decoration, both a homage to Level 88 from CC1 (Spirals) and a way of saying, "Aren't you glad you don't have to deal with this?" Level 89 "Memory Test" I just wanted to make a level with long paths of many chips. The recessed walls add a way to fail, and the monsters on traps, as the hint says, are just there to make it easier to tell where you are. In the first release, the level didn't have the monsters, and therefore looked very bland. I added them in the set's first update after its initial release. Level 90 "Water Slide" This is the penultimate action level, and it pulls precisely zero punches. It is, like "Three Strikes You're Out!", inspired by the Joyride series from CCLP2. This level is way harder than the norm for this set, but on the plus side, it's short, and there is a shortcut that you can use to skip a lot of it. I think the way I handled the 90-degree "curves" in the slide (each lane before the curve leads to the corresponding lane after the curve) may have been a mistake. It makes it very awkward to tell where you're going to end up, especially right when you get out of the shortcut. The "Joyride" system (where all 3 lanes before the curve lead into the near lane after the curve) is probably easier to grasp when you're zipping along at 10 tiles per second. As you might imagine, I died a couple dozen times before clearing this for the first time, and even nowadays I don't generally solve it on my first try. The space in the title is there to distinguish it from CCLP3's "Waterslide" (a Pieguy level that's easier than one of my levels, who'd imagine!)
  38. 2 points
    I guess it did take a year but now CCLP4 is sort of happening yay. Also I'm getting much more into cc2. The tutorial challenge was awesome! My personal life has gotten to be quite the complicated thing (more than usual...) but I am starting to free up a little time here and there. As the year goes on I should be around a little more often. Anything in CC2 you wish was there but isn't? Someday we may have a tileworld version of CC2...might be able to enhance it a bit. Or maybe Chuck will take suggestions (which will probably end up in Chuck's Challenge). Anyway -- when do we vote????
  39. 2 points
    Level 71 "1.5D" The inspiration for this level was a very strange indie film called Flatland that I watched in a math class once. It's about shapes that are living in a 2D plane when all of a sudden one of them is introduced to the 3rd dimension. Anyway, the film involves a depiction of one-dimensional space not as a straight line, but as a spiral, so that's why this level is shaped the way it is. The level's named "1.5D" because there are a few places where you can leave the "one-dimensional" spiral, but not many. And if you squint and blur the 1 and period together, it kind of looks like "LSD" which is fitting for such a strange level! (This wasn't intentional.) I knew from the start that I wanted you to eventually lead a monster (here, the glider) through the entire spiral, so in addition to collecting items, you clear out obstacles (most noticeably, the tank). "You Can't Teach an Old Frog New Tricks" is what inspired the whole "lead a monster through the entire level" gimmick for me, though there's a more complcated usage of that to come later. The fireball in the beginning is a bit of a nasty trap; it's just there to force you to feel the limitations of the "1D" space. The tanks you can't reach are there so you have a visual aid for timing the blue button press in Lynx mode--you need to hit it when they're fully on a space, but not stopped. Level 72 "Occupied" (CCLP1 level 73 why is this even in the set?) Inspiration for the title and concept was those "Occupied/Vacant" signs you see on Porta-Potty locks. Why are the button connections all jumbled up? I thought it would be interesting to force optimizers to figure them out (or peek at the editor) and draw a map, while casual players could just hit all the buttons in any order it doesn't matter. Not that I think it was a great idea now. At least you can see which traps you've opened--they're the ones where the monsters have left. I feel of all my levels that got into CCLP1, this is the least interesting and fun. I'm still not sure why it got in. Level 73 "Feeling Blue?" In Levelset 1, this level was a simple no-frills blue wall maze like Chipmine. However, I decided that since there are plenty of blue tiles, I should use them all and make things more interesting, and I'm glad that I did. I started with the line of blue locks and went from there. There are a couple walkers in this level but one is just bouncing back and forth on ice (not random) and another is stuck in a single-tile-wide hallway (not random in MS, and always behaves the same in Lynx) so luck can't make the bold time unattainable. That's why this level has a time limit. Level 74 "3 Minutes to Midnight" This is an itemswapper that looks very much like Hotel Chip, but with less of a pattern as to what item leads to what. Therefore I allow you to have multiple keys and other tools at once, to both help you save time and reduce the chance of cooking the level. As with Hotel Chip, the ice is meant to represent an elevator and the force floors on either end are meant to represent escalators. The blue walls on the outside are meant to represent skylights or something...I just associate one of my local malls with the color blue for some reason. The title of this level would have been "2 Minutes to Midnight" to match the Iron Maiden song, but 120 seconds was too low of a time limit to be reasonable. Heck, the current bold (which is JB's, not mine) would have finished with only 2 seconds to spare! Level 75 "The Shifting Maze and The Impossible Maze" (CCLP1 Level 92!) In the levelset JoshL2, #57 "Yet Another Strange Maze" has a section where the walls are made out of blocks. In the original release of the set, the blocks were clone blocks, so when I played through the level in Lynx, I was able to push the blocks, which I thought was a really cool idea! (Josh since fixed it, replacing them with normal blocks with traps under them.) Anyhow, I decided to build a maze that features the concept (walls are pushable blocks)--that's the "shifting maze", and then so you had something to do with them, I made a water "maze" that requires several tiles to be filled in with blocks--that's the "impossible maze". The title got shortened to just "The Shifting Maze" for CCLP1. Level 76 "Garbage Chute" i thought of this level idea pretty early, except it was going to be a bit more complicated, with the bombs leading to more rooms to explore as they were eliminated, but in the end I kept it simple. There's a small bust here, as once all but the last bomb are eliminated, you can push a block through the path, blow up the last bomb, and exit. Great if, say, you missed a brown button in the recessed wall room. I kept it in because I thought requiring the player to take a block through would be a little tricky for what was meant to be an easy levelset. The fireballs on traps used to be paramecia until I realized the controller/boss glitch would be an absolute nightmare if one got turned around and ended up back on a trap. Though I dunno why I didn't just add force floors like I did with the fireballs.... Level 77 "x times 2 to the n" This level's gotten quite the bad rap I see, and I don't think it deserves it. The point of this level is that there are 4 different mechanisms that will press a blue button after a certain number of moves. The mechanisms are based on the one in Tossed Salad from CC1 where there are a series of balls in traps, and each one releases the next ball when it itself has been released twice. (I call that a "ball clock"). I intended that some of the mechanisms would be faster than others, which you're supposed to figure out when choosing which one to start first (hence the title), but this level got disqualified for CCLP1 consideration because apparently the west mechanism was too short to finish the level in Lynx if you started it first. Yeah, disqualifying the level for that reason kind of misses the point of the puzzle. Approximate number of moves for the ball clocks to complete: West: 16 * 2 ^ 5 = 512 North: 4 * 2 ^ 9 = 2048 East: 18 * 2 ^ 8 = 4608 South: 94 * 2 ^ 3 = 752 This level's time limit is so huge (999) because the level already has its own timing mechanism; I don't need the timer to act as another. Thus, it's just here for scoring. This level had a precursor in Tiles 200 named "Powers of 2". It was an untimed level with a ball clock where you could either wait an astronomically long time for it to finish on its own and open the exit, or you could solve the puzzle of the level to speed it up. Yeah, I liked ball clocks, but couldn't figure out anything interesting to do with them back then. Level 78 "Brickwalled Again" More Brickwalled, this time with bug dodging! I don't know where this idea (bugs in a maze) came from. It may have been inspired by Maze of the Year (JoshL2 #39) except here the maze is wide enough that the bugs can't really corner you. The maze used to have 4 bugs but I reduced it to 3 because apparently 4 was too hard or something, I can't really remember. Note that the blue fake/solid wall layout is not the same as in Brickwalled. Level 79 "Wormhole" I'd had an idea for quite a while to make a force floor level based around either black holes or wormholes. Some ideas in this level I like. I think some of the puzzles are all right, and I like the idea of clearing out monsters by sending them onto a force floor. It can just be annoying to figure out where to go next, and in Lynx, to dodge monsters that are converging on the center teleport at the same time you are (not necessary in MS). That's why the chips near the teleport are there, to allow you to sit and wait for an opening, and in an update, I added additional floor to make it less likely you'd miss stepping off to get the chip. Also, the suction boots were much, much farther from the exit originally until I realized it was all too easy to get run over right at the end while slowly walking along the slide. Level 80 "Slide of 25 Trials" Hey, finally a level whose title and concept (sort of) reference the same thing the set's title does! This is just a series of times-sliding challenges I made because I needed to get better at those myself. I was careful to make sure that you could always see all the enemies you'd have to dodge before starting to slide, except for one place in the middle and one at the end, where instead you get a chance to back off as you approach the monster in case the timing is bad. I think the level is pretty reasonable, as even back when I made it I was able to get through it on most attempts.
  40. 2 points
    I know, I know. You're all on steam. But this is exactly what I (and possibly J.B.) was talking about. We "put off" CCLP4 and suddenly interest in good ol' Charlie Brown, I mean Chip's Challenge, loses the interest of people. OK, so we can take a bit more time enjoying the fabulous release of CC2. (The luster is sort of fading for me personally.) But the truth is still true -- we have LITERALLY THOUSANDS of levels that would be good candidates for CCLP4. Can we at least THINK about starting on this thing? Let's not wait another year. Or two.
  41. 2 points
    A while ago, I did a review of the Beta version of CCLXP2, the Lynx version of CCLP2 (you can find it here: http://cczone.invisionzone.com/index.php?/blog/16/entry-61-cclxp2-beta-review/). Since then, Miika released the final version of CCLXP2: http://cczone.invisionzone.com/index.php?/files/file/470-cclxp2dat/ The first thing I noticed is that the CCX file seems identical to that of the Beta version. There is no extended storyline, nothing from that Create Competition a few months ago. But the storyline is merely an enhancement to the set, it's the levels that really matter, so let's talk about these instead. Miika provided a complete changelog for the set. Very few changes were made, so most of the solutions for the Beta are still valid. Also, most of the things I said in the review for the Beta are still true. I shall therefore only review the modified levels. Madness I LX: Essentially, a few thin walls were added near the trap buttons to prevent a bust. I have no idea what the bust is, but either way, it is only a minor change. Yike-O-Matic *: The pointless block and water tiles I reported in the Beta have been removed. Therefore, optimizers maysave a few fractions of a second due to the lack of a spash delay. Lot of Danger *: The first room is still as painful as ever. The change is simply adding a water tile. For the "visual effect". Changes. Absolutely. Nothing. Just Enough *: A toggle wall was changed into a thin wall. This prevents a bust. My solution was not affected. Checkerboard II LX: First thing, there is a mistake in the changelog: this is level 94, not 95. The change involves adding a lot of gravel, probably to prevent Chip from using the fireballs to blow up the bombs, and even more gravel for symmetry. It appers this bust also works in MS, so I really don't understand: I thought the goal was to make the levels as close to the originals as possible, including reproducing their busts. Yet Another Puzzle LX: This level is very different. Even more bombs were added, making the level longer, just like the original. This is the best change in the final version. After the Rainstorm LX: A few force floors were modified to fix a bust. This is only a minor change, although my solution was rendered invalid. Teeth: It now works in even-step. Ths is a very welcome change. I don't really understand the mechanism, but it looks great in the editor. And finally, Cloner's Maze *. While it remains unchanged in the final version, I did manage to solve it since I wrote the Beta review. It is a very good level. I would like to thank Jeanne Hoffman for the SSViewer solution, which was extremely helpful in solving the level. If anyone knows how it was made, please tell me. Overall, I rate CCLXP2 :star: :star: and a half. Great set and great adaptation. Thanks to Miika Toukola, Rock Généreux, Josh Lee, Dave Varberg and Michael Warner for their work on this project! If you are interested in watching my LP of CCLXP2, you may find it here: Most of the videos are for the Beta, but the last few are for the final version.
  42. 2 points
    After a long break, I started working on CC1 bold-scoring again. Corridor: Ended up taking a few tries from minor input mistakes, even though I remembered the route completely after watching it once. Reverse Alley: I expected to have a lot of difficulty remembering where the waits were and which column to run down, so I noted a number from 1-4 for how close to the outer edge of the spiral I needed to run, and a paired number for how long of a wait was required. I lost my place in the list a few times, but 5-10 minutes after starting, I had scored the 961. Morton: Another level I expected to have serious difficulties scoring, but ended up getting quite quickly. I messed up the teeth section the first time I got there, and immediately after getting it I ran into a wall. Still, I pressed on and scored bold. Playtime: My first couple tries all came up as a 358.0, and I couldn't figure out why until I looked at the AVI again. I was riding the force floor path too far, and also moving the 2nd block up instead of down first. After correcting these mistakes, I got 359 in 1 try. Steam: There hasn't been one this easy in ages. Four Plex: This was an interesting one. First, let me drop my notes for it here: *Right, red key, blue key, RLR, yellow key, LRL, out of first part. *No wait on first chip, 1 wait on second, use multi-push. No ball waits, 2 bug waits. *Toggles closed, clone, trap, clone, trap, LLUURU, lowest chip, clone, trap, clone, trap, LLUURUR, top chip, 2nd lowest, climb up. *Recessed walls, wedges, left for fire (no wait), swap, no wait for bug, exit! Compared to the AVI on the wiki, I gained 2 moves in the ice section which had to be dropped before cloning the first ball or it WOULD result in death later on. The block pushing section gave me no trouble to get down beyond that, other than sometimes gaining a further [1] on the bug (which again, would be equalized at the large wait). The cloning room was very easy to remember, being the same logical path twice in a row. I did die the first time I got there in an attempt, though, from taking the wrong path to the 2nd lowest chip! The itemswapping area was as easy as I expected, and I walked away with the 416 fairly easily-though I would have liked to have had the gained moves /not/ be equalized somewhere Invincible Champion: First try, no references. Alright, second try, because my first try forgot to wait before grabbing a chip XD Force Square: I practiced a bit on an edited section of the center with walls blocking the incorrect passages to get the moves into muscle memory, then spent 6 minutes playing the level. In that time, I got the boosting perfect at least a half dozen times...but messed up the teleports. I did score a 480, though it was with a move lost in the opening. I kept going and improved the tenth because it was fun- and only took me one additional try. At this point, after scoring Time Suspension 849, I saw James' upload of Mixed Nuts on the side. I thought one of the rooms looked poorly optimized, rerouted it and found 2 extra moves. The first of these was equalized by the pink balls, so I reordered that room too to still have 0 waits. I scored 830 on my 2nd attempt, accidentally running into a bomb on the first try. It would be a really fun level if that block staircase didn't exist... A couple weeks later, I discovered another 2 moves that I have not made public since it only raises the route to a .8, and though I don't believe any other moves are possible, I may go back someday and find something, and I'd rather not be sniped. If you find anything else, let me know and if it's /not/ what I found, we can joint on this . Still, +4 moves on public in CC1 MS... Also before continuing with scoring bolds, I finished up solving CCLP3 in what seems to be a record pace: 28 hours, 30 minutes, give or take a bit. No external help or solutions were referenced during the playthrough, and the entirety was streamed and later archived . I'll probably write up a similar post for CCLP3 as I did for CCLP1, since I had a lot of fun with this. For now, I'll just say that the puzzles were as difficult as I expected but took nowhere near as long as I was led to believe...especially Avalanche Then there was the CC1 race on the first day of 2015, and that was a blast. I'm surprised I not only kept pace with J.B., but was way ahead until losing 10 minutes to a mistake on Writer's Block...and even after that I kept pace and finished 10 minutes behind (final time 6:21:47 to his 6:11:58). I don't believe I picked up any new bolds during the race, but did finally solve the entire original set in the MS ruleset for the first time in my life. I found the route to Four Square during, though, and scored 335 within a few minutes the following day with minimal difficulty, along with scoring 968 on Pentagram in the time following the race. Drawn and Quartered: Forgot to release, forgot to wait, scored the bold. Vanishing Act: Once I realized I had to take the bottom fork on returning to the center, I scored 733 first try. Writers Block: Skipped for now...maybe someday I'll try copying the public TWS. Socialist Action: Watched the AVI, copied it after a few attempts. Up the Block: Second attempt, because the first pushed the block too soon and died by a glider. Wars: It took me a while to remember to push the block left...whoops! Telenet: I knew this one would be interesting to face, and indeed it was. My initial set of notes had the direction to teleport and the direction to move after teleporting, but this was missing the next direction to go as well. My final notes looked like this: R(UR) L(UU) L(UU) D(RR) U(LU) D(RR) L(UL) U(LU) R(UR) L(UL) R(UU) R(UR) L(DD) UD(LL) RLRLRLRLRLRLRLR (15, U) This immediately got me into the RLRLRLRLRLRLRLR run, which I failed the first time but survived to score 235. Undeterred by how close this was, I pressed on and repeatedly moved too quickly in the teleport rooms. On the 3rd time reaching the alternating run, I counted out 1-2-3-4 1-2-3-4 on right key presses, and boosted perfectly, scoring the 236.2. Suicide: Cloned too many gliders once! Cityblock: Also skipped for now, and probably forever unless I feel like looking for the pieguy insane block pushing route...yeah right Spirals: I kept turning the wrong direction upon reaching the top half of the level...once I added a couple chip checkpoints to the directions I scored 317 easily. In the CC1 race, Block Buster gave me a rough time, mostly at the 3rd section. I knew it would be much more difficult to score 402, but I wanted revenge. I was going to pull this off...but not for a while. I needed easier boosting levels on my new laptop to get used to the different feel of the keyboard, and so I skipped Block Buster as well for now, and also put H2O Below 273K 273+ on hold. Playhouse: Took one attempt after watching the route. I was a little worried about remembering how to deal with the GOOD JOB part, but after JaBoL stuff like that feels a lot easier. Jumping Swarm: I spent a couple tries getting the route down, and kept having to wait 2 moves for walkers. Finally, I didn't have to wait at all...and ended up having 4 walkers converge on the exit at the same time, dying right next to the socket >.<. 10 minutes later, all the random factors finally went right and I scored 367. "However, with a route as quick as this, Chip rarely gets hit." -Andrew Bennett, ChipWiki annotation. THIS IS A BLATANT LIE...when going for bold. With all waits allowed, it'd be the most likely route to succeed, but in the context the claim is made... Vortex: After a half dozen attempts where I ran into blue walls left and right, I opened the level in an editor on the side and played off that. The walker blocked my path 3 times in a row, then I forgot how to deal with the teleport and scored 443. The walker blocked me once more, and I scored 444 on the next attempt. Roadsign: When I said 'easier boosting level' this isn't what I had in mind! To make matters worse, my new laptop has a slightly different input to screen refresh rate than my old laptop, and as I found out with Guitar Hero 3, a difference of as little as 15 milliseconds can make precise timing much more difficult for me. Despite everything stacked against me, I went for the 650 directly...and scored 634 on the first attempt after watching the AVI. Well, that didn't go as planned. I watched the portions I forgot again, and spent a few minutes practicing the sequence 40 seconds in. Before long, I gave it another try...and scored 638. A few tries later, I had 641 with the main mistake having been forgetting to move the 2nd/3rd block over while navigating the 3rd/1st block through the 'maze'. At this point I wrote everything after "Roadsign:" because interesting stuff happened, and maybe writing down to move that block would help me remember. It did. I remembered to move the block over, but forgot the fastest way to move after pushing the next block in. Combined with forgetting the force floor to ice combo near the end, I ended up with a 646. However, my first half was perfect, so I knew it was just a matter of time. That time was taking way too long, in no small part due to the additional latency I was experiencing. A half hour later, and the best run I had would have only been 648 if I hadn't overcompensated and failed the boost in the northwest. And then this happened. I had overstepped once after the ice tile in the southwest, but as an annotation on the ChipWiki AVI said, that was acceptable. The choppiness of the recording made the wait hard to see, and since I knew I was matching the AVI (a .0, IIRC) I pressed on. Being that close, even once, made it clear that 650 was an inevitability. Next good attempt: low 647, overboosted at the end by 1 space costing 2 moves, but the real killer was forgetting to move the block off (5, 25). Then finally, I broke through (while recording with input display, because why not)...though partway through I realized "wait, what am I doing?" because I collected the chip behind the bombs before I was supposed to! Rather than restart, I kept going, remembering that 2 moves had to be lost at some point, and that mistake cost me 2. Video . Current MS official overall scores and bolds: http://imgur.com/lUXHm2m Current Lynx official overall scores and bolds: http://imgur.com/X0oqCpU As far as CC1 goes, there's very few routes left that could be considered 'easy'. We'll see how frequent further progress is.
  43. 2 points
    Alright, so...this is going to be a long post, covering everything I've done with CCLP1 so far. That said, I've done a bit more with CC1 and even scored 47 bolds in CCLP2 while simply playing through it, so the overall counts are hugely inflated since last time. Be very aware, wall of text incoming. Skelzie: Due to not having access to MSCC without huge input lag (for now, I have a couple potential workarounds), I simply learned and executed the 453 route. Didn't take too long, the rapid teleport sequences weren't very hard for me, instead I struggled with the blobs-they killed me incredibly frequently, but eventually the RNG fell the right way and I got to the ending teleport sequence. Got it first try, of course-453 scored for the TWS, I'll worry about 454 after I get 320 on Graduation. Monster Lab: I'd been spending some time grinding this when I didn't really have anything going on, and on April 27th I got 1 tile away from the exit, but was killed at 50% odds by a rebounding walker. I pressed on and not 5 minutes later scored the 292. Did not expect that...but the first massive obstacle to 5,977,000 is out of the way. Shrinking: Felt like trying for this a while ago, got bored, tried again randomly and scored 338 quickly. Thanks To...: Had some time to kill with nothing to really do, scored this in around 40 attempts...with 2 failed 990 attempts. I got really lucky with the RFFs... In terms of CCLP2 bolds, I picked up 24 from the first 90 levels, all on fairly simple routes, no learning of them-just a first solve while looking at an editor and then a further 23 in the last 60. I suspect when I start optimizing CCLP2 I'll pick up another 30 without any effort, at least. The list is Maze of One Way, The Serial Port, Debug File (mouse panel ftw), Ranger Denmark, How Goes?, Work Fast, Chase Race, The Mystery of the Seven Chips, Mads' Rush I, Ray of Light, Fun House Rink, Breaking the Rules, Hurry Up, Chip!, And Then There Were... Four?, Just a Minute!!, Security Breach, Planet of the Teeth (I did optimize this, since it was a fun level to work on), Reversi, Hobgoblins and Chimera, So Many Chips!, Killer Spiral, Bumble Boy, Cra-zy, The Walker Machine, Exit Chip, Loop, One-Block Sokoban, Torch, Hard as Rock, Pyramid, Bounce, Joyride I, Counter Clockwise, Turn Turn Turn, Frost Rings, Flame Boy, Paramecia, Blocks 'n Bombs, Dodge!, Fantasy Island, Miscellaneous, Frozen Birdbath, Microcosm, Zartacla, Trapped, Wormwood and Neptune. And then we move on to CCLP1, a set where I have 88 bolds, with very few routes copied, instead finding them for myself...it's a very different experience to CC1 and it's been a very enjoyable one, though coming up a second short is a bit frustrating at times . I've also been optimizing the same levels on the Lynx side of things, with 93 bolds there (including a joint bold and several unconfirmed records!) In order, the levels I've optimized, without outright giving away most of the routes I used (since CCLP1 is shaping up to be half public, half private...) Key Pyramid: Fairly straightforward, just leaving a couple things behind and a lot of running back and forth. Still not really a fan of this level. MS: 168/168 (bold, my time) Lynx: 168/168 Slip and Slide: This one took a couple tries to hit on the right route, but it's definitely very easy to find. MS: 180/180 Lynx: 179/179 Present Company: Also really straightforward-grab the right boot, clean out the other room, clean out the first room, exit. MS: 183/183 Lynx: 183/183 Block Party: Now this was a fun route to find, 201 was the first I scored here, I immediately improved to 204 and 205, and quickly 206 after working out the key section. 207 took a small trick near the end (the force floor trick I used from the 201 even!). On the Lynx side of things, direct copy of the MS route. MS: 207/207 Lynx: 201/201 Facades: Learn the wall locations, easy to score. MS: 232/232 Lynx: 232/232 When Insects Attack: Took a couple tries to find a 185, transferred to Lynx. Buuuut, after that random 8 scored 186 in Lynx, and finding that was a bit annoying. I found the one thing with the paramecium and the dirt but didn't put together the rest of the route for a half hour. MS: 185/185 Lynx: 186/186 Under Pressure: 185.6, gave the route to Ben to upload to ChipWiki after he uploaded a 185.0. Lynx is a bit annoying due to the hint tile, but oh well. MS: 185/185 Lynx: 184/184 Switcheroo: A bit annoying, but there were only so many configurations that could have worked. MS: 230/230 Lynx: 229/229 Swept Away: Would you believe me if I said this was my first try at optimizing the level? Because it was. MS: 228/228 Lynx: 225/225 Graduation: The first really big level in CCLP1, and also the first level I lack a bold on-though not because I didn't know how to score it! 318 in MS took all of 3 tries to execute correctly, and a base 317 in Lynx took 5 or 6 due to being very tight without either trick. The night before Mike reported a 319 using the Teleport Skip Glitch, I had actually looked at the level and went "huh, the Teleport Skip Glitch would save at least a second here". I started trying to get my laptop able to run MSCC, but alas, it can't, and so I had to go to sleep without a new record despite having seen a way to. The next morning I counted spaces and it seemed like it would yield a 320, which J.B. confirmed. I knew how to score this, just don't have the means...on the Lynx side of things, Miika reported a 318, which I started looking for. I found the useful block slap immediately, but the other trick to push it to a barely 318 eluded me for hours. Eventually, thanks to some very vague hints from Ben, I figured out the one thing I had overlooked: tanks don't turn if they're already moving. After that, it still took a couple tries, but I did score the bold. MS: 320/318 (318 is maximum in Tile World) Lynx: 318/318 Basketball: Straightforward itemswapper, took a couple iterations to work out how to dodge the balls but once I did it was a very easy bold. MS: 226/226 Lynx: 225/225 Leave No Stone Unturned: In MS, fairly simple route with a small sokoban section to optimize-didn't take too long. In Lynx, block slaps and splash delay make it a lot more complicated...and I'm down 2 seconds without knowing where. MS: 289/289 Lynx: 287/285 The Monster Cages: James why did you have to find the thing with the walker stalling all 3 paramecia ;-; Took a solid 2 hour grind session (made easier by talking with a friend working on a Touhou fangame, discussing ideas and such) to actually score, but I did get it...at least in Lynx the different monster behavior makes this a freebie. MS: 263/263 Lynx: 263/263 Wedges: My initial score was a 204.8. Then I realized I had done a dumb with the 3 wedge rooms and could save 2 moves in each of 2 places, and that gave 205.6...I'd already found the teleport shortcut but hadn't quite pieced together how to avoid losing 2 moves to the extra block in the region yet. When I found it and scored 206, I was quite happy and immediately turned around and made the route public. I think this is the level that really showed that I could definitely optimize block pushing somewhat well on my own. In Lynx, the block slaps make the wedges 2 moves faster, so despite the splash delay and lack of boosting, it's still faster. I only just found the moves I was missing-stupid being greedy and getting the red key early >.< MS: 206/206 Lynx: 208/208 Twister: When I first played this level, I hated it. On a second play, I realized that no spaces ever had to be stepped on twice, and immediately revised my opinion of the level. Naturally, this second play was optimizing and netted me the bold-first try in each ruleset. MS: 315/315 Lynx: 306/306 Tetragons: My first attempt was 1 second short, even after triple checking the sokoban section for improvements. I said I had no interest in returning due to the RFFs, but I later revisited and noticed that I had been treating the central chip in the right rooms as a 1 path detour, instead of passing through the center. MS: 281/281 Lynx: 277/277 Tiny: Small level, not very complicated, easy enough bold. MS: 990/990 Lynx: 989/989 Square Dancing: Ruben reported 264, I started looking to confirm. I didn't feel like actually testing any routes, so I plotted the distance from each chip to each other chip worth considering, and started developing routes. Found 1 "263.8" and 2 "263.6" routes, but after 2 hours, never found a 264. So I went to go execute the 263.8 and found that it was the 264 route all along and my count was off by one >__<. MS: 264/264 Lynx: 263/263 Feel the Static: After figuring out which chips could be picked up at less time cost, this was an easy bold. I put off optimizing it for a while though for some reason. MS: 351/351 Lynx: 348/348 Chip Suey: Honestly wasn't that bad to figure out, I scored the bold in Lynx very quickly due to the consistent walker behavior, then switched over to MS and scored...379.6. Every time. Both Miika and James told me that it was probably in the teleports (I was going through each teleport once, Miika went through twice and James 3 times), which due to boosting was equal. I suspected it was the sokoban at the end, but trusted the expert judgement...and after rigorous testing, proved that the teleports were equal with all 3 routes. I then started listing off to James every little thing I did, and when I got to the sokoban, I spotted the 2 missing moves and scored the bold quickly-the walkers played nice after realizing this, and gave me the 1/6 shot 3 out of 6 tries. Third time I nailed the boosting and got the bold. MS: 380/380 Lynx: 375/375 Generic Ice Level: Not picking up the skates ASAP was all it took to find the bold route here. MS: 175/175 Lynx: 172/172 Repair the Maze: This one was really fun to work on due to the aspect of where to spend the 2 extra keys. The first thing I did was replace all red locks that I would never want to remove with yellow locks, and then did the same with locks that were outright worse than other ones. I ended up with a total of 3 locks potentially worth removing, picked 2, scored 325. Looked at the level again, spotted a shortcut that could be used if I used the lock I left behind, and that was enough for the 330. MS: 330/330 Lynx: 330/330 Circles: Annoying due to the walkers getting the way more often than not. MS: 226/226 Lynx: 226/226 Chip's Checkers: Thanks for the route here Ben . This was a really fun level to score the bold on-I came up with a 342 route on my own, but after seeing Ben's route spotted the obvious mistake I had made-being greedy and grabbing a chip early, of course. Still took a while to execute, but it was fun. MS: 343/343 Lynx: 329/329 Mind Lock: Pretty simple level, not really many options. MS: 139/139 Lynx: 139/139 Trafalgar Square: I love this sort of puzzle, and optimizing this was a little easier than expected. There was really only one potential point of entry, and from there it was pretty obvious where to go. My first attempt missed an extra push that saved a bit later on, but when I revisited the level later I found it quickly. On the Lynx side of things, there's 2 slaps that save time-this got me the confirm on Miika's 172! MS: 173/173 Lynx: 172/172 Teleport Depot: Bold is a 283.8, my first route was a 283.0. I found this out when I went over to Lynx and came up short of the bold there, and quickly noticed I was breaking the wrong blue lock! Oops. MS: 283/283 Lynx: 276/276 The Last Starfighter: In MS, I got stuck at 273 for a while then randomly pulled a 274.8...and a 274.6 with 2 wasted moves returning from the top >.<. In Lynx, the old record of 255 is trivial, but random8 beat me to scoring the 256 by having a blob clone extra blobs. I still intended to get this second for myself though...until another trick was found that allowed 257...and 258 with a blob! MS: 275/274 Lynx: 257/257 Sky High or Deep Down: Pretty simple route, just a matter of trying top to bottom and bottom to top. I think the order is different in each ruleset, but I don't completely recall. MS: 326/326 Lynx: 326/326 Button Brigade: I optimized this one in Lynx first-had a bit of trouble figuring out the best way to set up the fireball room near the end, but it didn't take too long to find. MS was even easier, though I thought I was triggering some bug with boosting and toggles-nope, just a cross-check! MS: 219/219 Lynx: 217/217 Quincunx: Evil evil evil evil evil evil evil evil evil evil evil level. I still hate it. At least Lynx is trivial, but MS demands perfection. MS: 144/142 Lynx: 114/114 Nitroglycerin: Very well designed maze, fairly simple to optimize. I had more trouble remembering my route than discovering it. Still didn't take too long-I still have a couple more free bolds like this later on. MS: 263/263 Lynx: 263/263 Spitting Image: I scored 955 immediately, then could not find the 956 at all. I kept overcomplicating things trying to split the first room up-which still scored 955. Of course, the trick was something simple again (a simple teleport twice..), which I didn't realize until James told me the difference between MS and Lynx was 8 moves, not 10. MS: 956/956 Lynx: 954/954 Just a Bunch of Letters: Honestly, on the MS side of things it was a matter of looking at the map and picking a route through the letters. The Ls in the middle kind of forced a specific route, and the monsters didn't interfere. Lynx though...the waits dropped the route to a 287, so I had to leave a chip behind to skip having to wait-it resulted in a lower 289, but a 289 is a 289. MS: 289/289 Lynx: 289/289 Mystery Wall: A common theme is figuring out the hard part of the route optimally and then missing something simple elsewhere in the level. I figured out the optimal way of doing the block cloning on my own relatively quickly, but this came up 2 moves short of the bold. I kept looking there, trying more and more outlandish things until James outright told me I had that part right. That left only the top section...where I realized I was doing a dumb again. MS: 379/379 Lynx: 374/374 Rhombus: Another really easy level, thankfully. It was just a matter of figuring out the teleports in the beginning to beat the fireball cycle. MS: 219/219 Lynx: 216/216 Habitat: I can't be bothered to work on this one for a while- my first route turned up a 331 in MS, and in Lynx it was 330. Ended up getting a tick-perfect run along the 4 chips in the lower section on a second attempt /by accident/, and matched my 331. MS: 332/331 Lynx: 332/331 Heat Conductor: My first approach to this level netted me a 480 in MS and a 462 in Lynx-this was with way too many extra teleports. I was able to increase the decimal by reordering a few sequences to avoid teleporting 5 times at the end twice in a row, but it wasn't enough for extra seconds. Then I compared routes with Ben, and after confirmed I teleported too much found 481.0/465-exactly what Ben had, only a lower decimal. We compared routes directly at this point, and one particular arrangement of chips ((9,9) (6,5) (14,4)) being collected on their own pass I hadn't considered before...and that was enough to get a 482. Then James wondered where I was dropping only a bit and I noticed I could save [2] by teleporting vertically going to the fireboots. That bumped me up to 482.6/466.almost467, with [2] left to find. I'm...not sure where. MS: 483/482 Lynx: 467/466 Dig and Dig: Very simple level, just a matter of avoiding the monsters. MS: 237/237 Lynx: 237/237 Sea Side: Another travelling salesman level-plot a path between islands, then plot the chip path. MS: 962/962 Lynx: 960/960 Descending Ceiling: In MS, the bold of 166 was fairly well established. I found all the cycle skips and scored it pretty quickly. In Lynx, however, I noted that the bold was 160...with a partial confirm of 159? I wasn't sure how this was quite possible, until it hit me: each person missed one cycle skip, one of them at the very end. I found them all and scored a new record of 163. MS: 166/166 Lynx: 163/163 Mughfe: I didn't put too much effort into this, just enough to purge my initial time. MS: 419/413 Lynx: 403/397 Gears: Trivial level is trivial. MS: 206/206 Lynx: 206/206 Frozen Labyrinth: Even without Miika's AVI, the right route for this level was fairly straightforward. Nothing difficult in the execution either-just a matter of remembering when to slide. MS: 365/365 Lynx: 360/360 Who's the Boss?: In MS there were lots of routes that scored 279 due to the boosting allowing certain cycles to be reached...in Lynx, optimizing was a bit more of a mess, with the bold going up and up and up from 272 to 273 to 274 to 275 to 276 to 277. No clue what Miika did for the 277 honestly. MS: 279/279 Lynx: 277/276 Sapphire Cavern: My initial route was down 1 second, upon trying a slightly different path I found 286. MS: 286/286 Lynx: 286/286 Bombs Away: Well, the route before James messed with monster collisions was easy to find...no matter what I did I couldn't make having monsters clone monsters be worthwhile, though. MS: 955/943 Lynx: 942/942 Sundance: Another trivial bold is trivial. MS: 180/180 Lynx: 180/180 49 Cell: I...do not like optimizing this level. In either ruleset. MS: 430/422 Lynx: 413/406 The Grass is Greener on the Other Side: MS ruleset was trivial to find, since the teeth just cooperate. Lynx required a small wait, but this was still a fairly straightforward level. MS: 167/167 Lynx: 166/166 H2O Below 273K: This level...this level is insane to optimize in MS because it's an approximately 30 second long nonstop boosting frenzy. When I started working on it, Ben had bold at 256. It took me about 10 minutes to score 259, but I couldn't stay away, scoring 263, 265 and then 267 -.9. Later that day I went back and scored several more 267s before topping out at 268. At that point I went over to Lynx and scored 231 (bold) first try. A while later I kept working my way up, scoring 269 and 270 the same day. From there, I was positive I wouldn't be able to improve it...until I decided to play the level for a bit while screensharing. I scored 270 again a half dozen times, including a -.1! Finally, I broke through and scored 271, and I don't think I'll be improving this anytime soon. MS: 274/271 Lynx: 231/231 The Bone: Scored bold in MS, switched to Lynx, improved the record by 1 second with a block slap and splash delay dodge, then it got improved again. MS: 309/309 Lynx: 306/305 Start at the End: I optimized this in Lynx first, and my first attempt found the bold easily enough. In MS, I derandomized the level to see how much slack there was with the boosting, did it fast enough and scored 408 , and then took an hour to actually scored it on the stock version...then James pointed out I was missing a lot of moves in a very obvious place, and I then found the 410 route immediately after. Unfortunately, I was annoyed with the boosting and didn't really feel like going for it, so I got a 409.8 and called it a day. MS: 410/409 Lynx: 400/400 Mini Pyramid: Found 231 in MS, added a ram to score 232, then realized the next day that skipping the suction boots might be viable...found 234 and polished the route to score 235. In Lynx, I scored 229, then tried a different approach with the water blocks and scored 230. I'd accidentally snatched a chip under a block sliding off ice at one point, though, and optimized the route further to net a new record. MS: 235/235 Lynx: 231/231 The Chambers: Very easy in both rulesets. MS: 322/322 Lynx: 323/323 Connect the Chips: See above. MS: 963/963 Lynx: 963/963 Key Farming: Fairly simple route to discover, and the execution wasn't too bad since you have 4 mistakes. MS: 296/296 Lynx: 285/285 Corral: I kind of fluked into bold in MS on one singular attempt with 0 interference...in Lynx I didn't try too hard. MS: 327/327 Lynx: 327/321 Asterisk: See 3 levels above. MS: 970/970 Lynx: 970/970 Guard: One of those levels where you try everything until it works. Kind of annoying, especially in Lynx where you have to get rid of one of the fake walls to trap the teeth. MS: 263/263 Lynx: 262/262 Highways: This level was so much fun, and I usually don't like boosting after a 2 ice slide. Probably due to all the boosts being like that. MS: 424/424 Lynx: 412/412 Design Swap: I found 333 on my first attempt, and quickly improved it to a 340. I then found all manner of other times like 341, 339, 336, and 343. At this point I noticed the potential to disrupt the bugs to hold down the trap button for me, and scored 345 with that. James then told me that this was not part of the 346 route, at which point I looked for a 'vanilla' route a bit longer and ended up finding 346. Switching over to Lynx, you fall 1 cycle behind MS resulting in a 340...except due to different cycles the bug-button approach actually saves a second, netting me another new record. MS: 346/346 Lynx: 341/341 New Block in Town: Annoying level, easy route at least. MS: 174/174 Lynx: 169/169 Chip Kart 64: This one was quite fun, though I honestly don't see how a 45 is possible...it's probably something really silly. MS: 45/44 Lynx: 35/35 Squared in a Circle: Copied Miika's AVI for the 427 and 413, was nowhere near convinced it was optimal in Lynx. I found a nifty little trick that saves [2.5], and when random 8 said he found a trick that saved [2] in both rulesets...we merged routes and suddenly 414 joint bold. MS: 427/427 Lynx: 414/414 Klausswergner: I didn't put too much time into this route, just enough to try the obvious route (scores 281), and a couple faster routes. Ended up with 285/284, which isn't too bad for the amount of effort. MS: 288/285 Lynx: 285/284 Booster Shots: Lynx bust, annoying route in MS. MS: 304/299 Lynx: 386/386 Flames and Ashes: Juggling one block around was actually really fun here. MS: 947/947 Lynx: 946/946 Double Diversion: Just like back in the blind race, I'm still not a huge fan of this level. It was just annoying to optimize, with testing waiting/not waiting and which side. MS: 288/288 Lynx: 285/285 Juxtaposition: THIS MAZE IS AMAZING. Learning the paths didn't take too long, either, even for Lynx. MS: 426/426 Lynx: 426/426 Tree: Another level I put a bit of effort into-improvized the sokoban every time, most of my missing time is probably there. MS: 302/298 Lynx: 280/276 Breathing Room: Small and fairly simple, not too many different things to try to find bold. MS: 183/183 Lynx: 180/180 ToggleTank: I found the bold route literally first attempt optimizing this. MS: 243/243 Lynx: 241/241 Shuttle Run: This...is probably one of the easiest bolds in the set. MS: 8/8 Lynx: 6/6 Secret Passages: Upon looking at the level in the editor, my initial route idea counted keys...and came up with just enough to go through all the locks I wanted to. The result was a 533.8. MS: 533/533 Lynx: 533/533 Elevators: This is another of the easiest bolds in the set. MS: 957/957 Lynx: 957/957 Flipside: Most of the difficulty here is in avoiding the few walkers-funnily enough, the optimized route was much safer than my casual routes. MS: 390/390 Lynx: 390/390 Colors for Extreme: I found both of the old records the day before James improved both, and J.B. and random8 both confirmed the same day. I got hung up on trying to disrupt the glider path with the blocks and couldn't think of any way to break the level that night. When random8 uploaded the 889 Lynx solution, though, I took another look and saw the potential blockslide. From there, the bolds followed. MS: 900/900 Lynx: 889/889. Launch: I'm not sure where the extra second in Lynx is-maybe a block slap I missed? MS bold was first try. MS: 95/95 Lynx: 92/91 Ruined World: I got stuck at 970 for a while, and then realized I was ordering a couple blocks silly. MS: 971/971 Lynx: 971/971 Black Hole: Every route I tried fell short, until I realized the bugs were all offset by 1...that turned the route into a mad dash into the bugs snatching all the chips from certain death. MS: 971/971 Lynx: 969/969 Starry Night: This route didn't take very long to find either-and executing the boosting didn't take too long either. I had more trouble working out how to dodge the walker in Lynx! MS: 309/309 Lynx: 302/302 Chip Block Galaxy: I put a bit of effort into this, not much though. Ended up with a partial confirm and Lynx record because no one else tried. MS: 908/890 Lynx: 893/893 Roundabout: Due to boosting, the bold was trivial to find in MS. In Lynx, 350 required splitting rooms and detouring later sometimes, sooner other times...it was quite tricky! MS: 350/350 Lynx: 350/350 Flame War: My initial idea of a route netted bold in MS, but -1 in Lynx. I had a couple other ideas involving maneuvering an extra block, but they never quite panned out. MS: 322/322 Lynx: 321/320 Gate Keeper: Straightforward level. MS: 365/365 Lynx: 362/362 Deserted Battlefield: After wandering around for 5 minutes on my first play, I wanted revenge. I looked at the editor, found the 17 second route, and executed it in both rulesets. MS: 982/982 Lynx: 982/982 Loose Pocket: Another surprisingly simple level to optimize for its position. MS: 332/332 Lynx: 334/334 Frozen in Time: see Loose Pocket. MS: 944/944 Lynx: 943/943 Portcullis: Both of my initial routes came up a second short, though I found some improvements pretty quickly. I still don't know where the missing second in Lynx is, though. MS: 977/977 Lynx: 978/977 Tunnel Clearance: Lynx demands perfection, but perfection is simple enough to obtain. MS has so much room for error, but remembering which direction is tougher. I'm not sure which ruleset has the harder to score bold here. MS: 257/257 Lynx: 235/235 Jailbird: My first routes came up 4 or 5 seconds short, but they didn't have any monster collisions. After that I found 366, 367 and 368 fairly quickly, and switched over to Lynx where the collisions behaved differently. It took a bit of tinkering, but I found a 366 route...and then accidentally stumbled upon the perfect set of collisions and scored 368 in Lynx for an unconfirmed new record. MS: 369/368 Lynx: 368/368 Alternate Universe: After learning the center segment, this didn't take long to score. MS: 959/959 Lynx: 954/954 California: I didn't spend too long on this, just enough for an initial route. Somehow, still +19 on everyone outside the joint bold in MS. MS: 426/419 Lynx: 414/404 Blobs on a Plane: Derandomized, found the 255.4 route, executed 248 in MS after an hour, scored 247 in Lynx within 10 minutes. Decided to keep going, suddenly 250 5 minutes later...another hour later, 249 partial confirm in MS. MS: 252/249 Lynx: 250/250 Runaway Train: The walker killed me way too often for my liking in MS-thankfully, Lynx played nice. The only tricky part was the paramecia room. MS: 104/104 Lynx: 98/98 Metal Harbor: I happened to stop on this level flipping through CCLP1 in the editor, forgot how to solve it and spotted a way to have an extra block in Lynx with some creative block slaps. I figured the bold route already used this, did a lazily optimized dry run and scored b+4. Further optimizations yielded another +3, +2 and +3 for a 787: +12 on random 8's 775. random 8 then found the bust and scored 788, I switched extra blocks and scored 789, then the next day spotted an extra splash delay and an extra 0.5 near the end...and scored 790. MS was easy-merging Lynx routes less slaps was enough MS: 798/798 Lynx: 790/790 Chip Plank Galleon: Lynx bold was easy, MS I'm down 1. MS: 282/281 Lynx: 280/280 The Very Hungry Caterpillar: Simple route. MS; 60/60 Lynx: 58/58 Blockade: Another pretty simple route. MS: 210/210 Lynx: 207/207 Elemental Park: Yet another simple route, though the execution is quite difficult in MS. I did 2 attempts after scoring bold in Lynx. MS: 596/588 Lynx: 573/573 Frogger: A simple test of iterating permutations of waits and runs. MS: 272/272 Lynx: 271/271 Easier Than It Looks: My initial optimization was a .8, once I realized I could just teleport down in the walker room...I felt really dumb. MS: 106/106 Lynx: 103/103 Spumoni: The only MS record I have, and only because I got to it first. The level interested me, and I routed it and executed-the execution was fun too. MS: 446/446 Lynx: 439/439 Steam Cleaner Simulator: I also optimized this within the first week, but it was a bad 463. Today I went back to improve my Lynx score from b-14 and ended up with 464, then did the same with MS and netted 469. Then I realized my ending in both rulesets was dumb and gained another second. MS: 472/470 Lynx: 468/465 (Ir)reversible: Straightforward level with no options=just execute it. Lots of boosting, but nothing hard. MS: 333/333 Lynx: 328/328 Thief Street: It's a .8 with a mouse-assisted flick. MS: 179/179 Lynx: 178/178 Bummbua Banubauabgv: Another very simple level to optimize, just a matter of organizing blocks in the solution path. MS: 383/383 Lynx: 380/380 Chance Time!: Simple, fun level. Bit of luck, but nothing too bad. MS: 235/235 Lynx: 235/235 I still have another 40 CCLP1 levels to go before I've got at least a base score for the set...maybe I'll hit 6,000,000?
  44. 2 points
    Its the best way to make leves, you all know it. You begin with a big fire and throw random objects in until your inspiration falls out the buttom, when all your other ideas are all gone. As i write I am going thru this very method - not only from fire but the surrounding world, the Tv I watch, the music i listen to - it's not difficult unless you make it. My current levelset is at 11levels and I will release sooner- not later. It is a great honor to participate in the Cclp4 design process and as such i honor my good friend michael in his enthusiam to take the responsibilty of staff (but I haven't even talked to him at all - we should talk sometime!). I nominate Michael hereby to be a part of this and if the admins are willing-- maybe I could participate? who knows. Im just a newbie here (or a n00b as many say) after finding my old Win95 'compu' and discoveing what remains of this great nostalgia.
  45. 2 points
    Another week, another TON of bolds scored. Quick summary: Mishmesh: for a 3 star difficulty this one was on the harder side for me. Eventually I made a map with all walls and floor displayed as such, with recessed walls to show which way to go second, traps showing dead ends and even a red key/lock for the one area on the top where the recessed wall method wouldn't work. Took about 45 minutes to score. Knot: Piece of cake, got this 2nd or 3rd try due to some boosting mishaps. Scavenger Hunt: I watched the AVI to see which directions to go at forks, this bold followed up immediately. On the Rocks: Some untimed levels I've scored. This one I simply played through to get it out of the way. Cypher: First try, no reference. Lemmings: The first of a few levels I had to reference the public TWS for-there's no AVI of a 577! Definitely a fun route to perform due to all of the organized chaos going on-I also messed with alternate block timings to see what the results would be, and the 577 seems to work by cutting off the lead monster in the monster order. I wonder what bold would be if the entire monster order was reversed? Ladder: I identified that I could move the chip collecting ladder to the end of the route without wasting any moves, so I did just to get the (marginally) trickier part out of the way as soon as possible. All in all, smooth sailing through here... Seeing Stars: ...until Seeing Stars. This is way too hard to remember to be only 3 star difficulty (for on this later). I spent an hour on this and only had the first 40-50 seconds (out of 200!) completely memorized. From there, I decided to switch gears from rote memorization to trying to get a better understanding of why the move savers saved moves. As a result, the corners all became much easier to remember-though if you asked me now, I wouldn't remember the specifics of how to move the blocks to the spots, I could tell you the spots that blocks need to be parked. It still took another hour to remember everything past that point, but I did eventually score 597 with 0 dropped moves. Not the kind of level I like working on. Sampler: The bold difficulties seem to be more based on how hard an optimal tenth is than an optimal second, to me. Just comparing Sampler, Seeing Stars, Lemmings and Mishmesh, they're all ranked evenly, and yet Sampler and Lemmings I found easier than Trinity, which is ranked as 2 stars! It took a couple tries to remember the teleport sequence, but executing was pretty easy. Glut: Too easy, even though as a kid I could never figure out the teeth exits-I thought they were traps Floorgasborg: Oh come on, seriously? This is 3 stars? It took a few attempts to get the timing down on the initial force floors, but this is nowhere near the difficulty of Seeing Stars. I got the 195 on my second attempt reaching the random force floor-the first time they sent Chip left and down, straight into the fake wall on the back wall. I. C. You: Interesting happening while attempting this-on an attempt with 0 lost moves, I actually got prevented from pushing the block by the blob! I couldn't be mad about that, since the probability must be something like 1/1000. It's pretty funny (the blob moved immediately after, so with odd step the odds of this happening are 0, for anyone curious). Beyond that, remembering which way to spring slide caused the bulk of my issues, but it was a relatively easy bold. Still, I'd rank Sampler equal to it, not 3 stars vs. the 2 stars here. Beware of Bug: First try, not much else to say. Lock Block: This was also a first try bold. Refraction: This is another level, like Blink, where I used text notes to remember which direction to move in. SE(L->R), NE(R->L), tanks, NE(R->L), SE(1L->R->1L), toggle NW(R->L), SW(1R->L->1R), tanks, SW(L->R), NW(R->L) As a result, remembering which quadrant to go to, and then which side in that quadrant became trivially easy. I lost 1 move stupidly, but it evened out due to having to wait. I nearly died due to it though! Funny story about this level-I actually ran out of time on it as a kid-300 seconds did not feel like enough. Monster Lab: I tried for the 292 for 5 minutes, scored 225, and kept going back while paying attention to something else. Still no 292, and I can't be bothered to get a 226 if I plan to obsolete it anyway. It's a real shame about the walkers in the southwest-this was always one of my favorite levels to play, and knowing that you can skip pretty much the entire thing makes me sad. Three Doors: First try that got the opening ice slides. Pier Seven: THIS is why I think the bold difficulty needs a bit of a re-evalution. This level is ranked as 4 star difficulty. I got it in around 10 minutes, and 10 minutes later had the perfect tenth value. Compare to Seeing Stars, a 3 star level that took well over 2 hours. It seems like boosting=+1 star-except Trinity, though my opinion on Trinity may be biased due to scoring it so early. The thought still remains: the bold difficulties on the wiki seem pretty arbitrary, and Jimmy V.'s site of easiest bolds is fairly outdated. Looks like I'm on my own on determining these difficulties Mugger Square: After the mini rant, the wiki pegs this one at 4 stars. Ironically, the hardest part for me was any ice to force floor slide-I died because I failed the override after picking up the flippers no less than 3 times on 377 pace runs. Fun level to play though, definitely a learning experience on how to deal with force floors going into teleports a bit better, and the fireball cycle was a good way of knowing if I was ahead of pace or behind pace. Problems: It's just walking around, I'm not sure how that garners a 2 star rating. Digdirt: Trying to remember waits by cell number wasn't too effective, so I remembered them by how many chips are left. Once I made this switch in how I learned it, instant bold. BUT WAIT, THERE'S MORE: I said I could get an award on CCZone in less than 5 minutes, that isn't a 5g award. Well, it's the "Let's Play" award, for let's playing 20 official CC levels. Well, I've picked out quite the set... Lesson 1 17 Glut 3 Lesson 2 10 Floorgasborg 5 Lesson 3 11 The Last Laugh 18 Lesson 5 15 Scoundrel 6 Lesson 6 6 Victim 8 Lesson 7 11 Metastable to Chaos 10 Lesson 8 4 Fortune Favours The 14 Southpole 16 Lobster Trap 14 Nice Day 17 Trust Me 6 Forced Entry 7 Thanks To... 12 The longest level in this group has a bold time of 18 seconds-even taking into account tenths and time spent switching levels, these 20 can go down in 4 minutes (210 seconds, to be precise)-5 is enough for an intro and mistakes to be made. As a result, I learned a few other bolds, so here's my thoughts on them! The Last Laugh is nifty. Scoundrel I did as a kid. Victim I never would have thought of. Metastable to Chaos is mindblowingly simple. Fortune Favours The had me facepalm with how simple it was. Lobster Trap I saw the time and found the route for. Trust Me might as well have said Bust Me. Thanks To... I didn't score bold on, but it's quick even without the 1/64 shot. I'll probably record this later today and claim a couple other awards at the same time, for efficiency's sake. Miika requested this, so even though it's still really bad: my current score my CC1 is 1,091,100, with 51 timed bolds and 57 solved levels, 4 of which are untimed on this TWS. 5,970,000 should be fairly easy to obtain, but the real test will come when I must return to RNG hell, level 23...and this turned into a wall of text I don't even know how I just typed what I thought ;_;
  46. 2 points
    decided to write a blog because I have nothing better to do. … When I was a kid (~10 years old) I had a gameboy color and my favorite console game was Mario. I played a few other games like Zelda but Mario was the only game I finished then. I often sat for hours at a time playing the same levels over and over; because the game is difficult. Later when I got very good at the game and played with friends or watched the game on youtube, I took for granted how difficult the game really is. If you play it for the first time it's not that easy. Sure its easy at the beginning but the game quickly gets difficult. I found that years later, when I was older and hadn't played the game in a long time I was unable to get as far as I thought I would. The attitudes of gamers has changed drastically since the early 90's. People don't want to play the same level 50 times over to get to the next stage anymore. Perhaps people aren't as easily entertained; either because they know that today with technology more variety is possible, or maybe it's something else. Whatever it is, I don't think that this is necessarily a good or a bad thing. It's just something that game designers need to keep in mind when they make games for today's player. A Major thing that has changed; that I personally think is a very good thing; is freedom. A lot of games today have way more freedom then they did back then. For example some developers like Valve include a "developer console" in their games. With enough knowledge you can basically make your game do all kinds of things that the designers didn't intend. You can cheat, see parts of the map you normally couldn't or create custom levels. All of this may not sound real important but what it comes down to is: letting the player have more control. Getting more replay value in the game. And in the long term; having the player take a more active role in influencing game development. Bringing the gamer closer to the designer. Now, one part of this freedom has been criticized by some gamers. And that is making games too easy. Often today there are difficulty settings or options that can potentially make the game extremely easy for a gamer. Yes, games are supposed to be a challenge. But this kind of freedom demands a responsibility on the player; to choose how he will play. Will he take the easy way out? Or challenge himself? This is a decision that I think IS ultimately the player's; no one else’s. Everybody's different. But I think there are a good number of gamers who still want a challenge and I don't see why they should let themselves be hindered by these sort of options in a game. I personally, love the challenge, and even after beating a game or level a certain way, an easy way, I often go back to see if there was something I missed, or trying and overcome whatever more difficult challenges I skipped over the first time around. I've heard people criticizing the rewind feature of Chuck's challenge. I haven't played the game yet but I can I understand their points and can agree; it makes the game too easy. But I think it's important to realize that it does so by temping the player to ABUSE the feature. Why I like this sort of feature is because it puts the player in control. It's a freedom for the player to choose how he plays the game. If he abuses a feature; that is his choice. In my personal case, I can imagine that if I'm playing a level that has an abundance of tough or irritating areas I would use the feature for a few times then simply give up and walk away. I think, if the rewind needs to be abused, it's not a good level. But I don't think it's a flaw in the game to allow this kind of playing.` Similarly in any game like this, if such features are needed to a certain extreme, the game itself is bad; not the feature. I recently tried playing Zelda 2, Adventure of Link which is a notoriously difficult game. A lot of fans love the difficulty of this game, and this style of game. But many of these gamers are those that grew up with the game; as I did with Mario and we spent hours doing the only thing we could; the only games that were available to us. Today this type of game seems really restrictive and totally inaccessible to some. On the other side of the coin, there are games that are outright too easy or don't offer a proper challenge; or enforce the easy options to an annoying degree (I think of elements in modern 3D Zelda games that Zelda fans complain about; the guides like Navi) In closing; I don't think we should be limited by our game. That fact that you can choose how you want to play your game, in my mind, is a very good thing. Well those are my shenanigans, as usual I could be a genius or a babbling idiot. That's for you to decide. Being part of 2 communities of games where custom levels are shared has taught me that very, very often, you design a level with one thing in mind and often, another entirely different thing is observed by the player, and sometimes your own idea gets thrown by the way-side. ...But that's another blog....
  47. 2 points
    This is going to be a looooong blog post. I first played Chip's Challenge way back in 1998, when I was 3 or 4 years old. My mom and I were able to beat most of the levels, and managed to get all the way to and through Special, albeit by skipping a few levels. I remember we never beat Cake Walk, Mind Block, Mix Up, Mixed Nuts, Totally Unfair, Stripes?, The Last Laugh, Eeny Meeny Miney Moe and Icedeath. There were probably other levels we had to skip that I can't remember, but we had fun playing through. Even then I wasn't satisfied with simply "beating" the game, I wanted to beat every level, despite not being skilled enough to at the time. So I kept playing to have fun, not really having any other games to play at the time-my favorite levels included All Full and I Slide. Then at the turn of the millennium we got a PS1 and I shifted to playing Spyro, Crash Team Racing and Ape Escape, and the next year a PS2 which added more games to the list I would play. Chip's Challenge faded from most played to hardly touched, though I still went back every so often and picked off another level or 2. Until about 2004 this cycle continued, and the computer Chip's Challenge was on stopped being used, its monitor needed for another computer. I had beaten every level barring Totally Unfair, Icedeath, and Cake Walk despite (perhaps due to?) an uncle hitting F2 to start a new game, not realizing that going back to level 1 would have the same effect. It certainly got me to go through the torture that was On the Rocks. A couple years later, in 2007, I got a laptop. It didn't take too long for me to remember Chip's Challenge, and I searched for it on the internet and found a download. Unfortunately, I wasn't too smart when it came to being safe on the internet and the download contained a virus. I'd also spotted Tile World, and grabbed that too off of Mike L.'s site. Also linked there was a nifty little program that offered the impossible dream of being able to design your own levels: ChipEdit. I immediately began work on a sort of test set, known as 25 levels.dat. I believe I posted this to the Yahoo group, but I can't find it on the internet anymore. The levels in it were all very simple or had rather lame concepts, outside of Level 6: Gauntlet. That's the oldest level I'm actually happy with, even if it is pretty simple, I utilized a few concepts that at the time seemed pretty rare, including a miniature maze of toggle buttons where hitting one would result in the level being cooked. It was around this time that I caught wind of CCLP2, and I started playing that. I didn't get too far though, as the levels just weren't that enjoyable to me. I did realize I could load the set into an editor and get the password for the next level, and did so. Still, I beat very few levels as I felt the designs were rather cheap. It did open my eyes to the idea of invalid tiles, an idea I used with abandon while making levels in my next set, meant to be a full 149 level set. This is to date my best set, Ultimate Chip.dat. I'm working on a much better one that's been announced with some teasers, with luck I'll have it out before CCLP1. I worked on this and banged out 149 levels then made a bonus level after, which I still feel is one of my better levels. The process took a month and a half...most levels had very little effort put into them and were made because I wanted to make a level, without having a real idea for it. This is best exemplified with Mega Bomb, which I fully admit is a terrible level and it should not exist. Shortly after that I found out about CCEdit, and made a quick 10 level set in a day to test out its features. Rather than keep this to myself like a sensible person, I posted it to pieguy's site. It was at this point that I played every set I could find, at least trying every level...once. CCEdit's test feature that let you skip between levels at will was exactly what I needed, and I still use it to test today...despite having switched to CCDesign. There were a few levels I liked, a few sets I liked, but nothing really stood out to me. Nothing ever really captured the feeling of going through CC1 for the first time. I found MLMaze and PC Block Dude and played those, made a few levels in each (which no longer exist) and actually beat one of the best move scores in Block Dude (but didn't submit because I didn't realize how). Then I began work on a set that was meant to be the greatest CC set ever created, 999 levels with no blank levels. This was a foolish endeavor. I got up to about level 200 by making every level part of a series consecutive to the one before it. This was lazy designing, best shown with a series I was calling "+1-x", where x was the level in the series. The first of these was literally dodging 2 balls and stepping into the exit. Thankfully (though I didn't think it at the time), I lost the set to a bug with set saving, which is why I've been backing up everything I edit now. I was pretty mad because of this and left to go do other stuff, but not before submitting Ultimate Chip.dat for consideration in CCLP3. At the time, I thought it was a guarantee I'd have some levels in, though looking back I'm shocked any got in. Anyway, I left the scene for a couple years, then by chance I stumbled on a CC video on Youtube. In the related videos was a rockdet LP of 25 levels.dat. I just had to watch to confirm if it was mine or someone else's. It was my set. I did a bit more looking around and found James A.'s started LP of Ultimate Chip, and watched what he had for that. This was enough for me to dig up the old CCDesign (which I'd downloaded shortly before taking a break) and began work on the real Ultimate Chip 2, working in bursts. When I release the set I'll give a bit more insight into what I was thinking for each level, it's kind of interesting to see how my design process has changed. I also saw the wiki page for CCLP3 and immediately did a double take. I was credited for a level in it? What could it possibly have been? Well, Recess. I'm going to be completely hoenst, that level took me less than 10 minutes to create. I guess it does show one criteria often overlooked these days: simplicity. Sometimes a simple level with a minor challenge can be fun, and clearly that's why it made it in. CCLP3 was much better than CCLP2, though I didn't get even a third of the way in before stopping. I had also discovered speedrunning around this time, and Touhou shortly later, so CC again took a backseat, with Ultimate Chip 2 sitting at ~50 levels. 2011-2013 were marked by no CC play or design outside of a level idea here and there until around November. I took a class on board game design, and came up with an idea for a level that required you to go through it twice, but a bit different the second time. I didn't do as much with the concept as I could have, but I hand drew the level so it was a bit tougher to design-I couldn't move a tile if something went wrong. I also mapped Icedeath out as the computer with CC1 was still running, albeit lagging after a few minutes. It took a day to map the stage on graph paper, I solved it on the map and the next day executed the solution. This left Pain and Cake Walk as the only levels I had never solved, though I'd done the top half of Pain. Still, I didn't really mess with CC too much until this February, when of all things seeing the existence of the CC1 149 level blind race on SRL got me interested in trying again. I dug out the old CCDesign, did some research and began designing levels again. I had 80 levels or so done, and now I'm sitting at 110 or so. I had a lot of ideas that I was able to implement, which is why my progress was so rapid. A couple days ago someone I met through speedrunning asked if I wanted to blind race CCLP2...to which I had to answer it would be blind, and I explained why it wouldn't be a good race-invalid tiles and such. I also mentioned CCLP3 wouldn't be a good idea, but CCLP1 would be perfect...if it existed. That resulted in checking up on the CC community for the first time since 2010-2011, finding this site, seeing a release date set for CCLP1, and just generally rekindling an old interest. I joined this forum, kept designing levels, and now I'm trying to take a more active role. Hopefully CCLP1 can recapture that feeling of playing though CC1 for the first time. I know I'm trying to do that to the best of my ability with my set, with a mix of puzzles, aesthetically pleasing levels, some overlap, some melee, all mixed throughout. That's pretty much my story of how I got here. Now, if anyone could suggest a fun set that's not too hard for me to just play through, I'd appreciate that. It's been a while so I have no idea what the best ones are any more :V
  48. 2 points
    I hated brinjal. The first time I ever played CC was when I was six years old (back in 2003, I think). Well, my dad played most of it, I only pretended to play . Back then we had an old Pentium IV PC on Windows 98 - and my dad got a copy of BOWEP, which had Chip's Challenge with it - the start of my Chipping days. My dad used to play CC continuously back then - well, we were both addicted to it. To the point where we were issued warnings (by mom, of course) in case we were on the game for more than two hours a day. Anyway, we finished quite a few levels. I remember discovering the Ctrl+K shortcut by accident one day, and thinking it to be a glitch, wrote down the passwords for all levels up to 145. When we figured there were more, and that we needed to beat them in order to get past them, well, 146 (Not a) Cake Walk put us to the test. Mind you, in all this, only my dad was playing - I was only spectating and trying to complete Lesson 8. So we finished quite a few levels, while skipping the ones which we were unable to solve. I had a morbid fear of teeth back then - I remember being so scared of them that even though I used up all the dirt on the eighth level (umpteen times), I was always eaten the tick after I got the chip. Digger was a nightmare - though somehow I managed to go at least once, to 4 chips remaining before I died. Mazes were something else that confused me and ate my head back then (sometimes they still do) - So naturally, Brushfire was somewhat of a disaster in my hands. I managed to get away from the bug back then, only to walk into a dead end. Now, level editors or MapMaker was not something that we had even heard of back then, so full-grid maps were not an option. The other thing that I was dead scared of were random monsters. Blobs and rollers (yes, I know we call them walkers now). Forget Blobdance or Jumping Swarm - Blobnet was also crazy tough. When I used to see a blob or a walker, somehow my fingers used to stop working properly. Either that or the blobs used to chase me intentionally. This was something that I shared with my dad. He was also quite unlucky and unsuccessful when it came to that level. Which brings me back to my brinjals (also called eggplants or aubergines, to those who don't know). I hated them back then. The thing I loved was goat's brains. (Even though some of you might be disgusted at it, it's actually quite a delicacy). One morning we both were at the PC, religiously trying to complete this dastardly level. Mom cooked brinjals that day. It was a Sunday, so school was off and we had the whole day at the PC, instead of just the evening. My mom still has a habit of cooking the thing I hate during Sunday afternoons, and cooking my favourite at night (but that's another matter). So I was forcefully yanked off my Quest to eat stupid brinjals. So, my mom has a habit of telling any sort of lie just to get her son to eat what she wants to feed. This time she cooked up a story that brinjals are actually a substitute for goat's brains, and that I would have triple the brainpower, and that I could easily complete the level (my spirit, my dad's fingers). I hesitatingly ate it. I think I wanted to prove her wrong then, but it didn't work. We finished the level that day.
  49. 2 points
    Hello'v'ryone's'is' rockdet. Welcome to my mind. Welcome to all sorts of thoughts that are flowing through. I don't think I'm going to filter anything here too, so you might expect a much more transparent rockdet with the same old buckets. First topic I want to discuss is the reason why I became a staff member for CCLP1, though I think it might be obvious for many people around. I'm not exactly sure what started it all to begin with. There are a multitude of reasons to be identified here, and while the motives may or may not be clear even to myself, let's try to analyse it all... Most of you guys have seen it, and while you may understand it, you may or may not agree with me on it and it's totally alright either way, but CCLP3 has been a constant source of ire, anger and frustration throughout the whole thing, to a point where I actually did put the LP on indefinite hold. I had several rage moments, and questioned many decisions regarding level designing and also level inclusions. I don't think my personal opinion on level designing has changed that much since I started that experience, because while Cloner's Maze was already my ultimate favourite level, I could still enjoy some fair pieces of puzzles like Air Pocket, Blazes or Stress Fracture. So while my approach to the game could be biased, my opinion of the levels themselves wasn't. But CCLP3 really made me wonder if I was stuck alone in my world. Were my thoughts about level designing that different? Could I be the odd one out? While I thought I was already permissive on borderline designing decisions, it really caught me off guard how it all unfolded. Let's be fair there, CCLP3 is made of quality material, don't get me wrong, but was it a good strategy to put all the same eggs in the same basket? In the spirit of casual playing that I was selling, CCLP3 was lacking what I was trying to showcase through all my stuff: variety and momentum. I strongly believe that a complete set has to regroup every type of level and that the best stuff out there has to shine and be able to really upstage the slightly lower quality content surrending ― which is what led me to building Beta. That's what was done in the original game and also in CCLP2. No wonder why I couldn't get through it all, while every level is beautiful let alone, it just became too much altogether. So the first reason why I decided to apply in the CCLP1 staff was to evacuate that anger and make sure it was not going to be another homogeneous mass of puzzles (which it would obviously not be, let's be realistic there!) Second reason ― and those who know me will probably agree on that one ― is simply for recognition. While I don't think you'll be gaining world-class popularity by training your goldfish to change a light bulb, I've always loved to be in the spotlight whenever I could help it, and to me that was a mean to get it. So I tossed my hat in as soon as I saw that opportunity, many could say without thinking which is true mainly on the implication side, but seeing the general response of the community that I belonged there made me really happy. That being said, it's been a great journey so far and in the end, working as a team is really what brings me the most joy. The ideas flow incredibly well in the group and I'm super turbo happy to be part of this really solid team. rockdet signing out.
  50. 2 points
    So I started a topic http://cczone.invisi...-in-my-cc-blog/ to get some idea of what others would like to read that I write. Of the first three topics I posted, this one now has four votes, and the other two have two votes each, so I'll be writing about how I was introduced to CC and then later the CC community, and how I started improving my scores. Not all my topics will come through that thread, but you should take advantage of it to tell me which topic to visit next. I'll try to add a new topic each time I use one to there should always be at least three topics that you can still pick from. Most stories start from the beginning, and some stories start from the end and then jump back, but I want to start this one from the middle. I had somehow heard that CCLP2 had been released, so I downloaded it, unzipped it, found the file with the levels in it, changed its name to CHIPS.DAT and renamed my old one as CHIPS.OLD and started playing! I had no clue about Tile World and didn't bother to read all the documentation that might have explained how else I could have played the levels. These were the first custom levels I ever played. I don't remember my reaction to invalid tiles or any particular level either, but I did enjoy it a lot. This introduction to CCLP2 wasn't right after its release in 2002, but maybe in 2004 or 2005. I didn't play through all the levels at once, but maybe thirty of them and then I kind of got side tracked and forgot about the whole thing. Then one day I was bored and I clicked on the icon on my desktop and played through a few more levels. This would go on for a few years until I finished most of the levels. Earlier I had finished all of the original levels, so towards the end I was determined to do so with these levels too! I had no maps or anything, so this wasn't a trivial task. I had one level left. After the Rainstorm. There was something there that I just couldn't figure out. I was had to be missing something. Maybe I hadn't stepped on all the tiles I could reach, and all I needed to do was find a hidden pair of flippers? This idea didn't lead anywhere. I then went through all the water tiles, filling each one in to see if something was hidden under the water and would reveal itself after I step on the dirt. This too turned out nothing. I had only one thing left to do, either give up or go online and look for help. I'm glad I didn't give up. Now why had I been able to download CCLP2 but not been interested enough to look online for other related information? I don't remember, but I do know I found lots of stuff to keep me busy! I found that I needed to use something called a 'ram' to solve After the Rainstorm. I found that there in fact was a level 145 in the original set of levels, and I had to go back and play that to be able to say I completed all of those levels too. I found scoreboards, editors, a newsgroup, tons of custom sets, and Tile World. A whole new world opened up in front of me! So what do I do first? I was a bit shy at first, so I didn't know what to post the the newsgroup. I looked at the long list of custom sets at pieguy's site and one jumped out at me, TomP1fixed.dat. The reason it caught my eye was that it had sequels called TomP2.dat and TomP3.dat, so if I liked the first one I could play through all three. I still didn't download an editor, and though the set has a bunch of invalid tiles, after CCLP2 I didn't complain at all. I played through the first one quite quickly. TomP2 took a bit longer, and by its end I was a bit annoyed with the invalid tiles, so I didn't move on to TomP3. Thus, I needed another set. The next one that caught my eye was KeyboardWielder.dat. Why does it have such a silly name? And why are there so many levels with very few score reports? I worked on that for about a week, maybe solving one level each day. These were very different from the levels I had seen before, and for one of them I even ended up downloading an editor so I could test some parts without playing through all of it (this was In the Line of Fire, but I still didn't want to use an editor to look at levels otherwise). So I reported some of these scores at pieguy's site. I had also been reading the newsgroup for a few months, which I guess is how long it took me to play to the end of TomP2. This was towards the end of summer 2009. I was soon asked about my CC1 and CCLP2 scores, so I posted those too. I had played through all those levels again after downloading Tile World, so I have no clue what times I had when I first played them. The next set I played was JL1 after it being recommended to me. It had some great puzzles and it cemented my love for this game. I soon began playing levels again to get a better time on them. This was particularly interesting for newly released levels, but I also practised on some older ones, like the last 40 or so levels in TomP2 (none are yet broken!). I improved my CC1 scores and learned a lot from the wiki on what optimized routes look like. I got my CCLP2 score up past 6,000,000 without outside help, and then raised it a bit more by looking at the bold solutions (I've been at about 6,020,000 since then). I wasn't able to compete in the Time Trial competitions at CC Zone because I couldn't be bothered to get a screen capturing program, but I did watch those too. Then CCLP3 voting came around and that was a blast! Unfortunately, we don't have time for that part of the story right now. We didn't even get to go back and see what happened in the beginning, so I'm sure I'll revisit this history stuff at another time. Until then, I would love to hear any comments you have! Has your own story had any similarities? Did something make you think I'm totally nuts? Was there something you'd like me to elaborate? Thanks for listening! -Miika
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