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Old January 18, 2013, 19:33   #31
Mikko Lehtinen
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I'm probably still the only one who has played Halls of Mist mystics in the last version. That's an example of board complexity going way over my enjoyment treshold!

Ironband mana increases board complexity a lot, especially when mixed with the tight torch and mist phantasm clocks. The board complexity feels just about right for semi-spellcasters, but with full spellcasters it seems to rise above my pain treshold...

Maybe I just need to get used to it. And the player can easily adjust the board complexity by choosing a different class.

(EDIT: I'm not sure whether I should call this strategic or board complexity. I'm talking about using your resources in an optimal way to solve the various problems on the board. The scale is only one dungeon level, so I hesitate to call it strategic complexity. Maybe it's a borderline case.)

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Old January 18, 2013, 20:01   #32
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mikko Lehtinen View Post
I'm probably still the only one who has played Halls of Mist mystics in the last version. That's an example of board complexity going way over my enjoyment treshold!

Ironband mana increases board complexity a lot, especially when mixed with the tight torch and mist phantasm clocks. The board complexity feels just about right for semi-spellcasters, but with full spellcasters it seems to rise above my pain treshold...

Maybe I just need to get used to it. And the player can easily adjust the board complexity by choosing a different class.

(EDIT: I'm not sure whether I should call this strategic or board complexity. I'm talking about using your resources in an optimal way to solve the various problems on the board. The scale is only one dungeon level, so I hesitate to call it strategic complexity. Maybe it's a borderline case.)
Nope, that's pretty clearly board complexity. Strategic complexity is about *when* stuff happens - this level, next level, 5/10/20/50 levels time.
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Old January 18, 2013, 20:20   #33
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Shops are an enjoyable source of strategic complexity. By making item prices correlate with their real worth as closely as possible, you create interesting choices for the player.

Does Vanilla still have random discounts? They're a cool way to shake things up a little and to force the player to consider new options.
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Old January 18, 2013, 20:59   #34
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Originally Posted by Mikko Lehtinen View Post
Shops are an enjoyable source of strategic complexity. By making item prices correlate with their real worth as closely as possible, you create interesting choices for the player.
I don't really see this. If you're talking about selling, there's now a pretty big consensus that no-selling makes for a much better game.

So you must be talking about buying. Since you don't know what the stores will stock, how can it be strategic? (The stuff that you do know they will stock is not really important enough to make a strategic difference - the whole reason we have some stock guaranteed is because it's pointlessly tedious if it's not available.)
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Old January 18, 2013, 21:12   #35
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I don't really see this. If you're talking about selling, there's now a pretty big consensus that no-selling makes for a much better game.

So you must be talking about buying. Since you don't know what the stores will stock, how can it be strategic? (The stuff that you do know they will stock is not really important enough to make a strategic difference - the whole reason we have some stock guaranteed is because it's pointlessly tedious if it's not available.)
I'm talking about choosing how to spend your gold in the shops. Should you buy powerful one-use items or is it better to choose a slight permanent increase in combat ability? How should you prepare for tough uniques? Should you rather save money for buying something pricier later?

In Mist this kind of preparation and making the right shopping choices is essential for survival. But it may well be that shops work much better in Mist than in Vanilla because your town visits are limited, and you can almost never afford to buy everything you want.
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Old January 18, 2013, 22:14   #36
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Originally Posted by Mikko Lehtinen View Post
I'm talking about choosing how to spend your gold in the shops. Should you buy powerful one-use items or is it better to choose a slight permanent increase in combat ability? How should you prepare for tough uniques? Should you rather save money for buying something pricier later?

In Mist this kind of preparation and making the right shopping choices is essential for survival. But it may well be that shops work much better in Mist than in Vanilla because your town visits are limited, and you can almost never afford to buy everything you want.
Yeah, I'm pretty sure that in Vanilla that kind of strategic complexity is about the equivalent of "oh look, that group of snagas contains an orc shaman - some board complexity at last".

Stores do work much better in several variants, but personally I very anti the game of shopping so it's not the kind of strategic complexity I enjoy.
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Old January 18, 2013, 22:33   #37
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For many people the enjoyment of Angband comes from turning your brain off, killing monsters and enjoying the slot machine feeling. Does building a more addicting and colourful Tolkien-themed slot machine count as "Depth"?

EDIT: Hey, isn't the V4 item system with prefixes exactly that, making the randomized item drops even more colourful and cool.

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Old January 18, 2013, 22:57   #38
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One more point in the same vein: combat systems can be fun in many ways, and tactical depth is only one of them. An elegant system that produces surprises or "realistic" outcomes is fun even if it wouldn't add any tactical depth.

One example of "simulationist depth" (or whatever we want to call it) is adding Rolemaster criticals. EDIT: This kind of detail in the systems does not increase comprehension complexity much, because memorizing the critical hits is not relevant for making good tactical decisions.

Angband's systems don't necessarily need to be tactically or strategically interesting, they just need to be "fun". That kind of thinking might even be close to the original Moria/Angband philosophy -- didn't the designers draw inspiration mainly from Rolemaster and AD&D?

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Old January 19, 2013, 08:48   #39
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We might find out sources of comprehension complexity by reading "Newbie needs help" posts.

Things like this may be the worst stumbling blocks:
  • Players don't know about Word of Recall. That's a seriously unintuitive mechanic.
  • Players don't know that in this game you are supposed to run away all the time, and to always plan your escape. Players don't realize that switching the dungeon level has almost no cost, which changes the whole strategy.
  • Players have no idea about which monsters are actually dangerous, and no idea about what kind of objects you need to be better protected from them. This kind of comprehension complexity is built into the game on purpose (monster memory).
  • Slightly more experienced players start to ask When should I dive?, having no knowledge about the dangers on the deeper levels. They ask on the forums what kind of resistances they need before they can dive. In most other games you don't need to choose how fast you dive, so this sort of comprehension complexity is unique to Angband.
  • How do I improve my damage per turn in combat? (Newbies don't even know to ask this, they just use real life knowledge to wield long swords rather than daggers.)

We may find that some items on the list are things that we actually want to keep complex, because dealing with that complexity is a big part of what playing Angband is all about. Some items on the list may be cured by making more intuitive systems, others by improving documentation and creating a tutorial mode.

EDIT: Perhaps the system that produces most comprehension complexity is actually the stairs system and infinite dungeons, not the combat system? (Taking into account Word of Recall, having to learn that you need to run away all the time, and "How fast should I dive" questions.)

Last edited by Mikko Lehtinen; January 19, 2013 at 09:05.
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Old January 19, 2013, 11:49   #40
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I do think it's worth it to set out some basic guidelines for ranges of hit points and damage amounts. Then we can figure out what we need for granularity. Perhaps the Sil folks can give guidance?
Our approach was to keep the numbers as small as possible for a game that includes a bit of randomness. One key decision was that HP was not going to represent dodging, but just endurance. So AC (called evasion in Sil) increases with experience, but HP (called health in Sil) doesn't. This just makes sense to me and was something I'd always wanted to see in a pen and paper RPG system, so I decided to try to balance around that base idea.

A typical starting hero in Sil has around 35 health, but could be as low as 20. Monsters have health on a similar scale:

Bat ~ 3
Orc ~ 20
Troll ~ 40
Ancient Dragon ~ 125
Morgoth = 500 (though would be lower if you were meant to kill him)

I found that on this scale, I could fit in things like +1 damage side to the damage dice per point of strength (while still having about 8 plausible strength values). I also had enough flexibility to make 20 or so weapon types that were all different to each other (this was something I really wanted to try after being frustrated with how similar they all are in D&D and Angband). This was aided by the system making 2d5 quite different to 1d10, by weapon weight mattering a lot, by having penalties to hit on unwieldy weapons and bonuses to evasion on parrying weapons like swords. I probably didn't need quite so many extra ways to change a weapon, but they were all there in the weapon stats in Angband, though largely unused.

I'm really quite against high number integer damage (e.g. 9,999 damage hits in Final Fantasy). I like to keep it at a scale where each point matters.

When I'm inclined to make Sil combat more complicated, I remind myself of how many systems there are that are good and much less complex. For example the power/toughness in Magic the Gathering, or power/toughness with no healing in the Assassin's Creed card game. This makes me think: oh, maybe I could have a game where shortswords do 2 damage, longswords 3, greatswords 4, and leather subtracts one damage, and mail subtracts 2... Ultimately something on these lines might be too simple for a game with so much focus on one-to-many combat, but given how many windshield kills there are in most roguelikes, I do have to wonder if a system like this could work!
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