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Magnate April 25, 2012 10:01

Quote:

Originally Posted by Derakon (Post 68850)
I've had similar concerns lurking in the back of my mind but never really got a chance to fully playtest a finesse character. Finesse and prowess weapons really ought to have the same average damage per round when used by appropriately-skilled characters; prowess characters maybe slightly higher due to the fact they hit less often, but not hugely so. But prowess weapons nearly universally have better dice than finesse weapons do.

If you want to go through the edit files and propose changes to the damage dice on weapons, feel free to do so.

This has been niggling at me too, but in a different direction. Finesse characters are always going to have problems with absorption, that's a design feature. The OP is right that it doesn't matter how many blows they get if the damage is always so low as to be absorbed. But upping the dice just dilutes the precious distinction between fin and prow, and is IMO the wrong solution. I think the solution lies in making the critical hit calculation asymmetric. At the moment it's fin^2 + prow^2 (all divided by a scaling constant), but I think it ought to favour finesse. Prowess crits are much more deadly, so should be rare. Finesse crits merely enable the finesse character to do a little more damage with that blow, and should be much more common.

So my first suggestion for balancing this issue would be to double or triple the contribution of finesse to the crit chance (and adjust the scalar so that the total number of crits does not increase too much).
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Incidentally, last I heard missile combat was still semi-broken, so it's sadly no real surprise that shooting things didn't work very well.
Missile combat is still using the old system, but damage shouldn't be too awful. But as soon as RL gives me a break I will adapt it to the new system and it will be splendid.
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I'm inclined to agree with you, but I haven't yet convinced Magnate of this. Not that I've been making a concerted effort, mind.
This is another of the very important changes in v4 - brands and slays are no longer quite so awesome when first found, quite deliberately so. It means they can occur earlier, and later in greater numbers and permutations. This means adjusting our perceptions a bit:

- yes, a dagger (1d4) (+0,+0) with a +25% slay against orcs is a long way short of the weakest Slay Orc dagger you'd find in V

- but a late game Scythe of Slicing with +225% against dragons and +285% against demons and +150% elec and a couple of others is going to compete very nicely with many artifacts.

So what's happened is that the range of slays and brands available has extended in both directions.

Note that slays matter slightly more for finesse characters, because they don't boost the prowess damage. The formula is dice_damage * (100 + best applicable brand/slay + prowess bonus)%. So the challenge is to avoid them becoming too powerful for finesse chars or irrelevant to prowess chars.

saarn April 25, 2012 15:39

Quote:

Originally Posted by Derakon (Post 68850)
Hmm...as part of our efforts to remove the pure-tedium gameplay of identifying everything in sight before using it, ID-by-use has been made much less punishing. To allow for this, the vast majority of bad/cursed items were removed. Thus the player is never outright slapped for daring to try using something when they don't know what it is (though of course you can still be e.g. teleported into the middle of pack of monsters).

I wonder if some of the original feel could be brought back (without being instadeath for ironman warriors) by doing things like:

for bad potions (sleep/blind) keep the duration reasonably small (say 10 turns). If you're foolish/desperate enough to take an untried potion in the middle of a fight, you might be in trouble, but you should be safe trying it in a little corridor tucked away from the scary monsters. Possibly make these less "junky" by allowing them to be thrown for their effect? I like what was done with mushrooms where they have some very interesting combinations of good and bad effects, but I think that theme is already taken.

Curses used to make weapons both junk and sticky. What if they just did one of a few things:
make the item sticky (but not bad)
reduce player speed slightly (-1 or -2)
reduce player stealth slightly
random blink (low probability)
random aggravate monster
decrease light radius (-1)
increase vulnerability to elements

Rather than a "oops, it feels deathly cold," the presence of the curse would be up to the player to figure out. And, of course, cursed items would show up as "magical".

If I were playing the game and I saw a nice weapon of Breaking Heads that would bring my damage way up, it would be possible that I would wield it and get it stuck to me. This wouldn't be instadeath, but I'd definitely be motivated to find some remove curse. At the same time, it would be enough to discourage me from unwielding a good weapon to try out a broken dagger (1,1) {splendid}.

In combination with really nice egos, some cursed weapons might even be worth keeping.

Derakon April 25, 2012 17:19

Quote:

Originally Posted by Magnate (Post 68854)
But upping the dice just dilutes the precious distinction between fin and prow, and is IMO the wrong solution. I think the solution lies in making the critical hit calculation asymmetric.

I have two concerns with this. The first is that critical hits are very opaque to the player -- they don't know what their crit chance is, how it scales, or how it affects their damage. They can kiiiiiind of guess at how significant they are based on the messages they get in combat and the changes they see to the monster's health bar, but it's a very imprecise science and Vanilla (and v4 by extension) are all about transparency these days.

The second is that balancing combat this way will require a lot of tweaking, and every tweak will require changing a number, recompiling, and then playtesting for awhile. I don't see that oscillating towards a balanced version very quickly.

The advantages of adjusting the dice, by comparison, are:

1) It makes it clear to the player that finesse characters are not being discriminated against.
2) It's far easier to balance -- we know what the proper values should be, by comparison with the prowess weapons
3) It's far easier to change -- just tweak the edit files and rerun the game. So anyone can do it.

We needn't lose variety in finesse vs. prowess weapons in this -- finesse weapons get many small dice, while prowess weapons get a few big dice. If you want to make crits more significant for finesse characters, then we can reverse that -- since crits add extra dice, having big dice is an advantage.

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- but a late game Scythe of Slicing with +225% against dragons and +285% against demons and +150% elec and a couple of others is going to compete very nicely with many artifacts.

The formula is dice_damage * (100 + best applicable brand/slay + prowess bonus) / 100%.
The practical upshot of this approach is that brands/slays give you a fixed amount of "extra dice" depending on their multiplier. E.g. a .5x brand gives you half your damage dice again when applied. That's not especially appreciable. Of course, since it's an additive effect it has more impact for finesse characters, since they get so many more blows than prowess characters do. But finesse characters have terrible damage dice, making the slays irrelevant again! Either way, slays are just not very impressive right now.

If we changed it to be

dice_damage * (100 + best applicable brand/slay) * (100 + prowess bonus) / 10000

then it'd work better. Instead of getting extra dice, your dice get an extra multiplier. A .5x brand deals 50% more damage than a "bare" blow, regardless of what your prowess bonus is. Compare:

6x 1d4 dagger blows with a 50% prowess bonus:
6 * (average dice 2.5) * (100 no slay) * (150 prowess) / 10000 = 22.5 damage/round

1.5x 1d4 club blows with a 500% prowess bonus:
1.5 * (average dice 2.5) * (100 no slay) * (600 prowess) / 10000 = 22.5

Now apply a .5x flame brand to both:

6 * 2.5 * 150 * 150 / 10000 = 33.75
1.5 * 2.5 * 150 * 600 / 10000 = 33.75

Of course, in practice your prowess character will be using a 2d8 battle axe or something instead, and will thus get much more damage, but see the earlier part of this post.

Magnate April 25, 2012 17:48

Ok, I'm convinced. On iPhone so not typing much. I agree that slays could be multiplied rather than added, which would be both fairer and more meaningful- thanks for spelling out the maths on that. Happy for ppl to change dice for fin weapons and see if that works. Crit dam is included in combat info; it's easy to show crit chance if that helps.

saarn April 26, 2012 03:09

I was thinking along similar lines re dice.

It feels to me like finesse fighters should successfully hit more frequently with less, but more consistent damage per hit. Prowess fighters should hit less frequently, with more variation in power, but higher average damage. This would work well to the different playstyles as finesse classes (mage, rogue, ranger) tend to have lower HP and want to use melee to finish monsters off and conserve ammo/mana. They want to be pretty confident they can put the final blow on a monster and not screw up. By contrast prowess characters have HP or even heal spells so a miss or relatively ineffective blow here or there is less meaningful than average power.

The other thing this would seem to argue to me is that finesse crits might do something different from prowess crits-- rather than dealing extra damage, they might merely reduce the impact of AC (well-placed blow). For lightly armored monsters, this would make prowess more effective, but it would eliminate the severe annoyance of watching my dagger bounce uselessly off a gray snake at Dlvl3.

All that said, I don't think finesse and prowess fighters should be equally good at melee. The goal should be to make finesse weapons clearly be better for finesse characters and to make melee a useful part of their combat tactics. Melee for each kind of fighter should feel distinct, just as the rest of the gameplay does.

grinder April 26, 2012 03:48

Kinda OT, sorry
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Magnate (Post 68854)
Note that slays matter slightly more for finesse characters, because they don't boost the prowess damage. The formula is dice_damage * (100 + best applicable brand/slay + prowess bonus)%. So the challenge is to avoid them becoming too powerful for finesse chars or irrelevant to prowess chars.

In attack.c lines 182 and 203, a value of 100 is assigned to "mult" and incremented by best applicable slay present, but mult doesn't seem to be used after that. Is that a remnant of previous versions that can be delete, is the calculation you describe never used or am I simply wrong here (my money would be on this one :D).

Magnate April 26, 2012 13:05

Quote:

Originally Posted by saarn (Post 68870)
The other thing this would seem to argue to me is that finesse crits might do something different from prowess crits-- rather than dealing extra damage, they might merely reduce the impact of AC (well-placed blow). For lightly armored monsters, this would make prowess more effective, but it would eliminate the severe annoyance of watching my dagger bounce uselessly off a gray snake at Dlvl3.

I think you mean it would make finesse more effective. I really like this idea, I think it's excellent. But I don't think that prowess should contribute to this kind of effect and vice versa - if we do this, then finesse shouldn't contribute to the traditional 'extra dice' crits. So we have two different crit functions, and balanced chars might see a few of both (which is nice, because we've been looking to incentivise balance, since the system naturally tempts people to go all-fin or all-prow).

I will think about this. Derakon, you like this too, right? ;-)
Quote:

All that said, I don't think finesse and prowess fighters should be equally good at melee. The goal should be to make finesse weapons clearly be better for finesse characters and to make melee a useful part of their combat tactics. Melee for each kind of fighter should feel distinct, just as the rest of the gameplay does.
Precisely. You've grasped what Derakon was aiming for with the new system, and I think we can get there.

Magnate April 26, 2012 13:15

Quote:

Originally Posted by grinder (Post 68874)
In attack.c lines 182 and 203, a value of 100 is assigned to "mult" and incremented by best applicable slay present, but mult doesn't seem to be used after that. Is that a remnant of previous versions that can be delete, is the calculation you describe never used or am I simply wrong here (my money would be on this one :D).

Ooh, thank you, you've found some cruft! The logic that calculates and applies mult has been moved out of attack.c and into calc_damage(), which is called from line 207. (It's also called from the ranged attack functions and the object info functions, hence the sense of refactoring it.)

I'll tidy up those unnecessary lines at the same time as changing the slay add logic (as described in earlier post).

Thanks again.

saarn April 26, 2012 15:28

Quote:

Originally Posted by Magnate (Post 68907)
But I don't think that prowess should contribute to this kind of effect and vice versa - if we do this, then finesse shouldn't contribute to the traditional 'extra dice' crits. So we have two different crit functions, and balanced chars might see a few of both (which is nice, because we've been looking to incentivise balance, since the system naturally tempts people to go all-fin or all-prow).

You nailed it. When you combine that with prowess weapons having few big dice, finesse weapons having many small dice, then you get the obvious balanced weapon that has roughly even dice and die size. A balanced fighter might even do more damage than a prowess fighter since they would be more likely to get both kinds of critical on the same blow. I think this would work towards guaranteeing warriors are best at melee.

The one thing that strikes me as a bit annoying is that the strong temptation for finesse weapons would be to make them mostly nd1 since a n/2 d 2 weapon will be much more varied. Is there a way we could bring back the +d or mix kinds of dice so some finesse weapons could be e.g. 1d3 + 4.

The other thought I had is that if consistency is part of the charm for finesse, it sure would be nice to highlight the variation of damage to the user-- I love being able to see how much damage my weapon will do per round (nice job whoever wrote that). Possibly "against a lightly armored opponent, most rounds you will do between xxx and yyy damage with an average damage per round of zzz" where xxx and yyy are one standard deviation away from the mean.

Magnate April 26, 2012 18:14

Quote:

Originally Posted by saarn (Post 68912)
You nailed it. When you combine that with prowess weapons having few big dice, finesse weapons having many small dice, then you get the obvious balanced weapon that has roughly even dice and die size. A balanced fighter might even do more damage than a prowess fighter since they would be more likely to get both kinds of critical on the same blow. I think this would work towards guaranteeing warriors are best at melee.

So now all we need is for Derakon to say yes, that's what I wanted all along ...
Quote:

The one thing that strikes me as a bit annoying is that the strong temptation for finesse weapons would be to make them mostly nd1 since a n/2 d 2 weapon will be much more varied. Is there a way we could bring back the +d or mix kinds of dice so some finesse weapons could be e.g. 1d3 + 4.
Wow, another good idea - come join the devteam! This would mean changing the weapon's base damage struct from a dice roll (XdY) to a random value struct (well, that's the nearest thing we have, though we wouldn't need the M-bonus component, just Z+XdY). It's not something that's ever occurred to me, but it would indeed increase the consistency of finesse weapons. Again interested to see how Derakon thinks this fits with his original vision for combat.
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The other thought I had is that if consistency is part of the charm for finesse, it sure would be nice to highlight the variation of damage to the user-- I love being able to see how much damage my weapon will do per round (nice job whoever wrote that). Possibly "against a lightly armored opponent, most rounds you will do between xxx and yyy damage with an average damage per round of zzz" where xxx and yyy are one standard deviation away from the mean.
Ugh. The more time I spend as a dev the more I understand why the Crawl people like to obfuscate the mechanics. The combat info code is a beast (the result of many contributions btw), and this would make it intolerable.

That said, I could cope with a single additional number, if we could somehow calculate the std dev (no mean feat in integer arithmetic!). "Your weapon does X damage against A, Y damage against B ..... and Z damage against normal creatures (std dev S)".

But all damage info should assume 0 absorption, otherwise we have lots of mess for little gain.


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