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Facing the Future: What's Next for Official Sets?

Facing the Future  

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  1. 1. What future for official CC sets would you find most ideal?

    • Make CCLP4 for CC1, then make CC2LP1 a different set for CC2.
    • Make CCLP4 and CC2LP1 basically the same set, without the use of CC2 elements in CC2LP1.
      0
    • Make CCLP4 and CC2LP1 basically the same set, with the use of CC2 elements in CC2LP1.
    • Forget about CCLP4 and move on with CC2LP1 instead.
    • Other (elaborate in the thread)


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It's been several months since the release of CC2, and it seems like a lot of chipsters have generally enjoyed it, particularly the expanded selection of game elements and new level ideas to experiment with. One of the reactions to the game I've heard the most has been that the "stock" pack of levels is somewhat inconsistent in design quality. It's understandable - after all, the levels were made before many custom levels were even created for CC1 and level design evolved to what it is today. Personally, I enjoyed CC2 as a nostalgia trip back to the late '90s era of design when designers felt more free to experiment randomly, but I get that it may not be for everyone.

 

Many designers have already begun creating their own levels and anticipating the creation of an official set for CC2, either as an alternative to the stock pack or as an outlet for their creativity. So, I thought we should probably at least start having some sort of conversation about what we'd like to see with respect to future official sets. There are several options we could pursue, each with its own pros and cons, and a number of salient points have been raised in favor of each option throughout the occasional discussions among chipsters on Skype about this topic. (For clarification's sake, I will be referring to the potential next official custom set for CC1 as "CCLP4" and the potential first official custom set for CC2 as "CC2LP1," though I hope we don't have to feel bound to use that name.)

 

1. Make CCLP4 for CC1, then make CC2LP1 a different set for CC2. This option is appealing for at least a couple of reasons: many designers have built CC1 levels in the hope of seeing them in CCLP4, and CC2 design hasn't quite brought about the same amount of activity or variety of design tools yet. With this approach, CC1 as we've known it can have one last hurrah before everyone fully moves on and makes the adjustment to building levels for CC2. It would also allow for some time for additional editing programs be built, not to mention a free Tile World-esque alternative to the official version of CC2 like CC1 had. The downside is that the focus would initially be placed on a game that isn't exactly "active" in the sense that CC2 is.

 

2. Make CCLP4 and CC2LP1 basically the same set, without the use of CC2 elements in CC2LP1. Arguably the biggest argument for getting an official custom set for CC2 built sooner than later is that unlike CC1, CC2 is not a "dead" game. It's available for purchase on Steam, and as such, we as a community are facing an opportunity to bring in new members and grow even further by maintaining the game's momentum through some evergreen content. The question is how. A few designers have already ported some of their CC1 levels to CC2. One could argue that anyone who wishes to see their compositions in a future set that badly could easily use Chuck Sommerville's conversion program to port their work over to CC2. Those who would still like to make CCLP4 a reality could get on board with this if the set is compatible across all of the games - but there are a few issues with this. Even though many of the CCLP4 submissions were compatible with both MS and Lynx rulesets, that's not a guarantee that they would work in CC2. Tile World's Lynx emulation was more lenient about arbitrary clone and trap connections, whereas CC2 requires the reverse reading order connections used in CC's original, pedantic Lynx mode.

 

3. Make CCLP4 and CC2LP1 basically the same set, with the use of CC2 elements in CC2LP1. This option would allow designers to implement workarounds in situations like the aforementioned clone / trap connections (such as pink buttons and wires), as well as give them the freedom to build levels slightly differently if a mechanism would be better suited to CC2 game elements. Of course, there are two rather glaring issues with this option and Option 2. One is whether or not CC2LP1 would allow item dropping in levels, and I'd like to believe that either choice would be consistent throughout the set. Not doing so would prevent designers from placing non-CC1 collectible items (and would be rather sad for an initial CC2 official custom set), whereas doing so would break a number of levels that may be more difficult in CC1. The other problem is that anyone who has been introduced to the CC level designing world through CC2's release would have to build their levels for CC1 and get familiar with its mechanics, which would just be extra work.

 

4. Forget about CCLP4 and move on with CC2LP1 instead. This is the option I've been in favor of the most. It allows anyone who wanted their levels to be in CCLP4 the opportunity to submit them for consideration in CC2 instead, providing they're still active in the community. It gives them the freedom to build their levels in any way they want using whatever elements they want without having to worry about compatibility with another game and its ruleset(s) or multiple versions of their work. (This would especially be nice for optimization and scorekeeping as well.) Of course, it would mean that we wouldn't be making CCLP4 - but I don't think that's necessarily a bad thing when the submitted content could be made even better with the trappings of the new game. We'd be making a commitment to supporting CC2 and making sure that it has new material instead of clutching onto something that's arguably obsolete.

 

What do you think? Which option sounds appealing to you? Do you have another suggestion not listed here? Feel free to sound off in this thread!

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Perhaps start making CCLP4 after/close to releasing CC2LP1? Though i feel that may have negative effects on CCLP4.

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I voted for the first option, though I do like the third option quite a bit as well.  The biggest issue would be the first CC2 'official' set not having many CC2 exclusive mechanics, but right now we have a large pool of levels available for CCLP4.  If CCLP4 was then ported to CC2 (similar to how I'm porting UC4: primary gameplay unchanged, with CC2 elements thrown in when applicable), it would be a taste of what a community driven pack could do and might build more interest in making CC2 levels.

 

So I guess my strongest feeling is this:
Make CCLP4 as planned before CC2, because we have such a huge pool of levels

Loose port* to CC2 with a similar title (perhaps do the same loose porting process for CCLP1, 2 and 3? CCLP2 may be difficult with the invalid tiles, but we do have CCLXP2 to build off).

Then, after CCLP4, there will be a larger pool of CC2 levels available so a "CC2LP1" would be a better product, and CC2 would then have 3(+?) existing 'official' (CC1 Steam, CC2, CCLP4 port, CCLP1-3 port?) sets to be looked at for inspiration. Most people here probably know of these sets, but do most people who just play CC2 on Steam, using its discussion forums solely for community interaction know of these sets? What about the people who don't even check the forums? They might miss out completely on any further CC2 sets, unless the set is officially added in an update to CC2 (or announced through Steam's interface, but both of those would require developer input).

 

 

*Loose port meaning with colored/steel wall aesthetics, bonus flags added, possibly key thieves/other small additions to levels to make larger mechanisms take up less space, with wires to make connections work. I think even You Can't Teach an Old Frog New Tricks would be able to be ported-many of its connections are already pedantic.

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Having a compilation of the best custom cc2 levels, ordered in a way to give an excellent playing experience, even if it's not what you would call CC2LP1, is, as I think, pretty important, and should be done as soon as possible, to give especially players who are not active in the community around level creation, something to download and have fun with :)and not have to download a lot of different packs or search to find those they want - as most people will not do this anyhow...

If it is a predecessor to a CC2LP1, it doesn't matter if levels are finally found in both packs, or such a set could even be constantly updated, to be the CC2LP1 sometime in the future....

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I chose the third option.  I know there are a lot of good CC1 levels made after CCLP1 or too hard for CCLP1.  From one point of view, the really good CC1 levels could be ported to CC2 and make it into CC2LP1.  But from another point of view, there are probably enough good CC1 levels for an entire 149 level set.

 

Another idea would be to make CC2LP1 with CC2 elements, and then try to make a backwards-compatible version for CC1, like CCLXP2.  But there may be some levels that would be impossible to port, even with major changes.  In that case, I may favour a last CC1 set, which can then be ported to CC2 with minor changes and improvements.

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When we made CCLP3, we were faced with a choice between rulesets: the MS rules with which most of us were familiar, and the original Lynx rules newly re-introduced by Tile World. It was decided that the set would require submitted levels to be cross-compatible, I.E. able to be solved, in roughly the same way, in either ruleset. Many levels at the time had been made with MS rules in mind, and were definitely not compatible with Lynx rules. Designers had to edit levels, sometimes heavily, to make them Lynx-compatible and therefore eligible for submission. But it was felt that the benefits of being able to play the entire set in either ruleset were worth the extra work.

 

This is the same situation. We currently have a large pool of levels that are CC1-compatible, many of which could probably be made CC2-compatible with more or less editing. New members of the community are used to the new CC2 ruleset, but they could also enjoy many of the great level ideas which have already been implemented in CC1. Old community members deserve at least one more chance to see their awesome levels in an official community set, even if it might mean extra work for them to make those levels CC2-compatible.

 

This, then, is my suggestion: make one set drawing on the existing CC1 pool, and produce it in two packs formatted for the Tile World and CC2 engines, respectively. To enable the included levels to be converted to CC2, require that all submissions be made cross-compatible, just as we did with MS and Lynx for CCLP3. CC2 levels could also be submitted, as long as they are CC1-compatible (in particular, use CC1 boot-rules). The current relatively small pool of CC2-only levels can be drawn upon for a future set, once we have reduced the large existing CC1 pool. Thus we can provide a new CC2 set (CC2 is after all a quasi-superset of CC1) for newcomers, without wasting the ideas and efforts of veteran CC1 designers.

 

In other words, I think we need a blend of options 3 and 4. Forget about 'CCLP4' as a CC1-only set, and instead make it as a cross-compatible set, using a minimum of CC2 elements for compatibility. Meanwhile, save 'CC2LP1' for a later set that will allow all of the new elements in CC2, and use CC2 boot-rules.

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OK, I voted for option #3 (to clarify -- make them the same set, with some CC2 elements for CC2).

 

Here's my reasoning....We have a boatload of levels out there in the pool that were built on CCLP3/CCLP1 principles.  We could, without much trouble, take what we have (maybe give a submission deadline of Halloween) and make a very good set as-is.  While we spend a couple months voting, designers would have time to port the same levels to CC2, and add it CC2 elements as they see appropriate, while maintaining the spirit of the level.  (For example, you might put in custom walls, or change brown buttons to pink -- but you wouldn't add rovers.)

 

Why this is the best is:

 

1. It clears out a backlog of really good levels.

2. It gives us the quickest path to a levelpack for CC2.

3. There is NO #3.

4. It gives designers time to figure out the new mechanics and discourages them from making any non-CC2 levels.

 

So, am I not brilliant?  Also, if we don't get on this NOW it's going to take forever (a la CCLP3).

 

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The downside to option 3 is that the designers will spend time porting all eligible levels, and not just the final set.  I don't think it would be too hard to make a CC2-ized version of the set after it was made purely with CC1 in mind. The rare case where a level won't port nicely (here's an example) can still be ported with some fairly minor changes. Additionally, adjusting existing levels allows for addition of CC2 mechanics when helpful.

 

My opinion is clearly the best because only the relevant levels get ported and the original designers may not even need to be around for this process (I'd port everything in the final project myself if that's what it took to get the idea to fruition).

 

I tend towards option 1 in the poll simply because most of the existing material is CC1 in nature, so even though CC2 is newer, the focus for CCLP4 should be on CC1 mechanics.  Porting to CC2 is fairly low-impact, and we could even use a port of CCLP1 as a trial run if necessary.

 

 

The other purpose this serves is to have a CC2 set ASAP (CCLP4 would be the quickest new set, porting, say, CCLP1 could get a CC2 set even quicker) to broaden the audience of CC2LP1 (both designers and prospective players!), spotlight the past community efforts and give some time for CC2-specific levels to be created so a CC2-specific set can be up to par.

 

Making a CC2 set for the sake of making a CC2 set when the majority of the set would be CC1-styled seems silly to me. Making a CC1 set match one to one with CC2 also seems silly when taking a few freedoms with the porting (bonus flags etc.) is only marginally more effort for much more gain.

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All right! This is really helpful.

 

It sounds like the majority of respondents are in favor of using our existing CC1 submissions in some way, and if that's the case, then I think Jeffrey's suggestion of making a CCLP4 that can be adapted to CC2 is the most reasonable. He brought up a very good point: CC2 could use a "community spotlight" or two to give new and veteran designers even more motivation to create submissions for the CC2-only sets of the future. The more I think about it, I suppose CCLP2 functioned in this way after its release while preparations were underway for CCLP3 (though it took forever). During CCLP2's production, the CCLP2 staff simply took all the levels available online and piled them into voting, then worried about all the designer permission issues afterward (which is why some levels sadly did not make it in, despite performing well). For a designer, there wasn't that much motivation other than the potential inclusion in a community-produced level pack, since there were no such packs available. Thankfully, we have a much more robust design community these days. 

 

As much as I'd love to see a CC2-only set made ASAP, I understand that not everyone's going to be a quick adopter when it comes to CC2. At least this way, we can use the levels in our CC1 submission pool for CCLP4, particularly since some of them were glossed over for CCLP1 due to its special nature, and make a smoother transition over to CC2 by actively engaging in porting the levels that are ultimately inducted into the set. We could, as Jeffrey suggested, even port CCLP1 to CC2. Unless there are some designers secretly working on more level sets for CC1, I don't foresee many additions to the submission pool. The questions we need to address in the days to come concern the timetable for the submission process and what components define the consideration process. How soon do we want to officially open and close the submission process and begin the consideration process? (Personally, I don't think this should be too long from now.) What do we want the consideration process to involve? Should there be voting? Would new community members, particularly those who know of CC only through the new, official version of CC on Steam, be interested in picking up Tile World and playing through thousands of submitted levels, or should we leave the decision-making up to a staff with varied tastes? Or both, as was done with CCLP1?

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As someone who has agreed to be on the CCLP4 staff months ago, I personally think submissions should be open as soon as possible. Like J.B. stated, I really don't think many more CC1 sets are going to be constructed anymore - maybe one or two at the most. I also think that in terms of assembling CCLP4, it should be done in a similar way CCLP1 was created - done by voting, though in a slightly different way maybe? Perhaps we could consider only a certain amount of levels per designer? Or only a total of 1,000 (using 1,000 as an example) levels altogether? This way, there wouldn't be nearly as much playtesting done, as well as newer members of the community wouldn't have to stress about downgrading to Tile World to play said levels, since let's be honest, that would be a pain for the people who have already accustomed themselves to CC2's gameplay (myself included). Or just have the designers submit solutions of the levels they want to submit (though this may be extreme and unfair in the long run...) This is just my opinion.

 

First things first though, we should get an actual staff going for this set before anything official gets discussed.

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First things first though, we should get an actual staff going for this set before anything official gets discussed.

 

Agreed.

 

As for when to start, how about right now? I think we've all had sufficient time to breath since the production of CCLP1. :)

 

My suggestion: nominate and elect a staff, then let them worry about when to open submissions, what voting system to use, etc. Like we did with CCLP1.

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@random 8: If anyone wants to go through with building a CC2 set during the production of CCLP4, there’s nothing really stopping them. My only concern is that unless the people who wish to be involved with each project are completely different, two set­building projects running simultaneously, even if one is smaller in scale, can divert attention away from each other. Of course, this is all contingent on the nature of CC2 set production in the future. The other variable at play is Chuck’s and the Niffler team’s involvement with CC2’s future. I have to wonder how much say they would like to have in official “DLC” and how the production process would change as a result. If they’d like to lend their involvement to the process, it could remove a lot of the work burden from the community.

@Josh: I agree with wrapping up CCLP4’s submission period sometime in the very near future, especially since the focus of design has shifted to CC2. Some might recall that when we originally began the conversation about CCLP4 at the beginning of this year, there was quite a bit of discussion about how we could potentially make the production process easier on the community and how that would affect how much consideration each entry in the submission pool received now and for future sets. Right now, as CC1 design phases out and the transition to CC2 continues, I think “less is more” would be optimal from an efficiency standpoint. As far as I can tell, we won’t really be worrying about a CCLP5 unless there’s just a lot of demand for it.

The big question is voting. The reason I sounded hesitant to pursue a lot of voting in my previous post was not only because it would be a bit of a hassle for anyone in our midst who isn’t familiar with Tile World, but also because what it accomplishes and what is necessary to achieve representative gameplay and design diversity during the set assembly phase often stand in opposition to each other. Here’s basically what I’m getting at: after spearheading two CCLP staffs, I think voters naturally tend to have a picture of their ideal level type in a given CCLP, and this sort of bias is evident in the raw voting results where “agreeability” tends to inform what performs well. During CCLP3 voting, many voters were either optimizers who wanted a monster optimizing challenge or players who gravitated toward a monster gameplay challenge. The result was a huge chunk of ultra­difficult levels in the top tier of the voting results. So for CCLP1, we tried to avoid the same kind of homogeneity by using the voting results as a guide to determine what was ultimately inducted. Sure enough, there was an “ideal type”: the middle-­of-­the-­road, not-too-­easy-­but-­not-­too-­difficult variety level. It was only through determining that yes, we would have blob levels (for example) and a reasonable amount of easy levels that some degree of variety was achieved. What was sad was that the voters still had to wade through 1,647 submissions (out of many more) during the voting process, and after all was said and done, some deserving entries that contained elements like blobs didn’t even perform that well and wouldn’t have been included had it not been for the staff’s involvement with post­voting segmenting.

I think we have to acknowledge that these sort of biases are going to exist no matter what. There’s no real way to avoid them. But the CCLP4 staff can conduct the community’s involvement with the project in the context of building a set with variety. Perhaps voting itself can reflect this. Instead of dumping a huge bunch of levels on people to award a rating, why not do the segmenting in voting itself? It could make everything much easier: we could have the staff curate the submissions and decide on what will populate the ballots for “best walker levels,” “best mazes,” “best easy levels,” “best variety levels,” “best strange designs,” “best melee levels,” "best levels with bombs as a dominant tile," etc. For super­broad categories like these, voters could check off as many or as few options as they want to see. It’d essentially be “yes / no” voting, but at least we could begin with the idea that these types of levels would be represented in the final product, and how far that representation would extend could depend on how enthusiastic the responses to certain levels are. We could also create polls for very specific level slots where voters could pick only one option: “best level 1,” “best cypher,” “best level 131 / 147,” “best set finale,” etc.

Of course, this approach may not necessarily cover the entire set directly, but I have confidence that the CCLP4 staff would judiciously use general community opinions and their own hunches as a group to make wise decisions. What I think this approach can ultimately help with is making sure that levels that carry their own senses of identity beyond the “ideal type” are considered fairly. It would also help ensure that community involvement can be in the hands of the community, without tons of pressure. What do you think?

If anyone wants to be on the CCLP4 staff, I highly recommend kicking things off, stepping up, teaming up, and taking charge. A bunch of us are here and ready to support you. :)

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The idea of categories of levels seems very interesting.  I am in favour of such a system.

 

I also agree with Josh's idea of a submission cap.  The 50 levels per designer that have been mentionned in a previous thread seems like a good idea.

 

I guess the next step is to assemble a staff.

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I am in favor of the first option. In many ways, CC1 can never be replaced for me and I don't think of it as a "dead game." The availability of a tile world emulation keeps it alive, and the unavailability of one for CC2 as of yet is slightly discouraging (especially for those wanting to play offline and any issues that may arise from connectivity problems.) The two options about both sets being basically the same are just inane. Long live boot dropping! The thought of giving up on CCLP4 altogether is sad when you look back on all the topics about it on CCZone and the excitement built up for that set. I don't want to see it not come to fruition.

 

I had just assumed that all of the official CC1 packs would eventually make their way to being ported for CC2, "officially."

 

Jeffrey also had a good point about allowing time for CC2 level design to evolve since it is so different from the original. This would prevent CC2LP1 from being too "CCLP2-ish" (rushing to make a collection of the best levels on the internet that turns out later to reveal some lack of good design or gameplay) which is sort of what CC2 is like. In the intervening time, releasing ports of official sets would be good for gaining an audience for CC2 online content and shouldn't take too long to produce.

 

~Bowman

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While the focus in the future will likely be on CC2, I am not convinced that CC1 is, or will be, dead. The reasons given by Bowman are good. Also, the ability to make arbitrary button connections is significant. Wiring does not always work and can be more cumbersome.

 

Essentially, we now have three different rulesets to work with (Lynx, MS, CC2). The differences between them seem to be largely a matter of historical accident, but CC is enriched by their existence. There is a place for levels of all rulesets.

 

Concerning future level packs, it might be a good idea to wait a bit on CC2LP1. Do we have enough levels available? I decided to count the number of custom levels available, and the total came to 567. That's higher than I expected, but perhaps not enough to field a set of (presumably) 200 levels. Over 1 in 3 levels would make it. A significant part of this number (over 200) includes ports of CC1 levels, so a set based on what we have now could be skewed toward CC1 elements. A good way to fill the time between now and making CC2LP1 is, of course, to make CCLP4. The idea of concurrently porting existing CCLPs to CC2 is good.

 

(I should mention, with respect to future CC1 sets, that I have such a set which I started making before CC2 arrived. It's still very incomplete, though, and it will likely be a long time before it is finished. So these levels will not be CCLP4 candidates.)

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Concerning future level packs, it might be a good idea to wait a bit on CC2LP1. Do we have enough levels available? I decided to count the number of custom levels available, and the total came to 567. That's higher than I expected, but perhaps not enough to field a set of (presumably) 200 levels. Over 1 in 3 levels would make it. A significant part of this number (over 200) includes ports of CC1 levels, so a set based on what we have now could be skewed toward CC1 elements. A good way to fill the time between now and making CC2LP1 is, of course, to make CCLP4. The idea of concurrently porting existing CCLPs to CC2 is good.

 

The number of levels avaiable now is actually higher than the number of levels in the original CC2 voting pool for the main game (384)  B). But I do agree that a CC2 level pack should wait a while. If we want an "official" CC2 pack soon, we could begin looking at porting CCLP1 to CC2.

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@chipster1059: During CCLP1 production, I was always hesitant about setting limits based on who designed levels, especially if some designers were just much more adept at making fun and well-designed challenges. But I think the submission process would be an appropriate place for it, particularly if the limit was something reasonable like 50. After all, no designer has had more than 33 levels in a CCLP, so would anyone really be able to top 50 anyway? It would also be a helpful exercise for designers who have built hundreds of levels to think with the end in mind and stop to consider just which of their submissions they really want to see in an official set that badly, as well as cull everything down with variety in mind. (It's especially useful if the voting is segmented.) I'll go ahead and admit that one of the reasons why Andrew M. (ajmiam) got so many of his levels included in CCLP1 was that he had a lot of variety on his side. On top of that, there would be no compulsion for designers to submit even 50. I for one am probably going to submit only 20 to 25 levels if the CCLP4 staff instituted such a limitation.

 

@Bowman: Perhaps I used a poor word choice in the original post. I didn't mean that CC1 was "dead" in the sense that no one would ever play it again. What I meant was that from an "official support" perspective, CC2 is a game that's active and available on Steam, whereas Tile World and the MS / Lynx versions of CC1 don't quite hold that distinction. Of course CC1 will always have a place in our hearts, and many of us will continue to play it. I'm still optimizing my own set and a few others, personally. But I think we have to start thinking with the big picture in mind as well. The more we support CC2 on Steam and give it life, the more the CC community will grow, and the more Chuck and Niffler will be inclined to devote time to efforts like the ones we lead to keep it fresh. It'll take some time for CC2 design to evolve such that levels will fully take advantage of all the new goodies, like many have said, but projects like a CCLP1 port or CCLP4 adaptation can help show the world out there what we can do. :)

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Dividing up CC levels into categories is a good idea, but a lot of times CC levels will fall between multiple play types/dominant styles. For level types that may be otherwise underrepresented (walker, blob, even maze) I can see that working, but I worry most of the levels would fall under "variety", which in itself covers a large amount of different feeling levels to play. You'd call Mr. McCallahan Presents and Automatic (Caution) Doors and Utter Clutter all variety levels, but in terms of what's similar between them it's really just the lack of one single gameplay type.

Additionally, having groups of levels like this could result in placing levels in just to check off certain design requirements that may not have levels to fill them:do we have any very good 'abstinence' levels to choose from, for example?

 

Level submission cap: Admittedly I'm biased as I'd be quite heavily affected by this, but I think 50 is a bit low. Just personally, I have a lot of wildly different levels within the same gameplay type (mazes come to mind here), and wildly different difficulties as well, so that just within one or two gameplay types I could hit a cap of 50.  That, and people who were around for CCLP1 submissions have a general idea of what levels of theirs did well in voting and could trim based on that. Again, biased because it directly affects me, but I don't have that frame of reference (playing through all the voting packs helps, but I've seen levels from submitted sets that were better than things in the voting packs and things in the voting packs that really, really shouldn't have been there). I know my submission set has a lot more than 50 and I could definitely trim it down but it would be difficult due to the aforementioned variety to cut down to even 100 I'd say.

 

It may sound like I'm just disagreeing to disagree, but I figure it's better to try to think through the potential issues with a selection process before beginning work on said selection process.

 

 

One idea that could work, however, would be a combination of a submission cap and subdivided voting pools. After defining sub-categories, set limits on how many of each type of level a certain designer can submit. This prevents having to decide between multiple completely different levels to fit within a submission cap while also limiting the total amount of levels available to choose from. It also doesn't really hurt designers who mostly focus on certain types of gameplay, or hurt designers who design anything and everything. The same advantages apply during voting, with players who want to play everything (me) still being able to, and players who don't want to concern themselves with certain level archetypes (say, sokobans) can easily avoid these.

 

I think by the end of the month we can have a solid effort to categorize in place, and from there setting limits on how many of each type per designer.

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Level submission cap: Admittedly I'm biased as I'd be quite heavily affected by this, but I think 50 is a bit low. Just personally, I have a lot of wildly different levels within the same gameplay type (mazes come to mind here), and wildly different difficulties as well, so that just within one or two gameplay types I could hit a cap of 50.  That, and people who were around for CCLP1 submissions have a general idea of what levels of theirs did well in voting and could trim based on that. Again, biased because it directly affects me, but I don't have that frame of reference (playing through all the voting packs helps, but I've seen levels from submitted sets that were better than things in the voting packs and things in the voting packs that really, really shouldn't have been there). I know my submission set has a lot more than 50 and I could definitely trim it down but it would be difficult due to the aforementioned variety to cut down to even 100 I'd say.

 

One idea that could work, however, would be a combination of a submission cap and subdivided voting pools. After defining sub-categories, set limits on how many of each type of level a certain designer can submit. This prevents having to decide between multiple completely different levels to fit within a submission cap while also limiting the total amount of levels available to choose from. It also doesn't really hurt designers who mostly focus on certain types of gameplay, or hurt designers who design anything and everything. The same advantages apply during voting, with players who want to play everything (me) still being able to, and players who don't want to concern themselves with certain level archetypes (say, sokobans) can easily avoid these.

 

There would be a lot of people affected by a 50 level submission cap. I would be heavily affected as well and I'm the one who thinks it should be a thing :P so you're not alone on that... Honestly, I think a submission cap of between 75-100 levels would be best if we just use a pure level submission cap.

 

But I like your idea of subdivided voting pools for different categories of level types and having submission caps for said categories as well. I can definitely see that working.

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Concerning the "variety level" problem, could we allow levels to be in multiple categories, but not have that count towards the submission cap?

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The problem with submission caps for different categories, I think, is that categories are arbitrary.  As random 8 pointed out, some levels can belong in more than one category.  Also categories like "maze" and "variety" don't really mean much...

 

Also Jeffrey why won't that level port nicely?  It's possible to put wires under bombs.

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If there is a level that fits in more than one caregory, that said level could be placed in it's own category like "more than one theme" or something.

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@Jeffrey (and everyone else): I think there are a couple of solutions we could look at to address the limitations of categorization. One is more segmented categorization for broad groups. During CCLP1 assembly, for instance, we noticed that there were a bunch of “variety” levels that performed well, and many of them were itemswappers. So in order to make sure that non­-itemswappers were represented fairly, we split up “variety” to include a separate itemswapper list with its own levels. The same could be done here depending on what level categories will be overloaded during the submission process -­ add a secondary dimension. So for instance, if the CCLP4 staff found themselves with tons of mazes, they may choose to divide that up into “open” (Crumbling Point, perhaps, to use Josh as an example) and “closed” mazes (Batteries in a Sock). The second solution is to categorize the categories themselves. We also did this for CCLP1, with categories dedicated to gameplay type, dominant elements, design style, size, and difficulty. Of course, how those lists were filled out was informed by the voting results, and as a result, we had a number of levels that appeared on multiple lists. How we ultimately used the lists was to fill out what was underrepresented from the raw results. Perhaps the CCLP4 staff can ensure that each level appears in at least one “bucket” in each broad category, even if this means creating groups like “no dominant tile” in the tile category. Or set aside certain categories for voting and reserve others for more internal use, like the broad "difficulty" ones.

 

I think if this categorization approach was used, the CCLP4 staff can’t lean too far in either direction ­- always using hard numbers to make decisions or always using subjective opinion. There has to be a balance, a constant awareness of what kinds of levels are necessary to round out the set. My concern with leaving the categorization of levels up to the designers is that it shifts responsibility that would be more optimally handled by a few to a large group, and it has the potential to undermine the purpose of working within a submission cap. I’m a little worried that if designers were actively forced to limit the number of levels they submit per “bucket,” particularly when multiple categories are involved, there would be no flexibility within that portion of the process to account for underrepresented or overrepresented buckets as submissions roll in, and designers could attempt to account for those discrepancies on their own before the submission period ends.

 

Maybe I’m alone in this, but I think if the CCLP4 staff were to institute a submission cap, working within that cap has to involve some kind of realism about the production process. We have to keep in mind that out of 2,000 (so far) submissions, only 149 levels are going to be in the final product. If we were each to envision what the final set would look like, with variety on several counts, just how many levels would a given designer have? Would any one person have 75­-100, or even 50? I didn’t mean to imply that selecting one’s submissions had to be a siloed effort. If a designer is unsure about what to submit, of course feedback is an option. But if a CCLP is meant to be a collection of the community’s best work, the point of that effort would be to narrow down one’s own compositions to that which represents him or her the best. Which levels stand out enough to hold a spot in a CCLP? Which levels are the most fun to play? One could argue that voting helps answers these questions, but in reality, we’re dealing with variables and qualities that are difficult to quantify. As mentioned earlier, the “agreeability” factor in voting undermines its effectiveness with respect to addressing these issues. And I don't believe trying to institute measures at that stage to govern variety rather than leaving it in designers' hands will be very effective.

 

Once the submission period closes, t​hen I​think the staff can start having a discussion about what types of levels are overrepresented and underrepresented, and how the voting takes place and how all the levels are distributed into category buckets can be informed by that. The staff could use their own judgment about certain levels or categories here, but at least we have some boundaries and delegations of responsibility in place with an understanding of the scope of the project.

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It seems that every discussion about CCLP4 gets a lot of activity over its first few days and everyone gives their opinion.  Then the discussion gets forgotten for a few months and no progress is made.

 

So what would the level categories be?  Maybe something like this:

Dodging (standard)

Dodging (blobs/walkers)

Maze (open)

Maze (closed)

Maze (ice/force floors)

Itemswapper

Block pushing (tedious)

Block pushing (sokoban)

etc.

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