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Old October 25, 2016, 14:33   #1
Derakon
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Variant musing: no resting, no healing

Arguments over how many healing potions to stock up for the final fights have reminded me of an idea I've always kind of liked conceptually, but had reservations about, balance-wise: removing all ability for the player to heal themselves, except via making progress in the game.

The driving motivation behind this is action/platformer games, especially the modern Castlevanias and similar fangames, where healing items are really a crutch for players who lack the skill needed to consistently dodge enemies. There's no skill in simply sitting in front of Dracula, mashing attack, and eating a pot roast every time he hits you; you're just demonstrating that your supply of healing items is larger than his HP pool. It's far more impressive to recognize every signal, react appropriately, dodge every attack, and beat the boss without even getting scratched. Instead of boss fights being damage races, they're intricate dances. I'd like some way to translate that to Angband, while still leaving it recognizably Angband. This may prove difficult.

The first change to the game is of course to remove all sources of healing -- no potions, no spells, no innate regeneration. The only ways to heal are a) to level up, and b) to reach a new dungeon level for the first time.

Naturally, this change requires substantial changes to basically every aspect of combat balance. Since the player can't heal easily, they need far more options to avoid or mitigate damage taken. Or rather, monsters can't have abilities that just directly harm the player with no possible counter or dodge. Even standing in melee range should be a safe thing to do if the player approaches it correctly. Fundamentally this means re-thinking what it means for the player or a monster to make an "attack".

This is where I start getting stuck, though. I'd like to figure out some way for monsters to mark out a "zone" that they're going to attack, so e.g. a dragon would on turn 1 prepare to breathe, and on turn 2 actually breathe, so you'd have a chance to move out of the way. Likewise, any melee attack from an enemy would take at least 2 turns to "go off". But I suspect that would make one-on-one fights trivial, while making multi-enemy fights still overly dangerous.

So I'll turn it over to you. Given the proposed starting change of removing healing, how would you tweak things to make the game fair?
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Old October 25, 2016, 14:56   #2
Pete Mack
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Steamband does a rough approximation of this, with wound points vs. hit points
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Old October 25, 2016, 16:37   #3
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What if you just restricted this to per-encounter? Like you magically get healed every time you get rid of all monsters in LOS or kill your target or something. I've always liked JRPGs, for example, that heal you back to max after every encounter. It means they can really crank up the difficulty on each individual fight.
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Old October 25, 2016, 17:04   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by debo View Post
What if you just restricted this to per-encounter? Like you magically get healed every time you get rid of all monsters in LOS or kill your target or something. I've always liked JRPGs, for example, that heal you back to max after every encounter. It means they can really crank up the difficulty on each individual fight.
Conceptually I'm fine with this, as long as we can strongly define what an "encounter" is -- I don't want players pulling individual snagas around corners so they can kill one, get healed, get restored, etc. But you did remind me of a random idea I had as I was falling asleep last night -- when the player sees a monster, barriers spring up in some radius around them, which only go away when all the monsters are dead. Clearing the barriers could naturally correspond to getting healed.

Of course, if you go with an encounter-based approach, then you need to balance the encounters to be of roughly appropriate difficulty. It probably wouldn't be appropriate to make an entire vault be one encounter, for example. At least, not if the vaults are still to "Angband scale". Perhaps this could be controlled to an extent by varying how large the barrier radius is, but it has to be at least wide enough to contain both the player and the monster they just saw, as well as some room to maneuver.
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Old October 25, 2016, 17:25   #5
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How about "bossrushband"

Every "floor" is small themed map with a unique and maybe a small cohort. You don't heal until they're all dead. You get a gob of items when you kill the boss, and then you move onto the next one.
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Old October 25, 2016, 21:51   #6
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Very interesting. A couple of things:
  1. Quote:
    Originally Posted by Derakon View Post
    But you did remind me of a random idea I had as I was falling asleep last night -- when the player sees a monster, barriers spring up in some radius around them, which only go away when all the monsters are dead. Clearing the barriers could naturally correspond to getting healed.
    I have had for a while an idea of a (probably) paladin spell Single Combat, which when cast on a monster transports monster and player to a small cell where they fight to the death. Player transports back on winning.
  2. Some of these ideas are making me think a little of Final Fantasy Tactics; I've already considered the possibility of having an action queue in Angband.
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Old October 25, 2016, 22:05   #7
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My bossrush idea is better than any of the other ideas in this thread. You clearly all need to let me be the angband maintainer.
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Old October 25, 2016, 22:11   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by debo View Post
My bossrush idea is better than any of the other ideas in this thread. You clearly all need to let me be the angband maintainer.
This sounds like a straightforward edit -- just remove all non-unique monsters from the game. You might need to modify the experience penalties a bit though.
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Old October 25, 2016, 22:26   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by debo View Post
My bossrush idea is better than any of the other ideas in this thread. You clearly all need to let me be the angband maintainer.
Just need to decide whether I hate you or the rest of the community more
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Old October 25, 2016, 23:24   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick View Post
Just need to decide whether I hate you or the rest of the community more
If its the rest of the community, I need to up my game!
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