Author Topic: Brilliant Observations by My Brother  (Read 19203 times)

AgingMinotaur

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Re: Brilliant Observations by My Brother
« Reply #15 on: June 01, 2013, 08:33:17 PM »
Loved the Zelda analysis that naughty linked to. I'm sure a nice random level generator could be written for levels structured like that (basically each level is a linear chain of rooms, but with "open-world" features like shortcuts, optional branches, keys and locks, etc.) Hasn't for instance Brogue gone a long way to implement some of the myriad ideas about procedurally generated puzzles? There has been some successful platormer/RL hybrids ... IMHO, time is way overdue for a brilliantly executed procedural Zelda-like. While I do agree that fighting is kind of dull in Zelda, it should be a great format for a game focusing more on roguish exploration.

There is something called Dicing Knight for the SNES, with randomly distributed rooms or something; I briefly tried it in an emulator, ahem, but it didn't really blow my mind.

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Re: Brilliant Observations by My Brother
« Reply #16 on: June 03, 2013, 03:09:45 AM »
I think I'd rather a Metroid like, but it's the same concepts I want to see, procedurally generated open worlds with key/item based advancement.

Obstacles in Metroid included narrow passages (need ball), bricks that need breaking (ball+bombs), blast doors (need missiles), out of reach platforms (high jump boots needed). Then there were also power up type things, they didn't specifically unlock anything but made it easier to advance, these include more missiles, energy tanks, spin attack and the thing that stopped half of damage. Oh, and ice beam was necessary in a few places.

Zelda does this as well with some variations, mainly some of the bosses require a special item to defeat.

The trick is that each item unlocks a new area but it's also useful in other ways. There are some literal 'keys' that unlock literal doors, and their are some items that just power up your guy, but key items abound.

So even though Brogue has puzzles and what not, advancement is via 'key items' or anything.

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Re: Brilliant Observations by My Brother
« Reply #17 on: June 03, 2013, 04:48:43 AM »
I just looked at that Gamasutra article about Zelda levels that Naughty linked.

That guys misses the ball bad on one feature of the old Zelda levels that future ones have excluded. You can go beat a level without actually getting all of the goodies in it. He acts like this is some sort of design flaw, one that's thankfully fixed in more modern designs.

He's dead wrong. Making offshoots of the main path to the boss, offshoots that contain all kinds of goodies necessary to defeat the game is fantastic. It forces you to explore everything, it's what makes the game nonlinear.

If all the treasures and such were a part of the linear path it takes to defeat a dungeon, the game is on rails. The game is just an arcade game now, not an explore/adventure game.

He even mentions that they shouldn't let you into Ganon's room unless you have the silver arrow? They should put a block out front that can only be removed with the silver arrow. Dude...that level of hand holding is what absolutely ruins modern exploration games.

Also this is the FINAL LEVEL, and unless you are using a cheater's map you are just as likely to find the silver arrow as you are to find Ganon anyway. And if you find Ganon first then you get your ass kicked, so you know you need to go find the item required to defeat him.

In short, if the goodies are all in a line on the way to the boss, the level is linear, no exploration required. If you put them way off into an alternate path then you get, in essence, sub quests in that level. You get a reason to explore.

IT'S THE ENTIRE POINT OF THE GAME!


Holsety

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Re: Brilliant Observations by My Brother
« Reply #18 on: June 03, 2013, 08:26:24 AM »
Like I told him, "Dude I would love a good Zelda game but procedurally generated."
Brother:"So you'd keep the worst part of Zelda and get rid of the best part?"

Like Binding of Isaac? :B
"Clever" dungeon design is all the fun of a Zelda game. The series has really gone in a wrong direction with TP and SS (maybe even since WW, even though that's my favorite in the series). I don't think you'll ever capture the "oh wow this dungeon is great!" feel with procedural generation.
Even I got hooked on BoI for a while once I looked past the lame as fuck theme it had. (Lame as fuck. McMillen is an idiot. Whoo look at me. Poop and fetuses and stitched-up dead baby faces. 2DEEP4U!) But the game's pretty shallow in the end. Without a human to give the level design a theme or a goal, all you're really doing is running a gauntlet. The rooms just get so similar after a while,  and the random powerups are so unreliable...

With a game in the metroidvania genre you might manage to rely on procedural generation, since half the fun there is roadblock-based exploration. The other half being fun sidescrolling combat. In particular I liked Aria of Sorrow, IMO the best handheld castlevania. Order of Ecclesia was interesting in its own right, but everything before you "unlocked" Dracula's castle was so painfully filler content...

He even mentions that they shouldn't let you into Ganon's room unless you have the silver arrow? They should put a block out front that can only be removed with the silver arrow. Dude...that level of hand holding is what absolutely ruins modern exploration games.

MASTER YOU HAVE FOUND A RUPEE. LET ME EXPLAIN WHAT A RUPEE IS. MASTER THIS ENEMY DID 1/4 HEARTS DAMAGE, WOULD YOU LIKE ME TO ACTIVATE INVULNERABILITY MODE?

There are people out there who never played the first Zelda... Now, it was a very rough game, by which I mean that there were one or two questionable design decisions (have fun burning every bush in hyrule, lol! where do you have to go? FIGURE IT OUT YOURSELF LOL! Did you just find the second or the seventh dungeon? WHO KNOWS, LOL!) but it gave the player the FREEDOM to explore at his own pace. If anything it was closer to Dark Souls than Skyward Sword. The early 2D zelda games (1,2,LttP,Oracle series,LA) usually DO give the player freedom to explore, and that's a good thing! Being able to miss powerups, whole dungeons, heart containers, sword upgrades etc is a GOOD. THING. Current Zelda games are too linear, hold your hand too much, and are wayyy too easy.

Shit, I loved WW so much (mostly because the new artstyle's expressiveness allowed the characters to connect more to me on an emotional level than the N64's DEAD FISH FACED link ever could) but the game was so easy I never got a single game over.

There are some interesting articles that do analyse games level design though which could be a start. Here is one for Zelda and here is one for Super Metroid.
I don't understand why he wrote the Zelda article... The four criteria he uses to judge level design (Level Flow. Intensity Ramping. Variety. Training.) are kind of weird. I understand that they're pretty important, but all four of them reek of the exact type of hand-holdey no-difficulty philosophy that has weaned me off modern AAA gaming in recent years. The Metroid article.... well, what's the point? I read it, but I have no input to add to it. Neither article really invites discussion. Both of them seem to me like the guys just wrote something and put it on the internet just because. I don't really have a YES YOU'RE RIGHT or NO BUT YOU'RE WRONG, IDIOT to add to either one since neither one tries to SAY something.

Now, about AAA gaming...
When I beat Wind Waker I was thrilled. The story, the characters, the music, mood, everything was working together beautifully to make me euphoric. It was an experience, to be sure. I enjoyed it so very much as a person. But as a gamer it wasn't anything particularly noteworthy. I beat an easy game, and I had fun doing it thanks to the artstyle, music and nostalgia for the series.
It's very different with Zelda 1 and Dark Souls.
Now here's two games that are very similar.
You will play the game, and victory will be yours if you can grab it. Neither game pulls its punches. They're both trying to get you killed, but neither is unfair. Both games have a set difficulty. There's no difficulty modifiers in the options. If the game is "too hard" for you you can just stop playing. They games are not here to hold your hand. You're not automatically entitled to see the ending just because you paid for the game.
Zelda 1 is superior in the free-roaming aspect though. Dark Souls allows for some measure of free roaming, but it's mostly an illusion. There's a couple of places you can go to "out-of-sequence", but Anor Londo is locked off untill you ring both bells of awakening, and you have to go through a fortress that was previously closed to get to Anor Londo. There's a few instances where you can choose which route to take to get to a place, and there's more than a handful of places you NEVER have to go to in order to beat the game, but sheer curiosity will see most players going to every location.

The problem with modern gaming is gamer entitlement issues. Now I don't mean this in the sense of mass effect. Where a dying company produces two craptacular games to capitalize on the success of the first game, consistently pulling a bait-and-switch on the fans of the series by moving further away from the elements of the first game that got people into it just for the sole sake of grabbing more of Call of Duty's audience whose only interests are SHOOT DEM ALIENS and PUT MY DICK IN EVERYTHING. After promising players that their choices would have consequences, then having the gall to turn the ending into a CHOOSE ONE OF THREE COLORS FOR THE EXPLOSION BEFORE CREDITS ROLL button choice. And then accusing gamers of being entitled when they cry foul of your bullshit.

No, not that kind of gamer entitlement issues.
Rather the kind where people buy a game, and then expect to be able to beat it. BECAUSE you bought the game, you SHOULD make it to the end and beat it. If you CAN'T, there's something wrong with the GAME, not YOUR SKILLS as a gamer. That kind of gamer entitlement.
The general gaming public cried foul of Dark Souls several times.
"What the fuck, the first boss killed me in two hits?"
"What the fuck, a boulder ran me over when i was climbing the stairs?"
"What the fuck, a dragon came out of nowhere to burn me to a crisp on the middle of the exposed bridge to the castle?"
"What the fuck, this black knight standing in an out-of-the-way location reamed my asshole with his great axe?"
"WHY THE FUCK ARE THERE TWO KNIGHTS FIRING LANCES AT ME WITH DRAGONSLAYER BOWS WHILE I'M TRYING TO REACH THEM VIA THIS NARROW LEDGE?"
They don't like challenge. They can't handle difficulty. They HATE being denied the ease of moving forward.
So they cry "shit design", "artificial difficulty" etc.
Exactly for those reasons they wouldn't like Zelda 1 or roguelikes.
Modern gamers don't want to play games. Or rather, the popular view of what a game is has changed.
They'll play Space Invaders and Pac-man as long as you suck their dick about how they're so cool for playing something so retro. But how far will they get? They'll beat one level of Pac-man and say HA HA HOW QUAINT. MY HOW GAMING HAS ADVANCED SINCE THEN. WELL THAT WAS FUN, I'M OFF.
But will they, CAN they, beat the next 5 levels of Pac-man? How many rounds of Joust are they willing to put up with? They'll like the game exactly up untill the first time an enemy lance hits them in the face.

Modern gaming is about giving players a "cinematic experience" (Uncharted, Heavy Rain) or a focus-tested engineered-difficulty blanket-over-the-eyes (Skyward Sword, New Super Mario Bross Wii Wii-U 2 Anniversary Rehash Edition). They hate being challenged and they will shit fury on any game that makes them face their lack of skill. The fact that older games were harder is attributed to "oh we had hardware limitations back then" or "yeah they didn't know how to make good  games back then".

Deus Ex Human Revolution is a piece of shit. The ending was a straight up OK PRESS A BUTTON TO SEE AN ENDING. HERE'S THREE BUTTONS. It had none of the intelligence in level design OR story design that the first Deus Ex had. But try convincing someone who played Human Revolution to play and like Deus Ex. Let me know how that works out for you.

Not to say that the Indie community is doing any better. The problem and the salvation of indies is that they're just that; lots and lots of independent people making their games. Setting aside the problem of the label "indie" being increasinly appropriated by people who really don't fit the philosophy, the problem with indies is that you can't rely on them to make good games either! Sure, there have been and will be good indie games. But some indies can't make a good game because they don't know shit about good design. Others are too busy thinking of a way to become the latest indie darling and get money. Others again are too busy copying previous successes to make something worthwhile.

WELL TO WRAP UP THIS LONG-ASS RANT...
Quote
Anyone out there have an avid gamer friend who only really plays the AAA titles? You should run stuff past them. I think you'll be surprised.
I wouldn't trust anyone who only plays AAA titles to know what constitutes a good game if my life depended on it. AAA has long since gone in a direction where I am unwilling to follow. People enjoy modern games. Modern games are prohibited from putting a wall (of difficulty) in front of players or intimidating them with level design (ie. big open levels like the first few of Hexen/Heretic). Modern games are really nothing more than psychological masturbation on the most basic level. (Disclaimer, singleplayer games. I'm not going to go into multiplayer games since that's a completely different kind of animal.)
If I want ideas on good level design I'll ask people who PLAY GOOD GAMES or MAKE GOOD GAMES.
Thankfully roguelikes are still good games  ;) Roguelike devs might argue about whether 4-directional movement is better than 8-directional movement, whether 1-HP systems have merit, whether the traditional stats have a place in games still, whether UIs need mouse support and so on.
I don't always agree with the design decisions RL devs make. (I was playing ToME4 for a while untill my mage got silenced, stunned, had all his skills put on cooldown, and got teleported next to a melee boss that got generated randomly. I was slapped dead in one hit. When the thought "I'd still be alive if I wasn't playing on roguelike mode but with the three-lives system" crossed my mind I deleted the game forever. To this day I think the game's major flaw is not being built around permadeath specifically.) But at least they have the balls to fucking kill my characters and delete them forever. So for that, I thank you  :P

Well, that... ended up a lot longer than I expected. And I probably rambled all over the place.
Bottom line: AAA gaming is mostly shit, long live roguelikes.
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jim

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Re: Brilliant Observations by My Brother
« Reply #19 on: June 03, 2013, 01:02:58 PM »

eclectocrat

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Re: Brilliant Observations by My Brother
« Reply #20 on: June 03, 2013, 02:15:29 PM »
I think I'd rather a Metroid like, but it's the same concepts I want to see, procedurally generated open worlds with key/item based advancement.

I'm testing my implementation of this right now and I'm starting to wonder why it is used less often. It took me wo weeks of brainstorming and two weeks of implementation (part time). It wasn't as hard as I thought, although there is still plenty of room for improvement. I'm sure we will see more games like this in the near future.

This highlights just what a wild west procedural generation really is right now. It will be a while before we have best practices and common techniques, but with CPU's at the speed they are now, you can do pretty much whatever you want these days, if you figure out how.

requerent

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Re: Brilliant Observations by My Brother
« Reply #21 on: June 03, 2013, 03:10:08 PM »
Kind of off-topic-- but, supposing you went the procedural Zelda route- what would you do to the combat mechanics to make it relatively interesting?

NON

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Re: Brilliant Observations by My Brother
« Reply #22 on: June 03, 2013, 08:21:46 PM »
...
Hear hear!

Brilliant! Thank you for writing this. Agree with every detail of it.

Somewhat relevant video on the game design of early Megaman games vs modern AAA:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8FpigqfcvlM
« Last Edit: June 03, 2013, 08:26:35 PM by NON »
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Re: Brilliant Observations by My Brother
« Reply #23 on: June 04, 2013, 03:12:24 AM »
Kind of off-topic-- but, supposing you went the procedural Zelda route- what would you do to the combat mechanics to make it relatively interesting?

If you're interested in a Zelda-like game with more depth and challenge, check out Ys: The Oath in Felghana.

You could also take the Zelda formula and make the game primarily about ranged combat instead of hand-to-hand combat, like in Pocky & Rocky.

Rickton

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Re: Brilliant Observations by My Brother
« Reply #24 on: June 04, 2013, 04:19:26 AM »
Deus Ex Human Revolution is a piece of shit. The ending was a straight up OK PRESS A BUTTON TO SEE AN ENDING. HERE'S THREE BUTTONS. It had none of the intelligence in level design OR story design that the first Deus Ex had. But try convincing someone who played Human Revolution to play and like Deus Ex. Let me know how that works out for you.
You might want to go play Deus Ex again. The ending is exactly the same way, except the buttons are further apart.

I'd also argue that HR's story was way more coherent and believable than the original's, but I guess that's a matter of taste.
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Holsety

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Re: Brilliant Observations by My Brother
« Reply #25 on: June 04, 2013, 07:06:16 AM »
Deus Ex Human Revolution is a piece of shit. The ending was a straight up OK PRESS A BUTTON TO SEE AN ENDING. HERE'S THREE BUTTONS. It had none of the intelligence in level design OR story design that the first Deus Ex had. But try convincing someone who played Human Revolution to play and like Deus Ex. Let me know how that works out for you.
You might want to go play Deus Ex again. The ending is exactly the same way, except the buttons are further apart.

Mmm, further apart might be the key here. I've only played the original for two runthroughs a long while back, but I remember characters' reactions to you and entire story elements changing quite drastically pretty early on depending on your actions. The original Deus Ex blew my mind (in the first playthrough even) with how it felt like your choices had an actual effect on how the story progressed. Hell, I even had the FREEDOM to kill Anna on that plane BEFORE I told her in dialogue that I wouldn't do what she wanted.
Whereas with Human Revolution it felt more like, instead of allowing the player to branch the story early on (which would be far more costly as you'd have to record more dialogue, make more levels, pay the development team more) they seemed to have decided to put the ending-critical choices completely at the end, ie. the buttons. This way a player could simply reload his save and look at the ending he DIDN't choose the first time around. That kind of ties in with how modern game designers are afraid that players will get mad if they don't see all the content on their first run through, I feel.

Somewhat relevant video on the game design of early Megaman games vs modern AAA:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8FpigqfcvlM

Egoraptor amazed me with these videos (too bad he didn't make more). I wasn't expecting him to actually be able to give such insight beyond being a dude who makes FUNNY FACE ANIMATIONS.
I like the one he did for Castlevania 1 vs 2. I hadn't realized that CV1 had such conscious design choices, I always dismissed it as "WOW this game is fucking hard for no reason, oh well that's how NES games were back then. Difficulty to prolong game time."
I think that Ghosts n Goblins (Ghouls n Goblins also) is another such game that comes across as frustratingly hard, but actually has a lot (or only?) conscious decisions in its design. Mmm, for all my talk about modern gamers and such, I'm not a fan of such games. You quickly end up in the I Wanna Be The Guy territory (or those crazy hard mario romhacks) where only people with dedication, skill and a combination of motor memory and dexterity are able to do well or even finish it. I feel that games should be a TAD more accessible than that.

Kind of off-topic-- but, supposing you went the procedural Zelda route- what would you do to the combat mechanics to make it relatively interesting?
What I didn't like about Binding of Isaac's actual gameplay was how you didn't always get useful power-ups. Or how you could get power-ups that conflicted with ones you had previously gained (like mutually exclusive shot modifiers). If you remove such things completely, you risk making the game more boring. I'd like it if each weapon you find has several tiers, and item/weapon/powerup generation is skewed a bit more towards what you already have after you have a certain amount of different items.

So if I find for example a spear that allows me to hit two enemies standing in a line, I'd like it if it would turn into a stronger spear when I pick up another spear. Instead of being "oh wow a spear powerup in this dungeon, great EXCEPT THAT I ALREADY HAVE ONE" it becomes "oh wow spear again what the fOH WOW MY SPEAR IS NOW A SILVER SPEAR, able to hit THREE enemies in a line".
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« Last Edit: June 04, 2013, 07:17:38 AM by Holsety »
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Re: Brilliant Observations by My Brother
« Reply #26 on: June 04, 2013, 08:30:35 AM »
Kind of off-topic-- but, supposing you went the procedural Zelda route- what would you do to the combat mechanics to make it relatively interesting?

Oh the original Zelda had only 4 way movement, so it felt really clunky and not smooth at all, and precision was required so that was a huge bitch. They combat itself was actually fixed up a bit in later 2D Zeldas, where you could swing your sword a bit and walk diagonally, and also do a bit of straffing. Also having a sword AND shield button is pretty cool.

Add those things into the original Zelda and it'd still be hard, just a bit more 'fun' because you can control your guy better. That's the thing with top down real time games, as opposed to platformers with similar game styles (metroid/cv), the actual mechanics of jumping and attacking are fun. Just moving around the world is fun. That's not the case so much in top down land.

Also that above rant was epic. I agree, except that I think my brother knows what a good game is. He's just not patient enough to play a roguelike. He also puts high value on narrative and OH GEE WIZ LOOKIE THERE factor.

EDIT: I bought Binding and really really wanted to like it, but the gross out depressing theme just really sucked for me. Plus it was just kite kite kite around over and over and over...Not my thing really.

naughty

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Re: Brilliant Observations by My Brother
« Reply #27 on: June 04, 2013, 09:08:08 AM »
Like I told him, "Dude I would love a good Zelda game but procedurally generated."
Brother:"So you'd keep the worst part of Zelda and get rid of the best part?"

Like Binding of Isaac? :B

Binding of Isaac isn't bad for 3 months work from two guys but I would agree that it makes design mistakes with the power-ups and the level gen could be a lot better. With over a million sales it does prove there's a market for games heavily inspired by roguelikes though, which is nice.

I posted the Zelda and Metroid analyses because I don't think we really have a firm grasp on what makes such hand-crafted level design good. I don't think the analyses are perfect but they are at least a start on the road to understanding the problem.

There are some interesting articles that do analyse games level design though which could be a start. Here is one for Zelda and here is one for Super Metroid.
...I don't really have a YES YOU'RE RIGHT or NO BUT YOU'RE WRONG, IDIOT to add to either one since neither one tries to SAY something.

Quite a bit of your rant is essentially you shouting NO BUT YOU'RE WRONG though. The Zelda analysis basically says that placing necessary items off the critical path is bad, which is a debatable point. No one is complaining about heart containers or other unnecessary upgrades being off the beaten track.

The metroid articles points out that 'dead-ends' always have items (optional upgrades) in there. Makes sense if you want to encourage exploration but it's also something that roguelikes don't really do except by random chance.

Dark Souls allows for some measure of free roaming, but it's mostly an illusion. There's a couple of places you can go to "out-of-sequence", but Anor Londo is locked off untill you ring both bells of awakening, and you have to go through a fortress that was previously closed to get to Anor Londo. There's a few instances where you can choose which route to take to get to a place, and there's more than a handful of places you NEVER have to go to in order to beat the game, but sheer curiosity will see most players going to every location.

Zelda 1 had far more free roaming than say Dark Souls or Super Metroid but LttP is pretty much on par with Dark Souls for openess. Also Dark Souls gives far more exploration opportunities than say Brogue. You can do the bells in either order (even missing out entirely on the Depths and Blighttown), then Sen's and Anor Londo then the 4 Lord's Souls in any order. One of the Lord's Souls can be obtained right at the start of the game.


Kind of off-topic-- but, supposing you went the procedural Zelda route- what would you do to the combat mechanics to make it relatively interesting?

If you wanted it realtime something like Dark Souls combat could still roughly work in 2D. So you have to actively hold your shield up, time attacks carefully, weapons behave differently, slow down the pace a little compared to normal Zelda.

Darren Grey

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Re: Brilliant Observations by My Brother
« Reply #28 on: June 04, 2013, 09:22:25 AM »
You guys should read on some of the procedural generation research being exposited in Michael Cook's Saturday Papers:

http://www.gamesbyangelina.org/cat/the-saturday-papers/

Some good stuff application to Zelda-esque level design, or any other procedural design really.

I disagree that a computer can never make anything as interesting as a human-designed level. The problem is finding the necessary rules and restrictions. People often forget that it's not easy for humans to make these levels at the moment - even in this thread there's only a few examples of games that do it right.

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Re: Brilliant Observations by My Brother
« Reply #29 on: June 04, 2013, 09:37:21 AM »
You guys should read on some of the procedural generation research being exposited in Michael Cook's Saturday Papers:

http://www.gamesbyangelina.org/cat/the-saturday-papers/

Some good stuff application to Zelda-esque level design, or any other procedural design really.

I disagree that a computer can never make anything as interesting as a human-designed level. The problem is finding the necessary rules and restrictions. People often forget that it's not easy for humans to make these levels at the moment - even in this thread there's only a few examples of games that do it right.

Oh, cool! I didn't know this one. Thanks a lot.