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Old February 21, 2015, 03:13   #1
mushroom patch
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Monster progression

Hi. I was thinking about the discussion in the other thread about progression of monsters (e.g. baby dragon, young dragon, mature dragon, etc.) as well as progression in terms of level and the effect they have on learning the game "the hard way," i.e. by playing and dying a lot, not by memorizing the monster list (which I would recommend to new players who are serious about winning).

Some thoughts:

1. Breath weapon progression -- there seems to be a gap in the monster list where you pass from monsters that breathe for damage that is unlikely to kill a melee character by itself to breath weapons that will easily one shot a typical melee character of depth-appropriate level. You can see this in the mature dragon to ancient dragon gap (without resistance) as well as the ancient dragon to wyrm gap (with resistance, maybe). There are other well known examples, like drolems and to some extent the bigger hydras. It seems it would help to compress the dragon progression and space it out better. In general, there seems to be a gap between monsters with big breath weapons, e.g. drolems, and lesser breath weapons like the mature dragons. It would help to give players more preface to the big ones with more medium ones that will likely give them near death experiences.

2. Appearance of added effect melee -- in particular, I'm thinking of paralysis and confusion melee. It's often been suggested that the player should get a saving throw against these and maybe that's right. Paralysis with anything worse than a floating eye around is essentially death. Confusion can be almost as bad because (here I think of nightmares, which are doubly bad because they spawn awake and you can't expect to outrun them when they first appear). Here, since it's such a binary condition in both cases, it's not as obvious what to do. Experience with mushroom patches and molds gives some preface to these attacks, but not enough and not on sufficiently formidible monsters. Any new player is sure to die to ghouls a number of times and probably nightmares too before they get the idea. One thing that seems to work in other games is non-instantaneous paralysis attacks, but that might be too easy to defeat in a game with instant teleport on demand.

3. Speed progression -- I just wanted to throw this out there: In current angband, there's slow, normal speed, fast, very fast, and, what, incredibly fast (?) monster speeds. They correspond to speeds -10, +0, +10, +20, and +30. I get the feeling that a lot of what makes the threshold you feel around level depth 40 or so steep is that monsters are transitioning from an average of 0 to +10 while the player is making that transition much more gradually or not at all without using potions or something. It might make sense, since player speed is not locked into multiples of ten and usually isn't +0 by that stage, to smooth this out by moving monsters into the intermediate ranges. Maybe +5, +15 to keep it relatively simple.
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Old February 21, 2015, 09:53   #2
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On the paralysis: maybe we can change it so that a successful paralysis attack paralyses the player for say 3 turns and then you get one guaranteed unparalyzed turn, before you may get paralyzed again. The goal here is that when a player first encounters paralysis unaware he will get a near death situation, and learn that this should be avoided without killing him outright. In more unfavourable circumstances 3 skipped turns easily mean death, so having FA is still very important but it's not immediate game over if you get paralyzed.
On the speed: the massive impact of speed relative to all other factors has been discussed numerous times before. My still favourite change would be to double the current base speed, so that +10 is just 1.5 times as fast, +20 is twice as fast and so on (applied to the player and monsters alike). This would also automatically smooth out the monster difficulty curve in the beginning. After such a change one can probably also eliminate the diminishing returns of very high speed which would simplify the system somewhat.
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Old February 21, 2015, 15:15   #3
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re: speed, I'm not convinced there's a problem with the mechanics. It strikes me as a transient balance problem around a certain range of depths. The dominance of speed as a character stat could be addressed by item rarities and new rings/ego types.

The principles would be: A large, pure speed increase is extremely hard to come by and most readily available sources of speed come with a nontrivial drawback, like -con or something comparably unpleasant. For example, speed rings could almost always appear as randarts, with nontrivial negative side effects for higher plusses. The rings of teleportation do an okay job of filling this role now, actually, for low level characters. The ring of escaping is not so good, imo, because it occurs too early and it seems to favor ranged combat, particularly magic. A ring with a variable speed plus between 3 and 5 and a variable minus to con between 3 and 5 or so would fill the niche better, imo.
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Old February 21, 2015, 15:23   #4
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re: mali

For me the game is about finding gear, getting better, killing harder Monsters, getting more better ... etc etc

I do feel uncomfortable with Drawbacks. And a con of -3 to -5 compares to heavily cursed items. I would vote against such an development.
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Old February 21, 2015, 15:35   #5
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The main thing that would need rebalancing with changes to speed is Morgoth's speed. Right now a player can reasonbly expect to be able to match Morgoth's speed (probably with potions, but still) To do otherwise is to risk a double manastorm (1200 damage), which would be instakill for many (most?) characters.

If we reduce speed, we probably need to reduce Morgoth's the same amount.

Sil has only four speeds: slow(-50%), average, +50%, and +100% (twice as fast). Reducing the magnitude of speed increases to +10 giving +50% and +20 being twice as fast would be similar to this, and would reduce the massive effects of +speed, though it would still be powerful.

Or we could change speed to only affect movement - we already have blows and shots that manage melee and shooting speed, you could add an effect to hasten magic casting or device usage if desired (mages get an extra zap/use at levels 20/40, etc). This would allow you to add monsters that were slow but have high damage and strong defenses (golem-types) where you might not be able to kill them, but you can at least run around them, making them like mobile terrain/traps.
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Old February 21, 2015, 15:42   #6
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If you want to see how some of these suggestions work in a real live Angband variant, poschengband has finer grained monster speeds (+5, +15, +25, etc.) and Hellband separated movement speed from attack speed.

Poscheng isn't the perfect example of how finer-grained monster speed would work in Vanilla because it also has randomized energy (so you can still get 2-shot even vs a monster with identical speed), but it's an approximation.
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Old February 21, 2015, 15:58   #7
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Yeah, randomized energy is not good. There are certain things in a game you need to be sure about (or at least able to be sure about in principle) and movement is one of them.

My feeling re: speed items now is that it's extremely easy to build an uber character that rofflestomps the endgame uniques. With -con or something similar, at least there's a check on how much speed you can stack without having to worry about other holes in your set up. In the midgame, +5 speed, -3 con is a clear upgrade over almost any other ring you could have, so I don't see the objection there. My midgames usually involve like 10 fights with monsters that would appear at a depth greater than 40, unless I get lucky with speed items. Otherwise, it's just dive for speed rings, avoid confrontations.

[edit:] To be clear, I would definitely not be in favor of reducing speeds overall. I'm primarily interested in a smoother progression of monster difficulty with dungeon level and I think intermediate speed values, especially +5, have a role to play there. With a monster list as big as angband, there's tons of room for tweaking things like speed and depth to achieve a nicer difficulty curve.

Last edited by mushroom patch; February 21, 2015 at 18:17.
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Old February 21, 2015, 22:09   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by debo View Post
If you want to see how some of these suggestions work in a real live Angband variant, poschengband has finer grained monster speeds (+5, +15, +25, etc.) and Hellband separated movement speed from attack speed.
NPP has the finer grained monster speeds without randomization.
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Old February 21, 2015, 23:03   #9
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NPP has the finer grained monster speeds without randomization.
It's a good thing we're about to do an NPP comp then!!!
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Old February 22, 2015, 00:14   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mushroom patch View Post
Yeah, randomized energy is not good. There are certain things in a game you need to be sure about (or at least able to be sure about in principle) and movement is one of them.
That's a claim. We should subject it to experiment.

One of the best things about Entroband, to me, was the randomized energy. As a side effect it also functions as "dither" the the speed curve -- not that this is necessarily significant when looking at +0 vs. +10.

I think randomized energy may be going a bit too far for Vanilla, but it actually introduces a very interesting mechanic. (IMO, obviously).
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