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Old July 13, 2019, 20:45   #1
jml34
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Join Date: Jul 2019
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Talking Feedback on the game (1.4.3)

Hi all!
I've been playing angband on and off for a long time, a few tens of hours here and there, then I'd come back a year later and see what's new.
The only time I've killed Morgoth was with a Mage with an invincibility spell... This time I think I'm going to seriously try to kill him again with a Half-Troll Warrior

I'm impressed by the work done to improve the game for all these years. Thanks a lot to all contributors

I have 2 main issues with the game as it is.
Issue #1 a UI that trips muscle memory
So we repeat the most useful commands lots of times, then something happens to the inventory and the key sequence is now wrong. This is especially painful with spells/prayers when an early book goes missing, or when we find the later books in the wrong order. Engraving is just a patch, not a solution: it's not beginner-friendly, doesn't work for spells, and why not just solve the problem instead? (Also number keys are harder to hit right, and for some national keyboards, numbers are shifted keys.)
Fix #1A Don't reorder the inventory
Items just keep their inventory key as long as they're there. When something is removed from the inventory, that's just a free slot. I'd probably want commands to switch inventory keys, to toggle “show inventory sorted by letter / by item order”, perhaps to resort the inventory, but even if I don't, I'd still go for it (I can still drop stuff and pick them back in the order I want).
Fix #1B Don't use inventory letters
Spells/prayers could use "handles" instead, which would be shown in the spell description. E.g. all healing stuff would use a 2-letter handle starting with "h" so “cure light wounds”, the first healing spell, would be "mha", then "phb" is “cure serious wounds” etc. Bolts coud be "b" so "mbc" or "mbf" would launch a bolt of cold/frost, but magic missiles get spammed so they should probably be assigned a 1-letter handle. Rationale: find a balance between easy to remember, and easy to type for the most used ones.
This scheme could be extended to everything: "qha" could mean "quaff a !CLW" (Inspecting the potion would tell this), "Zha" for the staff of CLW etc. Same handle everywhere, so if that's done there's no need for fix #1A. (Just do something for eating a food ration: why, just why, are my food rations not always sitting in the first food slot???)

Issue #2 limited house size
Thanks devs for everything, but NOT for making my house even smaller. Right after the early game it's always the same headache: I come back home with cool stuff I don't need now, my home is full with similarly cool stuff, and I have NO IDEA what I should throw away. I just don't want to play a resource management with partial knowledge game: I want to play a hack and slash and hoard game. I want to have all sorts of options for all my equipment slots. I want to store my arrows/bolts when I find a better crossbow/bow etc. E.g. I just found a restoration rod, and I have no idea if it works to try and get a stack of them, or not: I just wand to leave that home and see later.
So at some point I'd drop the matter, tell myself I'd think again about that later, then a year or two come to pass, then I just download the newest version of angband and start a new game... After all I like early game the most
Fix #2 Design difficulty options (with a very big house in normal difficulty)
I suggest making angband both an easier and more difficult game to win
Here's how: when I'm starting the game as a beginner, I'd first select normal difficulty, then choose from a limited selection of ready-made characters, each coming with a paragraph of advice on how this character should be played (current angband would be "custom character"—this is great but e.g. I've never played a ranger so the day I want to try that I'd just want to pick up a ready-made character, then maybe design my own character when I have experience of that class).
The game would start with a bit of lore about a top-shot character magically sending me to a far-away town because I need to go and beat Morgoth.
When I die there'd be a bit of lore about [my knowledge being sent back] my soul being magically rescued but I need to start over with a new body.
When I finally win... there'd be a bit of lore about how I didn't beat the game It was all just an illusion by that top-shot boss, to train me so that I can really go and beat Morgoth, but in reality there are no words of recall and no stairs, just holes that I may jump down through but with no way to come back up... So yeah, "real" angband would be hard mode, some ironman I guess.
tl;dr I have no idea why anyone would want to play with a limited house. Why not just directly go ironman? Cater for the less experienced players and hoarders, and provide a roadmap into the game with normal and hard modes.

Suggestions/small issues

Feelings I get the “just ignore feelings, just try to avoid dangers and dive” idea, but it'd be really nice if feelings worked! If it did, some risks would be worth it, making the game more fun.
Fix 3a: update feelings when I find stuff. I often don't know if something contributed to feelings or not.
Fix 3b: let the user tell the game what he likes to find—not really a fix but a direction for improvement. Ignore irrelevant books, ignored stuff, stuff that's worse than what I have (e.g. I already have 2 Rings of Speed on me/at home, better rings are great, otherwise I'm not interested)... For more complicated matters, hopefully when I find that some irrelevant stuff contributed to feelings, I can dig into an eval function and adjust parameters. This is basically the same as for ignoring items, except that maybe we'd want to be more precise, and when it's not ignored, we want to state how interested we are in finding it.
Fix 3c: take monsters and chests inventory into account.
Rationale: (a) if 3a–c work, then I'll often be in interesting situations. “OK I've still got a good feeling so there's stuff I want to find, it's either in this chest behind a pack of Time Hounds or on one of those painful uniques, do I go for it?” (Maybe feelings need to be adjusted when stuff is destroyed for this to work.) (b) if this somehow makes the game too easy in hard mode, just make a hard(er) mode with no feelings...

Angband as a knowledge game One of the greatest improvements was about monster memory. So now, even if I die, I still got something that will help the next character; I've never looked for a spoiler file since then. I think angband could go further in this direction.
Probing is too OP and should probably try to just tell what I want to know the most, like can it summon, and what maximum damage may it deal at most per player turn. Rationale: not knowing too much is part of the thrill of the game, so letting the player learn things the hard way is good as long as one knows enough to avoid death.
Conversely there could be rare small books written by the community that would be added to the main menu when you find them. About what resists to get at what depth, what's good to stack for a given class, what to stack to fight Morgoth, technical details about various things (some info could be taken off form the help menu) etc. (These books would present themselves as notes from past adventurers.) The guides I could find are too wordy (we only get the wisdom of any advice after we die anyway so a quick pointer is enough) or outdated; I think writers would be motivated if they know their guide will be found by players in the dungeon.

Stacking limits I'd like to tell the auto-pickup that I just want to stack 20 ?Phase Door and 4 Staffs of Teleportation etc.

Conditional ignore "ignore unless useful" E.g. I'd like to ignore stat potions only when my stat is maxed out, not drained.

Try-again command So I select a rod, select a target/direction, then fail to use the rod. I'd use a command to try again if there was any...

Artifact Museum When I discovered this game I used to dream there was a place where I could drop all my outdated artifacts, just so I could admire them again I think it doesn't matter if normal mode angband is slightly easier, so the museum could be like “Welcome Adventurer to our Artifact Museum! Although, as you can see, it's empty for now. How about you become a contributor? You'll have free entry for life, and you can pick back any artifact you leave here whenever you want. Are you in? → Great! Let me inscribe your right hand with this sigil... Done! It's attuned both to artifacts and to this place, so whenever you find an artifact in the dungeon, just activate the sigil with [the command to type] and the artifact will be sent right here!” Rationale: don't put the player in a situation where collecting artifacts conflicts with trying to win the game (you'd need to drop valuable stuff to carry back home the artifacts you found). I think teens would love this, er, and me too

Missing death throes I think you're missing a cool opportunity there. What's with a plain short "You die..." message after hours of gameplay??? Wouldn't your character have some death throes? English is not my first language but I can still come up with ”O Gods! Were the hopes you bestowed me all for naught?” or “The unjustice! The villainy! You haven't prevailed, for a stronger one will rise, your demise nigh!”. Dunno it those were any good, but you can probably find lots of good quotes and print a random one just before "You die...".
Then later you can try to program some special quotes for the appropriate death circumstances. "You look at [the low level guy who dealt you the finishing blow] and exclaim “How can it be? My fall, by a puny twerpy twig?”"

y/n questions Was this fixed? I used to have an issue with unexpected y/n questions that would pop up in the middle of a y-y-y or n-n-n movement sequence (playing roguelike; btw you could advertise angband as a great way to learn how to type without looking at the keyboard). It seems I don't get y/n questions anymore anyway, but I wanted to point out that with roguelike on y/n questions should probably be a[ye]/f[orget it] questions... or require to hit Enter.

That's it folks!
I guess it's a bit late to mention object stacks on the floor and any direction targetting, but it's probably not too late to thank for disabling selling to the shops? That was a really great move!
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