New species: Self-learning Robot


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Ziggurat Zagger

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Post Tuesday, 24th February 2015, 15:14

New species: Self-learning Robot

This species is assumed to be harder than Mu while still providing interesting strategy for players.

Background: Robot starts with almost no knowledge and gradually becomes better at things it chooses to improve.
It learns quickly and being a machine allows it to temporarily overextend some skills if it is the only way to survive. The overextension does not come for free, it damages the machine irredeemably.

All skills are -5. Normal HP, normal MP, +1 XP.

  • Passive. After reaching every XL (including XL 1) robot must select a skill. The selected skill aptitude is permanently improved by +1 aptitude and temporarily (until reaching next XL) gets increased by +5 (cf. Heroism).
    Robot cannot select the same skill on next XL but can select it later.
    For instance, robot can select Polearms at XL1, then Fighting at XL2, Polearms again at XL3, Fighting at XL4, Polearms at XL 5, Armour at XL 6, Polearms at XL 7 etc.
    A skill cannot be selected when its aptitude is already +5. If selected skill is Spellcasting and robot memorizes some spells in extra spell slots, they are kept after reaching next XL but robot will need to train more spellcasting before learning more spells (technically free spell slots will be negative).
    The limitation of "cannot select the same skill" is removed at XL 27 (we don't want players to feel sorry about selecting a wrong skill at XL 26) and +5 boost is permanent for the selected skill (there is no XL 28 so it never expires).
  • Active, instant, acquired at XL 10. Overextension. Robot temporary gets +5 to all skills for 10+d10 turns (subject to 27 skill levels cap). Cost: 3% permanent HP (minimum 2 HP) and 3% permanent MP (minimum 1 MP).
  • Active, instant, acquired at XL 20. Heavy overextension. Robot temporary gets +10 to all skills for 10+d10 turns (subject to 27 skill levels cap). Cost: 5% permanent HP (minimum 5 HP) and 5% permanent MP (minimum 2 MP).

rRot, rN+++, no need to eat, immune to Fear, Confusion and stat drain.

Cannot use potions, cannot use vampiric weapon, cannot berserk, cannot worship Fedhas (it's non-living), Ashenzari/Sif Muna (it dares to improve knowledge/aptitudes without divine help).

Game play. Player can select to become a great caster (for example, +4 aptitude in Spellcasting/Fire/Conjurations require 27 changes), a great warrior (+4 aptitude in weapon/armour/fighting) or stay more balanced.

Crypt Cleanser

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Post Tuesday, 24th February 2015, 16:02

Re: New species: Self-learning Robot

Even with -5 aptitude, you're more or less guaranteed to max a skill or two when you reach XP level 27.

"This species is assumed to be harder than Mu while still providing interesting strategy for players."
This species makes me think less of mummies and more of lichformed trolls with even worse aptitudes and no regeneration.

Also, aren't things "selected at level up" a no-no in crawl?
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Ziggurat Zagger

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Post Tuesday, 24th February 2015, 16:13

Re: New species: Self-learning Robot

kuniqs wrote:Even with -5 aptitude, you're more or less guaranteed to max a skill or two when you reach XP level 27.


Is it bad? I am not sure making positive aptitudes is optimal.

  Code:
This species makes me think less of mummies and more of lichformed trolls with even worse aptitudes and no regeneration.


Why? Do you think it will have easy early game and harder late game?

Also, aren't things "selected at level up" a no-no in crawl?


I haven't seen it at https://crawl.develz.org/wiki/doku.php? ... ng:wont_do
The choice is a compensation for extremely bad aptitudes.

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Post Tuesday, 24th February 2015, 16:56

Re: New species: Self-learning Robot

I mean that since apts are the shtick of this race, there isn't really much that distinguishes it from others.

The race seems to be designed with endgame in mind. It doesn't really show its colors 'till level 20 or so. Like you wanted to base a race around aptitudes instead of coming up with a race and slapping some apts as an afterthough. No offense.

About the choosing at level up - it ought to be a random increase weighted towards the skills you trained the most.

Overextension - wtf? If the loss is permament, no one will use this. Giving a drain/heavy drain after ending would be more sane and more in the spirit of how it was described. It's not like a robot can't repair itself or something :).
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Ziggurat Zagger

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Post Tuesday, 24th February 2015, 17:04

Re: New species: Self-learning Robot

kuniqs wrote:I mean that since apts are the shtick of this race, there isn't really much that distinguishes it from others.

The race seems to be designed with endgame in mind. It doesn't really show its colors 'till level 20 or so. Like you wanted to base a race around aptitudes instead of coming up with a race and slapping some apts as an afterthough. No offense.

About the choosing at level up - it ought to be a random increase weighted towards the skills you trained the most.

Overextension - wtf? If the loss is permament, no one will use this. Giving a drain/heavy drain after ending would be more sane and more in the spirit of how it was described. It's not like a robot can't repair itself or something :).


I hope -5 aptitudes is enough to distinguish it from other races. It does not look similar to Tr because Tr has +30% HP, regeneration, claws and +0 aptitude in UC, thus it does not care about aptitudes.
Yes, the race is very hard early but becomes ok (and sometimes OP?) later (again similar to Mu except no vulnerability to Dispel Undead and Holy Weapon/Word).
I would prefer to let player select skills but if there is no way to accept patch otherwise, random skills can be ok too.
Overextension is not supposed to be spammed. Treat it as a weaker version of Borg. Revivification. Unlike the spell, it can be used in middle game and does not cost as many HP.
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Post Tuesday, 24th February 2015, 17:16

Re: New species: Self-learning Robot

On any other species at xl20 I will probably will have my most used skills around 15 or so, and given the nature of this species I suspect the core skills to be even higher. So if extension is capped at 27 (as it should be) I do not foresee myself ever using heavy overextension. While overextension seems to be a rather strong panic button, heavy overextension is most likely a waste of HP/MP. I agree with Kuniqs that perhaps a permanent loss is a bit much. Drain/Exhaustion/Weak or any other number of statuses could be applied instead.

This is all theory, obviously, so the permanent loss of HP/MP could certainly work as intended.
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Post Tuesday, 24th February 2015, 20:23

Re: New species: Self-learning Robot

Apts suggest a rather broad spread of skills. Possibly a mage with average skill in few schools, which runs contradictory to the supposedly focused nature of the race.

Anyway, my attitude is "Sure, why not?"

But it needs something more to distinguish it from others. Mummies already have shitty apts, no hunger and no drink. Gargoyles are constructs. Demigods resistant to stat drain. Maybe give it a retractable pistol, so I can finally play american jesus in crawl.

Or ability to create other machines from weapons/armor - making hybrids like the ones from box of beasts at the cost of slight stat drain.
Or, to take it to extreme, can use only weapons, cloaks and amulets. You can 'mix' standard amulets and rings to create a randart amulet with some of the intrinsics you put there.
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Ziggurat Zagger

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Post Tuesday, 24th February 2015, 20:24

Re: New species: Self-learning Robot

I think random skills will not work, it should be explicitly selected by player. Example: you start as Fi with M&F, RNG chooses Polearms. You find no polearms before reaching XL 2, RNG chooses Evocations. You find no evocable items before reaching XL 3, RNG selects Hexes etc.

Overextension should have a high cost, otherwise it cannot be powerful enough.

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Post Tuesday, 24th February 2015, 20:29

Re: New species: Self-learning Robot

kuniqs wrote:Apts suggest a rather broad spread of skills. Possibly a mage with average skill in few schools, which runs contradictory to the supposedly focused nature of the race.


Apts suggest it will be a very hard species early game, this was my main goal. You are supposed to become anything you want (later, if you survive :twisted: ). Aptitudes change is just a way to make it less painful (or even pleasant) to play during middle-late game.

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Post Tuesday, 24th February 2015, 21:59

Re: New species: Self-learning Robot

+1 XP means it will gain skills at even slower pace (do skills get bigger exp requirement the bigger your level?)
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Ziggurat Zagger

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Post Tuesday, 24th February 2015, 22:02

Re: New species: Self-learning Robot

kuniqs wrote:+1 XP means it will gain skills at even slower pace (do skills get bigger exp requirement the bigger your level?)

I would think that the raise in exp requirement for skill levels would be tied to actual experience gained, not XL itself. I certainly hope this is the case.
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Ziggurat Zagger

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Post Wednesday, 25th February 2015, 01:30

Re: New species: Self-learning Robot

Technically, there is a level 28. I think the level up code handles all the way up to 127 or something absurd, although that's just going off a faint memory. This is actually used in rare cases like when a felid gets to level 27 with extra lives past the max of 2 you can store, and then dies, they will get their next life/lives when they reach level 28, 29, etc. There's no reason that your race couldn't simply ignore all levels higher than 27, though.

With a total of 26 level ups, you'd basically be able to take 5 skills to 0, which isn't really much. Mummies would have better aptitudes at all points in the game, really. Having +5 to a skill of your choosing is nice, but probably won't compensate for this. But I imagine you don't consider this a problem since you're aiming for mummy level hard, but imho making the early game so absolutely punishing isn't really something crawl needs, it's already set up that way.

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Post Wednesday, 25th February 2015, 01:41

Re: New species: Self-learning Robot

I remember reading somewhere that crawl is designed with hard early game and somewhat easier late game intentionally in order not to waste players time. This is why I am trying to create a very hard species by making early game even harder. IMHO selecting aptitudes would make the race relatively interesting, you would be able to play different characters in a different way depending on early game drops (similar to Human except it could be more focused if desired).

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Post Wednesday, 25th February 2015, 01:56

Re: New species: Self-learning Robot

I do like the ability to focus your skills, as you could make a pretty powerful character if you were willing to focus yourself to only 3-4 skills (say play a berserker, only take weapon, fighting, armor, dodging). You'd end up with +2 in two skills, and +3 in the other two. Of course, if you're only learning 4 skills and they have an average +2.5 apt, you've probably maxed them and now need to level something at -5. Might be good for speed running, I suppose. And then there's funny questions like "What's it like to play a monk with +5 unarmed combat?" But everything else on the character would be really, really terrible.

It's probably not quite the vision for the race you have, but I'd rather see something like -2 for all apts initially, +1 to an apt every 2 levels, no apt can go higher than +3.

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Post Wednesday, 25th February 2015, 10:57

Re: New species: Self-learning Robot

  Code:
Aptitude   Skill Points           Description
-5           (238)                      abysmal aptitude
-4           (200)                      very poor aptitude
-3           (168)                           poor aptitude
-2           (141)                      bad aptitude
-1           (119)                      slightly disfavoured aptitude
0           (100)                      standard aptitude
+1           (84)                      slightly favoured aptitude
+2           (71)                      strong aptitude
+3           (59)                      very strong aptitude
+4           (50)                      outstanding aptitude
+5           (42)                      exceptional aptitude

Differences are: 38, 32, 27, 22, 19, 16, 13, 12, 9, 8

In other words: Even increasing your aptitudes has diminishing returns. Boostin an apt from -5 to 0 is about 2.3 more effective than boosting it from 0 to +5.

Players are not supposed to know this, neither do this arcane math to get the most of the race.

I don't like the idea. You'll have excellent apts exactly at the point when apts play no role (pan/hell grinding?). Playing a mummy while training 3 and 3 skills only would give the same experience.

Wouldn't it be cool if crawl could simply allow you to choose a 'raceless' class and let you divide +5 apt points and -7 apt points on the skills you want? (you would have to spend them all). Maybe humans could have this thing.
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Ziggurat Zagger

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Post Wednesday, 25th February 2015, 13:32

Re: New species: Self-learning Robot

kuniqs wrote:In other words: Even increasing your aptitudes has diminishing returns. Boostin an apt from -5 to 0 is about 2.3 more effective than boosting it from 0 to +5.

Players are not supposed to know this, neither do this arcane math to get the most of the race.

I don't like the idea. You'll have excellent apts exactly at the point when apts play no role (pan/hell grinding?). Playing a mummy while training 3 and 3 skills only would give the same experience.

Wouldn't it be cool if crawl could simply allow you to choose a 'raceless' class and let you divide +5 apt points and -7 apt points on the skills you want? (you would have to spend them all). Maybe humans could have this thing.

Players know that +4 difference means double XP (it is in the manual AFAIR). That's why I have already said that training skills to +5 is suboptimal. It is not even hard to learn - when you have a +5 aptitude skill and it reaches skill level 27, you stop caring about the skill aptitude. So it is obvious that you should have left the skill at +4 (or lower) and improve some other skill instead.
You missed 2 points:
1) even Mummies are too easy for some players.
2) players can select skills based on drop. What you are suggesting is to pick Ds mutations or Dr colors on turn 1, this is boring and contradicts DCSS philosophy.

Ziggurat Zagger

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Post Wednesday, 25th February 2015, 15:31

Re: New species: Self-learning Robot

Dear developers, is there any hope that the patch will be accepted? I think I can create it.

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Post Wednesday, 25th February 2015, 16:02

Re: New species: Self-learning Robot

Umm, code the race, make a git commitment and then the chances of accepting will go up by an order of magnitude.
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Post Wednesday, 25th February 2015, 16:11

Re: New species: Self-learning Robot

If you coded it, we could try it as an experimental branch and see if it can be tweaked until its fun. Overall, I think the current design has some problems:

* It makes the hardest part of the game harder without making the easiest part of the game harder -- and even possibly making it easier, for certain glass-cannon builds.
* It encourages glass-cannon gameplay.
* At the beginning of the game, it's a silly slog to get anything done to an extent that I think (from having tried a similar design with fewer gimmicks) will be no fun. Book backgrounds largely won't be able to cast their starting spells, for example, unless it starts with gigantic int.
* There's a lot of information to communicate to the player with this race -- it has two god-power-like active abilities that have large permanent costs if used accidentally or capriciously without knowing, it has a level-up-based minigame that's absolutely crucial to success and that essentially requires planning out your end-game before you level up even once.
* There are some weird restrictions, like not worshipping Ash (for balance reasons, I assume) and not worshipping Sif (???).
* The mechanics of rapidly-changing aptitudes are confusing and hard to communicate in-game -- when an aptitude changes, is it like draconians, where all your skill levels get immediately recalculated, or is it like manuals, where you just get better returns on your xp investments for a while? In the former case, your actual skills will be changing constantly and dramatically, leading to weird interactions with Fighting, Spellcasting, Invo, and Evo; in the latter case, the rules are basically "train one skill during the progression of any one experience level because you get a free super-manual".
* Gaining two levels at once (which can easily happen in the early game) is going mean skipping over one bloc of +5 skill and also require prompt-spamming.

tl;dr: I think the aims of this species are bad (over-specialization, end-game planning from turn 1, super-hard early game and normal-to-easy end game), and I think the implementation is complex and confusing to a level that's problematic.

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Post Wednesday, 25th February 2015, 16:15

Re: New species: Self-learning Robot

even Mummies are too easy for some players

Poor argument. These players are a minority.

I don't like the idea of this species. I can hardly imagine how it is interesting:
a) when caster's starting spells have almost zero power and huge miscast rate
b) when fighter's weapon is almost as "efficient" as a club picked up by 1lvl mage.
Starting skill levels are tied to aptitudes. Each odd character level will be brutal and not really skill-dependent until one manages to level up the main skill sufficiently.

The species would provide too much mummy-like experience, except more masochistic (maybe some self-imposed challenge would work better for you?). I doubt anybody thinks that mummy would be more interesting if it had worse apts.

Your Robot discourages from trying to change initial character development path, because it's impossible to reassign already used apt increases. This seriously limits adaptability, which is not fun nor interesting.

Eventually active skills are not too different from what Oka offers right now, except it would work on magic, too - at a ridiculous price.

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Post Wednesday, 25th February 2015, 17:32

Re: New species: Self-learning Robot

I'd imagined a robot that can reprogram itself over the course of x turns. You get mp drained in hells, so you transfer your spellcasting knowledge into weapon knowledge.
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Ziggurat Zagger

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Post Wednesday, 25th February 2015, 17:38

Re: New species: Self-learning Robot

Thank you, Lasty for the detailed reply!

I see I worded poorly when describing the species so I will try to fix it in this post despite it's meaningless now. I agree that it is too complex idea.

1) At every XL players have one skill where they get +5 current skill level, not +5 aptitude increase. For example, player starts as Fi, selects Polearms, instantly gets -4 aptitude (instead of -5), gets some skills as usual (Fighting/Weapon/Shield etc.). So at turn 1 it has about 0.8 skill levels in Polearms (Fi starts with 2 and this species has -4 aptitude) but enjoys skill level 5.8 (it is like always active Heroism for a single skill). Let's assume player trained Polearms all the way to XL 2 (got 1.7 skill levels in Polearms and enjoyed skill level 6.7 ax Xl 1.99) and selected Fighting at XL 2. Now player has 1.7 skill levels in Polearms, about 1.3 skill levels in Fighting (but enjoys 6.3 skill levels in Fighting, "Heroism" affects Fighting this time).
Similarly Cj could select Conjurations at XL 1 and get Magic Dart more castable that for DECj (+5 skill levels thanks to "Heroism").
2) I am not sure about aptitude change style, I had non-Draconian style in mind. Thanks to increasing aptitudes high levels would not be much more expensive than previous ones.
3) Yes, Ash is prohibited for balance reasons, Sif Muna for "flavor" (it is really close to Ashenzari IMHO so if Ash is prohibited, Sif Muna should be prohibited aslo).

Ziggurat Zagger

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Post Wednesday, 25th February 2015, 17:40

Re: New species: Self-learning Robot

Bart wrote:maybe some self-imposed challenge would work better for you?


Yes, good idea.
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Post Wednesday, 25th February 2015, 18:58

Re: New species: Self-learning Robot

There are interesting things to your proposal, but I am sure there are ways in which you could achieve a similar effect without making things so complicated (eg: not prompting the user on every level up).

Also, it really kinda just sounds like mummies, but much harder, in many aspects until the endgame. I also dislike having god abilities and species abilities overlap so much. If anything, it would be more interesting to me to remove them and have Okawaru and Ash as very appealing options.

When it comes to another challenging species, I would be more interested in something that was quite the opposite of this. A species that starts out stronger than anything in the game but is on some kind of inexorable timer (instead of an infinite timer) that makes it degrade at an exponential pace to the point you will be unable to finish unless you are fast enough

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Post Wednesday, 25th February 2015, 18:59

Re: New species: Self-learning Robot

I'd primarily suggest speed running, from the few I tried (one got all the way to zot:5) it's considerably more difficult, not only because of the lack of experience but also because you can't count on finding nearly as many items as you'd like/would normally expect.

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