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Old June 11, 2011, 22:05   #1
Bahman Rabii
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First game after a five year hiatus

Hi folks,

First off - a warm hello to everyone I forum'ed with and developed with in the old days.

Recently I got a hankering for Angband and decided to give it another go.

I just played through a game in 3.2.0. On my 8th try (3rd try that got past 20th level) as a Dwarf Rogue, I made it down to Morgoth. Morgoth killed me - I misremembered the max damage on Mana Storm and let myself get ~50 hp too low.

This game was different than I was used to for three main reasons: It was standard Angband (I usually played Oangband and other variants); I played with default birth settings (I usually played with smart_learn=on and preserve=off); There has been an additional 5 years of development.

Observations about recent changes:
- The changes to identify are a clear improvement. The savings in tedium more than make up for any simplification.
- I am glad to see Leon Marrick's quiver made it into standard Angband.
- I love the new gain one/lose one stat potions. They provide a strong ramp in power before stat gain and temper the importance of stat gain. They do make the early game (a lot) easier, but I can live with that, since I always found the early game disproportionately more dangerous than the mid and late games.
- The summoning changes are good. You still want to use anti-summoning corridors, but for new players who have not learned about them yet, it is easier to survive the first encounter with a heavy summoner.
- Artifacts have gotten stronger (some new, some revised). I am not sure that was needed.
- Core gameplay is largely unchanged. My memory of when to hold out for free action or various resists, for which uniques to treat cautiously, and for how to optimize my gear was pretty directly applicable.
- I am not crazy about the addition of unique titans. We already had enough mythologies in Angband.
- Autosquelch... Even though I added a form of it to Oangband, I am still not crazy about it. As I argued in detail on the newsgroup back in the day, I was concerned that squelch is a weak "bandaid" fix to the fundamental problem that too much junk loot drops. This can be fixed properly (reduced drops, increased drop quality, more utility items in stores), but the addition of squelching makes it all too easy to ignore these issues. I was going this way (incrementally) in Oangband, and had already reduced drop quantities in the late game more than 2x.
- Ego DSM. This is pretty over the top. In my game I bought a DSM of speed +8 in the black market before 2000 feet. Eventually I replaced it with another DSM of speed ... +9. In the mid game, this is insanely powerful. In the end game, your really just want enough stats, 20 speed, critical resists, and all the slaying bonuses you can get; DSM of Speed freed me up to have get slaying bonuses on both rings for the Morgoth fight. I understand the desire to make DSM more viable - in Oangband I took another approach based on shapeshifting.

Observations of Angband vs Oangband:
- It seems that Angband still has the idea that "everyone reverts to melee at high levels". I can live with this as a premise of Angband, but really it is not a good feature for the game. Truly varied gameplay between the classes is my #1 wish for Angband.
- I was putting a lot of work into monster AI in Oangband. Angband does not seem to have done much on this. I would really like to see monster AI improve significantly. It just feels stupid to have endgame uniques casting pointless spells. Some version of improved AI is my #2 wish for Angband
- I missed the Oangband combat system. In Angband, combat performance of weapons just felt so generic. "Slay Foo" and brands were worth considering, but not generally worth carrying swap weapons. Every classes converges on the same preferred weapons, instead of promoting heavier weapons for brawny combat classes.
- Something similar applies to armor - in Angband the whole kit looks pretty much the same for every classes. In Oangband, armour weight is a huge issue for full casters, and a moderate one for hybrids.

Observations on Birth Settings:
- This was my first game that I can remember with preserve mode on. I officially give up on non-preserve. Preserve mode just take so much tedium out of the game. Doing complete clears of dozens of 'special' levels, most of which have only monster pits, is an intolerable pain.
- Smart-learn - I left this off in keeping with the defaults, but I don't understand why it is defaulted that way. The monsters are pretty freakin' stupid already, and the late game is easy enough. Can we just default this to true at some point?

General points:
- Various tweaks seem to have made the game easier - most of the time the tweaks themselves are great for usability reasons. It might make sense for a future upgrade to retune difficultly overall, though.
- The newsgroup seems pretty quiet. Great thanks to Pav and any others involved in running this site.

My next move will be to play through FAangband.

I would love to get back to developing, but realistically, I don't have time. I stopped working on Oangband when I got a full time coding job, and I lost my appetite to also code as a hobby. Even though I am no longer coding at work, my work load is pretty crazy
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Old June 11, 2011, 22:11   #2
Magnate
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bahman Rabii View Post
- Ego DSM. This is pretty over the top. In my game I bought a DSM of speed +8 in the black market before 2000 feet. Eventually I replaced it with another DSM of speed ... +9. In the mid game, this is insanely powerful. In the end game, your really just want enough stats, 20 speed, critical resists, and all the slaying bonuses you can get; DSM of Speed freed me up to have get slaying bonuses on both rings for the Morgoth fight. I understand the desire to make DSM more viable - in Oangband I took another approach based on shapeshifting.
I am really sorry about this. This was one of the things that went into 3.2 very late on, just before release, and was not properly tested. You'll be pleased to know that (i) ego DSMs will be toned down a lot for 3.3 and (ii) we will now have feature freezes before every release!

Welcome back.
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Old June 11, 2011, 22:23   #3
Magnate
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bahman Rabii View Post
- It seems that Angband still has the idea that "everyone reverts to melee at high levels". I can live with this as a premise of Angband, but really it is not a good feature for the game. Truly varied gameplay between the classes is my #1 wish for Angband.
- I was putting a lot of work into monster AI in Oangband. Angband does not seem to have done much on this. I would really like to see monster AI improve significantly. It just feels stupid to have endgame uniques casting pointless spells. Some version of improved AI is my #2 wish for Angband
- I missed the Oangband combat system. In Angband, combat performance of weapons just felt so generic. "Slay Foo" and brands were worth considering, but not generally worth carrying swap weapons. Every classes converges on the same preferred weapons, instead of promoting heavier weapons for brawny combat classes.
- Something similar applies to armor - in Angband the whole kit looks pretty much the same for every classes. In Oangband, armour weight is a huge issue for full casters, and a moderate one for hybrids.
Personally I agree with all these, and I think there is plenty of support for all of them here and in the devteam. That said, we've just had a team meeting about 3.4 and it didn't include any of these (there is just so much to fix, and as you noted, retuning difficulty is a priority). But I will try to look at combat for 3.5 (some work has been done already, but not tested and merged) and I suspect some class differentiation stuff isn't too far away either. We lack anyone really interested in working on AI though ...
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Old June 11, 2011, 22:26   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Magnate View Post
We lack anyone really interested in working on AI though ...
This isn't really true--I'd love to work on AI but only after I spend a bunch more time on dungeon generation, LOS/FOV, etc.
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Old June 11, 2011, 22:36   #5
Bahman Rabii
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Quote:
Originally Posted by d_m View Post
This isn't really true--I'd love to work on AI but only after I spend a bunch more time on dungeon generation, LOS/FOV, etc.
If you are interested in a little brainstorming, please message me. I learned a few things from the AI upgrades Leon and I wrote for Oangband.
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Old June 12, 2011, 01:06   #6
artes
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I also just came back to Angband after many years, mostly to learn about programming by examining and changing the source code, and hopefully contributing. Yes, I find it very similar to how it was when I played it, around 1995.

When it comes to AI, I have found that Sangband has a better algorithm for when the monsters flee. Instead of running into a corner to be killed they try to take a path that really leads away somewhere, and they take shortcuts at corners. It is much more difficult to pursue and finish them off in Sangband. (Oh, wait, I just read that Sangband is based on Oangband.)
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Old June 12, 2011, 03:05   #7
Nick
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bahman Rabii View Post
Hi folks,

First off - a warm hello to everyone I forum'ed with and developed with in the old days.
Great to see you back!

I know this is the Vanilla forum, but I'm going to use the excuse of you mentioning FAangband to give some FA-related responses

Quote:
The changes to identify are a clear improvement. The savings in tedium more than make up for any simplification.
Agreed, this is awesome (FA has a different implementation of ID-by-use).

Quote:
Autosquelch... Even though I added a form of it to Oangband, I am still not crazy about it. As I argued in detail on the newsgroup back in the day, I was concerned that squelch is a weak "bandaid" fix to the fundamental problem that too much junk loot drops. This can be fixed properly (reduced drops, increased drop quality, more utility items in stores), but the addition of squelching makes it all too easy to ignore these issues. I was going this way (incrementally) in Oangband, and had already reduced drop quantities in the late game more than 2x.
I don't know if I agree here or not. I tend to find drops a bit too paltry in Oangband (although admittedly I usually play ridiculously underpowered characters). I think the new V idea of more utility items in stacks is a positive step. I also tend to lean toward giving more options to the player rather than less, and squelch is another option.

Quote:
Ego DSM
-snip-
in Oangband I took another approach based on shapeshifting.
In FA DSMs got a small speed bonus and the chance to get minor egos (Dwarven and Resistance) because even the immunity from the shapeshift was mostly not making them worthwhile.

Quote:
It seems that Angband still has the idea that "everyone reverts to melee at high levels". I can live with this as a premise of Angband, but really it is not a good feature for the game. Truly varied gameplay between the classes is my #1 wish for Angband.
Agree agree. This is something I think I have managed to maintain in FAangband, and I am planning to move more in that direction. Both Un and NPP have done good work here too.

Quote:
I was putting a lot of work into monster AI in Oangband. Angband does not seem to have done much on this. I would really like to see monster AI improve significantly. It just feels stupid to have endgame uniques casting pointless spells. Some version of improved AI is my #2 wish for Angband
Ohhh, yes. I'm about to begin a full rework of this in FA to allow Posband-style player-as-actual-monster (via shapechange for Maiar, and possession by Spirits); I have not done much to the original Oangband code for it up until now because it works so well already.

Quote:
I missed the Oangband combat system. In Angband, combat performance of weapons just felt so generic. "Slay Foo" and brands were worth considering, but not generally worth carrying swap weapons. Every classes converges on the same preferred weapons, instead of promoting heavier weapons for brawny combat classes.
Well, obviously

Quote:
Something similar applies to armor - in Angband the whole kit looks pretty much the same for every classes. In Oangband, armour weight is a huge issue for full casters, and a moderate one for hybrids.
Agreed again

Quote:
This was my first game that I can remember with preserve mode on. I officially give up on non-preserve. Preserve mode just take so much tedium out of the game. Doing complete clears of dozens of 'special' levels, most of which have only monster pits, is an intolerable pain.
I think everyone's more or less come to this conclusion - FA doesn't even have non-preserve any more.

Quote:
Smart-learn - I left this off in keeping with the defaults, but I don't understand why it is defaulted that way. The monsters are pretty freakin' stupid already, and the late game is easy enough. Can we just default this to true at some point?
Agreed yet again.

Quote:
Various tweaks seem to have made the game easier - most of the time the tweaks themselves are great for usability reasons. It might make sense for a future upgrade to retune difficultly overall, though.
I think the V devs are well aware of this; it has caused a bit of angst from time to time, but you can't make an omelette without breaking eggs

Quote:
The newsgroup seems pretty quiet. Great thanks to Pav and any others involved in running this site.
Again, there has been a slightly painful transition, but basically pretty much everyone is here now. There are some mainly technical disadvantages of the forum (we're a pretty conservative bunch ), but the advantages have mostly outweighed them. Funnily enough, for me the real clincher was the absence on the forum of flame wars inspired by one particular individual...

Quote:
My next move will be to play through FAangband.
This makes me very very happy

I have just more or less finished a massive update of the codebase to roughly V3.2.0, and there are still some bugs lying around from that. I would recommend getting the latest code from github, as that has bugfixes from 1.2.1 but no gameplay changes.

Any comments and criticisms you have will be gratefully received.

Quote:
I would love to get back to developing, but realistically, I don't have time. I stopped working on Oangband when I got a full time coding job, and I lost my appetite to also code as a hobby. Even though I am no longer coding at work, my work load is pretty crazy
I would be delighted to see you doing *band development again (whether Oangband or something new), but that's me

I have had occasional thoughts of doing some actual changes to Oangband (ID-by-use is the obvious thing to do); I'd be interested to hear what you think about that, too.
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Old June 12, 2011, 11:48   #8
CJNyfalt
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What is this, return of the old hands week? I tested out 3.2.0 yesterday after an absence of two years.

Welcome back!
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Old June 12, 2011, 12:45   #9
Magnate
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CJNyfalt View Post
What is this, return of the old hands week? I tested out 3.2.0 yesterday after an absence of two years.

Welcome back!
And to you. As I just commented on #angband-dev, I wouldn't be surprised if Leon showed up tomorrow.
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Old June 13, 2011, 07:27   #10
Philip
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Bahman has returned! Rejoice!
Seriously, O is an awesome variant.
BTW, Nick, any chance of an O competition sometime? Timing depends on if you have any plans and if Bahman will decide to continue O or make something new or just go around playing variants.
My personal idea is shadow-fairy mage. Later on mages have the worst stealth. Also, mages in O are, I presume, different from V mages, because they probably use devices for damage.
Bahman, for your list of variants to try, I suggest S, maybe DAJ. S is being maintained by camlost, who is doing well.
Also, are you going to be a player, or a coder? If coder, are you going to continue O, start a new variant, or even take up an abandoned variant? Also an option, join the devteam, or create one in a new variant, although I think that V is the only variant capable of sustaining such a fast development speed.
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