Level of the Month
Each month, we take a closer look at excellent Enigma levels. Excellent levels are those with the highest average user ratings and the greatest number of ratings altogether. Thus it is your vote that determines the Level of the Month. So please rate the levels you play and do not forget to submit your ratings together with your scores at the end of each month. You can find all previous Levels of the Month in our archive.
April 2007: “Pneumatic Delivery” by Manuel König
This month we look at turnstiles and pullers, lasers and mailstones, puzzles and real puzzles with a great rating of 8.80 by 5 voters -- yes, it's time for “Pneumatic Delivery”!
Enigma V # 59
The first time I started “Pneumatic Delivery”, I was just baffled. It was my first encounter with the puller items; I played Oxyd 1 in the 90's to excess, but puller items didn't appear there. I put it aside and continued with other levels, until some day I understood what the pullers were supposed to do. Some weeks later I stumbled across Manuel's level again, and this time it was fun, real fun!
Pneumatic Delivery is one of my favourite landscapes, many elements on a small space that make your head spin. I like levels in which I have an immediate overview and nevertheless have to fiddle about a long time, and here this is brilliantly put into action. Clean and tidily constructed, no hidden surprises or inappropriate dexterity-fillers, I have nothing to find fault with. I enjoyed the puzzle with the shogun-stones most, I was just recently able to solve it. When I tried this level a year ago, I failed at that point.
Yes, the shogun puzzle made me shiver, too; not in opposition to its simplicity, but because of it! Anyone who has problems with the final part of it should take a look at “The Enigmhanoi Towers”.
“And so it persuades you to play it again and again”
Even though I haven't rated any levels by the time I solved Pneumatic Delivery, I found it to my liking. What I appreciated the most in that level was that it offered me challenge in an easily conceivable field. I mean, not only that everything is revealed in this level but it has reasonably small extensions as well. And because of this you can be sure while playing that you haven't been tricked or trapped, and so it persuades you to play it again and again.
If you've ever planned an Enigma level, you surely know that it's similar to poetry or architecture. The level provides a frame for your piece of art like that you have to touch all the oxyds. But when an idea comes up in your mind or some content that you would like to wrap in a puzzle it's up to you what to create. You seem to be free in it. However the more you rely on a pattern, the more clear and comprehensible will be your creation. You see, each written story is constructed of letters next to each other but if it has a beginning and leads you somewhere, you may understand it. So you won't feel any emotion at all and you won't start thinking of a level unless you conceive it's basic idea. For this reason a storyline or a well-defined theme can make a level more fascinating than the other ones.
I can't say that Pneumatic Delivery is my favourite level but I admit that it's well-organized, that it contains five engaging puzzles even though it's not larger than two screens. What makes it more exciting is that the first four puzzles are only the preparation of the last one, which is actually a one-way enigma that you can't retry. By the way, it really moved me that Manuel has dedicated this level to his father.
András also saw similarities with the “Gods of Enigma” series, “Doors Forever” (“but it contains dexterity-requiring parts”), and “Automaton”, which he likes as well. I want to add the Oxyd Magnum 82 clone “Puller Mailing”, which features a somewhat similar puzzle, but ironically can be solved without mailing any pullers …
“I had no experience concerning level programming”
Vigilant players will have noticed that levels by Manuel are very rare. Hardly to believe that this masterpiece is his debut feature!
Indeed, “Pneumatic Delivery” was my very first level. I had no experience concerning level programming. Nevertheless I wanted to design a level for my father, who is a strong fan of Oxyd and Enigma. So I created a first “draft” of the level with BlackBallEd and afterwards programmed it in Lua. After a long search I still found a screenshot of this first “draft”, I attached it [see below] (the screenshot dates back to Sept. 28th, 2004). As one can see, the level at that time comprised of only one room, but the most important - namely the part with the turnstiles - already existed. But the pipes as well as the puller items were supposed to be gathered by the player through further puzzles and as there wasn't enough room, I added a second room.
A draft version from 2004
This explains why the marbles start in the middle of the level! In many levels the marbles start at the far left, at the top or one of the other borders … in this case the level “grew around the marbles”. This gives a distinctive feeling of being already in the middle of the game. Compare it e.g. with “Teamplay Doors” or “Doors Forever”.
An Easy Mode?
In the second version of the level [stored on mag-heut.net] the level offers an “easy mode”. I added it afterwards, as I hold that many of Enigma's levels are by far too difficult for beginners and my level unfortunately is no exception to this. However, it wasn't simple to ease this level noticeably, without changing the level as a whole. So I tried to remove some stones and already place some of the items on their designated places. In the hope that unexperienced players can enjoy “Pneumatic Delivery” as well.
There is an easy mode?! Well, I didn't know too, until Manuel drew my attention to it. Indeed, the version in Enigma 1.00 has an easy mode coded but we forgot to activate it … unfortunately, we can't reconstruct if the world records achieved and listed above are done in normal or easy mode. So I'm very sorry to announce an update of “Pneumatic Delivery” in Enigma 1.01, with corrected easy mode, which will make all prior records of PD obsolete. If you see any more levels with internal easy modes that are not marked as such, please inform us.
Personally I think I created this landscape quite well, and what is even more important: My father likes it. He needed weeks (or even months?) to solve it. When I replay this level today, the orange puzzle drives me mad each time - I hope other players feel the same. ;-)
Thanks to you, Manuel, for this wonderful fivefold puzzle, and the stories we can now connect to it!