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Old March 26, 2023, 22:31   #1
Grotug
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Angband dungeon level challenges: An idea

tl;dr Would an Angband level editor be any fun? I think so!

Here's an idea that I think could be super fun: a top down Angband level editor similar to a doom level editor. But it'd be much easier than a Doom editor, because the way it would work is, you would have like ten drop down fields where you could select the types of rooms (including special rooms, lava regions, vaults etc) you'd want the random level generator to generate. Once you selected the types of rooms and vaults to get generated you then just press the "generate level" button. If you don't like the level, you just generate a new random level until the generator gives you one you like--and you can tweak the settings as you see fit (could even be able to tell it how big or small the level should be).

Once you had a level that you were happy with, you could edit specific areas if you like, or manually design your own special room or cavern shape. Once that phase of the level generation is complete, you could randomly generate items and monsters, but I think it'd be more fun to manually edit all of these things into the level as a sort of quest that you could then share with the community as a challenge for people to try and beat your level. So you'd make sure the level would give you what you need to succeed; it'd also give the designer the ability to create their own artifacts. I think I'll have to give an elaborate example to get at why I think this idea would be cool, so here goes:

With the above framework, my idea is to basically create a mini-Angband game. But anyone could create any type of game or quest that they would think would be fun. For me, I think the following would be neat: Because the levels would be intentionally designed, the whole game could be as few as ten levels to give @ everything they need to beat Morgoth, who would be on level 10; and this would be a forced descent situation. The levels would be big, especially the last two or three levels. So my mini-game would appeal to those who like to clear all the levels when they play Angband.

So level 1 would be smallish, but because it would be intentionally designed, @ could easily reach level CL10 by the end of DL1, and might culminate with @ defeating Brodda the Easterling. So, first you'd have to level up to CL2 or CL3 before taking on Grip and Fang, then you might go after Bullroarer, Mughash, Grishnak, Boldor and Wormtongue. The downstairs wouldn't appear until you had killed all the uniques on that level. But for later levels, only certain uniques would be required to be killed to continue (unique Elementals, for example, wouldn't be required) and really nasty later uniques wouldn't be required, such as Huan and The Terrasque, though they would definitely show up. The game would give you a message at the start of each level which uniques you'd have to kill to continue.

So by the end of DL4, you'd probably be CL30 with a good set of gear; the end of DL4 would probably be equivalent to DL38 or even DL40 of the normal dungeon.

The part I'm not really sure about, though, is whether to intentionally place the items and drops throughout the level or have it randomly generated. The pro of intentionally placing every item and every drop is it'd be easier to make sure the game is balanced, but of course this would hurt the replay value of this mini-game. Initially when I had this idea my thought was to intentionally place all the items and drops, but I'm now thinking that if I did it this way, then I'd make a stipulation you only have one chance to play it this way (or maybe three lives), after which you would not be able to play it again with the intentionally placed items and drops. But you could replay it again and again with the set dungeon layouts and monsters, but all the monsters, drops and items would be randomly placed for each additional attempt after the first one or three attempts (I'd probably set it to giving people 3 attempts, but it might even be cool to add a new potion, a potion of *Life* which would bestow upon you no benefit in your current attempt, but would give you another life (ie. attempt) at beating it should you die.

The problem of trying to condense the whole game into ten levels with randomly generated items and drops (but keeping specific uniques for each level) is that if the items generated aren't useful then you might end up in a situation where you can't progress further because you simply don't have the means to take out a required unique. Another plus to having all the items be intentionally placed is that if you choose to make your own artifacts (instead of choosing from a list of standard artifacts) you'd have the liberty to make some pretty cool artifacts! For example, at the end of DL1, Brodda the Easterling might drop an artifact light crossbow: (X2) (+15, +9) <-1> <+1> <+3> -1 to stealth, -1 to speed, -1 to Might -1 to shooting speed <+3> to Infravision <+3> to CON, <+1> to movement speed.
Prevents paralysis, Provides resistance to Acid

At the end of DL3, there'd be a small vault. It might be guarded by something dangerous that you wouldn't be required to kill, inside the vault would be the best item on the level (better than any of the drops) a mithril craftmanship Dragon Armor <+2> STR, CON, WIS, INT, that breathes lightning for 150 damage [28, +20] provides resistance to Cold, Lightning and Dark. Resistance to fire would be provided by a fire branded melee weapon acquired somewhere earlier on DL3.

Having custom artifacts would allow the designer to create interesting trade offs with the player's equipment. For example, after DL3 @ would have free action and rBase and +1 movement speed, but would have a mediocre launcher, not much good for the enemies coming up on DL4 and slow overall speed. Maybe @ would find a sling of power on DL4, but then they are going to lose +3 CON and the nice +1 movement speed when switching to the sling.

Another plus to designing your artifacts is, for those super creative types, could write their own descriptions and create a lore arc between all the artifacts as @ finds them during their progress through the dungeon.

Another fun bonus to designing a mini-game like this is that you can choose to remove escapes that you think are cheesy, or make them much more rare. For example, maybe wands and rods of TO only show up on DL6 and DL9 respectively, but maybe if you kill a difficult, non-required unique at the end of DL4 you get an artifact that has a fast recharging TO activation, since you can design every aspect of the artifacts as you see fit, including the activation and recharge time. You could also design your mini-game with very limited teleportation and phase doors or none at all, but provide more items with pluses to movement speed to compensate. Anyway, user-designed levels seems like it could be a fun way to tweak and broaden the Angband experience and to create fun and unique challenges to post on the forums for others to try out.

Some other drawbacks to do doing all the items and drops intentionally is that each class wants something different, so how would you handle that? Perhaps you'd have the option in the editor to edit items for each class (or class groups). So that means you'd have to do like 6 separate edits. When you load the mini-game and select your class, it would then load the edit with the items and drops that correspond appropriately to the class you chose (kind of a lot of work for the editor, but this editor would be easy to use so it wouldn't be that big a deal I guess). Or maybe the class item edits could be lumped into three categories: Ranger/Rogue, ||||| Priest, Warrior, Paladin, Blackguard, Druid ||||| Necromancer/Mage. Or, perhaps a simpler and better solution is: as in normal Angband, sometimes you'll find an item you just don't need, like Battle Blessings or a lantern of shadows (which actually could be an interesting preview of what other classes will find if you were to replay it as a different class).

Anyway, I'd love to be able to create and edit my own Angband levels. I don't suppose someone would want to write a level editor for Angband?
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Last edited by Grotug; March 26, 2023 at 22:41. Reason: clarifying what the post is about
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Old March 27, 2023, 02:04   #2
Sky
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sound like you want to play Sil but call it Angband.
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Old March 27, 2023, 10:58   #3
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Gensouband's Extra difficulty mode has something remotely similar - it's an Ironman challenge mode, and every 10th level is one of the quest levels normally available from the main game, with some bonus rewards. While you're not guaranteed to receive any extra resources on main levels, you'll be able to get some loot from those quest levels. The rewards are the same as main game quests (plus some bonuses) - so Cloning Pits/Old Castle will have the same excellent rewards they usually give you.

To some extent, Hengband and its variants might be what you're looking for; if you're capable of clearing the quests, you'll be able to guarantee getting decent early game loot. Hengband has some established routes for optimal collecting potential early game loot.
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Old March 27, 2023, 18:09   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Grotug View Post
Anyway, I'd love to be able to create and edit my own Angband levels. I don't suppose someone would want to write a level editor for Angband?
Quest levels designed by developers or players exist in Pos/Heng-likes, and have existed in most popular variants of Angband back down to Kangband in the 1990s; and usually fit much this sort of role of providing challenges in return for progression and both specific and random item rewards. FAangband has its large, developer-designed one-time special levels. And yeah, Sil is a relevant comparison here too.

(In short, if you want to add this to Angband, the hardest part will be deciding which code to purloin.)
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