I do not think that tag means what you think it means...

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Offline the Jack

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The KS Level Archive is set up with seven categories: Tutorial, Challenge, Puzzle, Maze, Environmental, Playground, and Misc(ellaneous). This wasn't an arbitrary decision on LPChip's part; it's coded right into the World.ini file of every KS level.

Quote
; ---Level Categories---
;
; Tutorial        A tutorial that teaches you to play Knytt
;                 Stories and contains tips and tricks.
;
; Challenge       A Challenge level - make sure your skills
;                 are sharp!
;
; Puzzle          In a Puzzle level, you need some serious
;                 thinking.
;
; Maze            A Maze Level - Can you find where you're
;                 going?
;
; Environmental   An environmental level - No puzzles, no
;                 monsters, no challenge, just beautiful
;                 landscape.
;
; Playground      A Playground doesn't have an ending or a
;                 goal - a good place to practice.
;
; Misc            A level that doesn't fit into any of the
;                 other categories.

I wasn't around when this community was at the old forums, so I don't know how long ago the change started to happen... but many KS players seem to use the term "Environmental" to describe levels that are visually stunning, even though they may have some moderate challenges in them. Salmoneous's "Mashu Prapa", and "Gaia" by Anydel & Drakkan, are two prime examples of levels which are mostly challenge-free, yet because of that 0.5-5% challenging-screens content, technically, they cannot be called Environmental levels. Yet 'Environmental' is exactly how most players think of levels like those, including those two in particular.

Arguing for a change in what the Environmental tag means seems moot at this point; Nifflas has said he wants the categories to remain the way they were originally set up, and as the guy who gave us this awesome game (among others) he deserves for us to respect his decision.

I'd just been thinking about bringing this issue up while I was offline last night; and this morning I logged on and discovered, thanks to a timely thread bump, this comment:
@LPChip: It would be nice if the new archive had some feature that allowed users to search for levels that 'look nice', though. I think I'm not the only one here who's mainly interested in KS as an aesthetic experience, and thus will prefer environmentals in most cases, but will tackle a challenge level if it's a really good-looking one. It would be nice to be able to separate, via some search term, maybe, challenge levels with a strong aesthetic focus from those that just focus on presenting the player with, well, a challenge.

and this comment:
I'd like to second that. Perhaps this could be discussed in a separate topic somewhere on the forum? Because I remember there were other challenge vs. environmental debates before, with different participants, and it doesn't seem like most people would be happy if the categories were made completely separate, with no means of searching for good-looking levels.

(I admit I'm biased, though, because my levels kind of fall into the challenge+environmental thing too.. I think.. only the environments are really weird  :crazy: and the challenges kind of basic  :oops:)
from a couple of months before I found the forums.

The fact is that people are using the term Environmental to refer to a particular kind of level, which most people seem to recognise ("I know it when I see it"  ;)) and want to call something to distinguish it from levels which, while they aren't necessarily ugly, aren't visually stunning the way the levels we're all so tempted to call Environmental are.

Calling these levels Playground wouldn't be any better (and arguably worse) than calling them Environmental; Misc is hopelessly vague and better suited to levels like "AniMate", "Don't Eat the Mushroom", "The Organ" and "Teenhmifnoeafgil" which defy categorisation.

What we need is a new category.

I propose that it be called Aesthetic "Scenic".


Hopefully the level archive (if not, alas, KS itself) can be set up so as to allow users to search for Aesthetic Scenic-tagged levels. So "A Knytt in Time" for example would turn up in a search for either Challenge or Aesthetic Scenic. (Both? Is the new-and-improved archive going to allow multi-category searching?) "Dungeon" would show up for Maze and Aesthetic Scenic.

There's a possibility that some level designers (or "Knytters", TM Hmpf) would abuse the option of listing as Aesthetic Scenic a level which ...wasn't, but that seems a relatively minor potential annoyance compared with the ability to accurately label those levels we all think of as sharing a category but which, until now, haven't had a term that was rightly theirs to be called by.

edit: I didn't mean to put it in Level Previews, I just... failed to pay attention. Oops. Thanks for the move, LPChip!

edit 2: I have read everyone's comments so far, and I agree that the term "Aesthetic" is particularly prone to potential abuse, since not checking that box would amount to saying 'I think my level is ugly but you should play it anyway LOL.' Therefore, I am now putting forward "Scenic" as my #1 choice -- again subject to consensus / change. A level can be perfectly attractive without being scenic; calling a level "Scenic" is referring to its having 'beautiful landscape" as in the official definition of "Environmental" but without the additional "no puzzles, no monsters, no challenge" restrictions of the Environmental category. Scenic levels, like Environmental levels, feature a cohesive environment as a fundamental element of their design and gameplay.

And just to reiterate: This is existing usage in search of a proper term, not a random suggestion for adding a new category just because. People are using the unsuitable term Environmental for a recognisable group of levels which nevertheless don't fall under the official definition of the Environmental category. Picking another term is far preferable to continuing to badger LPChip to let us tag our levels Challenge/Environmental.
« Last Edit: March 24, 2010, 21:39:56 by the Jack »

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Offline Hmpf

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Re: I do not think that tag means what you think it means...
« Reply #1 on: March 07, 2010, 04:21:49 »
I second the motion.

Wrong forum, though. ;-)

Re: I do not think that tag means what you think it means...
« Reply #2 on: March 07, 2010, 04:52:21 »
You can always add custom categories to your levels in the ini file.

My KS mod has the ability to filter for custom categories. [/shamelessselfpromotion]
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Offline AA

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Re: I do not think that tag means what you think it means...
« Reply #3 on: March 07, 2010, 05:35:37 »
I think 'nice-looking' is a bit too subjective for a category. Since the new level archive should display the first screen of a level, you could make a nice-looking first screen.
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Offline Hmpf

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Re: I do not think that tag means what you think it means...
« Reply #4 on: March 07, 2010, 05:43:53 »
I think 'nice-looking' is a bit too subjective for a category. Since the new level archive should display the first screen of a level, you could make a nice-looking first screen.

Well, but it's probably fairly easy for a level creator to decide if s/he consciously tried to make something that is not just challenging but also pretty - even if beauty is in the eye of the beholder, the level creator will know if s/he at least *aimed* for it. So I think it would be nice to give people a chance to indicate, when they submit a level, whether they paid special attention to the level's look. And people who are mainly looking for 'pretty' levels are probably more likely to find such levels among the works of creators who consciously aimed for something aesthetically pleasing - even if there are inevitably going to be duds among those levels.

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Offline Pumpkinbot

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Re: I do not think that tag means what you think it means...
« Reply #5 on: March 07, 2010, 06:59:00 »
I can see how a lot of people are with Envi/Chal levels, but I can also see from LPChip's point of view, where there's no real difference.

I agree to this, though, because I think the purpose of "environmental" isn't to have a no-challenge level, but instead a focus on environment. Take the original Knytt, for example. It's quite environmental, correct? Ah, but there's hazards! And mandatory collectibles scattered about! So it can't be environmental, from LPChip's point of view. From our point of view, however, it'd be Easy/Envi/Chal. Which would fit it more than Easy/Chal. ;)

But I doubt anything would be done, 'cause LPChip's so stubborn...
...! In a good way! :oops: Don't hurt me...
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Offline the Jack

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Re: I do not think that tag means what you think it means...
« Reply #6 on: March 07, 2010, 07:08:06 »
@AA:
The only difference between "Aesthetic" and "Environmental" would be that "Aesthetic" could be used in combination with the "Challenge" category, as well as on levels that aren't deserving of the Challenge tag overall but still contain too many enemies / trick jumps / whatever to qualify as Environmental.

As I said, people are already in need of a term to use, we're calling levels Environmental which -- by Nifflas's definition -- are not.

Individual level designers putting their own non-standard tags, e.g.: pretty, landscape, scenic, envirochallenge, challenmental, visual, decorative, etc., etc. would be of little help to players wanting to easily search for the type of level I'm proposing the Aesthetic category for. So we need to settle on a single term.

I'm not stuck on Aesthetic, either; that's just a proposal, and if the community consensus is to call levels-that-we-aren't-supposed-to-call-Environmental something else, whether that something else is "Scenic" or it's "Dodos" I don't much care. By all means, suggest and/or cast your votes for the term you think is best!

The idea is to have some term we can use and know what we're talking about. Because "Environmental but not really" doesn't cut it. We're not going to be physically able to upload levels tagged both Environmental and Challenge once the new level archive is in place. Being forced to tag a level on which the designer spent more time beautifying the screens than developing the challenges as Challenge only is unfair to both designer and players; and tagging a level that's really attractive just Environmental when it's actually a very pretty Challenge level makes members of the League of Crap Players weep tears of blood. And nobody wants that.

@Pumpkinbot:
The perceived focus on environment is precisely why people have been using the term to refer to the levels they do, despite those levels containing mild to difficult challenges as well. We can't change the categories Nifflas established; that's been discussed repeatedly, and always been shot down. So the obvious alternative is to pick a new word for the levels we shouldn't have been calling Environmental in the first place.

It was my impression that LPChip was opposed to changing the meaning of the existing categories, and to allowing levels to be tagged both Environmental and Challenge (with the good reason that Nifflas Said So); if someone else has already suggested picking a new term for these levels that wouldn't conflict with the level categories Nifflas laid down, and LPChip shot that down, I haven't seen it...

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Offline Pumpkinbot

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Re: I do not think that tag means what you think it means...
« Reply #7 on: March 07, 2010, 07:35:36 »
@Pumpkinbot:
The perceived focus on environment is precisely why people have been using the term to refer to the levels they do, despite those levels containing mild to difficult challenges as well. We can't change the categories Nifflas established; that's been discussed repeatedly, and always been shot down. So the obvious alternative is to pick a new word for the levels we shouldn't have been calling Environmental in the first place.

It was my impression that LPChip was opposed to changing the meaning of the existing categories, and to allowing levels to be tagged both Environmental and Challenge (with the good reason that Nifflas Said So); if someone else has already suggested picking a new term for these levels that wouldn't conflict with the level categories Nifflas laid down, and LPChip shot that down, I haven't seen it...
*slams fist on desk* Got it! A level can be environmental and challenge only if the challenge is relatively easy, or you don't have to focus on the challenge at hand all the time, like in a harder level.

Sound good?
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Offline LPChip

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Re: I do not think that tag means what you think it means...
« Reply #8 on: March 07, 2010, 07:55:31 »
Honestly,

A level that is entirely focussed on the environment and only has a little bit of challenge, like in Knytt should not be labelled as environment/challenge at all, but just environment.

The idea is indeed pointed out by Nifflas, and I'm only enforcing what he's saying (because I entirely agree with him) is that you don't label a level environment just because it looks pretty. If you put hard challenges in the level that you cannot avoid, the level is not environmental any more. Secondly, an environmental level should not have a difficulty harder than easy IMHO.
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Offline minmay

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Re: I do not think that tag means what you think it means...
« Reply #9 on: March 07, 2010, 08:02:55 »
The proposed idea has a huge problem: people are attention-seekers, so almost everyone will tag their crappy-looking Challenge level with "aesthetic."

I honestly don't think such a distinction is necessary, as a level which has truly had reasonable effort put into it will be good-looking enough to be environmental anyway.  The Environmental category, counternituitively, does not encompass good-looking levels with little or no challenge - it isolates levels with no challenge at all.

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Offline egomassive

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Re: I do not think that tag means what you think it means...
« Reply #10 on: March 07, 2010, 10:43:29 »
Since the proposed classification will only pertain to the the level archive and the archive is not finished, this may be a non-issue. I haven't heard any mention of how the ranking system will work. If it's a multifaceted system then visuals may be ranked individually. eg:

gameplay 1 to 5
graphics 1 to 5
music 1 to 5
overall (which is not the average score) 1 to 5

Furthermore, this sort of thing should be on a scale. With Jacks idea the choice becomes, "My level is aesthetically pleasing," or, "My level is ugly." Imagine if we only had two difficulty categories, easy and hard. That wouldn't be nearly as helpful as the 5 categories we have.

Even if nothing is done to help sort the pretty from the ugly on new archive. AA's right. The previews screens will be a huge help in determining attractiveness before downloading, installing, and playing. Better than what the archive has now, which is nothing.

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Offline Mr. Monkey

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Re: I do not think that tag means what you think it means...
« Reply #11 on: March 07, 2010, 13:31:11 »
Problems with ratings:

People cannot be trusted to...
  • rate their own works man I've seen too many people proclaim their terrible works great.
  • rate other works honestly see Nepotism
  • tolerate negative ratings or criticism man I've seen too many people complain about even the most friendly and constructive criticism they just aaaaa.

Rather, a system of rating focus (regardless of quality) may be better.
  • Focus on challenge (thought put into making challenges interesting, etc.)
  • Focus on aesthetics (did you try to make a nice looky level!? :o)
  • Focus on story (I am just suggesting things but man lots of levels try this)
  • etc.
that way people can say the intended result without getting in a fuss about others' conflicting opinions

Sorry if this was what you meant; in that case, perhaps my post can clarify for people who were confused, like me. :o
« Last Edit: March 07, 2010, 13:41:38 by Mr. Monkey »
o__  o

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Offline the Jack

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Re: I do not think that tag means what you think it means...
« Reply #12 on: March 07, 2010, 20:06:10 »
People cannot be trusted to...
  • rate their own works man I've seen too many people proclaim their terrible works great.

True, but people also seem to fairly frequently mischaracterise the Size and Difficulty of their own levels. One person's Large level is under 100 screens, while another's Small level is over 100. (This could potentially be at least partly addressed by having the new archive show a range for number of screens to level designers during the upload process... though not everyone is going to bother to loom up how many screens their level actually has, and some levels' screen-counts are "off" for various reasons, like The Machine with its two difficulty levels, and AniMate which only appears to be a single screen. Filesize is useless for determining level size due to the effect of custom graphics and especially custom ambiance or music file sizes.) One person's Hard level seems just Normal even to a card-carrying member of the League of Crap Players like me; another person's Easy level has us LoCP members stuck two or three screens in due to much higher difficulty than listed.

At any rate, LPChip says he's come up with a way to implement a ratings system which will be workable despite people's worse nature, so we'll just have to wait and see what that is. (Not pester him to tell us. Not pester him to tell us. And definitely not declare the very notion unworkable and pointless, either before or after he eventually reveals the mechanism he's come up with.)


I do also like the idea of a Story-type category (Storytelling? Narrative? Plot?) since there really are only a few levels that try to tell, or be, one overarching story -- "A Knytt in Time" is at the top of that list -- and so they can be hard to find except by searching the forums... and even searching the forums is going to stop being useful for finding those kinds of levels in the archive once the KS Level Releases temporary forum, with all its useful comment threads, goes away. But, on the other hand, there are only a few levels that really qualify for a Story category (whatever it's called) so it might not make sense to code that in... plus, there's the potential for this to turn into a free-for-all of lots of people all saying "ooh, make Trick-Jumping a category!" "Make Custom Graphics a category!" (before you even think about chiming in on that one, consider how annoyed you would be to download a level expecting all-custom or at least significantly-custom tilesets, music, COs etc. only to find just a single 24x240 gradient in its level folder) "Yeah, and make Green its own category too!" etc. ad nauseam. Then again, there aren't actually that many Playground levels, and Playground has a lot of overlap with Environmental to begin with...

...No, I'm sticking with suggesting that some term for levels like Mashu Prapa -- which are environment-centric but are not completely free of enemies, puzzles or other challenge -- needs to be added. Because if the Environmental tag is to be used only for levels that meet all its requirements, that still leaves us needing another term... and I don't actually think that just letting levels like Mashu Prapa "get away with" being called Environmental is the ideal solution, either, because then people who really want a level that has no challenge to playing every part of it are going to wind up downloading those "Environmental, wink wink" levels and being frustrated and disappointed. MP in particular isn't very hard even at its hardest, but there are absolutely players out there who would feel betrayed to discover they couldn't explore the whole level due to their (lack of) platforming ability. And that seems like something it would be better to avoid.


tolerate negative ratings or criticism man I've seen too many people complain about even the most friendly and constructive criticism they just aaaaa.

I haven't seen that much friendly or constructive criticism around the forums just lately, honestly. It seems to be either "ooh, shiny" or "you suck!" with little if any middle ground -- more's the pity. But I'm afraid I have to call off-topic on that issue. Do feel free to make your own post about it, though.

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Offline Pick Yer Poison

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Re: I do not think that tag means what you think it means...
« Reply #13 on: March 07, 2010, 20:39:02 »
Props for making a thread about this. It's one of my pet peeves when people post a level as Environmental when it has Challenge elements in it; when I download a level that's labeled Environmental, it's because I want a nice, restful experience where I can just watch things without having to dodge them. I specifically labeled one of my own levels Playground just because there were parts where you had to try not to die, while most of it was just a scenic romp. I have stopped playing some levels before simply because I realized I was dying multiple times in an "Environmental" level.

I like the ideas going on in this thread; I would definitely love a category like that. And I do think that levels where you have a bit of effort required should still be allowed as Environmental, since the pure description of the Environmental category makes it sound like you'll be raged at if you put a pool in your level that people can jump in. XD

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Offline the Jack

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Re: I do not think that tag means what you think it means...
« Reply #14 on: March 08, 2010, 01:16:13 »
1. Heads-up for those who might otherwise miss it, I've revised the proposal so that my suggestion for the new term to replace mis-use of Environmental would be "Scenic" rather than "Aesthetic" -- subject to further change as this discussion develops.

2.
Props for making a thread about this.
Thanks!

3.
Quote
the pure description of the Environmental category makes it sound like you'll be raged at if you put a pool in your level that people can jump in. XD

Nah, I think a little surface water in an Environmental is fine so long as there's a savepoint next to it.  ;)

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