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Old November 25, 2013, 16:50   #1
fizzix
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Things I don't like about current V (long-ish)

Nick posted a couple of idea threads, so I figured I might take some time to post some of my ideas. Hopefully in a couple months I'll be able to get back into Angband coding work, so this is sort of my wishlist of things I'd like to try.

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Problem: Food is useless

Why is this a problem?: With the removal of the "gorged" status there is no upper bound to "stomach size" This means that food just becomes a "ensure you don't starve" thing. With plentiful food in town, not to mention satisfy hunger scrolls and spells, this isn't very hard to do. Furthermore, a food clock is opposed to the idea of allowing infinite exploration of the same level. While it might be possible to make hunger a resource to be managed, like DCSS, this is not a terribly interesting mechanic. Hunger in DCSS is more an annoyance than anything else, and it detracts from the game experience.

Possible solution: Remove the hunger bar. Some current food items (rations of bread) disappear. Other food items (waybread, wine) can have buffing or healing effects. If desired, certain powerful food items can be "perishable", meaning that they cannot be carried between floors. This allows potentially powerful food items to be generated with the assumption that they'll be used on that floor and not hoarded.


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Problem: Resistances are unintuitive

Why is this a problem?: Many people wrongly assume that multiple permanent resistance sources will provide more resistance. Since the actual behavior is very different from expectations, we really need a way to either make this clear (currently a long standing desire) or change the behavior. I vote to change the behavior

Proposed solution: Each basic resistance class (fire, cold, elec, acid, poison) has 5 resistance levels. The damage reduction for each level is something like 1/2, 1/3, 1/5, 1/9, immunity. so 2 levels is the current "single resist" and 4 levels is the current "double resist." I'm not sure whether 5 levels = immunity is a good idea, or if we should cap it at four. I'm sort of thinking that immunity should just be immunity to pack damage + 1/9 damage reduction. Gear can have multiple levels of resist. For example, a shield of resist fire could have 2 levels, but a shield of resistance could have 1 level of each of the 4 base elements. Resistance spells can add one level of resistance. For the higher level "elements" (nether, chaos, nexus etc.) I propose that we drop the stupid variable resistance crap and make it a straight damage reduction + immunity to side effects. How much to reduce is undecided, and partially depends on whether we change the next problem.

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Problem: Monster breaths are too powerful

Why is this a problem?: Late game situations are forced. A high level player has between 700 and 1100 HP. This means two full breaths of a high element can kill him. This forces gameplay into not being able to fight two monsters at the same time. Other spells are dangerous too, but breaths are the bigger problem because of their ubiquity.

Proposed solution: Breath damage reduces with distance to the player. It is no longer a ball effect, rather it's a ray with some max distance. Furthermore, monsters do not breathe if there's another monster in between themselves and the player that is not immune to the effect. Lastly, monsters that breathe something are no longer guaranteed immunity. Rather they get 2 resistance levels (1/3 damage), or 1 resistance level for higher elements. Monsters can also get the IM_XXXX flag which does guarantee immunity. This changes a lot of late game combat. It'll take some experimentation to decide whether it's an improvement or not. It might be worth considering nerfing some player ranged abilities to make sure a player can't just kite an enemy.

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Problem: Player utility spells are too powerful

Why is this a problem: Teleport other and destruction both allow a player to remove unwanted enemies from the level or area. Furthermore, once they get access to these spells, the late game becomes trivial and uninteresting.

Proposed solution: If multiple sources of damage are fixed, then it seems a late level player can survive multiple high level monsters at once. Then we can impose stuff like monsters that resist teleport, or areas where teleport is not available. Destruction is more of a problem. I had a patch once which instead of removing monsters from the level, it pushed them outside the destruction zone. So it bought the player a few turns. I propose we bring something like this in the game and also give players negative status effects like heavy stun, confusion (ignore resist) which makes destruction also require consumable consumption. If this path is taken, you will no longer be able to remove monsters from the level short of banishment, so we will also need to limit/weaken undefeatable annoyance monsters (some uniques come to mind).

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Problem: monsters behave boringly

Why is this a problem: Monsters with ranged attacks don't try to use them. There's no way to anticipate powerful attacks like breath spells. An optimized use of spells is out of the question, so some randomness is needed. Nevertheless we can improve on some things.

Proposed solution: Monsters prefer ranged attacks if available. Monsters that are given the RANGED flag do not advance towards @, if they choose not to attack a turn they retreat. If retreating puts them out of range, they stay still. We can steal more advanced monster behavior, like in Sil, but I don't think it's necessary. Let's just make the archer standing in a corridor to be a dangerous enemy that needs to be dealt with.

There are other ideas I have, but this is enough for now.
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Old November 25, 2013, 17:14   #2
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I've always been curious as to why monster breaths use Huge Fucking Numbers. It's sort of entertaining in a JRPGish way, and it doesn't bother me at all, but if those numbers were slightly more reasonable, you might be able to do things like have additive resistances that behave more like in Sil (e.g. X sources of resistance makes you take 1/X damage).

Was there a single motivation for this, other than "dude how cool would it be to have death dumps where HP is -895!!" I don't have any of the historical context on this part of the game

Edit: I meant to mention this a long time ago, but the DS game Contact actually had a sort of nifty hunger system. Most food items were used for buffs, and they had drastically varying digestion speeds and satiation levels, and they even visualized how much space each item took up in your stomach when you ate it I doubt any of those ideas would be directly transferrable to V, but might be neat to explore for inspiration.

Edit2: I believe the hunger system in DCSS is currently being targeted for "active development" by that community, so I don't think they consider it anything like a solved problem either. Rumor has it that one of the most excitable commenters on the IRC channel wrote a dissertation on hunger mechanics in roguelikes as his final project for his degree in game design...
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Old November 25, 2013, 17:22   #3
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One last thing: archer AI is a really tricky thing. Archers in Sil are already pushing up on that line between "fun" and "zomg this is so annoying", and it works because there are a small-to-medium number of them in the game.

V packs, on the other hand, are wayyyyyyyyyy bigger than Sil's. Maybe just making archers use their ranged attacks preferentially would go a long way to making them more interesting in V? Is there a ranged-weapon (not spell) monster that completely lacks a melee attack and is thus forced to shoot all the time?
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Old November 25, 2013, 17:37   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fizzix View Post
-------------------------------------
Problem: Food is useless
*snip*(you can read it a couple posts up, and remember what was said there, I'd prefer not to clutter the place up)
Yeah, this seems like a good idea, since food is boring.

Quote:
------------------------------------
Problem: Resistances are unintuitive
*snip*
Here, I agree with the general sentiment, but while your proposed solution is more intuitive in that more resistance means less damage/consequences, it is not intuitive in that it is not immediately clear how much it reduces it by. I prefer the O/FA percentile system. The two systems are similar, and I guess your solution + displaying the damage reduction on screen would be enough.
Quote:
---------------------------------------------
Problem: Monster breaths are too powerful
*snip*
This is very similar to how O handles it, except about the ray part(cone) and I suspect O monsters don't care about damage done to monsters inbetween. Personally, I think a player who kills a monster by stuffing him between himself and a dragon should be allowed to do so, and letting players use ball spells to pick off a bunch of cold dragons only because there is a giant white rat in front is much less nice. I agree that breaths are too powerful and need to be toned down, though.
Quote:
-----------------------------------------------
Problem: Player utility spells are too powerful
*snip*
Yeah, the player should only be able to kill things or avoid them, not remove them. I would severely restrict how you can use teleport other, destruction should probably behave a bit less as a completely certain thing, and the banishment spells can't be allowed to remove monsters entirely, at least not without a chance to fail.
Quote:
----------------------------------------
Problem: monsters behave boringly
*snip*
They do. The RANGED flag would go a long way towards removing the boringness, but not at current spell power. It works in Sil since you don't really have magic much there. Better AI is certainly a good thing, though.

I like these ideas on the whole. Some of them I think don't go far enough, but I would certainly like to see them implemented.
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Old November 25, 2013, 17:39   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by debo View Post
Is a ranged-weapon (not spell) monster that completely lacks a melee attack and is thus forced to shoot all the time?
I'm pretty sure V's monsters move *forward* when they randomly choose not to use their ranged attack, so with the current rules they would probably be made more powerful by adding NEVER_MOVE to them.

I agree that Sil's archers are on the edge. There used to be more of them and it was a bit too frustrating. They used to be a bit cleverer and that was also too frustrating, so they are basically pushing things as far as they can reasonably go. What I'm really surprised by is that we got away with the idea of adding a late game archer that is fast (so the player can't catch up with them) and invisible (so the player can't find them). The answer is probably that those ones are quite rare, only encountered if you get that far, and not as dangerous overall.
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Old November 25, 2013, 19:13   #6
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Percentile resists!!

a.
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Old November 25, 2013, 20:19   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Antoine View Post
Percentile resists!!
I actually really dislike percentile resists, although I like it for display purposes. The reasoning is that 15% resistance is very marginal and not something useful in any way. 50% is. Furthermore, I think it makes sense for resistances to not be a linear addition. Two pieces of resist material should not add up linearly, rather each one should have some diminishing returns. It becomes very difficult to both make single resisting items somewhat worthwhile, while ensuring that multiple of those items don't make it trivial.
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Old November 25, 2013, 20:32   #8
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Current Vanilla equipment optimization is an interesting problem: you want to cover as many "slots" as possible, as efficiently as possible -- i.e. with minimal redundancy, because redundant equipment could be better-spent on stat boosts or covering other slots.

If you introduce stacking resists, then it becomes basically impossible to "solve" the equipment optimization. On the one hand, this does mean that basically every item could potentially be useful (if you just want to eke out a little more resistance). On the other hand, "solved" characters are very satisfying, in part because they happen so rarely, and it seems a shame to take that potential away from the game.

Huge breath attacks are a problem, though. It's no fun to be exploring past the limits of any character you've previously played and then get hit for more damage than you have hitpoints. Short of turning on the "know full monster memory" cheat or obsessively checking spoilers every time you see a new monster, how are you supposed to handle that?
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Old November 25, 2013, 20:54   #9
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Quote:
I think it makes sense for resistances to not be a linear addition.
Oangband, etc. multiply resists instead of adding them.
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Old November 25, 2013, 20:54   #10
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Short answer - Oangband

Edit: haha, snap
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