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Old November 2, 2015, 17:41   #11
Carnivean
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The card game Solitaire (Patience in some countries) has a maximum win ratio of 80% or so. With perfect knowledge and perfect play, you'll lose 20% of your games. It's addictive because it's short. If a winning game was going to take 20 hours, then noone would play it. I don't think I'd want to play Angband if I was going to die no matter what I did 20% of the time, or even any percent.

That said, I can see scope for the game to make it harder to play perfectly. Programming the game to be able to predict human behaviour to create traps that require strategy to overcome would be difficult, but if achieved very rewarding.

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Originally Posted by fizzix View Post
If I was in charge (and it's probably good that I'm not) I would actually reduce a lot of the high damage monster spells and breaths. Then, and only then, would I make escapes less powerful in some of the ways that PowerWyrm suggests.
If you were to double the number of monsters, but halve their damage output and limit summons to a set number (or total power) per level, that might work towards that end.

Perhaps you could introduce monsters that affect escapes? The teleport version of shrieker mushrooms. Or perhaps spell casters could cast temporary teleport blocking spells, with a d8(?) round timer.
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Old November 2, 2015, 18:43   #12
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Unfair phenomenons: YES PLEASE: But not as "You die" out of nowhere.

Already in my second win I felt the need for this. In the end I was ideally placed in a vault to melee Morgoth. I had 15 !Life and plenty !*healing* available. I knew I could not lose unless I fumblefingered the fight. So why keep playing? The only reason would be to get the *Winner* flag for the forum but I already had a win. What did I do? For the entire final fight I would only heal myself with the 5% fail rate Holy World to keep the game open - I could still lose.

The Armageddon trap in some variants as well as the blood curse on killing some uniques are ok, but personally I prefer challenge options. Currently I only play with Forced Decent and No Recall (ironman).

How about adding a new birth option "challenge_levels" = {never | voluntary | mandatory}. The game could then throw an optional OOD challenge level at @ every now and then. The trigger would be on rare occasions when using a downstair leading to e.g. the message: "On your way to the next level you notice a corridor, heavily blocked with logs, ropes and magical runes. Would you like to investigate?" The challenge level could be generated like any other level except more OOD and with the "<" collapsing on entry and the (only) ">" in the exact other end of the level. After having generated (but not yet displayed) the level, you could also insert a hint on what type danger you would be facing in the challenge prompt.
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Old November 2, 2015, 19:09   #13
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For a beginning character, there are dozens of unfair ways to die. A trap can kill a low level character; invisible monsters can attack ("unfair, I never had a chance to see it!"), he can get paralyzed, breathed at from out of LoS etc etc.

Playing a game of Angband can be looked at as shutting down all these more or less instant, more or less unfair ways to die one by one. You get detection, teleportation, free action, hit points etc up to the point where basically nothing can kill you unless you really mess up.

I agree with Timo that the early stages where the character is weak are the more interesting ones, and that means having many unfair ways to die. I suggest not to focus on fair vs unfair too much. Part of Angband is exploration, and that means incomplete information and therefor inevitable unfairness. This is really only a question of the degree of unfairness. And knowing that, I could live with the floating eye killing my character when he takes the stairs down for the first time.

I am not saying the game should necessarily return to that stage (eye moves first, paralyzes the paralyzed and does its own damage), but getting fussed up over such a death suggests that the person in question isnt aware of how random their other deaths are. "I could have avoided that death by phasing in time, so it was my own fault" - in hindsight, yes, but to avoid the same fate again, you need to adapt a strategy of phasing at low danger level every time, and that might well mean you die from phasing next to a nasty next time when you could have survived by sticking it out instead.

TL;DR: fair death is an illusion, most Angband deaths are unfair.



About moving towards lower monster damage and less player escape options:

There are many many roguelikes out there that do exactly that, and for the most part I dont like them much. The feature of (Vanilla) Angband is that the combat itself is bland: for the most part, just a press of the direction key.

It is all about the circumstances and prepartions that lead to said combat. Looting a vault can be a veritable puzzle of planning and on the fly thinking when something goes wrong. Thats where the fun is. Prolonging the trading of blows, while it does open up new design options like meaningfull debuffs, is imho better suited for graphically advanced games and is being explored there in depths.
Needless to say, killing a character who has a tp scroll with 1 breath isnt any more unfair than taking away his scroll and delivering the damage over 3 turns.
Thats the abovementioned illusion again.

NB - it has been suggested to disable detection in vaults, I think that is a horrible idea. Planning the take out is all the fun, and you cant do any of that if you dont know what you are facing.
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Old November 2, 2015, 21:17   #14
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Originally Posted by Timo Pietilš View Post
ISurviving and/or dying from clearly unfair thing is fun. Dying only from own mistake not so much, because that leads to some way of playing that always leads to victory.
Maybe the most fun is being presented with a series of choices, where you have to balance risk and reward.

I suspect the "correct play gets me a win" thing comes about because the correct choice is always don't take the risk, you'll get the reward later anyway. And I think the solution is going to be nudging the game in the correct direction rather than making sweeping changes.

Note that I'm not saying there won't be sweeping changes
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Old November 2, 2015, 21:50   #15
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Maybe the most fun is being presented with a series of choices, where you have to balance risk and reward.
I think for these decisions to be meaningful, we have to take away the "well, I can always do it later" option, which in turn goes against a big part of what makes Angband Angband (viz the infinite dungeon that you can proceed through at your own pace). In other words, in order for there to be interesting risk, the player has to have something on the line -- but in an infinite game with decent escapes, you can always just leave and assume something equivalent or better will come along later.

So how do you present the player with a choice where they know that foregoing this opportunity means missing out on something they won't be easily able to replace?

One random thought: limit the total supply of certain items over the course of the game. So e.g. there can be at most 50 Potions of Strength ever generated. This acts as a sort of weak "no-preserve mode". Of course it also goes against the infinite-dungeon ethos, but we could also just make it so that after the last potion is generated, the rarity gets greatly increased. You can still find more if you really need them, but they won't be easy to find.

If you do that, then you can start just outright telling the player what's in each vault -- put a sign up outside saying "This vault has 1 Scroll of Word of Destruction, 1 Potion of Constitution, and Mordenkeinan's Escapes" and the player knows that they need to go after a certain number of such vaults or other challenges if they want to have what they need for the endgame.
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Old November 2, 2015, 22:31   #16
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I'd hate to do any thing too drastic to kill the "play at your own pace" vibe. I think there are some relatively minor things that could make the late game more interesting without totally changing things.

More interesting monster AI and scenarios (summoners summon diggers or wall walkers to bust up anti-summoning corridors, more monsters buffing other monsters, etc).

Give each level a # of "disruption points". Each casting of cheese (TO, but particularly Banish/Mass Banish) takes points off, and when the points run out, level is destructed or player is dropped to the next level. Alternatively give behaviors/spells a temporary aggravate. E.g. digging/banish.

Reduce radius of mass banish

(possibly) Reduce number of levels by ~25%, or implement shafts or multi-level stairs to encourage faster descent if player feels bored.
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Old November 3, 2015, 03:05   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Derakon View Post
One random thought: limit the total supply of certain items over the course of the game. So e.g. there can be at most 50 Potions of Strength ever generated. This acts as a sort of weak "no-preserve mode". Of course it also goes against the infinite-dungeon ethos, but we could also just make it so that after the last potion is generated, the rarity gets greatly increased. You can still find more if you really need them, but they won't be easy to find.
I'm not a fan of this option because it makes optimal play very slow. Part of what currently makes angband fun is that you can dive way out of where you are comfortable and really work to pick what you fight and what you run the hell away from. If you need to be able to handle stuff, then you have to play slow enough that you can handle things when you reach it.

If anything I would implement a turn counter like Sil does. But people like Timo absolutely hate that, so I dunno.
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Old November 3, 2015, 08:25   #18
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Even Timo finishes the game eventually. Angband players shouldn't be forced to play fast, but I think we shouldn't be afraid of every change that imposes a time limit. A new mechanic could "force" you to go down at a rate of at least 1 level per million turns and still go completely unnoticed by players who like to explore a lot. It's OK if non-divers are affected slightly by an update.

I'm not clamoring for mechanics that keep you diving. Gentle pushes towards at least a "casual" pace might be nice though.

I think It might be better to make fast players play slower. Some reasons to speed dive are favorable risk versus reward, the thrill of being close to danger, and playing efficiently. It wouldn't bother divers to add fast super alert elemental monsters that you want to resistances for, or adjust the difficulty and player power curves so there's a somewhat smooth progression all the way to level 100 (no skipping 35 levels to floor 98). At least I don't think it would bother them since AFAIK speed divers only dive as fast as they feel comfortable while still being able to win. Keeping Ironman games viable is a must.

As for unavoidable death... I think it's forgivable for a (hypothetical) game to have deaths that are truly unavoidable even if you avoid sketchy situations and play perfectly as long as:
  1. The deaths could be avoided in different circumstances.
  2. The circumstances that make the death inevitable are rare "enough".
  3. Those "circumstances" or "game elements" usually combine to create interesting gameplay.

In isolation and with all else being equal, unavoidable deaths are entirely bad.

Dying in situations you shouldn't have gotten into in the first place doesn't count as unavoidable.
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Old November 3, 2015, 11:03   #19
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Game changes that enforce a particular style of play will hurt the game overall. Angband's appeal is that "there's more than one way to play." The game's already extremely difficult for non-elite players, and there are ways for elites to make the game way more challenging just for themselves.

If you really want a surprise from time to time, then simply play without using detection. Or play human and never wear "see invisible" gear. Nothing like landing on the other side of a large dark room along with a pack of OOD nasty hounds to get your heart rate up.

edit: I suppose it may be possible to add an optional birth mode where there once in a while are sudden "invasions" or "hunts" where all stairways become surrounded by a particular monster type ( e.g., time hounds, Quylthulgs, etc.), and a large aggravated/hasted hunting party is placed on the level, and all escape magics are suspended for some # of turns, and you have to survive at least until that counter reaches zero.

Last edited by Bogatyr; November 3, 2015 at 11:10.
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Old November 3, 2015, 12:06   #20
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Game changes that enforce a particular style of play will hurt the game overall. Angband's appeal is that "there's more than one way to play." The game's already extremely difficult for non-elite players, and there are ways for elites to make the game way more challenging just for themselves.

If you really want a surprise from time to time, then simply play without using detection. Or play human and never wear "see invisible" gear. Nothing like landing on the other side of a large dark room along with a pack of OOD nasty hounds to get your heart rate up.

edit: I suppose it may be possible to add an optional birth mode where there once in a while are sudden "invasions" or "hunts" where all stairways become surrounded by a particular monster type ( e.g., time hounds, Quylthulgs, etc.), and a large aggravated/hasted hunting party is placed on the level, and all escape magics are suspended for some # of turns, and you have to survive at least until that counter reaches zero.
That's the death fate from ToME.
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