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Old November 25, 2012, 17:03   #1
hyperdex
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Playing Angband again after many years!

Hi all,

I have started playing 3.4.1 after an absence of many years from angband. I am pleased to note that it is as addictive as ever! I have a few comments and questions (and maybe even a suggestion or two).

I am glad to see that squelching made it into the vanilla game. I wrote the first squelch patch many years ago, and it was (and may still be) a controversial topic at the time. I am glad to have been able to give something back to the game.

I love many of the changes that have cropped up. The removal of *ID* and reduction of need for regular id, the 'know-by-use', the expanded knowledge screens. It's all wonderful and I congratulate the team for building this up.

When a weapon is 'I'nspected, the average damage per round is one of the figures given. (I am gratefule for this, BTW.) Does this incorporate speed into the calculation? Looking at the code, my guess is that it does not, and I do think that this would be a useful enhancement that would come into play when deciding between Rings of Damage and Rings of Speed, for example.

I have played about 15 games and only have had success with one character, a half-troll warrior. What are the suggested 'easy' combos to start with? Also, it used to be the case that there was a reasonably set pattern to what is needed before one dives. With the rebalancing, is this still the case? With my 'successful' character, I managed to get to the point where in the old days I would have been scumming for stat gain potions, but they seemed to be really hard to find this time around. I dropped to DL 30-31, which as I understand it is where they start getting generated more readily, but after a couple of hours I was only able to find a handful of potions. Is this expected?

I am a little frustrated with the apparent reduced artifact drops. In all of the games I have played, I have only seen one artifact, the Cloak of Thingol. Is the Phial ridiculously harder to find nowadays? Note that my frustration does not mean that it should be changed back. It was a glorious moment when I did get that artifact.

Anyhow -- thanks again to everyone who has made this game what it is.

Best,

Dave Blackston
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Old November 25, 2012, 17:26   #2
Derakon
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hyperdex View Post
Hi all,

I have started playing 3.4.1 after an absence of many years from angband.
Welcome back!
Quote:
I am pleased to note that it is as addictive as ever! I have a few comments and questions (and maybe even a suggestion or two).

I am glad to see that squelching made it into the vanilla game. I wrote the first squelch patch many years ago, and it was (and may still be) a controversial topic at the time. I am glad to have been able to give something back to the game.
Hey, awesome. Squelch is a fantastic idea; thanks for having it.

Quote:
When a weapon is 'I'nspected, the average damage per round is one of the figures given. (I am gratefule for this, BTW.) Does this incorporate speed into the calculation? Looking at the code, my guess is that it does not, and I do think that this would be a useful enhancement that would come into play when deciding between Rings of Damage and Rings of Speed, for example.
It does not. I'm not convinced that "average damage per normal-speed turn" or whatever is a value rubric anyway since what tends to matter is "average speed per opponent's turn", and that varies depending on the opponent you're fighting.

Not to mention that dropping your speed too low means you get double-turned by your enemies. I just don't think it's a good idea to have the game explicitly recommend dropping your speed.

Quote:
I have played about 15 games and only have had success with one character, a half-troll warrior. What are the suggested 'easy' combos to start with?
Half-trolls, dunadan, high-elves, and (oddly enough) kobolds and hobbits are what I tend to think of as the "good" races, roughly in that order. Having lots of hitpoints is very useful, hence the first two; the others just have useful abilities and/or excellent stats. If you want to get magic, then try the paladin and rogue, which both still have very good melee, while still getting access to spells.

Quote:
Also, it used to be the case that there was a reasonably set pattern to what is needed before one dives. With the rebalancing, is this still the case?
Not really. The "set pattern" was largely groupthink anyway -- you always could go below 2000' without poison resistance, for example, that was just the depth where you started needing to keep an eye out for drolems. Ditto with Free Action: there's nothing magical about 1000' that says that paralyzers don't show up before it and do after. If you feel strong for your depth, then you should dive; that's my advice.

Quote:
With my 'successful' character, I managed to get to the point where in the old days I would have been scumming for stat gain potions, but they seemed to be really hard to find this time around. I dropped to DL 30-31, which as I understand it is where they start getting generated more readily, but after a couple of hours I was only able to find a handful of potions. Is this expected?
Yeah, potions have been moved a bit deeper (as part of an effort to spread out the difficulty and reward curves). Just dive. I think they have several allocation rules that make them steadily more common as you get deeper, so again, there's no one depth that makes the ideal stat-scumming area.

Quote:
I am a little frustrated with the apparent reduced artifact drops. In all of the games I have played, I have only seen one artifact, the Cloak of Thingol. Is the Phial ridiculously harder to find nowadays? Note that my frustration does not mean that it should be changed back. It was a glorious moment when I did get that artifact.
The Phial used to be trivial to find; now it is definitely not. I've had games where it hasn't showed up until 1500' or even later.

As for the frequency of other artifacts dropping, I'm afraid we've had so many arguments about what the right rate is that I've lost all feel for how it used to be in the old days.

Thanks for the feedback, and good luck with your 'banding!
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Old November 25, 2012, 17:45   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hyperdex View Post
I am glad to see that squelching made it into the vanilla game. I wrote the first squelch patch many years ago, and it was (and may still be) a controversial topic at the time. I am glad to have been able to give something back to the game.
Wow - it's an honour to meet you. I ported your patch through about six or seven versions (from about 2.9.6 to 3.0.3 IIRC) before I too took a break - when I came back takkaria had incorporated it into 3.1.0 and joy was unconfined.
Quote:
When a weapon is 'I'nspected, the average damage per round is one of the figures given. (I am gratefule for this, BTW.) Does this incorporate speed into the calculation? Looking at the code, my guess is that it does not, and I do think that this would be a useful enhancement that would come into play when deciding between Rings of Damage and Rings of Speed, for example.
This isn't done for the same reason that 'I'nspect doesn't show you a chance to hit an arbitrary AC - all enemies are different so it wouldn't mean much. Would you have it show damage against a monster the same speed as you (in which case speed items could then show the increased melee damage), or against an arbitrarily fast monster? Both have their drawbacks.
Quote:
I am a little frustrated with the apparent reduced artifact drops. In all of the games I have played, I have only seen one artifact, the Cloak of Thingol. Is the Phial ridiculously harder to find nowadays? Note that my frustration does not mean that it should be changed back. It was a glorious moment when I did get that artifact.
As Derakon says, this is extremely interesting for us. You've been away so long that you've missed about three years of "Angband is too easy" feedback - and it was, for a time. People came here, won without scumming within a few weeks, and left again. Many of us took years to get our first non-scummed win, and we wanted to get the game back to that sort of difficulty. We may have gone a little far - though now we have stats collection code that will tell us!

Welcome back.
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Old November 25, 2012, 18:25   #4
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Hi all,

Thanks for the responses. It is good to be back. Magnate -- I remember you porting my patch in the days of yore, and I was grateful for it. I am sorry for the crudeness of the original patch -- it was before I had really learned how to contribute to a large-ish codebase. ;-)

I'd like to comment further on weapon 'I'nspection. I believe that incorporating speed is the 'right' thing to do in that it calibrates the value to a completely neutral baseline. Right now, the value is the amount of damage done to a monster of the same speed given a 100% hit probability. The 'same speed' means that you have a floating baseline. With the speed adjustment, the value is the amount of damage against a normal speed monster assuming a 100% hit probability. A higher number is always better. This is true even if you are risking getting double attacked in a round because of reduced speed. If you are doing enough more damage in your slower attacks, then it is right to reduce speed to increase damage. Note that it is always the player's responsibility to mentally factor in the speed ratios and to-hit probabilities in order to decide whether to attack a given monster.

Here's an example. All else being equal, the current implementation would always suggest that a RoD+1 is better than a RoS+10. This is simply almost never the case and I would argue that it is a mistake for the code to suggest this.

Thanks for the feedback also on diving versus scumming. It's hard to abandon the habits/groupthink of years past, but I think I am up to the task. ;-)
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Old November 25, 2012, 18:39   #5
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I suspect this is one area where we'll just have to agree to disagree. The current display is basically "damage per blow multiplied by number of blows", which roughly corresponds to how much damage you could expect to do in one "round" of combat, plus a little extra for however many fractional blows you have. Personally I prefer that approach; it seems simpler to my mind.

Anyway, even in the cases where you're deciding between =Speed and =Damage, I'd generally prefer to go with =Speed even if my damage-per-normal-speed-turn dropped, because speed gives a huge number of benefits that aren't directly related to how much damage you do.
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Old November 25, 2012, 18:56   #6
Mikko Lehtinen
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I'd like to see hit chance shown in monster status line like in Halls of Mist:


70% is the hit chance, 11% the critical chance.

(l)ook at a monster and you see the hit chance with your current melee weapon. (f)ire or (t)hrow at a monster and you see the hit chance with that missile weapon.
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Old November 25, 2012, 19:13   #7
hyperdex
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Originally Posted by Derakon View Post
I suspect this is one area where we'll just have to agree to disagree. The current display is basically "damage per blow multiplied by number of blows", which roughly corresponds to how much damage you could expect to do in one "round" of combat, plus a little extra for however many fractional blows you have. Personally I prefer that approach; it seems simpler to my mind.

Anyway, even in the cases where you're deciding between =Speed and =Damage, I'd generally prefer to go with =Speed even if my damage-per-normal-speed-turn dropped, because speed gives a huge number of benefits that aren't directly related to how much damage you do.
Fair enough. I prefer my version because it makes explicit the effect of speed on offensive capability. (This can be hard to calculate mentally, especially when dealing with fractional speed boosts, like a RoS+3.) I certainly can see your point though, as well. One nice thing about an open source project is that if I want to make a change like that, I can. ;-)

Dave
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Old November 25, 2012, 19:39   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hyperdex View Post
Fair enough. I prefer my version because it makes explicit the effect of speed on offensive capability. (This can be hard to calculate mentally, especially when dealing with fractional speed boosts, like a RoS+3.) I certainly can see your point though, as well. One nice thing about an open source project is that if I want to make a change like that, I can. ;-)
Are you on github? Because were you to do so, and submit a pull request against the current master branch of the official repository (github.com/angband/angband.git), we could have a tremendous row about whether to include it ;-)
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Old November 25, 2012, 20:27   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hyperdex View Post
Fair enough. I prefer my version because it makes explicit the effect of speed on offensive capability. (This can be hard to calculate mentally, especially when dealing with fractional speed boosts, like a RoS+3.) I certainly can see your point though, as well. One nice thing about an open source project is that if I want to make a change like that, I can. ;-)

Dave
What monster speed are you assuming ?

For most of the time, I follow a simple ruleset to evaluate speed vs damage:
- if your speed is below +10: prefer speed always
- if your speed is 10-19: prefer damage unless the additional speed gets you over +20. At these stages, I assume youll be fighting dangerous things with a speed buff in effect; at +31 speed basically nothing can get double move.
- if your speed is 20+: prefer damage as more than +30 speed is of little value.
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Old November 26, 2012, 04:47   #10
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What monster speed are you assuming ?

For most of the time, I follow a simple ruleset to evaluate speed vs damage:
- if your speed is below +10: prefer speed always
- if your speed is 10-19: prefer damage unless the additional speed gets you over +20. At these stages, I assume youll be fighting dangerous things with a speed buff in effect; at +31 speed basically nothing can get double move.
- if your speed is 20+: prefer damage as more than +30 speed is of little value.
Heuristics are fine -- I just preferred a more exact way to make my speed/damage decisions. I always gave my results using a "normal" monster speed.

It occurs to me that the number I prefer is simply the normally presented number times a constant factor, and it would be a trivial matter to present this value (perhaps as part of the 'Speed' description). The multiplier is simply the value of extract_energy[p_ptr->state.speed]/10, and speed could be presented as something like

Speed Normal

or

Speed -10 (0.5x)

or

Speed +10 (2.0x)

to give a few examples.

This would be the best of both worlds, in a sense, as it gives the player enough information to derive the value I prefer, while maintaining the presentation of the current value.

Cheers,

Dave
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