Re-positioning branch's entrance and make short.


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

Swamp Slogger

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Post Wednesday, 8th May 2019, 06:28

Re-positioning branch's entrance and make short.

I say conclusion first, the problem with second-half games is that the player's growth has stalled, but the game is not over. Usually, you finish rough growth in the vault and depth sections.
If you were a warrior, you would have found satisfactory weapons and defenses and could swing them fast enough.
If you were a magic user, you would be able to use the 8-9 level spell at this point.
If you were the enchanter, you would be able to use the invisibility, the darkness, and the discord at this point.
In either case, you've got enough consumables, equipment, and spells, and the XL is reaching the end. You can grow up after that, but you're not as dramatic as you used to be. But the game is not over yet. You can find ten more runes.
Of course, there is no reason why we have to find more than three runes by force.
But many people say, "Hey, you don't have to do it after three runes." instead of saying "Hey, the game after three runes is fun. Try it.". I think it's proof that they feel bored game after three runes on their own.
This is what I think. Is there any reason to leave behind the boring section? I don't think so.
I think there are two things we can do to get rid of the boredom of the player. Increase the growth limit or make the dungeon short(the game ends in line with the growth limit). Here I think the direction of raising the growth limit is complex and likely to fail. On the other hand, I think it's feasible to make the dungeon shorter to fit the vault and depth sections and to turn the boring section into a challenging experience.

Here's the gist of my opinion: Cut out boring route, leaving only the most challenging experiences.

I'll explain in a short sentence to help you understand.
First, The entrance to the vault moves to the 15 floors of the Dungeon.
Second, the entrance to hell, pandemonium, abyss, and realm of zot goes to the fifth floor of the vault.
Third, depth changes from five floors to two floors. And the entrance is placed on the fourth floor of the vault.
Fourth, crypt changes from three floors to one floor. the crypt is placed on the second floor of depth.
Fifth, tomb changes from three floors to one floor. the tomb is placed on the floor of the crypt.
Sixth, there is only one hell in a game(random selection from four). hell changes from seven floors to one floor.
Seventh, there is only one pandemonium in a game(random selection among rune terrain).

If you do this, you get eight runes in a game(lair 3 + vault + abyss + hell 1 + pan 1 + tomb). the second half games may be too difficult at the player level, perhaps because we have made the dungeon much shorter. In this case, I think we can adjust the number of monsters to adjust the difficulty level.
Last edited by sdynet on Wednesday, 8th May 2019, 10:21, edited 1 time in total.

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Ziggurat Zagger

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Post Wednesday, 8th May 2019, 07:11

Re: Re-positioning branch's entrance and make short.

I don't like the suggestion, you are forcing everyone to play the way you want. Currently you can dive floors if you feel bored (or just abandon games like I do), go straight for pandemonium/hell without entering Lair/Vaults for exciting experience, full floor vaults in Depths can be deadly and are top tier for fun factor IMHO. FYI there are players who play nothing but 15 rune games, you are going to remove fun for them. Sorry, I don't see how the game becomes better. If you want a shorter game, there are multiple branches like x-crawl and hellcrawl for that.
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Post Wednesday, 8th May 2019, 11:12

Re: Re-positioning branch's entrance and make short.

VeryAngryFelid: I really do not understand your point. You can dive floors and abandon of course, but this is not optimal. If the optimal way of playing could be considered "grinding", then it is against the design philosophy.

About forcing everyone to play the way you want: one game won't satisfy everybody. For example if the game's aim is to make grinding impossible, and you love grinding, then it "forces you to play I like", i.e. without grinding. Crawl has a design philosophy, that should be cited to judge proposals, not personal opinions about how you or others like to play, as otherwise development is impossible: different players has really different taste. As an example, consider the proposal to change the game so that you need to get through Pandemonium to reach Zot. Of course you can (still) dive the Pan levels if you want! So you only get more options! Still, I feel it would be a worse game.

About the X-crawl etc. branches: of course there are branches, but the main game matters more, as there is much more infrastructure: IRC bots, more public servers, more forum, tournaments, etc. If somebody feels that X-crawl or Hellcrawl satisfies the design philosophy of standard crawl better than standard crawl, it makes sense to move towards that direction! Otherwise we should propose to rewrite the design document, to make it clear that there is no intention of fulfilling it.

About the concrete proposal:
I think that there should be a much clearer distinction between "normal game", and extended parts. Normal game should be challenging when you do not go to the extended part. The external parts should be there for challenge: it should be harder then the parts of normal game. I would really welcome shortening the "normal part", and simply moving parts which other players like to an "extended" part of the game, so that we do not need to create self-conducts to get an enjoyable game, but contents some player like are not lost.

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Post Wednesday, 8th May 2019, 11:23

Re: Re-positioning branch's entrance and make short.

sanka wrote:VeryAngryFelid: I really do not understand your point. You can dive floors and abandon of course, but this is not optimal. If the optimal way of playing could be considered "grinding", then it is against the design philosophy.


My point is players should play harder combos if they feel they become too powerful in Depths or wherever. True, I have abandoned characters in Depths but I also have played some characters who had very difficult times and even died in Depths.
I believe different players like different things. Some players like OP feel they are wasting time when their character does not grow in power, while other players may enjoy surviving in difficult situations or even play only 15 rune games.

As about main crawl branch, it has more serious problems like luring, hiding important information for making informed decisions etc. and I don't think shortening it will attract more players or will make all current players happier. We already have sprints including zigsprint where in every room you become much more powerful than before.
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sanka

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Post Wednesday, 8th May 2019, 12:14

Re: Re-positioning branch's entrance and make short.

Thanks for clarifying, it makes much more sense to me now.

I personally do not agree with the harder combos. The progression problem the OP mentioned is real and independent of the combos, IMHO. I also do not think that introducing harder races could solve this problem.

One reason I could identify is that while there could be characters that have a harder time, I feel that overall progress stalls either way. There is no good/interesting dynamics of strategical improvement. It is not just about how hard is the game.

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Post Wednesday, 8th May 2019, 13:30

Re: Re-positioning branch's entrance and make short.

sanka wrote:Thanks for clarifying, it makes much more sense to me now.

I personally do not agree with the harder combos. The progression problem the OP mentioned is real and independent of the combos, IMHO. I also do not think that introducing harder races could solve this problem.

One reason I could identify is that while there could be characters that have a harder time, I feel that overall progress stalls either way. There is no good/interesting dynamics of strategical improvement. It is not just about how hard is the game.


There are 2 things I'd like to mention.
1) I think OP looks at the game from point of view of MiBe, DEFE, VpEn and alike who stop developing in Depths indeed. But there are other characters like MiWz of Vehumet who barely gets Fire Storm castable before Zot. They increase in power all game, if you swap Vehumet with Qazlal and Wz with Fi and still go for Fire Storm, it will probably increase in power all 15 rune game long.
2) Again related to casters. It looks like OP wants every spell be used just a small amount of time but what's the point of going for level 9 spells if they are going to be used just 2-3 floors???
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Post Wednesday, 8th May 2019, 14:01

Re: Re-positioning branch's entrance and make short.

1. I do not feel that spells progressing to levels that are only become available for exceptionally strong combos or in extended is a problem. On the contrary: if the weakest race can reach the top, then there is a long period of non-progression for anything else. Mummies need not to cast fire storm to win at all. (I am not convinced that mummies can only learn Firestorm by Zot, by the way, but it may depend on item drops.) The point of firestorm simply could be for DE of vehumet to cast it, or to learn it in extended.

2. Also, while of course combos increase power all game, but they increase in power very slowly in the late game compared to the early game. I would not mind if the same amount of XP, items, etc. would be available in a "normal" game then now. You would be satisfied as the game would not be harder. But I would really prefer to compress these resources to about half of the current levels, or less. (4+4 levels lair branches, 5 levels of vaults, 5 levels of depth, 5 levels of Zot: it is 23 levels. It is way too much for the progress that happens during this period.)

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Post Wednesday, 8th May 2019, 14:34

Re: Re-positioning branch's entrance and make short.

1. This is what I am talking about. People become better at crawl and instead of switching to harder combos they suggest to make the game harder/shorter for the same combo they keep playing. The only solution here is to add explicit difficulty levels but it's not going to happen unfortunately.
2. Keeping the same pace of getting power will lead to requests to create more dangerous monsters which will lead to many combos unwinnable/unplayable. With current lack of difficulty levels it is better to keep difference between hardest and easiest combo the same on every XL/floor.
Last edited by VeryAngryFelid on Wednesday, 8th May 2019, 14:40, edited 2 times in total.
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Post Wednesday, 8th May 2019, 14:39

Re: Re-positioning branch's entrance and make short.

Uhm, I do not understand your second point.

I think we talked enough about our disagreement regarding the first. I think people getting better at crawl realizing that the challenge is bad in many places, and want to change it to a different, better kind of challenge, more in line with the design philosophy.

Slime Squisher

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Post Wednesday, 8th May 2019, 16:07

Re: Re-positioning branch's entrance and make short.

Extended is optional content, so it's not really "optimal" to go there at all if you are just trying to win. Diminishing returns kick in and you get more risk from being there than you attain safety from the extra XP/loot.

If anything, I'd instead advocate tweaks to make extended more interesting if possible. Right now, you have torment/damnation as centralizing damage sources and then relatively weak stuff otherwise. I would like to see less torment/damnation and more up-scaled damage/hit rate/variety that's threatening to XL 27. I believe areas like hell would also benefit from a shortening treatment like lair got, as the differences between Gehenna 3 and 6 aren't particularly massive or interesting.

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Post Thursday, 9th May 2019, 06:13

Re: Re-positioning branch's entrance and make short.

Exactly. Removing OPTIONAL content just because personally you don't want to play it is very weird. Let me write it 3rd time in this thread: there are players who play nothing but 15 rune games, you are going to hurt them while for you nothing changes: you simply don't like extended but you still want to brag that you got all runes.
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Post Thursday, 9th May 2019, 06:16

Re: Re-positioning branch's entrance and make short.

By the way torment/smiting are the best attacks you can fight against. How are you going to balance monsters who can hurt Gr of Chei in CPA (AC 80+, EV 40+, SH 30+) but won't one-shot SpWz or FeWn?
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Slime Squisher

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Post Thursday, 9th May 2019, 17:04

Re: Re-positioning branch's entrance and make short.

VeryAngryFelid wrote:By the way torment/smiting are the best attacks you can fight against. How are you going to balance monsters who can hurt Gr of Chei in CPA (AC 80+, EV 40+, SH 30+) but won't one-shot SpWz or FeWn?


Smiting doesn't go off max hp anyway.

The answer is the same way you have "balance" between a 40 AC 15 EV 30 SH GrFi of Trog in depths compared to a sub-5 AC 35 EV 0 SH FeVM of Sif Muna.

You don't. These aren't balanced species and they can't perform similarly. There are plenty of scenarios where a single action can kill the latter. A felid with near-max fighting and level can still be killed in one hit by an ancient lich crystal spear. 1 tapped. You can totally go down stairs and be next to an ancient lich already, forcing drastic measures.

Yet people still win with felids in 3 runes, in fact nearly always avoiding dying to such outcomes if they lived long enough to get there. I don't see how stronger enemies make extended unfeasible to SpWz or FeWn unless it's taken up to absurd/extreme levels.

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Post Thursday, 9th May 2019, 17:20

Re: Re-positioning branch's entrance and make short.

VeryAngryFelid: you write third time, but not exactly the same thing. I guess it is not your fault, as the OP suggestion was a little bit strange to me as well - she does not seem to distinguish between the length of a normal game and the "extended" parts, which are optional areas.

You are right that shortening the extended game cannot be argued from the point of view of the design philosophy, since it is optional content anyway. I do not think you can increase your win chance by going there. You can argue that it is repetitive, too many demons, torment, etc., but it's not the same argument: these are arguments to change, not to shorten. If it is optional content, then it is valid to argue that some players like it.

However, the argument that strategic improvement stalls in the second part of a normal game is also valid, IMHO. The game would be closer to the design guidelines if we cut about half the levels at least from the second part. If there are players who prefer more levels, we can always move some of this content to more optional parts. Floor diving is not a good argument, because it really affects your chance to win (especially since we still have orb run).

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Post Friday, 10th May 2019, 00:28

Re: Re-positioning branch's entrance and make short.

TheMeInTeam wrote:Extended is optional content, so it's not really "optimal" to go there at all if you are just trying to win. Diminishing returns kick in and you get more risk from being there than you attain safety from the extra XP/loot.

If anything, I'd instead advocate tweaks to make extended more interesting if possible. Right now, you have torment/damnation as centralizing damage sources and then relatively weak stuff otherwise. I would like to see less torment/damnation and more up-scaled damage/hit rate/variety that's threatening to XL 27. I believe areas like hell would also benefit from a shortening treatment like lair got, as the differences between Gehenna 3 and 6 aren't particularly massive or interesting.


Yeah, I don't understand the decision to make those hell levels so uninteresting. 6 levels, all with the same gimmick, all empty except for their branch specific monsters.

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Post Friday, 10th May 2019, 05:58

Re: Re-positioning branch's entrance and make short.

sanka,
Of course I write 3rd time not exactly the same thing, it would be weird to post 3 identical messages :)
Ancient Lich is ok, you are supposed to use scroll/spell of Silence. Even if the monster is not ok, it is not a good idea to have similarly "not-ok" monsters in extended.
Both torment and smiting are great because they ignore defenses, basically a couple of torments and a couple of smites can kill any character. Note that both spells are smite-targeted which leads to danger even for characters with highest HP/defenses, they still need to be able to kill other monsters very fast or have a smite/penetrating attack of their own.
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Post Friday, 10th May 2019, 14:27

Re: Re-positioning branch's entrance and make short.

I do not feel that spells progressing to levels that are only become available for exceptionally strong combos or in extended is a problem.


By the way, it's also not clear why the top tier classes being in front of the power curve by enough that they're "built" before Zot is a "problem". Many players have such setups and still die in depths. If you acknowledge that some combos do not ramp up so quickly, this does imply that experienced players can still play combinations that take closer to the full game length to scale up.

OP talks about "classes" like "warrior" and "magic user" as if these are actually constrained setups in crawl, but they're not. A warrior can branch out if already stacked in weapon skill/defenses, assuming they didn't already push throwing and evocations really high. Spells are useful too and can still be trained.

I don't mind making longer branches shorter + more dangerous with comparable XP, but it seems strange to single out depths, which has a fair amount of monster variety, generated vaults, and more varied terrain than most branches.

And yes, if an experienced player feels ready to go win now diving is an option.

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Post Friday, 10th May 2019, 14:57

Re: Re-positioning branch's entrance and make short.

About torment and smiting/hellfire: yes, they are good attacks. I just referred to the fact that some players seems to think there are too many of the same type of attacks in extended. I personally do not care since I rarely go to extended anyway.

Again, I feel that the stalling of development or second part being easy/not easy is not exactly the same thing. The first has to do more that you need to kill a lot of monsters for relatively small amount of XP -> slow progression. It is somewhat independent of whether these levels where progress stalls hard or easy.

If the problem was: "the game is too easy", then the answer: "play harder races, or dive, take additional challenges" would be ok. But this is not the main problem.
Since the problem is slow progression, I think that recommending floor diving is against the design philosophy. We are not in the advice section.

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Post Friday, 10th May 2019, 15:46

Re: Re-positioning branch's entrance and make short.

You only progress slowly if you're training things that cost a ton of XP though. For neutral aptitude you can start training earth magic in vaults and cast shatter by the end of depths, maybe a bit later. It's when people are still xp dumping into skills at 20+ or a bit lower with weaker aptitudes that progression feels slower.

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Post Friday, 10th May 2019, 16:30

Re: Re-positioning branch's entrance and make short.

So after clearing 10 levels (or more if you need crypt/elf for training for shatter, which I suspect you do) with very high monster density (huge levels, lot of monsters) you finally can cast a spell that makes you stronger. You will feel no progress during these levels. This is what I talk about. It would be much better to gain your next spell in about 5 levels with much less monsters.
Last edited by sanka on Friday, 10th May 2019, 16:44, edited 1 time in total.

Slime Squisher

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Post Friday, 10th May 2019, 16:37

Re: Re-positioning branch's entrance and make short.

No crypt, and elf should usually be done before vaults if doing it.

Shatter is a level 9 spell, most mid level ones will be up in 2-3 depths floors. This is substantially shorter in "floor count" than it takes to get fireball online early game for example.

Rather than shatter you could also do something like train blink/pog, passwall, swiftness, lightning spire, irradiate, lightning bolt, and have a good amount of progress towards iron shot, and you probably wouldn't need the vaults XP for it, or even all of depths.

Crawl strongly encourages some hybridization and if you don't do it then sure, "progress" will slow.

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Post Friday, 10th May 2019, 17:10

Re: Re-positioning branch's entrance and make short.

But why do you think that crawl encourages hybridization? You really do not need 20 different methods to kill monsters.

Besides, in my experience level 6 spells are online after dungeon+lair, about at least 10 levels before you enter vaults, and by that time you can cast all low level utility spells (blink, passwall, swiftness, lightning spire + animate skeletons, summon butterflies, etc.) if you wish.
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Halls Hopper

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Post Friday, 10th May 2019, 18:12

Re: Re-positioning branch's entrance and make short.

Honestly, just shorten dungeon from 15 to 8 and rebalance. Most boring part of the game, IMO. No reason to cut out more thematically interesting stuff when we have 15 whole floors of generic dungeon.
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Post Friday, 10th May 2019, 18:30

Re: Re-positioning branch's entrance and make short.

dungeon is my favourite branch

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Post Friday, 10th May 2019, 18:50

Re: Re-positioning branch's entrance and make short.

sanka wrote:But why do you think that crawl encourages hybridization? You really do not need 20 different methods to kill monsters.

Besides, in my experience level 6 spells are online after dungeon+lair, about at least 10 levels before you enter vaults, and by that time you can cast all low level utility spells (blink, passwall, swiftness, lightning spire + animate skeletons, summon butterflies, etc.) if you wish.


1) Different abilities are more or less useful depending on situation
2) Skills cost increasingly more XP to increase the higher they go

These combine for some obvious incentive for hybridization. On equal aptitudes it costs roughly as much to go from 16 --20 as it does from 0 --> 16, but the latter offers a much larger difference in how something performs.

Sometimes, the utility of those extra 4 levels can outperform all alternative investments. Often it does not.

Players are free to invest how they want and you don't need to be anywhere near optimal XP distribution (even at a theoretical level) to win with high frequency. That doesn't mean a build is "done" however, aside from a person's arbitrary decision that it is so. Exception for being 27 across the board in skills I guess, if you do enough mega zigs.

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Post Friday, 10th May 2019, 20:31

Re: Re-positioning branch's entrance and make short.

sanka wrote:So after clearing 10 levels (or more if you need crypt/elf for training for shatter, which I suspect you do) with very high monster density (huge levels, lot of monsters) you finally can cast a spell that makes you stronger. You will feel no progress during these levels. This is what I talk about. It would be much better to gain your next spell in about 5 levels with much less monsters.


Level 9 spells are so powerful that there should be a power gap between them and level 6 spells otherwise level 9 spells become no-brainers for characters who are able to get them.
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Post Friday, 10th May 2019, 20:37

Re: Re-positioning branch's entrance and make short.

I am not really convinced that the power gap between level 6 spells and level 9 spells are that important here. Whether they are optimal or not, would not really change if you half the number of monsters and double the XP for them.

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Post Friday, 10th May 2019, 21:25

Re: Re-positioning branch's entrance and make short.

It's not always that simple, but it's true that branches could probably be shortened with an uptick in XP, though if this isn't done evenly you'd get some weird "go to the XP branch" sort of play logic.

I'm not opposed to it in principle if the design + implementation could appear out of thin air, but this also isn't something that would make my top 10/20 in crawl right now I don't think. It's not my call of course, but still.

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Post Friday, 10th May 2019, 23:03

Re: Re-positioning branch's entrance and make short.

I agree with the premise of this thread. So many things are removed (rightly) to reduce tedium and I am not sure why the game's structure has been, over time, less elastic than other elements of the game in this respect.

I find that past the first few floors of lair the challenges that the player overcomes are repeated too many times. What I mean by this is that I don't feel, for instance, Swamp 1 and 2 are sufficiently different than 3 to warrant their existing. Or as another example, Vaults 1-3 could be condensed to a single floor without there being any unique experience being lost. This kind of repetition makes even 3 rune games feel sluggish to me when playing "bad" combos where it's necessary to play more conservatively, lure more heavily, and so on. I noticed this PR recently and I couldn't be more excited about the prospect of it being merged, especially the idea about doing branch roulette for Elf/Crypt and Hell/Pan.

I think this is a palatable idea to many players given the propensity of forks to shorten branches (X-Crawl), the entire game (Hellcrawl, Quickcrawl), or allow alternate progression paths (Short Soup's rune lock removal). One of the things I like most about Crawl is playing a variety of disparate combos and to me, anything that improves the ratio of time spent to unique challenges/encounters is a good thing.

As an aside: I think Zot's rune lock should be removed. It would be nice to be able to do DUZ outside of Short Soup but I won't write about that here since there was already a thread in which posters suggested it.

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Post Saturday, 11th May 2019, 19:47

Re: Re-positioning branch's entrance and make short.

While I do agree with the premise of this thread, I feel like some of these changes promote linearity and the lack of linearity is what makes DCSS unique compared to other roguelikes like Brogue and Infra-Arcana. Other branches like hellcrawl do promote this linearity, but I feel like the original game should allow for exploration. I do feel like the length of some branches can be shortened and that would make DCSS more interesting however. In particular, I think Hell should be 1 floor and Pan should be finite. Elf, Crypt, Vaults, and maybe Depths could be shortened. (I feel a bit conflicted about Depths. I like all the vaults it has and the fact that its dangerous, but it offers so much experience)

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