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Old December 22, 2013, 20:03   #1
Therem Harth
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Smaller levels

It seems to me like auto-explore gets a lot of praise here. It also seems (to me) like it's a hackish, effort-intensive workaround for a very simple problem, i.e. too much empty space in the game.

Maintainers of V have traditionally been against adding much new content, and I can see why - coming up with good content is hard. Likewise, adding more monsters and items per level could make things too grindy (or too monty haul) for many players' liking.

But how about taking the simple way out, and shrinking the dungeon levels?

I was just experimenting with smaller levels in V 3.4.1. The default 198x66 dungeon always bores me... So I shrank it down to 88x44 in defines.h. Then I rolled up a High-elf rogue and went down into the dungeon.

On my third try in ~10 minutes at the moment. Here's what I'm seeing:

- More difficult gameplay. There are monsters everywhere! Groups of jackals pose more of a hazard when you don't have many places to hide from them, poisonous monsters are a bigger threat, and Farmer Maggot's dogs tend to turn up more than one at a time.

- Faster gameplay. For the rogue, it alternates between sneaking around and stabbing stuff, and running like hell. Usually running like hell.

(Oops, just died by yellow jelly poisoning. On to the fourth try.)

- Staircases are easier to find. I consider this a good thing.

(Oops, just got killed by Wormtongue.)

- I gain levels faster... Not that it helps much.

(Killed again, bunch of novice mages and a novice paladin.)

You get the idea. Suffice to say this works a lot better IMHO, and I'd heartily recommend that V fans give it a try.

I also wonder how hard it would be to include small dungeon levels as a difficulty option, as in Zangband and ToME2.
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Old December 22, 2013, 20:14   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Therem Harth View Post
I was just experimenting with smaller levels in V 3.4.1. The default 198x66 dungeon always bores me... So I shrank it down to 88x44 in defines.h. Then I rolled up a High-elf rogue and went down into the dungeon.
Is this the only change you made? Did you need to re-compile? In short, can I do this as easily as it sounds? I want to try this.
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Old December 22, 2013, 20:21   #3
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Compacting levels is definitely something to consider. Vanilla levels are already smaller than they used to be; go play Poschengband sometime and you'll see the old level size, which is positively gargantuan by comparison.

Compacting levels will affect some races and classes more than others, though. Characters that need to rest often (e.g. to recharge mana) will have a harder time of things, as will characters with poor stealth. In short, I'm saying that this is probably not something where we can just flick a single switch and say "done", though we can probably get pretty close.
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Old December 22, 2013, 20:39   #4
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Originally Posted by buzzkill View Post
Is this the only change you made? Did you need to re-compile? In short, can I do this as easily as it sounds? I want to try this.
Yes, that was the only change. Just set DUNGEON_HGT to 44 and DUNGEON_WID to 88 in src/defines.h, and recompile.

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Compacting levels is definitely something to consider. Vanilla levels are already smaller than they used to be; go play Poschengband sometime and you'll see the old level size, which is positively gargantuan by comparison.
Thanks, didn't know that. Interesting.

Quote:
Compacting levels will affect some races and classes more than others, though. Characters that need to rest often (e.g. to recharge mana) will have a harder time of things, as will characters with poor stealth. In short, I'm saying that this is probably not something where we can just flick a single switch and say "done", though we can probably get pretty close.
Maybe mana regeneration could be sped up a bit to compensate? I've always felt that mages run out of SP with inordinate ease...

Re stealth, I would also consider that an improvement. Walking around in Morgoth's own dungeon should be a dangerous proposition for anyone who makes a lot of noise. :P
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Old December 22, 2013, 20:45   #5
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I think smaller or fewer levels is definitely something to do. An alternative to smaller levels is to just have various different "types" in the same level. Maybe the top left area is a bunch of close intersecting rooms, and the bottom right is a cavern, etc.

Note that making the levels the size you have will make certain vaults impossible to place. So you need to consider that as well.
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Old December 22, 2013, 20:48   #6
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More variety in dungeon levels is certainly on my list of things to do (after the code restructure - remember that?), including size. I would not at this stage plan to go to permanently smaller levels, but as a birth option might be good.

NPP already has this.
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Old December 22, 2013, 21:14   #7
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Thanks, I'd forgotten about vaults. I assume all vaults can be generated as long as the dungeon is a bit larger than the biggest of them? Or does the placement algorithm not work that way?
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Old December 22, 2013, 21:15   #8
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I would like to make the point that there are few cases of Morgoth's hall being entered and left. They are, two people (okay, human+elf), who did it by stealth and a bit of clever magic. And a magic dog. The other situation is when you have a massive army of demigods and elves. The situation in Angband is that you are one person. So, yeah. Essentially, keep up your stealth, or you deserve to have Morgoth's army attacking you. You might be able to handle it, though.

Sil already has this.

More to the point, increasing density of everything will achieve the same effect. Fizzix's solution is nice.
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Old December 22, 2013, 21:23   #9
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@Philip: I tried increasing the density of everything in Neoband. Having tons and tons of monsters on each level actually gets a bit annoying at times, especially with breeders (which seem to crop up on every damn level). I personally prefer just shrinking the levels (and will probably switch to that method in the next version of Neoband).

There's also a bit of an atmosphere thing. Having smaller levels gives a more hectic, claustrophobic feel, IMO, which I happen to prefer.

The vault thing is a problem though, I'll have to figure out a reasonable level size for avoiding that. I will note that all vaults in ToME 2, including the gigantic "Cyclone" vault, can appear with small levels forced on.
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Old December 22, 2013, 21:56   #10
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NPP already has this.
It's quite sweet that just as Jeff suborns "FA already has this", you get to replace it with "After The Restructure(tm)".
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