Remove Summoner Kill Experience Penalty


Although the central place for this kind of discussion is on the CDO wiki, some may find it helpful to discuss potential requests and suggestions here first.

Lair Larrikin

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Post Wednesday, 5th September 2018, 02:50

Remove Summoner Kill Experience Penalty

I used to post here a long time ago, but forgot my old account. Any way, recently started playing again and I see that summoned pets still take half the experience, as before, but that much of the advantages of being a summoner has been removed. For example, there is now a summoned allies limit, and also monsters seem to ignore pets more, but that could just be my imagination.

Either way, I don't think the experience penalty from pet kills is justified any more, especially for summoners. It's one of the hardest back grounds to get started with already, based on statistics, but perhaps more importantly, it creates a conflict of interest play style where you're constantly trying to steal kills from your allies in order to get full experience, and are generally discouraged from summoning allies whenever you can avoid it, going against the very concept of the play style. This is made worse by the fact that recent changes to the game seem to have reduced the amount of experience available before the end game, which then makes it even worse.

I have no doubt that the magic school has its advantages, but it's been more frustrating than most, and shouldn't be. I'm not a top player by any stretch of the imagination, but I can generally win a 3 rune run with most physical or warrior mage builds within 2 to 3 attempts. Indeed, I think most popular physical and warrior mage builds are completely capable of being won on the first try, minus very bad random. Trying to win as a pure summoner, on the other hand, heavily depends on getting a solid random on, well, just about everything because you can be one shot by a centaur most of the game due just to the terrible skill gain. But again, the biggest problem is not the win rate but the play style. The fact that you're constantly fighting with yourself to maximize experience makes it a pain to play. Maybe the school is supposed to be just utility spells for physical classes that need meat shields, since so few of the spells scale with spell power, but that to me is just a wasted opportunity since every one is already being pressured to become a warrior mage at the end game.

My opinion: pet kill experience penalty needs to be removed for play style reasons, and the school itself could use an adjustment, too. Not necessarily an improvement, but rather better support for pure summoners and spell power scales.

Feel free to argue otherwise, I'm sure the topic has come up before and I probably even contributed in the past, but the arguments I found from a short search were generally not convincing - ie "we want to encourage people to all be warrior mages" or "summoners too strong already," neither of which makes sense due to the aforementioned easy mode for standard warrior and warrior mage builds.
Last edited by EtadanikM on Wednesday, 5th September 2018, 03:02, edited 2 times in total.

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bel

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Post Wednesday, 5th September 2018, 02:58

Re: Remove Summoner Kill Experience Penalty

EtadanikM wrote:I'm sure the topic has come up before

Indeed, it has, the latest one a couple of months ago.

Lair Larrikin

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Post Wednesday, 5th September 2018, 03:01

Re: Remove Summoner Kill Experience Penalty

Right, so I changed my last sentence to anticipate a few of the counter arguments already. I could bump the other thread in case that's better?

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Post Wednesday, 5th September 2018, 03:11

Re: Remove Summoner Kill Experience Penalty

Dunno.

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Post Wednesday, 5th September 2018, 03:14

Re: Remove Summoner Kill Experience Penalty

One thing which always comes up in this thread is "how much does the penalty really matter". It would be nice to have some numbers about what typical XP progression looks like with and without the penalty.

Lair Larrikin

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Post Wednesday, 5th September 2018, 03:24

Re: Remove Summoner Kill Experience Penalty

As far as I know, you get half the experience for kills made by summons, slaves, etc.

Not scientific, but I did a test just now. A bat gives 20% experience into level 1 when you kill it yourself. It gives 10% when you kill it with a summon.

That's a pretty large penalty. A pure summoner who never kills anything would have half the experience at any given stage in time. That probably results in a significant reduction in skills although with the way skill costs grow, it might just be 2 to 3 levels of a high level skill.

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Post Wednesday, 5th September 2018, 04:16

Re: Remove Summoner Kill Experience Penalty

Yes, you get half the experience. But what does that mean for a summoner? How much lower are their skills compared to if there wasn't a penalty?

Here are some indicative numbers. At game-end there is a 1 XL difference:

  Code:
04:04 <Sequell> 127 games for * (thisyear won urune=3 su): avg(xl)=25.65
04:04 <Sequell> 6984 games for * (thisyear won urune=3 !su): avg(xl)=26.56


For first rune, there is a difference of 1 XL:
  Code:
04:01 <Sequell> 4178 milestones for * (urune=1 thisyear su): avg(xl)=16.97
04:01 <Sequell> 285407 milestones for * (urune=1 thisyear !su): avg(xl)=17.92


For first god worship, the difference is about 0.5 XL:
  Code:
04:03 <Sequell> 504 milestones for * (t god.worship xl<10 su): avg(xl)=5.65
04:03 <Sequell> 25568 milestones for * (t god.worship xl<10 !su): avg(xl)=6.15


This difference, by the way, is about the difference between -2 and 0 experience aptitude:
  Code:
04:06 <Sequell> 108 games for * (thisyear won urune=3 dg): avg(xl)=25.67
04:15 <Sequell> 2644 games for * (thisyear won urune=3 ((vs || ho || gh || te || og || na ||
                he || mf || ba || op || gr || gn))): avg(xl)=26.82


EDIT: final set of numbers. When comparing only 0 experience apt characters, the end-game XL difference shrinks to 0.5 XL
  Code:
04:16 <Sequell> 58 games for * (thisyear won urune=3 ((vs || ho || gh || te || og || na || he
                || mf || ba || op || gr || gn)) su): avg(xl)=26.38
04:16 <Sequell> 2586 games for * (thisyear won urune=3 ((vs || ho || gh || te || og || na ||
                he || mf || ba || op || gr || gn)) !su): avg(xl)=26.83

Lair Larrikin

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Post Wednesday, 5th September 2018, 04:37

Re: Remove Summoner Kill Experience Penalty

Since I didn't bump the other thread, I guess I'll put more effort into this one, and provide a list of the previous counter arguments and my opinions.

1. Summoning experience penalty encourages hybrid builds, which we want.

I don't see this as a positive when all the most popular builds are already hybrid and it's getting a bit stale after years, to be honest. What's the benefit of everyone being a warrior mage? You open up the online watch list and there's a dozen successful warrior mages near the end of the game, while pure summoners are not existent. The game's just boring when the condition for winning is basically: get armor above 40, evasion and shield above 20, get proper resistances, get a nice weapon, cast self buffs and face roll, or any combination of tornado, fire storm, and glaciate against large groups of monsters for those doing 15 rune games. Also, since summoning is just one skill, how does it NOT encourage hybrid builds? Do people have no need for defenses when playing a summoner or utility spells? I can tell you after losing about 30 to 40 summoners over the weekend to random damage throughout the game, that this is most definitely not the case. The reason hybrid builds are effective is because they exploit the exponential experience curve. The summoning experience penalty actually discourages hybrid builds.

2. Summoning is already too powerful because it summons both a meat shield and damage.

I think people who make this argument need to look closer at the spells, themselves. They're not as powerful as they're made out to be. You run out of resources as a summoner just as you do as any other build - typically by running out of magic or because you couldn't put up your meat shield in time or because the monsters decide to ignore your summons or you get surrounded and don't have enough summons to block every space. In fact, playing a pure summoner, I found myself having to play more tactical than when I was playing standard builds, for which you typically have very simple rules to follow - ie don't get surrounded, don't stay in vision of smite, have an exit ready. Most of the high power summons don't last long enough for them to soak damage consistently and none of them can seem to stop a centaur from shooting you from across the room. The vast majority of my summoner deaths were due to being killed in one or two turns from range or because a fast monster decided to ignore my summons and go straight for me. It's in no way an infinite meat shield as certain people claim and it in no way for substitutes for other forms of defense.

3. Summoning is boring and players should be encouraged to fight with their other skills.

This is just one of those "this skill is boring so we should encourage players to not use it much" kind of argument, which completely misses the mark. In case the skill's boring, maybe it should be removed or changed? Or maybe it's just that certain people find it boring while others don't? The summoner is a well established archetype in fantasy, and many people identify with the idea of a master manipulator who controls the battle from behind the front lines. It's not like you press more diverse buttons playing a warrior mage - in fact you press less in most cases - it's just that certain people can't get behind the play style because they think it's a low risk style. But nothing's less risk than channeling fire storm from a screen away. Either all ranged combat is broken, or warriors are broken, either way summoners aren't the main issue and I'd challenge anyone to explain which summoning spell allows you to fill the room with damage dealing meat shields that never run out.

4. There's no cost to summons, there should be a cost.

There is a cost, though. Magic points. You can EASILY balance summoning spells with higher magic costs, but for the fact that I think it's already in balance because most summons just don't do much before they die or disappear. Duration is a huge problem for high level summons while inability to do anything is a problem for low level summons. It's not like 3 ice beasts do anything in vault 4, and that's at a cost of 12 magic. This is why high level summons are actually required for a pure summoner to finish the game, while an elemental mage can get through a lot with lower level magic through spell power bonus. Again, I think this argument is a tradition from the old days when summoning was, indeed, too powerful due to there being no pet limit and you could fill the screen with horrible things.

5. Summoning is too cheap of an investment, experience wise. In case it has no penalty, it would be too hard to pass up for hybrid builds.

This is the only legitimate complaint that I've heard, actually. Indeed, I'd argue that it is the only game balance argument that may actually be valid. Summoning is just one skill; further, its power is gained up front, since it scales poorly with spell power. It also works very well with a typical hybrid build because it gives you more sources of damage and escape mechanics for relatively low investment. The summoning spell that removes your opponent's summons are also very useful because many of the most dangerous monsters in the game rely on summons. So yes, I do think the skill is potentially too cheap to make effective for a hybrid. There's an easy solution, though: just make it scale with spell power. Lower the duration and limit for base spell power summons; up the duration and limit for high spell power. Maybe do another round of balance on the spells, and introduce a few new ideas. There's nothing fundamentally wrong with the school; it's just seen too much neglect and we can see that through observing the amount of people who actually play and are successful with summoners.

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Post Wednesday, 5th September 2018, 04:57

Re: Remove Summoner Kill Experience Penalty

chequers wrote:One thing which always comes up in this thread is "how much does the penalty really matter". It would be nice to have some numbers about what typical XP progression looks like with and without the penalty.
There is no "typical XP progression" because players vary in their willingness to use xp-stealing features. Some players get near 100% of available xp every game by not using allies and the like, and some players let allies kill everything and get less than 50%. As it happens, neither one has any trouble winning.

All you can really do is compare the two extremes. If you take away half of a character's xp, it loses about 1 XL if it's lower than XL13; from there the gap slowly grows and at worst it goes from XL27 to XL22. Past the earliest early game, being one experience level behind doesn't mean much. If I lose a life as a felid I don't give a crap about the lost XL. Lower XL even helps you gain piety with most gods, though not by enough to compensate for the lost HP (except with Okawaru but why would you play a summoner of Okawaru).

Taking away half of a character's xp takes away a different proportion of its skill points depending on XL. For an XL1 character it takes away 50% of the skill points; by XL15, it only takes away 25% of the skill points; then as the character gets more XP the skill point loss increases again to around 40% at XL27.

And what the heck, let's focus on the worst possible case, where you lose 50% of your skill points, even though that's only true at XL1. How much of your skill levels do you lose from that?
  Code:
unsigned int skill_exp_needed(int lev, skill_type sk, species_type sp)
{
    const int exp[28] =
          { 0, 50, 150, 300, 500, 750,          // 0-5
            1050, 1400, 1800, 2250, 2800,       // 6-10
            3450, 4200, 5050, 6000, 7050,       // 11-15
            8200, 9450, 10800, 12300, 13950,    // 16-20
            15750, 17700, 19800, 22050, 24450,  // 21-25
            27000, 29750 };
Like 25% to 35%, depending on how high your skill levels are.

I would therefore suggest either
1. removing the xp penalty for ally kills, so that you're not encouraged to avoid using allies against trivial monsters. Yes, this makes allies very slightly more powerful. Doesn't matter. Preventing tedium is more important than balance, and there are a thousand other ways to nerf allies.
2. changing the penalty to 100%: if any ally damages a monster ever, you get no xp for that monster. Then allies would be unviable as a primary offense and only used as an emergency tool, which is ostensibly what the current penalty is intended to do (it just completely fails at it).

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Post Wednesday, 5th September 2018, 06:29

Re: Remove Summoner Kill Experience Penalty

1. removing the xp penalty for ally kills, so that you're not encouraged to avoid using allies against trivial monsters. Yes, this makes allies very slightly more powerful. Doesn't matter. Preventing tedium is more important than balance, and there are a thousand other ways to nerf allies.



^^^^ This

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Post Wednesday, 5th September 2018, 16:27

Re: Remove Summoner Kill Experience Penalty

I've said it before, I'll say it again, if summoning is too strong, the fix is to make summoning less strong, not to give some weird, arbitrary, spoilery XP penalty. If we want to encourage hybridization, why not give more enemies abjuration or whatever? It's how we encourage hybridization everywhere else in the game - poison magic struggles against undead, axes struggle to kill hydras, Vile Clutch doesn't work on orbs of fire, spriggans can still get run down by shrikes, etc. Change summons so they have other weaknesses. Change enemy AI so it's not so abusable. Give more enemies penetrating bolts. Whatever. There are a thousand ways to make summoning worse that are tactical and obvious when you encounter them. The XP penalty is neither.

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Post Thursday, 6th September 2018, 03:21

Re: Remove Summoner Kill Experience Penalty

There's nothing spoilery about it. It's mentioned in-game (in ?F). Sure, make it more prominent if you like.

None of the proposed "solutions" makes any sense, and would be much more difficult or tedious to implement. The aim of the current approach is to give an incentive to make people fight alongside their summons. You aren't required to (a "pure summoner" is perfectly viable), but it's a nice bonus. Whether or not one thinks that this is a good goal to have (I think it's fine), that is the goal.

duvessa's two "solutions" are obviously a false choice because nobody in their right mind will choose the second solution -- which makes it seem that the first solution is the only correct one. Well, why not say so then? As it happens, the assumptions in the first solution are wrong: as I demonstrated in the other thread, there's absolutely no tedium actually involved -- the XP from trivial monsters is negligible.

Giving more enemies abjuration would be pretty bad since it barely does anything to encourage people fighting alongside their summons.

Changing enemy AI (how?) is bad and would be ten times more "spoilery" than anything involving summons.

Changing summons (how?) is impractical because there's not one "summon" but ten different kinds. How do you change all of them? More to the point, why would you want to?

Plenty of enemies already have penetrating bolts (as in, elemental bolts).

It seems like people will swallow any nonsense which supports their argument.

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Post Thursday, 6th September 2018, 03:58

Re: Remove Summoner Kill Experience Penalty

I don't think there's a problem at all. But if there is, here's a solution (other than simply removing the XP penalty). I suggested something in the other thread: reduce all summons' HP by, say, 25%, but their damage remains the same. That will encourage tanking for your summons.

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Post Thursday, 6th September 2018, 03:58

Re: Remove Summoner Kill Experience Penalty

Again, assuming there's a problem, and one still wants to aim for the goal I mentioned above.

Here's a more wacky proposal: Convert the avoidance of the penalty into a "reverse bonus". Namely: you get bonus XP for the damage you do when fighting alongside your summons. So, you get anywhere from, say, 75% to 125% of the XP of the monster depending on how much damage you do. It's the same thing mechanically, but psychologically it might be more palatable. It is much more complicated to describe to the player, however.

More explicitly: suppose you do X damage, and your summon does Y damage to a monster. Let a = X/(X + Y). If X >> Y, you get close to 100% XP (it's like fighting alone). If Y >> X, you get the low end -- 75% XP -- your summon fought for you. If X and Y are roughly equal, you get 125% XP.

Here's a formula which achieves this:

% XP = 75 (1 - a) + 125 * (1/2 - a) if a < 1/2
% XP = 125 * (1/2 - a) + 100 * a if a >= 1/2
Attachments
summons-XP.png
summons-XP.png (16.6 KiB) Viewed 1403 times

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Post Thursday, 6th September 2018, 04:07

Re: Remove Summoner Kill Experience Penalty

bel wrote:Again, assuming there's a problem, and one still wants to aim for the goal I mentioned above.

Here's a more wacky proposal: Convert the avoidance of the penalty into a "reverse bonus". Namely: you get bonus XP for the damage you do when fighting alongside your summons. So, you get anywhere from, say, 75% to 125% of the XP of the monster depending on how much damage you do. It's the same thing mechanically, but psychologically it might be more palatable. It is much more complicated to describe to the player, however.

More explicitly: suppose you do X damage, and your summon does Y damage to a monster. Let a = X/(X + Y). If X >> Y, you get close to 100% XP (it's like fighting alone). If Y >> X, you get the low end -- 75% XP -- your summon fought for you. If X and Y are roughly equal, you get 125% XP.

Here's a formula which achieves this:

% XP = 75 (1 - a) + 125 * (1/2 - a) if a < 1/2
% XP = 125 * (1/2 - a) + 100 * a if a >= 1/2

That sounds pretty horribly micromanagy to me. If optimal behavior is is to manage that you do damage but not too much damage then you have to try to track every hit. Additionally I don't really like the idea of giving summoners more XP than non summoners, that sounds pretty awful too.
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Post Thursday, 6th September 2018, 04:16

Re: Remove Summoner Kill Experience Penalty

No, you can tweak the low end and high end so that the average value is 100%. A range of 60% - 120% would do it. That is: you lose more XP on average by your summon than you gain.

Summoners won't get more XP than a normal player. You have to consider opportunity costs. One has to invest in summoning. Second, one has to have MP (and/or piety if talking about god allies) and the turns in combat. Third, you have to do a decent amount of damage, so you have to invest in melee as well. How easy is achieving all this, do you think?

Anyway, this particular point is easily checked. Implement the XP scheme on a test server and play 10 characters of each, and compare the XLs and winrate of each.

------

To repeat, this was a somewhat wacky proposal.

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Post Thursday, 6th September 2018, 04:55

Re: Remove Summoner Kill Experience Penalty

bel wrote:As it happens, the assumptions in the first solution are wrong: as I demonstrated in the other thread, there's absolutely no tedium actually involved -- the XP from trivial monsters is negligible.
You specifically selected the monsters that give the least XP as the only "trivial" monsters (which is obviously untrue), and found, unsurprisingly, that the monsters that give the least XP don't give very much XP. Then you claim that this proves there is no tedium involved, despite, you know, the complaints from many players over many years that playing with allies is tedious.
bel wrote:Changing enemy AI (how?) is bad and would be ten times more "spoilery" than anything involving summons.
You could remove the exploitable "ranged AI" that makes it easier to keep your distance from orc wizards. That would make the AI simpler, rather than more complex (making it more complex is indeed a horrible idea).
bel wrote:Changing summons (how?) is impractical because there's not one "summon" but ten different kinds. How do you change all of them? More to the point, why would you want to?
DCSS has changed almost all summons to not attack out of LOS. DCSS has changed almost all summons to have summon caps. DCSS has changed almost all summons to steal between 0% and 50% of xp depending on the proportion of the damage dealt by them vs. you, instead of making them always steal 50% when they get the killing blow and always steal 0% when you get the killing blow. DCSS has changed almost all summons to attack nearby targets when they appear instead of having to be told first. DCSS has changed summons to almost always give full piety for kills instead of reduced piety. DCSS has changed various summons to scale better with spell power, summon different monsters, be higher level, and many other things. DCSS has even added and removed summons.
I suspect that, since the devteam managed to change summons all of those times, they can probably do it again.

Answers to "why would you want to" appear several times in both this thread and the one you linked.

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Post Thursday, 6th September 2018, 04:58

Re: Remove Summoner Kill Experience Penalty

ive never considered exp loss when deciding to summon shit. Its inconsequential. Removing the penalty would please the people that are really into that sort of thing so might as well do it. Its not like summons are OP these days since they cant fight off screen. Sure it will make pure summoners a bit stronger but so what? They wont be unarguably better than a brute or spell dudes. Change yred allies to also not fight outside LOS while were at it cus that god is actually OP.

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Post Thursday, 6th September 2018, 04:59

Re: Remove Summoner Kill Experience Penalty

actually summons are OP these days

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Post Thursday, 6th September 2018, 05:19

Re: Remove Summoner Kill Experience Penalty

duvessa wrote:
bel wrote:As it happens, the assumptions in the first solution are wrong: as I demonstrated in the other thread, there's absolutely no tedium actually involved -- the XP from trivial monsters is negligible.
You specifically selected the monsters that give the least XP as the only "trivial" monsters (which is obviously untrue), and found, unsurprisingly, that the monsters that give the least XP don't give very much XP. Then you claim that this proves there is no tedium involved, despite, you know, the complaints from many players over many years that playing with allies is tedious.
bel wrote:Changing enemy AI (how?) is bad and would be ten times more "spoilery" than anything involving summons.
You could remove the exploitable "ranged AI" that makes it easier to keep your distance from orc wizards. That would make the AI simpler, rather than more complex (making it more complex is indeed a horrible idea).
bel wrote:Changing summons (how?) is impractical because there's not one "summon" but ten different kinds. How do you change all of them? More to the point, why would you want to?
DCSS has changed almost all summons to not attack out of LOS. DCSS has changed almost all summons to have summon caps. DCSS has changed almost all summons to steal between 0% and 50% of xp depending on the proportion of the damage dealt by them vs. you, instead of making them always steal 50% when they get the killing blow and always steal 0% when you get the killing blow. DCSS has changed almost all summons to attack nearby targets when they appear instead of having to be told first. DCSS has changed summons to almost always give full piety for kills instead of reduced piety. DCSS has changed various summons to scale better with spell power, summon different monsters, be higher level, and many other things. DCSS has even added and removed summons.
I suspect that, since the devteam managed to change summons all of those times, they can probably do it again.

Answers to "why would you want to" appear several times in both this thread and the one you linked.

Tedium with allies has absolutely nothing to do with the XP penalty.

Here's a simple challenge: find me one recent ttyrec where a person consistently tries to maximize the XP gain from summons (I very much doubt such people exist). Say, within the past 6 months. I'll promise to go through it, say up to lair and calculate how much extra XP they gained. Care to bet on how much the value was, as a percent of total XP? I'm gonna say < 5%.

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Post Thursday, 6th September 2018, 09:51

Re: Remove Summoner Kill Experience Penalty

No one currently tries to consistently out damage their allies. They just choose to live with the penalty or, more generally, not play Summoners. You can't find a ttyrec where people constantly try to maximize their damage against allies, but you can find plenty where they avoid using allies as much as they can. So the design question is: is Summoning supposed to be avoided as much as you can or is it supposed to be a viable alternative to other schools? Using an experience penalty to balance Summoning will ensure that it will always be a poor choice for optimal play unless it is inordinately more powerful than other options. So to balance the skill that way, you have to make Summoning better, so much so that it makes up for the experience penalty, and *then*, when players become convinced that Summoners are viable in optimal builds, you will start to see people consistently try to out damage their allies to edge out an extra advantage, though the impossibility of doing so and the tedium involved will always ensure that the practice is rare.

So by using an experience penalty, the game is indeed encouraging tedium, even though the vast majority of people may never engage in it. Ultimately, this is to the detriment of the game's design, even though the effect is minor since it is limited to a particular build within a particular school that isn't popular to begin with. But should Summoning become more popular, no doubt the trade off will become more visible and the complaints about the game encouraging tedium will increase, because there is a significant impact to in game decision making - for example whether you should attempt to deal as much damage as you can to a high experience enemy before Summoning allies. It leads to a type of game play which utilizes Summoning not as a primary skill, but as a secondary skill to be used only in emergency situations to by pass enemies you cannot otherwise defeat on your own, which presently, does not happen because all enemies can be defeated without Summoning.

I come at this topic from the perspective of wanting Summoning to be viable as a primary skill in optimal play. I don't think it currently is. You can beat the game with a Summoner, but it's not an optimal choice. People who play Summoners generally quickly branch out into elemental magic or fighting or both, and optimally speaking, getting the school to 20 or above is simply a waste of resources. Thus the experience penalty can be said to contribute to decreasing play style variety within the game as well as encouraging tedium.

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Post Thursday, 6th September 2018, 10:35

Re: Remove Summoner Kill Experience Penalty

bel wrote:duvessa's two "solutions" are obviously a false choice because nobody in their right mind will choose the second solution


Well, sometimes we do not agree, so I guess you won't be suprised that I personally would prefer the second solution. Yes, that would indeed be a very different game, a radical change, as you probably would say. But if for example a DCSS branch explores this idea, I would try it. I am not sure if it would work, but I am definitely intrested.

It could also open up possibilities for many new kinds of summoned creatures, I feel that it may provide a wider variety of summons.

bel wrote: Here's a simple challenge: find me one recent ttyrec where a person consistently tries to maximize the XP gain from summons.


Well, I personally think that this is the very reason to remove the penalty: it does not achieve anything. On the other hand it is meaningless, spoilery, and makes unspoiled players think that summons are weaker than they really are. And your suggestions did not convince me that it could be saved somehow, because penalties like this just lead to micromangament that is not good for such a long game like DCSS.
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Post Thursday, 6th September 2018, 12:09

Re: Remove Summoner Kill Experience Penalty

Imo summoners are simple to play: if I think I can kill the enemy easily enough myself, I do it. If I think I need help from summons, I summon some stuff. The exp penalty is good in that it makes summoning spells more different from other damaging spells. You don't just automatically cast a summoning spell the way you cast magic dart. If this is currently a spoilery mechanics, it can be improved by mentioning the exp loss in the spell/evokable/ability descriptions.

Removing the exp penalty would be a buff for summoners, which they don't need. Of course you can then nerf them in some other way. But the question is, are summoners supposed to use summons for every fight or not? Personally, I like the current situation. But I'm just one player.

Radical idea: remove the exp penalty, but make summonings cause contamination... (ok this is not elegant flavourwise (but it would be a mummy buff))
...SENeGEFEMDBeDDFiHOWzVpVMHuEE{HEMoDEHuDDAs}{HaBeKoAK}CeVM{MfWnMiAK}TeAMDrIE{FoVMVSFi}
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Post Thursday, 6th September 2018, 17:03

Re: Remove Summoner Kill Experience Penalty

the no xp for ally-damaged monsters idea would succeed in differentiating summons but would exacerbate the current 'management' problem with summons: you have to try and balance xp or long-term character viability with ease of winning this fight now.

just make summons shorter duration, a la summon hydra or even shorter. then you have to cast them when it is tactically appropriate and can't have them bodyguarding your retreat at all times. they are still distinct from conjurations because they take up space, redirect enemy attacks, and encourage seeking to fight in open terrain.

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Post Friday, 7th September 2018, 02:25

Re: Remove Summoner Kill Experience Penalty

bel wrote:Here's a simple challenge: find me one recent ttyrec where a person consistently tries to maximize the XP gain from summons [(I very much doubt such people exist). Say, within the past 6 months. I'll promise to go through it, say up to lair and calculate how much extra XP they gained. Care to bet on how much the value was, as a percent of total XP? I'm gonna say < 5%.]

sanka wrote:Well, I personally think that this is the very reason to remove the penalty: it does not achieve anything. On the other hand it is meaningless, spoilery, and makes unspoiled players think that summons are weaker than they really are. And your suggestions did not convince me that it could be saved somehow, because penalties like this just lead to micromangament that is not good for such a long game like DCSS.

I don't think "spoilery" means what you think it does. If it's mentioned in the in-game help, it cannot, by definition, be "spoilery".

As for the rest of your comments, it seems to me that the you are saying "heads I win, tails you lose". If someone presents a ttyrec to me (and it supposedly shows whatever people are claiming -- that the lost XP really makes a difference if you play "optimally", whatever that means), then you win. If they can't, the absence shows that the XP penalty is meaningless anyway, so I lose.

Bertrand Russell pointed out: "The method of postulating what we want has many advantages. They are the same as the advantages of theft over honest toil."

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Post Friday, 7th September 2018, 04:53

Re: Remove Summoner Kill Experience Penalty

I routinely avoid summons and abilities which create allies specifically because of the xp drain as much as possible unless the situation is dire or I'm about to end the game soon anywhow. I reject the argument that the loss of XP does not matter because at the end of your game you are only 1 level less (or whatever). I can acknowledge that killing a few monsters further into the game all but negates the xp worth of earlier monsters (for instance you kill 1 balrug and it will surpass killing hordes of rats and kobolds).

The analysis which seeks to look at the final differences in xp is mostly irrelevant to determining how much the xp drain along the way impacts the games. Losing xp along the way means you will be weaker the entire time while you remain killing monsters within a certain xp range. That translates into a greater chance of dying, all way until you start killing monsters in the next higher xp bracket, at which point the losses from the previous range are mostly negated, but the previous disadvantage transfers to the current monster xp bracket. At the end, before finishing the game, it matters less because you aren't likely to start trying to fight monsters in a higher xp bracket.

I find summoners to be terrible. Spellcasting is weak for the most part, and one that drains xp is awful. The only use I see for summoning is a brutish character that wants a little extra distraction for tough 1v1 fights, or used as an escape option. The trouble is that in order for the summons to be really useful beyond what evocables and consumables will already do a better job at for less investment, you have to wind up splitting your stats between str and int. A pure summoner is laughable because you won't tank that well, your monsters won't take damage for you very well, and they won't do as much damage as you could as a stronger brute (for which allies would be mostly an annoyance) .

So the xp drain is something like the opposite of the icing on the cake. It's the mold on the crap.
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Post Friday, 7th September 2018, 06:46

Re: Remove Summoner Kill Experience Penalty

I don't know about xp brackets, but the Summoner starting book is good enough to carry you through Lair. Lightning spire and ice beasts stay relevant for the most part of a 3-rune game imo.
...SENeGEFEMDBeDDFiHOWzVpVMHuEE{HEMoDEHuDDAs}{HaBeKoAK}CeVM{MfWnMiAK}TeAMDrIE{FoVMVSFi}
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Post Friday, 7th September 2018, 16:44

Re: Remove Summoner Kill Experience Penalty

bel wrote:As for the rest of your comments, it seems to me that the you are saying "heads I win, tails you lose".


Honestly, it is not because I want to win some online fight with the great debater bel, but because I focus on the design issue in a design thread, instead of things I do not consider important and you tend to attack.

I think that it does not matter whether the XP penalty is meaningful or not, and that is the very reason we should remove it. If it would matter, adjusting it would have been a logical choice. So if it would matter, asking whether it really matters right now would be an important question, and your quest for a ttrec would be interesting.


Instead, I think the following:
XP penalty is a very badly designed feature.
If it is too small to matter, then why we have it? If nobody cares, why we have it?
If it is big enough so players need to adjust their playstyle, I think it leads to tedious play.

And I do not think that "it matters, but not as much that players bother to play around it with tedious play" is some sweet design spot to reach.

As for being spoilery: I consider these features spoilery not because they are not mentioned somewhere in the game, but because it is really hard to estimate their effect without spoilers. I think many players, especially newer ones think that the penalty is larger than it really is, because DCSS strange XP curves and calculations and the hard to estimate XP you gain from monsters blur it.

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Post Friday, 7th September 2018, 17:36

Re: Remove Summoner Kill Experience Penalty

sanka wrote:Instead, I think the following:
XP penalty is a very badly designed feature.
If it is too small to matter, then why we have it? If nobody cares, why we have it?
If it is big enough so players need to adjust their playstyle, I think it leads to tedious play.

FWIW I think it's big enough to encourage (but not strictly enforce) people to adjust their playstyle, and that the style of play that it encourages is less tedious than the alternative.

The two playstyles in question as I percieve them are:
1. Summons kill/tank everything, this requires you lure everything, spend a lot of your MP on every fight and rest to full, if you're to take this to an extreme (as people do) you end up luring/blowing your MP wad/resting to full even on popcorn monsters (because if you can't afford to be hit even by weenies, you have to summon a lot of chaff just to stand in the way and prevent you from being attacked)
2. Fight alongside your summons, this means you're tough enough to kill weenies with a melee attack even with no summons (So little to no resting is required) and you can use your summons tactically to control pack movements and tank some of the harder things yourself, all the while having them do bonus damage above your weapon (Using them this way is somewhat like ice elementalists beating on things while they stand in freezing clouds, but the clouds also restrict movement and distract the bad guys.)

I find 2 significantly less tedious, it's faster (in terms of number of turns to kill things), requires resting less and requires I pay more attention and think more about how my position and that of my allies will effect the enemies. It does require you also pay attention to not die, and that you spit up your XP between fighting and magic and split your stats between strength and int (Something that I do on most of my book start casters anyway).

It's arguably less safe on average (if you are nearly never attacked, you are probably safer, but actually *never* being attacked as a summoner while perhaps possible, would be horribly horribly tedious) but I actually think it makes you *more* safe in the outlier cases, as being tougher (having more HP, better AC/EV/SH) and a decent no MP attack actually makes you safer in the instances where everything has gone pear shaped (Those being the circumstances that typically kill me) And I'm not convinced that one could successfully complete a game as a summoner where one never actually took any attacks at all, ever (at least not without being extremely lucky and/or prescient).

One could probably argue for either position being optimal from a position of safe play, I personally tend to optimize safety for the rare, horribly unexpected emergency over trying to make myself generally more safe, as I'm confident that pretty much whatever I do will work for just killing mundane things in non-emergencies.

So the question *I* have is "Does the XP penalty actually encourage playstyle 2 over 1, and is that communicated to the player"
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Post Friday, 7th September 2018, 19:26

Re: Remove Summoner Kill Experience Penalty

My 2 cents as a player who just generally hates most summonings and summons is general:

As a new player, I thought that 50% xp meant 50% skills and 50% levels, so I was scared of them.

As a relatively more experienced player, I dislike them mostly because of the tedium, but also because of the xp penalty. This is because even though I know that the lost xp is basically inconsequential, I still feel like i'm missing out on something if I kill popcorn with summons, similar to the feeling I get when killing popcorn with a ranged weapon if I'm not worshipping oka. This can often lead to trying to bite off more than I can chew without my main attack method.

Also, being XL 18 instead of XL 21 can actually make a difference to the vast majority of non-optimal players who frequently die after getting a rune.

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Post Friday, 7th September 2018, 23:22

Re: Remove Summoner Kill Experience Penalty

An alternative to making all allies give full experience, because I can see how this could be a balance issue for certain gods and easy to access hybrid spells like animate dead, is to create or modify an existing god to provide the benefit.

The most obvious candidate is Hepliaklqana, who as it is, doesn't seem that interesting or popular. You can modify Hepliaklqana to be a god of summoning, who removes the experience penalty on allies, and provide various benefits to summoners, like swapping themselves with an ally on screen. This would limit the power of summoning as a side skill, since most hybrids rely on other gods for skill boosts and such, while allowing for dedicated pet builds where you suffer in other areas for the benefit of having your allies do the work for you.

I'd also personally want to see more use for spells like Summon Greater Demon, so making the god reduce the chances of such spells creating hostile monsters is an option. Maybe make a high piety ability for the god called "permanent ally," where you choose a summoned ally and make its presence permanent. Most people would choose a demon, dragon, or tentacle monster. Then you basically have Hepliaklqana except in a more flexible context.

An example design:

"Hepliaklqana, the Bringer of Unity

Hepliaklqana is the god of friendships and bonds, who encourages his followers to lead and form alliances, both temporary and permanent, with those around them. Though providing no allies of his own, Hepliaklqana strengthens the trust and unity between his faithful and their followers. He especially appreciates overcoming obstacles through the power of friendship, and the formation of partnerships between the most unlikeliest of entities. His worshipers grow in experience through fighting together, gain the ability to recall their allies, and the ability to make temporary allies stay for longer and eventually, even permanently. Allies of Hepliaklqana's devoted are also much more likely to stay loyal."

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Post Monday, 10th September 2018, 14:19

Re: Remove Summoner Kill Experience Penalty

In my experience summon spells are a very good panic button. I mostly have experience with 'summon imp', because my wizards keep dying before they find other summon spells :oops:, so maybe it's different for better players. Anyway, even if I've already lost 2/3 of my HP, I can win most fights by summoning 3 imps. If summoning didn't cost XP, I'd do it for every fight. I do think the XP loss is noticeable.

If you would want to nerve summoning across the board, you could decrease the summoning aptitudes of all species (like spellcasting is -1 by default because it is too strong otherwise) and increase the levels of summoning spells.

I like EtadanikM's suggestion for Hepliaklqana to make summons grant full xp. Hep already messes with XP via his wrath, and atm summoners seem to have little reason to use him. (Since Hep's main ability is 1 free summon, which is less valuable when you can already turn mana into summons.) I wouldn't change Hep too much though.

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Post Monday, 10th September 2018, 19:41

Re: Remove Summoner Kill Experience Penalty

Is "pure summoner" an archetype that should be supported in Crawl? Is standing back and summoning waves of creatures for every fight interesting gameplay?

Crawl doesn't have pure invokers, pure charmers, pure translocators, or pure evokers to name a few despite these being very strong schools. I would argue that summonings is already much stronger than these as it can be effectively used to deal with the major stages of the game. Mammals (1) and imps (2) to beat adders, ice beasts (4) to beat hydras, and malign gateway (7) to beat OoFs), to say nothing of shadow creatures (6).

The exp penalty does feel a bit ad-hocy though. Just kicking things around maybe it would be better to tie it to an explicit resource like how invo/evo work?

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Post Monday, 10th September 2018, 19:46

Re: Remove Summoner Kill Experience Penalty

cliffracer wrote:The exp penalty does feel a bit ad-hocy though. Just kicking things around maybe it would be better to tie it to an explicit resource like how invo/evo work?

Like each different summon requires a physical material of some reasonably common sort? (Similar to how sandblast requires stones) That's a possibility, limiting the number of times you can use your summons does encourage you to use them more sparingly.
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Post Monday, 10th September 2018, 20:11

Re: Remove Summoner Kill Experience Penalty

see: Sticks to Snakes, derived undead
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Post Monday, 10th September 2018, 21:48

Re: Remove Summoner Kill Experience Penalty

Great idea!
  Code:
Summon Elemental
Summoning Level: 4
This spell calls forth a spirit from the elemental planes to aid the caster. A large quantity of the desired element must be available; this is rarely a problem for earth and air, but may be for fire or water. The elemental will usually be friendly to casters -- especially those skilled in the appropriate form of elemental magic.
...SENeGEFEMDBeDDFiHOWzVpVMHuEE{HEMoDEHuDDAs}{HaBeKoAK}CeVM{MfWnMiAK}TeAMDrIE{FoVMVSFi}
{MuVMGhGlVpMo}HaWrSpWz{OgGlTrMo}{CeWnMfBeMiSk}DrEE{GrFiFoGl}DgEnFeNe{OpGlHuSu}
DDArHaCKSpAEGrTmDgFEDsCjGhMoHuVM{HaAMBaEn}{HuMoHOWn}DsWzDDHu{DgWnGnBe}FeIE{MiEnMfCj}SpNe

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Post Tuesday, 11th September 2018, 06:29

Re: Remove Summoner Kill Experience Penalty

If summons are not supposed to provide a pure playstyle, the Summon Elemental return is not a bad idea IMHO. Of course not in the old form:
1) Remove Summoning school
2) Add Summon Fire Elemental (Fire school), Summon Air Elemental (Air school) and so on.
If Dragon's call, Monster Menagerie, Hydra etc. are wanted to stay in the game, they can be changed too:
1) Dragon's call can be level 8 Fire/Air
2) Monster Menagerie can be level 6 Hex/Charms
3) Hydra can be level 7 Ice

The point is that only a few characters will be able to cast more than 1 high level "summoning" spell. Also it will make more sense to train some schools higher, resulting in more specialized characters.
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Post Tuesday, 11th September 2018, 10:04

Re: Remove Summoner Kill Experience Penalty

I am not sure, VeryAngryFelid, I feel that if every school has summoning spells that would make even more spellcasters to use summons. Evocations/invocations/Charms etc. still has their own schools, despite not supporting a "pure" playstyle.

Also, as far as I know the XP penalty also affects other allies, like god abilities and evocables, is it not? I feel that we should change allies in general, not just the Summoning school.

I would like to try out the following rule change:

Divide all allies into two groups.
1. Group 1 contains almost all allies. For allies in this group, if they do not have a target, the ally immediately disappears. If they leave your LOS, they also immediately disappear. And if their target leaves your LOS, they disappear (or choose a new target in your LOS, if there is one, automatically). In particular, you can not summon them without an enemy in LOS, because they immediately disappear..

2. Group 2 contains a few, selected allies. They are permanent (until they die), and there is a very small global limit on them (like 1?). I would like to cut down the variety here also, so do not give every second god long duration summons. Also, long duration allies do not work well as spells. Either spell mechanic needs to be changed for them (like adding some meaningful, strategic resource cost), or maybe do not have such spells, and only allow such allies for gods.

And I would remove the XP penalty.

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Post Tuesday, 11th September 2018, 17:40

Re: Remove Summoner Kill Experience Penalty

Every character is already using some summons in form of bag of spiders or box of beasts.
Also every character uses conjurations (evocations), hexes (evocations) and AoE attacks (evocations).
I don't hate summonings as much as I do Evocations, every character should have 10 levels in Evocations when played optimally.
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Post Tuesday, 11th September 2018, 22:28

Re: Remove Summoner Kill Experience Penalty

VeryAngryFelid wrote:If summons are not supposed to provide a pure playstyle, the Summon Elemental return is not a bad idea IMHO. Of course not in the old form:
1) Remove Summoning school
2) Add Summon Fire Elemental (Fire school), Summon Air Elemental (Air school) and so on.
If Dragon's call, Monster Menagerie, Hydra etc. are wanted to stay in the game, they can be changed too:
1) Dragon's call can be level 8 Fire/Air
2) Monster Menagerie can be level 6 Hex/Charms
3) Hydra can be level 7 Ice

The point is that only a few characters will be able to cast more than 1 high level "summoning" spell. Also it will make more sense to train some schools higher, resulting in more specialized characters.


I like this general idea. It would mean more variety when you play a Something Elementalist, as opposed to converting it to a Kiku melee+necro build or taking Vehumet every time. While you're at it, I think it would be nice to remove the Conjuration half of X/Conjuration spells as well. It's just an XP sink.
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Post Tuesday, 11th September 2018, 22:29

Re: Remove Summoner Kill Experience Penalty

cliffracer wrote:Is "pure summoner" an archetype that should be supported in Crawl? Is standing back and summoning waves of creatures for every fight interesting gameplay?

Crawl doesn't have pure invokers, pure charmers, pure translocators, or pure evokers to name a few despite these being very strong schools. I would argue that summonings is already much stronger than these as it can be effectively used to deal with the major stages of the game. Mammals (1) and imps (2) to beat adders, ice beasts (4) to beat hydras, and malign gateway (7) to beat OoFs), to say nothing of shadow creatures (6).

The exp penalty does feel a bit ad-hocy though. Just kicking things around maybe it would be better to tie it to an explicit resource like how invo/evo work?
Personally I would be interested in a restriction that strongly pushes players towards "fight alongside summons" style of gameplay, perhaps even to the point of making using just summons to kill things impossible.

I keep thinking about ideas along the lines of "summons only get to attack an enemy after the player has", but I don't know how it would play out. If you let summons attack X enemy Y times, Y being the number of times the player has dealt damage to X enemy during the summon's duration, it's pretty straightforward but also strongly incentivizes using weapons that attack as quickly as possible(granted, this is already often the best play minus shortblades), which I don't think is great. If you let summons attack X enemy until they deal Y damage to it, where Y is some sort of derivative of Z which is how much damage the player has done to X enemy could work, and could create some possibilities for diversification in spells(perhaps some summons would do less damage per turn but be allowed to deal more damage total-eg, Y could be 200% of Z instead of 100%). But it's much less clear, more complex, and creates the question of "do we allow damage from one attack to 'overflow' the bounds of Y?" If you don't, sometimes the limit is less meaningful if the summon gets a big hit in while damage done so far is slightly less than Y(and then does it need to wait longer until Y catches up?), if you do, individual summon attacks could feel artificially weak because they hit the cap and only end up doing a little damage.

You could also make summons tied to the player's attacking, almost like options/satellites in a shoot em up. Or more succinctly, make all summons attack like spectral weapon. If the player's attack is slower than the summons, summons can have a chance for additional attacks per player attack based on comparing their aut to attack to the players, kinda like wu jian movement attack logic. (So if the player takes 2.0 auts to attack and the summon takes 1.0, the summon gets 2 attacks on the player's target per player attack. If the player takes 1.5 auts to attack, the summon has a 50% chance of a second attack per player attack.)

But, then you get in a situation where you probably want to do things like cast magic dart on far away enemies just to proc summons into attacking. I suppose summons could be restricted to only meleeing things when the player melees and not when the player attacks in other ways.
I guess that's probably implicit from me saying "make all summons attack like spectral weapon" earlier since that ally certainly doesn't swing when you cast. But then do summons that have spells require the player to cast spells to cast spells themselves? Maybe they just wouldn't exist under this system. Or you could do a combination of that and the damage cap idea where summons get to attack per player attack, but also their damage is based on the amount of damage the player did. I'm just talking myself in circles here at this point lol

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Post Tuesday, 11th September 2018, 22:39

Re: Remove Summoner Kill Experience Penalty

VeryAngryFelid wrote:every character should have 10 levels in Evocations when played optimally.


Shhh dont tell them.

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Post Wednesday, 12th September 2018, 03:07

Re: Remove Summoner Kill Experience Penalty

cliffracer wrote:Is "pure summoner" an archetype that should be supported in Crawl? Is standing back and summoning waves of creatures for every fight interesting gameplay?

Crawl doesn't have pure invokers, pure charmers, pure translocators, or pure evokers to name a few despite these being very strong schools. I would argue that summonings is already much stronger than these as it can be effectively used to deal with the major stages of the game. Mammals (1) and imps (2) to beat adders, ice beasts (4) to beat hydras, and malign gateway (7) to beat OoFs), to say nothing of shadow creatures (6).

The exp penalty does feel a bit ad-hocy though. Just kicking things around maybe it would be better to tie it to an explicit resource like how invo/evo work?


I think it's a fallacy that for a build to be pure, it has to involve never doing any other action.

There's certainly a lot of difference between a minotaur berserker who face rolls his way through the game, and a spriggan enchanter who relies on isolating enemies with stealth, putting monsters to sleep, and killing them in their sleep.

There also are relatively pure evoker builds - ie of Vehumet.

Yes, everybody picks up fighting, weapons, shields, etc. That's because the nature of the experience system fundamentally encourages hybrid builds, and we would not expect a summoner player to be different, with or without experience penalty. There's no more reason to rush to 27 summoner than there is to rush to 27 fire magic, because you're not rewarded for it. You're rewarded for picking up skills while they're cheap, because 26 to 27 doesn't have the same impact as 1 to 10, yet costs more.

But in terms of offering more play styles, I think that's a positive. In a game with one play style, species are just objectively better than others and that's boring. Pure evokers - in the sense of a character that depends primarily on spells for damage, not a character that doesn't train fighting skills - are a welcome alternative. As are characters that depend primarily on range, or stealth. Pure summoners would be similar, and I would be very surprised to see summoner players not pick up a weapon, even still, and fight beside their allies, because it will never be optimal, or possible, to avoid all fighting.

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Post Wednesday, 12th September 2018, 03:19

Re: Remove Summoner Kill Experience Penalty

EtadanikM wrote:Yes, everybody picks up fighting, weapons, shields, etc.
Fighting, sure, but this is definitely not true for the others.
It's true that training skills to 27 is basically always bad though.

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Joined: Sunday, 26th February 2012, 07:01

Post Wednesday, 12th September 2018, 04:39

Re: Remove Summoner Kill Experience Penalty

A lot of people are explaining what the math behind summoner exp. This is important but the more important thing is how it feels to people. Right or wrong people feel bad using summons.

I really like changing all summons to give full exp all the time. It makes the rules cleaner and it makes people feel good playing summoners.

For this message the author mdonais has received thanks:
Nekoatl

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