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Old July 23, 2012, 06:06   #1
bron
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3.4RC: personal observations

I tried out 3.4RC as part of comp 124. I haven't really digested the changes enough to decide if I think they are good or bad; this is just sort of a brain-dump of observations:

1) The characters start out with fewer stat points. I haven't yet decided if I like this change or not. It definitely makes me need to go slower at the begining, and stay in stat-gain longer. But I'm not sure if "longer" equates to "harder," or to "more boring." It seemed like the stat potions themselves were also less common. It did make using the +1/-1 potion trick worthwhile: I save up a bunch of them for a stat I consider important, and then drink them all en-mass when I have enough that I can drink one with that stat at 18. This gives a net gain in stat points. Again, it's not yet clear to me if encouraging this trick is a good thing or not.

2) The lower starting stats means that it is harder to reach 200+ on the character's stats. My comp 124 character didn't get enough Dex to get the full 5 blows until after he found Vilya, nearly at the end. I find that I like this aspect of the lower starting stats. It makes finding items with +stat bonuses more important, and forces one to make a few more difficult trade-offs when deciding the gear to use. One thing it meant for my comp 124 char was that he wielded fairly light weapons for most of the game, since they got more blows and so did more damage than the big heavy weapons. Personally, I like that this sort of trade-off exists and continues to be important for a long time in the game.

3) One particular aspect of the lower starting stats that I definitely did not like: it seems themantically inconsistent for a Paladin to be given a -1 Dex penalty. These guys are supposed to be Warrior-Priests; it seems odd that they should be clumsier than average. I think it would make more sense to make the Dex adjustment be 0, and reduce the Con adjust to be +1 rather than +2.

4) Immunity is too powerful, especially Fire Immunity. This is not new to 3.4, but I was really struck by it while playing. I was able to wipe out Gothmog without even breathing hard (admittedly, I used an ASC, but still). When I wielded both Thorin and Azaghul, I was able to kill legions of Balrogs and other demons, shooting through clvls 43-50. The problem I think is that monster hand-to-hand melee attacks are given a "damage aspect" (e.g. "FIRE"). If you happen to be immune to that aspect, then you do not take *any* damage from the melee attack at all. This is unlike the player's weapon brands, where the hit always does normal damage, and then might possibly do extra damage from the brand. But having the brand does not negate the *normal* damage, even if the monster is immune to the brand. I can accept the idea that if you have immunity to fire, then when a Great Hell Wyrm breathes at you, the fire does no damage and so you are untouched. I have a lot harder time with the notion that when it physically claws you, that you still take no damage, just because the claw happens to be aflame in addition to being a claw. I really think this should be changed so that monster melee attacks work like brands, and always do the "normal" damage, and might possibly do *extra* damage based on the aspect, but never less.

5) Immunity is too powerful; part 2. A much-too-radical suggestion: get rid of total immunity. Instead, change it to an additional form of permanent resist. Call it a "ward" or something. A ward would still protect your *inventory* (just like immunity does now). And a ward would reduce damage by two-thirds, just like the current permanent and temporary resists. So if you had all three, damage would be reduced by a factor of 27, which is near enough to immunity as makes no difference. But if you only had two of them, say, permanent resist-fire plus a fire-ward, a Hell Wyrm (or Gothmog, or Carcharoth) might still give you pause.

edit:
Forgot to mention the first time:
6) The 40 max-stack limit is a winner. I had no problems with it at all, except it definitely constrained how much stuff I could lug around in the quiver; which was pretty much exactly the point.

Last edited by bron; July 23, 2012 at 06:15.
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Old July 23, 2012, 07:21   #2
Timo Pietilš
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Originally Posted by bron View Post
5) Immunity is too powerful; part 2. A much-too-radical suggestion: get rid of total immunity. Instead, change it to an additional form of permanent resist. Call it a "ward" or something. A ward would still protect your *inventory* (just like immunity does now).
I was thinking about directly blocking certain amounts of damage and applying 1/3 rule to the rest of the damage for all three modes of basic element resists: single, double and immunity. Lets say that immunity protects up to 1000 points of damage, but anything over that hits for 1/3 of the power, so Tarrasque 1600 point fire breath still does 200 points of damage (and hurts items), but Great Ice Wyrm would do practically no damage with its breath.

Double would be protection up to 300 points, single 100 points. Or 50, 200, 800 (800 would be AHMD-proof immunity, but Balrogs and Wyrms still do damage).

Maybe even give plain armors AC-based direct blocking of damage for elemental breath/spells (ordinary kettle holder protects you from getting burned and isn't magical).
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Old July 23, 2012, 13:07   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bron View Post
4) Immunity is too powerful, especially Fire Immunity. This is not new to 3.4, but I was really struck by it while playing. I was able to wipe out Gothmog without even breathing hard (admittedly, I used an ASC, but still). When I wielded both Thorin and Azaghul, I was able to kill legions of Balrogs and other demons, shooting through clvls 43-50. The problem I think is that monster hand-to-hand melee attacks are given a "damage aspect" (e.g. "FIRE"). If you happen to be immune to that aspect, then you do not take *any* damage from the melee attack at all. This is unlike the player's weapon brands, where the hit always does normal damage, and then might possibly do extra damage from the brand. But having the brand does not negate the *normal* damage, even if the monster is immune to the brand. I can accept the idea that if you have immunity to fire, then when a Great Hell Wyrm breathes at you, the fire does no damage and so you are untouched. I have a lot harder time with the notion that when it physically claws you, that you still take no damage, just because the claw happens to be aflame in addition to being a claw. I really think this should be changed so that monster melee attacks work like brands, and always do the "normal" damage, and might possibly do *extra* damage based on the aspect, but never less.
This is a bug and should be fixed for 3.5 but yeah this makes 3.4 easy due to the fact that you can swap items with immunity to get rid of powerful monsters with an elemental melee attack...
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Old July 23, 2012, 16:51   #4
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Originally Posted by PowerWyrm View Post
This is a bug and should be fixed for 3.5 but yeah this makes 3.4 easy due to the fact that you can swap items with immunity to get rid of powerful monsters with an elemental melee attack...
That "bug" has been around for decades. Only difference to old situation is that finding items with immunities is now a lot easier. In old days there were only few items with immunities:

The One Ring (all four)
Elven rings of power (fire, cold, electricity)
Eonwe (cold)
Taratol (electricity)
Ulmo (acid)
Deathwreaker (fire)
Thorin (acid)
Razorback (electricity)
Tuor (acid)

That's it, nothing else.

I agree that immunities could be weakened so that physical damage from melee still applies if the attack type is anything else than touch, but I also think getting immunities is now a bit too easy, especially for non-acid attacks: acid is weakest immunity anyway, armor halves the damage and resistance cuts that to 1/3 further, so even single resistance cuts max damage to 266, and I think only Ancalagon reaches max acid damage. Very few monsters hit to shoot acid in melee and only about three are not jellies or otherwise harmless (Bile Wyrm and Demon, Nightcrawler, which all have damaging other attacks too).

Notable and main difference to old is fire immunity. As you can see from above list only artifact rings and extremely rare Deathwreaker gave that, now there are seven items giving it. Seven. Four more. For cold only addition is Turmil, for Acid there is no additions and for Electricity only addition is Stormwalker. For other additions Turmil might be a bit too common, Stormwalker is rare enough that I haven't found it yet (OTOH I play a lot less now than I used to, so my opinion to that might be twisted by simple lack of data).

I would do artifact.txt edit, but usually I end up making more controversial changes than developers accept (get rid of unnecessary things), so I leave that job for others.
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Old July 24, 2012, 09:37   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Timo Pietilš View Post
I would do artifact.txt edit, but usually I end up making more controversial changes than developers accept (get rid of unnecessary things), so I leave that job for others.
But in this case you don't need to - ticket #1580 was opened a year ago in response to your last thread on this topic - we agree with you that immunity needs to be weakened and only apply to the elemental part of the damage - monsters like Gothmog and the Phoenix should do a decent chunk of physical damage as well as elemental.

This is one of the more important tickets marked for 3.5, so I think 3.4 will be the last version which has this problem.
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Old July 24, 2012, 21:25   #6
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If I remember correctly, the immunity bug was waiting on the effects refactor. Is that still on schedule for 3.5, or should we try to deal with immunities without. There are quite a few changes needed to make immunity allow physical damage or to act as a ward. It would be good to have a consensus of which way to go before we try it.

On the other hand, immunities are just one more factor in the arms race between players and monsters. I think having immunity to elemental breath attacks is a good thing. There is really too much breath damage in the game, immunities allow the player to counteract some of it.
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Old July 25, 2012, 05:08   #7
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Originally Posted by fizzix View Post
There are quite a few changes needed to make immunity allow physical damage or to act as a ward.
As far as the "ward" concept, you're probably right, but when I looked at the code, it seemed like one would only need to make changes to make_attack_normal in monster/melee2.c to get physical damage in the face of immunities to work. But I freely confess I'm no expert on the code.

Quote:
I think having immunity to elemental breath attacks is a good thing. There is really too much breath damage in the game, immunities allow the player to counteract some of it.
I tend to agree with Timo that the real problem is that the *amount* of Fire Immunity has gotten out of hand. When only Narya had it, that was probably ok. It was incredibly powerful, but, well, it *is* one of the Rings of Power after all, and by the time you found it (assuming you found it at all) you were probably pretty near to finishing the game anyway. And you certainly couldn't afford to base a strategy around *planning* to get Narya and avoiding all big fire breathers until you did. Fire Immunity certainly isn't common even now, but it is common enough that it is reasonable to wait to engage the big fire breathers until you get it. In comp 124, I found *2* items with fire immunity.

There are lots of options here. "Do nothing" is of course the main one. I would favor completely removing immunity, or at least reducing the number of items that have it: if you must have it, go back to Narya and Deathwreaker only. Maybe add a seperate ability that wards your inventory from that element, with or without some additional protection. If you think breath attacks are out of hand, then address that problem directly: reduce the maximum elemental damage. 900 (the old Moria number) seems like a good choice to me, or maybe 1200.

edit:
I completely mis-remembered this. Moria doesn't have a limit (beyond 1/3 of the monsters HP). And the max damage is 1000, not 900 (the Balrog has 3000 HP).

Last edited by bron; July 25, 2012 at 22:33.
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Old July 25, 2012, 12:49   #8
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Fixing the melee bug by simply doing physical damage + elemental damage should be enough. Nerfing immunities is not really a big deal, since elemental breathers are really not the most dangerous monsters: the max they deal is 1600/9 with double resist, while non-elemental breaths do a ton more than that, even with the corresponding resist...
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Old July 25, 2012, 14:09   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PowerWyrm View Post
Fixing the melee bug by simply doing physical damage + elemental damage should be enough. Nerfing immunities is not really a big deal, since elemental breathers are really not the most dangerous monsters: the max they deal is 1600/9 with double resist, while non-elemental breaths do a ton more than that, even with the corresponding resist...
Not everyone gets double-resists. Anyway, I think double-resist is a bit too powerful, maybe it should be like the name says double, not triple. (1/3 with single, 1/6 with double).

Main benefit from immunity is inventory and/or equipment protection. That is why fire is the second most annoying one (it burns blunt weapons, books and arrows), and most powerful one (a lot of high-level monsters hit to burn). Acid-immunity is somewhat good to keep relatively common (Thorin) because that gives you equipment protection and with disenchantment resist your gear is fully protected. IMO acid-damage is most annoying, even that damage to you (and not your gear) is weakest to all basic elements.
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Old July 25, 2012, 18:20   #10
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1200 Is probably the best number to keep the "angband" feel, cuz It still one shots (almost) anyone without resistance.
If you reduced it to 900 you'd need to nerf a lot of items so that fights would still be challenging at high level.
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