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Old November 19, 2014, 07:23   #1
Mark
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Skipping the Start

If a birth option existed that started the game, where you:
  • Spawned you at 500' on an upward staircase
  • Character level 10
  • With a Dagger (+5, +5)
  • a bunch of non-magical armor
  • a couple potions of speed, heroism
  • 5 scrolls of phase door
  • 5 rations of food
  • and 2 scrolls of recall

Would you use it? Never / Often / Almost Always?
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Old November 19, 2014, 09:58   #2
Estie
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Never. The early game is part of every run for me.

In that list, the big item is the (+5,+5) dagger. Finding such a thing is good reason to stay shallow (as diving results in better enchantments or egos, but on heavy weapons which makes them very undesirable at the start).
I often have worse on dlvl 30ish.
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Old November 19, 2014, 14:44   #3
mushroom patch
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Frankly, this is how you should start. angband and other roguelikes would have a lot more players if the opening thirty minutes of play didn't have the peculiar combination of danger and tedium they so consistently manage to create.

On the other hand, it's not the standard game mode and I'm interested primarily in speed running, so I would never play this way unless it became the standard game mode. Still, I think it's the right idea for a general playing audience.
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Old November 19, 2014, 20:48   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mushroom patch View Post
Frankly, this is how you should start. angband and other roguelikes would have a lot more players if the opening thirty minutes of play didn't have the peculiar combination of danger and tedium they so consistently manage to create.

On the other hand, it's not the standard game mode and I'm interested primarily in speed running, so I would never play this way unless it became the standard game mode. Still, I think it's the right idea for a general playing audience.
Why? If you do this you've just moved the start of game back more. Now it's not 1-5 that is tedious, it's 5-10. So you start at 10, and then 10-15 is tedious and so on. There are some changes to the start that I'd like to see. Mages should have 6 mana, not 2. Priests should have several buff/debuff spells at start (bless, cause fear). SP should regenerate much faster than it currently does. But if you start with a +5, +5 dagger, then everything worse than a +5, +5 dagger is completely useless.
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Old November 19, 2014, 20:58   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mushroom patch View Post
Frankly, this is how you should start. angband and other roguelikes would have a lot more players if the opening thirty minutes of play didn't have the peculiar combination of danger and tedium they so consistently manage to create.
IMHO it's just a short step from this to "Angband would be more popular if it was World of Warcraft", which is true, but kind of misses the point. I think most Angband players play it because of what it is, not what it isn't.
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Old November 19, 2014, 20:59   #6
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I think the (+5, +5) dagger is ludicrous overkill -- that kind of weapon can carry you to 1500' or more and shouldn't just be handed out at 500'. But I can sympathize with people who want to start the game with a "novice hero" instead of a "rookie". Having more options than just "cast one spell twice", "hit monster with weapon", and "run away" would be nice.

Ideally each class would have a set of core abilities, at least one of which would be unlocked from the start of the game, but as it stands the only class that's really seriously different at the start from the others is the mage, who cannot afford to melee practically anything.
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Old November 19, 2014, 21:55   #7
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Okay, I was not taking the OP as literally as you guys seem to be. Sure, a (+5,+5) dagger is pretty good for that level, probably too good.

Quote:
Why? If you do this you've just moved the start of game back more. Now it's not 1-5 that is tedious, it's 5-10. So you start at 10, and then 10-15 is tedious and so on.
I think that's kind of facile. The first 1-5 levels are exceptionally tedious both by the standards of the game overall and by the standards of games generally, if you don't know what you're doing, which a typical newcomer does not. Of course, maybe 5-10 becomes the new 1-5 in the sense of being the most tedious part of the game, but by some absolute standard, the game becomes less tedious overall and the most tedious part is strictly less tedious than it had been.

If you play tomenet for a while, you can watch this phenomenon in realtime. Fresh meat arrives, filled with wonder at the possibility of the game. Then they're hit with the grinding reality of not knowing what you're doing in a game where you start out (over and over again) as a guy who dies in fist fights with the town drunks. >95% are gone in a week.

Now of course, novelty wears off and not everyone's going to stick with anything, regardless. But they don't help themselves out, for example, by requiring level 3 for entry to the main early game dungeon.

Back to the topic at hand, fifteen minutes of dicking around with molds and kobolds doesn't bother the experienced player. But for beginners, this phase of the game is where a huge part of the game is spent. It's too much. Not only does it take a lot of time when you don't know what you're doing, it doesn't even teach you useful lessons about higher level play. You know why people go nuts when they get killed by a drolem? Because it takes them tens of hours of play to get in the position to get killed by a drolem. Then they're back to groping around, trying to figure out how to get past level 15.

On the margin, starting at level 5 (or the equivalent) makes this dynamic slightly less demoralizing to the beginner. A slight difference can be really big in terms of its effect on retention, though.
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Old November 20, 2014, 02:24   #8
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This is where a game server could really help. Mine the ladder for some range of stats and equipment at a certain more advanced level, and generate a character randomly from somewhere in that distribution. Or treat it like a hot-seat game, where you'd actually take over an old character at some progression point.
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Old November 20, 2014, 15:05   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mushroom patch View Post
Back to the topic at hand, fifteen minutes of dicking around with molds and kobolds doesn't bother the experienced player. But for beginners, this phase of the game is where a huge part of the game is spent. It's too much. Not only does it take a lot of time when you don't know what you're doing, it doesn't even teach you useful lessons about higher level play. You know why people go nuts when they get killed by a drolem? Because it takes them tens of hours of play to get in the position to get killed by a drolem. Then they're back to groping around, trying to figure out how to get past level 15.
Would you be satisfied with Derakon's suggestion about giving more options to a beginning character? A starting mage or priest only has one spell, we could give them two, along with 6 SP. We could allow you to choose additional starting gear choices which might look something like:

Hunter gear: A sling, 10 (good) pebbles, 5 (excellent) pebbles
Alchemist gear: 5 CLW potions, 1 potion of healing (id'd) 1 potion of restore mana (id'd) one random unid'd positive potion (cannot be exp, can be stat swap)
Wizard gear: Wand of magic missile, Wand of stinking cloud, 1 random unid'd wand
Soldier gear: Starting melee weapon is good (starting bow for rangers)
Noble gear: good leather armor, good leather cap
Adventurer gear: Staff of detect evil (id'd), Staff of detect invisible (id'd), 10 scrolls of treasure detection, 10 scrolls of magic mapping

Good items are calculated at depth 0, so they'd be equivalent to Maggot drops. This works better for no-selling, by the way. Otherwise, it makes sense just to grab the most expensive option.
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Old November 20, 2014, 16:21   #10
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I like fizzix idea. If this is the standard start, it makes the early game more distinct depending on which option you choose. And of course you can also add in hard versions with less and only normal instead of good gear and the ultra version of starting out naked and broke.
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