Semilinearize!


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Tomb Titivator

Posts: 911

Joined: Thursday, 17th December 2015, 02:36

Post Friday, 6th May 2016, 22:15

Semilinearize!

  Code:
                   TEMPLE
             THE  /
           DUNGEON--LAIR
             / \  \
            /   \  ORC
           /     \
 SNAKE/SPIDER   SHOALS/SWAMP
           \     /
            \   /
             \ /     ALL OTHER BRANCHES:
            VAULTS---SLIME, ELVEN HALLS,
              |      CRYPT+TOMB, DEPTHS.
             ZOT


^ the main idea is to replace the 2 easy runes with entrances to Vaults and move all branch entrances to a more appropriate depth, so that no branches are particularly "out of depth".

The S-runes are replaced with entrances to the Vaults. The easiest but not necessarily best way to handle multiple entrances to the Vaults is to make them work like the Hell portals: when you exit, you come back to wherever you entered.

Rune lock seems to aggravate people sometimes. Because it's like, the entrance is right here, why won't the game let me in? But people never seem to take issue at having to travel through some nasty levels to get at something like shops or a rune, or an entrance for that matter. The effects of rune lock can be replicated by restructuring the dungeon.

My proposal replaces the silver rune with an entrance to Zot, and takes it out of the depths. This forces players through V:5. If this is undesirable, you could put secret entrances to Zot in abyss/slime/tomb (to mirror current dynamics) but I don't think that this is undesirable: the game already forces you to visit every level connecting D:1 to Z:5, and V:5 is as good a level as any to force players to go through, better than Z:5 IMO.

The difficulty of branches is very lightly associated with their depth, currently. With this structure, though, the rule of thumb "take branches when you first find them, retreat if they start getting hard" would be valid. That's quite a boon to the game, and very beginner-friendly. Take a minute to look over the wiki page and pretend you don't know much about the game. The thing looks like you need to spend a lunch break poring over it. It's a considerable set of complexities with little payoff. You would be able to use The Vaults as a kind of hub in the lategame, from which to take on the game's difficult branches, instead of thinking your way back to all branches found in the dungeon.

Extra notes:
-the 2 easy runes and the silver rune do not exist.
-"3-rune win" would be an outdated meme.
-runes become unnecessary for winning and are there for score or completionism.
-some flavor is arguably lost due to e.g. swamp not being part of lair.
-orb run is longer by 1 lair branch. You get to see a bigger diversity and more branch entrances on the orb run. You are reminded of more places that were formative/challenging for your character, compared to the current orb run.
-It would be a shame if U:5 had nothing special to offer on the bottom floor, so maybe the dracs in there should guard a giant- or dragon-themed rune, instead of the Zot entrance.
-some vaults don't have an obvious place to go, like the Vaults entry vaults found in D.
-players would be blocked from skipping to the hard parts e.g. doing Elf before snake/spider.
-some challenge runs (e.g. no vaults) become impossible, but others (e.g. never enter a side branch/portal) open up.
-speedrunning is... affected.
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Shoals Surfer

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Post Friday, 6th May 2016, 22:56

Re: Semilinearize!

Admittedly, there is an inherent conservatism in me towards the current setup that biases me against the idea even as I consciously try to fight this conservatism and give the proposal a fair chance, but... I can't say I like it, still. There are two questions I have to ask straight away:

  • What is the problem you are trying to fix here?
  • How and why does this proposal fix it?

One problem you seem to raise is that the current structure is too complex, or something? I don't see why that is a problem. When I was a beginner, I was too overwhelmed by the game to understand the whole structure of it anyway, and would have been even in your more linear structure - I simply explored around and discovered one after the other what kinds of branches there were. Later on, as I played and lost a few characters, the structure became quite understandable anyway.

I don't see how removing the 3 easy runes and instead effectively forcing you to do the equivalent of getting 2 specific runes is an improvement. (If I understand right, the player effectively gets a choice between Swamp/Shoals and Spider/Snake, right? On the surface, it seems interesting that there is a choice that players can take, with different characters being more suited to different choices. In practice, unless the branches are rebalanced to be easier for some character types and harder for others, roughly equal on average, this'd just lead to the harder branches, usually Snake and Shoals, being utterly ignored, meaning less exposure for those parts of the game.)

Orb run taking you through a Lair branch is... meh, I don't see this as being important.

"players would be blocked from skipping to the hard parts e.g. doing Elf before snake/spider" - why is this good? I mean, okay, a new player might be inclined to explore Elf straight after Orc, but the increased difficulty should drive them out and persuade them to return later anyways, much like in the Lair branches whenever they come up. I think this is sufficient, there is no need for further railroading.

Other than that, yeah, essentially still looking for an answer to those two questions.
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Tomb Titivator

Posts: 911

Joined: Thursday, 17th December 2015, 02:36

Post Friday, 6th May 2016, 23:26

Re: Semilinearize!

"why is this good?" I didn't say it was good. It was just a note. Some noted things are bad.
"too overwhelmed by the game to understand the whole structure of it" but it's better if you don't need to have such an understanding of its structure, so you don't die by poking your nose where it doesn't belong. The game is throwing complexities left and right at you your first few runs, and its odd structure, with OOD branches, is one of the least interesting. Rune lock is also really forced, compared to the natural elegance of "the entrance is on X:#".
"the player effectively gets a choice between Swamp/Shoals and Spider/Snake, right?"
Like now. I don't mean that taking one branch should lock the other one out. You can still do both. But you need to complete at least one to get access to the vaults. This proposal is actually very conservative.
"two questions"
ok fine

problem
>solution

OOD branches are a noob trap
>place OOD branches lower into the dungeon for a friendlier first/second/third win

the harder branches are scattered all over the place (lair, orc, vaults, depths) and you gotta check all parts of ctrl-O and travel long distances
>place them all in The Vaults. Players are likely to clear everything pre-vaults before doing vault's sub-branches

rune lock pisses people off
>remove rune lock

>rune lock and branch placement are two mechanics that do the same thing
do it all with one mechanic

I admire how you admit your bias.

Swamp Slogger

Posts: 162

Joined: Wednesday, 4th May 2016, 06:04

Post Friday, 6th May 2016, 23:47

Re: Semilinearize!

HardBoiledGargoyle wrote:"why is this good?" I didn't say it was good. It was just a note. Some noted things are bad.


If you post something, I assume you want me and others to read it, think about it, and maybe respond. It is not nice to ask us to spend time doing this if you don't think the content of the post is good and worth saying and hearing. If you just want to brainstorm or spitball, that seems fine, but you might indicate what you are up to up front (either explicitly, or with tone: your nice diagram, your tone, and certain phrases (''my proposal'') made me think this was more serious than that).

Edit: I do not intend to be mean, and I hope this is not mean. It's just... if you make a revisionary proposal, ''why is this proposal good'' seems like a question you might have foreseen getting asked!

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Tomb Titivator

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Joined: Thursday, 17th December 2015, 02:36

Post Saturday, 7th May 2016, 00:53

Re: Semilinearize!

Oh I think the proposal is good, despite it coming with negative aspects and matters of taste, and I think it's good to mention them for completeness. For example, "players would be blocked from skipping to the hard parts e.g. doing Elf before snake/spider." is there so that people can say "there is a very good reason the game allows you to do this, enough to outweigh the positives of your proposal" instead of having to formulate such an argument from scratch all by themselves.

Ziggurat Zagger

Posts: 5383

Joined: Tuesday, 30th October 2012, 19:06

Post Saturday, 7th May 2016, 08:11

Re: Semilinearize!

Personally, what I would prefer to see is actually *parallelization* over serialization, so each level has a "depth" and any level could generate portals to an "adjacent" branch at the same depth:
  Code:
1                     D
2                     |
3                     |
4               T  -  |
5               |  -  |
6               |  -  |  -  -  -  L
7               |  -  |  -  -  -  |
8                     |  -  -  -  |
9               O  -  |  -  -  -  |
10                    |  -  -  -  |  -  (S)
11        E  -  |  >  |  -  -  -  |  -  |
12        |  -  -  -  |  -  -  -  |  -  -  -  M
13                    |  -  -  -  -  -  |  -  |
14  A+ <  |  -  -  >  |  -  V  <  |  -  -  -  |
15  |  -  -  -  U  -  |     |  -  -  -  |  <  |
16  |  -  -  -  |  -  -  -  |  -  C           |
17  |  -  P* -  |  -  -  -  |  -  |  -  W  <  |
18  |  -  |  -  |  -  -  -  -  -  |  -  |
19  H* -  -  -  |  -  -  -  |
20  HB -  -  >  |  -  Z  -  G* -  -  -  |
21  |  -  -  -  -  >  |
22  |
23  |  -  -  -  -  >  |
24  |
25  |  -  -  -  -  >  |
26  |
27                    |

Where "depth" represents an absolute notion of difficulty, and each horizontal line represents a chance of a portal generating (and > indicates in can only generate in that one direction)

A+ is the abyss, P* is Pandemonium (with it's normal rules of just random levels being generated no matter where you enter from) H* is the hell vestibule, HB is "all hell branches" (S) is "both lair S branches" (whichever they might be) G* is a zig

Mostly this is pretty similar the current set up (this is just sort of mapped out) But with added connections that let you mostly jump to other places with a similar power level.

I don't know how I feel about portals *between* S branches, but I'd mostly be against it (as well as against hell branches having portals to each other) Those aren't on my "map" though so you could interpret it either way.

The letter is the "top" of each branch, with the | being further levels in the same branch, new letters in the same column are just separate branches (I just organized them that way to save space)

Note I skipped a "depth" for most branch ends, I feel this is largely appropriate, and doing so somewhat consistently actually gives a nice overall feel to my map.
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