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Old December 12, 2018, 21:47   #11
wobbly
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Voovus View Post
I agree that randomising monster characeristics is probably unnecessarily difficult to get right. However, Angband has a huge monster list. In principle not all monsters have to be allowed to spawn in any given playthrough. If only, say, half the monsters could be generated, this might add variety between games. Alternatively, some monsters (or monster groups) could be assigned a "very common" flag during game generation. For instance, you might end up with three times as many ancient dragons, in which case suddenly Slay Dragon might actually be useful... just don't triple the number of hounds, please.
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Old December 13, 2018, 08:19   #12
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Originally Posted by Nick View Post
There are games which do this sort of thing - Nethack, for example. I wouldn't rule it out forever from Angband, but I think there are a bunch of more obvious changes to try first.
I, for one, am not really too eager to see here the infamous Nethack "killed by a gnome with a wand of death" level of monster AI.
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Old December 13, 2018, 18:51   #13
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I generally agree that randomness in monsters isn't all that helpful, but maybe there are some places where it could be interesting...

- maybe a few uniques, to make them a little more exciting. It could even be just giving some random resists or vulnerabilities that the player would have to find out in game rather than just having it all be metagame knowledge.
- maybe some spell casters, where their spell inventory has some variation.


Regarding different AIs, maybe special rooms with tethered or chained monsters. And this might be too far into the "puzzle room" for Vanilla, but you could have monsters in cages that can only hit you with ranged attacks, and some kind of specialist keepers that rather than fighting, run to the cages to unlock.
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Old December 14, 2018, 00:00   #14
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If there's one monster that would be hilarious having a random selection of abilities, it is Kavlax the Many-Headed (specifically he should have a random set of breaths). There are a couple others who I imagine would not be entirely out of the question (randomizing a couple spells within a pool on the ringwraiths). No other unique seems like it would be better for the game if it were less consistent, but I may just be missing something.
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Old December 14, 2018, 00:46   #15
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Heck, give one or two of the Orc uniques a random branded attack.
Let Kim and Ibun each be randomly missing a resistance.

These are pretty cosmetic and we've survived 25+ years without randomized monsters, but I'm having a hard time seeing a big downside.

I think the game would need to indicate to players in the monster description that whatever component is randomized.
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Old December 15, 2018, 15:17   #16
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I think low level monsters should stop appearing at a certain level. When I last played, I remember seeing weak monsters like small kobolds and snagas quite deep in the dungeon.
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Old December 15, 2018, 15:49   #17
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I suspect you can get a better effect then random by having a huge monster database and making most of the padding monsters rare enough that you only start to see them after multiple playthrough. Say the size of CPBs list but monsters are rarer rather then the game just throwing all of them at you. I actually started playing with this is my own list. It's interesting but it does get increasingly hard to manage.

Also check out Tome 4 if you haven't and want to see how random monsters play out in a roguelike. That has random uniques. I'm not sure I liked it. It had it's good & bad moments.
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Old December 16, 2018, 10:21   #18
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I said that some randomness in the monster list would make the game more replayable because by now most players know things like acid brand will be useful against Sauron, if I have no rShards I just need to avoid those 3-4 monsters but otherwise I'm good etc. Which just does not look good to me.
But of course I accept your arguments. Tbh I'm not a hardcore player, just pick up the game for a few weeks every year (and don't play other roguelikes) so I probably look at the game from a different point of view.
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Old December 16, 2018, 11:34   #19
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See the way I see the game, the predictability of monsters is a large part of what gives the game replayability. I'm not going to rehash my entire metanarrative concept here (I made an entire thread about it) but effectively, monsters being constant and monster memory being transferred, as well as just memory, means that players can learn and develop their gameplay as they play, creating a sort of personal narrative of a player's relationship with the game. This has many implications beyond monster design, and isn't even originally about monster design, but that's all in the thread.

I think the metanarrative could survive random monsters, and possibly even game balance could, though given that randarts still aren't balanced, who knows. It certainly doesn't feel like it's worth the risk or the effort (which would be significant even before taking into account balance).

This is also why I'd be fine with specific monsters having some abilities randomized within a pool. It would expand the amount of stuff players could learn, rather than contracting it.
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Old January 2, 2019, 00:56   #20
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New branch now available for testing

There is now a builds page for the new feature/monster branch, with the initial builds for Windows and macOS on it (source code is here).

The changes are as follows:
  • New attack type SPIT, which allows monsters to spit various stuff at the player from a distance of up to 3 grids. Monsters affected so far: king cobra
  • New attack type WHIP, where monsters up to two grids away can lash the player with a whip, possibly of some type (usually fire). Monsters affected so far: greater Balrog.
  • More complex group behaviour, mostly:
    • If a group monster is awake, they may wake other monsters in their group that they can see. Monsters affected so far: anything that comes in any sort of group.
    • Summoned non-living monsters will vanish when the summoner is killed. Monsters affected so far: undead, elementals, golems, vortices.
    • Monsters in groups are less likely to be scared. Monsters affected so far: Anything that comes in a group, but especially those markes as servants, or bodyguards (which can't be scared while the monster they guard is alive).
    • Monster marked as bodyguards will try and group around the guarded monster. Monsters affected so far: bodyguards.
  • Monster shapechanges. Shapechange is now a monster spell, and the casting monster will change shape for 5-15 turns and then change back. Monsters affected so for: druid, enchantress, Beorn the Shape-Changer (duh).
  • Separation of frequencies for "innate spells" (breaths, arrows, boulders, shrieks, whip and spit) from actual cast spells. Related to this is an upgrade to archery for some monsters, which will be able to shoot more frequently and intelligently. Monsters affected so far: All monsters with "spells" really, but notably so far scouts, kobold archers and ranger chieftains.
  • High resists have been made more uniform and reliable, with all high elements (aside from poison) now giving randomly between 1/3 and 1/2 resistance. There is also some tweaking of damage caps, with light and dark now capped at 500, and nether and chaos at 600. Monsters affected so far: everything that breathes or casts ball spells.
  • Some additional effects have been added for breaths and ball spells from powerful monsters. Powerful fire, cold and poison attacks which are only singly resisted, and unresisted powerful nether and dark attacks, can now have extra unpleasant side-effects. Monsters affected so far: Anything with the POWERFUL flag, and for ball spells also monsters level 80 or deeper.
  • One change which didn't happen was to make monsters capable of being awake but unaware of the player. I started implementing this, and then decided that it was affecting monster behaviour in a way I didn't like. I haven't completely ruled out having another go, but not for now.

I would greatly appreciate playtesting of this branch. I know of two bugs which I haven't tracked down properly - some misordering of messages following shapechanges, and a nasty one where the game closes correctly and writes a savefile, but it then can't be opened.

So next steps here are to fix those bugs, and to start in the monster list rewrite (changes so far have been principally to test the new mechanics). My plan for the rewrite is to do a monster base at a time (possibly alphabetically - ant, bat, centipede, ... - and possibly in whatever order takes my fancy).

All feedback of any sort is welcome.
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