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Old July 23, 2016, 17:04   #1
t4nk
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The -more- prompt

Don't know where to post this, in this forum or in Development... this is a question for players, though, so I guess it belongs here.
What are the reasons for keeping the -more- thing? Do you play with it? Do you find it useful? If yes, why?
For me, this is just an interface screw and it has no reason to exist; it's just a relic from the past (when the game had only one term). Messages already can go to their own subwindow, you can view them there. I always played with "auto_more" and didn't notice any bad effects from doing so.
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Old July 23, 2016, 17:09   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by t4nk View Post
Don't know where to post this, in this forum or in Development... this is a question for players, though, so I guess it belongs here.
What are the reasons for keeping the -more- thing? Do you play with it? Do you find it useful? If yes, why?
For me, this is just an interface screw and it has no reason to exist; it's just a relic from the past (when the game had only one term). Messages already can go to their own subwindow, you can view them there. I always played with "auto_more" and didn't notice any bad effects from doing so.
I don't think I would mind it being removed as long as we instead get a multi-line log in the main window. (And such a log needs to done in such a way as to be really clear about delineating the player's turns.)
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Old July 23, 2016, 17:59   #3
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I still use a single window setup at the minimum possible size because I play in short bursts of downtime while I'm working and it's easier to switch between windows that way. So -more- prompts are useful to see the individual messages go by under that setup. (Though admittedly, 99% of the time when there's a long chain of them I just hold down the Escape key to clear them and use ^P if I think I missed something, so it's not exactly that big a deal.)

The problem with a multi-line display in the main window is that the minimum window size is only 24 rows high, which accommodates a single message line and just enough room to display the full inventory a-w without needing to introduce scrolling. So more lines would bork that and steal valuable map display space from anyone restricted to the 24x80 screen size. (Assuming there are even still Angband ports out there that actually strictly enforce it - on portable devices, maybe?)
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Old July 24, 2016, 00:42   #4
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I don't always use a message window, so I do rely on -more- prompts sometimes; and for things like termcasting, people sometimes want to play in just a single curses window.

UnAngband has a multi-line system, where extra lines just write over the top of the map (and can be cleared with escape or space if necessary) which works pretty well.

I'm inclined to think that it would be best to either the -more- prompt or have multi-line messages, but maybe players would just get used to using ^P to look back. Maybe you could have some sort of indicator that there have been messages that didn't make the top line? What do other people think?
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Old July 24, 2016, 00:58   #5
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I think messages and message spam can be improved a lot. Specifically, colored messages to describe specific situations. Also we can really work on simplifying the message interface. Instead of:

The x hits you, the x misses you, the x bites you, you are poisoned, the x bites you, you are more poisoned.

We could have:

The x hits, misses, bites, bites. You are poisoned.

You can put the damage amounts in there, and you can color them differently, weak hits could be yellow, stronger, orange, really strong red. Status effect hits could be blue, or similar.

All roguelikes I've played seem to have this message spam and it makes it really difficult to figure out what happened. Angband is actually better than others (like DCSS or ToME, which the worst of any roguelike I've played for message spam). But we can still improve.
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Old July 24, 2016, 01:11   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fizzix View Post
I think messages and message spam can be improved a lot.
OK, so what I would really like to see is the following:
  1. All messages moved into an edit file
  2. Every message having a short and a long version (at least, maybe more)

When I first encountered Angband, it was largely the messages that drew me in, so I wouldn't want to lose that richness. But I think we can get a solution that suits both the dilettantes and the ruthless power players
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Old July 24, 2016, 02:06   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fizzix View Post
I think messages and message spam can be improved a lot. Specifically, colored messages to describe specific situations. Also we can really work on simplifying the message interface. Instead of:
I was also contemplating coloring messages for T2-AH, but as I recently discovered it requires a lot of care. I recently tried the new PosChengband and discovered that excessive coloration actually just makes everything look like Clown Vomit. (Not sure where I heard that phrase, but it's pretty accurate and ... evocative.). I'm sure there's some sort of adaptation phase you first have to go through, but ISTM that color is one of the worst ways to lend structure. You really want spatial organization when presenting large amounts of information, i.e. tables (or similar visual presentations, e.g. two-column). Obviously this doesn't apply to visually impaired people, but then neither does color, so...

(EDIT: I'm sure the reason I was thinking of coloration was that 'syntax coloring' in editors is a huge win, but that's usually a) pretty subtle, and b) there's already a lot of visual spatial structure to code.)

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Originally Posted by fizzix View Post
The x hits you, the x misses you, the x bites you, you are poisoned, the x bites you, you are more poisoned.

We could have:

The x hits, misses, bites, bites. You are poisoned.
Yes, this is a good idea, but given the code probably impractical to implement .

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Originally Posted by fizzix View Post
You can put the damage amounts in there, and you can color them differently, weak hits could be yellow, stronger, orange, really strong red. Status effect hits could be blue, or similar.
This would be Clown Vomit.

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Originally Posted by fizzix View Post
All roguelikes I've played seem to have this message spam and it makes it really difficult to figure out what happened. Angband is actually better than others (like DCSS or ToME, which the worst of any roguelike I've played for message spam). But we can still improve.
Just curious: ToME 2.x? I'd probably agree, but that's mostly because of the absurd balancing which means that any melee-oriented character will have to have at least 20-30 attacks per round to make much progress in the Angband dungeon . It's pretty silly and I'm thinking on-and-off about how this could be rebalanced to avoid the ridiculousness of the necessity for "+10 attacks" rings. (Don't hold your breath. There are so many interactions between various systems in T2 that it's... non-trivial to rebalance.)

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Old July 25, 2016, 22:52   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AnonymousHero View Post
Just curious: ToME 2.x? I'd probably agree, but that's mostly because of the absurd balancing which means that any melee-oriented character will have to have at least 20-30 attacks per round to make much progress in the Angband dungeon . It's pretty silly and I'm thinking on-and-off about how this could be rebalanced to avoid the ridiculousness of the necessity for "+10 attacks" rings. (Don't hold your breath. There are so many interactions between various systems in T2 that it's... non-trivial to rebalance.)
I was talking about tome 4.0, or tales of maj'eyal. tome 2.0 is more similar to angband.

Combat is going to be rebalanced at some point. when that happens, how we handle messages should be considered.

Also - I'm pretty sure clown vomit is Darren Grey's description of Brogue's color pallette. I've seen many games where damage you do is green, and damage the enemies do is red. I've never found it distracting and it was always an easy way to distinguish positive from negative.

I do agree that sparing use should be important. It's really important to know that you're confused, but perhaps there are better graphical ways to distinguish this, and we shouldn't worry about the messages. Coloring the @ sign to display damage is far superior to the low hitpoint message even though it is colored. So maybe it's better to turn @ green or blue if there's a status effect.

Basically the design challenge is figuring out what pieces of information the player needs to know and making that info prominent.
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Old July 26, 2016, 20:07   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fizzix View Post
Also - I'm pretty sure clown vomit is Darren Grey's description of Brogue's color pallette.
Yup! I find it quite evocative of the feeling I get when I see "too much color".

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Originally Posted by fizzix View Post
I've seen many games where damage you do is green, and damage the enemies do is red. I've never found it distracting and it was always an easy way to distinguish positive from negative.
I'm moderately certain it can be done subtly enough, but I have a hard time coming up with many examples where it hasn't been incredibly distracting. I think color use basically also needs some sort of supporting spatial component or to be very subtle in terms of contrast. (The go to example would be tables where rows/columns have alternating colors.)

One game which does this reasonably well is Baldur's Gate, IMO. (However, it is multi-line which helps a lot.) You don't get coloration of the actual damage amounts, but what you do get is coloration of the actor -- in certain cases. Here's an example:
Code:
    Indra~ Attacks Thug
    Indra did 7 damage to Thug
    Thug~Attacks Indra
    Indra did 3 damage to Thug
    Indra did 7 damage to Thug
    Thug~Death
    The Party Has Gained Experience: 445
A thing to note here is that the damage amount isn't actually highlighted -- since it rarely matters exactly how much damage you did. You can always Mouse-over (+Tab) to see the general health status of the enemy. Neither is the "direction" of the damage subject to color -- other than through the "Who did it" (first) portion of any given message. However, BG has an advantage here since you can both get sound cues and graphical cues (little blood spatter) -- I think T4 does something similar to blood spatter in the graphical UIs at least? That seems eminently sensible to me and avoids clown vomit in the message text.

Another thing to note is that the colors are extremely subtle and always confined to the left hand side of the message. Interestingly "Thug" is not highlighted when it appears one the RHS. Nor is "Indra" highlighted on the left in the damage message.

I think the general principle here is: Don't intermingle color with sentence text. Anything else is clown vomit (to me). Actually, just speculating, but perhaps using boldface for e.g. damage amounts would be a lot more readable.

Quote:
Originally Posted by fizzix View Post
I do agree that sparing use should be important. It's really important to know that you're confused, but perhaps there are better graphical ways to distinguish this, and we shouldn't worry about the messages. Coloring the @ sign to display damage is far superior to the low hitpoint message even though it is colored. So maybe it's better to turn @ green or blue if there's a status effect.
Agreed on the general principle, but I'm not sure coloring '@' is necessarily the answer. Unfortunately
text is *REALLY* limiting here. I wonder if some sort of "cycle though accents on the @" would work, so you'd see the "@" with a cycle through the characters `, ®, ' above it. (Real-time, that is the cycling would happen regardless of whether game time passes. This is just to make it glaringly obvious.) Hope that description makes sense. Anyway...

I can't recall if this already happens in current Angband, but one obvious optimization I've though about in T2 would be to coalesce messages such that you actually just get a summary of what happened rather than a blow-by-blow account. For example, it often happens that if you apply a status effect, stun say, you'll often get messages like

Code:
   ...
   X is stunned!
   You miss X.
   You hit X.
   X recovers from stun.
   You miss X.
   (player turn ends)
   X hits you!
   ..
Did you really need to know that you temporarily stunned X? I don't think so. What matters is whether X changed status from turn-to-turn.

This is of course a lot harder than it looks because all the "output a message" code is utterly intermingled with the combat code, etc.

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Originally Posted by fizzix View Post
Basically the design challenge is figuring out what pieces of information the player needs to know and making that info prominent.
Yes, indeed.

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Old July 26, 2016, 21:12   #10
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I feel that way about PosChengband character dumps. Resist lightning in dark blue on black text? Really? The very first thing I did when I got poschengband running was to make a preference file for the horrid dark blue color, and get rid of the pure white tiles. I literally could not see the entrance to the Alchemist's shop, with the two in contrast on black background. Dark blue text on a dark background is hard to read.

http://webdesign.about.com/od/color/...rast_table.htm

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