Shafts - Too common now?


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Zot Zealot

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Post Thursday, 2nd May 2019, 15:21

Re: Shafts - Too common now?

Oh, so you think that for beginners, playing a MiBe, Juggernaut is a very hard monster? What do you think about caustic shrikes then? :-)

Zot Zealot

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Post Thursday, 2nd May 2019, 15:24

Re: Shafts - Too common now?

The problem with removing upstairs as difficulty level dependent (call it race or whatever) is that they determine the correct design for other parts of the game. I, for one, would like to really tone down the number of two-headed ogres with this change. (Of course I would like to tone down them anyway.)

If you think that beginners have a problem with two headed ogres than you may see that I am not against every change that makes their life easier.

Slime Squisher

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Post Thursday, 2nd May 2019, 15:26

Re: Shafts - Too common now?

Multiple difficulty levels influences the design of a game in other aspects outright. Crawl would likely be come significantly worse with difficulty level stratification...very likely "high" difficulty amounts to a slog not unlike other titles attempting it. Meanwhile the game has to pick a difficulty to balance around in terms of progression speed.

Making a terrible species seems the more sensible route.

Also roguelikes in general have difficulty front-loaded. Even in stuff like FTL and Binding of Isaac that's true. The longer you last, the more statistical noise is going to wash out and the more options you'll have to put together something serviceable or even strong. Isaac gets around this by having its runs be pretty short, but as crawl is now it has no such luxury. I suspect early game will always be the hardest unless we really do get annoying pure-RNG death checks tossed in later.

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Zot Zealot

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Post Thursday, 2nd May 2019, 15:30

Re: Shafts - Too common now?

VeryAngryFelid wrote:just make every aptitude -8 and speed 50 auts per move. Only partially a joke.


I think (but I do not know, as I have not tried: I am intersted in implementation) this would not lead to good gameplay.

Really low aptitudes would severly limit your strategical skilling options, effectively removing a large part of the game. Harder, yes, but not more interesting. I aim the latter, not the former.

Very low speed not only removes kiting: it also removes tactical positioning, which is one of the most interesting part of the game. The game would be much more boring. It also would lead to a lot of stupid deaths where you step once and die.
Also, it does not address stairdancing! On the contrary, you are like required to stairdance with a race like this -> very bad gameplay.

You seem to think that every difficulty is equivalently good, while I think everybody tries to tell you that it is not.

Having shafts, removing upstairs are nothing like these.
Last edited by sanka on Thursday, 2nd May 2019, 17:19, edited 1 time in total.

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Ziggurat Zagger

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Post Thursday, 2nd May 2019, 15:48

Re: Shafts - Too common now?

sanka wrote:Oh, so you think that for beginners, playing a MiBe, Juggernaut is a very hard monster? What do you think about caustic shrikes then? :-)
Yes, the same problem of approach "top players playing MiBe don't have difficulty winning so let's add crazy monsters".
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Lair Larrikin

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Post Friday, 3rd May 2019, 00:14

Re: Shafts - Too common now?

tealizard wrote:As far as the shaft effect goes, the first thing that happens to a player when they start the game is they get "shafted" into d:1, i.e. if they do not fight their way out of the immediate vicinity of the entrance, they lose the game. Incidentally, this is where the vast majority of unwinnable game scenarios happen. It's also the site of some of the most interesting gameplay in the game. But because of the way it is presented to the player, a new player is unlikely to think of it the way I have described it here. And indeed, I've only ever seen fairly experienced players talk about the importance of the dungeon entrance. Therefore I doubt that new players have a hard time accepting the dungeon entrance or that they would have a hard time accepting a similar arrangement on every floor. People cling to stairs because it is what they know, not because they have an innate intuition that they should be able to cheez their way through the game with stairs.

What people actually balk at is the trap mechanism applied to the shaft effect. This is because it cuts against the sense of what is normal they develop through play. Even though no-upstairs is objectively more challenging than 2.5 shafts per game, people would accept it more readily if it were the default mode of crawl.

As for how to address the difficulty of the early game, the root of the problem is that the player character is fairly weak compared to worst case spawns. That is easy to address. The next layer of the problem is that the rest of the game is too easy so you end up with a bland game experience. The best solution to this is increasing the difficulty of the rest of the game, which is the direction hellcrawl pursues.


I don't really agree that importance translates to interesting. D1, maybe even the first 4 levels, often is the biggest bottleneck for a successful run, and that might make it interesting for yourself and other players you've spoken with. But that doesn't make it universally interesting. I find the mid-game, where a player has a good set of tools at their disposal and have their game plan actualized, is pretty interesting.

sanka wrote:Front loaded difficulty is caused by many factors, I may even miss some:

1. To make the game winnable for beginners, it must be winnable with bad skilling/strategy (I use strategy mean long term decisions like equipment, etc. as opposed to tactics here). Currently it is. But since we want to make skill decisions relevant, this means that any charcter that has somewhat sane skilling will be much stronger then the enemies.

2. Consumables accumulate. Worse players need them more, if we want them to have enough later then as you get better you will have so huge amount that makes many situations trivial (if you actually use them).

3. Crawl is non-linear. This has bad consequences, and the impact is very clear, as usually the game suddenly becomes easier when you find the first branch (lair), or maybe a few levels after it. It is not the fact that you can go multiple ways matters, but that there is no very clear order of difficulty. This is bad, because if there are two levels of the same difficulty, you clear the first, get stronger, and the second becomes easier: the earlier levels will be the harder ones. Crawl has many, many such levels: after lair the rest of the dungeon is usually easier than it should be.

4. Gods are really unbalanced.

Removing shafts from early dungeon will not help this at all IMHO, their impact is way too low on difficulty.


I agree with all the points you made, those are all totally solid points about the bigger contributing factors to front loaded difficulty. But we just have different opinions on shafts. Like, even if you don't think it's as big of a problem as any of the other things you listed, would you agree that it is something that does contribute to front loaded difficulty? If so, even if only a minor impact, isn't it worth examining it as something that warrants change?

sanka and tealizard, I appreciate your perspectives on game mechanics, because they are insightful and you both articulate them well. But you're both advocating for changes that, to me at least, feel unrelated to the actual shaft mechanic. Adjusting all the above quoted points is not mutually exclusive with altering shaft mechanics. Removing shafts from the first couple levels doesn't mean upstairs can't be removed later. This isn't a zero sum game of "if X is getting changed, Y will not be changed."

Zot Zealot

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Post Friday, 3rd May 2019, 08:48

Re: Shafts - Too common now?

VeryAngryFelid wrote:Yes, the same problem of approach "top players playing MiBe don't have difficulty winning so let's add crazy monsters".


I am really surprised that you think that for someone who has no difficulty winning a MiBe Juggernauts and caustic shrikes pose some insurmountable challenge. They are far from being very dangerous if you look at them in isolation for their depths.

They only seem strong because the other monsters surrounding them in depths are popcorn. Even for a MiBe, monsters are more dangerous in early Dungeon, compared to a typical character.

Zot Zealot

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Post Friday, 3rd May 2019, 13:23

Re: Shafts - Too common now?

IveGoneSupine wrote:Like, even if you don't think it's as big of a problem as any of the other things you listed, would you agree that it is something that does contribute to front loaded difficulty? If so, even if only a minor impact, isn't it worth examining it as something that warrants change?


Well, first I'd like to add that whether shafts are allowed on the first couple of levels is a minor issue to me, but I personally disagree with you here.

First, I disagree with "shafts contributing to front loaded difficulty". The fact tealizard talks about (the first ~4 levels are the most dangerous for experienced players) are different from the difficulty drop later, which I talked about. Tealizard is absolutely right pointing it out!

In the first couple of levels you
1. Do have very, very few consumables if at all
2. The monsters are stronger than you for most races (the peak is D2/D3).
And on D1 you cannot go back a level to rest.

It changes very, very quickly on the subsequent levels. This makes *everything* potentially lethal on the first few levels, an OOD spawn, a weak monster wandering behind you blocking your route to the stairs, a teleport trap, open layout, etc. Yes, it makes shafts potentially more lethal as well, but in my perception, this still has nothing to do with shafts specifically.

So whether the difficulty of the first few dungeon levels warrants a change - it is debatable, I do not know. For me it's ok, for beginners it could be too harsh, I do not know for sure. But removing shafts from the first few levels would be a very, very strange change in my eyes if the aim is reducing this difficulty. Because "minor impact" is decesive for me: it is worthless to change something into something more complicated (who will remember the first floor where shafts can happen, understanding the reason for this restriction and its impact to future changes, etc.), when it has really minor impact, so we do not achieve anything!

So my reasoning is for allowing shaft traps for the beginning of the dungeon (where indeed they have the most potential to be lethal) is the following:

1. I think they actually have little impact on the first few levels being lethal to beginners.
2. It is an unnecessary complication to limit them to a certain depth, a hidden property of the dungeon, which complicates the further assessment of balance. Also, if there are (rare) shafts early on then beginners will be familiar with them without reaching lower levels!

Also, I would like to add that for me it sounds much easier to add "easy races" to the game that do not have problems with shafts for beginners than to fix game mechanics with "challenge races" to experienced players. I wish the game to be open to beginners - however, they do not need to be able to easily win with a Naga or Mummy. Play a Troll.

Ziggurat Zagger

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Post Friday, 3rd May 2019, 13:39

Re: Shafts - Too common now?

sanka wrote:
VeryAngryFelid wrote:Yes, the same problem of approach "top players playing MiBe don't have difficulty winning so let's add crazy monsters".


I am really surprised that you think that for someone who has no difficulty winning a MiBe Juggernauts and caustic shrikes pose some insurmountable challenge. They are far from being very dangerous if you look at them in isolation for their depths.

They only seem strong because the other monsters surrounding them in depths are popcorn. Even for a MiBe, monsters are more dangerous in early Dungeon, compared to a typical character.


I am really surprised you think the opposite, maybe try clearing everything and getting to D:3 with MiGl pressing . in fights, it took me 1 attempt and of course I died to worker ant. It is off topic in this thread though and I am not interested to continue, sorry.
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Lair Larrikin

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Post Friday, 3rd May 2019, 18:52

Re: Shafts - Too common now?

sanka wrote:Well, first I'd like to add that whether shafts are allowed on the first couple of levels is a minor issue to me, but I personally disagree with you here.

First, I disagree with "shafts contributing to front loaded difficulty". The fact tealizard talks about (the first ~4 levels are the most dangerous for experienced players) are different from the difficulty drop later, which I talked about. Tealizard is absolutely right pointing it out!

In the first couple of levels you
1. Do have very, very few consumables if at all
2. The monsters are stronger than you for most races (the peak is D2/D3).
And on D1 you cannot go back a level to rest.

It changes very, very quickly on the subsequent levels. This makes *everything* potentially lethal on the first few levels, an OOD spawn, a weak monster wandering behind you blocking your route to the stairs, a teleport trap, open layout, etc. Yes, it makes shafts potentially more lethal as well, but in my perception, this still has nothing to do with shafts specifically.

So whether the difficulty of the first few dungeon levels warrants a change - it is debatable, I do not know. For me it's ok, for beginners it could be too harsh, I do not know for sure. But removing shafts from the first few levels would be a very, very strange change in my eyes if the aim is reducing this difficulty. Because "minor impact" is decesive for me: it is worthless to change something into something more complicated (who will remember the first floor where shafts can happen, understanding the reason for this restriction and its impact to future changes, etc.), when it has really minor impact, so we do not achieve anything!


Okay, let me pose some hypothetical scenarios and ask some questions based on them.

1. A dungeon with shafts on D1 that send you to D2-D4. D2-D4 are obviously more challenging than D1 (This is the current state of the game)
2. A dungeon with no shafts on D1.

Isn't scenario #2 easier than scenario #1? Doesn't that decrease front loaded difficulty?

This is just my perspective based on what I've read here, but the very experienced players in this thread who enjoy difficulty and challenging circumstances (like hellcrawl's no upstairs mechanic), don't think shafts are dangerous in the early game. Isn't that because they are more experienced and know how to deal with them better?

2. It is an unnecessary complication to limit them to a certain depth, a hidden property of the dungeon, which complicates the further assessment of balance. Also, if there are (rare) shafts early on then beginners will be familiar with them without reaching lower levels!


Zot traps and net traps only exist after a certain depth. Do you disagree with their application?

We both agree that D1-D4 are among the most dangerous, so don't you agree that introducing a mechanic during a very dangerous point in the game is actually not the right time to do it? Wouldn't it be better to introduce that mechanic when the game is easier?

Also, I would like to add that for me it sounds much easier to add "easy races" to the game that do not have problems with shafts for beginners than to fix game mechanics with "challenge races" to experienced players. I wish the game to be open to beginners - however, they do not need to be able to easily win with a Naga or Mummy. Play a Troll.


I'll be honest, I think it's tough to get a new species/god/background into the game. I saw some really cool stuff in the crawldev wiki and in the archive of this section that didn't get approved. I like to be supportive of those ideas, though, and I like finding ways of adjusting ideas to fit them into the game. There's a place for both easier species and more challenging species in the game. Although I do understand the point you're making. That skill should be required to win with a challenging species.
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