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Old January 30, 2013, 09:57   #21
half
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Some more comments on the episode...

Andrew said that the skill system encourages specialisation. I'm not sure if this is true. The experience cost of getting to x points in a skill goes up as the triangular numbers, so you definitely get more skill points overall by spreading them out (the nth point costs n * 100). This does encourage at least some generalism. Similarly the costs for special abilities. The nth ability in a given skill tree costs n * 500. While many other in game things encourage specialisation, these experience costs do provide a pull in the opposite direction.

I think you both mentioned enjoying having monsters come through the stairs. I'm not sure if you noticed, but in Sil this is the only way wandering monsters work. There is no teleporting in out of sight, it is always walking around the dungeon while unwary of your presence and occasionally leaving the level too. If you get a stealthy character to wait in the corner of a fairly central staircase room, you can hold down the rest key and watch for a while.

You mentioned wanting more feedback on stealth and wanting perfect stealth in certain situations. I think the feedback is probably a good idea and you have a pretty good way of implementing it. As Scatha mentioned we had a system of feedback during testing and removed it because no-one looked at it, however it was probably less useful than your system.

I think you are underestimating the difficulty of achieving perfect stealth in Sil. You mentioned needing about 20 points more than the opponent's perception since you roll opposed 1d10s. However, the maths actually works out at needing 9 points more (e.g. if you roll a 1 and they roll a 10, they have only gained 9 points on you, and this extreme gain only happens 1 in 100 times). If you go crazy on stealth you can achieve this. It is your choice whether to do that or whether to be a bit more flexible. I'd advise trying stealth characters with little or no melee, but enough other skills to get some very useful abilities. Notably Sprinting is very useful in general and amazing for stealth characters who need to get away when caught. Also Keen Senses lets you see monsters from a square further away which is essential for avoiding them in the dark, such as in corridors.

Because monsters move around in Sil, even if you have perfect stealth, they can find you by bumping into you and you can't always avoid this (e.g. groups coming at you with erratic movement). The difference between 'perfect' stealth in constrained situations and stealth with a small random component is thus fairly moot as there is randomness in monster placement and monster AI.

The stealth game in Sil is about periods of undetectability and tension, with occasional moments of terror and escape (use those consumables if needed, try putting the monsters back to sleep, use Sprinting to make some ground, use Vanish to let them become unwary again more quickly). This might not be the ideal stealth game for you, but it works and is very popular. It also comes naturally out of the skill system where everything (well everything except smithing) takes the form of opposed rolls. Adding a more 'gamey' and deterministic stealth system to Sil would feel out of place with its other mechanics.
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Old January 30, 2013, 11:13   #22
Darren Grey
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Quote:
Originally Posted by half View Post
Andrew said that the skill system encourages specialisation. I'm not sure if this is true.
I'm not either, and I should have challenged him on that as it didn't make any sense to me with how the stat increase system works, as well as with how rolls can max out and strength effectivity is limited by weapon weight. I quite like how Sil's systems are balanced out - everything is kinda useful to everyone, so you always feel like you want more. This is much better than games where you have no choice, or the choice is obvious, or you always get everything you want. The difficult decisions in character building are perhaps what I enjoyed most in Sil

Quote:
I think you are underestimating the difficulty of achieving perfect stealth in Sil. You mentioned needing about 20 points more than the opponent's perception since you roll opposed 1d10s. However, the maths actually works out at needing 9 points more (e.g. if you roll a 1 and they roll a 10, they have only gained 9 points on you, and this extreme gain only happens 1 in 100 times). If you go crazy on stealth you can achieve this.
Oh, I had that wrong in my head then. But the problem remains for me of not knowing when you're at or near those 9 points more, unless you learn the manual off by heart and have all the equations going in your head as you play. I want the game to work that out for me :P

I did try some pure Stealth characters, but they ended up impotent when eventually being discovered by scouts or in corridors, and early on there are no escape options or consumables to use.

Quote:
Because monsters move around in Sil, even if you have perfect stealth, they can find you by bumping into you and you can't always avoid this (e.g. groups coming at you with erratic movement). The difference between 'perfect' stealth in constrained situations and stealth with a small random component is thus fairly moot as there is randomness in monster placement and monster AI.
This I'm fine with and enjoy. For me a good stealth game is about trying to predict enemies, carefully positioning, choosing movements well, reacting to situations, etc. There's that tension every time you move of whether or not you made the right choice, not knowing how the enemy will act. But in Sil this felt overshadowed by the number system. The geometry game of stealth is less fun when you have to play with arithmetic in your head.

But a simple safety marker would do wonders for improving this for me - something to give a simple overview of the number system without swamping the player with stats.

I wonder if something similar could be done with combat...
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Old January 30, 2013, 11:14   #23
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Also, even a modest investment in stealth can be useful in preventing half the dungeon hearing you and descending on your position. This is a natural consequence of the mechanic, but perhaps the manual should draw attention to it as if every monster you see notices you it may seem your stealth is doing nothing. We want this effect, but it would be harder to achieve with a boardgame like mechanic.

Aside to half: I did have some thoughts about changing the smithing system to use opposed rolls! I can't imagine us doing this anytime soon, but we can chat about it sometime.
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Old January 30, 2013, 11:31   #24
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Originally Posted by Darren Grey View Post
But a simple safety marker would do wonders for improving this for me - something to give a simple overview of the number system without swamping the player with stats.
However... iirc the perception of a monster is not exposed to the player unless you have lore master (or if it is in your monster history?) and therefore this is not something you would necessarily know without consulting the edit files and hence cannot be used. Similarly there are frequently monsters in the dark, so how do you deal with that without giving away too much to the player? Personally I think the stealth mechanic works very well.
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Old January 30, 2013, 11:41   #25
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However... iirc the perception of a monster is not exposed to the player unless you have lore master (or if it is in your monster history?) and therefore this is not something you would necessarily know without consulting the edit files and hence cannot be used. Similarly there are frequently monsters in the dark, so how do you deal with that without giving away too much to the player? Personally I think the stealth mechanic works very well.
Make it based on the best available knowledge to the player, with the caveat in the manual saying it can't be 100% relied on due to lack of knowledge by the player character. The point is to simplify information the player could already work out by themselves. The mechanics of Sil are very open and clear, with all the modifiers listed in the manual, but on a turn by turn basis they're very difficult to keep track of. It's a bit like showing the attack dice rolls with all modifiers on the left instead of expecting the player to work it out on their own.
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Old January 30, 2013, 13:42   #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Psi View Post
However... iirc the perception of a monster is not exposed to the player unless you have lore master (or if it is in your monster history?) and therefore this is not something you would necessarily know without consulting the edit files and hence cannot be used. Similarly there are frequently monsters in the dark, so how do you deal with that without giving away too much to the player? Personally I think the stealth mechanic works very well.
+1 to that
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Old January 30, 2013, 14:22   #27
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Originally Posted by Darren Grey View Post
Oh, I had that wrong in my head then. But the problem remains for me of not knowing when you're at or near those 9 points more, unless you learn the manual off by heart and have all the equations going in your head as you play. I want the game to work that out for me :P

I did try some pure Stealth characters, but they ended up impotent when eventually being discovered by scouts or in corridors, and early on there are no escape options or consumables to use.

This I'm fine with and enjoy. For me a good stealth game is about trying to predict enemies, carefully positioning, choosing movements well, reacting to situations, etc. There's that tension every time you move of whether or not you made the right choice, not knowing how the enemy will act. But in Sil this felt overshadowed by the number system. The geometry game of stealth is less fun when you have to play with arithmetic in your head.
This seems a problem with your mentality rather than the game. Or perhaps the problem is that the game gives you those formulas at all? I've never felt it necessary to figure out anything like this, either in stealth or in combat.

I wrote some advice for pacifist character here if you are interested: http://angband.oook.cz/ladder-show.php?id=13746

The early part is the most frustrating for pacifists, but if you start with 7 in stealth nothing should really notice you if you stick to walls, use stealth mode in lit areas (until keen senses) and stand still while stuff passes by. If stuff does notice you, you can usually manage to either run back to the stairs you came from, run around the level to find stairs down or close doors on them (wolves). The main problem early are crebains, who are perceptive and fast, if they notice you the best option is usually to get into a corridor and kill them, a couple of points in melee and a short sword should do the business.

I was honestly a little insulted when you boiled down the combat into "hold left until it dies, how boring." Did you forget about the dozen or more tactical abilities in the game? As half and jdh mention there are a number of things you can do right at the start that begin to make the combat open up. There are a huge amount of combinations of abilities you can go with later, creating a lot of different melee playstyles. To me this is the most enjoyable part of the game, yet it does seem sometimes like it's the hardest way to play - when I first started I played mainly stealth characters too. Considering how you often complain about melee in roguelikes being simply "bump into stuff until it dies" I'm surprised you dislike Sil's combat so much, even without taking any abilities the combat has more depth than most other games simply due to the AI.

Though I do understand why you wouldn't be too enthusiastic about combat having only played the first few floors. I've said in the past that I feel there are too many pack enemies early on. Playing not so good characters, it can sometimes be a slog if groups of orc soldiers/warriors team up and you have 10+ of them to deal with, in these situations I often abandon the level.
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Old January 30, 2013, 20:28   #28
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I was honestly a little insulted when you boiled down the combat into "hold left until it dies, how boring."
I probably worded that a little strongly. In general I think random damage systems reduce themselves to "hold down left", for the sheer reason that you end up having to play the game of averages with every enemy. An enemy that could die in 2 hits could instead die in 7 hits, whilst still being fairly non-threatening. How boring! A room full of such enemies is even worse, and I found on my melee focused characters that it got very tedious at points. The justification for such randomness is usually "it might generate interesting circumstances", but far more often it will generate dull circumstances.

You said yourself it can become a slog with groups early in the game. Not *all* the combat is holding down the key, but fairly mindless bumping or dancing around doorways does end up occupying quite a bit of the early game for many characters. And in a roguelike the early game get played a hell of a lot more than the later parts, meaning for many people this is 99% of what they experience.
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Old January 30, 2013, 21:54   #29
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Originally Posted by Darren Grey View Post
In general I think random damage systems reduce themselves to "hold down left", for the sheer reason that you end up having to play the game of averages with every enemy. An enemy that could die in 2 hits could instead die in 7 hits, whilst still being fairly non-threatening. How boring!
I'm very puzzled by this bit. I don't understand how these sentences fit together. It seems like you are in support of a system where every monster of a given type dies in about the same number of attacks, but then you say that adding variance to this just leads to 'the game of averages'. Isn't the no-variance case even more average all the time?

Also, you point to a creature that was no threat taking longer than average to kill, but couldn't it also take less time to kill, making it less boring? Doesn't it do that just as often? If the issue is that things are taking 2 to 7 hits when they should be taking about 2 hits, then that isn't a problem of randomness, but a problem of making things take too long to kill.

If that is an issue you are having with Sil, then it may very well be partly self-imposed. You can always put more experience into melee rather than evasion or other skills. You can cut down on armour (some of which impedes melee) and can get aggressive special abilities like Charge, which are available right from the start. You can definitely make glass battleship characters in Sil where you can't hold down the keys. This could be a problem with Sil, but only in the sense that it isn't spelled out enough, or perhaps that the optimal play involves very defensive (and thus boring) characters. I'd be skeptical of that last claim though, as there are some serious problems you run into if you can't kill things fast.

I know that you are a fan of some extremely simple combat systems -- notably one hit kills of everything. In such cases the combat rules are exceptionally simple, but often there is a lot of complexity and thinking ahead in the positioning and use of special abilities. I think that can great, but I didn't want a system like that in Sil, and indeed very few medium or large roguelikes play that way. Most have pen and paper RPG style combat systems like Sil does. Most don't have loads of interesting tactical positioning abilities like Sil though. I don't see what Sil is doing worse than average here. Especially if compared with a game that I know you love: ADOM, which has a more complex, more opaque, and probably less well designed combat system than Sil. Really, I was looking into it again while writing this and it is very complex and arbitrary. e.g:

Code:
DEFENSIVE VALUE (DV): The defensive value determines how hard you are
to hit.  It starts at 1, 10 is about average, and, in theory, it is
not limited in its value.  The higher the value is, the harder you are
to hit.  This value is influenced by race, class, dexterity,
equipment, burden level, hunger, and dozens of other factors.
(Note that from what I can find, the player base not only doesn't know what all the dozens of factors are, but it doesn't even know how the roll is calculated. It does know that there are at least three types of DV though, which enter the calculation in different ways, as well as PV which is damage reduction.)

Code:
usually your to-hit
adjustment for fighting with two weapons is determined in the
following way:
* Take (Two-weapon combat / 20) as a basic bonus.
* Subtract 6 if you are not playing a ranger.
* Subtract MAX(0, (Weight of the two weapon / 10) - 6).
  If you are a ranger of level 32-49 it is
        "Subtract MAX(0, (Weight of the two weapon / 20) - 6)"
  If you are a ranger of level 50 it is
        "Subtract MAX(0, (Weight of the two weapon / 40) - 6)"
Code:
UNARMED FIGHTING    0  1  2  3  4  5  6   7   8   9  10  11  12  13  14  15
To-Hit Modifier     0 +1 +2 +2 +3 +3 +3  +4  +6  +6  +9 +10 +10 +10 +12 +12
To-Damage Modifier  0  0  0 +1 +1 +2 +2  +3  +3  +4  +6  +6  +8 +10 +10 +12
DV Modifier         0  0  0  0 +1 +1 +2  +2  +3  +3  +4  +5  +6  +8 +10 +12

DAGGERS & KNIVES    0  1  2  3  4  5  6   7   8   9  10  11  12  13  14  15
To-Hit Modifier     0 +1 +2 +2 +3 +4 +5  +6  +7  +9 +10 +12 +14 +16 +18 +20
To-Damage Modifier  0  0  0 +1 +1 +2 +2  +3  +4  +5  +6  +7  +8 +10 +11 +12
DV Modifier         0  0  0  0  0 +1 +1  +1  +2  +2  +3  +3  +4  +4  +4  +5

CLUBS & HAMMERS     0  1  2  3  4  5  6   7   8   9  10  11  12  13  14  15
To-Hit Modifier     0 +1 +2 +2 +3 +3 +4  +5  +6  +7  +9 +10 +12 +14 +16 +18
To-Damage Modifier  0  0  0 +1 +1 +2 +2  +3  +4  +5  +6  +7  +8 +10 +11 +12
DV Modifier         0  0  0  0 +1 +1 +1  +2  +2  +3  +3  +4  +4  +4  +5  +6
Quote:
And in a roguelike the early game get played a hell of a lot more than the later parts, meaning for many people this is 99% of what they experience.
I just thought I'd add a comment here about the pacing of the game. A full game of Sil takes about 5 hours. The early game (up to 300 ft or so) should only take about 20 minutes of this time or less once you are experienced. You are definitely right that for some players the early game is 99% of what they experience, but only if they give up before getting much further. When you are experienced it will probably be about 20% of the time or less, even taking into account the fact that you don't always get to the deep parts. This may be cold comfort to people who are turned off by the early game, but if you think you might like the mid and late game, then don't worry too much that you will have to spend most of the time in the early game -- you will be able to rush through it fairly quickly and competently later.
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Old January 30, 2013, 22:16   #30
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This is my favorite thread on oook since like, ever. We need external critics to show up more often

half, Scatha, I think you should go on Roguelike radio!!!!!
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