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Old April 9, 2013, 17:54   #1
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Sil: What are your favourite features of Sil?

I was wondering what people like most about Sil. I wouldn't count things like permadeath that are in most roguelikes. In fact, let's restrict it to things that are particularly Sil-ish, by only counting changes from Vanilla Angband. I would like to do a poll on this in the future, but I can't work out what things should even be on the poll, so consider this to be like nominations for the Oscar of 'best feature in Sil'.

You can have as many nominations as you like. You don't have to explain why you think each feature is good, but if you do, that is even better.
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Old April 9, 2013, 18:40   #2
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In this order:

#1: Complete control over character creation and development for unique, stylized builds, whether they be great, sufficient or poor. The best character engine I've seen for V or variant.

#2: Ridiculously polished and balanced. Have fun trying to break the game, because it's just about impossible, and should you manage it, it gets polished again.

#3: In relation to character creation: differing styles of play are viable. Even for melee, of which I've only dabbled, there are different builds and weapons to utilize to make the experience different.

#4: Pretty dang difficult. Retains the mental challenge even after many play-throughs.

#5: Pacing and time. Doesn't take long to complete a game, and the levels generally provide you with what you need xp and gear and consumable wise.

#6: Community is active in character ladders. Might seem minor, but it is much more fun to play a game where the maintainers and most other Sil players regularly look into and post comments on Sil characters. One of the reasons I also stuck with FA for so long and still play it.

I'm not sure if Sil is 'fun', but it is completely engaging. I've dumped some thousands of hours into it. It doesn't give me the fix I need from overpowered brutality, that's Heng and children. It doesn't give me the atmosphere fix, that's UnAngband. It doesn't give me the grand adventure, that's FAangband. To me, Sil is like a simulation, and to me this is a good thing.
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Old April 9, 2013, 18:58   #3
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1) The epic 'viking' feeling. That's by far my favorite part. That strange distant, epic mythical feeling evoked by the Silmarillion feels like it has been captured perfectly in this game. Everything else is just gravy

... but for the rest...

2) The simultaneous feeling of difficulty and fairness. Most times when I die, I really feel like I deserved it, whether as a result of previous decisions made (i.e. it was a bad build) or something I recently did.

3) The variety of different effective builds / approaches to the game.

4) The "tightness" of the game, which is a function of its short length and its intensity.

5) The way that all the game systems interact (light/dark, stealth/noise, etc.)

6) The obvious attention to detail that was put into the research of the setting.

That's all I've got for now
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Old April 9, 2013, 19:20   #4
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1. Interesting character build system
2. No hidden math, everything is clear - allows applying quantitative thinking
3. Well thought system that discourages farming
4. Small time frame of game - I never had the urge to savescum, like in Adom, where you could play a week.
5. Small learning curve of controls (compared to rest of rogue likes)
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Old April 10, 2013, 07:49   #5
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(1) The character build system is very, very nice. The ability to customize characters to suit your playstyle is attractive. The lack of "classes" is an important part of that: any character can (potentially) learn any ability. But no-one can do everything, so you must learn to wisely pick and choose what skills and abilities are important for what character type(s).

(2) The other side of (1)'s coin is that the balance is fine enough that many different playstyles are accommodated and effective. I am terrible with Stealthy characters, yet I see plenty of winners with little or no combat skill.

(3) The game is lean and uncluttered, yet does not sacrifice interesting features. A simple example is the number of weapon types: Vanilla Angband has an incredible profusion of melee weapons, but it largely serves no purpose as they are not sufficiently distinguished from each other. Sil has maybe a tenth as many, and each type has something interesting and different about it. A more subtle example is the lack of "classes" and "character levels". This throws out a great deal of cruft, but retains the essential idea that a character "advances" via gaining experience, learning new abilities and becoming more powerful.

(4) The lack of overpowering artifacts or abilities. Ringil and Idril come close, but for the most part items and artefacts provide a nice but only incremental boost to the character.

(5) Every object has a time and a place where they are useful. Longswords are not always better than shortswords; it depends on the character.

(6) Resistances are not absolute: your sword may grant you Resist Fear, but that Great Drake can still make you afraid.

(7) No matter how good you are, you can (and will) still die. I admit to having somewhat ambiguous feelings about this, but consider it an important part of the "Sil experience". At one point, I had gotten good enough at Vanilla that, if I paid attention, I could win more often than not. That is simply not true for Sil. The variance is high enough (especially in the early stages), and there are no guaranteed escapes, that no matter how good you are you can still find yourself in a situation from which there is no escape. Everything is a risk, anything might kill you. Part of me doesn't like the idea that this means that in order to win you have to get lucky, or that a promising character can be killed off by the game in some unavoidable way. But at the same time part of me likes the idea that getting good just means that you no longer *have* to get lucky to win, but you still need to *not* get unlucky.

(8) I really like the way Songs of Power do their magic. Subtle, yet powerful, they aid the character but don't take over. Song of Slaying doesn't slay anything, but it makes you better at it. Narya didn't throw fireballs, it stoked the fires in hearts and minds. And so on.

(9) The game is very polished , well tested, well balanced, and well thought out. The controls are simple and easy.
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Old April 10, 2013, 15:56   #6
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1. Oh. My. God. The STEALTH SYSTEM. I actually feel like I'm creeping through a dungeon on light feet. It's magnificent! I suppose you could conflate this with the monsters' states of asleep/alert/aware. I adore being able to build a character who really feels like a ninja, and creep past rooms of bad guys. It is absolutely my favorite part of the game.

2. The fact that XP matters. In Vanilla, levels are insignificant things that sort of happen while you're grinding for gear. They don't really matter all that much and you're guaranteed to get as much XP as you need. In Sil, you're scrabbling to get that XP before your timer runs out - and every little point goes to something important.

3. XP Earning: I like getting XP for things other than slaughtering bad guys. While none of my characters are pacifists, I do like that you get at least some kind of award for poking your head into a room, seeing a Balrog, and wisely running away. Or for sneakily stealing a new kind of magic treasure from a roomful of beasts.

4. Timer/Game length: the timer is something I really struggled with, as someone who'd only played ADOM and Vanilla before. But now I love to hate it. I love how it keeps the game length short, and how there's no boring grinding for stat potions or other "necessary end game" gear. I hate how it pushes unviable characters down to their dooms. (But love struggling against that.)

5. The improved AI. I love that monsters don't automatically know where you are. I love the way the different monster types act in different ways and communicate with one another to kick your butt. I love to hate those ridiculous archers.

6. AI corollary: monsters pathing. I love that monsters don't poof into being from nowhere... instead they arrive at staircases. I love that monsters seem to have a purpose of some kind in the dungeon -- either they live in a room, or they are traveling somewhere. I love hiding in the shadows while a squad of orcish warriors head up the nearest staircase.
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Old April 10, 2013, 17:37   #7
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Pacing. It's all about pacing. I'll admit I'm not a great fan of the true-to-Tolkien theme, and haven't played Sil very much, and have never gotten to the lower levels; but I love how fast the game is compared to V. It never gets slow and grindy, and it's always difficult; you feel like your character is on the run the entire time.

Obviously there are a lot of factors involved in that. I think the main ones are small levels, no teleportation, the timer, and of course the hugely improved AI. But almost every aspect helps, and integrates really nicely too. The whole thing is polished, tuned, and orchestrated to get that fast-paced feeling. It's not to my tastes in a lot of ways, but I have to admit that it's quite well designed.
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Old April 10, 2013, 21:06   #8
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I've heard many good things about this variant, particularly the things listed in this thread. I have yet to play it, or any other variant for that matter. I've been hoping to finally beat V before attempting any other variants so I don't confuse myself. With any luck that could be very soon. Once I do I'll likely be giving Sil a try.
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Old April 10, 2013, 21:18   #9
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1) Monster's AI
2) Realistic weapon weights
3) Damage shown on attacks as numbers
4) Light / darkness system
5) Not as many item / monster types as in most rogue-like games.
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Old April 11, 2013, 07:50   #10
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I've never played Vanilla Angband, so apologies if any of these are in it.

1. The time limit combined with better loot/more XP on lower levels means you are incentivized to set the challenge level as high as you can handle. Finding powerful items doesn't lead to boredom while you wait for the monsters to catch up, since you can just dive, and are encouraged to do so mechanically.

2. The weapon weight system elegantly creates an organic spectrum between bashy and stabby characters.

3. The numbers are mostly transparent and the math is mostly doable in my head, so if I want to know how a build will work I can actually figure it out.

4. The "u" key uses any item and the "-" key selects items off the ground. It's a small thing but every bit of streamlining helps. Maybe I should just say in general that it's streamlined.

5. The abilities system gives you a bunch of cool toys and you can mix and match whichever ones you want.
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