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Old June 15, 2010, 21:20   #1
Derakon
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Making the game harder

The general trend lately has been to streamline gameplay, and as a side-effect, make it easier (barring the current lack of consumables, which we can assume will be fixed in 3.1.3). How do we compensate by making it harder again? Should we compensate?

The way I see it, here are the following types of challenges in the game as it currently stands:

* Immediate tactical challenges. These are what you face when you're in fights in the dungeon. You can make them harder by making monsters stronger or more common, or by making the player weaker. Things like removing extra blows/shots from players, increasing the importance of armor class, making monsters smarter, etc. all fall into this category.

* Short-term exploration challenges. These are for when you're exploring the dungeon but not currently in a fight. You can make them harder by making the dungeon more difficult/dangerous to explore, by limiting the player's movement capabilities, and by limiting access to information. Things like adding dangerous terrain, removing the ability to tunnel, and nerfing detection all fall into this category.

* The long-term character customization challenge. This is deciding what equipment to use, what inventory to carry, what spells to learn, etc. Players are trying to find the optimal equipment loadout that protects them from dangerous attacks while giving them a strong offense of their own. Reducing overlap between equipment (so that, for example, you're exceedingly unlikely to be able to cover every resistance hole), making most items have drawbacks to their use, and reducing inventory size would all fall into this category.

It's my feeling that current tactical situations are good, current dungeon navigation is too easy, and current customization is a bit too easy. Which is to say, the fights that I choose to get into are good tactical challenges, but I can pick my fights so I can easily avoid the ones that are too dangerous or have bad risk/reward ratios. And in general, by the mid-late game I'm finding equipment that does what I want it to do with only minor holes.

Thoughts? How well do you think current Vanilla is balanced?
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Old June 15, 2010, 21:44   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Derakon View Post
The general trend lately has been to streamline gameplay, and as a side-effect, make it easier (barring the current lack of consumables, which we can assume will be fixed in 3.1.3). How do we compensate by making it harder again? Should we compensate?

The way I see it, here are the following types of challenges in the game as it currently stands:

* Immediate tactical challenges. These are what you face when you're in fights in the dungeon. You can make them harder by making monsters stronger or more common, or by making the player weaker. Things like removing extra blows/shots from players, increasing the importance of armor class, making monsters smarter, etc. all fall into this category.

* Short-term exploration challenges. These are for when you're exploring the dungeon but not currently in a fight. You can make them harder by making the dungeon more difficult/dangerous to explore, by limiting the player's movement capabilities, and by limiting access to information. Things like adding dangerous terrain, removing the ability to tunnel, and nerfing detection all fall into this category.

* The long-term character customization challenge. This is deciding what equipment to use, what inventory to carry, what spells to learn, etc. Players are trying to find the optimal equipment loadout that protects them from dangerous attacks while giving them a strong offense of their own. Reducing overlap between equipment (so that, for example, you're exceedingly unlikely to be able to cover every resistance hole), making most items have drawbacks to their use, and reducing inventory size would all fall into this category.

It's my feeling that current tactical situations are good, current dungeon navigation is too easy, and current customization is a bit too easy. Which is to say, the fights that I choose to get into are good tactical challenges, but I can pick my fights so I can easily avoid the ones that are too dangerous or have bad risk/reward ratios. And in general, by the mid-late game I'm finding equipment that does what I want it to do with only minor holes.

Thoughts? How well do you think current Vanilla is balanced?
Interesting - my view is almost the polar opposite of yours. I think the long-term customisation is about right, the detection faff and picking your fights is too hard unless you optimise for stealth, and the tactical challenges are too easy (which is why blows and shots will be rarer on randarts in 3.1.3).

Ho hum.

I am up for making the tactical and strategic elements both harder, but please for God's sake let's not make detection any more of a hassle than it already is.
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Old June 15, 2010, 21:52   #3
LostTemplar
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IMHO more monsters should actively attack player. Add teleport to player or passwall ability to some easy to wake up or allways awake monsters or maybe improve movement ai. I have only limited experience in vanilla but compared to FA it seems that monsters just stay where they are even after waking up and wait for death to come to them. The only monster I have seen actively attacking was one of ringwraiths with passwall.
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Old June 15, 2010, 21:54   #4
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I think you're just noticing the shallow path-finding algorithm... those monsters that aren't doing anything are pushed up against a wall trying to be close to the player.
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Old June 15, 2010, 22:03   #5
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I don't have much to add, since I am still wrapped up in my own variant. But there is a part of me that is glad this thread is being written. From everything I have seen in the latest releases of Angband, it has gotten easier in that obsticles that prevent people from diving deep and battling only select monsters to get the desired equipment.

The main reasons were: missing a key resist (confusion, blindness poison), not enough hp, risk of paralysis, risk of getting knocked out, lack of speed, lack of ID. All of these have been addressed to some extent or another. and people are free to dive much quicker than ever. But it does seem to come at a price in that the risk is being removed as well.

I think the biggest obsticle is that Angband is basically an inventory management game. There is little character development, and by the end of the game most classes just play like a warrior. But in keeping it that simple, it has also been able to remain fairly balanced with high replay value.
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Old June 15, 2010, 22:05   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by d_m View Post
I think you're just noticing the shallow path-finding algorithm... those monsters that aren't doing anything are pushed up against a wall trying to be close to the player.
See, this strikes me as one of the areas that doesn't need to be made harder - the whole picking-your-fights thing. While I'm happy to have better pathfinding on principle, I think we should tone down the number of always-awake monsters, and more importantly I think we should make more of monster aggressiveness (or lack of it). Not every monster should head straight for the player. Some of the aggressive ones, yes, but some should just idly wander around instead. That'd make things more interesting if less tactically challenging.

Happy for the game to be made harder in other ways, but I don't think this is one of them.
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Old June 15, 2010, 22:10   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by d_m View Post
I think you're just noticing the shallow path-finding algorithm... those monsters that aren't doing anything are pushed up against a wall trying to be close to the player.
I have played with this alot in NPP. There are plenty of ways to enlarge the path finding code without hurting game performance (NPP monsters move almost exclusively by path finding, and depending on the terrain there are more than a dozen different moevment flows being tracked at once). In the Vanilla environment practically the entire dungeon can be mapped without any pauses in the game. It makes the dangerous, aggressive low reward monsters like the hounds and hydras much more difficult to avoid.
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Old June 15, 2010, 22:25   #8
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I would like to see the game harder in lots of ways, but I wonder if you are worrying about the wrong things.

Try playing a warrior without ASCs and tell me if you think the game is too easy. I'd say yes, but would not be surprised to be a minority of 1.

If not, then one could argue the problem is as simple as the overpowered nature of ASCs and current spellbooks.
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Old June 15, 2010, 23:14   #9
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I do think that spells confer a ton of power on every class except the warrior. Here's how I see spells currently breaking down in order of importance:

* Detection. Warriors suck at detection. They can pray for early telepathy, which lets them see most monsters, but they're reliant on consumables until they find rods, and once they do find rods they have to wait for them to recharge (and rod recharging is nowhere near as fast as mana regeneration). All spellcasters, in contrast, get reliable detection (a bit later for priestly types, but Godly Insights and its Detection spell typically shows up before -Detection does). This is far and away the most important item.
* Combat boosters (haste, heroism, bless, temporary resistance, etc.). The number of boosts a high-level mage-type can cast before a battle is huge, to the extent that consumables can't adequately compete. Getting an extra +10 to speed and +30 to-hit is a massive advantage. Reliable access to double-resistance goes a long way to mitigate one of the most common sources of damage. Oddly, priests and paladins are limited to Bless et al (edit: and Protection from Evil and Sense Invisible, both of which I don't use too often).
* Healing. This is mostly a convenience, since the Temple healing potions in conjunction with Phase Door make an adequate substitute.
* Escapes. This is mostly a convenience, since with good detection you should generally not get into situations that require you to use escapes in the first place. Thus the rate at which you use up consumables should be less than the rate at which you find them, at least in my experience.
* Attack magic. Mages can rely heavily on this, and priests can use Orb of Draining throughout the game at steadily diminishing effectiveness, but everyone else pretty much sticks to melee and missiles.

Good detection is so important that I think you could make a viable class that only has rogue-level fighting abilities and detection spells. In fact, how about this:

* Mages: Mages get access to the entire spell list for their books. Escape and booster spells are more expensive for them; attack magic is cheaper.
* Rangers: do not get any attack or escape magic; only get resistance spells from the booster set (so no speed, heroism, etc.); don't get any spells that detect objects (so no Detection spell).
* Rogues: do not get any attack or booster spells. Detection magic is cheaper.
* Priests: pretty much as current.
* Paladins: do not get any attack prayers; only get Detect Evil and Detect Monster from the detection set.

Last edited by Derakon; June 15, 2010 at 23:32.
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Old June 15, 2010, 23:16   #10
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The real problem is that there are people who have been playing Angband and similar games obsessively for decades. If the game is to remain viable it needs to be accessible to new players which in turn means the curmudgeonly veterans need to fork.

Either that or changes need to be made that only make Ironman harder. Like removing all or nearly all consumables from the dungeon while making the shops stock based on the player's recall depth.
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