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Old December 10, 2011, 10:13   #1
TJS
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The case for simplicity

Something that has bothered me in the past with Angband is the number of special cases. I like the idea of a simple core set of rules and then the emergent gameplay that comes from that.

For example unique monsters can't be slept or slowed. Why not? Uniques are just monsters that are different enough to have their own name. Why create a whole new rule set for them?

Similarly artifacts are just items that are interesting enough to be named. So they really don't need millions of special cases from enchanting to rules on whether monsters can pick them up or not.

For some reason it is considered a disaster for an artifact to be generated and the player is unable to get at it (monster picks it up who you can't handle, it gets destroyed by an earthquake etc.), but it is fine for that artifact never to be generated at all.

In another thread someone mentions that monsters shouldn't be able to pick up artifacts because it is abusable (by getting luring a weaker monster such as a dread out of a vault.), but to me this is the sort of emergent gameplay that makes Angband interesting and fun. Removing all possible interesting gameplay choices that the rules create by adding hundreds of special cases is the wrong way to go in my opinion.

You can't teleport into vaults which bothers me. So phase door which is one of the most important mechanics of the game suddenly doesn't work for no good reason. If the player wants to risk phasing into a vault then that's up to him.

Anyway this is a bit of a ramble, but the basic point is that if the rules are designed well enough then you don't need hundreds of special cases. Sure sometimes a special case is needed, but I think this should be a last resort rather than the default option.
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Old December 10, 2011, 10:51   #2
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Great minds think alike. I've been trying to remove special-case code from V for a couple of years now, often with unpopular results (because the natural discomfort of change is stronger than the appreciation of the absence of special cases). I'll be going a lot further in v4, but this will change quite a few things.
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Old December 10, 2011, 13:12   #3
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And why warriors cannot cast spells ? They have low int, that is enough penalty. Same with mages not having 6 blows.

Seriously, any case is a special one, rules are only introduced to simplify code.
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Old December 10, 2011, 13:58   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LostTemplar View Post
And why warriors cannot cast spells ? They have low int, that is enough penalty. Same with mages not having 6 blows.

Seriously, any case is a special one, rules are only introduced to simplify code.
If anything I think rules tend to make code more complex.

I don't think the OP's point was about code, I think it was about logic/coherence and avoiding things that seem arbitrary and lacking in those things.

We ought to decide how we want the game world to work, and code it accordingly. If our design is good, that should include very few special cases.
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Old December 10, 2011, 14:37   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Magnate View Post
If anything I think rules tend to make code more complex.

I don't think the OP's point was about code, I think it was about logic/coherence and avoiding things that seem arbitrary and lacking in those things.

We ought to decide how we want the game world to work, and code it accordingly. If our design is good, that should include very few special cases.
Yes pretty much.

Like er..on the other thread where there is a discussion about how monsters have different rules on whether to pick up an artifact and how uniques get a special bonus to this chance.

And artifact spellbooks are known from a distance unlike every other artifact (or object) in the game.
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Old December 10, 2011, 15:52   #6
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Quote:
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And artifact spellbooks are known from a distance unlike every other artifact (or object) in the game.
The Phial suffers from this too as the artifact version is the only version. True, it's unnamed when seen from a distance and until ID-d, but when you see a Phial from across the dungeon, you know what you've got. Maybe introduce a base item of the same type and make it very rare (and very useless).
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Old December 10, 2011, 16:55   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TJS View Post
For example unique monsters can't be slept or slowed. Why not? Uniques are just monsters that are different enough to have their own name. Why create a whole new rule set for them?
I know this is missing your forest for a specific tree, but this actually isn't true. Uniques are not automatically immune to these; back when Slow Monster was stackable for a brief while, I had a character using a wand of Slow Monster on every unique he encountered (up through around 1000' or so?) to great effect. Eventually the monster's saving throw gets high enough and/or the monster is explicitly coded to be immune that it's not worth it any more, but at least for the early game Slow Monster can in fact work.
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Old December 10, 2011, 18:59   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by buzzkill View Post
The Phial suffers from this too as the artifact version is the only version. True, it's unnamed when seen from a distance and until ID-d, but when you see a Phial from across the dungeon, you know what you've got. Maybe introduce a base item of the same type and make it very rare (and very useless).
Hmmm. There are special cases and then there are special cases. In V, some body armours activate for a breath weapon and others don't - we don't consider that a problem. Artifacts are a different type of entity from nonunique objects, so I don't see any difficulty with having the rules about picking them up be different. The issue of whether an object is obviously an artifact is an interesting one: at the moment it only applies to the light sources and the spellbooks. Everything else - including the Necklace and Elfstone - are disguised as everyday objects until you pick them up. Note that we've only recently made this the case: previously a longsword (4d5) and adamantite plate mail [90] would both have been obvious. So, if we want consistency here we could

(1) Make the artifact spellbooks appear as normal "Book of Magic Spells" / "Holy Book of Prayers" until they're picked up.

(2) Make the light sources appear as normal lanterns (or create some other generic "glowing stone" light source?) until they're picked up.

Do people think that kind of simplicity/consistency is desirable?
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Old December 10, 2011, 20:19   #9
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It doesn't bug me that the Phial, Star, and Arkenstone are obvious as soon as you get them. They're nice "Oh, neat!" moments, and the fact that you can recognize them when you see them isn't a huge deal, especially now that we have fuzzy object detection.
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Old December 10, 2011, 21:27   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Derakon View Post
It doesn't bug me that the Phial, Star, and Arkenstone are obvious as soon as you get them. They're nice "Oh, neat!" moments, and the fact that you can recognize them when you see them isn't a huge deal, especially now that we have fuzzy object detection.
I don't play much Vanilla (nor any other *band, actually) right now, but that's exactly my feeling too.

For noobs it's a "what's a Phial?" moment, for experienced players it's "ah, cool, at least that's sorted" moment.
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