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Old September 19, 2014, 11:48   #1
half
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What should Vanilla take from Sil?

I really enjoyed listening to the recent Angband double header on Roguelike Radio. I was particularly pleased to hear the insightful comments about Angband vs Sil. I think that shortly after the initial Sil launch, few people really understood how the games differed. I don't just mean the different features, but the different design philosophies and the niches in roguelike-space that they occupy. Over the last couple years it sounds like the Angband dev team have come to understand this pretty well. After listening to them, I understand it better myself (and how levels not being a limited resource is a main feature that makes Sil like Angband).

Several Devs seemed interested in incorporating some of Sil's features into Vanilla and I thought it could be interesting to discuss which ones would work well. The small no-brainers, as well as the large ones that might be brilliant but are less obvious.

In the past I've started a thread on major, sacrilegious, departures from Vanilla. Presumably none of those are good candidates here though.
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Old September 19, 2014, 14:25   #2
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I like the fact that in Sil you gain experience simply from encounter monsters. I think this could work in Angband for characters with high stealth that like to dive hard and fast. Not to say that you can't do that already, as you most certainly can, but it may make this form of play more desirable to others and break that mentality of wanting to kill everything you see.

Another thing I love is the very transparent combat system. I love being able to look at my combat rolls and being able to see at a glance if something is going to be way out of my league. As much as I'd like to see a similar combat style in Vanilla, that may be a tall order as I'm sure the entire combat system would need a rework before something like that would be possible.

I also love the character development in Sil by means of spending XP on various skills which dramatically alter your play style. It allows you to react more to what you're encountering in the dungeon, and makes each play through feel a bit more unique. Something like this is likely too far of a departure from Vanilla to likely be introduced however.

Almost forgot - Sil's tutorial! Angband would do very well to have some form of tutorial that new players can do to get familiar with the game.

Last edited by Raajaton; September 19, 2014 at 14:32.
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Old September 19, 2014, 14:44   #3
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The number one thing I would take is the uniqueness of each monster. Each enemy in sil really is a different beast, whereas most of the monster population in vanilla is like a giant lawn you have to mow. Crawl is an example of a larger game than Sil that does this very well, imo.

I would actually hate to see Sil's combat system in other extant variants. In a game as long as vanilla, having something that variable and unforgiving on a per-monster basis would be exhausting. I'd rather them do more interesting things, as that increases the number of weird interactions that can happen. Some of the zangband variants have done ok at this, but playing both xangband and poschengband endgames showed me how quickly they run out of tricks; by the end, everything breathes for a million, tunnels or passwalls, resists everything, summons everything, and hits to drain charges.

Then again, maybe vanilla is the wrong game flavor-wise to have very distinct monsters. I wonder if restricting the monster set to first-age flavored dudes like Sil did could help in this regard.
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Old September 19, 2014, 14:56   #4
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Since Half specifically mentioned design philosophies, probably the thing that bugs me most about Angband is how opaque its formulae are. There's a huge number of things that you basically have to sourcedive to figure out. How many more hitpoints would I have if I got 5 more points of CON? How much more likely am I to hit this monster if I equip a Ring of Accuracy? What are my chances of getting stunned by this monster's attacks? How much damage does this wand really do?

The devs have made an effort to expose the answers for some of these questions, but they haven't made the method by which the answers are derived any clearer. I'd like to see that changed. Where Angband has simple mechanics, they ought to be clearly explained in the game; where the mechanics are complicated, they should be simplified, and then explained. I don't think it's necessary to go full-on Sil-style to accomplish this goal.

Something like Sil's combat window could be generalized to an "action window" that exposes all the numbers used to determine a given result. I think that'd be pretty cool.
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Old September 19, 2014, 15:45   #5
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What an excellent thread!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Derakon View Post
The devs have made an effort to expose the answers for some of these questions, but they haven't made the method by which the answers are derived any clearer. I'd like to see that changed. Where Angband has simple mechanics, they ought to be clearly explained in the game; where the mechanics are complicated, they should be simplified, and then explained.
One of the things I am aiming to do in the restructure (aside from limiting scope creep HAHAHAHAHA) is expose the mechanics ore clearly in the code. There are a million and one little individual calculations done; here are some examples from monster spells:
Code:
effect:BALL:ACID:2
dice:15+1d$S
expr:S:MONSTER_LEVEL:* 3

effect:BALL:ELEC:2
dice:8+1d$S
expr:S:MONSTER_LEVEL:* 3 / 2

effect:BALL:FIRE:2
dice:10+1d$S
expr:S:MONSTER_LEVEL:* 7 / 2

effect:BALL:COLD:2
dice:10+1d$S
expr:S:MONSTER_LEVEL:* 3 / 2

effect:BALL:POIS:2
dice:12d2

effect:BALL:NETHER:2
dice:$B+10d10
expr:B:MONSTER_LEVEL:+ 50
Note that most ball spells are dependent on monster level, but no two are the same. Why? Is it because this has been carefully balanced against which monsters have them and what gear the player might have at that level? Or is it just some kind of random walk through the possible damage calculations? I know which one my money's on.

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Originally Posted by debo View Post
The number one thing I would take is the uniqueness of each monster. Each enemy in sil really is a different beast, whereas most of the monster population in vanilla is like a giant lawn you have to mow. Crawl is an example of a larger game than Sil that does this very well, imo.

I would actually hate to see Sil's combat system in other extant variants. In a game as long as vanilla, having something that variable and unforgiving on a per-monster basis would be exhausting.
I think too much individuality in the monster list would lead to that kind of exhaustion too. I am, however in favour of not having monsters be exact duplicates of each other, and of each monster (at least below the first few levels) having *some* feature that might make it difficult for some character, not just roadkill for everyone.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Raajaton View Post
I like the fact that in Sil you gain experience simply from encounter monsters. I think this could work in Angband for characters with high stealth that like to dive hard and fast. Not to say that you can't do that already, as you most certainly can, but it may make this form of play more desirable to others and break that mentality of wanting to kill everything you see.
Sil is full of clever features, but I think this is the cleverest. I don't think it can come straight into Angband, but I wouldn't rule out some version of it at some point.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Raajaton View Post
Almost forgot - Sil's tutorial! Angband would do very well to have some form of tutorial that new players can do to get familiar with the game.
I'm inclined to agree - although some would argue that's what the first ten levels are
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Old September 19, 2014, 16:18   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick View Post
One of the things I am aiming to do in the restructure (aside from limiting scope creep HAHAHAHAHA) is expose the mechanics ore clearly in the code. There are a million and one little individual calculations done; here are some examples from monster spells:

<snip>
This is fantastic, don't get me wrong, it's amazing that people will be able to modify the game that much more easily. You can get a ton of mileage out of game mods that just take existing behaviors and tweak the numbers. But it's not that much more clear than the current behavior, when you're in the game. I guess in my ideal world there'd be a little screen that looked something like this:

Code:
Small kobold attacks player: miss
(100 - ((monster skill 1) - (player AC 8))) < 1d100
Player uses Wand of Stinking Cloud: 2 damage
(8) * (100 + (player device skill 17)) / 100 * (.25 poison resisted) = 2.34
But coding up all of the logic to sensibly display these numbers and their labels would be a lot of work.
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Old September 19, 2014, 16:18   #7
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I recently started a game of vanilla after playing a lot of Sil & the 1st thing I noticed is how tediously slow the start is. I'm wandering round this massive empty level & all I want to do is find the stairs so I can drop a couple of levels to somewhere more interesting. Why not shrink the early levels? Those who want to dive quickly could dive quicker. Those who want to milk the level for XP by killing things could do so, they'd just have shorter distances to walk to do the killing. I think it would also be a nicer aesthetic when the huge levels start appearing deeper in Angband.

XP for spotting & sneaking is great in Sil, but how would it work in Angband? I'd love to see it, but I could also see problems. Can I wear a helm of telepathy & stair scum continuously?

The interface of course. Angband would need a few extra keys but not that many.

I'm fond of evasion/protection splits & I think this would work for Angband if adjusted & balanced. I've never really liked the current AC system, other then more is better it just seems so meaningless.

I like the way Sil differentiates weapons where each feels unique. As opposed to Angband's: which has the biggest total damage, what are the resists, & why is my mighty half-troll warrior running around with a toy knife, dressed in a bathrobe again? While Sil's system wouldn't really translate so well I'm sure there are some changes which could make it more interesting. Like Sangband's edged/blunt split with some monsters(such as skeletons) less vulnerable to edged & some less vulnerable to blunt. Helps differentiate weapons a little, helps differentiate monsters a little.

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Old September 19, 2014, 17:15   #8
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Extending what wobbly says:

1. In Sil, everything is dangerous. This is partly due to lack of pyrotechnic Angband magic, lack of teleport, no HP scaling with level etc. Also much better AI.

2. In Sil, almost every item is good for something. Angband suffers from Too Much Junk, and note that I do not mean "Too many items," I mean "Almost all items you encounter are rubbish, even in greater vaults." A (+2, +3) mace with no ego traits is not going to find much use ever.

The problem: too much more of (1) and the game would be frustrating. Too much more of (2) and it would be boringly easy. But I think combining a bit of both would make things better.
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Old September 19, 2014, 17:35   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Derakon View Post
But coding up all of the logic to sensibly display these numbers and their labels would be a lot of work.
Yes, even the combat rolls window in Sil does use up a lot of my coding time. Whenever I change something related to combat or elemental damage or resistance, there is a lot of searching through the code to change the places to make it display right. That said, it also saves time in finding bugs as it is easier to see if things are working properly.
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Old September 19, 2014, 17:39   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Raajaton View Post
I like the fact that in Sil you gain experience simply from encounter monsters.
Note that the original plan had been to get full experience for killing a monster and half for dealing with it in some other way. We had ideas for when to allocate that half (e.g. if the monster is now far away or on a different level), but it turned out to be easiest just to give you the half on first encountering them -- a little bit different in terms of flavour, but basically the same in terms of gameplay.
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