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Old April 20, 2018, 22:51   #21
Derakon
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dos350 View Post
i do hope tho they keep gameplay changes to a minimum from now on, i heard about class changes and have concerns that they are corrupting the core game, keep it all for variants please!
Ha, there's the dos350 we know and love.
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Old April 21, 2018, 00:26   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Estie View Post
Recently I have played Angband again and initially wanted to test the new classes, but as I started to play I realized that I was forcing myself to play. I didnt enjoy it. So instead, I loaded up old 3.0.9 and had a blast, at least till the endgame started with its nightmare of sorting through loads of loot.

There have been hundreds of small changes, most of which I dont like and I have been posting my opinion throughout the process, but alas, the changes were made and thats that. None of them individually are of dealbreaking proportion, but all combined have managed to ruin it for me.
Thanks for posting this. I value your opinion, and wanted to take some thinking time before I replied.

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Originally Posted by Estie View Post
I want boots of free action on level 20, stealth on 40 and speed +10 on 60 - not speed +3 on 20, +6 on 40, +10 on 60. Clearcut, powerfull, noticable bonuses with different qualities that force decisions instead of pointless and linear power trickle.
What do you see as being responsible for this?

There are difficulties guaranteeing anything in a game with random drops. I've just spent a couple of weeks playing the Oangband competition, and the problem there is that you have a decent chance of getting no bonuses of any sort, whether clearcut improvement or incremental.

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Originally Posted by Estie View Post
At some point money and drops on lvl 1 were nerfed, presumably to discourage farming. I am supposed to buy 2 recall srolls first thing when back in town, but I am human and sometimes forget, or maybe there is an expensive item I can barely afford, then I am going to farm for a ?WoR. So, ever since that change I have spent hours of time farming level 1: for ?WoR money when I previously could just clear it once and be good to go.
I suspect no-selling may have a part to play here, but I'm not sure. Have you found level 1 better for farming in 3.0.9, and if so, why?

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Originally Posted by Estie View Post
What was wrong with using a (precious) ?Banishment to get rid of Qs before opening a vault ? Or ?massbanishment to get rid of a sizable sector of non-uniques ?
As you may have seen elsewhere, I've caved on this one

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Originally Posted by Estie View Post
More generally speaking, I blame the design philosophy of "trying to discourage bad playstyles". I think it would be better to focus on making sure that there is a "good" way of playing Angband, and not worry about "abusive" techniques. If someone wants to place a golfball on a walk-around-in-circles macro key to farm lice, or kill blue wormmasses to level up, or destruct vaults to get at artifacts, let them have their fun. Point at the right path, dont try to force people to walk it.
Here I agree completely. What examples do you have of where gameplay has been made worse in the attempt to remove an abusive playstyle?

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Originally Posted by Estie View Post
I could have made better points some time ago when I was considering playing the new classes. Time has passed and my memory and focus got muddled. I delayed this post, because it was unpleasant to make. But it had to be done.

With all this, maybe I am alone and everyone else is happy with the new version. If so, I wish you the best. As for me, I am back to playing old versions, if at all, and yearn for someone to introduce rune id.
I understand the sentiments here, but as maintainer I don't think it would be a good idea to try to go back to 3.0.9 and then add back the improvements that everyone agreed on

My aim is to take the game as it is and improve it. I am attempting to do that by discussing changes on the forum to improve my understanding, and then making changes that seem to be broadly acceptable, but also in keeping with what "feels like Angband" to me. My hope is that community discussions filtered through me will result in something both mostly OK with everyone, and coherent.

So please, if you have specific issues (whether minor or major), raise them for discussion. It's not like nothing can be changed. So, for example:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Estie View Post
the Short Sword 'Sting' (1d7) (+7,+8) <+1, +3, +2>
--------------------------------------------------
+1 strength.
+1 dexterity.
+1 constitution.
+3 speed.
+2 attack speed.
+1 light.
Slays undead, orcs, animals, evil creatures.
Provides resistance to light.
Provides protection from fear.
Cannot be harmed by acid.
Grants the ability to see invisible things. Prevents paralysis.

What is this ? +1 str, dex, con - really ?
The original had +2 - either way, the main feature here is the +2 attacks, and if the creator of the original version had translated "makes the wielder a hero" with "+2 all combat stats", fine.
Now it got nerfed - a move I disagree with, for reasons posted elsewhere - but if you absolutely have to make it weaker, for Christ´s sake give it some character. Make it +3 to str only, or dex, or whatever you think is more tolkienish, but not this tastless sludge of +1 to everything.

Is this sword important ? Absolutely not,even moreso for me who never plays with standarts. But whoever made this thing has no regard for the item puzzle aspect of Angband.

/rant
this starts to give me ideas about how artifact construction and randart generation could be improved. Your idea as I understand it is that getting +1 to everything from all your equipment is silly, and it's better for every item to have a niche purpose. I agree.

As a final comment, the intent for version 4.2 was to "rework classes, races and the monster list", and I believe this is now turning into a can of worms. I think that's a good thing. The classes on the feature branch are a long way from finished; I have big plans for the monster list which will have big effects on the pacing of the game; and both those will have huge implications for objects and for dungeon generation.

My current feeling is that 4.2 will be a massive change to the game, so please (everyone) contribute and complain loudly when I get things wrong. This should be a lot of fun
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Old April 21, 2018, 20:40   #23
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I just played my first game after a while and I figured I'd write down some of my thoughts.

Whenever I come back to Angband after a break, it's always a pleasant return. I don't think there's ever been a time where I started up Angband again and didn't enjoy the game. This time was no exception. I had a lot of fun. I love seeing new things, new rooms, new mechanics, etc. I'm excited for stuff like the new classes and features. I think the most important thing that I like to see is that the game hasn't undergone stasis. It's still changing, things are being added and (rarely) removed. My opinion is that once that stops happening, Angband will undergo a slow death. It's sort of amazing it's survived as long as it has! I've been playing now for over 10 years, which is itself fairly amazing. I've gotten so much from the game, it seems way too selfish to ask for more.

Also, every time I play it reminds me of stuff I wanted to implement or add but never got around to. I always get tons of new ideas of how things would play out. Unfortunately at my job nowadays, I spend most of my day digging through code, and it's hard to motivate myself to code in my spare time also

The biggest positive change I think for the game was the improvement to monster effects, especially in the early to mid-game. The hold/scare/confuse/slow/stun monster are all much improved. They give a lot of tactical depth to the early game, which is where that stuff should be. I don't know if the spells are useful or if they are still too costly since I was playing a warrior. But regardless, just having the wands and staffs be useful is a big improvement to me.

Actually, I wouldn't mind leveraging these items even more. Taking a few and kicking up their power level so that they become key items in the midgame. Basically, I'd like alternative to teleport other to handle dangerous OoD monsters that a player just isn't supposed to be able to handle. Our reliance on TO is still one of the biggest gameplay mechanics that limits tactical depth.

I never saw healers actually do any healing. That mechanic seems cool, but is it currently working properly? Support and buffing monsters seem like an unexplored area. Right now the only support is aggravation (which itself is a bit overpowered).

Curses are interesting but they feel a bit unfinished. I think I used one cursed item for a little bit. I'm not sure how the item generation goes, but I think spawning OoD items with curses in the first half of the dungeon is a cool idea. Too often a cursed item was just a normal item with a crappy effect. I'd also love if curses could be broken through use rather than just through magical means. It's not so easy to figure out how to do this though and would probably take some significant coding work. I love the flavor of curses though, and they're way more interesting than the old sticky curse annoyance. Other tweaks on this front can also occur. One I'd like to see is changing aggravation to an occasional effect rather than an automatic one. Like you have a 1/500 chance per turn of yelling.

Some negative stuff. Vaults are way too plentiful in the last 20 floors of the dungeon. Seemingly every floor has some gigantic vault in it. I also think vaults are too big as well. But I already made a post on vault mechanics so I won't go further here.

I think cone breaths are neat, and better than the old breaths. I don't know how to calculate damage from them yet, but that's ok. One issue I do have is the increased item destruction for floor items. I feel it is more annoying than it needs to be. I think maybe floor items should also get saving throws. I don't like the current lava mechanic because it's permanent. Until we have the ability to have timed environment effects I'd rather this get removed. Once we have timed environment effects though, I'd love to see the mechanic get extended to acid, frost, and especially poison. Then we could also have improved spells like "ice storm" and "fire storm" which last multiple turns. (See DCSS fire storm and mephitic cloud for ideas).

I've felt for a long time like the last 60 levels seem to drag on more than they should. There are too many uniques and not enough is different on these levels. I don't know what nck_m is thinking about with regards to the monster list, but personally I don't think we can justify 100 levels (I also don't think any version of Angband ever did). For a long time I've recommended shrinking the game and chucking out many of the non-lore uniques. Keep or repurpose the interesting ones (like Pazuzu is renamed to Lungorthin, and Lungorthin is removed).

I think I strongly disagree with TheEstie's opinion with regard to wanting clear delineations of items. I think the game is a lot more interesting with different gradations of speed, for example. (On that note, I'd still like to try a version where speed is just movement speed and action speed is its own thing and doesn't vary much or at all)

I'll stop here I think. I probably should have jotted down my thoughts while playing, but I didn't.

edit: one more thing. I love that angband.live exists. The implementation is great. Big thanks to gwarl for setting it up. I chucked $30 or whatever 20 gbp converted to. If you like it also, you should help pay the server costs also!
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Old April 21, 2018, 22:14   #24
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Originally Posted by fizzix View Post
The biggest positive change I think for the game was the improvement to monster effects, especially in the early to mid-game. The hold/scare/confuse/slow/stun monster are all much improved. They give a lot of tactical depth to the early game, which is where that stuff should be. I don't know if the spells are useful or if they are still too costly since I was playing a warrior. But regardless, just having the wands and staffs be useful is a big improvement to me.
This boggles the mind! Did you actually use the status effects before? I feel like I'm the only one who did, which is why I'm the only one who has the opinion on them that I do.

(Also thankyou for donating, I'm just making this post an an opinionated player)
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Old April 21, 2018, 22:26   #25
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Originally Posted by Nick View Post
What do you see as being responsible for this?

There are difficulties guaranteeing anything in a game with random drops. I've just spent a couple of weeks playing the Oangband competition, and the problem there is that you have a decent chance of getting no bonuses of any sort, whether clearcut improvement or incremental.
It has become easier to get good items, I am not entirey sure why. At least part of the reason is more efficient filtering thanks to the rune system. To counter that, I believe it was Fizzix who weighted the pval by dlvl, which leads to boots of speed +3 early and +10 later. Boots of speed +3 could happen before, too, but it was not favoured over speed +10.

It should be possible to tone down on good item drops without fudging the pvals. Leave it without weight, just make boots of speed rarer on level 20.

As for guaranteeing anything, that is neither needed nor desirable. It always has been a feature to have periods of hardship broken up by lucky finds. Sometimes the lucky break comes to late, then you die trying and start anew.
I have not played O, but of course it would be possible to overdo things and make too few drops.

Quote:
I suspect no-selling may have a part to play here, but I'm not sure. Have you found level 1 better for farming in 3.0.9, and if so, why?
It simply takes less time to get 120ish gold for a ?recall. Of course I find sellable items, too, but there was a time when that was accounted for by bigger coin piles. Later those piles were reduced again specifically on the first levels or in town. I remember finding 20 gold in the average pile when no-selling was introduced first, at some point it became single digit more often than not.

This particular issue could be solved by making ?recall cheaper, but the point is that a measure to discourage farming has encouraged farming. That original intention is the point at which this whole snake should be cut off, imho.


Quote:
Here I agree completely. What examples do you have of where gameplay has been made worse in the attempt to remove an abusive playstyle?
The situation above would be one, if on small scale. The biggest that immediately comes to mind is pathfinding ai. I consider managing to get a nasty boss into a position where he stops chasing a feature, not a bug. It opens up possibilities and makes for diverse gameplay. Combat itself is only a simple exchange of blows in this game. All the interesting part is in the preparation for it.

It would be worrisome if "trapping" a boss in that way was the prevailing way of killing it, but thats not whats happening when I play 3.0.9. Many conditions contribute to how it gets fought and overall theres just so much more variety with the "bad" ai.

Note that not being able to trap bosses is not the only thing I dislike about the current ai. It also effectively increases monster density, making tactical maneuvers more difficult and thus rarer.
Furthermore, it is effectively yet another nerf to teleport other. Now teleport other, while important, is only one tool in the kit and thus not impactful enough to pick one version over the other. But making the player´s tools weaker has been a continuous process. Unanounced certainly and, as a whole, maybe not intended in this proportion ?

Whenever theres something you can do other than damaging monster, chances are it works better in older versions. Teleport other, crowd control, banishing, destructing, detecting items, you name it.

Maybe a reason why this has come to pass is the abundance of posts of the form "The game is too easy because I can just use <tool>!" - "Why dont we nerf <tool> then ?".
It seems the goal is to only give the player one decision to make - whether to attack a monster or not. Any other option would make the game easier.

Quote:
I understand the sentiments here, but as maintainer I don't think it would be a good idea to try to go back to 3.0.9 and then add back the improvements that everyone agreed on
Certainly not, and I am not recommending that.

Quote:
My aim is to take the game as it is and improve it. I am attempting to do that by discussing changes on the forum to improve my understanding, and then making changes that seem to be broadly acceptable, but also in keeping with what "feels like Angband" to me. My hope is that community discussions filtered through me will result in something both mostly OK with everyone, and coherent.

So please, if you have specific issues (whether minor or major), raise them for discussion. It's not like nothing can be changed.
<snip>
As a final comment, the intent for version 4.2 was to "rework classes, races and the monster list", and I believe this is now turning into a can of worms. I think that's a good thing. The classes on the feature branch are a long way from finished; I have big plans for the monster list which will have big effects on the pacing of the game; and both those will have huge implications for objects and for dungeon generation.

My current feeling is that 4.2 will be a massive change to the game, so please (everyone) contribute and complain loudly when I get things wrong. This should be a lot of fun
There are many more things I want to say, maybe I will do that in future posts. On the topic of trying to please everyone, from what I observe with other games, the best, maybe only way that great games are created is by people who make something they want to play themselves. So I suggest you look at everything from that perspective; if you would be happy as a player to find +1 Sting and not be bothered by it´s +1-ishness, then leave it and devote time to things you want to be different. If you make a game you enjoy playing yourself, it will be a good game with other people also wanting to play it. Whether I or any other particular individual are part of that group is not important.
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Old April 21, 2018, 23:13   #26
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Originally Posted by Gwarl View Post
This boggles the mind! Did you actually use the status effects before? I feel like I'm the only one who did, which is why I'm the only one who has the opinion on them that I do.
Yes! First of all stun and hold monster are new, so those didn't exist before. I used to remember keeping sleep and confuse as emergency items. I have very strong memories of trying to use them to escape a panther, they only worked about 50% of the time, and they woke up immediately after. Most effects bought you at most one or two turns when they worked at all.

Also at one point every unique was immune to status effects.
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Old April 22, 2018, 00:13   #27
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I distinctly remember (hell, when going back to O, I experience) wands of sleep or scare monster being almost entirely useless (there is a particular thing a decently high stealth character can do with wands of light, a long corridor, a wand of sleep monster, and a pack of light vulnerable monsters), wands of slow monster being great for killing a short list of otherwise possibly annoying monsters, but still significantly worse in every situation than a potion of speed, and wands of confuse monster occasionally distracting a monster long enough to escape, but generally also effective at most for killing some of the same monsters as slow monster. The more scary a thing was, the less I wanted to try to cripple it, which seems like the opposite of how you would want debuffs to work. They are all completely useless by the end game, because of immunities and slot pressure. They are also unreliable, which becomes less tolerable as the game goes on.

I have not played with the new status effects, but they could hardly be less interesting than the old ones. The old ones are at best a gimmick early on, comparable to throwing flasks of oil at monsters.
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Old April 22, 2018, 01:06   #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Estie View Post
The situation above would be one, if on small scale. The biggest that immediately comes to mind is pathfinding ai. I consider managing to get a nasty boss into a position where he stops chasing a feature, not a bug. It opens up possibilities and makes for diverse gameplay. Combat itself is only a simple exchange of blows in this game. All the interesting part is in the preparation for it.

It would be worrisome if "trapping" a boss in that way was the prevailing way of killing it, but thats not whats happening when I play 3.0.9. Many conditions contribute to how it gets fought and overall theres just so much more variety with the "bad" ai.

Note that not being able to trap bosses is not the only thing I dislike about the current ai. It also effectively increases monster density, making tactical maneuvers more difficult and thus rarer.
Furthermore, it is effectively yet another nerf to teleport other. Now teleport other, while important, is only one tool in the kit and thus not impactful enough to pick one version over the other. But making the player´s tools weaker has been a continuous process. Unanounced certainly and, as a whole, maybe not intended in this proportion ?

Whenever theres something you can do other than damaging monster, chances are it works better in older versions. Teleport other, crowd control, banishing, destructing, detecting items, you name it.

Maybe a reason why this has come to pass is the abundance of posts of the form "The game is too easy because I can just use <tool>!" - "Why dont we nerf <tool> then ?".
It seems the goal is to only give the player one decision to make - whether to attack a monster or not. Any other option would make the game easier.
This is a really good point.

I am aiming with the class and monster rework to have a greater variety of player/monster interactions, so for example paladins have trouble with non-evil monsters, and in general there is some monster to probe any player weakness.

I'm now thinking a similar thing needs to be done with monster weaknesses and AI versus player tools and tactics. So, for example, having multiple types of AI and monsters getting generally smarter deeper in the dungeon might be a good plan.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gwarl View Post
This boggles the mind! Did you actually use the status effects before? I feel like I'm the only one who did, which is why I'm the only one who has the opinion on them that I do.
It's gone, Gwarl, let it go

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I never saw healers actually do any healing. That mechanic seems cool, but is it currently working properly? Support and buffing monsters seem like an unexplored area. Right now the only support is aggravation (which itself is a bit overpowered).
Correct. The healer was kind of a proof of concept (by takkaria), and I'll be looking to expand on it in the monster rework. Other support is an idea too - in particular, takkaria and I have talked about maybe using group behaviour similar to what is (in fairly primitive form) in FAangband.

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Curses are interesting but they feel a bit unfinished. I think I used one cursed item for a little bit. I'm not sure how the item generation goes, but I think spawning OoD items with curses in the first half of the dungeon is a cool idea. Too often a cursed item was just a normal item with a crappy effect. I'd also love if curses could be broken through use rather than just through magical means. It's not so easy to figure out how to do this though and would probably take some significant coding work. I love the flavor of curses though, and they're way more interesting than the old sticky curse annoyance. Other tweaks on this front can also occur. One I'd like to see is changing aggravation to an occasional effect rather than an automatic one. Like you have a 1/500 chance per turn of yelling.
Good ideas - I feel like they're a bit unfinished too.

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Some negative stuff. Vaults are way too plentiful in the last 20 floors of the dungeon. Seemingly every floor has some gigantic vault in it. I also think vaults are too big as well. But I already made a post on vault mechanics so I won't go further here.
Absolutely. Basically I just slapped in all the FA vaults and interesting rooms, and didn't think very hard about it. The whole business of generating them, and how often, and range of difficulty, and relationship to template rooms needs re-examining.

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One issue I do have is the increased item destruction for floor items. I feel it is more annoying than it needs to be. I think maybe floor items should also get saving throws. I don't like the current lava mechanic because it's permanent. Until we have the ability to have timed environment effects I'd rather this get removed. Once we have timed environment effects though, I'd love to see the mechanic get extended to acid, frost, and especially poison. Then we could also have improved spells like "ice storm" and "fire storm" which last multiple turns. (See DCSS fire storm and mephitic cloud for ideas).
OK, interesting ideas. I'll need to think about the implications before I can say anything sensible.

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I've felt for a long time like the last 60 levels seem to drag on more than they should. There are too many uniques and not enough is different on these levels. I don't know what nck_m is thinking about with regards to the monster list, but personally I don't think we can justify 100 levels (I also don't think any version of Angband ever did).
I agree with the problem but not the solution here - or not yet, anyway. My current plan is to make the deeper levels more challenging, so there is a bigger difference between difficulty at the top of the dungeon and at the bottom. I think this will also mean that some monsters in the middle of the dungeon should go deeper (drolems!); there's still a bit of an artificial difficulty bulge around DL40 where Moria was getting serious. Distribution of all items, and in particular stat potions, should probably be re-examined too. In fact, I think the whole method of choosing monsters and objects to place should be up for grabs.

Less uniques I do not agree with; I'd prefer more, but also more difference between them. As to less levels, I don't think so, but I think the other stuff comes first anyway.

Good discussion everyone, very helpful
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Old April 22, 2018, 02:04   #29
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I'm now thinking a similar thing needs to be done with monster weaknesses and AI versus player tools and tactics. So, for example, having multiple types of AI and monsters getting generally smarter deeper in the dungeon might be a good plan.
Smarter enemies is a tricky topic. There are absolutely ways to make enemies smarter (take a look at Sil or, to a lesser extent, NPP), but they completely change the tone of the game. Angband, for better or for worse, is about mowing through thousands of monsters. Smart monsters do not mesh well with that theme. Smart spellcasting is especially pernicious, given the power imbalance between players and monsters. Oftentimes "smart" ends up being "annoying", because the monster refuses to allow the player to kill them.

What I would encourage you to do is think of just plain different monsters. Monsters that behave in odd ways, that encourage the player to engage with them differently than they would engage with a "normal" monster. Tweak how the monsters move: maybe there's a monster that moves very slowly but attacks very quickly, or one that leaves behind a trail of rubble, or one that moves very quickly but only in orthogonal directions. Tweak their abilities: give one the ability to spit a slime that applies a stacking slow debuff in -1 increments, or let them get stronger for every enemy they see die, or let them spend a few turns placing a turret, even if they're out of LOS of the player.

Each individual monster can still be dumb as a sack of rocks, while still posing an interesting puzzle/challenge to fight, especially in combination with other monsters. I would strongly suggest you check out Dungeonmans as an example of a roguelike where lots of monsters have small custom behaviors but they all have the same simple underlying AI.
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Old April 22, 2018, 03:08   #30
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EDIT: +1 to Derakon's post.

I don't suppose a weapon branded with poison actually sickens monsters that are not resistant to it the way @ gets sickened when he is poisoned? This might be a good addition. And maybe acid brand could corrode the AC of monsters who don't resist acid.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Estie
Note that not being able to trap bosses is not the only thing I dislike about the current ai. It also effectively increases monster density, making tactical maneuvers more difficult and thus rarer.
Furthermore, it is effectively yet another nerf to teleport other. Now teleport other, while important, is only one tool in the kit and thus not impactful enough to pick one version over the other. But making the player´s tools weaker has been a continuous process.
I haven't played 3.0.9 (I tried recently but it wouldn't load on my computer). I think I like the current version of Angband the most of any version I played (I started playing on 3.4.1 I believe).

Since randarts are quite powerful, I don't have a problem with Uniques being more difficult to deal with than other monsters (that seems appropriate since they are bosses). I like the current AI in that it keeps me on my toes. Some monsters chase me while others don't. Often it's as if they are reading my mind: when I need them to chase me they don't, and when I need them to stay put, they come after me! Ji Injur Dawndeath managed to sneak up on me and I have no idea how he did it since I TO'd him out of the vault, waited for him to come for me (he didn't). I went looking for him, then decided against it and came back to the vault and somehow he was near the entrance to the vault and snuck up behind me in the jagged tunnel I had dug (I was moving at normal speed).

Overall, I am happy with Angband becoming more difficult, especially the plans to have the bottom of the dungeon more dangerous, as it is often as safe as the first ten levels are for my burgeoning @, which never quite felt right, since a game should reach its pinnacle of excitement near its end (though I still contend DL95 is significantly more dangerous than DL64).

I used to not really like that the difficulty level would spike around DL40 but I've gotten used to it now. Lots of exciting things happen in my games between DL40 and DL52. One thing I've learned is if you don't give up, no matter how bleak it seems it is getting, and the more despair you feel, the more often @ is delivered at the last minute when all hope is lost. Take the Ironman game I blogged about; I actually almost committed suicide because I was convinced the game was over and it seemed pointless to play it through. But then I was like, well, let's just see... maybe by some miracle I'll make it to the stairs. I really didn't think so, but by several strokes of luck (after having already survived a Lorgan encounter I should have died to when all my escapes were used up, including ?phase doors) I managed to live another level, and then went on to win the game. I guess my point is, the game is more exciting and interesting when things are a bit unpredictable and the same tool or strategy cannot always be relied on every single game.

One thing I like about forced descent games (particularly ironman, although the wussy part of me that wants to feel I have some level of control over my destiny only recently has been daring the mode) is that you can't scum for that one crucial tool that you feel you need in order to progress further (teleport other, for example). I'm actually beginning to like that I can't just go home and buy another 40 ?phase doors whenever I run low because I was being carless and frivolous with them. It forces me to pay more attention.

In fact, maybe Angband should be moving away from the current trend of having more things always stocked in the stores: for example, it wasn't always the case you'd always find ?Word of Recall (I'm not sure about other essentials) but now you'll always find !CLW, ?Phase Doors, ?Word of Recall, ?remove curse, ?Books, (okay, the books can stay, but maybe the 4th book should be only a sometimes show in the shop). What I'm driving at is that if what was available in the shops was less predictable, then there might be more diversification of tactics and tools used, and overall each trip to the dungeon might be a little more different than the last.

You are forced to get creative in order to survive when the usual tool you rely on is not available (I'll never forget the time _Earthquakes trapped Lorgan, saving my skin).

In my current game I was using two rings of escaping since TO wasn't showing up. And I'm learning other new tactics to increase my chances of survival when I don't have TO, but when I have other means of teleportation:

1) If you ?phase door in a small room, you are guaranteed to phase out of the room if any corner of the room is less than 10 squares from @'s position. And if you have a sense of the distance that teleportation will take you (apparently the distance is tied to your character level), and you know there is a scary monster between you and a place you are trying to get to, you can position yourself in the map to guarantee that you will teleport to the side of the map you are trying to get to. (if you are just west of the middle, you will always teleport to the easternmost part of the map since the distance to the far western part of the map is too short, once you reach a reasonable CL (like 26 or 28 or something).

It seems if you can always just rely on one powerful tool that is super strong every game, than gameplay can get a bit stale, and thus could be seen as a bit of a weakness in game design. Although admittedly finding rods of TO is always a big milestone in my games; a point of celebration.

I don't think we need less Uniques; I'm happy for more, but would like to see some with some truly unique behaviors. Maybe a new Undead unique that not only summons @ to it, but holds @ next to it for a turn or two. It's not paralysis, since @ can still do stuff, he just can't walk away; as if his feet are stuck to the ground. Not sure if he'd still be able to ?phase or teleport, but he would still be able to melee, shoot arrows, read scrolls etc, or cast spells, but the Undead would then touch to drain @'s hitpoints to restore his; so this could be a dirty trick that the unique would pull when he was getting low on hitpoints. (In warcraft 2 death knights had a spell called deathcoil that would deal 50 damage and heal 50 hitpoints.

To add to Fizzix ideas on vaults: maybe there could be a medium sized square room with four hallways entering the room at the center of each wall. If you have good stealth, you can walk into the room (vault) and grab the goods and leave before the OoD unique guarding the loot wakes up, but if he wakes up and you're still inside the vault, great stone blocks fall from the ceiling blocking the escape to the entrances, one at a time, kind of like how Saruman in Orthanc closes the 4 doors on Gandalf one at a time (in the Fellowship of the Ring film). Maybe a bit silly, but I miss the DL13 vaults that used to show up on one of the earlier versions of Anband back in my early days.

So this could be an early vault before a less tricksy class like Warrior has stone to mud or a ring of digging or teleportation. If you can grab the loot and ?phase away before the OoD unique whomps on you, great, but if you have to ?phase away before you can grab the loot, you won't be able to get back inside the vault if you are unable to remove granite. Basically this would be a vault type that would favor certain classes while being more difficult for other classes, but wouldn't be certain death if you tried it and failed, since the unique guarding it would then be trapped inside the vault.

I like the idea of uniques that are able to modify the environment. So maybe the same (early game) unique that is found in the the above vault wouldn't necessarily always be in a vault. If @ came upon him in a normal part of a level, near a passageway, he'd have a chance to cause large stones to fall from the ceiling blocking entrances to hallways, thus changing the layout of the map, that @ could use to his advantage to escape (if you ?phase on the other side of a blocked hallway, then the unique would have blocked himself from being able to reach @).

A similar unique could be an Umber Hulk native to DL55, with 4000 hitpoints. It would behave the same way as the one in the vault, but it would be able to pass through walls and would always pursue you if you TO'd it away (the way maeglin always pursues you). He'd be quite the tricky little bugger to deal with since whenever he would be near a passageway while in line of sight of @ he'd have a decent chance of causing the rocks from the ceiling to fall and block an entrance to a hallway (and thus an escape for @).

I like the the new lava elements being blasted on the dungeon floor from greater balrogs etc. It's fun to then move on a lava square and use it like a ?rune of protection against Undead uniques (since randarts mean I almost always have fire immunity by the time monsters are melting the dungeon floor). Anyway, just some thoughts and ideas from someone who has been playing this game a ton for the last 6 months or so.
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