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February 2017 Create Competition - Walls of CCLP1

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Were you expecting this? Four years and counting, did you spot the pattern? :)


Your task is to pick a level from CCLP1 and use its arrangement of walls to create a new level. You can pick any level from the range #1-#149, then delete anything you want except for any walls, and finally rebuild it into a new level. If you wish, you can also pick another prominent tile in the level and replace it with some other tile exactly.


There's something extra fun about taking someone else's creation and turning it upside down to create something totally new. Or you can take your own creation and tweak it a bit, who knows? This restriction of using the same walls from a different level has proven to be a fun one. You don't need to take it too literally, but I'll notice if you don't. I will judge the submissions myself during March 2017 (or when I am done with CCLP4 voting).


I've said before that "I enjoy it when the new level takes the existing wall configuration and does something different with it than the original", but also keep in mind that the level should be fun first and clever second. But sometimes CC levels are clever enough to be fun. And there are many types of fun to be had in CCLP1. I don't know what I'm talking about. I'll just flip a coin to decide the winner, I guess. (And no, I did not do that last year, no matter what you might think of the results!)


In any case, carve out some time from your schedule, push back arbitrary (voting) deadlines if needed, and get to work! :P



-Submissions are open through March 6th where you live!

-Do not make a overly difficult level. A moderate difficulty is fine but then it would be nice if it wasn't too long.

-The level must be solvable, but does not need to work in both MS and Lynx. You may even use invalid tiles if you wish.
-The level should preferably be new, and it would be nice if you didn't release it before I do. If you complain nicely, I'll listen.
-Please give the level a new name, time limit and set a new password. Don't forget!

-You may submit more than one entry, but please keep the levels distinct from each other. Your best two entries is recommended.
-Points may be deducted for late entries, but will be accepted until I judge the levels.

-Entrants receive the normal prizes: the "You're Winner!"-award, Chip Cup points, and "Tool Box"-award for first time entrants.
-Please ask about other unclear situations. You may also check the previous competitions if similar situations were already discussed.

Email and attach your submissions to valeosote at hotmail dot com. I will strive to reply with a confirmation that I have received your entry. I prefer if you use your username and this competition in the subject. Keep it short and simple, something like: "February Create - Zelda"

Everyone is welcome to join!   :)


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Let's judge some levels!
I prefer releasing the levels at the same time as the results, and when I can I like giving some comments on the submissions. I don't always have the luxury of doing this and even this time it took me a week to type out these results. However, if you prefer to play the levels yourself first without knowing what I thought of them, I made that possible for you too this time. Just download this set with the levels in a random order and come back later for the comments:
Now onto the results, each one hidden in a spoiler tag. I do want to say that this competition was an embarrasment of riches; all the submissions were spectacular and in any other month maybe any one of these levels could have been crowned the winner. I did manage to wrangle out a ranking for all them in the end, and will always gladly hear how you disagree with my assessment :)

7th place - geodave - Headbanger Walls (walls of #42, Mughfe)
The objective in this level is to fill in four water tiles by cloning blocks and getting them to the right place. It sounds straight forward, but it really was not easy to realize. I think the topology of the level with multiple teleports and the logic involving many theives convoluted the right strategy. (I notice that many players used teleports, possibly to fit their ideas into the space given.) I do like the simplicity of the fire maze at the start, but some of the other sections leave me wondering how things could be stream lined a bit. For example, one of my pet peeves in level design is having mechanisms that are overly complicated, particularly if their function is hard to figure out in-game rather than looking in an editor. In this level, the block cloning could have been made simpler, and the requirement to visit other rooms could just have been chip collecting. The reference to Headbanging was something I couldn't quite get to work in MS. I did enjoy how this felt very different from the Mughfe and the rooms and corridors had a completely revamped order to visit.

6th place - RB3ProKeys - Eden (walls of #17, Tiny) ; Chipyramid (walls of #1, Key Pyramid)
The way I judge these competitions when someone submits more than one level is I pick my favorite from each participant and then rank those against each other. Here, I slightly liked Eden more than Chipyramid. Both levels only work in MS, though Eden would work in Lynx if not for the one invalid tile. I think it's a valiant effort in trying to fit a new level into the walls of Tiny. Were you aware that boosting in MS allows Chip to get past the other pink ball? It wasn't required for the solution, but does provide a quicker path. Perhaps the most exciting thing about the level is the right time limit. I solved this on my first try with just a few seconds to spare
The second level fails for me in more than one department when I start to dissect its parts. The mechanism with the fireballs destroying bombs just happens and makes little difference compared to just not having it to begin with. Also the mechanism in the lower SE room isn't seen before the Bugs trigger it, and then afterwards the room feels redundant. Then its opposite room in the SE is so much trickier to navigate than anything else in the level, though I do think it's a novel setup otherwise. Finally, half the time the Tank collides with the Glider and cooks the level, which tells me either that this is meant as a overly clever trick to avoid or of the lack of playtesting the level. Overall, sometimes just throwing in different ingredients together don't make a wonderful cake. There are redeemable ideas here though, and the variety in these restricted spaces does provide a colorful experience.

5th place - Bowman - Key Party (walls of #4, Block Party)
 This just might be the toughest puzzle in the running this month. I am impressed that you managed to fit a puzzle like this into a pre-existing wall arrangement. It feels nothing like the original level, and yet there is symmetry here with the starting and finishing positions. There is barely a redundant tile anywhere in the accessible level. However, after the experience, I am left wondering if it was just a bit too much? I had to manage the keys and so many blocks as well, and there is some precise timing involved in the solution. Getting everything right is satisfying but also a bit taxing. Perhaps a factor in this is how a level is perceived? Not knowing that this is an intricate puzzle going into it might have influenced how I feel about the level now, and in the end that's what I have to go with when I rank these levels. How could you have avoided this? I'm not sure. Perhaps a create competition like this just doesn't handle contextual information like that well, say compared to the case where this was a level towards the end of a larger set. Or maybe the level itself could still be streamlined a bit without losing some of the logic, I'm not sure. In the end, I am happy to have faced this creation and hope that others too will enjoy it. At least now someone can read this as a warning and know a little bit of what to expect when they attempt it themselves.

4th place - Ihavenoname248 - Choice Tools (walls of #32, Nitroglycerin)  ;  Tonberry Estates (walls of #57, Key Farming) ; Hyperspace Runway (walls of #28, The Last Starfighter)
I really enjoy seeing levels that take a lot to build but are simple to play. Choice Tools is just such a level and it has an interesting logical aspect to it. I didn't yet play through all the twenty possible combinations of tools to use, but after trying several different ones I suspect that any one of them work. It also looks like just two tools won't be enough to solve the level. This concept is very reminiscent of pieguy's level choices, choices (pi^2.dat #5), though that one has fewer options for the tools to use and takes up the whole map, making it about twice as large. I found that your use of the existing walls highlight a different side than where they came from in CCLP1, which is exactly what I like to see. It's still very hard for me to rank a maze like this higher than fourth place this month. This is partly because the game play itself is a lot like many other mazes and that just doesn't make the most exciting level. A good maze certainly has its place in a CC set, but the top levels to play in any collection will be the ones with a good puzzle to solve no matter how well crafted the maze is. And though I couldn't rank it higher in the competition this time, I think it says something that I appraised it higher than your other two levels.
Speaking of which, Tonberry Estates and Hyperspace Runway were both fun levels to play albeit with some shortcomings. The best part of the first of these levels came at the end, where Chip had to time some toggle presses correctly to guide a Fireball into a bomb, all of which had to be anticipated when opening the locks earlier in the level. This is a nice puzzle amid some mundane monster dodging areas. Perhaps the weakest point of the level still came at the start, where the short sokoban is just pretty plain, though of course anything fancier would have been difficult to fit into the space. Maybe the lesson from this is to take the good parts and build a new level that expands on the concept. In the third level, I really enjoyed the part where Chip has to push blocks off a force floor conveyor belt into bombs, but the rest of the level falls a bit flat. All the force floors and ice don't really add up to any bigger scheme; it's just chip collecting with skates. The block pushing in the lower room is very simple. Additionally, the first time I played the level I pushed one of the final two blocks onto the wrong side onto the wrong force floor without realizing it couldn't be retrieved (or that I needed both blocks). Sure it was my fault, but it was still a feel bad moment that could have been avoided with a different design. Again I am left feeling that just focusing my favorite part of the level and expanding that into a couple more variations could have resulted in an excellent level instead of a pretty standard affair.

3rd place - Flareon350 - Warehouse of Lost Hopes and Dreams (walls of #108, Exhibit Hall) ;  Slytherin Common Room (walls of #141, Flush) ; Frostbite Fortress (walls of #132, Spumoni)
In third place we have Josh with some very solid levels. I really enjoyed the blob level, Slytherin Common Room, which I ranked second. It has a nice mix of different blob related challenges. First there is a room that is colorful and you have a choice of how much room to clear out for the blobs. Then there is a small block pushing section, where you can even get really lucky and the blobs don't bother you at all. There are two sections where a block needs to be pushed into an area with a blob/blobs, and while those rely on randomness they don't put Chip in danger. Finally there is a pretty tight area to avoid one blob, but it's large enough not to cause too much of a headache. All the sections come together nicely as being about the same difficulty and yet not too much to handle, and everything is cleverly crafted into a pre-existing wall pattern.
The level I liked the least was Frostbite Fortress, but not really because it's a poor level. There is a clear color theme throughout the level and some decent puzzles too. The rooms follow each other in a natural way, and there is even some returning to older rooms that doesn't feel forced. My favorite rooms were the one where Chip needs to dodge a Glider and then the sokoban which involved keys. The one I thought could still be improved was the Tank room, because there really wasn't much that could go wrong there as the mechanism just did its thing. In the end, I think the length of the level was what made me rank it lower than the other two levels, and there was no clear hook or memorable concept that stood out compared to the other two.
Now we return to Warehouse of Lost Hopes and Dreams, which I ranked the best from these three. This level has great replay value. Seeing how all the blocks go where they are meant to go is exhilarating. There are a couple places in the solution at first where I was wondering if the next step I take would cook the level or not, but I think this comes from the general concept. Once I realized how the level moves forward, this fear subsided. Maybe the only part where I felt this again was at the Walker and trap, where I wasn't sure if I should continue South or West. (With careful examination of the surroundings, this can be figured out though.) The next time that happens with the Tank on the trap, either order of doing things works. I like this aspect of the level very much; it creates an experience where the choices feel oddly predetermined yet like you are making them yourself. Comparing these tight corridors to the open spaces of Exhibit Hall is also quite the contrast even though the walls are the same. Well done!
Josh is actually an expert in building levels into wall templates. Apart from these three submissions, he has also has made several levels based on CCLP1 levels in JoshL6:
#1 (CCLP1 #6) 
#4 (CCLP1 #4) 
#7 (CCLP1 #3)
#35 (CCLP1 #35)
#45 (CCLP1 #5)
#48 (CCLP1 #2)
#51 (CCLP1 #23)
#60 (CCLP1 #20)
#71 (CCLP1 #1)
#88 (CCLP1 #21)
#89 (CCLP1 #7)
#91 (CCLP1 #100)
#97 (CCLP1 #81)
#130 (CCLP1 #119)
Thanks to Josh for this list!

2nd place - rubenspaans -  Bomb Blockade (walls of #75, Toggle Tank)
Many of us remember the level from CCLP1 with three rooms of block pushing hindered by some toggle walls that could only be switched a limited number of times. What would happen if this concept of limited uses of a button was utilized in a cloning puzzle instead, complete with keeping the room structure intact? The answer is this level. The first room spells out the idea and the second room builds on it with the slight twist of using a different monster. Then the third room makes you rethink everything you know. Doesn't that sound like the perfect puzzle? I think so, and I really enjoyed figuring this out. Unfortunately what kept me from ranking this one more place higher was some inelegance I encountered in the last room. There are two solutions (with or without the flippers) and I wasn't sure which was the intended one or if both were. Maybe it's something that can be updated, but then again I'm not sure how to do that without tipping off too much how that room works. Ultimately, I think the level works just fine (and even more than fine at that!), but this slight roughness left me wondering if further refinement was possible.
Ruben did confess that this was the first level he had made in about 18 years. I have to say, if you have gems like this hidden in your head, it is your duty to humanity to make more levels! I'm glad that you made another level for the December create competition which oddly happened to still be accepting submissions when you were done with this level. :)

1st place - ajmiam -  Sticky Controls (walls of #19, Feel the Static; Nitroglycerin Below 57F (walls of #139, Assassin)
Andrew, you figured out the secret formula for this competition. You picked one of my levels to use as the template for your own. That's an automatic win! Congratulations! Just in case you didn't realize that these walls were assembled by me, and to keep up appearances of a fair competition, I'll try to give some superfluous reasons why your level is somewhat decent even in this incarnation.
First let's look at your other level though, Nitroglycerin Below 57F. I am not a fan of complex names like this, and also feel that the hint is a bit redundant (in the right context, I would hope that I could trust the designer to not kill me in an unfair way, and even if I did fear it, experiencing that the fear was unnecessary feels good). Other than that, I enjoyed the level very much. The ice allows for a completely different topology than Assassin, which had it's own restriction of free movement, yet the walls fit into this level very naturally. I like how the areas open up as Chip clears away more and more bombs. The structure of the level feels organic and not too large, and yet there are a couple of tricky chips to reach. I enjoy your restraint in sticking with a concept and making it work without adding in more bells and whistles. Of all the levels that I ranked as second best from each participant this month, I think this one was the best!
Now back to Sticky Controls, our winner for the month This level is a puzzle where Chip manipulates Teeth to open the correct traps, allowing different paths to be taken once he takes turns collecting different foot ware. I love this puzzle! It is open enough to explore what needs to be done and yet it's mostly corridors between rooms, which usually implies a cramped space. It requires manipulating monsters without ever being in danger of them getting to Chip. Visually, everything you need is always available, except for the couple of parts where you have to remember where a Teeth is and these just enhance the puzzle. I love that the three paths overlap each other, providing multiple uses for the same areas, like a 'state maze'. The one constructive thing I do want to point out, is that I found the ending with the teleports to be redundant and the level could just as well have ended at the first one. Overall I think this is a very inspired take on what to do with this specific wall configuration, particularly the space that the Teeth occupy. Great job!

So there you have it. I hope you all survived my bashing of your creations, all of which I was still very happy to play. At the very least I'm sure you will enjoy playing the levels yourself because this batch of submissions was really one for the history books. Hopefully we'll have a new create competition starting again before spring is over, so keep your editors open and your coffee cups filled!
P.S. Apparently I can't decide how to capitalize the monster names, blob vs Blob, glider vs Glider etc. And if I did capitalize them all, what about the other tile names like 'tank button' and 'trap'. Oh well, it is what it is.
P.P.S. Thanks to random 8 for all the template sets you've made over the years for these comps!
P.P.P.S. Just adding this sentence to reach a word count of three thousand words. I guess it still depends on exactly what counts as a word, but we're close enough now.
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Awesome stuff! I'm pretty happy with my 3rd rank placement again :) Really pleased to see my best entry was ranked 1st this time as well! I was quite happy with my entries so here are some comments/responses to each of mine:


-Frostbite Fortress


I was actually more impressed with myself using the wall layout for this, than the level itself honestly. The blue colored theme is nothing new to level design but I felt like it would have been a good theme to go for with the wall configuration. Your comment about the tank room is understandable and the reason it's so straightforward is mostly due to being located fairly late in the level. I didn't want to include a possibly to screw it up if it could be avoided, which it was. The mechanism was originally hidden but decided to make it visible to avoid unfairness towards players. Still I'm very satisfied with that room since it's not a concept I've seen before. Quite surprised it wasn't memorable but to each their own. (Y) The sokoban room was one of those "it just happens to work by random design) choice and I like it. It's actually an original composition too! The blue keys/locks in that room were last minute additions, to add a bit of flavor to the room. The other room I liked was the ice/water room with the blocks. I feel like that's a concept that can't be done properly in an open space, since the blocks need to be pushed in a specific way. Everything else in the level though is pretty bland and nothing special I admit, including the level title. I can agree to it's last place ranking.


-Slytherin Common Room


This one was a pretty random (no pun intended) wall pattern choice to use. Definitely wasn't one I ever thought I'd use but I do like the level I made out of this. Every once in a while as a designer, I feel like challenging myself to use a tile and/or monster that's generally disliked and use them in a way that doesn't feel stressful or mean to the player. I used blobs mostly due to the wall layout itself and I like mostly everything this level has going for it relating to them. Chasing scenes with cloning blobs isn't anything new, it's not a common choice in design but with the wall layout having a single spaced corridor, it was perfect to start the level with. The block pushing segment I really like too as that idea in a blob infested area is a concept I've actually liked. Of course me being me, I had to throw in a few "Compaction" parts to this as well. :) and then there's the actual blob dodging section, while proud of it, I am aware it may be a bit cramped still. I'm glad I included a few gravel spots just in case because I originally didn't have them there. The red key placement for the "secret hint" was another last minute decision. Probably an unnecessary one but it's a fun challenge to get to!


-Warehouse of Lost Hopes and Dreams


Without a doubt my favorite of the entries and again am so happy that it was the highest ranked one. A lot of planning went into this levels design (and a lot of testing too!) and I absolutely love how everything falls into place, be the block placements, the part with the tank, etc. I was especially very detailed with how the level would look after solving, which you could argue that's not a good thing to focus on but it played out very well regardless. :P Believe it or not though, I wasn't thinking of aesthetics when first designing it, and this entire entry was a completely random idea that I designed after submitting the first two and it just happened to get 1st of the 3! In addition to all this, I was very careful in how I handled certain things under blocks, more so the items. Some people don't like hidden information (I myself don't like it when completely unfair) so I tried my best to make everything hidden under a block obvious. I'd like to say I was successful in doing so but I am the designer so I know where everything is. :P all the individual rooms that Exhibit Hall had originally were also very fun to make use of here. Another little personal challenge for me when making this was to make each of those rooms distinct from each other and focus on something different, such as the blue wall room, bug/fire room, etc. I am especially proud of the exiting portion of the level.


All in all, very fun levels to design and thank you to Miika for hosting this competition! If I could, I would put all these levels in JoshL6 replacing three other levels but it's a bit too late for that now :P

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I might as well post my thoughts on these levels since I completed them all today and the thoughts are still fresh. There may be spoilers in here if you haven't beaten the levels yet. Here are my rankings:



Headbangers Walls

It was hard to rank these because, as Miika said, all these levels were really good. This one in particular stumped me for a while. There were so many unnecessary items and blocks that they proved to be effective red herrings, at least for me. Very strange level, but very good nonetheless. The name is another misleading factor; you would think you would have to push the blocks at the beginning into the force floors because you'll need to later, but no.





Another weird one in my opinion, but on a much smaller scale. The fireball cloner and tank/glider section in the middle were problematic, but only slightly, as this level isn't that hard once the trick is discovered.




Slytherin Common Room

Probably an injustice for this to be ranked so low, as this is a very well made level, but it's a blob level, and so annoying parts are to be expected. But there are not too many and they can be overcome with some patience. You can have fun in the first room and there is a very easy route you can take. The most stressful room is probably the thief room despite there only being one blob to maneuver around. It may be a blob level, but it's a good blob level.




Hyperspace Runway

I like the look of the runway, with a mix of force and ice. I thought I might have cooked the level in the block sliding section because I accidentally pushed a block into a corner. Thankfully, it's more forgiving than that, as there seems to be an extra block. The disparate sections of the level felt a little disconnected to me, but it's a fine level.





A nice little level in the vein of "Tiny" that even feels a bit like that level, beyond just its wall layout.




Choice Tools

Again, probably a miscarriage of justice that this isn't higher, but its gameplay was a little lacking. It's a much more impressive feat in creative terms. The whole time I was playing it, I couldn't help thinking about how hard it must've been to construct a level with so many layers and making sure it's possible with every combination. Kudos.




Nitroglycerin Below 57F

A fun ice maze. I actually liked the title for the obvious CCLP1 level reference. It's harder to find your way around than you would think, while remaining completely safe which is appreciated. A careful player should be able to solve it on their first try thanks to a very lengthy time limit.




Tonberry Estates

I disagree with Miika about the sokoban being "plain" as I thought it was very clever my first time playing. It may be a pretty easy sokoban, but it doesn't have to be hard to be good. The dodging sections were also fun. It wasn't immediately apparent to me what the purpose of the toggle walls was, but it's obvious by the end. I didn't open the doors with any kind of forethought, but was still able to make the fireball go where I wanted and now I wonder if there is a way to cook the level by opening the wrong set of doors. I was also wondering if there was something else to do because the recessed walls were not needed, but I guess it's just a shortcut back.




Bomb Blockade

Now we're getting to the really good levels, and this level certainly is amazing. At first what appeared to me to be a fun and easy concept unraveled in the last room. I thought the flippers could be extra too, but my solution required me to get them, so I'm surprised there's a way to do it without getting them, apparently. This level exceeds initial expectations and is very memorable. To hear that this was Ruben's first level in 18 years is astonishing. It's great.




Key Party

I know, I'm ranking my own level fairly high and I will probably be the only one to do so. But I surprised myself with this one. I was very satisfied with how it turned out, but the biggest flaw here is the 3 block slides at the end. I figured this would frustrate players, but unfortunately it couldn't really be helped because of what I had in mind for the solution. I thought of putting a hint at the beginning saying something like, "It's one of those 'don't collect too many keys' deals," but felt that that becomes pretty obvious right away. I thought Miika's assessment was fair, as the rules did say, "Do not make an overly difficult level" and I went pretty puzzle heavy. But for my first ever entry in a create comp, I think it's pretty good.




Sticky Controls

Wow. First level in the pack and right off the bat, it's a puzzle that's a lot tougher than you think. I was stumped for quite a while, struggling with the flipper section in particular for some reason. I was surprised when Miika called Key Party perhaps the toughest puzzle in the running, because for me this was it (I know it's easy for me to say that, having always known the solution to Key Party, but I thought this level was very hard.) Genius level design with the space allotted and just a genius concept that I've never seen done this way before. The teleports at the end may be redundant, but I've always liked when there's a fun path to the exit after a very difficult puzzle so I liked that part. Amazing level.




Frostbite Fortress

Really fun level with some moderate difficulty dodging and puzzles and then a surprisingly difficult sokoban towards the end that I just loved. I was going to rank Sticky Controls above this one but thought that this has more replay value so I gave it the # 2 spot. I didn't really think about it, but the tank room kind of does solve itself, but at that point in the level, it was good to have some easy sections after that sokoban that already caused me to restart once. I also loved the key puzzles at the beginning, even though those are easy as well.




Warehouse of Lost Hopes and Dreams

I knew this would be my winner as soon as I finished playing it. This is not only my favorite level in the competition but maybe my favorite level ever. I just loved the flow, how you're not really certain what to do next, but somehow all your guesses turn out to be right. It's reminiscent of Ravaged, another of Josh's levels that uses the walls of a CCLP1 level (sort of), in terms of flow and that feeling of uncertainty followed by the great satisfaction of getting it right. Only this level is even better. It's never really that hard, although I did have several restarts, but they were all me making stupid mistakes. It's also a beautiful level, and the level it came from is so far removed, you won't really recognize it. Josh has a knack for creating levels that feel great to solve. You hit it out of the park with this one, Josh.



It's too bad these levels couldn't be in the voting pool, because I'd love to see some of them in CCLP4, especially Sticky Controls and WoLHaD. Everyone really did awesome with this comp and I thank Miika for hosting it.



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Thanks Josh and Bowman for your comments on the levels. I especially love hearing design stories or inspirations for levels because it's always a separate experience of creating a level and being someone who just plays the level, so there can be a very different perspectives on the same thing.


I'm sure we have enough great levels for CCLP4 as it is, and without these levels in the mix we are also building up a good pool of levels for the eventual CCZone.dat :)

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