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Old July 8, 2018, 17:03   #11
Pete Mack
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The speed ring stats are a real problem: it means that you probably will find an OOD speed ring in 4.0, but you probably won't in 3.4. The difference at or above native depth isn't a big deal--it means about a +1 bias in the best ring you find.

It is the latter kind of statistics that are more critical: at what depth do you find an endgame weapon/speed ring/dragon armor etc? Or are the odds of finding one significantly less than 1? (Just as is the case for first-found FA, speed ring, damage ring, resistance armor, etc.)

I am actually enjoying 3.4 more than 4.0, despite the annoyance of ID and bad squelching.
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Old July 8, 2018, 17:20   #12
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I don't have a problem with SI/FA showing up "early", since they're so critical to being able to play the game at all. Other abilities though should definitely have a period where you're trying to push forward despite not having them; this is especially true of speed and ESP.
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Old July 8, 2018, 17:42   #13
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In the recent O competition my character didn't find any ESP or +speed (or a couple other handy utilities) before dying horribly of not having ESP or +speed. The character died at dlvl 86 after spending a significant amount of time between dlvl 70 and 86. I'm not going to claim the process was fun the whole way through, but it was definitely an interesting experience, and trying to push through (because it was a comp) despite the significant difficulty spike (enhanced by O monsters and O monster drop generation) when I largely stopped being able to kill things at-depth. It brought on a feeling of dread and fear of the unknown (with no ESP on a warrior whose staffs of detection kept getting fried). This is a sort of feeling that Nick has mentioned before as being the goal of the later levels of the game. Making powerful abilities harder to get early on (in O, you can find shoes and hats of telepathy reasonably early, but they are rare) really ratchets up the pressure and can make a win more satisfying, and a death more impactful. It can feel a bit unfair, but sometimes that's a feeling you want to generate.

Of course, instituting full O difficulty would be undesirable in V, since there is only so much you can do before you start turning off new players. On the other hand, I feel like the creation of the foreboding and unfair feeling of later levels is part of what enables player retention, since it makes getting past those a much more satisfying accomplishment than dying 5 times in the early levels, twice to some unexpected mechanic later on, and then winning the game.
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Old July 8, 2018, 18:34   #14
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I agree about SI being pretty much a necessity after DL 30. Dreads (and later, Ethereal dragons) are just too dangerous to mess with. But going without FA between DL 20 and 30 is fun, in the same way that do8ng without ESP after DL 50 is. At the same time, I agree with Philip: there are only so many levels you can survive at low HP, without speed or ESP. But better to be forced to push the envelope than to always get OK speed by dl 50.
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Old July 8, 2018, 18:37   #15
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Luckily these issues are pretty easy to fix. They're just tweaks in various constants. It was my intention to do these sort of balancing fixes after every version. Unfortunately the overhaul to dungeon creation had introduced some bugs that caused crashes and I wasn't able to find them.

We should probably regularly do these balances with the knowledge that if we're going to depart in one direction or another in drop rates, it should be for good reasons.
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Old July 8, 2018, 19:06   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fizzix View Post
Luckily these issues are pretty easy to fix. They're just tweaks in various constants. It was my intention to do these sort of balancing fixes after every version. Unfortunately the overhaul to dungeon creation had introduced some bugs that caused crashes and I wasn't able to find them.

We should probably regularly do these balances with the knowledge that if we're going to depart in one direction or another in drop rates, it should be for good reasons.
Agreed, and I'm glad you're taking a close look at this! Game balance tends to be an unstable equilibrium: it's easy to break and hard to fix. So, thank you!
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Old July 8, 2018, 19:09   #17
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Personally, I think drop rates should be reworked entirely with a clear intention. After that, yeah, any change in drop rates should be explicitly acknowledged and justified, but as it stands, and in 3.4, I'm not convinced there's a goal behind the distribution of objects. If we had a clearly stated idea of what the purpose of the object distribution is, we could evaluate the effect a lot more clearly.

If there are new classes and monsters, there should be a new object balance, and I don't think it should be tied to any particular version of the game (or any variant).
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Old July 8, 2018, 19:20   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Philip View Post
Personally, I think drop rates should be reworked entirely with a clear intention. After that, yeah, any change in drop rates should be explicitly acknowledged and justified, but as it stands, and in 3.4, I'm not convinced there's a goal behind the distribution of objects. If we had a clearly stated idea of what the purpose of the object distribution is, we could evaluate the effect a lot more clearly.

If there are new classes and monsters, there should be a new object balance, and I don't think it should be tied to any particular version of the game (or any variant).
This is the kind of thing that's easy to say we should do, but hard to do in practice, I think. Like, I can propose some reasonable guidelines, but how would we translate them into rules for drops?

* The player should be encouraged to push past where they "feel safe" and to engage in dangerous (i.e. fun) behavior
* The player should only rarely be able to assemble a "perfect kit" (covering all desirable abilities and with high pluses across the board) by endgame
* The player should never feel like they have to grind to proceed

You can come up with imperfect heuristics that would cover some of these, but good luck making metrics that measure how well we adhere to them.

It's a lot easier to just say "balance was better at X prior version, based on feedback from players who have played both versions", and then to look at what changed since then. ...I guess that means you could say that our "clear intention" should be to return drop rates to something like what they were like in 3.4.
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Old July 8, 2018, 19:27   #19
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Philip, historically the way it worked is that item drops were overhauled in 3.1. This led to a very generous drop rate and a lot of complaints that the game was too easy. Myshkin and I both developed monte carlo sims to calculate statistics of objects generated, with the idea that we wanted to see if indeed it is true that item drop rates were different than previous versions.

3.0.6 was the benchmark, not because it was ideal, but because it was a stable version that was prior to a lot of the changes to item drops. We found that indeed 3.1 (and 3.2) were both very generous (probably moreso than 4.feature). So we balanced, I think for 3.3 but definitely for 3.4 to pull the items back down to something akin to 3.6 levels. There were some obvious differences though. In 3.4 you were a lot more likely to get artifacts from uniques and slightly less likely from other sources.

The truth is these questions are really hard to answer in a vacuum. How many stat potions per level *should* we be generating? I don't know. However it is possible to quantify the trajectory that we are, and at least make sure we don't stray too far from something that worked.

If you are able to come up with some metrics for what we should be aiming for, I'd love to hear them! Angband is such a hard game to balance because of the ability to endlessly repeat levels.
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Old July 8, 2018, 19:55   #20
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Stat potions are not quite as important. It's "time to finding useful object" that matters, along with "time to finding endgame object", and finally "risk of finding" defined roughly by how many false leads you get prior to hitting a jackpot.
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