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Old June 24, 2014, 23:29   #1
Nick
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Angband Philosophy I: Player choice

I have outlined a few of my ideas about maintaining, but probably not very coherently. This (and maybe even follow-up posts) will be an attempt to be a bit more thorough.

It seems to me that one of the big strengths of Angband is the freedom of choice it gives to its players. There are two fixed objectives, and how you achieve those is very largely up to you. As a consequence, we have

Rule 1: Angband is a game you are playing against yourself.

So if you're "cheating", you're only cheating yourself (unless you're playing in a competition where there are defined rules and an honour system and you go against that).

Now I'm taking the responsibility for maintaining Angband, but that doesn't make me the boss of it. I'd certainly feel a bit silly telling someone like Timo how to play, and if it's like that for Timo, why should it be any different for a new player? Which brings us to

Rule 2: How you play Angband is up to you.

Back in the days of rgra, there used to be a standard pattern when anyone complained about some aspect of the game: a small amount of discussion, and then if they were still complaining, someone would say "You should make a variant".

So one of my big goals is to make the game easier to modify. Don't like hounds, or identify, or the mage spells? Change 'em. And while there will still be a standard (erm, Vanilla) Angband which is the one that's released, I will be encouraging people to mess with stuff and see whether they like it better.

Discuss.
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Old June 24, 2014, 23:47   #2
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(1) By all means. Competitions should IMO prohibit save-scumming, but I don't see anything wrong with having it as a difficulty option, that is clearly marked in the save file.

- Note "difficulty option", not "cheat option". It makes the game easier. It doesn't make it not-a-even-a-game-anymore, which is what Cheat Death does.

- Also, since I am now working full-time, I can see very well where people would rather save-scum than have to restart from scratch every time a character dies.

tl;dr it's a game. It's supposed to be fun. It has to accommodate real life, not the other way around.

(2) Yes please. I'll admit that V and its quirky codebase have some charm, but that charm quickly wears thin when you get serious about adding new features.

...

So, yeah, looks like I agree completely.
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Old June 25, 2014, 00:05   #3
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What I find interesting now is how the apparent traffic on oook (ladder uploads) is largely divided between Sil and Poschengband, which basically represent the most extreme dipoles that one could take when designing an angband variant. I'm not sure that variants that just change a thing or two will have much traction, but I'm willing to find out. (It also helps that those two variants have fairlyt frequent rewleases , whereas most others have stagnated.)
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Old June 25, 2014, 08:36   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick View Post
So one of my big goals is to make the game easier to modify. Don't like hounds, or identify, or the mage spells? Change 'em.
Some sort of standardized spell file like monster.txt with easy to understand syntax that game then parses as spell?

Code:
N:1:Magic missile
T:Bolt:mana
C:multi
D:<damage code goes here in some fashion>
Something like that?
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Old June 25, 2014, 12:30   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Timo Pietilš View Post
Some sort of standardized spell file like monster.txt with easy to understand syntax that game then parses as spell?

Code:
N:1:Magic missile
T:Bolt:mana
C:multi
D:<damage code goes here in some fashion>
Something like that?
Yes - here's an example:
Code:
spell:Stinking Cloud:3:2:27:3
effect:PROJECT
dice:$B
expr:B:PLAYER_LEVEL:/ 2 + 10
ball:POIS:2
desc:Shoots a radius-2 poison ball.
I should point out that much of this is molybdenum's work.
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Old June 25, 2014, 14:46   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by debo View Post
What I find interesting now is how the apparent traffic on oook (ladder uploads) is largely divided between Sil and Poschengband, which basically represent the most extreme dipoles that one could take when designing an angband variant. I'm not sure that variants that just change a thing or two will have much traction, but I'm willing to find out. (It also helps that those two variants have fairlyt frequent rewleases , whereas most others have stagnated.)
I suspect that "mini-variants" wouldn't get an especially large player base, but they would serve as good test-beds for new changes. "Hey, I did X to the game, and I really like how it plays, you should try it out" is a lot more convincing than "I think doing X would be a good idea".
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Old June 25, 2014, 14:53   #7
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Originally Posted by Derakon View Post
I suspect that "mini-variants" wouldn't get an especially large player base, but they would serve as good test-beds for new changes. "Hey, I did X to the game, and I really like how it plays, you should try it out" is a lot more convincing than "I think doing X would be a good idea".
I entirely agree. This is also how I motivated for some game changes like making teleport other a bolt. There was a ton of theorizing, somewhat convincingly, by Eddie and others that if it was a bolt, it would force players to use ASCs and summoning would be too overpowered. Turns out that that wasn't true, and the only way to figure that out was to play a few games with it.

Unfortunately, it takes far more time to play a game of angband, than it does to make a few in game modifications. So this wasn't really feasible to do.

I had asked Nick about pulling a lot of the game constants out into an edit or namelist file. And if I ever get the motivation to start it, it would be great. (Once it's started and I figure out how to do it, or see how someone else did it, it'll be easy to replicate). The idea here would be it would allow the player to really modify some important features of the game without compiling. Stuff like monster spawn rates, OoD levels, item drop curves, vault parameters, level size, monster/loot density, etc etc. Whereas, now the edit files act like a surgical tool, where you can change a single parameter or monster with ease, it's more difficult (you need to recompile) to change some of the larger features of the game. As such we're missing out on a whole range of exploratory space for players to run around in.
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Old June 26, 2014, 00:50   #8
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I agree with both points, and that's why I am against any enforced mechanic about level scumming or fully exploring levels and taking your time (like invincible mob spawning or some sort of "hurry" mechanism). That said I would love some birth options that could add those options and more, like no shopping or no level regeneration.
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Old June 27, 2014, 04:17   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lionmaruu View Post
I agree with both points, and that's why I am against any enforced mechanic about level scumming or fully exploring levels and taking your time
I'm guessing "about" -> "against".

I agree. This is why I hated Sil. It forces you to dive which is too big violation against my preferences that I can't play it. No matter how good it could otherwise be. Forced diving is also against basic angband philosophy: infinite dungeon, infinite time to complete game.
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Old June 27, 2014, 08:16   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Timo Pietilš View Post
I'm guessing "about" -> "against".

I agree. This is why I hated Sil. It forces you to dive which is too big violation against my preferences that I can't play it. No matter how good it could otherwise be. Forced diving is also against basic angband philosophy: infinite dungeon, infinite time to complete game.
Angband has in fact heavy handed mechanisms about level scumming in place, it simply inflates most early finds out of utility. Just ask yourself how much of your early game equipment is still with you in the endgame, how often you use potions collected early, later on etc. And the choice about inflation is as much a "player choice" as is forced descent in other games.
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