PDA

View Full Version : The case for simplicity


TJS
December 10, 2011, 11:13
Something that has bothered me in the past with Angband is the number of special cases. I like the idea of a simple core set of rules and then the emergent gameplay that comes from that.

For example unique monsters can't be slept or slowed. Why not? Uniques are just monsters that are different enough to have their own name. Why create a whole new rule set for them?

Similarly artifacts are just items that are interesting enough to be named. So they really don't need millions of special cases from enchanting to rules on whether monsters can pick them up or not.

For some reason it is considered a disaster for an artifact to be generated and the player is unable to get at it (monster picks it up who you can't handle, it gets destroyed by an earthquake etc.), but it is fine for that artifact never to be generated at all.

In another thread someone mentions that monsters shouldn't be able to pick up artifacts because it is abusable (by getting luring a weaker monster such as a dread out of a vault.), but to me this is the sort of emergent gameplay that makes Angband interesting and fun. Removing all possible interesting gameplay choices that the rules create by adding hundreds of special cases is the wrong way to go in my opinion.

You can't teleport into vaults which bothers me. So phase door which is one of the most important mechanics of the game suddenly doesn't work for no good reason. If the player wants to risk phasing into a vault then that's up to him.

Anyway this is a bit of a ramble, but the basic point is that if the rules are designed well enough then you don't need hundreds of special cases. Sure sometimes a special case is needed, but I think this should be a last resort rather than the default option.

Magnate
December 10, 2011, 11:51
Great minds think alike. I've been trying to remove special-case code from V for a couple of years now, often with unpopular results (because the natural discomfort of change is stronger than the appreciation of the absence of special cases). I'll be going a lot further in v4, but this will change quite a few things.

LostTemplar
December 10, 2011, 14:12
And why warriors cannot cast spells ? They have low int, that is enough penalty. Same with mages not having 6 blows.

Seriously, any case is a special one, rules are only introduced to simplify code.

Magnate
December 10, 2011, 14:58
And why warriors cannot cast spells ? They have low int, that is enough penalty. Same with mages not having 6 blows.

Seriously, any case is a special one, rules are only introduced to simplify code.If anything I think rules tend to make code more complex.

I don't think the OP's point was about code, I think it was about logic/coherence and avoiding things that seem arbitrary and lacking in those things.

We ought to decide how we want the game world to work, and code it accordingly. If our design is good, that should include very few special cases.

TJS
December 10, 2011, 15:37
If anything I think rules tend to make code more complex.

I don't think the OP's point was about code, I think it was about logic/coherence and avoiding things that seem arbitrary and lacking in those things.

We ought to decide how we want the game world to work, and code it accordingly. If our design is good, that should include very few special cases.

Yes pretty much.

Like er..on the other thread where there is a discussion about how monsters have different rules on whether to pick up an artifact and how uniques get a special bonus to this chance.

And artifact spellbooks are known from a distance unlike every other artifact (or object) in the game.

buzzkill
December 10, 2011, 16:52
And artifact spellbooks are known from a distance unlike every other artifact (or object) in the game.

The Phial suffers from this too as the artifact version is the only version. True, it's unnamed when seen from a distance and until ID-d, but when you see a Phial from across the dungeon, you know what you've got. Maybe introduce a base item of the same type and make it very rare (and very useless).

Derakon
December 10, 2011, 17:55
For example unique monsters can't be slept or slowed. Why not? Uniques are just monsters that are different enough to have their own name. Why create a whole new rule set for them?

I know this is missing your forest for a specific tree, but this actually isn't true. Uniques are not automatically immune to these; back when Slow Monster was stackable for a brief while, I had a character using a wand of Slow Monster on every unique he encountered (up through around 1000' or so?) to great effect. Eventually the monster's saving throw gets high enough and/or the monster is explicitly coded to be immune that it's not worth it any more, but at least for the early game Slow Monster can in fact work.

Magnate
December 10, 2011, 19:59
The Phial suffers from this too as the artifact version is the only version. True, it's unnamed when seen from a distance and until ID-d, but when you see a Phial from across the dungeon, you know what you've got. Maybe introduce a base item of the same type and make it very rare (and very useless).Hmmm. There are special cases and then there are special cases. In V, some body armours activate for a breath weapon and others don't - we don't consider that a problem. Artifacts are a different type of entity from nonunique objects, so I don't see any difficulty with having the rules about picking them up be different. The issue of whether an object is obviously an artifact is an interesting one: at the moment it only applies to the light sources and the spellbooks. Everything else - including the Necklace and Elfstone - are disguised as everyday objects until you pick them up. Note that we've only recently made this the case: previously a longsword (4d5) and adamantite plate mail [90] would both have been obvious. So, if we want consistency here we could

(1) Make the artifact spellbooks appear as normal "Book of Magic Spells" / "Holy Book of Prayers" until they're picked up.

(2) Make the light sources appear as normal lanterns (or create some other generic "glowing stone" light source?) until they're picked up.

Do people think that kind of simplicity/consistency is desirable?

Derakon
December 10, 2011, 21:19
It doesn't bug me that the Phial, Star, and Arkenstone are obvious as soon as you get them. They're nice "Oh, neat!" moments, and the fact that you can recognize them when you see them isn't a huge deal, especially now that we have fuzzy object detection.

AnonymousHero
December 10, 2011, 22:27
It doesn't bug me that the Phial, Star, and Arkenstone are obvious as soon as you get them. They're nice "Oh, neat!" moments, and the fact that you can recognize them when you see them isn't a huge deal, especially now that we have fuzzy object detection.

I don't play much Vanilla (nor any other *band, actually) right now, but that's exactly my feeling too.

For noobs it's a "what's a Phial?" moment, for experienced players it's "ah, cool, at least that's sorted" moment.

Magnate
December 10, 2011, 22:57
I don't play much Vanilla (nor any other *band, actually) right now, but that's exactly my feeling too.

For noobs it's a "what's a Phial?" moment, for experienced players it's "ah, cool, at least that's sorted" moment.Ok, so we like this effect for light sources but we don't like it for anything else? Spellbooks, 4d5 longswords, amulets/necklaces etc.?

This seems to me like the kind of special-casing that I thought the OP was getting at.

bio_hazard
December 10, 2011, 23:08
I'd agree that a few "special cases" are, if anything, beneficial to the game. There's 99 levels of sameness, so having a few special things to look forward to or check off your list are not a bad thing. In general, logical rules and predictability emerging from these rules are a good thing, but at some point there's got to be some sort of flavor. I don't have a problem with monsters picking up artifacts, but I don't see the need to ensure Phials look like lanterns or to make non-artifact or cursed phials just for the sake of making detecting Galadrial's phial more difficult. Probably everyone has their own things they like or don't like.

AnonymousHero
December 11, 2011, 14:22
Ok, so we like this effect for light sources but we don't like it for anything else? Spellbooks, 4d5 longswords, amulets/necklaces etc.?

This seems to me like the kind of special-casing that I thought the OP was getting at.

I don't see it as a special case; it just a little side effect of there not actually being any non-artifact Phials. But maybe that just my programmer mentality showing :).

Either way, I don't think it's hugely important :).

TJS
December 11, 2011, 14:42
I don't see it as a special case; it just a little side effect of there not actually being any non-artifact Phials. But maybe that just my programmer mentality showing :).

Either way, I don't think it's hugely important :).

Yes exactly. Adding in code specifically to hide the phial would be adding in extra rules to cope with what is perceived as a special case.

TJS
December 11, 2011, 14:52
Another example I've just thought of is regards to rings of escaping. They give a speed boost, but grant fear to the player acting as a trade off that could create some interesting tactical decisions.

So you could carry !heroism and use that to offset the fear, giving you a usable speed boost so long as your potions don't run out that sort of thing.

But if it is decided that would be overpowered my preferred solution would be to reduce the speed boost of the rings or making them deeper and rarer. Instead a new type of fear was created that isn't affected by removing fear!

In other words the whole mechanic of fear and the way the player deals with it was fudged in order to compensate for one item that was deemed overpowered.

buzzkill
December 11, 2011, 15:40
In other words the whole mechanic of fear and the way the player deals with it was fudged in order to compensate for one item that was deemed overpowered.

... and in IMO that was a failure of management. The obvious, simple and correct solution would have been to adjust the item or shelve it until it could be fixed, but it was somebody's pet project and so it stayed and the game itself changed to accommodate it, and then we got the line that 'things just are out of balances right now and all will be well eventually'... and now we have v4 so I guess it worked itself out to a degree.

Magnate
December 11, 2011, 17:55
... and in IMO that was a failure of management. The obvious, simple and correct solution would have been to adjust the item or shelve it until it could be fixed, but it was somebody's pet project and so it stayed and the game itself changed to accommodate it, and then we got the line that 'things just are out of balances right now and all will be well eventually'... and now we have v4 so I guess it worked itself out to a degree.That sounds like a swipe at me but I honestly don't remember having anything to do with rings of Escaping. IIRC they were already in the game when I joined the devteam in Jan '09, and haven't been touched since. FWIW I don't think they're particularly unbalanced if you play with no_selling, though the fear penalties for shooting/casting could always be a bit tougher, and/or the speed bonus could be lower.

Or have I lost track of this thread and we're not talking about rings of escaping any more??

Djabanete
December 11, 2011, 18:02
Fear through resist was in the original formulation of the idea :D

http://angband.oook.cz/forum/showthread.php?p=7486&highlight=overcomes#post7486

edit: Yes I am shameless.

buzzkill
December 11, 2011, 18:06
That sounds like a swipe at me but I honestly don't remember having anything to do with rings of Escaping.

No, it wasn't aimed at you, or anyone in particular. I couldn't tell you where the rings came form either. It's just the 'no it's not great, but we'll somehow fix it later' or 'players like early speed, so we'll force it to work and hope for the best' rather than 'this is causing other problems, we'll get rid of it until we sort it out' attitude that seemed to permeate V development in recent years.

You guys accomplished did a lot of good work on V, I just wish v4 happened earlier. I wonder where we would be now if v4 didn't happen?

Magnate
December 11, 2011, 18:09
Fear through resist was in the original formulation of the idea :D

http://angband.oook.cz/forum/showthread.php?p=7486&highlight=overcomes#post7486

edit: Yes I am shameless.Neat - I always wondered where shadows/delving/light came from (though the edit files say the lantern of shadows is from NPP ...).

Doesn't really sound as if it was a dev's pet project then. More like an idea that was implemented which some consider overpowered. I don't remember any loud consensus to change this though.

Btw, I can't find "Djabanete" in the thanks file - are you in there under your real name? And if not, would you like to be?

Magnate
December 11, 2011, 18:15
No, it wasn't aimed at you, or anyone in particular. I couldn't tell you where the rings came form either. It's just the 'no it's not great, but we'll somehow fix it later' or 'players like early speed, so we'll force it to work and hope for the best' rather than 'this is causing other problems, we'll get rid of it until we sort it out' attitude that seemed to permeate V development in recent years.

You guys accomplished did a lot of good work on V, I just wish v4 happened earlier. I wonder where we would be now if v4 didn't happen?FWIW I too wish v4 had happened earlier. It was suggested about six or eight months earlier by d_m & Gabe Cunningham, and I very much regret arguing against it then. Still, better late than never. It is now possible to 'fix' V and still experiment with riskier 'improvements' in v4, and hopefully we'll get the best of both worlds. We are in a fallow period at the moment though - fewer active devs than at any time in the past three years. I'm guessing things will pick up around or after xmas.

And yes, I accept the charge of being too reluctant to remove things - I did most of the arguing against doing so, which exacerbated the problem.

Djabanete
December 11, 2011, 18:29
Neat - I always wondered where shadows/delving/light came from (though the edit files say the lantern of shadows is from NPP ...).

Doesn't really sound as if it was a dev's pet project then. More like an idea that was implemented which some consider overpowered. I don't remember any loud consensus to change this though.

Btw, I can't find "Djabanete" in the thanks file - are you in there under your real name? And if not, would you like to be?
Are you saying that other stuff made it into the game? I didn't even know that! If that is the sort of thing that makes people be in the thanks file, then I would be happy to be there as Djabanete. :)

The darkness idea could easily be from NPP --- I didn't invent it or anything, it already existed in Heng. Light is obviously the inverse of that and the other two are original.

And we can all be glad that Takkaria changed "Cowardliness" (???) to "Escaping."

[/sorry for the off-topic]

I agree with the OP about emergent gameplay in general, but I'm not really up to speed on current V/V4 development so I don't know the concrete examples. I love the idea of getting Dreads to bring you artifacts though. Artifacts need to remain indestructible IMO, but I don't see why they can't be picked up.

One kind of special-casing I find a bit silly is monsters not dropping weapons that hurt them. And yes, Magnate, I am only saying this because you don't receive enough complaints. :p

TJS
December 11, 2011, 18:31
That sounds like a swipe at me but I honestly don't remember having anything to do with rings of Escaping. IIRC they were already in the game when I joined the devteam in Jan '09, and haven't been touched since. FWIW I don't think they're particularly unbalanced if you play with no_selling, though the fear penalties for shooting/casting could always be a bit tougher, and/or the speed bonus could be lower.

Or have I lost track of this thread and we're not talking about rings of escaping any more??

My point wasn't that rings of escaping were overpowered, it's that it made fear more complicated than it was before.

ie. going from being curable and resistable with the right gear to sometimes curable and resistable depending on which type of fear it is.

Anyway what I'm trying to get at is do people want Angband to be a game with a consistent set of core rules which the gameplay is derived from or more fuzzy set of rules that change depending on the situation.

I personally prefer the former and think games that have better core rules tend to need a lot less special cases.

There's talk in another thread of stop making potions 100% reliable (ie. you can fumble them). And then to fix the problem that you can't always cure confusion because of this there's a proposal to make rods of curing a special case to be 100% reliable when confused!

Djabanete
December 11, 2011, 18:38
I'd vote for "consistent set of core rules," but I think basically everyone would. It's just that there will always be some special cases, so each one has to be judged on its own merits.

One area that would probably benefit most from the culling of needless complication is resistances. But I think there has already been recent discussion on that.

Magnate
December 11, 2011, 19:02
Are you saying that other stuff made it into the game? I didn't even know that! If that is the sort of thing that makes people be in the thanks file, then I would be happy to be there as Djabanete. :)

The darkness idea could easily be from NPP --- I didn't invent it or anything, it already existed in Heng. Light is obviously the inverse of that and the other two are original.

And we can all be glad that Takkaria changed "Cowardliness" (???) to "Escaping."

[/sorry for the off-topic]

I agree with the OP about emergent gameplay in general, but I'm not really up to speed on current V/V4 development so I don't know the concrete examples. I love the idea of getting Dreads to bring you artifacts though. Artifacts need to remain indestructible IMO, but I don't see why they can't be picked up.

One kind of special-casing I find a bit silly is monsters not dropping weapons that hurt them. And yes, Magnate, I am only saying this because you don't receive enough complaints. :pWell you're out of luck here, I reverted that yesterday ;-)

... oh wait, dammit, no I didn't. I didn't get round to it (I did the min-level-feeling-for-artifacts instead). Tonight! EDIT: done! (b2915f2)

I'll add you to the thanks file too - yes, rings of delving and light are in the game.

Magnate
December 11, 2011, 19:07
I'd vote for "consistent set of core rules," but I think basically everyone would. It's just that there will always be some special cases, so each one has to be judged on its own merits.Sure. One of the consistent core rules I'd go for is "the identity of objects is not obvious from a distance", but we've already agreed that it's fine for the Phial, Star and Arkenstone to be special cases.

So this tells us that people's mileage varies, and one person's consistency is another person's dullness.

But I think we're all agreed that a consistent set of core rules is a good baseline to have, and we should work towards eliminating special cases rather than creating them ...One area that would probably benefit most from the culling of needless complication is resistances. But I think there has already been recent discussion on that.... which is interesting, because some people went nuclear when I suggested a consistent linear approach to resistances not long ago. But yes, culling needless complication here is on the agenda, as a later part of the combat rebalancing. And yes, it's going to break a lot of other things which will then require rebalancing, but that's all part of moving towards a consistent set of core rules.

Derakon
December 11, 2011, 19:22
... which is interesting, because some people went nuclear when I suggested a consistent linear approach to resistances not long ago.

I believe Djabanete was referring to the high resists having random damage mitigation while the low resists and poison just reduce damage to 1/3rd normal. Not the weird "resists don't stack except for temporary + permanent" thing.

TJS
December 11, 2011, 19:48
Sure. One of the consistent core rules I'd go for is "the identity of objects is not obvious from a distance", but we've already agreed that it's fine for the Phial, Star and Arkenstone to be special cases.

So this tells us that people's mileage varies, and one person's consistency is another person's dullness.

The rule (as I understand it) is that the symbol is visible, but you can't mouse over it. The fact that you can identify some items because they are the only ones of that type is a product of the consistency of that rule.
It would be exactly the same for any other item or monster that is the only one of it's type with that symbol.

Djabanete
December 11, 2011, 19:58
I believe Djabanete was referring to the high resists having random damage mitigation while the low resists and poison just reduce damage to 1/3rd normal. Not the weird "resists don't stack except for temporary + permanent" thing.
Precisely.

@Magnate: See, I'm one of those looneys that actually thought it was cool when you could spot Ringil a mile away. I think there are various interpretations of "consistency" in this case and in the case of the Phial etc, since different rules could describe different behaviors in self-consistent ways. For example you could say, "An item's type is always visible, including damage dice and/or base AC."

Anyway, there are several possible approaches, and it's not a big deal which one is taken --- most can be justified in a self-consistent way.

And yes: people's mileage will definitely vary, so it's not something I stress out about too much.

Max Stats
December 12, 2011, 18:01
now that we have fuzzy object detection.Wow, we have a spell that detects teddy bears and peaches? :p

sethos
December 13, 2011, 00:01
I think that this brings up a few good points:
1. I would not add more light sources for the sole purpose of hiding the phial, etc., though I would support a light source like Glowing stone, or something similar that could become your "Ego level" light source. (and, if implemented, you could call all the artifact light sources "Stones" until they were pseudo'd)

2. I do not think that Vault floor tiles should be in any way seperated (For Gameplay purposes) from regular floor tiles. if you mistakenly teleport into one, well, sucks for your characters ancenstors, you should have detected and thought first. ( I do understand that the seperation for stats purposes is a big help, though.)

3. fuzzy detection - awesome, really. you should have to SEE the item to know what it is, but that should be true for all classes and all detection spells. (Sorry rouge)

4. artifacts - really, there should not be any special rules for item pickup, etc. they should be treated likeother items - if only to keep them hidden. but, Like NPP, I think that some form of Randarts should be allowed, even in a "Normal" artifact game. (though these should not overshadow all of the standarts, I think that the chance of an awesome randart late game should be at least halfway decent.)

meh, that's my two cents.

Derakon
December 13, 2011, 00:15
2. I do not think that Vault floor tiles should be in any way seperated (For Gameplay purposes) from regular floor tiles. if you mistakenly teleport into one, well, sucks for your characters ancenstors, you should have detected and thought first. ( I do understand that the seperation for stats purposes is a big help, though.)Y'know, thinking about this now I'm okay with it. The main effect in my experience of banning teleporting into vaults is that Phase Door becomes incredibly useful when clearing vaults -- it's a guaranteed teleport to right outside the vault. Much better than having to teleport all the way across the map and risk running into the goons you teleported away earlier.

I suspect the original reason to prevent teleporting into vaults was to make it harder to "crack" them, since all of the original greater vaults were completely surrounded by permanent rock. Not only isn't this always the case now, but also it's not a very interesting thing to do; basically it means that unless you can reliably tunnel through granite and/or have unlimited stone-to-mud, you can't access the vault at all.

Concerns about players teleporting into the vault, looting it of its best valuables, and then teleporting back out are IMO basically unfounded since you can't control teleportation.

3. fuzzy detection - awesome, really. you should have to SEE the item to know what it is, but that should be true for all classes and all detection spells. (Sorry rouge)I didn't know that Angband had a "makeup artist" class. ;)

(Rogues get access to the Detect Treasure spell; everyone else has to wait for Detection or Enlightenment, or use scrolls of Detect Treasure)

4. artifacts - really, there should not be any special rules for item pickup, etc. they should be treated likeother items - if only to keep them hidden. but, Like NPP, I think that some form of Randarts should be allowed, even in a "Normal" artifact game. (though these should not overshadow all of the standarts, I think that the chance of an awesome randart late game should be at least halfway decent.)Many v4 ego items look basically like randarts as it stands, just lacking the name and indestructibility. Personally I'm not so fond of mixing randarts and standarts, because artifacts should be special; if there's always the possibility of generating a randart of unknown ability (basically as a super-ego-item) then IMO the artifacts are less special. Ultimate power should exist in limited quantities, in other words.

Antoine
December 13, 2011, 01:17
Is there a risk that players will get fried by accidentally teleporting into a vault, perhaps even one they didn't know was there? If so, is that a bad thing??

A.

Zyphyr
December 13, 2011, 02:20
Teleport in general runs the risk of dropping you in an instant-death situation, even with no Vaults around.

Derakon
December 13, 2011, 02:29
Yeah, and Teleport stops being a relatively safe escape before vaults become a going concern, so I don't think there's a huge issue there.

Besides, Angband isn't safe. Getting killed by teleporting into a vault you didn't know was there is awesome.