Zigs


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

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Tomb Titivator

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Post Friday, 21st October 2011, 03:33

Zigs

I did a few zigs today and I found searching for them in pan to be extremely tedious. Furthermore I hear that if you decide to do a large amount of them you end up having to scum for gold to keep it up. I know after you complete a zig you really should win but sometimes you can grow attached to a character and want to play with it a bit more... and there's nothing to really do at that point other than completing more zigs.

My suggestion is to have an entrance portal to a zig guaranteed in the main dungeon and never close... similar to pan entrances. Furthermore players who complete zigs should be rewarded a large sum of gold that can be used to enter future zigs. I really don't see why this isn't the case already.

On a final note I think that completing your first zig should add significantly to your score. At the moment there's no real incentive to do them other than the fun of it and often times that's overshadowed by the fact that you can just win and a lot of people are afraid to risk it.

Ziggurat Zagger

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Post Friday, 21st October 2011, 04:22

Re: Zigs

Ziggurats are inherently an exercise in tedium, and I don't think they can be fixed without some fairly comprehensive changes. In the end, you're bulldozing through the same tactical situation over and over, and once you've got a character that can clear one Ziggurat there's not much to stop you from racking up the numbers until you get too bored to continue. Nor is it particularly complicated to clear; you can freely grind as long as you want in Pan at no risk to your character until you have the killer combo that can handle everything. Death's Door and Controlled Blink bypass every situation that gets even slightly touchy.

Really, infinite play with the same character doesn't really work in Crawl. Once you've done everything, go win and generate a new character to start over. Adding additional monster sets don't really solve the fundamental problem that you can simply grind until you have the tools, and a monster set that demands an additional tool to beat is simply another thing lengthening the grind.

If I wanted to save the concept of Ziggurats, I'd probably make them a post-endgame timed portal. One time only. It can pop up anywhere in Pan, Hell, Slime, Tomb, or Zot, and it's guaranteed to show up in one of these places. You get a labyrinth-style announcement as you enter the level, and you either take the Ziggurat Challenge right then and there or you give it up forever. No need to grind Pan levels to find it, and indeed if you try you'll get it before you're ready.

Since players would no longer be able to rack up arbitrarily large numbers of Ziggurat levels cleared with which to compare their Crawl-manhood, emphasis would have to shift to clearing out the Ziggurat efficiently rather than stacking the ultimate killer combo of doom and turtling forth. You get points by grabbing loot, exploring territory, and killing monsters, and you lose points by wasting time. Sometimes you would actually have to make a judgment as to whether clearing out the last dregs of a level are worth the investment. If you take too much damage and have to rest up, that could cost you more than you gained for getting in that fight in the first place! But if you ninja past fights that would've been profitable, you fall behind that way too. In this way, players who want to show of their mighty Crawl prowess can compare Ziggurat Challenge scores, and these scores will hopefully have some vague relationship to actual Crawl playing ability.
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Tomb Titivator

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Post Friday, 21st October 2011, 05:16

Re: Zigs

I don't really like how you can grind pan, the abyss, or hell effects until you have a godly character. And to be honest I don't think anyone really does that... I went to do zigs once I had my 15th rune. I didn't have great gear, skills, or anything really. Even if you limited experience gain in some way it'd still be possible to grind for items... so that's an issue. Maybe we can address that in another thread?

I like your idea of only getting one try at zigs... why not have it guaranteed in the main dungeon and not appear anywhere else... then have it has as a one shot deal? I don't like your idea of forcing players to do them now or never though. The fact that they can grind indefinitely in pan is something that should be dealt with separately.

I feel being able to complete a zig is worth something... I find them difficult. Keep in mind players are taking a huge risk after spending 6-8 hours on a character so there really should be a score boost to make it worth it. If you spend a long time preparing then the score boost won't be worth it... since your final score factors in the number of turns played.

As a final note I feel the best measure of a good player is their high score. Crawl isn't a game that you can just grind towards a high score... you have to win fast and brutally efficient. I'm sure players who achieve this find winning to be trivial... I still struggle to win and only actually succeed 1%-2% of the time... those spiny frogs kill me a lot.... :evil:

Having a zig as a one shot thing while giving it a significant boost to your score wouldn't really change anything... good players will just have to add zigs to their high score runs and do them efficiently too.
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Halls Hopper

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Post Saturday, 29th October 2011, 06:08

Re: Zigs

On a final note I think that completing your first zig should add significantly to your score. At the moment there's no real incentive to do them other than the fun of it and often times that's overshadowed by the fact that you can just win and a lot of people are afraid to risk it.


An elegant way to do that would be to add a ziggurat rune that's guaranteed to be generated in the zig:27 loot if (and only if) the player doesn't already have it. Of course, that would increase the difficulty of "all rune" games and probably decrease the viability of a lot of gods for said games, so people probably wouldn't like it.

Ziggurat Zagger

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Post Saturday, 29th October 2011, 06:18

Re: Zigs

Danei wrote:An elegant way to do that would be to add a ziggurat rune that's guaranteed to be generated in the zig:27 loot if (and only if) the player doesn't already have it. Of course, that would increase the difficulty of "all rune" games and probably decrease the viability of a lot of gods for said games, so people probably wouldn't like it.


It would also be boring as sin. The only Ziggurat that's interesting is the first one you win, ever. Pan is already sometimes a slog just racking up five Runes, with four of those announced. The game experience would not be enhanced by forcing me to play another 20 or so Pan levels looking for a Ziggurat, and then speedrunning past 27 levels of chaff without taking a second look at any of the loot, in order to get all my Runes.

Vaults Vanquisher

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Post Friday, 11th November 2011, 04:25

Re: Zigs

Was about to make a new topic but may as well use this one...

Anyways, I too think grinding to find/pay for zigs is a bit silly. I think the idea for them to cost a high amount of gold was to have late game gold do something, but whoever came up with that idea really didn't think it through. Your first zig is almost unenterable before you've found 15 runes if its > 6k gold, and afterwards there's nothing to do but ziggurats, so you'll just end up switching to nemelex so you can spawn zigs in hopes of cheap ones.

So zigs really need to cost 3-5k max for their cost to have any relevance whatsoever, if they even SHOULD have to cost ANYTHING.

As for death's door making levels trivial, that's a problem with death's door, not ziggurats. I can't see why anyone would think DD should last more than a handfull of turns.

Additionally, I don't see why there really needs to be an end to ziggurat levels. If you're past Ziggurat level 12 or so, you're just goofing around past 15 runes, so there's no need to even have to exit, just play till you die or bail out.

Ziggurat Zagger

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Post Friday, 11th November 2011, 04:50

Re: Zigs

greepish wrote:Was about to make a new topic but may as well use this one...

Anyways, I too think grinding to find/pay for zigs is a bit silly. I think the idea for them to cost a high amount of gold was to have late game gold do something, but whoever came up with that idea really didn't think it through. Your first zig is almost unenterable before you've found 15 runes if its > 6k gold, and afterwards there's nothing to do but ziggurats, so you'll just end up switching to nemelex so you can spawn zigs in hopes of cheap ones.

So zigs really need to cost 3-5k max for their cost to have any relevance whatsoever, if they even SHOULD have to cost ANYTHING.


Actually, they tend to be pretty easy to enter any time after the first three Runes unless you've had exceptional luck with shop and bazaar spawns. The price tag is mostly there to keep low-level newbies from splatting promising characters because they walked into a death trap.

greepish wrote:As for death's door making levels trivial, that's a problem with death's door, not ziggurats. I can't see why anyone would think DD should last more than a handfull of turns.


No, it's a problem with Ziggurats. In an isolated set of circumstances it could be either or both, but in this case Ziggurats spam the same tactical situation at you over and over. No matter what set of tools are available to deal with that tactical situation, once you have the minimum requirements you can just spam them right back. If the less-tedious option of Death's Door is removed, then you just go to a more tedious option.

greepish wrote:Additionally, I don't see why there really needs to be an end to ziggurat levels. If you're past Ziggurat level 12 or so, you're just goofing around past 15 runes, so there's no need to even have to exit, just play till you die or bail out.


And each level down, you deal with a slightly larger mass of undifferentiated, uninteresting monsters packed butt-to-gut together? Which you clear using exactly the same tactics as the last level, whatever those tactics might be, only you spend a little bit more time in the process?

A monster can only be an interesting challenge if the player is still weak enough to be challenged. A Ziggurat-running player can trivially but tediously grind away any such weaknesses.

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Post Friday, 11th November 2011, 04:58

Re: Zigs

As for the price tag, I'm just saying the higher price tags, as in 6k+, have no meaning. As per the wiki, unless it's wrong (pretty sure I have seen high prices), Zigs can cost up to 14k. I'm saying, why make a zig that's unenterable in a "real" game? In a "real" game, there is a legitimate choice to enter for a few artifacts if it has a low cost. And in a "fake" game, as in screwing around after hell, there's no need for a price tag.

As for the death's door reply and levels, you're assuming no more work is going to be into ziggurats to make the tactics more interesting, I'm sure there will be, and then DD will be that silly problem. E.g. why not make a zig level with random uniques? or a zig level with hell effects? Or traps? etc, etc

Dungeon Master

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Post Friday, 11th November 2011, 07:57

Re: Zigs

Well, ziggurats were my idea and I once offered to remove them, but got no positive feedback. I agree that stringing ziggurats is not desirable. This kind of "undesirable" is not new, however: players used to grind Pan forever, which is perhaps even more boring. In my opinion, there should be no unlimited content whatsoever (i.e. Abyss and Pan should overwhelm anyone after a long while) but there are other opinions, too.

That said, I am fine with having at most one ziggurat in a game.
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Zot Zealot

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Post Friday, 11th November 2011, 09:20

Re: Zigs

Fiendish Zig-specific vaults?
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Post Friday, 11th November 2011, 11:23

Re: Zigs

I'd be more in favor of "difficult to exit" ziggurats than one ziggurat only.

Basically, banishment is impossible and perhaps a few enemies will "greet you" at every level entry to prevent skipping the level with deaths door and zapping a heal wand a few times at the beginning of he next level.

Exit portals should only appear on levels 9, 18, and 27, so if you go past 18 and get stuck with a doozy on level 23 or something, you'll have to deal with it.

Edit: In particular it'd be great if stairs only appears once all enemies were defeated.

Ziggurat Zagger

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Post Friday, 11th November 2011, 12:41

Re: Zigs

Adding additional complexity to Ziggurats is, of course, likely to be a good thing in general. Spreading out monsters in them is a simple thing that would probably go a long way towards making them more tactically interesting. Just making them harder, however, is not actually a solution at all. If they're made harder but still possible, then there's just a longer span of mandatory grinding time before they can be entered. If they get Test Spawners on the exit tiles or some other problem that's completely unmanageable, then they're reduced to a luck-based mission where you simply have to hope not to get a Test Spawner level.

If anything, I think Ziggurats should get easier. There's a wide variety of character builds that are completely non-viable in Ziggurats for basically no good reason, and only a half dozen builds at best that have a reasonable chance of getting to the bottom without cheese tactics. While the various builds need not be equally strong, any notable part of the game should be at least accessible to almost everybody.

Ultimately, the problem I perceive here is one that is already solved. The solution used for the other portal vaults can simply be extended to Ziggurats, perhaps with a twist of some sort. Once the option to engage in infinite grinding before entering is gone, Ziggurats will have some usable design space between 'trivial after grinding' and 'flat-out impossible'. Perhaps a globally timed portal? That is, a single Ziggurat is guaranteed to spawn somewhere in D, and it has a long timer that ticks down whether you've spawned that level or not. When you've played a particular game for 100,000 turns (or whatever value seems appropriate) the one Ziggurat portal closes and you miss your chance with that character. The timer should be high enough for any non-farmer to get close to the endgame, but not so high that you can sit around and farm that endgame. Players would have to play the Ziggurat with the build they actually used for the game, rather than rebuilding every character to have high-level spells in half the magic skills in the game, even if they started as a berserker.

Vaults Vanquisher

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Post Friday, 11th November 2011, 13:29

Re: Zigs

The trouble with a timer is the that the second you become powerful you can gain rediculous amounts of ecperience by just doing pan levels with fiends/lords and going to the next after defeating them. So much that you could get a buttload of exp in a mere 20k turns or so. OTOH, pre-pan/hell 20k turns can result in far less exp. So a timer would have to be really sensitive to get that brief moment when you have enough experience for the zig to be applicable. If you really want it so that a zig in a tournament couldn't have been beaten with grind, why not just have the portal close if the player enters pan? I.e. the exact opposite of the way it is now.

Dungeon Master

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Post Friday, 11th November 2011, 14:02

Re: Zigs

For ideas how to make ziggurats more interesting (monster sets, monster placement, furniture, additional rules and effects), make sure they end up on the wiki:
https://crawl.develz.org/wiki/doku.php? ... :ziggurats

Discussing here is fine, of course.
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Ziggurat Zagger

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Post Friday, 16th December 2011, 16:01

Re: Zigs

The easiest way to fix Ziggurats is to require the Rune of Zot to enter them and make the exit enter them. Tada. :)
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Ziggurat Zagger

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Post Friday, 16th December 2011, 18:11

Re: Zigs

XuaXua wrote:The easiest way to fix Ziggurats is to require the Rune of Zot to enter them and make the exit enter them. Tada. :)


So, in order to finish the game we have to Pan-farm for several real-time hours to xp grind nearly every single character long enough to be able to mulch quantities of closely-packed enemies 27 times in a row? There are few enough character builds that are viable in Ziggurats without making them mandatory.

Shoals Surfer

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Post Friday, 16th December 2011, 18:21

Re: Zigs

you could "fix" zigs by giving every character a rod of 0.9 version tornado right in the entrance of level 1.

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Post Friday, 16th December 2011, 18:30

Re: Zigs

Problem is you could just enter for the rod and leave on Z:1 :P

Actually, I think a fun thing to do is make zigs into a sort of Sprint Mode. Start with level 27 skills, every spellbook, and some standard but crappy gear. Make your way through using only the equipment you find to help you.

For this message the author greepish has received thanks:
XuaXua

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