Food Reform


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

Temple Termagant

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Post Monday, 19th March 2012, 23:43

Food Reform

My problem with food is that it's a negative (or subtractive) mechanic and not a positive (or additive) mechanic.

In two words, food is Not Fun.

You get no benefits from food other than that you may continue playing. It does not help your character in any way. The only thing that food actually DOES is let you continue what you were doing anyway. For example, not being hungry lets you berserk. It's not the food itself that lets you berserk, though. It's that your food state sometimes prevents it. Hunger interrupts map exploration. It interferes with combat. It messes with spellcasting. It causes frustration and drudgery. Food in Crawl is an entirely negative, or subtractive, experience.

Its purpose in the game is to prevent or limit fun. It's not an enemy to be outsmarted. You can't interact with food--there's no cooking. You can't be clever with food to allow things not normally done (except perhaps Fedhas skills). All it does--and I do mean ALL IT DOES--is get in your way.

Don't give me the line about how important food is to balance. Development focused entirely on notions of balance instead of notions of fun is how you end up doing pointless crap like removing Mountain Dwarves and pissing everybody off. They weren't hurting anything, for the Gods' sakes.

Instead, the focus should be on turning food into a positive mechanic. Finding ways to make it fun and improve the experience of the player. Balance is certainly important, but it's something you do AFTER you've made the game more interesting.

Here are some ideas, going from mild to major, to make food more fun. They're not really part of one big proposal; rather, they're a bunch of separate ideas that might work together:

-Eliminate nausea/sickness. This was a terrible idea to begin with. Its only purpose is to make food even more tedious. Oh, you need to eat two chunks? Well, you can't, because F you.

-Growing plants. Let the player cultivate a garden. Gardening is an active and optional interaction and it would make the game more interesting for the players who chose to do it. Players who hated carving chunks could just farm all their food somewhere. Since fruit is faster to eat anyway, this would be a strategic decision as well. Yes, they'd have to do it on a non-normal level because of the OOD monster anti-scum timer, but would it be so awful if players could establish a home base somewhere?

-Freeze the metabolism timer when hunger is at normal. The real scum timer isn't food, it's the OOD monster timer. Just let people play and explore without constantly being forced to play the carve 'minigame'. It's a game that sucks. If food absolutely can't be divorced from spellcasting or other concerns, fine. That's no reason to make everyone keep eating 2-3 times per level. Spellhunger, and hunger from other sources like Berserk, would remain. Hunger below normal would continue to decrease until starvation, and hunger above normal would degrade to normal, at the current rates. This would let people fight and explore and cast minor spells without food getting in the way.

-A gathering/survival skill that lets you make jerky and/or get more nutrition from regular food. Even if no other change was made, this would be a positive addition and add fun to the game. Before you say it would serve no purpose since there's lots of food, keep in mind that it would give players a greater sense of progress and control. It would be something they could track and improve that would make playing less tedious.

-Positive benefits from corpse eating. This is probably the most controversial thing I'll propose. Interesting or unique food should have some interesting or unique benefit. For example, eating fire drake should give fire resistance (and if not permanent, the duration should be really long). Resistances are all pretty obvious as far as ideas go, but I think the coolest thing to see would be special xp gains from named critters. For example, eating Sigmund might grant 1000 xp per chunk into the Fire Magic skill. (This would go well with a survival skill, giving you more chunks or something). Some monsters could also give increases to aptitudes for a period of time (or for a set number of levels). This idea would take a lot of work and balancing, since to actually be interesting the benefits would have to be non-trivial, but it'd be a huge step in the right direction.

-Just eliminate food altogether. Adjust spell costs by mana and remove the food requirements. Put a cooldown timer on Berserk and lengthen the penalty phase. No hunger, ever. It would be an improvement.

Ziggurat Zagger

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Post Tuesday, 20th March 2012, 00:04

Re: Food Reform

I count three entries on the Will Not Do list, one obvious port of one of ADOM's most annoying and tedious features, and one obvious port of one of Nethack's top five unbalanced features. Also the logical argument of the premise jumps from 'food is a challenge' to 'food is bad' in a single non sequitur step. Also, users that post a long, confrontational rant with their first and only post are pretty suspicious to start with.

I'm not sure this post is even worth refuting.

Mines Malingerer

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Post Tuesday, 20th March 2012, 00:08

Re: Food Reform

I agree that food should be removed altogether. It's tedious, doesn't add anything to gameplay, easily trivialized and somehow makes the game -less- immersive then it would be in its absence. High Level spells and abilities can be controlled through adding glow to all spells, forcing the player to switch between using no glow low level spells and the current high food bombs with the added benefit of bringing Necromtutation and Mummy summoners back in line somewhat. God wrath can similary be tied to tension, or XP gain, or exploration or freaking ANYTHING rather than forcing me to cut up corpses every hundred turns throughout the entire game.

Slime Squisher

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Post Tuesday, 20th March 2012, 00:12

Re: Food Reform

minmay wrote:Don't forget using a change every developer supported as an example of a bad change.


But it bothered the demographic that enjoys redundant races, plant scumming, permanent effects from corpses, useless skills, cooking, and is playing Crawl instead of ADOM for whatever reason
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Vaults Vanquisher

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Post Tuesday, 20th March 2012, 00:20

Re: Food Reform

I stopped reading at "food reform".
Your warning level: [CLASSIFIED]

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cerebovssquire

Tartarus Sorceror

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Post Tuesday, 20th March 2012, 00:23

Re: Food Reform

"The current food game is tedious and boring. To fix this, I propose adding a farming simulator, an additional skill to dump XP into, and an incentive to grind for corpses."

Temple Termagant

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Post Tuesday, 20th March 2012, 00:26

Re: Food Reform

Suspicious for having a long first post? What do you think I'm doing, sneaking in here from another game and trying to ruin crawl?

I know that they've said that a cooking skill would be useless, but if that's true, then it's useless in the same way traps and doors is useless. Traps can kill you, hence the skill. You don't need traps and doors to survive, but it's nice to have if you care.

I see a few 'how dare anyone want to change this, he must be stupid' posts, but no posts actually refuting my central point--that food adds nothing positive to the game. It's just a tedious chore with some balance issues wobbling precariously atop it. If you don't like my ideas, that's cool. They were just ideas. Say why and come up with your own.

And don't give me the bit about how devs have previously said they didn't like the idea. Appeals to authority are a logical fallacy, as I'm sure you're aware. :)

Temple Termagant

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Post Tuesday, 20th March 2012, 00:27

Re: Food Reform

nicolae wrote:"The current food game is tedious and boring. To fix this, I propose adding a farming simulator, an additional skill to dump XP into, and an incentive to grind for corpses."


Or just get rid of food altogether. You'll note that two of my ideas were along those lines. What do you suggest, then? Or do you think carving is fun?

Temple Termagant

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Post Tuesday, 20th March 2012, 00:43

Re: Food Reform

I read the manual, including the design philosophy and rejected ideas. Anyone who hasn't been playing for 20 hours a weeks and forum whoring for years can easily recognize how much food sucks. You must be inured to drudgery, I can only surmise.

Explain to me how the food system MEETS the design goals of 'Challenging and random gameplay with skill making a real difference' or 'Meaningful decisions (no no-brainers)'. Where exactly does skill factor in to carving? How is there anything meaningful about the decision to carve 2-3 times per level so you can keep playing?

Tartarus Sorceror

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Post Tuesday, 20th March 2012, 00:48

Re: Food Reform

gruevy wrote:
nicolae wrote:"The current food game is tedious and boring. To fix this, I propose adding a farming simulator, an additional skill to dump XP into, and an incentive to grind for corpses."


Or just get rid of food altogether. You'll note that two of my ideas were along those lines. What do you suggest, then? Or do you think carving is fun?


Carving is not a Thrill Ride but I don't actually care that much about having to do it. It's certainly less of an impediment to my enjoyment of the game than, say, paralysis. Or permadeath.

Probably my favorite idea for making food more "fun" is to give certain permafoods tactical uses, like how ambrosia refills your MP but confuses you, and how Fedhas lets you do shit with fruit.

That said, I do occasionally enjoy playing a Ghoul and making Cookie Monster noises while I devour chunk after chunk after chunk, but only if no one's around.

I wouldn't mind if food got removed entirely, but entirely removing a core feature of the game is probably not going to happen unless someone bothers writing up, in detail, a new system of rebalanced spell/ability/Berserk costs, species differentiation, corpse uses, branch difficulties, etc. for the post-food Crawl, so that any coder who also hates food has design goals to write up for their huge new patch. Just going "Hey, I had a thought that would drastically alter nearly every facet of gameplay, but I'll let you guys do all the work of thinking up numbers and balance issues and stuff" is not a real great way to make a suggestion.

gruevy wrote:Appeals to authority are a logical fallacy, as I'm sure you're aware. :)


Not if the person appealed to is actually regarded as an authority by members of the relevant field. :)

Temple Termagant

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Post Tuesday, 20th March 2012, 00:52

Re: Food Reform

minmay wrote:I am not talking about the existing food system (I hate it too, by the way). I am talking about your ideas for it. Your ideas are in very clear contradiction of the design goals, except perhaps for removing food outright, which isn't your idea.


They were all my ideas. Not surprised of all of them have been had before.

And instead of Hurr, Durr, design goals you moron, why couldn't you at least make a brief argument about any single point? Or better yet, come up with different ideas?

Ziggurat Zagger

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Post Tuesday, 20th March 2012, 00:53

Re: Food Reform

If we're going to barbecue this zebra, maybe we should take it over to Crazy Yiuf's? He was the last one to borrow the barbecue sauce.

Temple Termagant

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Post Tuesday, 20th March 2012, 01:01

Re: Food Reform

nicolae wrote:
Not if the person appealed to is actually regarded as an authority by members of the relevant field. :)


Actually, you got me there :)

Ya, it'd be a lot of work, but I remember how active and creative the team was during the 5.0 days, and how really fresh and original things made it into the game, and I look at what's going on now, and I'm a bit disappointed. They've been nerfing easy early-game stuff (or removing it) for a couple versions now, and the things they've added have been increasingly situational and gimmicky. Nothing can be added just for flavor, it seems. Each of the new races has been cool, but increasingly narrow in utility and purpose, and based on some real stretches in design. Some of the ideas are cool, (like the new xp system, which is fantastic) but it seems like the main concerns now aren't making the game more accessible for new players, they've all been about balancing the end game while carefully not nerfing the most useful end-game strategies (abyss scumming, I'm looking at you). I'm not necessarily opposed to any of the changes (other than getting rid of MD, like a majority of players, I'm confident). It's just that these changes seem to all be the kind of nitpicky modifications you start worrying about when you run out of big ideas.

I'd like to see the most tedious, boring, awful gameplay mechanic ever placed squarely in the sights of some creative people. That's why I'm bothering making the point and tossing out a few ideas.

EDIT - spelling

Tartarus Sorceror

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Post Tuesday, 20th March 2012, 01:05

Re: Food Reform

gruevy wrote:I'd like to see the most tedious, boring, awful gameplay mechanic ever placed squarely in the sights of some creative people.


...then why did you make a thread about food instead of inventory and stash management?

Dungeon Master

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Post Tuesday, 20th March 2012, 01:06

Re: Food Reform

gruevy wrote:I know that they've said that a cooking skill would be useless, but if that's true, then it's useless in the same way traps and doors is useless. Traps can kill you, hence the skill. You don't need traps and doors to survive, but it's nice to have if you care.

Traps and doors skill has been up for potential removal for a while, yes. There's no fully worked-out plan but many agree it'd be worth getting rid of.

There's definitely still a lot of room for improvement and reduction of annoyance in the food system, but adding cooking and gardening isn't going to help. One of the more drastic ideas is the replacement of food costs with glow costs. It's been implemented in Crawl Light if you want to try it out, and there's a proposal to add a new race to try out the mechanic in Stone Soup.

Temple Termagant

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Post Tuesday, 20th March 2012, 01:09

Re: Food Reform

nicolae wrote:
gruevy wrote:I'd like to see the most tedious, boring, awful gameplay mechanic ever placed squarely in the sights of some creative people.


...then why did you make a thread about food instead of inventory and stash management?


Shit, that's actually a really good point. Actually, food, tedious inventory design, and item decay are on my trifecta of unfortunate gameplay ideas, but only two of the 3 apply to crawl :). Well, sort of. There's acid, I guess.

Temple Termagant

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Post Tuesday, 20th March 2012, 01:11

Re: Food Reform

MarvinPA wrote:
gruevy wrote:I know that they've said that a cooking skill would be useless, but if that's true, then it's useless in the same way traps and doors is useless. Traps can kill you, hence the skill. You don't need traps and doors to survive, but it's nice to have if you care.

Traps and doors skill has been up for potential removal for a while, yes. There's no fully worked-out plan but many agree it'd be worth getting rid of.

There's definitely still a lot of room for improvement and reduction of annoyance in the food system, but adding cooking and gardening isn't going to help. One of the more drastic ideas is the replacement of food costs with glow costs. It's been implemented in Crawl Light if you want to try it out, and there's a proposal to add a new race to try out the mechanic in Stone Soup.


I looked at the Djinn, and I liked the idea for the most part. You'd have to make it so they can't follow Jivya, but then it would be obvious that the designers hate you. :) Still, I'll have to check it out. I wasn't aware they were playable in Crawl Light.

Edit - Also, I mentioned cooking and gardening because they'd be less of a drastic change that some of the other ideas (including glow). It might not sound like fun to a lot of people, but at least it's something. Honestly, neither of those were what I'd really like to see. I just thought I'd toss them out there. I guess they weren't hits :)
Last edited by gruevy on Tuesday, 20th March 2012, 01:13, edited 1 time in total.

Dungeon Master

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Post Tuesday, 20th March 2012, 01:17

Re: Food Reform

gruevy wrote:I looked at the Djinn, and I liked the idea for the most part. You'd have to make it so they can't follow Jivya, but then it would be obvious that the designers hate you. :) Still, I'll have to check it out. I wasn't aware they were playable in Crawl Light.

Not quite, what I meant was that Crawl Light has gone ahead and totally replaced all food costs with glow costs as a general change (and removed the food clock entirely). The Djinn proposal is an idea to test that concept in Stone Soup as a feature of just one race, to see how it works out.

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Post Tuesday, 20th March 2012, 01:19

Re: Food Reform

If we're going to incorporate any kind of fix to the chunk system, somebody needs to go in and take out the code that keeps clean monsters from leaving corpses until you give in and eat your permafood, at which point the next ten monsters you kill will leave clean chunks.

Temple Termagant

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Post Tuesday, 20th March 2012, 01:19

Re: Food Reform

minmay wrote:
gruevy wrote:why couldn't you at least make a brief argument about any single point?

I could, actually. Growing plants would be grinding and nothing else. So would the ability to turn chunks into permanent food (chunks themselves are often grindy but that doesn't make it acceptable to make them more so). Additional benefits from eating corpses is the same - it adds no interesting decisions, it just makes you eat everything. If you're looking for effects that aren't strictly good, mutagenic chunks already have that covered and adding any more complexity to that serves no purpose.


You're right about the plants. The reason it would be an improvement is that it give the player an option to have a more active role, but it is indeed grindy. I wouldn't call it scumming though. Turning chunks into permanent food is also not grindy, because you do it once on a pile of dead orcs and don't worry about it for 10 levels. That's less grindy than 2-3 times per level. As for additional benefits from eating corpses, that would add interesting decisions if you were limited in how much you could eat, or if most things had a positive and a negative effect. I had a lot more complex idea of how it could work, but it clearly wasn't a very popular idea, so I won't bother. The most important thing that it would do would make eating a potentially positive experience.

gruevy wrote:most useful end-game strategies (abyss scumming

what the fuck[/quote]

I've never tried it. Perhaps the person who explained how it works was full of shit. I could've picked a different example, though, but whatever.

Temple Termagant

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Post Tuesday, 20th March 2012, 01:23

Re: Food Reform

MarvinPA wrote:
gruevy wrote:I looked at the Djinn, and I liked the idea for the most part. You'd have to make it so they can't follow Jivya, but then it would be obvious that the designers hate you. :) Still, I'll have to check it out. I wasn't aware they were playable in Crawl Light.

Not quite, what I meant was that Crawl Light has gone ahead and totally replaced all food costs with glow costs as a general change (and removed the food clock entirely). The Djinn proposal is an idea to test that concept in Stone Soup as a feature of just one race, to see how it works out.


Ah, gotcha. Now I'm definitely going to check it out.

Dungeon Master

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Post Tuesday, 20th March 2012, 01:33

Re: Food Reform

gruevy wrote:And don't give me the bit about how devs have previously said they didn't like the idea. Appeals to authority are a logical fallacy, as I'm sure you're aware. :)


I've noted devs commented on more than one occasion something along the lines of "if we devised a game from scratch, it wouldn't have a food clock..."

So you are entirely off the mark; the devs actually agree with a large portion of your basic concern.

The problem is that Crawl has been designed from the ground up with the food clock as a primary balancing mechanic. You can't just take that away or swap it for something else without potentially upsetting the balance of every other feature in the entire game. The amazing thing is that some progress has actually been made towards significantly changing such a fundamental mechanic (along with partial skill levels!)

I think a more realistic view is: if someone came up with a new idea that was interesting and well-received by a large portion of the devs and community, and wasn't so complex as to take up months of real development time, and maybe if someone independently implemented that mechanic on their own fork of Crawl then it's quite likely a dev or two might take a look and decide that it actually worked really well and suddenly such a change would be reality.

I'm certainly not seeing anything in this thread that meets those criteria! ;)

Edit: I wrote this before I saw the Djinn proposal referenced, that does sound like an interesting idea ...
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Dungeon Master

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Post Tuesday, 20th March 2012, 12:39

Re: Food Reform

gruevy wrote:My problem with food is that it's a negative (or subtractive) mechanic and not a positive (or additive) mechanic.

So true. But it's not the only one! MP is annoying. When you don't have any, you can't cast spells! That's stupid. And bad. Glow also. I don't like it, it just hurts and give bad mutations. The worst is HP. When you run out of it, you die, it's so annoying.
Or maybe these are resources you have to manage.
Also, stop insulting people.
<+Grunt> You dereference an invalid pointer! Ouch! That really hurt! The game dies...

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Shoals Surfer

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Post Tuesday, 20th March 2012, 14:32

Re: Food Reform

galehar wrote:
gruevy wrote:My problem with food is that it's a negative (or subtractive) mechanic and not a positive (or additive) mechanic.

So true. But it's not the only one! MP is annoying. When you don't have any, you can't cast spells! That's stupid. And bad. Glow also. I don't like it, it just hurts and give bad mutations. The worse it HP. When you run out of it, you die, it's so annoying.
Or maybe these are resources you have to manage.
Also, stop insulting people.



Pot, Kettle Galehar (it this post was humor/sarcasm, sorry for not picking up on it).

Ziggurat Zagger

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Post Tuesday, 20th March 2012, 15:45

Re: Food Reform

It was sarcasm, with a healthy dash of reductio ad absurdem thrown in.

Temple Termagant

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Post Tuesday, 20th March 2012, 16:27

Re: Food Reform

loquar latina
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Shoals Surfer

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Post Tuesday, 20th March 2012, 16:39

Re: Food Reform

LOL. "Hey guys cutting up corpses for chunks is super tedious. [agreed!] So let's force the player to fucking FARM! [wtf] And get permanent benefits from eating chunks [double wtf]"
(p.s. this is stupid some dev please make it not stupid) - minmay

Ziggurat Zagger

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Post Tuesday, 20th March 2012, 17:14

Re: Food Reform

minmay wrote:i seem to be the only person on this forum who knows what a reductio ad absurdum is


You're certainly the only one who'd feel compelled to make that statement.
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Vestibule Violator

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Post Tuesday, 20th March 2012, 17:36

Re: Food Reform

Okay... I think what little merit this had has run out. Let's close this discussion.

[Thread Locked]

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