How can we simplify the summoning school?


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

Spider Stomper

Posts: 200

Joined: Sunday, 11th May 2014, 11:26

Post Wednesday, 19th February 2020, 16:39

How can we simplify the summoning school?

Summoning school is a very unique and incredibly powerful school. So are the gods who give allies at player. However, the strength of the ally play does not guarantee enjoy.

Unlike warriors or destruction wizards, ally play is difficult to advance quickly by tapping or using macros. Therefore, the more often you use tactics to fight with your allies, the longer the game will take. With many keystrokes and slow-paced games, players is getting tired.

Trog, TSO, Mak, Gozag can also summon allies, but these abilities aren't often used, so they don't significantly increase fatigue. Also, since summoning evo items are not used often, it is cumbersome but bearable.

Here I thought. How can we simplify the summoning school?

The first idea that came to mind was to remove the summoning schools and distribute the summoning spells evenly among other schools. While this method does not address the fundamental flaws of summoning school, it did not seem bad in that it inhibits excessive abuse of summoning spells and gives other schools new tactics. However, I do not want to remove one school if possible.

The second option is to make the summoned entity work like Spectral Weapon or Iskenderun's Battlesphere in the way it attacks the enemy. This is an incomplete idea, but perhaps the speed of summoner's game play will be considerably faster if this method is used.

What else can we do?
Last edited by sdynet on Wednesday, 19th February 2020, 17:58, edited 1 time in total.

For this message the author sdynet has received thanks:
b0rsuk

Snake Sneak

Posts: 124

Joined: Wednesday, 15th January 2014, 07:08

Post Wednesday, 19th February 2020, 16:57

Re: How can we simplify the summoning school?

Remove summons.

For this message the author Kismet has received thanks:
duvessa

Tomb Titivator

Posts: 791

Joined: Thursday, 16th August 2018, 21:19

Post Wednesday, 19th February 2020, 17:37

Re: How can we simplify the summoning school?

Just spamming summons and staying out of combat yourself is already fairly simple. I don't experience pure summoners as being more tedious than AoE specialists.

There are various quality of life improvements which could be made, which would not only effect summoners, and ally xp-stealing could be removed.
Quality of life issues which particularly impact summoners:
polearm reaching requires constantly pressing 'v.' . It might be an improvement if 'vv' did the same
Allies walking into chokepoints, despite being told to 'follow me'
Accidentally walking into chokepoints with tab

Blades Runner

Posts: 584

Joined: Tuesday, 11th December 2018, 19:14

Post Wednesday, 19th February 2020, 18:11

Re: How can we simplify the summoning school?

The simplest improvement would be to make ally commands do what the ally commands say, rather than having them do something different.

Snake Sneak

Posts: 116

Joined: Monday, 14th March 2011, 11:14

Post Wednesday, 19th February 2020, 18:44

Re: How can we simplify the summoning school?

Make player summons incorporeal. They are still sort of "there", but they don't stop monsters from advancing and monsters don't attack them. This means summons would serve as a source of extra damage, but the whole playstyle of using meatshields is gone.

~~~ OR ~~~

The opposite. Summons "work" only so long as player is idly passing turns by pressing
  Code:
.
If player performs another action, summons are paralyzed for 1 turn and "stabbable".

The playstyle would become "player summons some beasts before engagement, enemies clash, player becomes passive and waits for the outcome."

Lore-wise, you could say the caster must direct creatures using his will or maintain the inter-dimensional connection.

Edit:
I crossed out an idea in favor of the one I consider better. The first one smells like a cloud spell. The second one would really let a player use Tab combat, because it would cut down decisions to Summon/Wait/Run away
Last edited by b0rsuk on Friday, 21st February 2020, 11:31, edited 2 times in total.

For this message the author b0rsuk has received thanks:
duvessa

Ziggurat Zagger

Posts: 4407

Joined: Friday, 8th May 2015, 17:51

Post Thursday, 20th February 2020, 07:19

Re: How can we simplify the summoning school?

Make summoning spells exclusive i.e. if you cast one summoning spell, all summons from different spells instantly expire so you choose which summon type to use in specific battle. Current limit of "you can have at most N summons of type X" does not work because you just have N summons of type X and M summons of type Y and P summons of type Z and R summons of type W etc.
I believe summons should stay a valid meat shield, otherwise it is too similar to conjurations.
Underestimated: cleaving, Deep Elf, Formicid, Vehumet, EV
Overestimated: AC, GDS
Twin account of Sandman25

For this message the author VeryAngryFelid has received thanks:
sdynet
User avatar

Vestibule Violator

Posts: 1649

Joined: Saturday, 18th June 2016, 13:57

Post Thursday, 20th February 2020, 11:23

Re: How can we simplify the summoning school?

At the moment, summoning is one of the main culprits of the whole "boring = optimal" problem. With just one spell, you get meatshields, attack power, debuffs, and a way to use stabbing and reaching.

So, question #1: should summoning spells be nerfed? A large (but objectively ignorant) part of me says "yes, no doubt". If summons weren't too reliable, there would be more tension.

Question #2: should the basic mechanics of summonings be modified? That's also very possible, but let's look at examples:

-- Turn summons into totems that grant buffs: that's a charms school rework.
-- Turn summons into totems that cause debuffs: that's a hex school rework.
-- Turn summons into totems that inflict area damage over time: that's a cloud spell rework.

While it encroaches on other school's territory, it does sound kinda cool to me. Very few button presses, if you get a limit of one totem. Then of course you get some problems, if the totems are static you have to recast the spell every encounter, if they follow you the damage totem becomes the kiting totem, unless it's something like the aforementioned spectral weapon.

But there are other mechanics, which are probably more important, and these are the ally management mechanics. I can't stand them. They are the reason why I pretty much never use allies. Positioning is obviously everything, and allies just don't get it. To create some sort of formation, you have to let them move first, watch where they go, and then move yourself, fight a bit, and then see your vantage point vanish when they just take the place of one enemy you killed. I have been told that giving better management options would make the game too slow, but I don't think they can make the game more frustrating.

So my advice the following. Let me give a very simple order: choose ally position relative to me. Like, I say, "stay num6", then I will always have an ally soldered to my right tile. It won't go off chasing daisies or enemies. If I go in a place where it cannot stay to my right, it will just go to one of the closest adjacent tiles. This would be pretty great with the Ancestor God, but would also help with multiple allies.

Limiting summoned monsters to one kind at a time also sounds like a good idea, and I think it would work well with the above positioning proposal.
I Feel the Need--the Need for Beer
Spoiler: show
3DSBeTr 15DSFiRu 3DSMoNe 3FoHuGo 3TrArOk 3HOFEVe 3MfGlOk 4GrEEVe 3BaIEChei 3HuMoOka 3MiWnQaz 3VSFiAsh 3DrTmMakh 3DSCKXom 3OgMoOka 3NaFiOka 3FoFiOka 3MuFEVeh 3CeHuOka 3TrMoTSO 3DEFESif 3DSMoOka 3DSFiOka

For this message the author Shtopit has received thanks:
sdynet

Blades Runner

Posts: 584

Joined: Tuesday, 11th December 2018, 19:14

Post Thursday, 20th February 2020, 17:00

Re: How can we simplify the summoning school?

You can "encroach on other schools" with dual school spells if need be, and just make relatively few "pure" summon spells. One of the strongest *and* least frustrating summoning spells in the game already does this.

This problem extends to gods too though. Ally commands need to work if we have ally commands, and right now ally commands do not work.

I don't think limiting summon count changes their power equation or frustration of using them significantly.
User avatar

Vaults Vanquisher

Posts: 451

Joined: Thursday, 1st November 2018, 02:33

Post Thursday, 20th February 2020, 17:34

Re: How can we simplify the summoning school?

The idea of summons that cannot block monsters has been around for a while under the name "illusion mechanics." Monsters walk through them and destroy or switch places with them, never attack them etc. It's a good reform to allies in general, but I don't see it making the summoning school and summoner background make sense. These things really do have to go.
This is where mechanical excellence and one-thousand four-hundred horsepower pays off.

For this message the author tealizard has received thanks:
duvessa

Snake Sneak

Posts: 116

Joined: Monday, 14th March 2011, 11:14

Post Friday, 21st February 2020, 12:06

Re: How can we simplify the summoning school?

The way I see it summons are at its worst when you keep summoning creatures, "spam" them. Because multiple allies are inherently time-consuming to manage (including estimating if they can last another round). Summoned creatures usually make player very safe, at the price of boredom and having to watch enemies slowly succumb to a death of thousand cuts. This is magnified by the fact summons buy player time, which means mana regeneration, which means more summons.

How about summons "sharing mana" with caster? Dying summons would cost player mana. This would either make matters much better, or much worse, can't figure out which. It would discourage spamming (cheap) summons against melee. Most monsters are melee bruisers. You would have to either summon an overwhelming force right away, or suffer a mana loss, and either be left without mana or use more food. Or do actively do something to kill enemies before your summons die. You would be penalized for drawn-out fights, and especially for using too weak summons. Hybrids might not care though.

Base mana penalty would be equal to summon level. If a spell summons multiple creatures, it could be split among the entire pack.
User avatar

Vaults Vanquisher

Posts: 451

Joined: Thursday, 1st November 2018, 02:33

Post Friday, 21st February 2020, 12:47

Re: How can we simplify the summoning school?

It's important to emphasize the connection between summoning/allies and boredom. It's not incidental. Having an essentially free, computer controlled monster fight for the player is obviously going to be boring. There are no stakes, no risk, barely any tactics most of the time. Safety doesn't come at the price of boredom. Safety is boredom.

There are lots of ways to make the usability side of summons less obnoxious. A careful critical look at the message spam would probably reveal simple improvements, ways to combine and condense messages. There are possible alternate casting mechanics that would make them less repetitive and spammy. As long as the core mechanics of summoning remain though, the boredom will too. Better usability for a bad system can only take you so far.
This is where mechanical excellence and one-thousand four-hundred horsepower pays off.

For this message the author tealizard has received thanks: 2
duvessa, nago

Blades Runner

Posts: 584

Joined: Tuesday, 11th December 2018, 19:14

Post Friday, 21st February 2020, 16:24

Re: How can we simplify the summoning school?

Could always make summons durable with a cost for having them out, and a delay before summoning again if they die. Total # of summon spells could be reduced also. Summon demon is the most obvious candidate for removal, but you also could make a case for imps, canine familiar, butterflies, ice beasts, etc depending one what they are replaced by in starting books (if applicable).

Again, I need to emphasize that none of this will make them particularly less tedious unless allies in general are less tedious. Having the follow command actually work would by itself greatly improve the usability of summons. I don't think that's sufficient, but it would help a lot.

Return to Game Design Discussion

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 11 guests

Powered by phpBB © 2000, 2002, 2005, 2007 phpBB Group.
Designed by ST Software for PTF.