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Old January 26, 2009, 16:19   #1
Zikke
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Lightbulb Ideas for V: "Support" diving? (also, newbie help)

On the hot topic of diving:


Takk, I don't know if you develop the game to support diving or if it just works out that way for some players who are experts and have the know-how to do it. Here is just a brainstorming idea that you may have already thought of: make it so diving isn't really feasible or beneficial.

I know it's going to be controversial because there are a number of long-time players on here that love to dive. I think as an RPG, as a fantasy game, as a player experience, the game is more enriching to new and veteran players when exploring the dungeon is emphasized. I am not trying to discount the opinions or preferences of some people here, but if you are truly intending on gaining new players and keeping them loyal, the player experience is very important. Making sure the player keeps their first character alive longer will greatly increase the chance of them sticking with the game. I don't mean to make the game softer so people live longer, but there are some built-in methods to allow players to know when they are beyond where they should be. Soft boundaries, if you will.

Case study: World of Warcraft (because I know it very well)

* The names of monsters are displayed in a color relative to the character level (yellow = about the same level, orange = a bit high, red = really high, skull = you don't have a chance).

* The higher the monster level is relative to the character level the less chance of hitting with spells and melee that character has, with a sharp drop-off.

* The monster level is displayed in plain sight when selecting the monster as a target.

* Monsters will attack players from much further away based on the level difference and will not attack higher level characters unless they are pretty close. (which is realistic if you think about it)

* Monsters have a chance to daze and dismount players (which goes up based on level difference) trying to ride through the spawn area.

* Characters who are levels 1-10 (out of 80) do not suffer any penalties when they die.



Suggestions (brainstorming here):

* Somehow make the monster level visible in a way that lets players know what's over their head and what's way too easy.

* Make the clvl tied in some way to the dlvl, or make dlvl's become "unlocked" based on clvl.

* Make loot generated on the floor be drastically reduced if the clvl is far below the dlvl.

* Warn the player they are descending into a level that is probably too hard.

* Allow players up to a certain low level (like 7) to die without losing their character. Some kind of penalty can be added to compensate, like losing all but 100 gold or something, or losing 1 clvl, and they will be ported back to Town (similar to the no-death cheat effect). Another idea is that anybody on dlvl 1-3 (or whatever) wouldn't die permanently with the same effects, instead of using clvl.




Just trying to make the game more new-player friendly. I think most people would download the game and try it and if they die very quickly and have no idea why, they will probably jusy say "f*ck it" and not play again. This relates to diving in that newbie death is often attributed to not knowing what they should or should not get into.
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Old January 26, 2009, 16:50   #2
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I'm not sure that making diving less feasible will in-itself make the newbie experience any better, but I understand where you're coming from. Diving works once the player knows how to play. It's teaching a newbie how to play that's the difficult bit. Once they know the basics, they can choose to be a diver, or not.

I guess it's possible for there to be two dungeon entrances in the town. The normal 100 level one, and a lightweight (say) 10 level one with less nasties, but also less goodies. This could even have its own mini-questor at the end.
Divers would choose to ignore this, and plunge straight down to 80 looking for speed rings as usual. Experienced players who don't care about turn-count might choose to play here if there's a chance of a good drop at the bottom.

I like the idea of additional warnings (monster-level and depth).

One other problem with trying to make diving more difficult is that there will always be a way around it for very good divers. ;-

-Neil.
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Old January 26, 2009, 17:03   #3
Elsairon
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Thanks for sharing your opinions! FYI, I'm one of the people who likes permadeath.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zikke View Post
Suggestions (brainstorming here):

* Somehow make the monster level visible in a way that lets players know what's over their head and what's way too easy.
I like this idea. Maybe a toggle switch to display monsters color by threat value .. ie. holddown shift to see the threat colors.

Quote:
* Make the clvl tied in some way to the dlvl, or make dlvl's become "unlocked" based on clvl.
Maybe. I've played a game where this worked well. It encourages fast diving though, and a quick game is all about avoidance instead of fighting.

Quote:
* Make loot generated on the floor be drastically reduced if the clvl is far below the dlvl.
I don't like this. One of the main reasons for taking a risk and going lower is to get the good loot faster! I don't wanna be stuck on a low dlvl knowing that I'll be forced to grind slowly to even get a chance at a good ego (for example).

Quote:
* Warn the player they are descending into a level that is probably too hard.
This is a relative thing. A monster that can paralyze a character could cause the characters death.. even though said monster might die easily with one blow from a dagger or thrown torch. This monster might be on dungeon level 1 at 50', in the second room the character ever goes into. Should the character get a warning?

Quote:
* Allow players up to a certain low level (like 7) to die without losing their character. Some kind of penalty can be added to compensate, like losing all but 100 gold or something, or losing 1 clvl, and they will be ported back to Town (similar to the no-death cheat effect). Another idea is that anybody on dlvl 1-3 (or whatever) wouldn't die permanently with the same effects, instead of using clvl.

Just trying to make the game more new-player friendly. I think most people would download the game and try it and if they die very quickly and have no idea why, they will probably jusy say "f*ck it" and not play again. This relates to diving in that newbie death is often attributed to not knowing what they should or should not get into.
I understand. I think the solution is to inform the player of the dangerous nature of the game, before they consider playing, and not get too attached to their characters.

I discovered that permadeath creates a much more rewarding playing experience for myself in single player games, and I use it even when games are not designed that way (by starting over if my character dies).

I have played a few mmo's over the years. The times I really enjoyed them was either when I deleted my characters when they died, and started over, or played with friends as a social experience (then the dying was ignored in favor of facilitating continued social experience). Those are vastly different playing paradigms for me.
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Old January 26, 2009, 17:26   #4
Donald Jonker
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zikke View Post
Here is just a brainstorming idea that you may have already thought of: make it so diving isn't really feasible or beneficial.
Shouldn't the mission be, rather, to make _not_ diving more feasible and beneficial? I'm not convinced that improving "not diving" must necessarily be at the cost of diving. Why should it be a zero-sum game?

Quote:
* Allow players up to a certain low level (like 7) to die without losing their character. Some kind of penalty can be added to compensate, like losing all but 100 gold or something, or losing 1 clvl, and they will be ported back to Town (similar to the no-death cheat effect). Another idea is that anybody on dlvl 1-3 (or whatever) wouldn't die permanently with the same effects, instead of using clvl.

Just trying to make the game more new-player friendly. I think most people would download the game and try it and if they die very quickly and have no idea why, they will probably jusy say "f*ck it" and not play again. This relates to diving in that newbie death is often attributed to not knowing what they should or should not get into.
This is very interesting, and would indeed be useful in breaking in newbies. You'd have to be very careful in avoiding exploits, however. And there'd be the flood of posts related to the impassable threshold wherever permadeath kicks in. Once you start making concessions for a larger, less (shall we say) robust audience, it's a slippery slope towards a game of swiffle-ball angband... you start losing the purity of the game. If you give a mouse a cookie, &c.

Then again, as with playing angband slowly, so long as you maintain good concentration, you'll probably be ok. Probably.
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Old January 26, 2009, 18:18   #5
Zikke
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I suppose my wording in the beginning of my original post was pretty anti-diving. I know the answer isn't to stop diving for experienced people, but more to prevent the unintentional diving for newbies.

I also think that the group of the population who are comfortable with permadeath (despite this group which is obviously biased) is quite the minority. I still have a problem with it. If I spend a week getting a character to clvl 30 I don't want to have to start all over. I personally find the beginning levels quite boring because I have been there way too often.

Perhaps just making the death not perma-death until clvl 3 would be enough. You could even have a status that is visible the whole time so the user knows it is temporary and they shouldn't get used to it. Like guardian angel or "Protected" or "Newbie" or something.

The idea of a newbie dungeon in parallel is interesting too.
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Old January 26, 2009, 18:23   #6
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In terms of your monster threat levels... I've pondered this at a couple of points in the past. The problem is that it's a) spoilerish and b) influenced greatly by what you're wearing/wielding.

One way I think it could fit into the game quite nicely is if there's a tradeoff required to get the information. I'm thinking of a new item flag - WARN_DANGER. Near the start of the game you could have items whose only advantage is that flag - an Amulet of Fortune Telling/Ring of Warning - whereas further down some artifacts may have this added (Sting is an obvious one and fits the lore, ish!). There would usually then be a tradeoff - loss of a slot, gain of knowledge.

If the player had WARN_DANGER, via item or temporary buff, an interface element could be displayed near the health bar which would display the relative amount of danger the player is in. This would use the Borg routines - which iirc already take into account equipment *and* inventory compared to known knowledge, and would hook into disturb options.

The benefit to experienced players would therefore be minimal, and I can't see an easy way of abusing it as long as it doesn't have more knowledge than the player could (although allowing it a greater detection range than the player is also an option, as long as it also factors in dungeon depth and wouldn't allow diving with knowledge). And yet the benefit to new players would be immense, without being overly spoilerish...
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Old January 26, 2009, 18:35   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zikke View Post
* Somehow make the monster level visible in a way that lets players know what's over their head and what's way too easy.
I like the concept, but it would probably have to generically implemented (based strictly on monster level) since equipment plays a huge role in this. That being the case, monster recall already tells you what depth a monster is native to.

Quote:
* Make the clvl tied in some way to the dlvl, or make dlvl's become "unlocked" based on clvl.
I don't like it. Use common sense instead. Disconnected stairs effectively accomplishes this. Wander around on a level you shouldn't be on and you will die.

Quote:
* Make loot generated on the floor be drastically reduced if the clvl is far below the dlvl.
I don't see the point. High level characters don't intentionally wander low dungeon levels, do they?

Quote:
* Warn the player they are descending into a level that is probably too hard.
Z+ style level feelings, based more on difficulty and less on loot (I think).

Quote:
* Allow players up to a certain low level (like 7) to die without losing their character.
Better they die early and learn the lesson than develop bad habits based on reincarnation.

Quote:
I think most people would download the game and try it and if they die very quickly and have no idea why, they will probably just say "f*ck it" and not play again.
Unexplained death doesn't happen very often, and even less at early levels. Anyone who gives up after one quick death isn't Angband material to begin with.
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Old January 26, 2009, 19:13   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zikke View Post
I suppose my wording in the beginning of my original post was pretty anti-diving. I know the answer isn't to stop diving for experienced people, but more to prevent the unintentional diving for newbies.
I'd be pretty surprised if this were a problem. From what gets posted on the forums and the newsgroup, it seems that the precise opposite is true: newbies dive far *too* slowly.

Obviously this depends on our definition of "newbie," which for Angband can mean anything from a day to a year or longer. For an infant, it is indeed a good idea for them to take it slowly, get used to the interface and get a feel for the basic types of monsters, and how their characters react to them.

To newbies of 6 months or later, these are the ones who clear every level and get bored scumming for stat potions at 1500' and never make it to 2000' because of some OoD AMHD. These are the newbies who probably don't need your proposed lesson, at least not in Angband's present form.

You probably already had the distinction in mind, but I just wanted to clarify it fully.

Edit: I think it's also worth mentioning that people are loyal to the diving technique not for diving itself, but because it's an effective technique for this particular game. One further reason is that fully exploring 100 or more big levels strikes me as being simply agonizing, even if you like to fully explore.
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Last edited by Donald Jonker; January 26, 2009 at 19:18.
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Old January 26, 2009, 19:47   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zikke View Post
I suppose my wording in the beginning of my original post was pretty anti-diving. I know the answer isn't to stop diving for experienced people, but more to prevent the unintentional diving for newbies.
The problem IMO isn't unintentional diving. The problem is that the game flat out progresses too slow at the start. If you don't dive or at least do punctuated diving you wind up investing too much time in a charachter to be happy starting over on death, especially since the paradigm is unique to rougelikes. There need to be "shiny" rewards for exploring the early dungeon beyond just the Phial. Maybe giving the *thancs some reason for being like either a reliable, scalable activation or a valuable noncombat ability (eg see-invis, free-act, and res_blind) would make them fun rather than "meh".

There also needs to be, I think, quicker experience gain. Killing low level stuff is fun only the first time you play the game. Quests are one option. They put higher level stuff in shallower levels, but you should be able to kill a foe from twice the normal ood limit if it's the only one on the level and you're told in advance what's coming. The rewards don't need to be great. The real reward is the experience for killing something when the experience multiplier is in your favor. A lump-sum of money works for the first quest. After that a useful consumable that isn't guaranteed to show up in town should work. Alternately you can directly put a single monster generated as if the dl was 5 deeper but filtered to not have ranged attacks or invisibility on each level or some percent of levels at random. Again, this creates a situation where the player can get a chunk of experience that will let him get through the boring part faster while giving a challenge that actually makes the boring part less boring, but by filtering out ranged attackers and invisibles prevents "It hits you. You die" and "It breathes. You die" from coming before the means to prevent them become available.
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Old January 26, 2009, 19:59   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zikke View Post
* Somehow make the monster level visible in a way that lets players know what's over their head and what's way too easy.
This is somewhat already in V - the monster list shows OOD monsters in red and uniques in purple. Also the native depth of monsters is shown now, even before they kill one of them. It's not perfect, but gives the player at least some idea what they're up against.
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