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Old September 23, 2010, 15:03   #1
Hajo
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My Unangband wish list (0.6.4a)

I take the freedom to post here my Unangband wish list, part 1.

It's not so much meant as a critique of the existing state, but to give ideas what could be improved - if my ideas do not fit, or the points in this list are deemed the wrong points to improve, no problem. But I thought to post the points anyways, maybe they can spawn some ideas for future Unangband releases.

- Room messages hide on next step. I miss most of them and need to look them up in the log. Some way to make them stay for a few more turns would be nice. (Maybe even until a new message pops up, or until the room is left.)

- Running in a dusty corridor ends up with a big pile of "The floor is thick with dust" messages that all pop up at once when running stops.

- The leveling up UI uses to pop up in the middle of a fight. This disrupts the games flow. It would be nice if that could wait till I am ready to actually spend the points. (Program could store the points till user actually wants to distribute them).

- "Home town FAQ" is shown very early, usually while one is in Hobbiton. I found this confusing when I travelled to Bree the first time and found out that I cannot go back to Hobbiton - and I had set my "home town" there! Later I found out that it doesn't seems to matter, but I'm afraid other new players will be similarily confused.

- Generally the info texts are a very good idea. They just pop up so unexpectedly and disrupt the flow of the game. I'd suggest a less intrusive way to notify the player - like a small status line or message that a new note/parchment/paper was found and can be read now. The player can then decide to read when they feel ready to read. Other games often show a "stack" of info icons or such, and the player can read them when ready, and outdated info fades from the stack. This is not quite possible in an ASCII game, but a similar unintrusive mechanic would be good.

- Goats, cows and chicken should not hunt the player. New players like me do not know that they are harmless (I'm still not 100% positive that they are), and feel compelled to flee or fight them. Faerie type monsters keep a distance to the player; this would fit well to the animals in town, too - even some of the dogs and cats could be less furious than they usually are.

- Searching a painted wall currently turns it into a plain granite wall if "nothing interesting" is found. Same for writing covered walls. This makes the dungeon look more boring after searching - would it be possible to keep the painting and writings, and instead if something interesting was discovered do a wall type transition?

- Bree and Hobbiton would look better with some bushes, maybe even trees. I could not find out where the right code place would be to add these, otherwise I'd add them myself ... so I put this on my little wish list, too.

- Levels are themed, I think. Maybe level feelings could be theme specific, or include a theme specific part. Room description already generate a nice atmosphere, and this could be a good opener for the player when they enter a new level.

I hope I don't come across too picky. I just think that even small user interface changes sometimes improve the players experience a lot. And I see a lot of good ideas already there in Unangband

Edit: Typos.
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Last edited by Hajo; September 23, 2010 at 15:33.
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Old September 23, 2010, 16:19   #2
Bostock
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Heh, Hajo read my mind on a lot of these, I can only second them. :-)

Let me just add:

* I would like to join the chorus of people who are frustrated the first time they use Word of Recall in Un. On the other hand, a more traditional functioning would remove the kind-of-interesting food mechanic in place. At the very least if the nonstandard behavior stays, it deserves a popup on the order of the Homes popup.

* Likewise I would like to second a sentiment someone expressed a while back, that (although the less insanely large stocks in stores in general are GOOD) the low and non-guaranteed stocks of WoR in Un at present are pretty frustrating. Sure, IN THEORY all dungeons can be done quite easily in one run relative to other multi-dungeon *bands, but can't we be allowed to set our own pace? One benefit of a more traditional WoR system would be that you could offer a service of WoR by default in every town starting from Bree? (Note: I've only seen Hobbiton and Bree so far.) This would naturally only cover one trip, and it would be up to the player to decide if they wanted to spend from the relatively thin supply of store scrolls to cover the other direction. Of course, there's always town-scumming, as mentioned by another player... ugh. I think if a model is promoting town-scumming, it's failed, so that should be avoided at all costs.

*The tree-cover mechanics were pretty jarring the first time I encountered them, maybe I'm not the only one? A text when you first enter the Barrow-Downs that speaks (perhaps among other things) of "forests too thick to see through" might help make things a bit clearer.

* So... freaking... many... terrain types. I know the following is a major task and that you have a *lot* of tasks on your plate, but I'll just note that this variant would benefit exceptionally much from (full) support for at least one non-ASCII display type. This could even be something like S's Extended ASCII... anything, just so long as it provides more glyphs to differentiate the huge mess of terrains.

* There already seems to be enhanced intelligence for the longwalk command, e.g. running through pillared areas isn't the hair-tearing annoyance that it is in S, thank Goddess. But could it be enhanced even more? I'm thinking of the hallways ISTR encountering paved exclusively with rough terrain (two types, both rough, or something like that), where longwalk keeps getting interrupted by, presumably, multi-turn movement.

* I'd like to echo another old request from someone else: for better interface exposure in the character creation screen of the possibility of displaying more races/classes when your current options have hidden them.

* The "draw on your reserves" mechanic deserves a class-conditional note like the one you get early on upon the condition of being a Wizard.

* Maybe I'm asking you to baby newbies here, but how about a veiled hint of the exceptional (for its "era") danger of Farmer Maggot's dungeon upon first visiting it?

* One last echo: definitely give us a guaranteed -more- prompt before the tombstone!
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Old September 23, 2010, 17:43   #3
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Another wish: not being penalized a move for answering "no" at the prompt when I would be about to exit a detection area.

And another (unless I hallucinated this): answering "no" at the are-you-sure prompt for Word of Recall not consuming the scroll...!
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Old September 24, 2010, 10:29   #4
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It's very refreshing to read so many subtle, thoughtful suggestions, many of them about the game flow or mood, not just about hacking and slashing , and not all of them outrageously hard to implement and/or contradicting each other.

I'm partly responsible for lack of WOR early on. We wanted people with bad habits carried over from other, inferior variants, to shed them quickly. In particular, to learn to dive to the end of short dungeons. That might have been a mistake. Perhaps we should have been content with teaching totally fresh roguelike players the right ways and leave old timers to their devices in the hopes they will reform slowly over time. Let UnAndrew decide...

About warning about Maggot's farm danger, I though the current warning was almost over the top, but please suggest improvements. Perhaps the current warning is too early, and you forget it by the time you look around for an entrance to the dungeon? Where to put a new warning? In the area with the entrace to Farm's dungeon? What words exactly would you use?

I like the forest visibility rules a lot, though they require getting used to, like playing around with a 4-dimensional cube by looking at 3-dimensional cross sections. Definitely the idea to put an extra hint about it in the Barrow Downs and other early forests is worth considering --- and it's easy to do!

About in-game help, doesn't it pop up only in towns? How does it interrupt fights then? Or perhaps I'm wrong, perhaps only the general kind pops up in town?
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Old September 24, 2010, 10:36   #5
Hajo
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bandobras View Post
About warning about Maggot's farm danger, I though the current warning was almost over the top, but please suggest improvements. Perhaps the current warning is too early, and you forget it by the time you look around for an entrance to the dungeon? Where to put a new warning? In the area with the entrace to Farm's dungeon? What words exactly would you use?
The warning worked for me. It might rather be a problem that many of the intro texts are "clicked away" by the player, since they pop up when the player does not want to read them.

Is there a way to read them later? I think I have skipped the mushrooms guide and the potions guide like 10 times now, since I made so many new characters, but at some point I would like to read them. Just not when the very first mushroom or potion comes in sight ... but overall I like the idea of having such guides in the game very much. The only point is how to present them so that the player will like it and not feel annoyed.
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Old September 24, 2010, 12:01   #6
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All the texts (both the guides and dungeon descripions and generally all the texts ever, I think) are available under the ~menu. Of course first you have to catch the guide about the ~ menu. Perhaps we could hint about the menu in some more guides, BTW, or at least when showing the player the first few (like, "you can read this guide later by pressing ~1wz42").
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Old September 24, 2010, 12:55   #7
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Ok, I found them again

Small ideas: Let the player open the selected guide with <enter>, not only with r (recall). In the display <enter> is used to scroll one line down. I found no way to scroll one line up (didn't try much, though). Is it possible to let the cursor keys scroll the list up and down?

I'd assume that nowadays users are used to enter or space for "select", and navigating in a page with the cursor keys.
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Old September 24, 2010, 14:28   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bandobras View Post
In particular, [we wanted people] to learn to dive to the end of short dungeons. That might have been a mistake.
I think the biggest trouble trouble is that there is an early dungeon that is not short - Barrow-Downs. Certainly I don't find myself missing WoR in Maggot's (even if I take a second go or abort my first, it's easy to ascend) or Bree. Do you really intend for Barrow-Downs to be dived in one shot? (This is not an insult or a rhetorical question.) If not, perhaps you could make Bree more WoR-friendly or mangle the Barrow-Down dungeon generation to facilitate stair-diving? If so, could it be shorter?

Quote:
About warning about Maggot's farm danger, I though the current warning was almost over the top
It probably is :-D. Now that you mention it, I vaguely recall reading it, but I too found myself swatting away the warnings, so I actually forgot that there was one. But maybe there could be a message while actually descending the staircase into the cellar? Or better yet, into the fourth floor, as that's where the sharp increase in risk is! "You hear an evil cackling?"

Quote:
I like the forest visibility rules a lot, though they require getting used to, like playing around with a 4-dimensional cube by looking at 3-dimensional cross sections. Definitely the idea to put an extra hint about it in the Barrow Downs and other early forests is worth considering --- and it's easy to do!
It might also be nice to stress the existence of the 'M' map, as that's the easiest way for the player to cut through the Gordian knot and get back to the game (not that the forests aren't pretty).

Quote:
About in-game help, doesn't it pop up only in towns? How does it interrupt fights then?
I don't think Hajo spoke up here - the trouble's not the help in this case, but the levelup screen for statup levelups.

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Old September 24, 2010, 16:25   #9
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I:m somewhat sure that I got the potion coating help and the mushroom guides in sewers level 1. I think they are triggered when one sees a mushroom or potion for the first time, but I'm not 100% sure about this. At least once it seemed random, but maybe I just missed the potion or mushroom triggering the event.

It's indeed only the level up ui that disturbed during fights.
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Old September 25, 2010, 20:41   #10
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About cursor keys: sure, I didn't even remember it worked otherwise. Still, 'r' should stay, too, since that's how you recall a monster description when looking at it, so it should also work in monster recall via ~ menu.

About things interrupting fights, perhaps all pop-ups should be delayed until after 20 turns had passes without the player hitting anything and receiving damage? Or just do it the same as with Gaining spells --- display an indicator at the bottom of the screen that new level up or new in-game guide is available and only show it after the player presses G or something? But the first couple of guides should be automatic, nevertheless, to aid newbies that are lost in UI and don't know to press G.

I totally agree about Barrow Downs and Bree. Either there should be more WOR or shorter dungeon. Wondering between towns just to find one with WOR somehow cheapens the plot, the world and all that. I almost never do Barrow Down (nor the Marshes) before I explore half the map, including many shorter dungeons, so I wasn't aware of the problem.

About warning messages, I'm afraid the biggest problem is that the more dire they sound, the more inclined newbies are to disobey them. You are supposed to be a hero, so the worse the danger is, the more likely it's the place just for you. But yes, a nasty warning when entering a level with a guardian inside would be great. I don't think it would save many newbies, but at least they would understand afterwards what it was that hit them. Also, people would not miss Smeagol so often and generally those not exploring whole levels would be less likely to miss something. You can already tell if a level has a guardian by looking it up in the ~ menu, so no secret is revealed. Also, it would help newbies understand why there is no way down from certain levels.

About all the other suggestions, especially the "clarify" or "stress" ones, I'm sure Andrew would be grateful for concrete proposals, like "add the following text to the 4th sentence in file lib/edit/angryroars.txt". Or if the text to modify is not in the edit files, but in the source, copy a bit of it from the screen. Ditto for any missing docs, typos, etc. If there's enough concrete proposals and Andrew is busy, I may get back from my developer's retirement for 30 minutes, review and implement them and then Andrew will revert/correct whatever he does not like, when he's back from RL.
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