Defining beginner vs. expert player

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lizard queen
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Defining beginner vs. expert player

Post by lizard queen » 10 Jul 2020 15:05

In my reviews, I always like to mention whether the level is good for beginners or more suited for expert players. So my definition of "for experts only" would be if I encountered an almost impossible timed run (or impossible for me) with a lot of complex moves, curves, jump and grabs, etc. within the timed run itself so that you really have to have your expert moves down pat in perfect order to complete the timed run.

And if the level doesn't have such a difficult timed run, I feel the level is suitable for beginners if they are patient and don't give up (ie. learn and gain skills as they practice those tough jumps, etc.) I for one learn something new every time I play a level or watch a video walkthrough for cool tips that these rockstar players do. I also am assuming that beginner players have had at least some exposure to TR (say having played some of the official levels and now want to give a go at TRLE ones).

So my current position is that any level where I do not encounter one of these impossible timed runs is suitable for beginners. I don't want to mislead anyone but I don't want to put them off playing the level either if a level is very doable.

Just wondering what your thoughts are.
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JesseG
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Re: Defining beginner vs. expert player

Post by JesseG » 10 Jul 2020 17:04

This is a good topic to think about. My preference is to be a bit more specific since players may have difficulty in specific areas that other players do not. For example there may be a very elaborate puzzle, or the layout of the level is hard to remember, or the combat is intense. Some players handle these better than others, so I will amend my recommendation accordingly.

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Re: Defining beginner vs. expert player

Post by Jorge22 » 10 Jul 2020 17:16

Well, the editor is a world apart from the official games. Most games (at least those that are past beginner builders experiments, as well as builders who like to be nice to players at the risk of having their works deemed too simple in gameplay or just builders who can't or won't put in much effort) tend to be way harder than any official releases. That is to say that perhaps most masterpieces are never for 'beginners'. That includes orientation, puzzles, only sometimes enemies and, most obviously, traps. Beginners will become 'experts' if they persist in spite of the hardships.
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Re: Defining beginner vs. expert player

Post by billie2001 » 10 Jul 2020 17:28

I always wondered what "beginner" means exactly. Beginner to TR in general? Beginner to TR classic? Or beginner to TRLE which are usually harder than the official classic TR?
IMO the average player is the one who can complete TR 1-5. Anything requiring more skills than that may be considered for experienced players and anything easier than that for beginners.

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Re: Defining beginner vs. expert player

Post by eRIC » 10 Jul 2020 22:55

interesting topic. :)

Difficulty indeed maybe different to players. Generally yes Timed tasks is a good standard to measure it. Also platforming , lately i gave up on a level where we have to combine new moves , it is a nice and interesting Christmas level but i found too boring to try and try again to have the combination of keys right. So i guess i am a beginner to this type of difficulty (I largely prefer classic long jumps with curves and timed tasks to this combination of keyboards keys we have to press quickly in the right order).

I like what Billie has written :
wrote:IMO the average player is the one who can complete TR 1-5. Anything requiring more skills than that may be considered for experienced players and anything easier than that for beginners.
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Re: Defining beginner vs. expert player

Post by Jorge22 » 10 Jul 2020 23:27

I think everyone has it right. I agree with Billie too.

I'd just like to add that when I mentioned the more vague 'traps', in my mind I included complicated platforming of all sorts and, of course, I forgot our so very special trle feature, the timed runs.
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Re: Defining beginner vs. expert player

Post by Phil » 11 Jul 2020 00:42

My current frame of reference is A Debt in Tibet, my 5th BtB level, where I've now made it to about the halfway point. José, who can by no means be described as a beginning player, has substantially downgraded gameplay in his review because of his inability to "finish a level by myself." Reading between the lines, his definition of an "expert level" seems to be one that requires him to resort to someone else's savegame to finish. I haven't yet reached the timed run in this level that led him to this conclusion, so I must reserve judgment until then. However, I was recently faced with a similar situation when I asked Treeble for a savegame to progress in Plum Uncle, having attempted a certain jump so many times that I concluded it was impossible for me to conquer it. But then, because the same jump is required later in the level, I was able to do it on the second go-round (albeit by unconventional means). My point is simply that there's a wide gap between a "beginning player" and an "expert player." Most of us are somewhere in between, and I consider myself to be in that category. Having been at this for two decades now, I'd like to think that I'm closer to the expert end of the spectrum, but the most important thing for me is the enjoyment I've experienced along the way.

Edit: I've reached that timed run (assuming this is the one José was referring to in his review), and I agree that the builder has crossed the "unfair" line here for two reasons: that chest next to the lever that both gets in your way and obscures your view, and the invisible block that keeps you from getting past the timed door even when you arrive in time (although I finally got through on about the 30th try). I'm with José all the way on this one.

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Re: Defining beginner vs. expert player

Post by Mytly » 13 Jul 2020 20:49

I think that the categories of 'beginner' and 'expert' players are a little too subjective and hard to define, especially the latter. I mean, just look at the examples in Phil's post above - if players who've played thousands of custom levels over a span of decades have trouble doing a particular timed run, then who on earth can qualify as an 'expert' player?!

Additionally, there's the fact that not everyone finds the same aspects of levels difficult. I mean, sure, timed runs are challenging for most people. But nonetheless, there are people who don't mind them as much as they mind other aspects - for example, I love timed runs in general (with a few exceptions), but dislike combat or mazes intensely. I would consider a level with plenty of timed runs but no combat or mazes to be 'easy', and vice versa. So when reviewing levels, rather than recommending some levels for beginners or experts, I find it more productive to state what kind of gameplay and layout the level has, and let the player reading it decide whether they would find it easy or not.

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Re: Defining beginner vs. expert player

Post by Phil » 14 Jul 2020 02:15

Mytly wrote:
13 Jul 2020 20:49
Additionally, there's the fact that not everyone finds the same aspects of levels difficult.
Bingo! There are certain "tricks" that can be employed to deal with certain situations. These are learned only through experience. For example, in tight quarters the "walking running jump" comes in quite handy. And I've always considered myself to be rope-challenged, but even in this area some techniques can come in handy, such as waiting until the downswing before jumping off the rope. Also, tightrope walking used to be excruciating for me until I discovered how to master the art. There are other examples, but these will suffice. To my way of thinking, the more knowledge you have of these special tricks, the better claim you have to being an "expert" player. After all, we all know more or less what we need to do, but often the problem is how to do it. This is one of several reasons why I find the recent spate of video walks to be so helpful, and why I strive to plug them in my written walkthroughs, as they illustrate visually how it's to be done.

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Re: Defining beginner vs. expert player

Post by Storm Chaser » 16 Jul 2020 18:19

I consider myself to be in the middle ref TR skills, but sometimes a game is too hard for me to do. One level I downloaded had a pixel perfect jump that took me about 20 attempts to do and then Lara fell back off the ledge I had spent ages getting onto. Needless to say I didn’t continue with that level.

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Re: Defining beginner vs. expert player

Post by lizard queen » 16 Jul 2020 19:43

Storm Chaser wrote:
16 Jul 2020 18:19
Needless to say I didn’t continue with that level.
Just wondering... Would you have avoided downloading the game if one of the reviews made mention of the pixel perfect jump being extremely difficult? Or would you have wanted to have a go at it anyways regardless?
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Re: Defining beginner vs. expert player

Post by Storm Chaser » 16 Jul 2020 22:53

Hmmm, interesting question. The reason I downloaded it was it looked superb in the screenshots, being one of the early Next Gen levels (can’t remember its name).
I can’t remember if I read the reviews before downloading, but I would probably still have downloaded it just because it looked so good.

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Re: Defining beginner vs. expert player

Post by The Snarky Lesbian » 26 Jul 2020 11:46

Now this is a really interesting thread, so far I have not considered almost impossible timed runs as "difficult" so much as potentially bad design. Or at least criticizable for that inclusion. I find difficulty to be one thing, and almost impossible runs to be another. Basically when I feel like I HAVE to savescum my way through it and it is still tight, then it probably just isn't well designed. Just like when a level is overly dark to a point that I end up save scumming flares. Unless I get the feeling that you're supposed to not see enough for either an atmospheric effect or to hide secrets, I will usually criticise it.

When it comes to giving a difficulty recommendation in the reviews, then I might do that. I experimented in the past with setting specific scores based on which prime elements are in the level like this:
Action: # Puzzles: # Gameplay Flow: # Artistic Cohesion: #
I'm not a gigantic fan of overarching scores, though I understand their purpose. I just can't say as much with it, since I'm more into specific types of levels, so I'd score these elements individually. Maybe I can start putting in a Difficulty "score" too. Though I definitely still mention really difficult parts of a level in my review. Like for instance limited ammunition for ALL weapons, something I love, but that might deter another player from trying the level.
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Re: Defining beginner vs. expert player

Post by Torry » 13 Aug 2020 04:33

Storm Chaser wrote:
16 Jul 2020 18:19
I consider myself to be in the middle ref TR skills, but sometimes a game is too hard for me to do. One level I downloaded had a pixel perfect jump that took me about 20 attempts to do and then Lara fell back off the ledge I had spent ages getting onto. Needless to say I didn’t continue with that level.
Now this often annoys me as well. Maybe I am just naive as after a few tries I believe that no, this cannot be what the author intends and then I waste time looking for an alternate route. Then when I finally realize that yes indeed, this is what the author wants me to accomplish I spend more minutes cursing him or her and seriously questioning his or her parentage. I generally do not trash the level as I am as stubborn as a goat but I do find my enjoyment levels diminishing and this then defeats the whole purpose of the raid so why do I even bother?

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