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Old April 20, 2012, 20:52   #1
half
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Breaking the Rules

Sil breaks a number of long held rules in the Angband community. Many of these rules are so firmly entrenched that there have been multiple threads in which someone suggests changing them and is shot down by the community. For some of my changes, the rules were a bit less applicable given the differences between the games (e.g. Sil's shorter duration). In other cases, I just decided that they had become dogma, and the game would be better if they were broken. I decided not to mention them at Sil's launch for fear of biasing people against it, but given some time and its good reception, I thought I'd ask what people think of these controversial changes that I snuck into Sil.

(1) No preserve mode *and* no special feelings (if you miss an artefact, you miss it)
(2) No piles on the floor (items spread out and can be lost)
(3) No 'squelch' mode of any kind
(4) No perfect trap detection
(5) Time limit, so you can't set your own pace
(6) You can't wait and get the same great artifacts each game (you can only find about 20% of them each game)
(7) No limitless healing (c.f. stacks of CCW in town)
(8) No teleportation
(9) No perfect escapes, and very few escapes of any kind
(10) No stat gain
(11) No increasing HP with level
(12) Multiple attacks per round is the exception rather than the rule
(13) No easily acquirable speed (max of speed +5 in V terms, and almost no permanent sources)

I've probably forgotten some, but this is a good list to start with. What do you Sil players think about these? Are any of them great changes? Do any of them seriously frustrate you? Did you even notice them? Is there anything for Vanilla to learn from this?
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Old April 20, 2012, 21:07   #2
Derakon
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As someone who has yet to try Sil, here's my thoughts:

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Originally Posted by half View Post
(1) No preserve mode *and* no special feelings (if you miss an artefact, you miss it)
Sil is clearly not a game for completionists, given the time limit (i.e. you can't hang around grinding indefinitely), ergo missing out on an artifact is less of a blow. Angband has always been completable without artifacts anyway, though. My big complaint about no-preserve mode in standard Angband is that you are punished for the game generating a greater vault that you cannot tackle -- vaults like the Hellpit (which is basically a gigantic open room filled with nasty enemies) are great flavor but horrible ideas in a no-preserve game.
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(2) No piles on the floor (items spread out and can be lost)
Piles were a direct cause of Too Much Junk, plus they incentivize fighting in corridors.
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(3) No 'squelch' mode of any kind
To the extent that you've otherwise solved Too Much Junk, no big deal.
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(4) No perfect trap detection
We're trying this in v4 now. I think the issue always was that non-perfect trap detection with Vanilla's standard traps wasn't a great idea. If you can make the traps more interesting, then it's not a big deal if you can't reliably detect them.
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(5) Time limit, so you can't set your own pace
Experienced Angband players tend to either be completionists or speed demons. Since I'm in the latter camp I don't have a big problem with encouraging players to dive even if they don't feel ready.
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(6) You can't wait and get the same great artifacts each game (you can only find about 20% of them each game)
Again, only really an issue for completionists. I play randarts anyway.
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(7) No limitless healing (c.f. stacks of CCW in town)
I've always thought this was a good idea, but I was worried about a) status ailments and b) how to handle the reduction in combat stamina. I generally assumed this would require rebalancing combat so that the player is gradually worn down over the course of several fights instead of losing 50% of their HP in a single turn.
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(8) No teleportation
Largely needed for the same reasons that easy access to healing is needed.
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(9) No perfect escapes, and very few escapes of any kind
So long as you can set things up so that only very rarely is the player put in a situation where they need an escape through no fault of their own, sounds fine by me.
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(10) No stat gain
I think this is largely a byproduct of Angband's inheritance from Moria (which IIRC had stat-gain potions) and its massively larger scale (which meant that you actually needed stat-gain potions and had time to accumulate them). Scaling everything down obviates the need for this rather neatly.
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(11) No increasing HP with level
This is a D&D inheritance thing. I don't think we've ever really questioned it. So kudos for really thinking outside the box.
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(12) Multiple attacks per round is the exception rather than the rule
Multiple attacks are Angband's sort-of equivalent to dual-wielding: incredibly silly but everyone loves it anyway. But so long as it isn't taken to extremes, I mostly view multiple-attacks as simply compressing combat into fewer turns -- you take a few whacks at the monster, then they take a few whacks at you, instead of you each trading blows one at a time.
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(13) No easily acquirable speed (max of speed +5 in V terms, and almost no permanent sources)
Speed is horribly overpowered in pretty much every Angband-derived game.

I do have to say that a lot of these changes (though not all of them) are to things that are so entrenched in Vanilla that I doubt they'll ever change. Particularly HP, speed, and the availability of escapes. However, the Vanilla devteam is actively working on several of the other points.
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Old April 20, 2012, 21:42   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Derakon View Post
Multiple attacks are Angband's sort-of equivalent to dual-wielding: incredibly silly but everyone loves it anyway. But so long as it isn't taken to extremes, I mostly view multiple-attacks as simply compressing combat into fewer turns -- you take a few whacks at the monster, then they take a few whacks at you, instead of you each trading blows one at a time.
Thanks for all the comments (I really liked your post in the other thread on difficulty, too). I'll just reply briefly to this bit on multiple blows:

For most purposes, that combat compression is the same as increasing damage relative to health, since the relevant thing is how often you (and the monsters) get to make decisions.

Multiple attacks per round have a couple of other effects: they increase message spam (which is generally bad) and decrease the variance of combat (which can in any case be tweaked by varying the combat mechanics, but is a more subtle thing to notice than damage if you're trying to find similar systems in effect where one uses multiple attacks per round, and the other not).
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Old April 21, 2012, 00:45   #4
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One big one you've missed is the complete transformation of "spellcasting".

IMHO you have broken the rules to such an extent that I'm not sure if I would call Sil an Angband variant. I would say that your breaking of rules has been wildly successful, and you should not hesitate to break more if it seems like the right thing to do.

As a variant maintainer who is planning a new variant with radical differences, Sil has left my by turns inspired and annoyed - you have set the bar rather high. I am actually staying away from Sil for now, because I want to get Beleriand basically complete before "taking inspiration" (ie stealing features) from Sil.
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Old April 21, 2012, 03:40   #5
Fendell Orcbane
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The only one that I HATE is #2. Its annoying to have to carry a chest just so that I can get all of the contents in said chest. THe other ones make sense within context of the game. Morgoth isn't as powerful as he is in most other Bands so you don't really need to have a lot of healing.
I was wondering about preserve artifacts... it kinda sucks because if you see something good but something you can't handle is right on top of it then you will miss it. The only thing that you really need is a source of sharpness to win.
But in general Sil is a low magic version of V. So all the changes aren't too bad. Of courses the lack of escapes means that sometimes you will die no matter what and you don't have as much control as you do with the other bands.
ANd of course the game is so short that its hard to have a perfect balance between challenging and boring. I think you guys did a great job IMO. I've said this before but you could base a lot of other games off the Sil"engine" as it were.
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Old April 21, 2012, 10:44   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick View Post
One big one you've missed is the complete transformation of "spellcasting".
Less "snuck in", but yes, there are actually a number of big departures from norms which don't appear on that list, which I'll add for ease of discussion even if it's a slightly different direction from half's original question (and I may have missed some here):

(14) No spells (magic via Song and Smithing; no mass damage)
(15) No town, or gold
(16) No classes
(17) No character levels
(18) Nothing to (r)ead
(19) No monster summoning (except via stairs)

Quote:
As a variant maintainer who is planning a new variant with radical differences, Sil has left my by turns inspired and annoyed - you have set the bar rather high. I am actually staying away from Sil for now, because I want to get Beleriand basically complete before "taking inspiration" (ie stealing features) from Sil.
I'm really looking forward to seeing what you do with Beleriand. We tried quite hard to keep things Tolkienian, but Angband is just a small (and atypical!) part of the world.
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Old April 21, 2012, 15:48   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by half View Post
(1) No preserve mode *and* no special feelings (if you miss an artefact, you miss it)
Don't care strongly; mildly negative but only I think because of history w/ roguelikes

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Originally Posted by half View Post
(2) No piles on the floor (items spread out and can be lost)
Don't care about piles per se; didn't realise that items could be lost and am strongly opposed: acts to lower reward for intense fighting, for example

Quote:
(3) No 'squelch' mode of any kind
(4) No perfect trap detection
Don't care.


Quote:
(5) Time limit, so you can't set your own pace
(6) You can't wait and get the same great artifacts each game (you can only find about 20% of them each game)
I see both of these as central to Sil.

Quote:
(7) No limitless healing (c.f. stacks of CCW in town)
(8) No teleportation
(9) No perfect escapes, and very few escapes of any kind
(10) No stat gain
(11) No increasing HP with level
(12) Multiple attacks per round is the exception rather than the rule
(13) No easily acquirable speed (max of speed +5 in V terms, and almost no permanent sources)
Don't care. Maybe slight opposition to the no-escape situation - it is vexing to know that even perfect play may cause you to die - but in practice this has not been a real issue.
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Old April 21, 2012, 00:22   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by half View Post
(1) No preserve mode *and* no special feelings (if you miss an artefact, you miss it)
(2) No piles on the floor (items spread out and can be lost)
(3) No 'squelch' mode of any kind
(4) No perfect trap detection
(5) Time limit, so you can't set your own pace
(6) You can't wait and get the same great artifacts each game (you can only find about 20% of them each game)
(7) No limitless healing (c.f. stacks of CCW in town)
(8) No teleportation
(9) No perfect escapes, and very few escapes of any kind
(10) No stat gain
(11) No increasing HP with level
(12) Multiple attacks per round is the exception rather than the rule
(13) No easily acquirable speed (max of speed +5 in V terms, and almost no permanent sources)
Thank you for not pointing out these changes at the time Sil was released. If you did, I likely wouldn't have bothered trying Sil, and I'm glad I did.
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Originally Posted by half View Post
Do any of them seriously frustrate you?
Why yes, but I've wailed about that before (time limit and lack of escapes).
But some of the other changes that, if I hadn't played, I would think would frustrate me a lot, don't bother me at all in Sil (like no piles, squelch, or preserve mode).
No limitless healing does make things hard and more frustrating, but to me that one is more of a 'fun challenge' kind of frustrating whereas the time limit is the 'I don't want to play this anymore' kind of frustrating. The lack of escapes is somewhere in between the two...
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Old April 21, 2012, 17:36   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by half View Post

(1) No preserve mode *and* no special feelings (if you miss an artefact, you miss it)
I'm usually a preserve player, but I don't mind it in Sil mainly because everyone *must* play this way. On one hand it's neat that Angband has all these options, but there's also comfort in not having to worry about how you *should* be playing, which can be a hangup for some players, me included. It's wearying to feel like, damn, I guess I'm not a real winner if I didn't xyz, or if I used xyz and shouldn't have... I'm fine with game play designated by benevolent dictator. This is probably the only one on the list I feel any strong way about.
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Old April 21, 2012, 21:18   #10
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I think Preserve hardly matters in Sil because (a) artifacts aren't that powerful, and (b) many "high quality" (i.e. extra bonuses + appropriately weighted for character) items are very nearly as good.

The no-escapes thing is occasionally frustrating, but the game is short enough and uniformly fun enough that I don't mind dying so much.
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