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Old January 22, 2019, 02:37   #1
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Sil-like lighting in Angband?

I am considering introducing a cut-down version of Sil's lighting effects into Angband.

Specifically, I'm considering the possibility of some monsters having negative light radius - so they would be in darkness, and at higher levels surround themselves with darkness.

I see this working approximately as follows:
  • Every monster (also the player) has a light intensity, which results in a light radius of that amount
  • The default light intensity is 0, but both positive and negative intensities are possible
  • Light intensity drops off by 1 (or increases by 1 for negative intensities) with every grid distant from the monster
  • The light intensity on a given grid is the sum of all the intensities cast on it by nearby monsters
  • A monster on a grid of negative intensity is not visible by ordinary vision (ignoring ESP and infravision)
  • A monster on a grid of positive intensity is visible by ordinary vision
  • On grids of zero intensity, the monster is visible or not as currently - so light intensity operates independently of whether a grid is lit or not

We could regard the current situation as torches and monster lights give light intensity 2, lanterns give intensity 3, and artifact lights (and lanterns of brightness) give intensity 4.

Introducing monsters with negative light intensity would mean that they move around in a patch of shadow, which would be cancelled out as the player's light source cast light on them.

I'm interested in opinions, especially from people with experience of Sil.
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Old January 22, 2019, 02:58   #2
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I like Sil's lighting & think darkness monsters translated reasonably well in PCB-likes. I think the biggest thing to watch for in putting it in V is how it interacts with 'r'ead & 'm'agic. Is there going to be enough of it to overload a player's light & take away their escapes.
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Old January 22, 2019, 03:44   #3
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So in general Sil's lighting works well, but clusters of enemies with their own darkness can as wobbly says overload the player's light level in ways that even within Sil can be quite fatal, and one of the remedies currently adopted is one I don't like very much: carrying extra light sources to drop on the floor to reinforce your own light. This is not particularly intuitive to new players and it's something I have vaguely noted as worth overhauling at some point - probably by boosting existing light sources a little and disabling items from glowing while not being worn.

If these monsters are reasonably uncommon and unlikely to be found together, having them be harder to detect by light alone until they are quite close is I think not necessarily problematic. Cancelling out player light may even be acceptable if they are both rare and slow moving. However, given that enemies will be harder to recognise until they're adjacent, I'd be cautious of this further increasing the necessity of ESP and Teleport Other. In Sil the remedies are carrying more +Light items and investing in skills such as Inner Light and Song of the Trees, which means the player has to diversify their approach to handle the problem; in Angband the optimal approach may be to continue doing what you would want to do anyway.
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Old January 22, 2019, 04:04   #4
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Thanks, that feedback is very helpful. I'm inclined to think that the combination of the rarity of darkness monsters and the range of options most Angband characters have should mean that the darkness effect won't be too overpowered. At least, there is plenty of scope for adjusting the parameters to achieve a good balance.
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Old January 22, 2019, 06:31   #5
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Having certain monsters have a dark aura would be an interesting way to make some of them more thematic (Ungoliant springs to mind). I think it would be great if V had it.

While lighting is being discussed, I would like to note that I feel like light radius ranging from 1 to 4 is a bit underwhelming really. One of the most consistently magical effects in the Tolkien universe is amazing light sources (Silmarils, the Trees, the Arkenstone, and Earendil turning into a star are all quite central to the stories they appear in, and even the Phial is one of the most important objects in LotR). Some of these light sources are in the game, and having them be "slightly better than a lamp" is a bit unimpressive. Given how powerful detection and ESP both are, I don't see too much of a problem with buffing (magical) light sources a bit.
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Old January 22, 2019, 07:01   #6
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Shadow hounds? No?

I love light effects in Sil, both gameplay-wise and thematically, and I'd be curious to see how it plays in V. I agree with Philip that you probably want more than 4 max light. Sil is understated enough that a light radius of three feels impressive (and you can stack light sources to get more) but V is... not understated, so piling on the glow is probably thematically appropriate.
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Old January 22, 2019, 08:50   #7
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Sounds fun, but dropping lights on the floor to raise the light level feels gimmicky also in my view. I suggest that you drop that part, and use some formula like light_on_a_square = max(positive light level from sources & luminous monsters) - max(|negative light level from dark monsters|).
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Old January 22, 2019, 16:46   #8
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Sounds like it's worth experimenting with. As a "safety" you might consider declaring the player's tile to always be lit if they have a light source, regardless of its strength level. You can gloss it as the player holding their light a few inches from the scroll/book they're trying to read.
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Old January 22, 2019, 19:44   #9
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I like the idea, since it will make +light from equipment more useful and maybe make infravision useful past the first few levels too. But I can't help feeling this will only affect the early game since it will put even more premium on getting telepathy (or at least detect).
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Old January 22, 2019, 20:43   #10
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tl;dr: what if artifact lights provided 'immunity' to -1 light?


I don't know that I followed all the particulars of Nick's post, but let me offer a simplified example using hypotheticals to present what I think would be a balanced form of implementation (light source radii in my example are the same as they are currently in the game).

I might just say that +4 light is quite a huge improvement over +2 light. Most rooms you enter when you have +4 light negate the need of illumination as a step of @ in any direction pretty much reaches the wall of most rooms. My point is +4 light is actually quite powerful and so I think a better solution is to leave the lights as they are but make artifact lights have a certain amount of immunity to negative light.

So in my example most monsters of unlight would have -1 to their radius. Very few monsters would have -2 (Shelob being the chief among them) and Ungoliant alone would have -3.

Artifact lights would be the same as they are now but would offer immunity to -1 light. That is, the Phial's illumination will not be affected by monsters with -1 light. For -2 light monsters the Phial loses 1 light. Against Ungoliant, artifact lights' illumination is reduced by 2, to that of a torch.


When facing Shelob with a torch, you will be in darkness as though you had no light (you would in fact be in -1 light). When facing Shelob with a lantern, you would still be in darkness at 0 light. When facing Shelob with a lantern of brightness, you will have the illumination of a torch, and with the Phial, it will lose -1 (instead of -2) light and you will thus have the brightness of a lantern.

When facing Ungoliant with a torch, you will have no light (technically -2 light). With a lantern -1 light. With a lantern of brightness you will still be in darkness (with 0 light) and with the Phial, you will have the light of a torch) (you will suffer -2 light instead of -3 light and go from +3 light to +1 light).

This would solve the problem of being in a position where you are blinded deep in the dungeon by the darkest of foes so long as you find a Phial or other artifact light (and it would thus make the Phial less trivial than it is now, and the dilemma of using a lantern of True Sight vs Phial more meaningful). If you don't find an artifact light by the time you're deep in the dungeon, well, hey, more thematic excitement to your spelunking! We are trying to make the deeper dungeon more dangerous after all. And of course you can stack light with various other ego weapons and artifacts (Cammithrim, I believe, has +1 light).

Yes, I like the idea of monsters so fel that they swallow the light. I think this is a great way to make the deeper dungeon more deadly!
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