I hate shorter branches


Although the central place for design discussion is ##crawl-dev on freenode, some may find it helpful to discuss requests and suggestions here first.

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Post Tuesday, 20th September 2016, 04:02

I hate shorter branches

In my opinion, the game was better when the Orcish Mines and Vaults were four levels, Lair eight, Nest, Shoals and Pit five and so on. The point of the game is that it should take a while to finish and during that time you have to play well because one small fuckup and you are dead and have to start over. The shorter the game is, the less risk there is of these fuckups, the easier and less interesting it gets.

I also have looked at the wiki, github repo and bug tracker and I have found no discussion about why levels are removed from branches all the time. If the levels were replaced with new branches, that would be fine but now the game is just shrunk which I don't see the point of.

I'm a long time player and I'm greatful for all the great work the devs are putting into the game. But I really don't understand why they are doing this to the game.

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Post Tuesday, 20th September 2016, 04:15

Re: I hate shorter branches

I am playing Hellmonk's branch at the moment (Lair is removed, Lair branches are shortened to 3 levels each, Vaults has 4 levels, no rune lock, no Crypt) and I like it much more than standard crawl.
Main reason is that it becomes harder as you play, not easier. Reaching Dungeon:10 is not that hard for experienced players but then you have tough choice between visiting Orc shops (Pan ending was fun) or moving deeper into main Dungeon (Fire Dragon without rF+, Ugly Things without Lair experience etc.)... I have never killed Frederick at XL 12 before. After clearing Orc and Dungeon you have tough choice between entering Vaults with low MR (getting Marked and stairlocked with a few teleportation scrolls was hard) or entering Lair branches at lower XL and again with low MR and probably without rPois, rElec/F+ etc. I am struggling in Vaults 2 currently and still afraid of getting runes (last floors of both Lair branches were too dangerous so I retreated), entering Elf would be a bad decision too.
This is how it should be, not the other way around like you suggest where players just test their patience by paying attention to multiple popcorn fights!
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Post Tuesday, 20th September 2016, 04:32

Re: I hate shorter branches

I love shorter branches

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Post Tuesday, 20th September 2016, 05:31

Re: I hate shorter branches

bjourne wrote:I also have looked at the wiki, github repo and bug tracker and I have found no discussion about why levels are removed from branches

As I understand it from various Tavern conversations over the years, the basic reasoning is:
- In a long, XP-rich game, players quickly reach the point where inattention is far more likely to kill them than any strategic or tactical mistake.
- In a short, XP-constrained game, strategic and tactical choices continue to be relevant much further into the game (ideally the whole game).

In other words, you may enjoy the "patience v. laziness endurance challenge" -- and you're definitely not alone -- but it's not great game design.
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Post Tuesday, 20th September 2016, 05:42

Re: I hate shorter branches

Then maybe you can play the sprint version of the game? Honestly, most of dcss is fairly easy for a good player. Some race/class combos are really hard though. So if you play well and don't screw up for the whole duration of the game, you will win. But it is really HARD to not screw up even once for the many hours the game takes to complete. The fewer hours it takes, the EASIER it becomes.

I also like the exploration part of the game. There are a lot of areas to explore. The smaller the game world is, the less opportunities you have for that.

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Post Tuesday, 20th September 2016, 06:12

Re: I hate shorter branches

There is a certain threshhold of length/monotony beyond which a game becomes a test of patience/endurance/concentration moreso than a test of skill/strategy... and I think vanilla crawl is well beyond that threshold.

To put it another way, it would be vastly better to have the 'difficulty' of crawl be generated from the game itself being strategically challenging, rather than it simply being longer and more taxing on your patience. Making the game shorter does not automatically equal making it easier, because you can amp up the difficulty in other ways, arguably much more interesting ways.

You are free to disagree of course.

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Post Tuesday, 20th September 2016, 06:38

Re: I hate shorter branches

bjourne wrote:Honestly, most of dcss is fairly easy for a good player.
What do you think the devs are trying to change?

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Post Tuesday, 20th September 2016, 06:44

Re: I hate shorter branches

lol @ the way people confuse "this game is hard to sit through" with "this game is hard to win"
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Post Tuesday, 20th September 2016, 07:37

Re: I hate shorter branches

bjourne wrote:I also have looked at the wiki, github repo and bug tracker and I have found no discussion about why levels are removed from branches all the time.

The commits should have explanations, but I'll summarize: doing the same thing for 8 floors is really dull, and getting XP (and items and such) for doing things that aren't difficult is silly.
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Post Tuesday, 20th September 2016, 07:49

Re: I hate shorter branches

tedric wrote:lol @ the way people confuse "this game is hard to sit through" with "this game is hard to win"

I blame the collapse of arcade gaming for this. SNK bosses, anyone?

Anyway, while these changes could seem meant to help experienced people keep having fun while making things insanely difficult for beginners, I remember my first 15 runes as an absurdly exhausting experience that dragged on forever (17 hours, I think), even though it was the first time I saw many of the extended levels. Which is why I never even attempted to do another one. So I welcome the changes, and I think that, as a whole, they will make the game more enjoyable for beginners, too.
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Post Tuesday, 20th September 2016, 08:47

Re: I hate shorter branches

duvessa wrote:
bjourne wrote:Honestly, most of dcss is fairly easy for a good player.
What do you think the devs are trying to change?


Dunno, making the game more tedious adding more weird stuff which still don't kill your char but your will to win?

edit: I would like add a : P smiley to underline it is a joke but I can't seriously use that smiley.
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Post Tuesday, 20th September 2016, 09:39

Re: I hate shorter branches

lethediver wrote:There is a certain threshhold of length/monotony beyond which a game becomes a test of patience/endurance/concentration moreso than a test of skill/strategy... and I think vanilla crawl is well beyond that threshold.


Patience, endurance and concentration ARE skills. If you find games that test those skills boring, there are other games you can play but why take it away from dcss? Rougelikes never was meant to appeal to the mainstream. Of course making the game easier will appeal to a lot of players because they can then win even if their skills are lacking. But it makes the game less interesting to veteran players. If there is to much monotony, that can be fixed by adding more enemies and item types.

What do you think the devs are trying to change?


I'm not sure. I've been playing since the 0.10 release and I think the game has become significantly easier. I have also become a better player ofc. A lot of the interface has been improved, but a lot of the interesting mechanisms has also been removed, like item destruction. I guess old-style rougelikes aren't action packed enough for the newer generation of players who crave instant gratification.

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Post Tuesday, 20th September 2016, 09:59

Re: I hate shorter branches

Just having something take a long time does not mean it is inherently meaningful or interesting-or even hard! Patience is a skill, but it is not a fun skill, and a game should test more than your willingness to continue playing. Spreading mulch with a pitchfork and shovel in the summer heat for around 8 hours a day has certainly tested my patience this year, that doesn't mean it's an enjoyable game!

Don't insult "the newer generation of players", they know more than you seem to. I have been playing this game for a long time and you will never hear me call a feature like item destruction aka 'see a mottled dragon->walk behind a door and drop all scrolls on the ground before opening it and fighting it' an "interesting" feature. You seem to value the experience of weathering tedium above all else, but don't expect other people to agree with you when you grouse about how these dang kids don't appreciate it.

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Post Tuesday, 20th September 2016, 10:15

Re: I hate shorter branches

Diablo 2 and 3 hardcore take a very long time to beat, and they have permadeath. Are they bad designed games? Millions of people play them for years and enjoy. I know this opinion is unpopular on the Tavern, but please don't turn Crawl more and more into arcade.

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Post Tuesday, 20th September 2016, 10:33

Re: I hate shorter branches

Diablo 3 is a bad game, yes.

Either way both of them are more arcade-y than Crawl!

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Post Tuesday, 20th September 2016, 11:38

Re: I hate shorter branches

Imo so far the devs have done a great job. Personally, I wouldn't mind if Lair was still 10 levels, Lair branches 5 (Slime 6), Vaults 8, Elf 7 and Crypt 5 levels. I've always liked to play the levels and never felt than Crawl was too long. (The only exception was Orc where even I saw no point in 4 levels with 3 of them mostly popcorn). Now the thing is, I still feel that the game is long enough; there's enough depth. And if someone now asked me, would I like for example Vaults to have 8 levels or Elf 7, I would say of course not, what would be the point?

I still cringe whenever levels are cut, but so far so good. I definitely don't want Crawl to turn into a coffee-break roguelike.

(But Dungeon should have 27 levels, I will not change my mind about that. I like Depth monsters and vaults so maybe turn the 5 levels of Depths back into 12 levels of Dungeon by making each level only 5/12 as large...)
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Post Tuesday, 20th September 2016, 15:10

Re: I hate shorter branches

Shard1697 wrote:Diablo 3 is a bad game, yes.


so is diablo 2.
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Post Tuesday, 20th September 2016, 15:43

Re: I hate shorter branches

BabyRage wrote:Diablo 2 and 3 hardcore take a very long time to beat, and they have permadeath. Are they bad designed games? Millions of people play them for years and enjoy. I know this opinion is unpopular on the Tavern, but please don't turn Crawl more and more into arcade.

Diablo 2 hardcore would not hold up to the sort of design scrutiny you see here on the tavern, regardless of how much fun I had playing it in high school. Playing Diablo 2 methodically and slowly is extremely tedious, and pretty much necessary when enemies have iron maiden. It's not a good reason to make crawl longer.

Short crawl is awesome. The part of crawl that is interesting to me is the tactics part, you know, the moving and attacking and all that. Removing the parts of the game where sloppy tactics suffice only makes it more fun to me, I can skip to the good parts. Definitely gonna check out hellmook's branch.

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Post Tuesday, 20th September 2016, 15:52

Re: I hate shorter branches

Where can you play Hellmonk's branch?

Lair is a good place tough, it has very good layout and some good enemies.

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Post Tuesday, 20th September 2016, 15:56

Re: I hate shorter branches

sanka wrote:Where can you play Hellmonk's branch?


viewtopic.php?f=17&t=21527&p=290733#p290733
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Post Tuesday, 20th September 2016, 17:46

Re: I hate shorter branches

bjourne wrote:The point of the game is that it should take a while to finish and during that time you have to play well because one small fuckup and you are dead and have to start over.


Most of the cutting has been in areas that provide good experience, loot, piety, etc. while providing relatively low levels of danger. The more areas like this there are in this game, the more you can fuck up without dying, because you can delay the few areas that still manage to offer some risk (vaults 5, Zot, etc.) until you are topped off on experience, have 12 scrolls of blinking, have max piety with your god of choice, and so on.

So, there is the question of how long we feel that an average game of Crawl should last. But there is also the problem that it actually decreases the chances of "fuck up = dying" when you have too much bloat in the mid-game. So if you want bad play to lead plausibly to permadeath (we agree this good for the game) then you need to trim the bloat.

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Post Tuesday, 20th September 2016, 19:30

Re: I hate shorter branches

Perhaps I should ask around on ##crawl-dev if there's some more scope for cuts.

An alternative to cuts, by the way, is reducing level sizes somewhere. A long time ago I proposed to make Dungeon levels smaller and smaller, although I then used up the reverse of that idea for ziggurats...

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Post Tuesday, 20th September 2016, 19:42

Re: I hate shorter branches

Then you can just reduce the item drops and the amounts of xp mobs give. It's a lame reason to cut off parts of the game for. And ime, after playing with the shorter branches for a while, it hasn't made the game any harder, just easier because you still have enough consumables and xp anyway.

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Post Tuesday, 20th September 2016, 19:50

Re: I hate shorter branches

bjourne wrote:Then you can just reduce the item drops and the amounts of xp mobs give. It's a lame reason to cut off parts of the game for. And ime, after playing with the shorter branches for a while, it hasn't made the game any harder, just easier because you still have enough consumables and xp anyway.


Lair 2 is almost identical to Lair 4, Vaults 2 is almost identical to Vaults 3, what's the point of having to fight the same monsters again and again? Why should I kill 74 ugly things (real number from my last 3 rune game), isn't it boring? I am not sure crawl is intended to be "time-killer" game.
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Post Tuesday, 20th September 2016, 20:04

Re: I hate shorter branches

bjourne wrote:Then you can just reduce the item drops and the amounts of xp mobs give. It's a lame reason to cut off parts of the game for.
I would understand this point if we were thinking of removing a whole branch (because then you'd lose a layout and perhaps monster types). But nobody is doing that!

And indeed, we cut just reduce xp and item generation -- but how would that be than a level less. If you take this to the extremes, then you'd support a incredibly large, very sparsely populated (both monsters and items) dungeon.

And ime, after playing with the shorter branches for a while, it hasn't made the game any harder, just easier because you still have enough consumables and xp anyway.
I fail to see this, too: we agree that fewer consumables makes the game harder than more consumables? Same for more xp? This is certainly not intentional, but you do the work of the people who want to cut much more radically than I intend. :)

For the record, I am completely fine with little dips for each version. I don't think it is either necessary or good to reduce the size in one fell swoop, much harder to get a feeling for balance changes that way.

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Post Tuesday, 20th September 2016, 20:31

Re: I hate shorter branches

VeryAngryFelid wrote:
bjourne wrote:Then you can just reduce the item drops and the amounts of xp mobs give. It's a lame reason to cut off parts of the game for. And ime, after playing with the shorter branches for a while, it hasn't made the game any harder, just easier because you still have enough consumables and xp anyway.


Lair 2 is almost identical to Lair 4, Vaults 2 is almost identical to Vaults 3, what's the point of having to fight the same monsters again and again? Why should I kill 74 ugly things (real number from my last 3 rune game), isn't it boring? I am not sure crawl is intended to be "time-killer" game.


Then add more monster types to make the floors more varied as I suggested: "If there is to much monotony, that can be fixed by adding more enemies and item types." Maybe add some completely out of place monsters too, like a lost Vault Garden in the Lair? But monster types seem to be removed too (like the Boulder Beetle) so it seems the game is BOTH becoming shorter AND more monotonic.

The game wouldn't at all be more fun if the number of ugly things you killed was only 30. I see no logic to that at all.

I fail to see this, too: we agree that fewer consumables makes the game harder than more consumables? Same for more xp? This is certainly not intentional, but you do the work of the people who want to cut much more radically than I intend.


Have you ever won a game? I haven't had a single one where I didn't have more than enough consumables at the end. The difficult part of the game is to always take the correct actions and not let your mind slip. Most of my character deaths have come that way; by not wearing my MR+ equipment around mobs that can banish you, by zerking in the vault in E3, by assuming mummies in Ziggurats can't smite you three times in a row. It's called Yet Another Stupid Death for a reason.

Skill in ANYTHING is the ability to make few mistakes over extended periods of times. People who aren't skilled makes mistakes so they suffer more YASD:s and instead of learning from the experiences they get frustrated and blame the game instead of themselves. Leading to the game being shortened to keep them happy.

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Post Tuesday, 20th September 2016, 20:42

Re: I hate shorter branches

bjourne wrote:In my opinion


Your opinion does not match the community's and you are not convincing anyone. DCSS not moving in the direction you want? Then grab the code, look at the git commits which shortened the branches, do "git revert" on those commits, build your own brew of DCSS and have your brand of fun. Stop wasting your time here, assuming you're trying to make something happen. Instead, ask questions on how to do the above steps.

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Post Tuesday, 20th September 2016, 20:44

Re: I hate shorter branches

bjourne wrote:Then add more monster types to make the floors more varied as I suggested: "If there is to much monotony, that can be fixed by adding more enemies and item types." Maybe add some completely out of place monsters too, like a lost Vault Garden in the Lair? But monster types seem to be removed too (like the Boulder Beetle) so it seems the game is BOTH becoming shorter AND more monotonic.

Yes, there is too much monotony IMHO.
New monsters are added all the time, you are welcome to post suggestions about new monsters in GDD I think.

The game wouldn't at all be more fun if the number of ugly things you killed was only 30. I see no logic to that at all.


You mentioned monotony, I don't have fun while pressing tab for killing last 44 very ugly things, they are popcorn at this point.

Most of my character deaths have come that way; by not wearing my MR+ equipment around mobs that can banish you, by zerking in the vault in E3, by assuming mummies in Ziggurats can't smite you three times in a row. It's called Yet Another Stupid Death for a reason.


This is not directed at me but I am glad that you mentioned actually dangerous places like Elf 3 end vault and Zig. Nobody is removing dangerous features from the game luckily.

Skill in ANYTHING is the ability to make few mistakes over extended periods of times.


Skill is the ability to pick optimal (or at least good enough) option when you have to choose between several non-obvious options, not when you are patient to swap rF+/rC+/rCorr/rElec rings 74 times for fighting Very Ugly Things.
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Post Tuesday, 20th September 2016, 21:17

Re: I hate shorter branches

Psieye wrote:
bjourne wrote:In my opinion


Your opinion does not match the community's and you are not convincing anyone. DCSS not moving in the direction you want? Then grab the code, look at the git commits which shortened the branches, do "git revert" on those commits, build your own brew of DCSS and have your brand of fun. Stop wasting your time here, assuming you're trying to make something happen. Instead, ask questions on how to do the above steps.


I think everyone is allowed to express their opinion in this forum part, no? And I'm also part of the community even if I don't write a lot on this forum or contribute code.

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Post Tuesday, 20th September 2016, 21:24

Re: I hate shorter branches

This is true, but "just do it, just jump in" type advice is also good advice wrt taking things your own way(provided you have the time to do coding).

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Post Tuesday, 20th September 2016, 21:45

Re: I hate shorter branches

If you want branches to be bigger, just play this game I thought up called twicecrawl. You have to win regular crawl, twice in a row. All the lair and vaults floors you've been missing.

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Post Tuesday, 20th September 2016, 22:13

Re: I hate shorter branches

bjourne wrote:I think everyone is allowed to express their opinion in this forum part, no? And I'm also part of the community even if I don't write a lot on this forum or contribute code.

Yes, you're allowed to express your opinion. You are free to continue expressing it, but I got the impression you weren't here just to express opinion - i.e. you wanted something done. If all you wanted to do was rant but are satisfied with nothing changing, then my post does not apply.

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Post Tuesday, 20th September 2016, 22:48

Re: I hate shorter branches

Psieye wrote:
bjourne wrote:I think everyone is allowed to express their opinion in this forum part, no? And I'm also part of the community even if I don't write a lot on this forum or contribute code.

Yes, you're allowed to express your opinion. You are free to continue expressing it, but I got the impression you weren't here just to express opinion - i.e. you wanted something done. If all you wanted to do was rant but are satisfied with nothing changing, then my post does not apply.

Well, in all fairness "ranting while not getting anything done" is 99.9% of all forum posts.

I think one possible motivation to expressing a contradictory opinion is to discuss it, maybe get some enlightenment, maybe give some.

For what it is worth, all of the reasons listed for a longer game being bad are totally subjective (dull, not fun, tedious) even "exercising the skill of patience" not being fun is an opinion, it's even a relatively recent invention that it's bad, people used to call fun patience "relaxation" i am not specifically saying i argee, but i certainly think the discussion itself has merit.

For example, if the percption that the game had too much XP two equally valid responses might be to cut 20% of the content, or to reduce the XP per monster by 20% picking one over the other depends on your perception of whether the game is too long, whether the existing content is interesting and valuable as is.

There is no "settled" to be had there, no consensus, because every change alters the balance and eaxh persons tipping point is subtly different.

Contending that the forum's "consensus" on anything is one way or the other (on nearly any subject) isn't likely to produce any useful discussions.
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Post Tuesday, 20th September 2016, 23:10

Re: I hate shorter branches

Having a game full of popcorn fights and nothing more might be fun for someone since fun is subjective indeed but I hope we all agree that it would not be good for the game (unless it was changed from rather standard roguelike to something like solitaire)
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Post Wednesday, 21st September 2016, 00:34

Re: I hate shorter branches

VeryAngryFelid wrote:Having a game full of popcorn fights and nothing more might be fun for someone since fun is subjective indeed but I hope we all agree that it would not be good for the game (unless it was changed from rather standard roguelike to something like solitaire)


I would contend that historically most roguelikes are in fact chock full of popcorn fights. Also "nothing but popcorn" is a bit of an overstatement. That doesn't mean a game without popcorn wouldn't be good, or that it can't be a rogue like, but having popcorn fights certainly doesn't exclude you from the category (unless you would also like to exclude nethack, rogue, moria and angband)
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Tartarus Sorceror

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Post Wednesday, 21st September 2016, 01:19

Re: I hate shorter branches

Well, they weren't saying it would make them not roguelikes, just that it's not good for them as games. (which is true for all of those examples to at least some extent)

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Post Wednesday, 21st September 2016, 12:04

Re: I hate shorter branches

Personally I don't like having 1 floor branches, and I'm quite enjoying long playthrough. More is good.
But I think all those extra branches (and potentially more xp) should be gated behind the Orb.
If you grab it - you can access other stuff, like Pan, Tomb, Hell, etc. Change runes in those places to other orbs - and there you have it! Each orb provides extra difficulty (more stuff spawns, random events happen, put your random thing happening here). The more orbs you get - more score rating you'll get if manage to carry them out. Everybody is happy.

Right now it doesn't matter how much runes you've got, all you need is three, and the difficulty curve stays about the same, dropping upon reaching certain point. Which is a problem I think.
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Post Wednesday, 21st September 2016, 12:38

Re: I hate shorter branches

Yes, it is hard to balance Zot 5 when it is visited by characters with either 3 or 15 runes typically.
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Shoals Surfer

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Post Wednesday, 21st September 2016, 14:45

Re: I hate shorter branches

I agree there is so much experience available in the game, for the first time in forever I went and entered depths only after having completed everything before, including all 5 runes and the optional parts. This is how much experience I gained and how many consumables I have left at that point (depths1), it is so much I can't imagine being able to earn a good death anymore in the endgame or extended:

  Code:
Skills:
 + Level 16.3 Fighting
 - Level 12.1 Staves
 - Level 10.0 Dodging
 - Level 10.0 Stealth
 - Level 4.0 Shields
 + Level 22.5 Spellcasting
 - Level 22.0 Conjurations
 - Level 13.0 Charms
 - Level 4.2 Summonings
 - Level 10.0 Necromancy
 - Level 7.0 Translocations
 - Level 13.0 Fire Magic
 - Level 15.0 Air Magic
 - Level 15.0 Earth Magic
 - Level 10.0 Invocations
 - Level 15.0 Evocations

Spells:
- Iron Shot             Conj/Erth      ########..   1%          6    None
- Bolt of Fire          Conj/Fire      #######...   1%          6    None
- Fireball              Conj/Fire      #######...   1%          5    None
- Orb of Destruction    Conj           ########..   1%          7    None
- Lee's Rapid Deconstr  Erth           #######...   1%          5    None
- Freezing Cloud        Conj/Ice/Air   #######...   2%          6    None
- Passwall              Tmut/Erth      ######....   1%          2    None
- Blink                 Tloc           N/A          1%          2    None
- Repel Missiles        Chrm/Air       ######       0%          2    None
- Regeneration          Chrm/Necr      #######...   1%          3    None
- Swiftness             Chrm/Air       #######.     0%          2    None
- Passage of Golubria   Tloc           N/A          1%          4    None
- Haste                 Chrm           #######.     1%          6    None
- Summon Butterflies    Summ           ######..     1%          1    None
- Apportation           Tloc           ######....   1%          1    None
- Dispel Undead         Necr           #######.     1%          5    None
- Lightning Bolt        Conj/Air       ########..   1%          5    None
- Delayed Fireball      Conj/Fire      N/A          1%          7    None

Scrolls
 - 17 scrolls of teleportation
 - 8 scrolls of identify
 - 3 scrolls of fog
 - 12 scrolls of magic mapping
 - 8 scrolls of remove curse
 - 5 scrolls of summoning
 - 7 scrolls of blinking
Potions
 - 3 potions of agility
 - 4 potions of flight
 - a potion of invisibility
 - 8 potions of magic
 - 2 potions of cancellation
 - 10 potions of curing
 - 14 potions of heal wounds
 - 4 potions of haste
 - a potion of resistance
 - 6 potions of ambrosia


Still I find I don't mind the game has this much available, I just don't do anywhere near this much normally and understand there are many players that want to grind and enjoy it (as I used to), so I don't have a strong opinion on changing game length. I will certainly be trying HellCrawl though.

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