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Old June 5, 2014, 08:34   #1
DanielKennethRego
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Thoughts on dungeon features/terrain/layout/interaction.

I've been playing Sil a lot over the past week or so, to the exclusion of any other roguelikes. I've finally come round to appreciating a lot of things I was iffy about earlier, like the absence of offensive magic. I love the combat system, the abilities and the mechanics.

Caveat - I'm quite an inexperienced player and haven't gone very deep into the dungeon, so perhaps some of my suggestions already exist in some way, at depths I haven't visited yet.

One thing that does get to me though, especially after the first several levels, is how one-dimensional and samey the dungeon layouts are. I don't mean this in a cosmetic way - I'm talking features that would make an interesting tactical difference in combat and movement, like room layouts and interactive terrain.

For example, in Brogue, you're constantly evaluating the best way to use the terrain around you in movement and combat. Items and actions interact with this terrain in very real ways. A staff of Firebolt sets ablaze all grassy terrain in its path, spelling trouble for enemies in the area - and yourself. Swamp terrain will soon turn to gas, which is also flammable and tactically significant. Water tiles influence the path you will take to get to a certain area (there are often multiple paths to any point. The game isn't just about interacting with monsters - there's no experience system, even - but also about interacting with the dungeon around you. There are special rooms that require player interaction, too.

Another example would be say, NPPAngband, where terrain makes a tactical difference in terms of movement speed through terrain, the ability to pass through different kinds of tiles, bonuses and penalties, etc.

I'm not proposing Sil try to be one of the two above games. I'm suggesting the idea of possibly adding an element of dungeon feature and terrain interaction to the gameplay experience. I haven't read Tolkein myself, so I don't know how far this will be pushing Sil's 'true to the book' ethos, but perhaps we could have terrain features like water, fire, gravel or others, with penalties or bonuses or special effects to movement and combat mechanics, like movement speed, or attack/evasion/stealth bonuses and penalties. Sil has chasms, and this is one example of a terrain feature in my book even if on a very simplistic level - promoting careful movement and ranged attacks.

Even additions to basic dungeon features would make the dungeons themselves more tactically interesting, like different room layouts that favour certain kinds of specialised approaches in movement and combat, pillars or structures in rooms that can be tactically useful, bridges that could perhaps give an evasion or stealth penalty, rocky terrain tiles that grant an evasion bonus, bright rooms that grant a perception bonus (to both player and monster), statues that could grant a willpower penalty ("you are intimidated by the massive statue of foo the orc warrior" or something similar).

Right now, the dungeon sort of exists more or less as a container for the enemies and items within. I'd love if Sil made the dungeon and the environment layout/features a more significant and involved aspect in the gameplay.

What do you guys think?
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Old June 5, 2014, 09:51   #2
locus
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Different terrain types may add some different choices, but they come at a cost of added complexity. Sil has a very tight, streamlined design, so this cost bites harder than it would in many games. Always having to be thinking about where you're walking slows down the game, and in particular slows down the exploration portion which can otherwise go quite fast.
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Old June 5, 2014, 10:00   #3
taptap
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A few points:

Vaults (aka special rooms) are far more common deeper.

Bridges exist (rarely) albeit without modifiers but interactions emerging organically (flyers attacking you on bridge, taking ranged fire while walking on bridge, truly scared opponents jumping from bridge).

There are quite a few extremely creepy statues in the game.
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Old June 5, 2014, 11:01   #4
DanielKennethRego
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Quote:
Originally Posted by locus View Post
Different terrain types may add some different choices, but they come at a cost of added complexity. Sil has a very tight, streamlined design, so this cost bites harder than it would in many games. Always having to be thinking about where you're walking slows down the game, and in particular slows down the exploration portion which can otherwise go quite fast.
True. It doesn't have to be complicated though (I say complicated and not complex, because I regard Sil to be a complex game - the combat mechanics and stealth for example, are definitely complex compared to most other roguelikes). For example, it could be as simple as certain kinds of terrain or tiles conferring a simple integer bonus or penalty to certain skills.

For example,
Water - penalty to stealth (splash), bonus to evasion (half your body is under water)
Sand - bonus to stealth, penalty to movement speed (cumulative with stealth mode, perhaps?)
Rubble (will need a different term, to distinguish from rubble that needs to be dug out of the way) - bonus to evasion

Heck, has anyone thought about possibly involving the concept of elevation? Some rooms being on slightly lower ground than others, so the connecting corridor is a slope. Running down the slope increases movement speed, running up slows you down. Moving down the slope gives you a free charge effect but a considerable stealth penalty I'm just thinking out loud), moving up the slope gives you a bonus to evasion, perhaps. Just a thought.

I'm making these proposals because I find Sil to be such a fantastically thought-out game with such genuinely engaging combat mechanics, and engaging AI. I just find environment effects and dungeon layout/design to be something of a weak spot in Sil.
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Old June 6, 2014, 10:20   #5
Scatha
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Thanks, there are some interesting ideas here. There is a challenge getting terrain rules to feel tight enough while also flavourful and giving good gameplay. We are planning a small amount of change in a similar direction (which doesn't overlap with the suggestions you make).

If you have time, it might help if you could provide some complete rules proposals. This can make it easier to see where the difficulties lie, and give a better idea for how/whether the whole thing might work.
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