anti-luring feature: statues


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Post Wednesday, 11th December 2019, 19:18

anti-luring feature: statues

A few years ago, there was an experimental branch aimed at addressing luring. The concept was to randomly power up monsters that have been tracking the player for a while so that they can catch and kill the player. This turned out to be a pretty bad idea for a variety of reasons.

Here's a similar but different approach: Instead of empowering monsters that are tracking the player, empower other stationary, indestructible monsters when the player is being tracked. These stationary monsters, "statues," do nothing when the player is not being tracked by other monsters. They enter an inert state. When the player is being chased or whatever, they activate and attack in whatever way they can. Generally, they should do things that discourage the player from approaching them with the threat level depending on how serious we are about keeping the player from bringing a monster past them in the situation at hand. They could be purpose-designed or they could be derived types based on existing monsters.

Placing these things as part of dungeon generation curbs a lot of degenerate player behaviors, from pillardancing to long distance luring. You can put them all over the place, breaking up layouts, interrupting loops, and making encounters play out more like you would naively expect from the way monsters and terrain are generated. Now you might worry that this will encourage abuse of noise-based luring in place of other more visually oriented methods. That's a problem with noise mechanics that can be addressed separately.
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bel

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Post Wednesday, 11th December 2019, 22:41

Re: anti-luring feature: statues

It might be useful to define more precisely what is meant by "luring", because people may have different definitions. I think a reasonable definition is: "retreating to a cleared (and thus safer) area so that you can fight monsters there, and thus control the situation better".

The reason why luring is considered undesirable is that retreating typically has no cost, so it's always better to lure monsters to a safe area before fighting them. This makes most of the terrain of a level irrelevant, because you don't fight in that terrain anyway. A killhole is an extreme example.

This proposal is trying to make it so that a "cleared" area is no longer "safe". Also, just the act of retreating will make you take damage, so you have to decide whether to retreat to a "safer" area while taking damage, or just fight the monster there.

Overall, I like the proposal. However, I'm not sure how it would work in practice. Would having too high of a density of these statues be a problem? And would too low a density just mean that there will be "blind spots" where you could lure things to?

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Post Wednesday, 11th December 2019, 23:15

Re: anti-luring feature: statues

So long as the statue density isn't too high, it would make luring less common and more interesting. (I would consider the existence of blind spots as good.)

I would be concerned that this would punish careless play a lot. Currently crawl games are too long for me not to get careless occasionally.

If you really care, try coding it up and putting it in a branch. (Vaults seems like a thematic place.) I'll be interested to see how it plays.
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Post Thursday, 12th December 2019, 00:02

Re: anti-luring feature: statues

Could these statues cause the player to get blocked? For example, you are being chased by a goblin and back into a 1-wide corridor. A statue also activates while you are kiting and follows the goblin into the corridor. You kill the goblin and the statue deactivates, blocking the corridor.

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Post Thursday, 12th December 2019, 00:12

Re: anti-luring feature: statues

I don't understand the comment above. Statues don't move.
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Post Thursday, 12th December 2019, 01:54

Re: anti-luring feature: statues

Right, the idea is that these monsters/dungeon features are immobile so that their interventions in combat situations are broadcast to the player and known in advance. Features that totally block retreat would also be good in my opinion, but get into more fundamental changes to dungeon structure. The active/inactive statue idea is more of a porous filter.
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Post Thursday, 12th December 2019, 10:01

Re: anti-luring feature: statues

Interesting idea. But why do we need the statues? Can we just start dealing damage to player when player is moving for N turns while tracked by monsters? Or do you want to make it possible to attack the statues so it would be safe to lure the monsters in that area?
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Post Thursday, 12th December 2019, 16:12

Re: anti-luring feature: statues

VeryAngryFelid wrote:Interesting idea. But why do we need the statues? Can we just start dealing damage to player when player is moving for N turns while tracked by monsters? Or do you want to make it possible to attack the statues so it would be safe to lure the monsters in that area?

I can't speak for the OP, but I would imagine it would be to create differences in terrain, so some luring to some areas would be possible, but it would no longer be unlimited, you would be able to lure things, but only while keeping statue LOS in mind and you would have fewer options creating some situations where you would have to make some less-than ideal choices.
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Post Thursday, 12th December 2019, 16:32

Re: anti-luring feature: statues

It would probably get too annoying if put throughout all of crawl, but I could definitely envision a branch using this to be interesting as an alternative to the "x monster is twice your speed", "your own movement is hampered", or "marked/lots of noise" variants of anti-luring.

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Post Thursday, 12th December 2019, 16:47

Re: anti-luring feature: statues

About using a tracking clock instead of a dungeon feature/stationary monster, it is better to constrain the player in terms of space than time (the goal should be for monsters to provide adequate constraints on time by themselves). It is easier to reason about both for the player and, crucially, the layout designer. Timers are more likely to be gamed and manipulated in perverse ways.

About statue line of sight, my thinking is that statues would generally have limited range, even melee range attacks, with full LoS attacks being reserved for special circumstances calling for major denial of space. For example, a statue placed on a corner can prevent pillar dancing by forcing the player to take a wide turn around it that a pursuer will just cut. E.g you could do the following replacement in layout generation:

  Code:
...
##.
##.

->

...
#..
8#.



Where the statue ('8') has only a melee attack. Taking this corner will make the player lose turns against a pursuer or take statue melee. There are a lot of possibilities. You could have statues with no attack and the vault warden ability, statues in open spaces to break things up and give pursuers an advantage in long distance chases, etc. All totally compatible with autotravel in dead levels.
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Post Monday, 16th December 2019, 19:21

Re: anti-luring feature: statues

This concept sounds pretty cool, but I think it would work better if the statues activate only when both the statue and a non-statue monster are in LOS of the player character. Because the player sometimes doesn't know if a monster is tracking the player from out of LOS (it may or may not have lost track of the player), and not knowing whether a statue will activate sounds frustrating.

I suspect that a common situation will be: the player wants to backtrack as far as possible without getting into LOS of a statue. If there is no prompt, it would be frustratingly easy to overstep by 1 and accidentally activate the statue. I think ideally there should be some sort of conditional exclusion centered on each statue, which only prompts if a monster is in LOS. But this might be hard to implement.

Since stairdancing is being discussed in another thread, I'll note that guaranteed placement of statues in LOS of all down-staircases would probably crimp stairdancing pretty well.
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Post Monday, 16th December 2019, 20:17

Re: anti-luring feature: statues

Yeah, I think a wake-up period would help with the "surprise, something's tracking you" scenario. This had occurred to me, but I tend to be kind of elliptical about these things lately.
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Post Thursday, 9th January 2020, 18:32

Re: anti-luring feature: statues

A similar idea: ghosts that jump out of walls. They wait until a player is fighting in a bottleneck, appear and attack. Similar to the old rock worm, except they don't attack solo, and are actually unkillable. They retreat as soon as other monsters are gone.

Slime has acidic walls, Lair could have sneaky insects and snakes.

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Post Friday, 10th January 2020, 12:37

Re: anti-luring feature: statues

Your proposal is similar to the "monsters spawning over time" mechanic which was supposed to work against luring. The main idea was that "cleared" and "safe" are no longer the same, because a monster could spawn in a "cleared" area. Your proposal could work, but I like the statue idea better because in this case, you can plan your fighting beforehand (because statues don't move).

[Somewhat off-topic, but that monster spawn mechanic was removed for unjustified reasons imo, with a handwaving justification which doesn't even make sense. Maybe the mechanic didn't do enough, which would have been a reason to strengthen it, not remove it.]
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Post Friday, 10th January 2020, 14:31

Re: anti-luring feature: statues

I think it's more useful to think about space and terrain than time and clocks, which is why hostile terrain seems like the more promising approach to problems with luring. Approaches, like old timey spawns, that conceive the problem in terms of time constraints have proven to be failures. (The closest this line of thinking has gotten to a functional solution is the hellcrawl doom clock, but even that fails to address many of the problems of dcss combat as I understand them, even where it is successful in terms of the extremely unambitious framing of the problem you see in dcss discourse, e.g. "doomRL-style waitscumming.")

A monster that the player can't kill and doesn't move, though it would be natural to implement as a monster, is not a conventional crawl monster. It's really a kind of terrain or dungeon feature. The virtue of this approach compared to spawns is partially, as you say, that the location of the statues is telegraphed to the player, i.e. it's part of the dungeon structure. The real key, though, is that where spawns are placed randomly and therefore may never do anything at all, tend to appear alone so that they pose no threat, etc. statues are part of the layout and therefore can be placed so as to ensure they actually do what they're supposed to do.
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Post Friday, 10th January 2020, 14:48

Re: anti-luring feature: statues

I agree space and terrain are better than time and clock as I hate time/clock in turn-based games.
Another possibility (probably unexplored) is to make time freeze when player does not regenerate HP after being hit by non-summoned monsters. If monsters don't move when player is at full HP, it will solve theoretical problem of shouting or just waiting until monsters come into view. The "being hit by non-summoned monsters" should protect from casting fireballs at itself or summoning hostile demons.
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Snake Sneak

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Post Saturday, 11th January 2020, 08:40

Re: anti-luring feature: statues

A problem I see with statues is they would be unlikely to work if player is luring towards a cramped corner in a twisted corridor, which is where most luring takes place. I mean players tend to lure to places where few tiles are visible, so few statues are visible as well.

You could try work around that by making statues in proximity work even if they're out of sight, but that's a can of worms. Suddenly you expect player to scout ahead or lure deeper.

Do you know why I lure? Often "just in case". Just in case the orc wizard casts Magic Dart. Just in case the orc priest smites. Uncertainty is a big part of it for me. What I would greatly appreciate is easy and fast way to determine monster range. Can that Lich cast Iron Bolt from 7 tiles? How about 6? Can that death drake breath twice in a row? Yesterday it seemed they can - I blinked as soon as he breathed at me, and he breathed immediately afterwards. Divide&conquer, sight limitations are very easy ways to control and understand how many monsters can affect you at a time.

Let's approach it from the other side. Imagine luring is completely impossible in the game. How is player supposed to deal with overwhelming (groups of) monsters? Consumables(limited resources)? Is there anything else you can give players to manage monsters?

Historically, some arcade games have been very good at preventing luring. You can't leave the room until you kill all monsters in it. Nuclear Throne / Binding of Isaac style. What I think is most aggravating about luring is the back-and-forth nature of it. It's profoundly boring to watch, so you don't see it used repeatedly used in movies. That is, unless you count horror movies because the good guys never learn to stick together. Which leads me to...

One-way corridors. They don't have to permanently break when you use them, just close behind you for a few dozens of turns. Maybe a monster pulls a lever and the door closes. Problem is, a lot of luring has to do with Stealth, the sacred cow of 15 rune players.
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Post Saturday, 11th January 2020, 13:08

Re: anti-luring feature: statues

Yeah, the point is to stop the player from luring monsters into situations like you describe, so they have to fight monsters near where they generate. I strongly agree that the luring-heavy gameplay of dcss is bad.

One way corridors sounds fine to me, except for the corridor part, but that's one of the things statues as I present them would/could simulate (using monster mechanics instead of new terrain manipulations). Now in my opinion it's not just luring but backtracking in general that's bad and if it were me, I would go with simpler statue mechanics that don't necessarily allow the player to backtrack after killing whatever's chasing them. There's no compelling reason to allow the player to return to dead levels or dead areas of the current level. You don't have to allow it and allowing it leads to piss poor gameplay.
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