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Old January 31, 2014, 21:32   #1
fizzix
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Large vaults

I have a love-hate relationship with large vaults in Angband. In one sense there's something great about the gigantic, fixed-layout area with tons of monsters in it, many completely deadly. On the other hand, tackling them seems to be a game of TO everything remotely dangerous, because even if you could handle the monsters individually, you certainly can't handle all of them at once.

Similarly, it's amazing when you have a dazzling array of loot in front of you. So many chances for success. However, having to wade through 100s of items for the one reasonable one you actually want becomes very frustrating. (mass ID in my personal variant helps with this somewhat, but it's still annoying).

I have lots of ideas to make the mechanic of monster fighting more interesting, but none really that manage to keep the "giant" vault concept. Instead, I'm more interested in how people feel about them. Do you love huge vaults, do you hate them? Why?
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Old January 31, 2014, 21:50   #2
Derakon
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Hm, I'd say there was a major problem if they consistently had awesome loot that you could access merely by teleporting away a few nasty monsters. However, in my experience most vaults aren't like that. The GCV is an obvious counterexample, but it really doesn't show up that often; I think one of my last four winners got one? Most vaults have a pretty good ratio of challenge to reward even if you do teleport away the nastiest threats -- and teleporting away nasty monsters is not risk-free either.

I also don't have much of a problem with the quantity of loot involved. 3.5 does a great job of keeping the game from generating tons of junk, so most characters in my experience are able to sort through things quite quickly. Though I would say, while we're on the subject, that the recharge time for Rods of Identify ought to be even shorter IMO. Maybe even instantaneous.

I will say that it'd be good to try to ensure a variety of different vaults get generated. If you see the same vault several times with a given character then it loses some of its specialness. I don't know if it's some quirk of the way dungeon generation works or if it's just randomness generating apparent patterns, but some vaults definitely seem to show up more often than others. E.g. Square, Planet X, Camouflaged, Crown, Lair, Orb...meanwhile, I can't remember the last time I saw a Diagonal vault, let alone my beloved Miniature Cell

Would it be remotely feasible to keep a history of which vaults have been generated, and only generate each Greater Vault once, and each Lesser Vault at most 1 more time than any other Lesser Vault? In other words, Greater Vaults would be "unique" and could only be encountered once each per playthrough; meanwhile, Lesser Vaults could be encountered as many times as you like, but you'd see every single vault before any vault gets generated a second time.
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Old January 31, 2014, 22:07   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Derakon View Post
I will say that it'd be good to try to ensure a variety of different vaults get generated. If you see the same vault several times with a given character then it loses some of its specialness. I don't know if it's some quirk of the way dungeon generation works or if it's just randomness generating apparent patterns, but some vaults definitely seem to show up more often than others. E.g. Square, Planet X, Camouflaged, Crown, Lair, Orb...meanwhile, I can't remember the last time I saw a Diagonal vault, let alone my beloved Miniature Cell
So Diagonal vault became a medium vault which accounts a bit for it's lower probability. However, it does seem to show up a lot less often than other medium vaults, like the skull vault. I'm not sure why this is. I guess it's time to do some monte-carlo, vault generation analysis...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Derakon View Post
Would it be remotely feasible to keep a history of which vaults have been generated, and only generate each Greater Vault once, and each Lesser Vault at most 1 more time than any other Lesser Vault? In other words, Greater Vaults would be "unique" and could only be encountered once each per playthrough; meanwhile, Lesser Vaults could be encountered as many times as you like, but you'd see every single vault before any vault gets generated a second time.
This is a pretty good idea. There is a problem in that some vaults are harder to fit than others. So this will break if we ever move away from the block-type allocation system.
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Old February 1, 2014, 02:42   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fizzix View Post
This is a pretty good idea. There is a problem in that some vaults are harder to fit than others. So this will break if we ever move away from the block-type allocation system.
I think Sangband's dungeon generation tries to place the biggest things first (while still retaining the block system), so that could be a quicker path to evening out the odds.
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Old February 1, 2014, 03:21   #5
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Originally Posted by takkaria View Post
I think Sangband's dungeon generation tries to place the biggest things first (while still retaining the block system), so that could be a quicker path to evening out the odds.
We already do that. The issue is that right now we block each vault as requiring some large number of squares. So all vaults of the same type are equal. If they had alternate sizes, then there would be some size preference for placement.
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Old February 1, 2014, 10:42   #6
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I love most of them but some are simply too dangerous (FAangband has one without any inner structures I believe, only monsters, treasure and traps) so that I leave those alone.
I probably lost a lot of early characters because I underestimated the risks or because I was too greedy.
Most times it is a challenge to access at least a tiny part of it, working out ways how to get to some precious objects. The early lesser rhomboid vault is an example for a potential dangerous place that I would approach only very carefully (because there might be shriekers in it or breathers that would wake other monsters and destroy objects).

Without vaults the game would loose much of its appeal for me.
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Old February 2, 2014, 09:36   #7
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I really like finding Greater Vaults. They're exciting and terrifying in concept. However, they really are just Teleport Other parties. Having the excitement come from whether or not your 5% fail will lead you to be destroyed by Kavlax in one round isn't very fun...it's just binary, where neither result is actually very satisfying to me ("oh great I just died" vs. "whoo I once more scam the game, which feels like the only way to win").

@Derakon: I think that they do consistently have awesome loot with monsters that you can just teleport away ("8" squares in vault.txt). What makes you think otherwise?

@fizzix: I love greater vaults. I like quaffing !Enlightenment and going "WHOAH!" I like looking at the unidentified items and thinking about what they might be ("Hmm could that finally be my Rod of Restoration?"), while looking at the monster arrangement and figuring out which areas I can take and which monsters I have to teleport. Finding and planning for the vault is much more fun than actually handling it, which is usually a TO party with occasional phase doors to jump outside.

I'd like to see the vaults have multiple sequential wall-separated chambers (many do, I know) where the deeper rooms have higher risk and reward. DCSS does something similar with its Ziggurats, which are random sub-dungeons of many floors, each harder and with better treasure than the last, and each with a portal to get back to the main dungeon and another to go deeper...you end up torn between quitting while you're ahead and saying "maaaaybe just one more," which I think is good design.

I don't think the V core supports it, but it might be nice to see at least some of the vault-generated items end up as monster drops rather than loot on the ground. So, some 8 squares would have a monster and an item, while some would have a monster that would drop the item. This would encourage the player to kill the monsters. That said, I think correct play would still involve using Teleport Other to separate the monsters, then hunting them down on the level. Bleh.

Special rules for some vaults would be awesome, though I know it's a long way off.

I really don't like how long it takes to get one-round carry-ID...it feels like it's wasting my and my character's time when I spend so much time holding onto unidentified items, and it's annoying (even when it's not risky) to wear them and get in a round of combat to partially ID.

I think that TO is a huge problem with Angband in general, even though it's especially clear with greater vaults. I use TO a lot, because doing otherwise feels risky. My game completely changes once I gain a source of it, and I feel like I'm misplaying whenever I fight something that I'm not 100% sure I can handle rather than just teleporting it away. It makes the game feel very, very grindy, where one is essentially just scumming for good items on the ground. In fact, ideal play for those who don't care about stairscumming (I use disconnected stairs, but if I didn't) involves just going up/down while staying in place, detecting, and picking up anything good within arm's reach. It feels like watching the borg get 80 !CLW by scumming the first 8 floors.
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Old February 2, 2014, 18:51   #8
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Assuming further nerfing of TO isn't an option. Big vaults are special places, so let's make some special rules.

1) Big Reward, Big Risk. Let's tether the biggest baddies to their treasure. They won't wander more than x spaces from their prize except to attack the player after which they return to their station. If they are TO'd, the prize goes with them.

2) Big Reward, No Walls. When fired from inside a vault, TO destroys permanent walls. Not the walls that confine the level, just those that confine the vault. In this way, monsters are better able to get back to the player who uses TO.

3) Big Reward, Better AI. Monsters will (try to) avoid LoS of player who isn't inside the vault. If you want to TO, then you have to get icky else you won't have a target.

4) Big Reward, Big Alarm. You aggravate the entire level every turn you spend inside inside a vault.

5) Big Reward, Few Escapes. Make the family of teleport spells unreliable inside vaults.

Put some or all of these together and vaults become less of a sanctuary to carefully cleared, contents carefully examined, and more of a get in and get out with what you can situation.
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Old February 2, 2014, 20:20   #9
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My only problem with treating vaults as "special terrain" where special rules apply is in how we communicate that to the player. Maybe we could surround the vault with a line of colored tiles (much like the trap-detection border) and when the player steps on that line they get a message like "You pass through an anti-teleportation barrier".

If we establish a bubble around vaults, then you could still use teleportation skills (including TO), but each teleportation would not be allowed to cross the perimeter. So TOing a monster inside the vault lands them somewhere else in the vault. Of course you can still lure them out and then TO them, but combining the bubble with a "loot tether" like buzzkill suggested would stop that.
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Old February 3, 2014, 08:18   #10
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I really like that idea of surrounding vaults with a teleport barrier. Anything that teleports or phases inside the vault stays inside, outside stays outside. That would make vaults more dangerous and would require more careful planning to get what you can, instead of them being more like a free store once you have TO.
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