Better monster descriptions


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

Ziggurat Zagger

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Post Saturday, 12th February 2011, 16:04

Re: Better monster descriptions

Do you want the description to change as a character advances, too? If you want the description to editorialize about the level of strength of the monster, you have to accommodate for the fact that for one of my wizards an ogre is a panic-inducing threat in the early game but a great source of cheap and easy training for fighting skill later on. The description would also have to detect active resistances on the player, too, because a monster's threat level can change dramatically if its main attack is ineffective.
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Dungeon Master

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Post Saturday, 12th February 2011, 16:53

Re: Better monster descriptions

KoboldLord wrote:Do you want the description to change as a character advances, too? If you want the description to editorialize about the level of strength of the monster, you have to accommodate for the fact that for one of my wizards an ogre is a panic-inducing threat in the early game but a great source of cheap and easy training for fighting skill later on. The description would also have to detect active resistances on the player, too, because a monster's threat level can change dramatically if its main attack is ineffective.

Minmay gave a good example, and it didn't involve any relative threat level. The fact that cyclopes are good at throwing rocks and azure jellies are "extremely cold" doesn't change with your resistances or skills. The way I see it, a description should highlight the unique threat posed by a monster that the player can then react to with whatever he's got at his disposal. Better descriptions are certainly welcome!
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Dungeon Master

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Post Sunday, 13th February 2011, 08:06

Re: Better monster descriptions

minmay wrote:Some monster descriptions are pretty inadequate for giving the player an idea of what they're facing. It's pretty annoying the first time a player starts fighting a vampire knight and finds out they have paralysis.

Take the description of the cyclops:
A giant with one eye in the centre of its forehead. Despite their lack of binocular vision, cyclopes throw boulders with fearsome accuracy.

This is a pretty good description, as it gives an idea of what to expect (thrown large rocks).

But look at the description for the azure jelly:
A frosty blob of bright blue cytoplasm.

Azure jellies hit for huge amounts of cold damage, and "frosty" just doesn't do that justice. This description makes the player expect that they will be pretty weak, and they certainly aren't.

A more descriptive description:
An extremely cold blob of bright blue cytoplasm, forming bits of frost in the air around it.


Basically I'd like to see monster descriptions provide a bit more information about what sort of challenge you'll be facing, as Crawl has a prevalence of monsters that will kill you in only a few turns.


I'm all for more informative descriptions as long as they are flavourful and well written. You provided a perfect example of one and should submit it on mantis along any other you can come up with. Thanks!
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Dungeon Master

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Post Sunday, 13th February 2011, 10:58

Re: Better monster descriptions

When non-coding players ask how they can help, there are the following standard answers: (1) vaults, (2) tiles, (3) speech, (4) descriptions.
Unfortunately, we get very little input on (3) and (4) (though what we get on tiles and vaults is awesome, both in content and amount).

The devteam has been discussing the structure of monster descriptions a few times. As you can see, we settled on giving away resistances (and some other intrinsics) but not data about damage/AC etc. The latter should be hinted at in the description. Ideally, we'd have both flavour and gameplay context there. This is a lot of work, since very many monsters descriotions are not even close to have either. Minmay's example is great. If you send us new descriptions (in plain text format), we will use that! It is okay to add one or two sentences to flesh out a monster description.
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Dungeon Master

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Post Sunday, 13th February 2011, 13:08

Re: Better monster descriptions

To show my appreciation, I've commited minmay's azure jelly description.
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Ziggurat Zagger

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Post Sunday, 13th February 2011, 18:23

Re: Better monster descriptions

I'll help with descriptions. There's one spellbook I know needs rewriting for errors. I've nev er used mantis though - where do I go from the main screen in order to add descriptions?
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Dungeon Master

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Post Sunday, 13th February 2011, 18:33

Re: Better monster descriptions

Grimm wrote:I'll help with descriptions. There's one spellbook I know needs rewriting for errors. I've nev er used mantis though - where do I go from the main screen in order to add descriptions?

Click report issue, then select patch as a category.
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For this message the author galehar has received thanks:
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