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Old June 30, 2018, 16:02   #21
fizzix
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I think Pete is close to what I'm thinking. But really what I want is to try to take the elements that I've found interesting from many other roguelikes, and incorporate them into Angband. It's also perhaps not a fair thing to ask for. A good course of action for me might just be to play a bunch of DCSS (or Tome or Brogue or whatever) games until I get disenchanted with its gameplay, at which point Angband will feel fresh and appealing.

Angband has always been a tough, or perhaps impossible, game to balance because you can continually reset the level. You can scum as much or as little as you like. It's probably always been true that the main killer in Angband is complacency and carelessness. I never have had a good solution for how to best balance Angband, the best I came up with was to balance around a single clear of every level, which is how we balanced 3.4 to be roughly in line with 3.0.6. Other roguelikes have it much easier.

I also give my full support to Nick to pursue the game development in the manner he sees fit. To me the most important thing is that Angband is continually developed, even if it's not aligned with my ideas. I'll continue to play and offer feedback (and outlandish ideas) although I may take hiatuses from time to time. Those breaks are good for me, because, I've always found the first game after a break to be fun.

I also agree with Nick that the game should feel like it has increasing danger later in the dungeon. The disconnect for me is that in current Angband, I don't think it's true. I'm more likely to die on dungeon level 1 than I am dungeon level 30 (almost always from Grip/Fang or some other fast moving OoD monster). And I'm way more likely to die on 30 than I am on 80. In fact, usually if I get a character to about dungeon level 40, my win percentage is pretty good, even with challenges like ironman or forced descent. The reason is that I just have so many escape tools by level 40 that I can get myself out of any jam, no matter how dire. I really only get sniped by insta-kill attacks. Getting feedback from players with lots of wins is, and experience in the second half of the dungeon, is necessary, and probably should be actively sought out. My guess is that Grip and Fang have many more kills than Gothmog and Lungorthin.

Also, it's probably a very good idea to get some sort of Monte-Carlo statistics working again. I think there's currently some memory leak which causes the game to crash after generating some 1000 or so levels, but I couldn't find it. Item balance is a bit out of whack now, it seems. But I'm just going from experience over a handful of games, which is always a bad way to balance. Making OP items and artifact rarer and more valuable will probably help the general situation. Right now it's pretty easy to stay ahead of the challenge curve in forced descent, except for a brief period in the 30s and 40s where Ancient Dragons start showing up and you don't have any permanent speed yet.

In the past I have tried to implement some of the changes I've talked about, but I often get stuck from lack of ability. (It's also tough to work on coding for fun after spending 8 hours a day writing physics code, but that's a lame excuse). For example, a long time ago I tried to implement wandering monsters, by loading a bunch of different heat maps into memory and having monsters choose one, but I couldn't get it to work. I think this would be a good change and opens up possibilities.
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Old June 30, 2018, 16:49   #22
Pete Mack
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Run a debug build and you find the memory problems fast. An lcc build would find it and characterize it even faster.
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Old June 30, 2018, 17:01   #23
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Originally Posted by fizzix View Post
I also agree with Nick that the game should feel like it has increasing danger later in the dungeon. The disconnect for me is that in current Angband, I don't think it's true.
There's perceived danger, and then there's game-mechanical danger. You're right that from a game-mechanics sense, an experienced player with a high-level character will look at the encounters they're expected to face and go "man, I have so many tools to deal with these scenarios, as long as I don't play drunk or tired there's almost no way I won't win." On the flipside, that high-level character is facing down dragons from hell and a spider that ate the sun and ultimately an actual, legitimate immortal god. That's what I mean by perceived danger: you're fighting monsters that are literally the subjects of epics.
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Old June 30, 2018, 17:10   #24
Pete Mack
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Fizzix-
Would fewer speed items before dl 75 make a difference? Getting speed late (or early) makes a huge difference in gameplay. This is probably the biggest difference between current V and 3.0.6: in the latter speed boots were *rare*--you were lucky to find a single pair in the game. Other high-end ego items were rare too, like big 3^2 weapons. (I mean BoC/SoS/MoD Attacks/HA/Gondolin. Fury too, but those were ridiculously rare, and no longer are even created.)
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Old June 30, 2018, 20:32   #25
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Originally Posted by Derakon View Post
There's perceived danger, and then there's game-mechanical danger. You're right that from a game-mechanics sense, an experienced player with a high-level character will look at the encounters they're expected to face and go "man, I have so many tools to deal with these scenarios, as long as I don't play drunk or tired there's almost no way I won't win." On the flipside, that high-level character is facing down dragons from hell and a spider that ate the sun and ultimately an actual, legitimate immortal god. That's what I mean by perceived danger: you're fighting monsters that are literally the subjects of epics.
I understand that. And I'm pretty sure I did feel the same way, when I first encountered those enemies. I don't feel like that sense of awe survives the first few playthroughs though. Maybe that's just me.

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Originally Posted by Pete Mack
Would fewer speed items before dl 75 make a difference? Getting speed late (or early) makes a huge difference in gameplay.
It would make things harder, but I actually don't think that's the change to focus on. If anything I would like to separate movement speed and action speed, and have (almost) nothing modify action speed.

What made the game more deadly in 3.0.6 was that a teleport was much more likely to land you in an instant death than it is now. This is for several reasons.
  1. Monster pack sizes (specifically hounds) were significantly larger
  2. Hounds were more common
  3. There were far fewer special rooms, so you were a lot more likely to wind up in the middle of a plain open room
  4. Monsters spawned more frequently
  5. Spawned monsters were always awake

I'm hard pressed to put numbers on it, but I would guess that a random teleport on level 50 in 3.0.6 led to on order a 1% chance of being killed. Now, I don't know what that amount is, but it's significantly less than that. Besides my running into a pack of time hounds rounding a corner a little while ago (which didn't kill me because the pack size was 8 not 20), I can't remember the last time this type of death occurred. I do remember dying many times to teleporting to large gravity hound packs pack in the day.

This was Angband's version of a hunger clock. If you kept on faffing about, you were much more likely to hit a bad roll and die. So you either accepted that some characters were going to die and played suitably aggressively to limit the number of necessary teleports(Eddie style) or you played super slowly and methodically clearing levels multiple times, grinding for stat potions, etc (Timo style). Timo would win much more often than Eddie, but Eddie could finish a winning game in 1/20 the time, at least with respect to game turns.

I don't necessarily recommend going back to the old style. The hounds were changed because they were everywhere and insanely tedious to deal with. The new rooms are much more interesting than the boring square rooms that used to make up most of the dungeon. Furthermore, the teleport deaths didn't seem fair. It's not much fun to go from full health to 0 before even having a chance to see the threat and react. We did have lots of complaints about these sorts of deaths, and I would guess we lost several players who lost characters in this manner. I would consider increasing spawn rate back some, and if wandering monsters are a thing, spawned monsters should be awake and wandering. (So if you teleport next to them they attack, but they don't immediately track you after spawning.)

Reducing player speed would certainly increase the number of times you'd need to escape. But as long as teleport remains as powerful as it is now, that shouldn't really affect the survivability of a careful player. (I could be wrong about this)
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Old June 30, 2018, 20:55   #26
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If you really want to be cruel to teleport tele-follow is always a nasty shock.

I'd consider not just smaller levels but much shorter teleports for what you're after. You mentioned monsters going back to sleep somewhere earlier in the thread, that's going to end bad if I can sleep things by teleporting to the other side of the level. Currently when you teleport you end up somewhere where nothing not "always awake" has had a chance to wake up. Becomes more dangerous if you're landing within your noise radius.
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Old June 30, 2018, 22:56   #27
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I would consider increasing spawn rate back some, and if wandering monsters are a thing, spawned monsters should be awake and wandering. (So if you teleport next to them they attack, but they don't immediately track you after spawning.)
This sounds good. I think the trick is going to be finding a suitable definition of when the monster is aware of the player.
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Old July 1, 2018, 00:10   #28
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I have a (loaded) question for @Nick

How many downloads of 4.1 have you had ?
About 20% of visitors to rephial.org download the game, and there's about 80 visits a day. So there's something like 15 downloads a day.
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Old July 1, 2018, 10:47   #29
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This sounds good. I think the trick is going to be finding a suitable definition of when the monster is aware of the player.
As in in the monsters description i.e. "they are aware of their surroundings" or as in look at the monster and you can see that it sees you i.e. "the monster returns your gaze and you blink first"?
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Old July 2, 2018, 01:20   #30
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This sounds good. I think the trick is going to be finding a suitable definition of when the monster is aware of the player.
How about this one: player is in monster's actual LOS OR player has just recently left LOS by either phase door or simply walking away (set a timer for some fixed number of turns) OR monster is actively following a scent trail OR player is making more than some threshold amount of noise OR player is in ESP range and the monster has telepathy OR the monster is of a type that has been specifically designated to always know where the player is regardless of distance (probably only Morgoth and some other important uniques).
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