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Malatar
April 11, 2012, 16:54
I tried out V4, and I have to say I'm impressed. It looks very nice and the play is interesting too. But I did have one question: Is someone going to rework the mage spells? I've thought they needed to be completely redone for a long time...

I don't know how feasable it owuld be, but the spells in NPPAngband have some very interesting effects. There's a wide variety of attack spells both in shape of effect, damage type (fire/ice/etc), as well as damage dice. It's one of the things I like best about NPPAngband, and I'd recommend whomever is balacing mage spells take a look there for some ideas...

Thanks for your time. Roguelike games have been a favorite of mine since I played their predecessor Moria on a VAX/VMS system in the late 80s. Angband is still one of my favorite games...

Derakon
April 11, 2012, 17:11
The general rule for this kind of thing is, if you want to see it done, try doing it yourself, and if everyone likes it then it'll go into the official version. :)

Mage spells have been more or less untouched since the first version of the game. The two big changes I remember are 1) removing Globe of Invulnerability (years ago), and 2) reducing the costs of damage spells (within the last year or two). Otherwise, access to some spells for different classes has been tweaked, as has the efficacy of some of the detection spells, but that's about it.

I think most people don't feel that the spell list is broken, so why change it?

Magnate
April 11, 2012, 17:57
The general rule for this kind of thing is, if you want to see it done, try doing it yourself, and if everyone likes it then it'll go into the official version. :)

Mage spells have been more or less untouched since the first version of the game. The two big changes I remember are 1) removing Globe of Invulnerability (years ago), and 2) reducing the costs of damage spells (within the last year or two). Otherwise, access to some spells for different classes has been tweaked, as has the efficacy of some of the detection spells, but that's about it.

I think most people don't feel that the spell list is broken, so why change it?I don't think I agree with this. I think most people feel that the spell list is idiosyncratic and dated, and would love to see it improved. But it's a big job, and very few people have the kind of spare time required to take it on. Those of us who do are all focused on other things which seem to us slightly more urgent.

But there have been a lot of ideas for improving both spell realms, consolidating some spells and differentiating others. The (2) referred to above was a comprehensive analysis of mana cost per point of damage, which overturned a longstanding problem of magic missile being the most mana-efficient spell for the entire game ...

I'd be happy to assist anyone who wanted to have a go at this. (EDIT: to rearrange existing spells, that is - adding new spells would make much more sense after the effects refactor is done - and would give me a nice incentive to do it!)

Narvius
April 13, 2012, 11:38
NPP and Steam both are very interesting when it comes to spells. Anyone doing this might want to look into those.

Cold_Heart
April 16, 2012, 02:08
Prayers need to be updated too. Annihilation SP cost is realy bad, and lots of spells are useless (remove curse, scare monster, sanctuary, cure serious/critical/mortal, turn undead, etc)

fizzix
April 16, 2012, 13:51
Prayers need to be updated too. Annihilation SP cost is realy bad, and lots of spells are useless (remove curse, scare monster, sanctuary, cure serious/critical/mortal, turn undead, etc)

remove_curse will be out in 3.4.

I'd also love to fix some of the other spells, but it's actually easier said than done. I've played a version where annihilation damage from the spell was competitive with melee (and reasonably priced.) and the priest becomes the most overpowered character around. They already have a great endgame, so giving them a strong attacking spell also is problematic.

The way to currently look at the priest spells is that since you don't get to choose your spells, you may sometimes get the crappy spell instead of the one you want. This isn't great by any means, but unless we can get someone to do a concerted revamping effort, v4 would be a great place to test it out.

mixer
April 16, 2012, 21:18
One thing that could easily be done, is to really randomise the priest spells by learning any spell available at the learning level. This removes the formulated way of playing a priest, get to level 7 then wait until level 9 to get "orb of draining"

Derakon
April 16, 2012, 21:27
So basically priests would theoretically have access to any spell that they are of the appropriate level to cast, and wouldn't need spellbooks any more? Bookless spellcasting is an extremely powerful ability. But not having Orb available makes priests much harder to play, since their melee is fairly pitiful and their ranged combat is even worse.

Or would you get any of the spells available in the books you own? In which case you'd just drop/sell/destroy the books that don't have the spell you want and then get them back after studying.

Or would you learn a spell at random but require the book to cast it still? In which case, how would you handle dungeon spellbooks? Am I to learn a spell that I won't be able to cast for another 40 character levels because the spellbook doesn't drop?

mixer
April 16, 2012, 21:39
I was thinkiing of the last option. Harsh but with a reduce spell list it would be workable.

fizzix
April 16, 2012, 21:50
I was thinkiing of the last option. Harsh but with a reduce spell list it would be workable.

Yeah, but if you fix the spell list, presumably you've fixed it well enough that the formulaic problems regarding portal and orb have gone away.

If you were desperate for an easy fix, change it so that you can learn any spell in the book (even ones you can't cast). As Derakon said though, priests get a lot harder without orb, so this change needs some dedicated playtesting.

Derakon
April 16, 2012, 21:54
So what do we do if the player gets basically no usable spells for their first 15 levels? Shrug and say "tough luck, you should've played a warrior instead"? The entire point of the mage and priest classes is to have classes which are dependent on their magical abilities; setting things up so that you might have basically no useful magic seems contrary to that goal. On a related note, why would I want to play a priest instead of a paladin under this regime?

I can accept the "spells are a gift from your deity" explanation for why spells are learned at random -- but at the same time, as a gift from a supposedly-intelligent deity, they should be usable when obtained. Your deity wants you to succeed, after all. Giving you something that you can't use makes no sense. So the selection of learnable spells has to be limited somehow. Some possible ways I could see to do that:

* Unlock learning from dungeon spellbooks at some threshold level. That is, studying gets you a random prayer; up to clvl X that prayer comes from the eligible spells in the town spellbooks, and after that it comes from the set of all eligible spells, dungeon books included.
* Randomize the spellbooks each game, but leave studying as it is otherwise (i.e. pick a book, get a random spell from that book). This would come at the cost of rendering the dungeon spellbooks wholly unthematic, but it would ensure that you'd get a random-but-usable spell. Of course you'd constrict the spell list slightly so that the first town spellbook has easy spells and the last dungeon spellbook has mostly high-level ones.

You could also make spell learning automatic on levelup, with the game preferring to give you spells from the town spellbooks but otherwise not caring if you have the book or not. This would prevent gaming the system by "saving up" a few levels' worth of spells so you could guarantee access to Orb. It'd still be really weird that your deity would be giving you a spell that you can't actually cast until you get the book, though.

PowerWyrm
April 17, 2012, 12:45
Prayers need to be updated too. Annihilation SP cost is realy bad, and lots of spells are useless (remove curse, scare monster, sanctuary, cure serious/critical/mortal, turn undead, etc)

Cure spells useless? o_O

Derakon
April 17, 2012, 15:15
The curing spells aside from Cure Light Wounds are useless. They don't restore enough HP to be used in the middle of combat, and outside of combat you want the better HP:SP ratio that Cure Light Wounds gives. The only situation I can think of where you'd use a different spell is if you have only two or three turns to spare in a short break in a fight, you want to restore as much HP as possible, and you don't have Heal yet.

fizzix
April 17, 2012, 16:26
The curing spells aside from Cure Light Wounds are useless. They don't restore enough HP to be used in the middle of combat, and outside of combat you want the better HP:SP ratio that Cure Light Wounds gives. The only situation I can think of where you'd use a different spell is if you have only two or three turns to spare in a short break in a fight, you want to restore as much HP as possible, and you don't have Heal yet.

You're absolutely correct. It's partly a spell cost issue, the same as mage attack spells were a spell cost issue, but surprisingly not entirely. Priest spells still cure on a % scale (with a minimum), so it makes it a bit tricky for analysis, but we should be able to do it by considering small wounds (40 HP) moderate wounds (100 HP) and large wounds (300 HP).

CLW wins out on a HP cured per SP basis in all 3 categories. To make other spells competitive you need to both reduce the SP costs, and reduce the % values for CLW.

Here's a spreadsheet (http://https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0Aj7fo2Pk5FbjdE53VjNIbFYwUlRlMVdMdXB1NGtTa 1E#gid=0) that you can use to play with it, if you feel so inclined.

Derakon
April 17, 2012, 16:35
There's also the question of failure rate on the spells to consider. CLW is basically trivial to cast, while CSW and CCW are noticeably more difficult. I don't know that this has necessarily deterred me from trying them considering the other reasons to avoid them, but it can't help.

Perhaps the percentage on CLW should be lower? IIRC it's 15 or 20% right now; drop it to 10 or even 5, so you usually only get the minimum healing amount.

Cold_Heart
April 17, 2012, 16:59
Nerfing things is never a good solution.

Derakon
April 17, 2012, 17:48
Nerfing things is never a good solution.
So every time we find something is overpowered, the answer is to power up everything else, then? :)

Cold_Heart
April 17, 2012, 18:10
So every time we find something is overpowered, the answer is to power up everything else, then? :)

That, and also making a game a bit more difficult in some other aspect, is one good way to do it.

ekolis
April 17, 2012, 18:33
So every time we find something is overpowered, the answer is to power up everything else, then? :)

Heh, I guess that's how old versions of Angband got characters with HP in the tens of thousands... thanks to whoever fixed that!

Derakon
April 17, 2012, 18:43
That, and also making a game a bit more difficult in some other aspect, is one good way to do it.

I hope you realize that I was being sarcastic. If you have a situation in which the game is generally balanced except for one overpowered thing, then nerfing that overpowered thing is exactly equivalent to powering up everything else, except that the nerf is far easier to implement than the powerup -- and thus, less likely to introduce other over powered things. Nerfs are every bit as important as buffs when it comes to balancing games.

Moreover, a game in which every imbalance is addressed by powerups will have a very different feel than a game in which powerups and nerfs are used more even-handedly. It'd be like the difference between a tabletop roleplaying game where everyone gets fully kitted-out in magical gear and one in which the entire party has a single magical item between them that they must carefully treasure. Both can lead to satisfying gaming experiences, but they're very different gaming experiences.

In this particular case, it's not obvious that CLW is necessarily overpowered, but it is true that it's overpowered by comparison with CMW and CSW. Thus a nerf isn't necessarily a terrible idea.

Philip
April 17, 2012, 18:47
I sincerely hope Cold_Heart is joking. Nerfing is always a good solution if one thing is overpowered, it's usually a good solution if 3/4 of all the objects of a certain type are overpowered.

Therem Harth
April 17, 2012, 18:58
Cold_Heart: ToME 2 did that, and it didn't really work. See for instance Melkor followers' infamous auto-Curse ability. Or any Alchemist. This guy (http://angband.oook.cz/ladder-show.php?id=12006) in particular should drive the point home.

Mind, T2 was a very fun game. But IMO it would be even more fun if some things had been nerfed early on. Instead the power levels were allowed to explode, pushing some classes into anime superhero territory... And leaving others in the dust.

mixer
April 17, 2012, 21:18
I believe that biasing the learning of spells but still random would give the result that I wish and give the balance that you wish for. I agree that the middle heals cost too much for use in the middle of combat. I do normally play a Dwarvern Priest. I have been playing this game for over 24 years and I remember having to dropping books to be given the wanted spell so definitley don't want to go that way.

buzzkill
April 18, 2012, 02:33
There should be one general (HP) healing spell and it should scale with character level.

Cold_Heart
April 18, 2012, 08:36
There should be one general (HP) healing spell and it should scale with character level.

This makes sense.

Derakon
April 18, 2012, 16:12
Having a spell that scales with character level can certainly work, but it's not straightforward to implement well. How do you handle the cost of casting the spell? It should scale with the spell's power, or else you end up with a ridiculously powerful spammable spell. But then you lose the option of paying less for less healing -- unless you want to implement some kind of "how much power do you want to spend" prompt, which would be a completely new interface issue.

I will grant this is more of an issue with attack spells, where you generally want some combination of spells that are good at dealing with weak targets and spells that shove huge amounts of mana around for big damage -- but it still applies to healing spells too.

ToME 2 has spell power scaling with spells, as well as a type of spell where you can choose the power you put into it, but the latter is buggy as hell and the former has a few balance issues.

buzzkill
April 19, 2012, 02:23
Having a spell that scales with character level can certainly work, but it's not straightforward to implement well. How do you handle the cost of casting the spell? It should scale with the spell's power, or else you end up with a ridiculously powerful spammable spell. But then you lose the option of paying less for less healing -- unless you want to implement some kind of "how much power do you want to spend" prompt, which would be a completely new interface issue.

Healing schemealing. The current reason to use a less effective spell is because it's more mana efficient. A scaling healing spell should (in my perfect world) only be able to be cast at maximum efficacy. It the casters is in need of lesser healing he can quaff potion or rely on regeneration (or go without). That's the down side. The up side is that there are now a number a free spell slots that can be imaginatively filled with useful spells.

Derakon
April 19, 2012, 03:47
Healing schemealing. The current reason to use a less effective spell is because it's more mana efficient. A scaling healing spell should (in my perfect world) only be able to be cast at maximum efficacy. It the casters is in need of lesser healing he can quaff potion or rely on regeneration (or go without). That's the down side. The up side is that there are now a number a free spell slots that can be imaginatively filled with useful spells.

Well, if that's all the upside you need, there's tons of slots available already:

* Remove Curse
* Teleport
* Chant
* Prayer
* Slow Poison
* Scare Monster
* Sanctuary
* Turn Undead
* Everything in Holy Infusions

And yet even with all these "wasted" spells, priests are still easier than mages.

ekolis
April 19, 2012, 15:22
And yet even with all these "wasted" spells, priests are still easier than mages.

Likely because priests can actually melee, whereas mages are totally helpless in that regard...

Philip
April 19, 2012, 15:44
And because of 0% heal, *heal, teleport, teleport away and orb of draining. Mages get somewhat more powerfull damage magic, door creation, teleportation and also have a lot of wasted spells.

Derakon
April 19, 2012, 16:27
The advantages mages have over priests:

* Haste Self
* Temporary resistance to acid/elec/poison
* Door Creation
* Higher-damaging attack magic (but also more expensive)
* Several utility spells (blink, teleport, identify) show up earlier
* Better device skill

The advantages priests have over mages:

* Big healing spells
* Orb of Draining (cheap, effective, and shows up early)
* Banish Evil
* Detection
* Clairvoyance (EDIT: and Sense Surroundings, much earlier)
* Slightly better melee
* No need to kill Kavlax
* +d2 hit die (~+50 HP at level 50)
* Less noodly arms (+2 relative STR)
* Much better constitution (+3 relative CON)

Cold_Heart
April 19, 2012, 22:17
Way to convenienly forget about the best attack spell (magic missile), best recharging, identify from shop book at 11, banishment and mass banishment.

Derakon
April 19, 2012, 22:27
Sorry, you're right -- banishment and mass banishment are big factors in the mage's favor. Magic Missile is no longer their best attack spell, though, as spell costs were re-regularized; now IIRC Meteor Storm and Rift are tied for best efficiency and of course Mana Storm has the best DPS. The various elemental bolt spells are also significantly more useful.

I covered Identify under the "earlier utility spells". Though personally, I only view that as helping to make up for the mage's pathetic Strength, since he can't afford to carry a big stack of ID scrolls or a staff of ID.

The mage's basic recharging spell is worse than using scrolls (as is the priest's only recharging spell), though if you're going to take advantage of the mage's better device skill I could believe you'd end up casting it frequently anyway, since the alternative would be carrying scrolls into the dungeon (c.f. noodly arms).

Timo Pietilš
April 20, 2012, 10:26
The advantages mages have over priests:

* Haste Self
* Temporary resistance to acid/elec/poison
* Door Creation
* Higher-damaging attack magic (but also more expensive)
* Several utility spells (blink, teleport, identify) show up earlier
* Better device skill


Don't forget banishments. Mass and normal banish at will is great tool for survival and getting rid of annoying things that are in your way to your whatever goal you have at the moment.