Make trog and oka stop showering you with needles


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Temple Termagant

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Post Monday, 14th January 2019, 00:51

Make trog and oka stop showering you with needles

Can we make Trog and Okawaru not give you needles if you are not wielding a blowgun? i know blowgun is throwing skill, but without it, the needles are useless (and blowgun is trash in lategame anyway). i want my javelins and tomahawks and large rocks, not sleep darts damnit

Abyss Ambulator

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Post Monday, 14th January 2019, 01:27

Re: Make trog and oka stop showering you with needles

Needles are definitely not trash in the late game.

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Post Monday, 14th January 2019, 05:27

Re: Make trog and oka stop showering you with needles

At least if you don't have a blowgun in inventory and/or haven't trained the skill at all, needles aren't the most immediately useful gifts you could hope for, and shouldn't be gifted if these gods are supposed to care about whether or not their gifts are helpful until it looks like the player might actually be ready to use them.

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Post Monday, 14th January 2019, 09:53

Re: Make trog and oka stop showering you with needles

God gifts depending on what you're carrying would be terrible, and I think you know it. Arranging your inventory to manipulate god gifts is not something that should be possible.

Gods give you weapons when you have 0 weapon skill and that's fine and good, gods giving you ammo when you have 0 weapon skill is fine too.

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Post Monday, 14th January 2019, 11:30

Re: Make trog and oka stop showering you with needles

Remove blowguns, rebrand needles as darts

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Post Monday, 14th January 2019, 11:52

Re: Make trog and oka stop showering you with needles

duvessa wrote:God gifts depending on what you're carrying would be terrible, and I think you know it. Arranging your inventory to manipulate god gifts is not something that should be possible.

Does this only apply to god gifts, or should the same logic be applied to scroll acquirement (which I understand is similar to the god gifting algorithm)? Armour acquisition when you only have a 1H melee weapon equipped tends to gift a shield, even if you have zero skill, unless you also equip a shield or 2H weapon beforehand.
I don't necessarily disagree but if there are already mechanics that incentivise inventory manipulation in the game that doesn't seem like a sound basis on which to dismiss this line of thought.

Also, I vaguely recall a time when throwing gifts were affected by the presence, or lack, of a blowgun in your inventory and don't recall this being a problem as a player -- worst-case scenario under those conditions: a needle-focused player (is there such a thing now needlestabbing doesn't exist?) would be receiving tomahawks/javelins they don't want (but can use), as opposed to pure throwing players getting needles they don't want and probably can't use without backtracking to find the blowgun they ignored three levels back.

duvessa wrote:Gods give you weapons when you have 0 weapon skill and that's fine and good, gods giving you ammo when you have 0 weapon skill is fine too.

This is subjective, but I agree. However, I think the issue isn't "I had 0 skill in X and was gifted x-weapon/ammo" it's more "I maximised my Throwing skill expecting to get more throwing weapons, but because needles are a mechanical red-headed stepchild I now also get more trash".

My personal tepid-take is that needles themself are in a bad place right now, in both their mechanics and implementation, and this issue is symptomatic of that.
Since the reworks that removed their ability to alert monsters without generating noise I don't recall ever being in a situation where I've had to think "Should I be using this blowgun?", even as a Trog-thrower being inundated with them.

Something I'd been thinking over for a long time is divorcing needles from the Throwing skill entirely and aligning them with Stealth instead (it made slightly more sense when they had the silent-alert capability), in part due to precisely this sort of gifting issue. Don't want to derail, so if anyone feels this is worth further discussion, I'd be happy to do so elsewhere.
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Post Monday, 14th January 2019, 14:52

Re: Make trog and oka stop showering you with needles

Yeah poison needles get weak pretty quick, but curare and frenzy and confusion and paralysis(!) needles never ever get old.
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Post Monday, 14th January 2019, 14:56

Re: Make trog and oka stop showering you with needles

I would not compare ammo gift to weapon gift (or to armour gift) as the latter can make you switch to different weapon category/handiness or to using heavier/lighter armour while the former is trivial, nobody is going to switch to blowguns just because you got a few neeldes/javelins.
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Post Monday, 14th January 2019, 18:35

Re: Make trog and oka stop showering you with needles

Now that I think about it more, it would be bad to restrict dart gifts to players carrying a blowgun, as it could create an incentive to stash blowguns to avoid spending piety on needles. Restricting them to games where a blowgun has been generated (in the player's initial inventory, a monster's inventory, or on the floor) would make more sense, but some players may wish to stockpile needles in the hopes of getting a blowgun later, so even that's maybe not such a good idea.

Restricting gifts to weapons where the raw level of the associated skill is greater than 0.0 (either as a binary condition, or by weighting gift chances by skill level), unless all skill levels are 0.0 (in which case, perhaps the chances could be weighted by aptitude), would be the way to go then, again, if the gods are supposed to care about whether their gifts have value to the player. Personally, I think it makes more sense that they would, but I don't have strong feelings about it either way, as I usually prefer to worship other gods. To me, it's less of an issue of giving the player something they aren't going to bother with, and more of an issue of wasting a chance to give the player something that can influence their decisions. (I know players occasionally choose to change weapon skills if they find a really nice artifact, but they're much more likely to have reason to consider the choice between two randomly generated weapons they've invested experience into being able to use effectively versus one that they have and one that they haven't, and if the untrained weapon is a god gift, that also strongly disincentives the option of choosing Ash to recoup the skill investment through retraining).

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Post Monday, 14th January 2019, 20:27

Re: Make trog and oka stop showering you with needles

Smilin Jack wrote:Does this only apply to god gifts, or should the same logic be applied to scroll acquirement (which I understand is similar to the god gifting algorithm)? Armour acquisition when you only have a 1H melee weapon equipped tends to gift a shield, even if you have zero skill, unless you also equip a shield or 2H weapon beforehand.
I don't necessarily disagree but if there are already mechanics that incentivise inventory manipulation in the game that doesn't seem like a sound basis on which to dismiss this line of thought.

that is not how armour acquirement works at all, the game can give you a shield even if you're wielding a two hander

anyway it doesn't matter if you get less throwing ammo compared to bolts and arrows because they have a lower mulching rate to begin with (so a pile of 20 javelins lasts longer than a pile of 20 arrows)

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Post Tuesday, 15th January 2019, 06:49

Re: Make trog and oka stop showering you with needles

Remove ammo for launchers, please, or at least make it mulch at 100% and goldify it

This is one of those QoL changes that only improves the game; launcher numeric balance should be addressed separately


(Apologies if this has already been done in mainline, I hardly play Crawl anymore)

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Post Tuesday, 15th January 2019, 10:32

Re: Make trog and oka stop showering you with needles

Implojin wrote:Remove ammo for launchers, please, or at least make it mulch at 100% and goldify it

This is one of those QoL changes that only improves the game; launcher numeric balance should be addressed separately


I don't think this is a pure improvement. It removes the really satisfying situation where a stone giant is throwing large rocks at you and you're an ogre.
I just love love it when I can throw everything coming my way back twice as hard.

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Post Tuesday, 15th January 2019, 12:03

Re: Make trog and oka stop showering you with needles

If taken literally, "remove ammo for launchers" would mean that large rocks would stay, since they don't correspond to a launcher.

DCSS's ammo system pretty much grew organically so it's unsurprisingly a mess; you have:
- Crossbows use bolts, which are somewhat uncommon early in the game but you absolutely drown in them later
- Bows use arrows, which are a little more common early on and a little less common later on (but not by much), but also they're possibly more valuable as Sticks to Snakes fuel than as actual ammo
- Slings use sling bullets, which are in moderate supply throughout the game, except slings also let you use stones to do almost as much damage, so you just use stones against all the less dangerous monsters and never run out of sling bullets
- Throwing has 21 different ammo items. The javelins, tomahawks, and non-poisoned needles are in short enough supply that it can actually be an issue. Stones are everywhere, but are special cased to do like no damage so there's no point, you just use poisoned needles on most monsters, which is really annoying by the way because damage-over-time sucks. Also you get tons of large rocks later on so the 13 different tomahawks/javelins stop mattering unless you went throwing on a non-ogre/troll for some reason lol

I have seen two competing thoughts on how to design launchers: people either think they should have infinite ammo and be like melee weapons with super-reaching, or they think they should have meaningfully limited ammo and be like wands that use a different skill and an extra inventory slot.
You can trial run both of those designs by playing a launcher character right now, because they have limited ammo at the beginning of the game and essentially infinite ammo later in the game. And yet people don't seem to like playing launcher characters very much! Hmmmmmm...
It turns out that neither one is compelling. Melee weapons without reaching are more interesting than melee weapons with reaching, let alone longer reaching. The interface is clunkier than melee's. They also have the huge issue of how every melee character wants to carry around a launcher to "soften up" approaching enemies instead of waiting. And we already have lots of wands, with more satisfying generation rates and flashier effects.

If you're looking to have ranged weapons in the game, and have them be unique, you need to come up with something more tactical than just having an ammo system. The microcosm of ranged combat that actually works pretty well, in my opinion, is launchers of penetration. Penetration rewards you for, say, putting vault guards in front of a lich, in a way that melee doesn't. And unlike using Airstrike or LRD to kill the lich while other monsters protect you from it, penetration has a self-limiting feature to prevent abuse: it eventually kills those vault guards.
It still has the problem of every melee character wanting to carry the launcher, so it isn't perfect. But it shows how to make ranged combat into something interesting: don't just make a melee attack at range and call it a day. You need something like a magic crossbow that penetrates; a spear-thrower that does a lot of damage but forces you to move forwards; a cannon that's powerful but makes a lot of noise (hey, Damnation is kind of like that!); a weapon that picks its own target at random instead of letting you aim; you get the idea. And don't restrict these with ammo or MP because we want these to be different from wands and conjurations too, not just different from melee.
To solve the problem of every melee character wanting to carry them even at 0 skill, you could try making them take a long time to wield/unwield, or just impose skill requirements, ugh.

That's all assuming you like the idea of spammable ranged attacks in the first place. If you don't, then man, just get rid of ranged weapons and make the parts you like into new wands or spells. A non-bouncing version of Lightning Bolt would have the same gameplay as penetration. The weapon designs I mentioned above would work as spells too. For all the spell system's faults, one thing it excels at is imposing soft, breakpointless skill requirements: you don't have to worry about every melee character learning conjurations to soften things up, because you need skill investment to use those, unlike a launcher.

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Post Tuesday, 15th January 2019, 15:44

Re: Make trog and oka stop showering you with needles

duvessa wrote:If taken literally, "remove ammo for launchers" would mean that large rocks would stay, since they don't correspond to a launcher.

Yes to all of this post. (My reason for specifying launchers above was that javelins of penetration actually work.)


I chose to highlight the simple solution of removing or goldifying launcher ammo because it improves the game and can be implemented *today*.

If somebody who frequents -dev has ideas for interesting launcher brands and motivation to implement them, great; absent that, launcher ammo makes the game worse to play, does not serve its purpose effectively past earlygame, and should really be streamlined out.

I don't think that the "choice" provided by earlygame ammo limitations for launcher focused characters is worth keeping in the game, when its cost is inventory bookkeeping tedium imposed for the game duration onto any player who might otherwise want to pickup and use a neat launcher that generated. I have skipped picking up good launchers in many games because, although more effective than what my character was using, using them would have been annoying. This kind of choice does not belong in Crawl.

Addressing this problem by removing launchers would be an equally valid solution, sources of player ranged damage are ubiquitous. Cutting one that's unimaginative in its use would be fine.


I would be interested to read any arguments for *keeping* launcher ammo -- I rather suspect its continued existence is owed to oldcrawl inertia and a disinclination to wanting to deal with any rebalancing aftermath. It certainly doesn't make for good gameplay!

(edits: clarification, edits)
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Post Tuesday, 15th January 2019, 16:01

Re: Make trog and oka stop showering you with needles

Implojin wrote: duvessa wrote:
If taken literally, "remove ammo for launchers" would mean that large rocks would stay, since they don't correspond to a launcher.


Yes to all of this post. (My reason for specifying launchers above, was that javelins of penetration actually work.)


I'm glad I misunderstood you there.

Implojin wrote:I would be interested to read any arguments for *keeping* launcher ammo -- I rather suspect its continued existence is owed to oldcrawl inertia and a disinclination to wanting to deal with any rebalancing aftermath. It certainly doesn't make for good gameplay!


I think sling bullets make the game more interesting, particularly in the early game. Having to decide when to use your sling bullets is like having to decide when to use a wand of fire or a scroll - it rewards the player for recognising when a situation is dangerous. As an additional bonus, it makes a slinger of Oka/Trog play differently from other slingers, and different is fun.

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Post Tuesday, 15th January 2019, 16:22

Re: Make trog and oka stop showering you with needles

Slings are still bad, probably even worse than other launchers . I hate finding an excellent launcher after early game because it means now I should visit every floor to autopickup corresponding ammo and for slings we have two types of ammo: stones and bullets. Alternative is to enable autopickup of all 4 ammo types on turn 1 which costs piety and food and is strictly harmful unless you really find that great launcher.
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Post Wednesday, 16th January 2019, 01:09

Re: Make trog and oka stop showering you with needles

Targeted ranged abilities are bad, regardless of the flavor they're packaged in. If manual targeting takes more than one keystroke, it's not worth tagging onto a command you'll use thousands of times in a game.

The good thing about magic is that it's easy to justify removal of targeted effects. Since it's magic, it can work however you say it does. Effects and attack patterns whose "target" is determined by the position of the player with respect to monsters and/or chance would be a natural fit and could vastly improve targeted ranged spell effects. (Positional targeting also offers new ways to differentiate direct damage and hex effects.) The interface advantage of melee is its better automation, but the importance of position in melee tactics is what makes it work from a gameplay perspective.

The player has more control of an encounter at greater range, so an arbitrarily targeted ranged effect will make positioning less important and less interesting. The combination of interface hassle and boring positioning accounts for the unpopularity of ranged weapons. It's definitely true that existing proposals, implemented and otherwise, re: ranged weapons tend to focus on the issue of picking up fired ammo over and over, which is just one piece of the problem. I don't know that there's a way to make ranged weapons work that makes sense thematically and in terms of gameplay, but it seems clear to me that the main issues are shared by other forms of ranged attack.
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Post Wednesday, 16th January 2019, 07:14

Re: Make trog and oka stop showering you with needles

I think the potential of ranged weapons to be interesting lies in combining their use with other effects... clouds, summons, Fedhas, etc. However, I'd feel more confident about this point of view if I didn't have so little experience with them, given that I typically avoid training ranged weapon skills due to frustrations with managing ammunition.

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Post Wednesday, 16th January 2019, 07:41

Re: Make trog and oka stop showering you with needles

tealizard wrote:Targeted ranged abilities are bad, regardless of the flavor they're packaged in. If manual targeting takes more than one keystroke, it's not worth tagging onto a command you'll use thousands of times in a game.


There is "repeat" command, there is "cycle enemies" command during targeting phase and I would rather remove boring melee than ranged targeted spells (which monster should I attack, with what spells, with that pattern).

The good thing about magic is that it's easy to justify removal of targeted effects. Since it's magic, it can work however you say it does. Effects and attack patterns whose "target" is determined by the position of the player with respect to monsters and/or chance would be a natural fit and could vastly improve targeted ranged spell effects. (Positional targeting also offers new ways to differentiate direct damage and hex effects.) The interface advantage of melee is its better automation, but the importance of position in melee tactics is what makes it work from a gameplay perspective.

The player has more control of an encounter at greater range, so an arbitrarily targeted ranged effect will make positioning less important and less interesting. The combination of interface hassle and boring positioning accounts for the unpopularity of ranged weapons. It's definitely true that existing proposals, implemented and otherwise, re: ranged weapons tend to focus on the issue of picking up fired ammo over and over, which is just one piece of the problem. I don't know that there's a way to make ranged weapons work that makes sense thematically and in terms of gameplay, but it seems clear to me that the main issues are shared by other forms of ranged attack.


I am not sure why you think that retreating to corridor as melee character is more interesting, less boring or in some other way better than positioning for non-melee. By the way nothing stops ranged characters from retreating to corridor before shooting or even summoning an ally and then using portal projectile so they definitely have more options, not less.
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Post Wednesday, 16th January 2019, 09:09

Re: Make trog and oka stop showering you with needles

I said why the melee situation is more interesting: The player has less control in a melee range encounter than a longer range one. What does it mean to say you're not sure why someone thinks something when they tell you why they think it?
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Post Wednesday, 16th January 2019, 09:23

Re: Make trog and oka stop showering you with needles

tealizard wrote:I said why the melee situation is more interesting: The player has less control in a melee range encounter than a longer range one. What does it mean to say you're not sure why someone thinks something when they tell you why they think it?


It means I am not sure why people find it more interesting to retreat into a corridor. Even if they tell that they like it.
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Post Wednesday, 16th January 2019, 09:33

Re: Make trog and oka stop showering you with needles

? ? ?
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Post Wednesday, 16th January 2019, 09:39

Re: Make trog and oka stop showering you with needles

tealizard wrote:? ? ?


Sorry, maybe I am too aggressive but I am sick of people who want to destroy/nerf everything except mindless tabbing of pure melee characters especially if they call it superior to all other play styles. Melee characters are the most primitive and the most boring characters, both strategically (what skills to train, what equipment to use, what god to worship) and tactically (which tools to use, how to position).
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Post Wednesday, 16th January 2019, 09:41

Re: Make trog and oka stop showering you with needles

Well, I mean, I told you my position and you're just refusing to acknowledge it. I don't know what else to say.
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Post Wednesday, 16th January 2019, 09:44

Re: Make trog and oka stop showering you with needles

tealizard wrote:Well, I mean, I told you my position and you're just refusing to acknowledge it. I don't know what else to say.


I really disagree with your "Targeted ranged abilities are bad, regardless of the flavor they're packaged in. If manual targeting takes more than one keystroke, it's not worth tagging onto a command you'll use thousands of times in a game." if it is not obvious yet. How are you supposed to target one of 15 enemies in view with a single keystroke? By providing a menu/diagram with 15 elements? Just use mouse if you insist. Or go play tic-tac-toe.
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Post Wednesday, 16th January 2019, 10:24

Re: Make trog and oka stop showering you with needles

That's another issue, but I'm willing to talk about it instead.

The way forward I envision on targeted ranged magic effects is to remove explicit targeting in favor of a mix of randomization and reasonably predictable positional targeting. Some spells already make reasonable examples, e.g. any line of sight spell, static discharge, chain lightning, tornado, conjure ball lightning. Most existing single-targeted spells could have their targeter replaced by automatically targeting the nearest target, randomly breaking ties, which would be an improvement in interface, but certainly would not exhaust the possibilities of the concept. Cloud spells that generally target ground offer more possibility in pattern and placement, for example with cflame the cloud could always place adjacent to the player character but as close to the nearest monster as possible without duplicating the placement of a previous cast, with ties broken randomly. Obviously there are many other possible ways to replace something like freezing cloud, which might serve to either directly attack or obstruct monsters (this is an example that already is substantially randomized). Random placement for summon lightning spire is another good example.

Some spells really don't work without explicit targeting, but they are few and bad, fulminant prism being the main offender. Others whose usefulness relies heavily on bouncing mechanics could just have those mechanics redefined so that the automatic, position-based behavior gives roughly the same results on average in a reasonably predictable way.
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Post Wednesday, 16th January 2019, 10:32

Re: Make trog and oka stop showering you with needles

That's what I am talking about. You want to simplify the game, to reduce decision-making. Next step of "improving" user experience is to pick a spell randomly from those the character memorized so you press z and here you go, fireball is cast on the nearest enemy, of course without hurting PC.
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Post Wednesday, 16th January 2019, 11:31

Re: Make trog and oka stop showering you with needles

I reject the premise that positional determination of targets removes decisions. It forces the player to express their decisions more concisely and in terms of position rather than key presses. It's a good thing.
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Post Wednesday, 16th January 2019, 17:33

Re: Make trog and oka stop showering you with needles

yeah, i like targeting stuff too, thank you very much

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Post Wednesday, 16th January 2019, 18:31

Re: Make trog and oka stop showering you with needles

I'm especially fond of designing traps with multiple castings of Fulminant Prism then manoeuvering or forcibly relocating enemies into sequential blasts, and of strategic positioning of Lightning Spires (preferably in conjunction with clouds). Also, sometimes targeting a beam past enemies is more valuable than targeting an enemy directly (and especially a randomly chosen enemy), though in this case the ability to target a specific tile isn't quite as critical to interesting, strategic play as the previous examples. I strongly reject the suggestion that spells in general could be improved by automatically targeting random locations or enemies, and certainly the price of such a change would not be justified by merely reducing the number of keystrokes.

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Post Wednesday, 16th January 2019, 23:20

Re: Make trog and oka stop showering you with needles

ugh
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Post Thursday, 17th January 2019, 15:29

Re: Make trog and oka stop showering you with needles

Any game that lets me cast a fireball but doesn't let me aim it is one that I'd not like to play. While your suggestion may be practical, I think it strictly lowers player enjoyability with little return. You take a lot of player agency away in order to save a keystroke or make people care more about positioning - which they should, but not in this way, IMO. I'm a wizard, not just a bucket of mana to be splashed in a direction at random.

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Post Thursday, 17th January 2019, 15:38

Re: Make trog and oka stop showering you with needles

The funny thing about this argument is that the vast majority of video games do not have targeting like crawl has, yet in these games people manage to shoot things in ways that are based entirely on the player's position and it's no problem. Weird how crawl has to be exactly the way it is for anyone to want to play it.
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Post Thursday, 17th January 2019, 15:46

Re: Make trog and oka stop showering you with needles

tealizard wrote:The funny thing about this argument is that the vast majority of video games do not have targeting like crawl has, yet in these games people manage to shoot things in ways that are based entirely on the player's position and it's no problem. Weird how crawl has to be exactly the way it is for anyone to want to play it.


Could you name some for me? I believe you, but I don't know of any games that I've ever played that just pick a target at random for your ranged attacks - particularly any roguelikes.

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Post Thursday, 17th January 2019, 15:48

Re: Make trog and oka stop showering you with needles

tealizard wrote:The funny thing about this argument is that the vast majority of video games do not have targeting like crawl has, yet in these games people manage to shoot things in ways that are based entirely on the player's position and it's no problem. Weird how crawl has to be exactly the way it is for anyone to want to play it.


Can you provide examples of such games with random targeting? I play Path of Exile (real time), Divinity: original sin (tb tactics, close to crawl), Slay the spire (card game with permadeath), Xcom 2 (squad tactics), my son plays CS:GO, world of tanks, Diablo, Overwatch etc. and all those games have targeting which is closer to current DCSS than to your suggested version i.e. player choose target, targets are not taken randomly depending on your position.
What game play is that? Constantly luring monsters to an exit from corridor or around a corner so that I might use some unusual attack pattern again and again? I would hate this gameplay.
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Post Thursday, 17th January 2019, 15:56

Re: Make trog and oka stop showering you with needles

I -guess- I can think of games with targetting more like tealizard is saying, but there's a CRITICAL distinction in that those games have the player facing a specific direction, so you aim via the way you're facing. Crawl does not have such a feature so I don't know how it could possibly work in a productive way. If you have to aim every single spell you cast in one of the 8 directions to simulate facing a direction, you've made the system -more- tedious, not less.

These games are also generally real time action, not turn based strategic.
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Post Thursday, 17th January 2019, 16:21

Re: Make trog and oka stop showering you with needles

So I did not say fully randomized targeting, though in fact crawl does have fully randomly targeted effects. I think it's really sad that having posted what I did, I have to say that.

As to my previous post, games that target entirely on the basis of the player's position are the rule more than the exception, going all the way to early examples. The fireball attack in super mario bros. and its sequels has positional targeting. Any shoot 'em up game, going back to space invaders, galaga, galaxian, centipede, and up to recent series like touhou, has position-based targeting. The Legend of Zelda had positional targeting, metroid, first person shooters have positional targeting, side scrolling shooters like the contra series do too, the bomberman series, the list goes on and on. Pretty much any projectile in a fighting game targets implicitly on the basis of position.

It's true that some more recent mouse-driven mmo and mmo-inspired games have targeting based on pointing at things in a way that is sometimes independent of the position of the player, although I would not say this is the rule either. I don't play a lot of games like this, but my impression is that even there a lot of targeting is based on the direction the player is facing, which is position.

The idea that targeting based on position necessarily drains a game of its strategic or tactical content is ridiculous on the face of it.

So then you get to whether there are other roguelike games that have taken my attitude toward targeting, i.e. that it's bad and should be minimized. Not that I know of, but I would not say that roguelike games are an extremely successful model in general or that we should feel constrained to those possibilities evident in other roguelikes. If this direction has not been pursued, though, that to me is all the more reason to consider it.
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Post Thursday, 17th January 2019, 16:41

Re: Make trog and oka stop showering you with needles

Can you propose any UI for tracking and controlling orientation of the player that is tolerable?

As far as I can see, the proposal is generally dead-on-arrival unless that problem can be solved.
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Post Thursday, 17th January 2019, 16:54

Re: Make trog and oka stop showering you with needles

I am not suggesting adding orientation to crawl.
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Post Thursday, 17th January 2019, 17:14

Re: Make trog and oka stop showering you with needles

Almost all of the examples you gave use orientation to aim, not just position, which is a very different thing. The exceptions are games like bomber man, which don't really have much tactical variety, or fixed-orientation games like some sidescrollers and metroid-style games. The first doesn't provide enough depth for more than a few spells, and the second would produce horrible spells (Noone wants to cast 'Bolt of Fire-to-the-right' as a spell.)
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Post Thursday, 17th January 2019, 17:45

Re: Make trog and oka stop showering you with needles

tealizard wrote:So I did not say fully randomized targeting, though in fact crawl does have fully randomly targeted effects. I think it's really sad that having posted what I did, I have to say that.

As to my previous post, games that target entirely on the basis of the player's position are the rule more than the exception, going all the way to early examples. The fireball attack in super mario bros. and its sequels has positional targeting. Any shoot 'em up game, going back to space invaders, galaga, galaxian, centipede, and up to recent series like touhou, has position-based targeting. The Legend of Zelda had positional targeting, metroid, first person shooters have positional targeting, side scrolling shooters like the contra series do too, the bomberman series, the list goes on and on. Pretty much any projectile in a fighting game targets implicitly on the basis of position.

It's true that some more recent mouse-driven mmo and mmo-inspired games have targeting based on pointing at things in a way that is sometimes independent of the position of the player, although I would not say this is the rule either. I don't play a lot of games like this, but my impression is that even there a lot of targeting is based on the direction the player is facing, which is position.

The idea that targeting based on position necessarily drains a game of its strategic or tactical content is ridiculous on the face of it.

So then you get to whether there are other roguelike games that have taken my attitude toward targeting, i.e. that it's bad and should be minimized. Not that I know of, but I would not say that roguelike games are an extremely successful model in general or that we should feel constrained to those possibilities evident in other roguelikes. If this direction has not been pursued, though, that to me is all the more reason to consider it.

The examples you mention have *facing* targeting, rather than positional, you have a facing and you attack in that direction. "Positional" would imply your attacks are relative to your position and are directionless (for example if all attacks were 360 degrees around you and hit the same in all directions, though that doesn't imply that they do the same damage at all ranges)

Three styles facing include:
1. 'Facing is the last direction you moved', "Legend of Zelda" is a reasonable example of this,
2. "Position and facing direction are independent" from the same genre I'll pick "robotron 2084" (Both being early-80s games, robotron being a touch earlier, and yes, facing independent of position is *not* a newish mmo-driven thing, in the 70's and 80's arcade world it was less popular because it requires an additional control, making the cabinet more expensive, and home systems obviously had a single set of expected controls available.)
3. "You have a fixed facing" Galaga is a fair example of this style
4. Some mixture of the above, for example "Defender" and "Mario Bros" have a facing that is either right or left based on your last direction, but upward and downward movement have no effect on facing, they resemble galaga, but have two possible 'fixed' facings.

So let's talk about how those would be implemented in DCSS and how they would impact gameplay:
1. This would require you target things by backing up and then 'running at them' making sure they were in your firing direction, this is pretty much the same for melee, but adds more keypresses for ranged attacks, it does make them more limited, reducing their power somewhat (I consider that a benefit) but the added overhead of luring things in so you can shoot them in a cardinal direction would make ranged attack more annoying not less.
2. This would add a new set of keypresses to change facing before *every* attack, introducing an interface problem (there's no easy way to represent facing in console, which is critical) and once you solve the technical problems, you're still left with pressing targeting keys for every attack, it introduces *more* overhead for melee, and doesn't reduce ranged targeting overhead at all. So we can throw this out as well.
3. Fixed facing doesn't work in a game like DCSS, it works in Galaga or space invaders because enemies always approach from the same direction, rearranging DCSS like this would change it into a different type of game altogether.
4. Given that all the individual approaches don't work, combining them is unlikely to.

Moving on, let's ignore the examples of "facing targeting" and look at "pure positional targeting"
Two choices include:
1. All attacks hit everything in range
2. Most attacks hit the "closest thing" (or a random thing among all the closest options)
3. Attacks hit certain squares in relationship to your position (maybe a ring, maybe a plus maybe the four corners etc.) I'm calling this "patterned targeting"

Looking at impacts:
1. Would the interface be simpler if every attack simply hit anything in range, Yes. absolutely, however it would also drastically reduce the set of choices it would eliminate the need to prioritize, and remove a good deal of the tactical depth from your positioning (It breaks the reciprocal attack balance) There are some limited examples of this in DCSS, however having all attacks like this removes one of the primary variables in attack types, you'd be left with "range 1 attacks, range 2 attacks" and so on, it drastically simplifies your available choices, and therefore removes a large amount of content. It would be great for a phone game where interface options are limited, but the appeal of games like DCSS is choice in depth.
2. This would technically work, but again, this turns "targeting" keystrokes into "moving around until the thing you want to hit is the one in range" keystrokes, it doesnt' actually remove any tedium, and generates a lot of awkward busywork.
3. This adds even more awkward busywork than 2. Again, it doesn't remove any targeting keystrokes, and you have to do even *more* work to get the things you want to be in the square(s) you can hit them in.

Both 2. and 3. *do* remove some of the *command* space needed (without removing any actual keystrokes, they basically double up on movement keys, so movement additionally becomes targeting) so for platforms with very limited command space (touch screen only interfaces like on a phone is a good example, or if you only have an old-school one button joystick or something) those might be better choices, but where you're expected to have a full set of interface options, they have less appeal than the current system.
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Post Thursday, 17th January 2019, 22:23

Re: Make trog and oka stop showering you with needles

Siegurt wrote:2. Most attacks hit the "closest thing" (or a random thing among all the closest options)
...
2. This would technically work, but again, this turns "targeting" keystrokes into "moving around until the thing you want to hit is the one in range" keystrokes, it doesnt' actually remove any tedium, and generates a lot of awkward busywork.

Are you sure about this? I think most of the time, if one enemy is closer than another, there is no "trivial busywork" you can do to change that, unless you are talking about disengaging the fight entirely. I think how it would play out in practice would be:

A) For popcorn fights (most fights), you spam until everything is dead and don't care about which enemy gets shot first, so the interface is just improved.
B) For threatening fights, the presence of the closer enemy effectively "covers" the farther enemies from your ranged attacks, which can allow weak monsters to be tactically relevant - probably a good thing. You would have to decide whether to simply kill that enemy first, costing you time (and maybe MP) while the threatening enemy gets to act, or maybe use some hex tool to reduce its movement towards you and allow other enemies to overtake it (enslavement would generally be the best as it would instantly remove it from targeting and have it fight on your side, but other things like slow and confuse would help), or of course disengage.

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Post Friday, 18th January 2019, 00:54

Re: Make trog and oka stop showering you with needles

stormdragon wrote:
Siegurt wrote:2. Most attacks hit the "closest thing" (or a random thing among all the closest options)
...
2. This would technically work, but again, this turns "targeting" keystrokes into "moving around until the thing you want to hit is the one in range" keystrokes, it doesnt' actually remove any tedium, and generates a lot of awkward busywork.

Are you sure about this? I think most of the time, if one enemy is closer than another, there is no "trivial busywork" you can do to change that, unless you are talking about disengaging the fight entirely. I think how it would play out in practice would be:

A) For popcorn fights (most fights), you spam until everything is dead and don't care about which enemy gets shot first, so the interface is just improved.
B) For threatening fights, the presence of the closer enemy effectively "covers" the farther enemies from your ranged attacks, which can allow weak monsters to be tactically relevant - probably a good thing. You would have to decide whether to simply kill that enemy first, costing you time (and maybe MP) while the threatening enemy gets to act, or maybe use some hex tool to reduce its movement towards you and allow other enemies to overtake it (enslavement would generally be the best as it would instantly remove it from targeting and have it fight on your side, but other things like slow and confuse would help), or of course disengage.

Yes, for popcorn it wouldn't matter, for threatening fights, generally speaking the threatening thing will be able kill me before being able to "overtake" something that I manage to confuse or slow. Really it's a dumb idea and it's terrible, If I have something stupid, but close to the right of me, and something that *can kill me at range* on left, but which is further away, my options are: Run towards it until I can attack it, Kill the smaller thing until I can attack it, or flee, slowing may or may not help (the dangerous thing still get at least 1 maybe 2-3 free attacks) I mean, god getting killed by a nearly dead lich because a bat wandered into your LOS is really really terrible, and giving dangerous monsters free attacks because there's something wimpy around is horrible.

The "trivial busywork" involved for most things is to *walk around the thing you don't want to attack* until the thing you want to attack is adjacent, then move to put the thing you want to attack between you and the thing you don't care about, so you can attack it, think about the annoying work required to kill a summoner or a convoker with this type of targeting being your *only* method of attacking.
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Post Friday, 18th January 2019, 02:57

Re: Make trog and oka stop showering you with needles

It's kind of frustrating having an argument where the opposition turns on puns and misreadings. Obviously in what I have posted position is used in the broad sense encompassing all aspects of the player state with respect to the environment and monsters, as opposed to other aspects like player stats, equipment or whatever else. I said as much in previous posts and said specifically that the direction the player is facing is part of their position. Breaking down this distinction which I do not make is pointless.

Regarding the breakdown of various untargeted targeting options discussed above, I would contend this does not even scratch the surface of what's possible. It's possible the real disagreement here comes from a difference in imagination. I don't want to get into a long discussion of targeting possibilities and patterns though.

I think it's revealing that no one seems to be upset about the existence of spells that already implement mechanics like I advocate. The targeting so beloved by many in this thread does not, in fact, offer a lot of real decisions in actual play -- the situation where clever targeting is used is very much the exception. Targeting involves a lot of button pressing in a suspended game state with no stakes, while movement can be done better or worse and mistakes have consequences. It makes no sense to me to call combat movement busywork vs. manipulating the targeter.
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Post Friday, 18th January 2019, 03:28

Re: Make trog and oka stop showering you with needles

tealizard wrote:It makes no sense to me to call combat movement busywork vs. manipulating the targeter.

I would contend that they're exactly equivalent
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Post Friday, 18th January 2019, 03:30

Re: Make trog and oka stop showering you with needles

moving the character takes turns, moving the targeter does not

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Post Friday, 18th January 2019, 05:32

Re: Make trog and oka stop showering you with needles

tealizard wrote:It's kind of frustrating having an argument where the opposition turns on puns and misreadings. Obviously in what I have posted position is used in the broad sense encompassing all aspects of the player state with respect to the environment and monsters, as opposed to other aspects like player stats, equipment or whatever else. I said as much in previous posts and said specifically that the direction the player is facing is part of their position. Breaking down this distinction which I do not make is pointless.

I don't agree that the targeting in e.g. first person shooters, 3d legend of zelda games is any different from the crawl targeter; the only difference is in the execution and number of keystrokes required to achieve the same result. consider the game Superhot, which is a first person shooter with the exception that no in-game time passes while you are standing still (so targeting takes no in-game time). This is effectively the same setup as DCSS, so you can't argue that this game has no targeter, so taking this into consideration, I don't see how you can argue that other FPSes do not have a form of targeting (i.e. there is an important distinction to be made about orientation vs position)

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Post Friday, 18th January 2019, 06:03

Re: Make trog and oka stop showering you with needles

By the way I recently tried a game which allowed to choose facing after every attack. It was horrible to check every turn if I needed to and then use controls to actually change it. Instant refund. So no, it is not about lack of imagination, it is about not willing to make crawl into a different (much simpler and less enjoyable for me personally) game.
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Post Friday, 18th January 2019, 06:07

Re: Make trog and oka stop showering you with needles

tealizard wrote:The targeting so beloved by many in this thread does not, in fact, offer a lot of real decisions in actual play -- the situation where clever targeting is used is very much the exception.


Even if it's true that the majority of targeting decisions are not tactically relevant, there's still 2 problems with using this as a justification to get rid of targeting:

1) Meaningful decisions are important, and so we shouldn't remove them just because they don't happen all the time.

2) In cases where target selection doesn't matter, players can just accept the default target; and even in many cases where targeting does matter, players can quickly cycle through targets using the + and - numpad keys, meaning that any sizable efficiency gain would only be gained by removing targeting from cases where selection does matter. For ranged weapons in particular, there wouldn't even be any efficiency gain at all over Shift+Tab.

That said, I don't see a problem with adding an option to repeat the last cast spell (if it targets monsters) on the default target while some version of Tab (perhaps Alt+ or Ctrl+) is held. It wouldn't negatively impact cases where target selection does matter unless the player wants it to or is careless.
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Post Friday, 18th January 2019, 06:23

Re: Make trog and oka stop showering you with needles

CanOfWorms wrote:I don't agree that the targeting in e.g. first person shooters, 3d legend of zelda games is any different from the crawl targeter; the only difference is in the execution and number of keystrokes required to achieve the same result. consider the game Superhot, which is a first person shooter with the exception that no in-game time passes while you are standing still (so targeting takes no in-game time). This is effectively the same setup as DCSS, so you can't argue that this game has no targeter, so taking this into consideration, I don't see how you can argue that other FPSes do not have a form of targeting (i.e. there is an important distinction to be made about orientation vs position)


I do not claim that there are no games that have targeting that resembles crawl targeting, only that this sort of targeting is not the rule in general. One point here is that arguing from a position that it is somehow ridiculous not to have crawl-style targeting reflects a very narrow view of video games. Many of the best video games have position-based "aim" or targeting precisely for the reason I advocate it here: It is concise and fluid. Arguments being made here about "running around" the targeting system look silly in this broader context. You would never hear someone say it's a problem that you have to maneuver in particular ways to hit a koopa with a fireball -- that's the whole point.

I am willing to admit there may be FPS's I've never heard of where the main mode of targeting is not heavily based on movement and orientation of the player's view or is time independent like crawl. I don't see the relevance though. Certainly there are many famous, influential, and well-loved examples that match my model.

For my argument, the key difference between the games I'm talking about and crawl targeting is that in these games, targeting is seamlessly integrated with movement/orientation controls and the firing interface is simple usually consisting only of a trigger button (but perhaps also involving advanced options like alt-fire, subweapons, scopes, etc.).
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