Consumables at the start


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

bel

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Post Wednesday, 11th January 2017, 04:57

Consumables at the start

The early game is recognized to be hard. "Hard" sometimes means "you have no consumables and no recourse to do anything but bash the monster and hope it dies". Of course, it's no big deal if you die in the early game, since you can always restart quickly, but why waste the time? Here's a simple suggestion to mitigate this situation:

Start every character with an identified potion of curing and a scroll of teleport.

A variation (not as good as the above in my opinion):

Have an empty floor just above D:1 where a player finds some basic random loot.

It seems to me that the one simple way in which "high randomness" and "few unavoidable deaths" (both design goals) can be met is to have spiky randomness but provide the player with a (limited) "out".

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removeelyvilon, VeryAngryFelid

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Post Wednesday, 11th January 2017, 05:31

Re: Consumables at the start

Your suggestions would make all backgrounds more similar; not a good idea.

Many backgrounds already start with good consumables. Nets, !might, ?blinking, attack wands, etc. If you feel that particular backgrounds are a little weak at XL1, you could suggest particular consumables each could gain. For example, wizards starting with a potion of magic.

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Post Wednesday, 11th January 2017, 05:33

Re: Consumables at the start

I would be down for it. This is one of the greatest boons to wanderer, the identified tools, but I think giving them to everyone would weaken it and Fighter to a lesser extent.

I would much prefer just an identified potion of lignification, but that's because it's just a superbly designed potion and I really like seeing it used.

What Rast said was also valid.
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bel

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Post Wednesday, 11th January 2017, 05:53

Re: Consumables at the start

I picked those items because they are useful to almost every character (VS, Mu and Fo can take a hike). The aim is not to buff weak backgrounds, but reduce pointlessly frustrating situations in the very early game. When a goblin refuses to die or an adder gets lucky with poisoning you multiple times, it's no fun. It will also reduce pillar dancing in the very early game.

Sure, one can imagine different starting items for different backgrounds (potion of heal wounds for "warrior" starts and potion of magic for "mage" backgrounds. (Perhaps an ambrosia potion to handle both.) I don't have any problems with it.
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Post Wednesday, 11th January 2017, 08:37

Re: Consumables at the start

I'm kinda surprised nobody has thrown a hissy fit yet about warpers starting with a scroll of blinking.

On topic: Anything that makes D:1 less of a coin toss is good in my book.
Last edited by removeelyvilon on Wednesday, 11th January 2017, 08:58, edited 1 time in total.

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Post Wednesday, 11th January 2017, 09:05

Re: Consumables at the start

Rast wrote:Your suggestions would make all backgrounds more similar; not a good idea.


Reducing unavoidable deaths and tedium is a good idea no matter how many backgrounds it affects. Buffing all backgrounds in the same way does not change difference between them.
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Post Wednesday, 11th January 2017, 14:43

Re: Consumables at the start

Rast wrote:Your suggestions would make all backgrounds more similar; not a good idea.

Do you want to elaborate on that? AFAIK all backgrounds and races already have very similar gameplay in the first floors.

Anyways, wanderer's random consumables start is, to me, the most appealing thing compared to any other background, too bad its ruined by the other gear and skill shuffle.
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Post Wednesday, 11th January 2017, 15:55

Re: Consumables at the start

bel wrote:"Hard" sometimes means "you have no consumables and no recourse to do anything but bash the monster and hope it dies".

I'd argue that while this is occasionally true, this situation happens a lot less than many players think it does. How often it should happen is certainly a matter of debate, but I think it's more often than "never."

But a lot of times after I die, I find myself thinking "wait why didn't I just walk away, I didn't need to fight that monster." Not always, certainly (D1 adders are legit deadly) but usually I'm meleeing a gnoll or something totally stupid.
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bel

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Post Wednesday, 11th January 2017, 16:27

Re: Consumables at the start

njvack wrote:
bel wrote:"Hard" sometimes means "you have no consumables and no recourse to do anything but bash the monster and hope it dies".

I'd argue that while this is occasionally true, this situation happens a lot less than many players think it does. How often it should happen is certainly a matter of debate,but I think it's more often than "never."

But a lot of times after I die, I find myself thinking "wait why didn't I just walk away, I didn't need to fight that monster." Not always, certainly (D1 adders are legit deadly) but usually I'm meleeing a gnoll or something totally stupid.

What's wrong with "never"? I am not talking about player mistakes, as in the second paragraph, but a few bad rolls (early monsters are extremely dodgy). Why should death to a D:1 gnoll just outside the entry vault ever happen? This is a real situation which happened recently to me. A similar situation is a hobgoblin which refuses to die, or gets a few good rolls.

To put it another way, suppose there was a bug in the game which killed you unavoidably on turn 10 in 1% of the games. Maybe this 1% is too little, bit why should this 1% exist?

An early potion of curing/teleport scroll will not make the player invincible in the early game. It will simply smooth out some of the arbitrary and meaningless randomness. If one is worried about a player buff, spawn more monsters, increase some monsters' HP or increase their damage a bit to compensate.

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Post Wednesday, 11th January 2017, 17:08

Re: Consumables at the start

njvack wrote:But a lot of times after I die, I find myself thinking "wait why didn't I just walk away, I didn't need to fight that monster."

What if when you started the game you had more options than that? would that make the game worse?

The only problem i see with early resource start is that you are scratching it from the id mini game, which everybody hates anyways, so its just a problem for me.
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Post Wednesday, 11th January 2017, 17:29

Re: Consumables at the start

I find that trying to survive with very limited resources can actually make the early game one of the most interesting parts. It feels good when you lure a deadly enemy to a teleport trap or shaft, maneuver a rat to block off the adder so you can safely get down some stairs or even when you just remember that you can close doors and hence, no, you don't have to fight that adder at XL1. One of my most memorable D:1 experiences was when I had a gnoll outside the entrance vault and wound up kiting him through a bunch of enemies until I finally found a teleport trap to walk into and thereby escape to safety.

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Post Wednesday, 11th January 2017, 17:31

Re: Consumables at the start

bel wrote:What's wrong with "never"?


From the Crawl manual:
The possibility of unavoidable deaths is a larger topic in computer games. Ideally, a game like this would be really challenging and have both random layout and random course of action, yet still be winnable with perfect play. This goal seems out of reach. Thus, computer games can be soft in the sense that optimal play ensures a win. Apart from puzzles, though, this means that the game is solved from the outset; this is where the lack of a human game-master is obvious. Alternatively, they can be hard in the sense that unavoidable deaths can occur. We feel that the latter choice provides much more fun in the long run.


Again, you can argue the frequency, but I don't think a Crawl-style roguelike will ever get to "never."

And yeah, giving a consumable would even out deaths in the early game. And dying early doesn't burn much wall-clock time. But I think the early game is far and away the best part of Crawl. Why? Because I don't have many consumables and abilities yet, so I need to treat situations much more thoughtfully than if I'm camped on an escape item.

I'd much rather have a few "unfair" deaths than lose out on that "this seemed unwinnable but I stopped and thought real hard and tried a thing and it worked" feeling. And hey: streaking is totally a thing, even things other than unending streaks of TrBe.

Also also: If you want early-game consumables, play a character that starts with early-game consumables.
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bel

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Post Wednesday, 11th January 2017, 18:36

Re: Consumables at the start

njvack wrote:
bel wrote:What's wrong with "never"?


From the Crawl manual:
The possibility of unavoidable deaths is a larger topic in computer games. Ideally, a game like this would be really challenging and have both random layout and random course of action, yet still be winnable with perfect play. This goal seems out of reach. Thus, computer games can be soft in the sense that optimal play ensures a win. Apart from puzzles, though, this means that the game is solved from the outset; this is where the lack of a human game-master is obvious. Alternatively, they can be hard in the sense that unavoidable deaths can occur. We feel that the latter choice provides much more fun in the long run.

It's strange, I read the exact same paragraph and thought it supported my position! From my reading, it says that there is no guarantee of winning with perfect play, because that would make the game a puzzle and crawl does not want to go in that direction. That is totally fine. There is no guarantee of winning with a potion of curing or scroll of teleport either (the adder may poison you again, or the teleport scroll may land you near the same place). Again, the potion of curing/scroll of teleport does not make you invincible.

Here are a few other points near that paragraph which support my position:
Major design goals
challenging and random gameplay, with skill making a real difference

Crawl is designed to be a challenging game, and is also renowned for its randomness. However, this does not mean that wins are an arbitrary matter of luck: the skill of players will have the largest impact. So, yes, there may be situations where you are doomed - no action could have saved your life. But then, from the midgame on, most deaths are not of this type: By this stage, almost all casualties can be traced back to actual mistake...

The manual is saying that the early game is the situation where it's possible no action could have saved your life, but that becomes less likely as you go further into the game. That is a statement of fact (the early game is the hardest). That is not a statement of design philosophy saying that there should be unavoidable deaths in the early game. The early game would still remain the hardest if you give the player a potion of curing/scroll of teleport.

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Post Wednesday, 11th January 2017, 19:06

Re: Consumables at the start

Jarlyk wrote:One of my most memorable D:1 experiences was when I had a gnoll outside the entrance vault and wound up kiting him through a bunch of enemies until I finally found a teleport trap to walk into and thereby escape to safety.

Wow, i had a very similar experience! i even took a screenshot of it:
uhum.jpg
uhum.jpg (136.63 KiB) Viewed 2324 times
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Post Wednesday, 11th January 2017, 19:19

Re: Consumables at the start

Clearly he thought you needed some help so he threw you a net to help you get started. Then he remembered he was supposed to murder you.

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Post Sunday, 15th January 2017, 03:16

Re: Consumables at the start

removeelyvilon wrote:I'm kinda surprised nobody has thrown a hissy fit yet about warpers starting with a scroll of blinking.
I have

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