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Old January 6, 2012, 22:00   #1
Greebley
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Implementing different difficulty levels

I was noticing discussions on making angband more difficult.

One approach would be to introduce difficulty levels:
You choose the level to play when you start and the difficulty level would be listed.

'Easy' would be the same as normal except you get the option to continue after death. I recently won the game, but it took me 18 years to do so. The reason it took so long is because when I died at level 55 or so, the prospect of starting again was too discouraging so I would quit playing.

Your score could be divided by something like (# of deaths) + 1.2.
So you make it through without dying the score is divided by 1.2. You die 5 times then divided by 6.2 (the .2 makes choosing easy score less).

You could also put a minimum level to restart - so only games reaching character level 20 or 30 could be continued

'Normal' would be whatever the current game was.

Hard, very hard, or whatever could have things like:

Monster hp and max damage increased by 30%/50%
No black Market
Perhaps power down artifacts? A lot seem to add to speed.
Any other ideas suggested to make the game more challenging.
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Old January 6, 2012, 22:35   #2
AnonymousHero
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The major problem with playing non-permadeath is that you don't actually learn very much about playing with permadeath. (It's the same with savescumming.)
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Old January 6, 2012, 23:07   #3
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A simple way to handle this is to have monster level and object level adjusted by a simple percentage.

For example: For an easy game:

Have monster level adjusted downwards by 20%, and have object level adjusted upwards by 20%. That way, at 2000 feet you are facing monsters native to 1600 feet while getting object rewards worthy of a drop at 2400'.

You can also have a hard game by adjusting it the other way, although a 20% adjustment would be a pretty difficult game.
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Old January 7, 2012, 00:20   #4
Derakon
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Seems to me it'd be better to only adjust the loot and not the monsters. After all, eventually you'll have to fight Morgoth at level 100, and his power level would be held constant. Also that way the player will be able to know which monsters start showing up when even when he graduates to a higher difficulty level.

I'll vouch for the fact that gear drops have a major impact on the game's difficulty...so long as you keep pushing onwards, anyway.
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Old January 7, 2012, 01:09   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Derakon View Post
Seems to me it'd be better to only adjust the loot and not the monsters. After all, eventually you'll have to fight Morgoth at level 100, and his power level would be held constant. Also that way the player will be able to know which monsters start showing up when even when he graduates to a higher difficulty level.

I'll vouch for the fact that gear drops have a major impact on the game's difficulty...so long as you keep pushing onwards, anyway.
That's probably a significant improvement than my idea, plus it is easier to control the degree of difficulty with only one variable changing instead of two.
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Old January 7, 2012, 03:11   #6
Estie
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There are already various ways to adjust difficulty: ironman vs normal, disconnected stairs on/off, for the early game choice of race (highelf easy, human hard).

Looking at the randart set of the current competition 116, if they are typical I find them too weak. I feel artifacts should be better than egos most of the time, but with that set playing with no artifacts wouldnt make a huge difference. Of course, weakening the egos would also work, but either way, a good (im-)balance of power between artifacts and egos is more important for a good game than any perceived "easy" or "hard" difficulty when playing.
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Old January 7, 2012, 04:56   #7
Monkay
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I don't like the idea of making difficulty levels like easy, medium, hard whatever, I think it's best just to add more birth options. Im just combining ideas here but maybe there could be a system where some options could effect score i.e. turning connected stairs off could add #% to score etc. I agree with you that dying at a high level makes you not bothered to play again, so maybe add cheat death or similar options that significantly effect score rather than classifying it as cheating. Just a noobs opinion.
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Old January 7, 2012, 10:39   #8
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It already has cheat death -- normal -- disconnected stairs -- ironman -- artifactless ironman difficulty levels. What I like here is that it avoid cheap solutions like increasing monster hp/damage.
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Old January 9, 2012, 02:06   #9
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I've always thought difficulty levels would be a great addition to Angband, even more so since I started following this forum (with experts complaining the game is too easy and most players still dying a fair % of the time).

It's a pretty standard feature across a huge variety of games; there are pitfalls as regards balance but I don't think that should daunt such an active community.

I'd agree that minimizing the number of variables to scale would be preferable -- object drop level would be very convenient, though I'd make a pitch for perhaps adjusting stat-related player bonuses as well (eg maxed out CON as Level 50 Half-Troll Warrior might get you 1500 HP on easiest, 1000 HP on hardest), otherwise the endgame wouldn't be changed much.

I'd say that apart from gear the difficult levels should do away with some of the perfect safeguards now in existence, eg 0% spell failure or perfect save throws (can one get perfect device usage or stealth nowadays?).

I disagree that the various birth options really substitute for a general difficulty level; they're either very narrow and arbitrary (connected stairs) or radical game-changing challenges really suited for advanced players (ironman, no-artifacts).
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Old January 9, 2012, 07:58   #10
Estie
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lord Tom View Post
I've always thought difficulty levels would be a great addition to Angband, even more so since I started following this forum (with experts complaining the game is too easy and most players still dying a fair % of the time).

It's a pretty standard feature across a huge variety of games; there are pitfalls as regards balance but I don't think that should daunt such an active community.

I'd agree that minimizing the number of variables to scale would be preferable -- object drop level would be very convenient, though I'd make a pitch for perhaps adjusting stat-related player bonuses as well (eg maxed out CON as Level 50 Half-Troll Warrior might get you 1500 HP on easiest, 1000 HP on hardest), otherwise the endgame wouldn't be changed much.

I'd say that apart from gear the difficult levels should do away with some of the perfect safeguards now in existence, eg 0% spell failure or perfect save throws (can one get perfect device usage or stealth nowadays?).

I disagree that the various birth options really substitute for a general difficulty level; they're either very narrow and arbitrary (connected stairs) or radical game-changing challenges really suited for advanced players (ironman, no-artifacts).
Im not really sure what you mean with the last remark; Ill answer 2 possible meanings I can perceive:

1. The birth option changes modify difficulty towards even harder, where what is needed is something easier than basic angband:

This is true. Even if you start out with a high elf warrior who has the easiest early game, there comes a point where you cant kill everything in 1 round and mistakes will kill you.

2. Modifying difficulty by changing birth options distorts the game, when what I want is a normal angband, just easier:

I can see the want for this, but your suggested changes would be at least as distortive as the different birth options.

When it comes to hp, there is a barrier of pain at ~700 where going below makes you 1-hit fodder; hobbit mages are pretty close to this barrier, and everything else is about the minimum needed to make for different gameplay of race/class combos (h-troll warrior has twice the amount, everything else is inbetween).
If you cap hp at the hobbit mage barrier, it takes away variety; if you do something like 30% less hp for everyone, it creates a region of 1-hittable race/class combos, either way it distorts the game.

The 0% spell failure applies to 2 out of 6 classes for the late game only and distinguishes "pure" casters from hybrids. Removal would dilute the distinction without having a noticable effect on difficulty.

Big changes in drop rate would also change the game: currently, if you clear every level you will end up at about level 50 with a sizeable amount of artifacts found. If you lower droprate, people will need to grind longer for acceptable gear, thus xp becomes meaningless at some point.

The problem is that "a general difficulty level" is hard to do without such distorting effects.

It seems to me that what is missing is a recognition of accomplishment before killing Morgoth. Instead of trying to think of ways to get there easier, maybe it would be better to introduce more steps of "winning" along the way. This can be done by making some of the uniques mini-bosses, with their own level like Morgoths' 100: for example, the first achievement could be to kill Azog, king of the Uruk-Hai on level 30 (he would always reside on level 30), and marking this in the dump and ladder, and Saruman on level 40 or so.
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