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Old June 20, 2022, 04:14   #1
emar
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Are autoexplore and autofight (ala DCSS) worth it in V to reduce early game tedium?

As a lark, I decided to add DCSS-style autoexplore and autofight into V to see how they'd handle. My implementation for autoexplore is definitely hacky but works in 90% of cases. Autofight does what it says on the bottle, for better or for worse.

I've been testing them out and, like DCSS, it makes the early game go by *much* faster. A warrior can just hold auto-explore down until a monster appears, then autofight, and repeat. I've done this a couple of times with warriors, intentionally trying to kill them by overreliance, and I was surprised to see them make it to around '750 without any major struggles. At that point group fights in open rooms using autofight start to be plainly suicidal (also like DCSS).

Equally, a mage with a decent sling (or even a stack of flasks of oil) can just hammer the auto-explore button, tab-plink when a monster blocks autoexplore, and repeat until magic bootstrapped.

With all the above in mind, philosophically speaking, what exactly is going on in the early game? Is it *intended* to be threatless drudgery that ramps into interesting situations and desirable loot? Should the early dungeon be made deadlier? Should players start deeper in the dungeon and have a higher starting level? Should early levels be smaller to get through them more rapidly? Should quality of life enhancements like autofight and autoexplore be embraced? Should novice rogues drop ?Deep Descent as frequently as ?Phase Door in the dungeon to let players bypass the boring bits? Or is the status quo a-okay in everyone else's books? Inquiring minds want to know.
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Old June 20, 2022, 04:36   #2
Estie
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You tested only strong @s. Try with a hobbit priest and kobold necromancer.
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Old June 20, 2022, 12:48   #3
Gwarl
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I implemented autofight in composband early on enough for it to also exist in frogcomposband. AFAIK there isn't a single player who uses it. I honestly thought it would be a killer feature.

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With all the above in mind, philosophically speaking, what exactly is going on in the early game? Is it *intended* to be threatless drudgery that ramps into interesting situations and desirable loot?
Try playing some ancient version like 2.9 or even moria to find out.
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Old June 20, 2022, 14:09   #4
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Originally Posted by Gwarl View Post
I implemented autofight in composband early on enough for it to also exist in frogcomposband. AFAIK there isn't a single player who uses it. I honestly thought it would be a killer feature.

Try playing some ancient version like 2.9 or even moria to find out.
I started playing in the early 3.0.* days and I remember the early game being more unfair and deadly. I don't know how much of that was my own lack of skill versus the game itself, so it's a fair point for me to go play older versions to compare.

Speaking for myself, in V, navigating the dungeon is the main tedium, with trivial combat being a far second, so I don't see a lot of utility for autofight without also having autoexplore attached.

Without autoexplore, I'd probably use autofight to clear out rooms of breeders and pits of sessiles, but if I need to clear out a room of nonthreatening mobile monsters, I'll just attack a doorway in place.

Also curious--does anyone have a decent estimate for how large the total *band player base is at present and how V compares to major variants?
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Old June 20, 2022, 14:45   #5
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Originally Posted by Estie View Post
You tested only strong @s. Try with a hobbit priest and kobold necromancer.
Regardless of whether automating certain combinations in the early game works better than others, it remains an open question whether having an early game that is a relatively unavoidable grind for the majority of reasonable combinations for the first n dlvls is a good design.

"Boring until it's not" is a perfectly valid design decision. Working to get to the juicy bits is one of the reasons I like V and *bands in general. It's a different take on permanence of consequences found in single-save games that I enjoy.

On the other hand, Angband still hasn't shed it's reputation as grindy because people hit this wall and give up immediately in favor of immediate feedback. If they happen to stick around long enough to ask if they're playing the game wrong, they'll probably be told to dive aggressively instead of clearing dlvls. And if that's the de facto default playstyle now, why not simplify it and make it a de jure option as well?

There are plenty of ways to unobtrusively achieve that without changing the core gameplay. Add a hidden dlvl 10 stair in town, make ?Deep Descent obvious and plentiful, or create a birth option that make stairs behave like ?Deep Descent would all give diving players a shortcut around the grind if they wanted it.

Autoexplore and autofight are simply another option for achieving that and the option that I personally favor as a player. It's still work to get through the early game and arguably more tedious, so it condenses the sunk cost period of the game into a shorter chunk.

Last edited by emar; June 20, 2022 at 15:06.
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Old June 20, 2022, 15:06   #6
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I just want to say my main motivation for autofight is that it reduces the cognitive load for melee characters. You can clear a room of nonthreatening wolves or the like as a caster or ranger by hitting your 'fire worst ammo/cast magic missile at nearest target' button over and over but the fighter has to check where the wolves moved and choose the right direction every single turn.

Seems to me in older versions the early game consisted of scouring 50' for consumables to sell-ID until you could finally afford a lantern and a word of recall scroll and maybe some basic pieces of armour. The modern game skips over that more or less completely.
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Old June 20, 2022, 15:59   #7
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Originally Posted by emar View Post
or create a birth option that make stairs behave like ?Deep Descent would all give diving players a shortcut around the grind if they wanted it.
If you do play locally, you can edit Angband/lib/gamedata/constants, and set the number of levels for one stairs.

# Number of levels for each stair
world:stair-skip:1
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Old June 20, 2022, 16:17   #8
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Originally Posted by Sphara View Post
If you do play locally, you can edit Angband/lib/gamedata/constants, and set the number of levels for one stairs.

# Number of levels for each stair
world:stair-skip:1
You can also add ?Deep Descent to always stock in a shop by editing lib/gamedata/stores.txt as well. The main advantage of this (instead of editing constants.txt) is that rapid descent can be stopped when the player starts hitting interesting (read: dangerous) areas. The downside is that stores having ?Deep Descent make diving *exceptionally* trivial to achieve.

Novice rogues dropping ?Deep Descent 50% of the time (along with ?Phase Door being the other 50%) seems like a good middle way (and is also possible to add via lib/gamedata/monsters.txt) in that it's work to do, but not so much that it doesn't still save time.

Last edited by emar; June 20, 2022 at 16:56.
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Old June 20, 2022, 17:39   #9
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Let me stick up for the probably-unpopular opinion: I think Angband is a better game for having lots of tedium and grind in the early games. The reason is that it makes you much more invested in each @. Dying HURTS when you've invested many hours in a character, and so the early game effects how you play. Namely, much more conservatively than you would if a @ dying didn't cost you much. Even beyond the auto-save-upon-death thing, Angband rewards careful game play (and early versions did much more so), which is one of its strengths.
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Old June 20, 2022, 19:49   #10
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Originally Posted by Angdrim View Post
Let me stick up for the probably-unpopular opinion: I think Angband is a better game for having lots of tedium and grind in the early games. The reason is that it makes you much more invested in each @. Dying HURTS when you've invested many hours in a character, and so the early game effects how you play. Namely, much more conservatively than you would if a @ dying didn't cost you much. Even beyond the auto-save-upon-death thing, Angband rewards careful game play (and early versions did much more so), which is one of its strengths.
I agree with this as the value of having non-negotiable tedium (also known as "work") in the game, but I also wonder what the essential difference is between offering players an option to avoid early dungeon tedium versus what happened with stats (the default is effectively now point based rather than the tedium of auto/rolling), starting gear (the default is starting with useful gear rather than the tedium of buying useful equipment), or item squelching/ignoring.

Last edited by emar; June 20, 2022 at 20:00.
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