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Old July 13, 2018, 19:47   #1
hghwyrbbr
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Lightbulb Making earlier levels a bit more interesting

Apologies if this post should go in some other forum - please let me know if that is the case.
I think Angband is awesome, but the aspect of it I dislike is the extreme scarcity (or rarity) of really good items in the earlier levels.
I get the idea that this encourages taking risks, diving down as much as possible to grab good loot, and I can see that any sort of "autoscumming" system would end up spoiling the game.

I recently messed with the code a bit, and came up with the following idea, that I'm finding quite entertaining: when the player visits a level for the first time ever, an object feeling of 6 or greater is guaranteed for the level. Afterwards, the object feeling for that level defaults to what the game currently does.
I'm finding that this makes the early grind less boring, while keeping things fairly balanced: scumming is impractical because after the first time you visit a level good items become again scarce on that level.
My code tweak is definitely crude - basically I wrapped a while loop around the level generation, and created a "level visited" static array to keep track of the depths already visited by the player.
If enough people like this idea at all, maybe it could be implemented as an option by some more experienced developer?
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Old July 13, 2018, 19:54   #2
Pete Mack
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That is seriously unbalanced, unless you are recreating autoscum, where the level feeling is a combination of monster and object importance. Even then, it was unbalanced, but not as badly.
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Old July 13, 2018, 20:45   #3
hghwyrbbr
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Hey, thanks for the quick answer!
This is the first time I play around with the mechanics of a game, and I'm here to learn - these things are interesting to me. Just trying to say, I don't mean to annoy or pester!
With that said, here are a few annoying and pestering questions for you:

My understanding of the concept of "balance", in a game like Angband, is: "the game should not become too easy for the player too quickly." Am I correct?
The one thing I dislike about Angband, is that balance (if my definition of it is correct) seems to be achieved primarily via extreme scarcity of good items in the earlier levels.
But as a consequence of this, isn't it supremely frustrating to play for a while in the initial stages of a game, especially for more "fragile" players like high-elf mages for example?
Speaking of balance, isn't the early game a bit imbalanced *against* weaker classes?
Balance in games should go hand in hand with the game being "interesting". For me, the definition of an "interesting" game is "a game where luck and boring grind play only a small role, and success comes with mostly skill on the player's part."
True, in Angband mages become basically tanks in the later game, but you need quite a bit of luck AND grind early on, to survive long enough and manage to get some good items. As a player I like the challenge, but when too much luck and/or too much grind is needed to succeed, games become frustrating - basically the opposite of "interesting".

So, is there anything that could be done to make the early game more "interesting"?
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Old July 13, 2018, 21:15   #4
Derakon
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hghwyrbbr View Post
My understanding of the concept of "balance", in a game like Angband, is: "the game should not become too easy for the player too quickly." Am I correct?
Kind of. It's more that the player should be making interesting choices. And interesting choices largely come from being threatened; after all, if there is no serious threat, then it hardly matters what you do, right?

Quote:
The one thing I dislike about Angband, is that balance (if my definition of it is correct) seems to be achieved primarily via extreme scarcity of good items in the earlier levels.
But as a consequence of this, isn't it supremely frustrating to play for a while in the initial stages of a game, especially for more "fragile" players like high-elf mages for example?

...

Balance in games should go hand in hand with the game being "interesting". For me, the definition of an "interesting" game is "a game where luck and boring grind play only a small role, and success comes with mostly skill on the player's part."

...

So, is there anything that could be done to make the early game more "interesting"?
You do not need to grind as a mage. With their spells alone they're entirely capable of continuing to progress deeper into the dungeon. Indeed, of all the classes, gear matters least for mages in the early game. I fully expect you could take a mage down to level 20 without any equipment aside from a light source.

You shouldn't need to grind as any class, really, unless you're doing certain challenges like bookless-artifactless (or bookless-artifactless-egoless) where you're heavily reliant on getting certain fairly rare items like a +15 or better Ring of Speed. Your class's native abilities, plus gear available in town, should be entirely sufficient to get you through the early game, which is the part I believe you're suggesting should be updated.

If you want the game to be interesting, try crash-diving instead. Take every down staircase you see, push up against the limits of your skill, and try to survive anyway. I guarantee that will be more interesting than hanging out collecting unearned loot.
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Old September 12, 2018, 17:11   #5
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Early OP loot can trivialize later levels, you want to be sure you're not making 2-20 boring in an attempt to make 1 interesting. Spiking loot power at lvl 1 means spiking dlvl 2 etc. Otherwise lvl 2 loot is now junk compared to what you found on 1
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Old September 12, 2018, 17:32   #6
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Yes, OP loot isnt good. Finding a thanc at DL 5 once is good. Finding it in a large fraction of games is a design error. The other thing that has changed is there is less pressure to advance. There used to at least be lethal traps at low level, and for humans with a torch, floating eyes. Those are no longer a risk, soa more cautious game becomes optimal. OOD monsters would be a good replacement. Make them up to (say) 7 levels out of depth at early levels, and slow advancement becomes more dangerous. This becomes a low level alternative to special rooms, dangerous pits, and vaults.
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Old September 12, 2018, 18:52   #7
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That .. is a very bad idea.

Loot -6 at DL1 means a longbow of power, or a thanc dagger, a wand of fireball, or so. These should exist, but by no means should they be guaranteed.

If, from a practical aspect, you have -6 loot on every DL from 1 to 20, by the time you are at dl20 you are ready to enter the endgame.

Even a sling of power is an OP item when you start. Stuff like longbow of extra shots or of might means you can just waltz through 30 levels.

With normal distribution, you would get maybe 2~4 loot 6 levels between DL1 and DL20. Reaching DL20 with a thanc, phial, decent armor, and maybe 1-2 ood drops is ok. Reaching it with 20+ loot 6 drops trivializes the game, to the point where ... no, just no.
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Old September 12, 2018, 19:32   #8
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@Sky--
I think you misread my post. I asked for OOD monsters, not OOD loot--and less loot than is currently common in the early game. It used to be common that you would be headinv towards DL 30 with a maul of slay evil or some other suboptimal weapon. Now it is genuinely bad luck if you don't have a *thanc or near equivalent.
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Old September 13, 2018, 17:11   #9
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... was answering the OP.

Ooh i see what you mean. I hadnt noticed your reply.
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Old September 13, 2018, 17:44   #10
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Suggest you quote the post you're responding to in future, to avoid such misunderstandings. Otherwise it's assumed that your post is a response to the immediately prior post.
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