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Old September 10, 2009, 02:44   #1
tigen
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stochastic energy and fractional blows

Just throwing this out for discussion. What do you guys think about these two ideas? They've been around a long while but I never really saw the reasons not to use them in more bands, or even vanilla.

I. Stochastic energy: implemented in hengband, this gives player and monsters randomized energy each turn instead of fixed values. I assume you would assign energy in a random distribution centered on base amounts. It seems to me that reducing predictability is a good thing, and it would mitigate the overwhelming tactical advantage of speed. It could make play feel less mechanical. Problems?


II. Fractional blows. For example 1.4 blows means you get 1 + (40% chance of 1 more) blow. Would create finer points of distinction between different weapons. Why not? One argument I saw somewhere was talking about how large "breakpoints" in power are better for gameplay. But I think that aspect would better not be hardcoded into core mechanics, but rather designed into character and item progression. It's not intuitive how just a slightly lighter weapon can cross a threshold and be hugely more powerful than the other.
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Old September 10, 2009, 03:41   #2
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I'm pretty sure they're already planning to put fractional blows into V.
As for the first, idea, I like it but I think I lot of people rely on mechanics too heavily to want to make them less predictable.
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Old September 10, 2009, 07:12   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tigen View Post
Just throwing this out for discussion. What do you guys think about these two ideas? They've been around a long while but I never really saw the reasons not to use them in more bands, or even vanilla.

I. assign energy in a random distribution centered on base amounts.

II. For example 1.4 blows means you get 1 + (40% chance of 1 more) blow.
I. The biggest deal in the game is the double move. If you make energy stochastic, then people have to figure out how much faster they have to be to avoid the double move. A lot of headache for little gain.

If you want to avoid pillardancing and hackandback, there are other methods that would not increase double moves.

II. An alternative method would be that you get 1 blow, but it uses 72 energy instead of 100 energy.
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Old September 10, 2009, 10:16   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tigen View Post
Just throwing this out for discussion. What do you guys think about these two ideas? They've been around a long while but I never really saw the reasons not to use them in more bands, or even vanilla.

I. Stochastic energy: implemented in hengband, this gives player and monsters randomized energy each turn instead of fixed values. I assume you would assign energy in a random distribution centered on base amounts. It seems to me that reducing predictability is a good thing, and it would mitigate the overwhelming tactical advantage of speed. It could make play feel less mechanical. Problems?
I've never played a variant where this is done, so I can't really comment.

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II. Fractional blows. For example 1.4 blows means you get 1 + (40% chance of 1 more) blow. Would create finer points of distinction between different weapons. Why not? One argument I saw somewhere was talking about how large "breakpoints" in power are better for gameplay. But I think that aspect would better not be hardcoded into core mechanics, but rather designed into character and item progression. It's not intuitive how just a slightly lighter weapon can cross a threshold and be hugely more powerful than the other.
Fractional blows are something I'm looking at putting in V.
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Old September 10, 2009, 10:26   #5
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Originally Posted by PowerDiver View Post
I. The biggest deal in the game is the double move. If you make energy stochastic, then people have to figure out how much faster they have to be to avoid the double move. A lot of headache for little gain.
Well, arguably that is the gain. Tougher choices. Depending on how you limit the distribution you could have the same "breakpoint" as now (i.e. 1x speed gets 50 to 150, 2x gets 150 to 250; correct me if I'm wrong but the 2x speed character wouldn't get double moved by the 1x speed one.) But it would make 1x vs. 1x trickier and "mix up" the turn-to-turn distributions, making combat just a bit less predictable.


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II. An alternative method would be that you get 1 blow, but it uses 72 energy instead of 100 energy.
Interesting... seems clean, but that would have different gameplay effects compared to now. Quick attacks versus more blows per attack. I'm not sure what the best approach is, but this seems a separate question from fractional blows. Fractional melee attacks? I mean, you could implement this using the current integral blows. My first inclination would be not to go that route, because fine-grained melee makes players more powerful, and is inconsistent with how monsters attack.
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Old September 10, 2009, 13:30   #6
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I. The biggest deal in the game is the double move. If you make energy stochastic, then people have to figure out how much faster they have to be to avoid the double move. A lot of headache for little gain.
Who is to say you should be able to make 100% sure that you don't get double moved. In Heng you can get a very unlucky roll and get triple moved by a monster of equal speed. Powerfull characters have been killed by that, what might look like turnoff. But this unpredictability, the player's mortality at any point, is one of the things that really make Heng fun. That and the 17 pages of home storage room
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Old September 10, 2009, 17:23   #7
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Who is to say you should be able to make 100% sure that you don't get double moved. In Heng you can get a very unlucky roll and get triple moved by a monster of equal speed. Powerfull characters have been killed by that, what might look like turnoff. But this unpredictability, the player's mortality at any point, is one of the things that really make Heng fun. That and the 17 pages of home storage room
I would only consider this option as reasonable if there was a guarantee that the deadliest attacks could not occur twice in a row. In my opinion the game is designed (or at least should be designed) so that you can always survive RNG badness with enough preparation, and no carelessness. Two mana storms from Morgoth is enough to kill pretty much any character, and reaching speed twice Morogoth's is pretty much impossible. So I'm not a fan of stochastic energy at all.

However, I am a huge fan of changing the blows per round formula. Fractional blows work as well as anything else that I came up with, and seem easy enough to implement. I've never liked the idea that a dagger is a better weapon than a broadsword to start, or that a character that gets one blow per round with a 7 pound short sword can just as easily wield a 30 pound lance.

EDIT: I've also found it silly that the tremendous amount of possible Angband actions take the same amount of time. Swapping a weapon out in a turn, sure. Changing your armor, that probably takes much longer. Reading a scroll vs aiming a wand, etc.

Last edited by fizzix; September 10, 2009 at 19:18.
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Old September 10, 2009, 20:53   #8
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I like the idea of stochastic energy in general, but I don't think it's a good fit for V (or Heng, really). Angband already encourages a pretty conservative approach, with its 100 floors and insta-kill attacks and so on. In Quickband or TinyAngband, where games only last a few hours, it could be interesting.
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Old September 10, 2009, 22:19   #9
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I would only consider this option as reasonable if there was a guarantee that the deadliest attacks could not occur twice in a row. In my opinion the game is designed (or at least should be designed) so that you can always survive RNG badness with enough preparation, and no carelessness. Two mana storms from Morgoth is enough to kill pretty much any character, and reaching speed twice Morogoth's is pretty much impossible. So I'm not a fan of stochastic energy at all.
Haha! Morgoth should be pretty tough though. It does look like you might need to do as you say, preventing 2 breath attacks in a row, or double mana storms. That seems like a reasonable restriction (kind of like the "cooldown" timer on attacks in WoW or RTS games). But then maybe we should consider limiting the player in a similar fashion

I guess I should just go and try to play a game with these changes and see what it feels like, since it doesn't sound too difficult to hack in. I played heng a long time ago but there's so much weirdness there... I want to see how it works in more familiar environs.
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Old September 11, 2009, 02:37   #10
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While I fully agree that double- and triple- moves in Hengband do occasionally lead to tragic and frustrating deaths, the fact of the matter is that experienced players regularly do beat Hengband, despite occasional double Mana Storms by the Serpent of Chaos and Morgoth. The probability of a double-move combined with both being Mana Storms is sufficiently low.

(Much more annoying in Hengband is the Ancient Foul Curse that paralyzes you for 1d3 turns even if you have Free Action...)
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