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Old August 26, 2019, 04:39   #1
archolewa
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Feedback on Angband (4.1.x) from New Player

Hello everyone,

I've been lurking on this forum for a bit now. I think I've been playing Angband for about 10 months or so, and I just had my first victory. I figured I'd write a bragging about it, wrapped up in some feedback so it looks constructive. I haven't tried 4.2 yet (Nick released it while I was in the middle of my run), so my feedback is based on 4.1.x.

First and foremost, I love how this game has raised "discretion is the better part of valor" to an art form. The auto-generated levels, their size, the large number of divination spells available, and all the teleporting all seem to revolve around the idea of inspecting the level, studying the monsters and deciding if it's worth engaging them and how. It's very different from every other game I've played (including most other roguelikes, though the only other one I've more than dabbled in is TOME4), and it's incredibly engaging. Even the controls seem built around it. At first, I bemoaned the game's lack of auto-explore, until I realized that auto-explore goes against what Angband appears to be built around.

I also like how few mechanics there are in the game, and how simple they are. Leveling up is simple, acquiring spells is simple, and the items are simple. It allows me to focus on the meat: the exploration and risk assessment. However, there are enough mechanics, and the mechanics are done well enough that they still combine for very engaging gameplay. I'm very impressed that, despite how old the game is, it hasn't turned into a labryinth of orthogonal features, each one simple and easy to learn incrementally for people who've been playing for decades, but overwhelming to new people.

I think the game has done a very good job of striking a balance between defense and offence. I spent a lot of brain cycles evaluating new equipment, trying to decide if an extra resistance was worth fewer attacks per round, or if a Fire brand was more useful than sound resistance at that point. It made finding equipment very exciting.

I very much appreciated the little in-universe blurbs that each monster and artifact possessed. It gave me just the kind of indirect, exploratory world building that I look for in a roguelike, with lots of open threads for me to build my own backstory. For example, why would Radagast be fighting you in Angband? Has he been corrupted by Morgoth? Have I? Do we both think the other has been? Is he pissed because humans wrecked the world during the Fourth Age and the Valar are so weakened from repairing it that Morgoth managed to get back in? Those little blurbs did a great job of sucking me into the world. I even managed to incorporate the existence of the Monster Memory into my backstory!

Finally, I like how I never feel helpless. I've played some roguelikes where I end up cornered and there's nothing I can do but watch my character die over 20 rounds. I find that incredibly frustrating and disheartening, and I'm glad Angband doesn't have that problem. Even if I do get rendered helpless (say I stupidly removed my Free Action weapon for a pick, and forgot to replace it), the death happens fast enough that at least I don't have to watch it.

There are only two things I don't like, and they're both minor.

I don't like the Speed stat. Moving slower than your enemies is so dangerous, that it almost always ends up being the single most important stat to improve. It makes both artifact discovery and combat less interesting. When looking at two pieces of equipment, the new one had better be pretty incredible to replace your speed buff. Similarly, if an enemy is faster than you, you RUN. If an enemy is slower than you, you can probably take him.

It's not as big a deal in the endgame, because once you get past thirty speed or so, you get diminishing returns, but I didn't get that fast until floor 90+. I don't really have a solution except "remove the Speed stat," but that would be an incredibly disruptive change.

Doing anything in town is incredibly tedious. Mostly because of the existence of all the townsfolk drooling all over you, forcing you to have to spam Spacebar all the time to get through the more prompts whenever you try to run anywhere, or rest. I like having the townsfolk there, contributes to the game's atmosphere, I just wish they didn't pester me so much. I tried disabling the MORE prompt, but then I had too much difficulty keeping track of combat (even with the messages displayed in one of the side windows) for it to be safe. I understand that forced descent is a thing, but I'm not ready for that. I would very much appreciate it if we had a "disable MORE prompt in town only" option that I could turn on once I get past the point where veterans pose a threat.

Sorry about the wall of text, but it seems like most of the people who post on here have been playing for a while, so I thought you guys might appreciate some feedback from a newcomer.

To everyone whose been developing Angband over the last few decades, thank you so much for putting so much of your free time into such a wonderful game!
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Old August 26, 2019, 23:03   #2
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Thanks for posting, it's always good to get comparative feedback against other games.

I kind of agree with what you say about speed, but I feel like it's built into the game in a really fundamental way. That's just my opinion, though.
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Old August 26, 2019, 23:59   #3
Gwarl
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Thanks for posting, it's always good to get comparative feedback against other games.

I kind of agree with what you say about speed, but I feel like it's built into the game in a really fundamental way. That's just my opinion, though.
I have a mind to start with a super-experimental variant and one thing I'd like to do is make speed just be movement speed.. we already have attack speed and shooting speed with stack with speed, just need casting speed.

It would also be an excuse to make more powerful weapons to compensate for the loss of damage per turn from messing with speed, and more object flags that boost spellcasting.
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Old August 27, 2019, 01:17   #4
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Originally Posted by Gwarl View Post
I have a mind to start with a super-experimental variant and one thing I'd like to do is make speed just be movement speed.. we already have attack speed and shooting speed with stack with speed, just need casting speed.
I do think that splitting speed into several different variations would make it a *much* more interesting stat. And in the case of movement speed, it even pulls hunger management into the consideration. After all, if you're moving at half speed, you're effectively going through food twice as quickly.
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Old August 27, 2019, 01:47   #5
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Originally Posted by archolewa View Post
Hello everyone,

First and foremost, I love how this game has raised "discretion is the better part of valor" to an art form. The auto-generated levels, their size, the large number of divination spells available, and all the teleporting all seem to revolve around the idea of inspecting the level, studying the monsters and deciding if it's worth engaging them and how. It's very different from every other game I've played (including most other roguelikes, though the only other one I've more than dabbled in is TOME4), and it's incredibly engaging.
This is well said; it is this that I enjoy about Angband, too. Its the reason I prefer default mode over iron man, why I was disappointed when Sil came out without supporting this mode, why I still occasionally play ToME 2 but not ToME4.

Also I have come to similar conclusions as you about insta-death. Trying to remove that may not be a good idea after all. In a turn based game, if there ever is a mistake a player at full health can make that is deemed punishable by death, then death in 1 round is the best death.
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Old August 27, 2019, 02:13   #6
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Originally Posted by archolewa View Post
I do think that splitting speed into several different variations would make it a *much* more interesting stat. And in the case of movement speed, it even pulls hunger management into the consideration. After all, if you're moving at half speed, you're effectively going through food twice as quickly.
I'm not sure if it's still the case, but at least in the old days, speed increased the rate at which you got hungry. I definitely remember playing a very old version, using wizard mode, sending my speed sky-high, and dying of starvation after taking a single step.
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Old August 27, 2019, 03:43   #7
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I have a mind to start with a super-experimental variant and one thing I'd like to do is make speed just be movement speed.
I would be really interested to see how well this worked.
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Old August 27, 2019, 05:06   #8
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I have to disagree on one point:
Moving slower than your enemies is a whole lot of fun. Taking a 350HP mage at 3 native speed and no ESP to DL 80 is exciting--every approach takes thought. Then you finally run across that greater vault you are desperate to find, and all your problems are solved.
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Old August 27, 2019, 06:09   #9
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I have to disagree on one point:
Moving slower than your enemies is a whole lot of fun. Taking a 350HP mage at 3 native speed and no ESP to DL 80 is exciting--every approach takes thought. Then you finally run across that greater vault you are desperate to find, and all your problems are solved.
I totally get that, and some of the most fun I had *was* when I was moving slower than the enemy (which was quite a bit, I didn't find hardly any speed enhancing items until near the end). My problem is mostly with "and all your problems are solved." I think I'd rather have the danger level go from "everything is going to kill me" to "some things are going to kill me" to "I can kill most things" to "I can kill (almost) everything." And then have it reset again when you get deeper and your equipment gets outdated.

Resistances do a good job of enabling this kind of progression. Red dragons become a lot less scary when you get fire resistance, but fire resistance doesn't help at all against black dragons.

Speed as it currently is on the other hand makes you jump immediately from "everything is going to kill me" to "I can kill (almost) everything." That kind of power jump can be exciting, but I'd rather it be because I found a crazy awesome artifact with a good spread of resistances and stat bonuses than because a Flail of +5 Speed and Nothing Else is better than a Flail of A Bunch of Other Nifty Buffs.
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Old August 27, 2019, 06:37   #10
Ingwe Ingweron
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Originally Posted by archolewa View Post
I totally get that, and some of the most fun I had *was* when I was moving slower than the enemy (which was quite a bit, I didn't find hardly any speed enhancing items until near the end). My problem is mostly with "and all your problems are solved." I think I'd rather have the danger level go from "everything is going to kill me" to "some things are going to kill me" to "I can kill most things" to "I can kill (almost) everything." And then have it reset again when you get deeper and your equipment gets outdated.
As long as you're diving fast, this should happen quite naturally, you tend to live on the ragged edge all the way down.
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