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Old September 25, 2017, 01:49   #1
Patashu
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A novel solution to status effects

The problems with status effects in Angband, in the various iterations of trying to make them both fun and balanced, can be overviewed as follows:

1) Either they're probabilistic, and thus too unreliable to use,
2) Or they always work, and they're too good to NOT use,
3) Or they always work, but they're nerfed to the point where they're never worth using,
4) Or some monsters are immune and some monsters are not (eventually leading to everything you'd want to effect being immune), making it just something you use until you're diving to the lower levels.

Divinity Original Sin 2 ( http://store.steampowered.com/app/43...riginal_Sin_2/ ) is a tactical RPG that came out recently, and it has what I think is a novel solution to status effects:

All units don't just have HP (called Vitality), they also have two more bars called Physical Armour and Magical Armour. How big these bars are is influenced by what equipment you wear, so different allies and enemies have different distributions between these two bars. Physical damage is dealt to Physical Armour first before being dealt to Vitality, and Magical damage is dealt to Magical Armour first before being dealt to Vitality.

In addition, many terrains and attacks apply status effects, but ONLY if the respective Armour type is at 0. For example, fire terrain applies burning if magical armour is 0, and a skill called 'Chicken Claw' turns the target into a chicken, but only if their physical armour is 0. In addition, healing skills are diversified - some heal vitality, some heal physical armour, some heal magical armour. Offensive skills are split between raw damage, damage + status effect, and status effect only. (Terrain is also a core concept, by the way - many skills create, destroy and interact debilitating terrain such as water, blood, ice, electrified fluid, poison, oil and fire.)

Because of the variance in enemy physical/magical armour distributions, it's smart to have good ways to deal both physical and armour damage, AND to apply debilitating status effects of both kinds so you have flexible ways to take any problem enemy out of the fight, and you can get all your allies into fights with enemies that they can take out the fastest.

I'm not sure what the best way to retrofit this system onto Angband (or even a variant) would be, but this is the first status effect system I've seen in a while that isn't trivial (either you always want to apply a status effect, or you never do, or it's a percentage play and you use it exactly when it's more reliable than reducing their HP to 0).
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Old September 25, 2017, 02:41   #2
Estie
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The main reason debuffs have low value in Angband is that most fights are so short. Furthermore, typically higher level monsters are harder to affect than lower level ones, and those are excatly the ones youd want to debuff, because it takes longer to kill them. I very occasionally use a wand of slow monster, but it soon gets squelched as the inventory fills up with more important things. I dont see how you can justify a slot for a debuff unless it is 2) too good NOT to always use.

Sleep is imo the most interesting status effect for Angband. Call it mesmerisation and let it affect basically everything, make it ball shaped at target location so it can be used without LOS and people might use it. Naturally, the game would become easier, the only way to avoid that is to increase difficulty elsewhere at the same time.

As for the Divinity system, I cant see any application for Angband. If I understand it correctly, there would be 2 phases to a combat - the first where you erode shield(s) and the second where you exploit the lack of shield with some kind of followup. That kind of complexity only makes sense for the longest fights, that is lategame uniques. Also, it is counter intuitive, as the early stages of a fight is where youd want to have status effects the most. If you can take a dragon down to half health without the help of any status effect, why would you want to apply it therafter, when it is half dead (and/or has lost its shield) ? I havent seen any Divinity play, so maybe I am misunderstanding something.

I think I would try the opposite approach - make monsters susceptible to status effects, but increase their resistance with additional applications. That way @ gets an advantage at the start of the fight without danger of it turning into a pillar-dance type cycle.

To successfully introduce status effects it wont do to change said effects into something different. First the game must be modified in a way to present situations that @ has to overcome, but is unable to without the help of status effects. And that would be a major change.
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Old September 25, 2017, 05:59   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Estie View Post
Also, it is counter intuitive, as the early stages of a fight is where youd want to have status effects the most. If you can take a dragon down to half health without the help of any status effect, why would you want to apply it therafter, when it is half dead (and/or has lost its shield) ? I havent seen any Divinity play, so maybe I am misunderstanding something.
Reasons include:
* Fights in DOS2 are quite long. Fights consist of multiple allies vs multiple enemies (as opposed to Angband where it's you vs one enemy if you're playing intelligently), and killing a specific enemy usually requires more than a full round of attacks from all allies. Debilitating two enemies is often more useful than killing one.
* Enemies have different amounts of physical armour, magical armour and vitality. An enemy that is mostly vitality will get to status effect range far more easily than it can be killed. An enemy that has less of one kind of armour than the other is a prime candidate for focusing that armour kind down and applying a status effect to it, if you can.

- - -

Actually, this is starting to make me realize the biggest reason why status effects are so hard to balance in Angband - how easy it is to reduce all fights into one-on-one, safe-for-the-player instances. This removes the 'do I debilitate two enemies or kill one' decision, for example. This isn't a bad thing, it just means that any attempt to make status effects meaningful (or decide they can't ever be) for Angband has to revolve around the tools you use to fight and control the flow of combat that you already have. What status effect could possibly be better than 'Teleport Away', for example? As you say, "First the game must be modified in a way to present situations that @ has to overcome, but is unable to without the help of status effects.", and that would necessitate at bare minimum challenges that can't be solved by the many forms of failproof Teleportation Angband provides.
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Old September 25, 2017, 11:56   #4
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I disagree strongly with 1) and agree very strongly with 2) and 3). Which is to say I think the newest deterministic status effects are fundementally flawed, but I don't think the old probabilistic ones were, and it was simply a poor implementation which hadn't evolved in step with the rest of the game. I've been having a great deal of fun playing with other variants which have old fashioned full-power status effects with different probability distributions and it's been a lot of fun.
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Old September 25, 2017, 12:00   #5
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Also, not all @'s are equal. I don't think a warrior should go into a game with any more expectations that he'll befuddle and confuse his enemies than he does expecting to destroy them with magic. A mage on the other hand has befuddling and confusion in his class description, and the rogue is meant to be able to do a little of it too.

I honestly think traditional status effects were simply underrated.
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Old September 25, 2017, 12:57   #6
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i think we're heading in the right direction with statuses. There's just one more thing to do.

let's say for example, Slow is a -10 debuff. Take that as the maximum debuff you can have from Slow effects.

once cast, a mob will have a chance to save based on Monster Level, Resistances, and luck. If they fail, they will receive a portion of status, based on their ML and Resistance, up to the maximum.

So, you zap an Orc, and bam! he goes to -10 speed. You zap Ungoliant, and they save a few times, and those times they don't save, they accrus Slow effects, say -2 or -3 at the time, until they reach the maximum of -10.

Confusion would be a % of effect while the status is running. And so on.
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Old September 27, 2017, 19:45   #7
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I agree with Estie concerning the "need" of debilitating in Angband. Sure, slowing/holding/confusing a difficult enemy can be very helpful, but on the other hand it is easier for @ to haste itself, teleport the enemy/oneself away and simply use brute force to subdue 1 (one) enemy. Fighting against parties is to be avoided in Angband due to obvious reasons where it really boils down to setting up a favorable fighting ground, so adding new "armour/bars" isn't something good in this game.

Angband is single-player, so brute force tactics, while Baldur's Gate (for example) rewards the player/party very much if they debilitate their opponent(s) in whatever way. Point: These are completely different games.

Consequence: Implementing a mechanic froma completely different game is a bad choice and does nothing but harm.

Concerning Angband and resistances, maybe a merger with D&D 3.5 wouldn't be that bad at all. I very much like the mechanic of Saving Throws (10 + good modificator - bad modificator = difficulty to check against), because the harder the enemy the harder to debilitate, while there are (just like RL) some enemies who are immune to something. Of course this would require a great deal of work (and is just another non-innovative probability vs probability mechanic) but it would make those debilitating/buffing items more important.

Downside: Turning Angband into a "I need an item for every occasion because I can't be immune anymore and they're throwing everything at me" just because players should use items is, well, unnecessary at the least.
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Old September 27, 2017, 20:47   #8
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Here's a thought: what if status ailments were primarily a way to avoid fighting enemies, rather than a way to make fighting them easier? We could make status effects "fragile", in the sense that they get removed if the monster takes any HP damage. So for example, you could make slowing stick all the time and slow by substantially more (and even slow multiple opponents), but as soon as you try to actually hurt the enemy, they get their speed restored to normal. Status effects could then be useful for breaking apart groups or avoiding fights. You could silence a quylthulg to give you time to get into melee range, or pin Lokkak to the ground so you have time to walk down a corridor and create space (instead of using Phase Door).

I think that such a regime might make it possible to do away with Teleport Other, which is the ultimate "status effect" for avoiding fights right now. Instead you could use status effects that make it safe to walk around the enemy you're trying to avoid.
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Old September 27, 2017, 21:00   #9
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Proof that derakon's "status effects always land" idea was a bad idea: he's back here coming up with a new bad idea which would work horribly. Please give us saving throws and full strength status effects back please. Please.
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Old September 27, 2017, 21:27   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gwarl View Post
Proof that derakon's "status effects always land" idea was a bad idea: he's back here coming up with a new bad idea which would work horribly. Please give us saving throws and full strength status effects back please. Please.
Could you please try to be less ad-hominem and more substantive? This kind of rhetoric does not suit you, or anyone really.
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