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Old November 22, 2020, 22:20   #1
Aldernut
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No searching

I decided to try out 4.2.1 Vanilla.

Even in the first dungeon level, I'm running into long corridors which obviously end in a secret door. Previously, I would have found one in a few rounds by searching, yet now it's not possible.

I don't understand why.

It's not immersive and it limits player agency. It also leads into these kind of situations, where map design isn't congruent with changed gameplay options. It's been in various old roguelikes for decades for a reason.

Is there something obvious I'm missing? If not, please note my respectful protest.
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Old November 22, 2020, 23:10   #2
Estie
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There are no hidden doors anymore, only traps. The dead ends you encountered were just that.

Searching still exists, but is done automatically and cant be improved on by pressing a key. There is no gameplay mechanic to improve on your chances to find traps except wearing gear with +searching or casting the relevant spell (mages get it, no one else I dont think).

Traps are fewer overall and there are patterns which youll eventually learn; but mostly, I suggest ignoring the issue and just dealing with found traps as appropriate. Apart from the old annoying trapdoors, the only ones posing a real threat are summoning traps. Triggering explosive traps on chests destroys the content. Traps come in two kinds - mechanical and magical - and the chance to disarm either varies depending on class/race and is displayed on the character screen. Wormtongue and others still can create traps.

Personally I havent bothered carrying disarm devices hitherto; however, I am reconsidering this policy when playing toons with bad disarm skill to ensure chest drops.
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Old November 23, 2020, 00:26   #3
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Originally Posted by Estie View Post
There are no hidden doors anymore, only traps. The dead ends you encountered were just that.

There are lots of hidden doors, they might not be at dead ends any more, but they're there
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Old November 23, 2020, 00:38   #4
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Really ? I seem to remember they were removed...my bad then.

I am trying to reconcile this information with my playing experience. So when I have information outside searching, for example from magic mapping or ESP, that there might be a secret door at some spot, I can do nothing to find it ?
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Old November 23, 2020, 01:00   #5
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Secret doors are now immediately recognised on standing next to them, or by detect doors (which almost no-one gets now).

One of the reasons for this change was the gameplay pattern of seeing on obvious secret door location (or worse knowing there's one in a room you've come downstairs into), and then having to spam 's' until it appears
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Old November 23, 2020, 01:12   #6
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Ah, thanks. So basically I remembered right - "secret" doors are automatically detected, so not really secret. Thats reassuring.
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Old November 23, 2020, 01:26   #7
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Originally Posted by Nick View Post
Secret doors are now immediately recognised on standing next to them, or by detect doors (which almost no-one gets now).

One of the reasons for this change was the gameplay pattern of seeing on obvious secret door location (or worse knowing there's one in a room you've come downstairs into), and then having to spam 's' until it appears
But why is this bad?

I mean, by removing it, also emergent gameplay is removed. Stuff like "This is a long tunnel. There's probably a secret door, but I can't see it. Do I spend time searching while running out of light, growing hungry and possibly getting more monsters to come here, or do I cut my losses and go elsewhere?"

In a room you described, the emergent gameplay is similar. Do I search, go back up the stairs or use alternative detection measures?

With traps, situations are lost where you know to be traps. Places such as heavily trapped treasure vaults can't now be searched, which is the kind of meticulous adventuring roguelikes have. What would Indiana Jones do?

On top of this comes immersion and agency. People can search for traps and secret doors, but now, here, you can't, even when you need to. Instead of being given a choice of action, the game makes the choice for you.

And then there's tradition. I remember playing Nethack in the early 90s - it had traps, secret doors and searching. That's around 30 years ago. Why so long? I think because it's been a good feature, which offers exactly emergent gameplay, player agency and immersion.
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Old November 23, 2020, 05:42   #8
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Originally Posted by Aldernut View Post
I mean, by removing it, also emergent gameplay is removed. Stuff like "This is a long tunnel. There's probably a secret door, but I can't see it. Do I spend time searching while running out of light, growing hungry and possibly getting more monsters to come here, or do I cut my losses and go elsewhere?"

In a room you described, the emergent gameplay is similar. Do I search, go back up the stairs or use alternative detection measures?
There is still a choice the player can make in those two cases. One can go elsewhere, use some sort of magic mapping if available, or walk/run to the end of the long corridor or around the perimeter of the room to see if there's a secret door. The drawback of the last is similar to that for searching in earlier versions: more turns spent in the dungeon (though the extra turns from pressing 's' are no longer there).
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Old November 23, 2020, 06:10   #9
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I have given this some thought, and come up against the problem that fully explaining why this is bad - or rather why it is no longer in Angband - would require a summary of years (probably decades) of discussion and player experience in the Angband community. These things did not happen suddenly, but rather as the result of a long process of trying to get the game mechanic that best suits this game.

I'll try to illustrate with the example of traps (and I hope I have my history close enough to correct). Originally we have traps, and the player can search for them, and maybe some classes have magic to deal with them.
This seems good, but then how often should the player search, and when? Some players learn by experience when traps are likely to be present and can make an informed choice (and I guess we only see Indiana Jones searching for traps when there is one there because that's how movie heroes work, and he doesn't do it as often as someone has to in a winning game of Angband).
But for many players it's just a randomish chore with arbitrary punishments, and for those with obsessive tendencies (in my experience, not under-represented in roguelike communities) it can be psychologically painful. So we introduce more magic to detect traps, until every spellcasting class gets a utility "Detect Traps" spell fairly early on.
But now what about warriors? And isn't it unfair that you can be killed by a pit trap on level 1 before you can detect it? So we nerf low level traps, and make rods of Trap Location easy to find. Now trap finding is straightforward, and everyone has access to it, and we even make marks in the dungeon showing where traps have been detected and where they haven't.
But now everyone can detect traps all the time, and the only chance to hit a trap unexpectedly is if you forget to detect - so the "oops I hit a trap" moment only teaches us to always remember to detect, and there is no interesting player choice remaining.

The current system in Angband is that the player has a (and one only) chance to notice a trap, depending on their searching skill. So while there's no tactical control over individual traps, there is a strategic decision (race, class, equipment) on what level of trap-hitting risk the player is prepared to accept. It undoubtedly doesn't mimic how traps work in relevant books or movies, or even in pen and paper RPGs, but a game the size of Angband is a completely different animal.

Of course, a different direction could have been taken at any of the decision points above, and we would have a different game. But we have Angband of the 20s, not Nethack of the 90s. The core gameplay of modern Angband, in my opinion, is that it has clear, consistent ways that the world works, and emergent gameplay comes from the interactions between these; and that these systems are generally designed to present the player with interesting gameplay choices.

I hope this has been helpful, or at least not unhelpful
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Old November 23, 2020, 13:07   #10
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Good reply, thanks Nick.

I remember first playing around 1995 and the trap and searching mechanic was really exciting. But at this time everything was really exciting (and also I didn't know any different). Back then I was, by today's standards, a mediocre player who didn't really understand half the dungeon strategies. Nowadays it would be such a chore having to go through all the searching mechanic just to try to keep low level characters alive. These days I'm rocketing to level 40 in the space of a few hours. Back then I was literally crawling (and save scumming) my way up the ladder.
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