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Old June 22, 2011, 18:51   #1
Therem Harth
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Opinion: speed is too important (and some ideas for changing that)

In real life, a man with a sword - even a highly trained man - would have a very poor chance in combat against a tiger (to use one of Angband's animals as an example). This is in part because tigers are very, very fast (they can run at about 50 mph).

Fortunately for us boredom-prone geeks, Angband Is Not Real Life (TM), and you can just start a new character after the tiger has its fill. But unfortunately, IMO, speed is still a big big deal in Angband. I would like to see this changed.

Basically, I think that requiring a bunch of +speed items in the late game is fundamentally cheesy. I know, I'm not typically in favor of such changes; but personally, I'd rather that speed stopped being a necessity, and was instead something very useful but also very rare.

So I've come up with some ideas for reducing the importance of speed...

1. Parrying.

Example of what happens now:

-> Your speedy warrior happens upon a hulking mithril golem! You attack it and draw back, let it blunder after you, and repeat until it is destroyed.

Example of what I would like to see happen:

-> Your warrior happens upon a mithril golem, and you attack it. You hit it, hoping to pull back and let it follow you... But it knocks aside your blow and parries, smacking you for some nasty amount of HP, and forcing you to retreat.

IOW: in the event that a blow misses or is absorbed by armor, monsters and players get a chance of parrying, and hitting back at their opponent. Having high AC becomes important - it means that, when something faster than you comes along, you can parry its hits and kill it. Likewise, meleeing golems and other high-AC monsters becomes more dangerous.

2. Casting speed.

Let's assume that a spell in Angband requires more than just shouting "Avada kadavra!" or whatever. It requires concentration; it requires the right words to be pronounced with the right intonations; it requires thoughts to be thought in the right order.

IOW it's completely different from movement and attack speed. If a fast but not very bright mage casts a spell, it would take the same number of absolute (game) turns as if they cast it without their +speed stuff.

So there could be casting speed for mages and priests, based on some stat (maybe dexterity for mages and charisma for priests). For monsters, there could be a value for how many game turns it takes them to cast a spell, with the value being lower for some of the more powerful spellcasters.

The same, of course, should apply for players using magic devices. Devices should probably take a shorter time than directly cast spells, but their speed should definitely not depend on movement speed.

3. Projectile damage.

Personally I think extra shots should be removed from the game entirely. One shot takes a certain number of game turns, period.

On the other hand, projectile weapons should do a lot more damage, and have a lot more chance of getting past armor. This is not strictly realistic, but I think it fits: you have one shot before the critter gets in melee range, make it count, that kind of deal.

...

That's all for now. What do you guys think?

(And note that, while I'm putting this in the V forum, I'm aware it would be better material for a variant...)
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Old June 22, 2011, 19:10   #2
Derakon
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It all comes down to game balance. Right now speed is common (in the sense that all winning characters have a significant amount of it) and powerful. If you want to make it uncommon, then suddenly the player is way less powerful than they used to be; either you have to weaken monsters to suit (in which case you've basically just removed speed from the game entirely; not very interesting) or you have to find some other benefit to give the player to compensate. Or you accept that you've just made the game very hard indeed, but I don't think that "any monster past 3000' can kill you if they feel like it" is the kind of difficulty we're shooting for.

I'd guess your complaint can basically be boiled down to "speed acts as a multiplier on everything an actor (player or monster) does". Not only do you move twice as fast; you also attack twice as fast, cast twice as fast, shoot twice as fast, and so on.

You could definitely split that out and make the current speed only relate to movement speed. A very fast monster can now close with the player at extreme speed, but once they're in melee range, they trade blows with the player as if they were at speed parity. Likewise, that very fast monster would need to spend an entire "normal-speed" turn to cast a spell. Obviously this would greatly decrease the importance of speed, since most fights are spent in melee range for most classes. It would also, I suspect, make the game much easier, since there's currently a lengthy period during which the player is not at speed parity with most of the monsters in the dungeon.

You can of course compensate for the decreased difficulty by adding speed factors for whatever you please and end up with stuff basically as fine-grained as you like. This basically amounts to taking the speed modifier and splitting it up into (more) attack speed modifiers, shooting speed modifiers, casting speed modifiers, item-use speed modifiers, and so on. I suspect you'd end up with a heck of a lot of modifiers by the end to encompass all the things that speed currently can do for you. This would make equipment optimization more difficult.

There's also some issue of opacity when it comes to monster danger. Do you know how many times a given monster can hit you per one of your moves before it does so? What about casting? Currently speed is obvious on sight, but you don't learn what and how many melee attacks a monster has until it's hit you with them. A theoretical "spring-loaded blade golem" monster might move very slowly but attack you 16 times/round when in melee, which would be a nasty surprise.

In short, when you talk about removing one of the cornerstones of Angband's tactics, you have a lot to deal with.
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Old June 22, 2011, 20:09   #3
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I'm bemused that the OP's three suggestions don't actually have anything much to do with the current implementation of +speed.

Parrying is definitely something that should be considered in the long-term reworking of combat mechanics.

Casting speed is in fact already implemented: the energy use of a caster is 100 - clev + spell level, so a cl50 mage casting magic missile uses only 51 energy, i.e. casts almost twice as fast as a cl1 mage. There's obviously more that can be done with this, but it's a start.

I don't agree with extra shots being removed (in fact I want Sangband's triple crossbows!), but I do agree that arrows/bolts ought to have higher armour penetration. Again, when we look at combat properly, this is something we need to bear in mind.

Personally I don't think the speed/energy model is broken, because we can balance all of melee, missiles and casting around it. It's a lot of work to break up the concept of "speed" into different in-game variables, and it's not immediately obvious what would be gained over the current implementation.
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Old June 22, 2011, 20:36   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Magnate View Post
Casting speed is in fact already implemented: the energy use of a caster is 100 - clev + spell level, so a cl50 mage casting magic missile uses only 51 energy, i.e. casts almost twice as fast as a cl1 mage. There's obviously more that can be done with this, but it's a start.
What, really? I had no idea this was in the game. I don't know that it changes strategy any, but...hunh.
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Old June 22, 2011, 20:38   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Derakon View Post
What, really? I had no idea this was in the game. I don't know that it changes strategy any, but...hunh.
Yup. It came in at the same time as fractional blows, but for obvious reasons attracted far less attention.
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Old June 23, 2011, 01:40   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Magnate View Post
Yup. It came in at the same time as fractional blows, but for obvious reasons attracted far less attention.
Surprising it has not attracted more comment since... it would seem to make all casters much more effective... doubling cast speed at L50??

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Old June 23, 2011, 02:03   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Derakon View Post
You could definitely split that out and make the current speed only relate to movement speed. A very fast monster can now close with the player at extreme speed, but once they're in melee range, they trade blows with the player as if they were at speed parity. Likewise, that very fast monster would need to spend an entire "normal-speed" turn to cast a spell. Obviously this would greatly decrease the importance of speed, since most fights are spent in melee range for most classes. It would also, I suspect, make the game much easier, since there's currently a lengthy period during which the player is not at speed parity with most of the monsters in the dungeon.
I like this idea. As it stands speed basically multiplies the offensive output both of players and of monsters and incidentally affects chase speed. Make it only affect ground speed and you could make monsters better able to chase the character down without also making them absolute terrors in combat. Also lets you make monsters slower without killing their offense so badly. Basically tightens the focus of speed into something you use to advance or retreat better and not something that you need to survive. Reducing the power of speed would unfortunately reduce the usefulness of slow monster after so much work had been put into fixing it.
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Old June 23, 2011, 02:04   #8
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Doubled casting speed for a level 50 mage casting a level 1 spell. That's rather less special.
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Old June 23, 2011, 02:07   #9
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Originally Posted by Derakon View Post
Doubled casting speed for a level 50 mage casting a level 1 spell. That's rather less special.
Oh, OK. I misread the previous post.

It may still help in some situations e.g. bash/heal/bash play for priest or pally?

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