Proposal: Making rune collection more epic


Although the central place for this kind of discussion is on the CDO wiki, some may find it helpful to discuss potential requests and suggestions here first.

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Post Tuesday, 22nd October 2013, 18:47

Proposal: Making rune collection more epic

I feel like the collection of runes is pretty boring. Does anybody else feel like we should add some kind of additional effect to picking up runes? I get the feeling im not the only one who thinks this, so here are just a few suggestions and ideas I had, so feel free to give your opinions on them:


- colored smoke is released

- gives a status effect depending on the branch(mark in vaults, sickness in swamp, ect.)

- summoned monsters(maybe a boss as well) start appearing until you get out of the branch.

- flavorful words appear in the text box, ex: you have collected the silver rune of zot! You now have 3 runes and can go enter the realm of zot!(I think this might already be in the game, but i don't look at the text box often enough to remember)

- making runes always spawn with loot, maybe locked up behind walls until the "boss" is killed like in slime pits(this is probably my favorite rune next to golden rune).

- give some kind of "final challenge" for collecting the rune, preferably something a bit more difficult than the branch itself.


One of the big reasons I suggest this is because I feel like certain branches don't have much of a gimmick other than specific monsters. Places like swamp, snake pits, the ending of shoals, spiders nest, they all have really tiny things that don't give a challenge as much as an annoyance. Maybe adding some final challenge to each of these would really help set them apart and actually make them fun and unique as opposed to redundant and pop corny.

As far as branch specifics go, maybe unleashing a giant(maybe several?) kraken that roams through the water would be cool. You could probably do the same thing for the swamp as well. In snake pits, you could release poison clouds that bypass resistances and the player would have to get out ASAP(maybe have certain spots without any clouds as a healing area). These effects would of course dissipate upon leaving the branch.

I also think pandemonium runes could use a bit of revision as well. One idea I have is making the pandemonium lords who guard runes give there "last stand" upon the collection of said rune. Here is some examples:



-You collect the magic rune of zot
You feel the fury of lom London wash over you as you begin to see horrible visions of what the demons want to do to you.(sickness and regular loss of stas, also causes Mara-like effects)

-You collect the glowing rune of zot
You feel the fury of mnolegs wash over you as you feel the structure of your body begin to shift(perpetual magic contamination, yellow

-You collect the dark rune if zot
You feel the fury of gloorx vloq wash over you as the skin on your body begins to rot before your very eyes(perpetual rotting, yellow)

-You collect the fiery rune of zot
You feel the fury of cerebov wash over you as though the fires of hell itself burn inside his angry, unbeating chest(spawns fire, hellfire, fire vortexes, and random fire storms to occur across the level, and all monsters on the level gain inner-flame effect)



I know this is probably a lot to add, and I'm well aware that most of these are pretty broken and unbalanced, but I'm mostly using them as examples to get a central idea across and maybe get the suggestions rolling in people's heads. As always, I encourage constructive criticism. :)
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Post Tuesday, 22nd October 2013, 18:56

Re: Proposal: Making rune collection more epic

There is a message when you collect your third rune.

There was talk about putting in a rune lock somewhere midway through the dungeon that would require you to collect one to proceed deeper in the main dungeon. That would be all the excitement I'd need out of runes.

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Post Tuesday, 22nd October 2013, 18:58

Re: Proposal: Making rune collection more epic

you already have to go through a "final challenge" to pick up the rune in the first place, and they already have loot in most cases, so i'm not sure what this is meant to accomplish
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Post Tuesday, 22nd October 2013, 19:01

Re: Proposal: Making rune collection more epic

Volteccer_Jack wrote:you already have to go through a "final challenge" to pick up the rune in the first place, and they already have loot in most cases, so i'm not sure what this is meant to accomplish


Generally, swamps is incredibly easy and just a bunch of popcorn, and same thing with a lot of these branches. I feel like I want more of an incentive to go for the rune early, like collecting the loot at the bottom. This is why I really wish elven halls had a rune outside of line-sprint...
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Post Tuesday, 22nd October 2013, 19:04

Re: Proposal: Making rune collection more epic

Tiktacy wrote:Generally, swamps is incredibly easy and just a bunch of popcorn, and same thing with a lot of these branches. I feel like I want more of an incentive to go for the rune early, like collecting the loot at the bottom. This is why I really wish elven halls had a rune outside of line-sprint...


So you feel some runes are too easy and you want to have some stimulus to get runes earlier, right? Just go for the "easy" runes earlier, it solves both problems while improving your survivability as a bonus.
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Post Tuesday, 22nd October 2013, 19:41

Re: Proposal: Making rune collection more epic

Sandman25 wrote:
Tiktacy wrote:Generally, swamps is incredibly easy and just a bunch of popcorn, and same thing with a lot of these branches. I feel like I want more of an incentive to go for the rune early, like collecting the loot at the bottom. This is why I really wish elven halls had a rune outside of line-sprint...


So you feel some runes are too easy and you want to have some stimulus to get runes earlier, right? Just go for the "easy" runes earlier, it solves both problems while improving your survivability as a bonus.


Well, right now, the only reason to collect a lair rune besides slime is to get into zot. Well, exp too I guess, but that should be a given. I guess shoals 5 usually spawns with a bunch of loot, but that's probably the only lair rune I DON'T consider to be redundant.
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Post Tuesday, 22nd October 2013, 19:43

Re: Proposal: Making rune collection more epic

BlackSheep wrote:There is a message when you collect your third rune.

There was talk about putting in a rune lock somewhere midway through the dungeon that would require you to collect one to proceed deeper in the main dungeon. That would be all the excitement I'd need out of runes.

D:14 locked until you have 1 rune, D:20 locked until you have 2, D:27 locked until you have 3? :mrgreen: Sounds challenging but fair.
Last edited by Klown on Wednesday, 23rd October 2013, 13:25, edited 1 time in total.

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Post Tuesday, 22nd October 2013, 19:55

Re: Proposal: Making rune collection more epic

Well, I never get Hell/Pan runes for the loot, actually I don't remember when I found something useful there. Does it mean there is no reason to get the runes? They give very little EXP and are not even needed to enter ZoT ;)
I always explore lair branches (even Swamp) 100%, it often happens to give me those scrolls of ID I am usually low on or span with some nice items in shops.

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Post Tuesday, 22nd October 2013, 20:02

Re: Proposal: Making rune collection more epic

Tiktacy wrote:
Sandman25 wrote:
Tiktacy wrote:Generally, swamps is incredibly easy and just a bunch of popcorn, and same thing with a lot of these branches. I feel like I want more of an incentive to go for the rune early, like collecting the loot at the bottom. This is why I really wish elven halls had a rune outside of line-sprint...


So you feel some runes are too easy and you want to have some stimulus to get runes earlier, right? Just go for the "easy" runes earlier, it solves both problems while improving your survivability as a bonus.


Well, right now, the only reason to collect a lair rune besides slime is to get into zot. Well, exp too I guess, but that should be a given. I guess shoals 5 usually spawns with a bunch of loot, but that's probably the only lair rune I DON'T consider to be redundant.


Wouldn't it be simpler to just put more loot in the lair rune vaults instead of adding a bunch of silly effects to rune collection?

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Post Tuesday, 22nd October 2013, 21:13

Re: Proposal: Making rune collection more epic

Klown wrote:
BlackSheep wrote:There is a message when you collect your third rune.
D:13 locked until you have 1 rune

When D:13 is locked and Lair is on D:13, then you are doing what?

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Post Tuesday, 22nd October 2013, 21:16

Re: Proposal: Making rune collection more epic

Go to Elf and get banished. Rune lock is a bad idea. If someone wants to get the Pan runes first they should be able to.

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Post Tuesday, 22nd October 2013, 21:54

Re: Proposal: Making rune collection more epic

b4rR31_r0l1 wrote:When D:13 is locked and Lair is on D:13, then you are doing what?

...the rune-lock, if implemented, would be on D:14. For precisely this reason.

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Post Wednesday, 23rd October 2013, 01:49

Re: Proposal: Making rune collection more epic

I don't see the reason why the game should restrict player movement to that degree. Swamp is not going to be easy to a level 15 character who has no rPois. You might want to dive deeper into dungeon before you challenge the final rune vault. If Swamp:5 spawns with Mara or Nikloa near the rune vault you might also want to level up/get better gear and come back later.

Same goes for the original proposal; there's already a rune vault at the end of each branch, and the challenge is certainly there. Why should there be a final challenge when I already had one?

Also the perpetual rotting and magical contamination...surely you can't be serious to actually propose such a thing?
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Post Wednesday, 23rd October 2013, 02:47

Re: Proposal: Making rune collection more epic

ontoclasm wrote:
b4rR31_r0l1 wrote:When D:13 is locked and Lair is on D:13, then you are doing what?

...the rune-lock, if implemented, would be on D:14. For precisely this reason.


Could a rune-lock be bypassed by a shaft?
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Post Wednesday, 23rd October 2013, 03:41

Re: Proposal: Making rune collection more epic

XuaXua wrote:
ontoclasm wrote:
b4rR31_r0l1 wrote:When D:13 is locked and Lair is on D:13, then you are doing what?

...the rune-lock, if implemented, would be on D:14. For precisely this reason.


Could a rune-lock be bypassed by a shaft?
Of course not. The current plan is that any shaft from above D:14 will bring you no deeper than D:14, and spawning shafts will be disabled on D:14.
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Post Wednesday, 23rd October 2013, 05:22

Re: Proposal: Making rune collection more epic

Wait, is there actually a plan to implement the rune-lock system? Don't see much good that can come out of it. Why force players to get rune at early level to proceed further?
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Post Wednesday, 23rd October 2013, 06:43

Re: Proposal: Making rune collection more epic

nordetsa wrote:Swamp is not going to be easy to a level 15 character who has no rPois. You might want to dive deeper into dungeon before you challenge the final rune vault. If Swamp:5 spawns with Mara or Nikloa near the rune vault you might also want to level up/get better gear and come back later.

This is exactly why the rune-lock was suggested; everyone's following the same logic you have here, and thus nobody has even the slightest reason to do any of the lair sub-branches until they've already cleared D:27 and V:4, at which point those sub-branches are just mindless tabfests. Crawl's midgame is often seen as boring, and the fact that you can just ignore all the dangerous areas is a big part of why. The rune-lock would force you to confront a potentially dangerous situation.

Note, however, that since there are are a total of four runes available (3 lair branches and the Abyss) finding Nikola sitting by the upstairs on Shoals:1 still isn't a disaster. Just go do the other branch.

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Post Wednesday, 23rd October 2013, 09:56

Re: Proposal: Making rune collection more epic

Wahaha wrote:Go to Elf and get banished. Rune lock is a bad idea. If someone wants to get the Pan runes first they should be able to.


There could be Pan and Hell gates available before the lock.

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Post Wednesday, 23rd October 2013, 10:19

Re: Proposal: Making rune collection more epic

Tiktacy: Your list of proposals is not so bad -- I am saying this because more often we get proposals where possessions of runes boosts the player in some way. I agree that runes feel not too special at the moment, but on the other hand, I like their unexplained nature.

Regarding the rune lock: I'm one of the proponents, and if everything works out, we'll at least test it in 0.14. (Of course I hope it will stay.) Undoubtedly there will be complaints about restricting players' freedom; my point is that restricting one thing can make the game richer. I don't want to repeat myself, here is what I wrote to the c-r-d mailing list:

  Code:
Date: Thu, 22 Aug 2013 15:17:35 +0200 (CEST)
To: crawl-ref-discuss@lists.sourceforge.net
Subject: [Crawl-ref-discuss] Let's try the rune lock!

What is the "rune lock"?
It's a single change to the game rules: characters are only allowed to access D:15 if they carry at least one rune.

Implementation:
Arbitrarily nifty implementations can be found; for the start, I suggest to colour the D:14 downstair glyphs/tiles in some forbidden colour (like lightred) and give a message ("These stairs will be unbarred as soon as you have picked up a key in form of a magical rune!") if a players wants to use one without rune. No vaults, no portals, no visual effects needed at first.
[Every time I brought this up, discussion inevitably turned to adding ways to circumvent the lock, a simple one would be pre-detected shafts on D:14. This is fine and should be discussed/done, but only after we've agreed the rune lock has good potential, i.e. after we played the barebones version.]

Issue 1: shafts.
We have to think about getting shafted to D:15 or beyond. Again, I suggest we take the simplest solution: no shafts on D:14; all shafts on D:12,13 lead to D:14.

Issue 2: Vaults range.
One thing that has been brought up once is whether we want the Vaults branch to come after the lock. I don't know but I'd say as few changes as necessary to get the lock working, i.e. keep Vaults entry at D:15-20.

Background:
The goal is to increase player decision space by restricting options. Currently, players will sensibly ignore branch ends until very late unless there is a compelling reason to go in earlier. Especially, branch ends of Snake, Swamp etc. are often delayed until there is very little challenge left.
The rune lock would force players to choose a branch end and tackle it much earlier. Even if this will generally be a choice between the two easy Lair subbranches, the very execution will cause further decisions (about spell set, use of consumables) and hopefully many more tactically interesting situations -- these are what I'm after!

Bottom line:
There seem to be two approaches to try and get players to battle game content while it is not a completely lopsided affair, the carrot (e.g. loot at branch end) and the stick (the rune lock is a mild stick).
I suggest the rune lock because it will be simple to implement and try out for a bit, and because it fits nicely with the idea of runes as keys, and because it creates a strategical goal/choice in the midgame.

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Post Wednesday, 23rd October 2013, 10:50

Re: Proposal: Making rune collection more epic

It seems to me that the only thing this lock achieves is not letting the player enjoy the game however he wants by forcing him to go into branches he may want nothing to do with -and- making sure he's powerful enough afterwards he'll stomp on whatever excuse of a challenge the game has yet to offer.
Yes, the whole entirety of post-lock D can be rebalanced to make up for the extra power the player will have. However D was extremely unbalanced and gave way too much exp and overall forged much too strong characters until this very stable version, so I'm not sure just relying on "no everything will be rebalanced properly and D will remain good" is realistic.

Also in this proposal there doesn't seem to be much thought put into how the lock would affect the rest of the game and there seems to be an awful lot put into how to fit it in without having to change anything else too much, which to me looks like a bad premise already. I think if the lair branches are not attractive to players you should improve the lair branches (make swamp and spider not awful) and not just calling a lazy way of doing things "the stick approach" to force them through them without doing any real work.

By the way, there are some vaults in swamp and spider already with pretty crazy loot and which are actually kinda interesting, the problem is vaults never ever show up in lair branches at all and the things are five levels long, so only random uniques ever make the pretty bad ones interesting.

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Post Wednesday, 23rd October 2013, 10:54

Re: Proposal: Making rune collection more epic

I don't know if players will always have the resources to get the rune before going deeper than D:15. For Spider Branch, for example, I suppose you could do it without rPois by taking lots of curing (again, will players have that many before going into D:15?), but for caster you'd really need SInv to do at least something about ghost moth, or just drink potion of invis and hope to ninja the rune.

Or is this what the purpose of rune lock supposed to be? I hope the rune branch get adjusted accordingly, to make it at least doable at lower levels.

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Post Wednesday, 23rd October 2013, 10:54

Re: Proposal: Making rune collection more epic

preceded by dck:
I'd like to add another point that could need some consideration too : with rune lock the unbalance, loot-wise, between snakes/spider and swamp/shoals would be probably even more meaningful, as characters locked out D:15 and deeper usually don't have very good gear yet - unless they're particularly lucky with floor loot or orc:4's shops, or they manage to clear elf:3 (btw this could be an incentive to clear elf earlier and in a 3 rune game too, which I believe is kinda good thing).
So, balancing the loot between the 4 branches could be an "issue" to consider, as a weak char exiting from snakes:5 or shoals:5 would usually gain much better gear (at least, a good weapon almost certainly) than one going in spider and swamp, while the difficult is quite the same (with the exception of some significantly easier swamps' ending). Just adding some vaults to swamp and shoals would make everything only more frustrating, at least for me, because I'd have to fully explore spider, which is the most annoying branch in the game (webs, jump everywhere, orb kiting spider and whatever) and swamp, which is the most boring one, instead of just diving to the bottom floor.
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Post Wednesday, 23rd October 2013, 11:42

Re: Proposal: Making rune collection more epic

Something I forgot: this tournament (and the last one) has some rune lock testing by way of the Vof of Courage banner.

dck: If you see it like that, fine. I see a whole lot of fun to be gained!

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Post Wednesday, 23rd October 2013, 12:59

Re: Proposal: Making rune collection more epic

Slime pits is not an option I believe (killing TRJ is extremely hard for some characters and you need clarity/rMut with optional rCorr), Abyss can mutate/kill you and is tricky to get into (you need to find a distortion weapon or stay in LoS of banishers until they decide to banish you instead of killing you).
So we have only lair branches, Shoals 5 can be very hard, other need rPois.
I did get vow of courage II in the tournament but it was done with Gr, I think developers might be interested to analyze combos used to get the banner, not just number of players.

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Post Wednesday, 23rd October 2013, 13:10

Re: Proposal: Making rune collection more epic

I didn't bring this up to design the rune lock here, just to inform you as it's been mentioned upthread already.

No idea how often I have to repeat it, but yes, changes may lead to further changes. This is why a massive change (balance wise) like the rune lock is supposed to occur early in the cycle. Gives more time to test and react.

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Post Wednesday, 23rd October 2013, 13:32

Re: Proposal: Making rune collection more epic

dpeg wrote:rune lock


Gain Poison resistance if you carry the swamp/spider's rune & +5 venom magic; ice resistance for shoals, +5 ice magic. etc etc to reward players for dealing with the scaryness so early? :)

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Post Wednesday, 23rd October 2013, 14:10

Re: Proposal: Making rune collection more epic

If the rune lock is indeed going to happen, shouldn't it be implemented after some changes have been already made, like balancing out the lair branch in general?

IMO the reason people ignore lair branches until they go deeper into the dungeon is because you need certain resources before getting the rune in the first place, stuff like rPois, flight, a decent MR, etc.

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Post Wednesday, 23rd October 2013, 14:16

Re: Proposal: Making rune collection more epic

For what it's worth I do like how open Crawl is. You need 3 runes to enter Zot - any runes - and that's it. It can lead to interesting self-challenges. Regarding Lair branches, I'm not a very good player so with some characters I sometimes don't want to go further than Vaults depth, maybe I feel my defences are lacking or that I need more spells, and then I just go and do Lair branches (you don't really need rPois for Snake/Swamp, btw). Usually I do go Dungeon->Vaults after Orc, but there are many reasons to that: the enemy set is more varied and interesting (and generally tougher!), there are more vaults and the terrain is (usually) non-annoying (hello Swamp, Shoals, Spider!). Maybe if some of those things were fixed people would do Lair runes earlier out of their own will?

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Post Wednesday, 23rd October 2013, 14:39

Re: Proposal: Making rune collection more epic

Sar wrote:I'm not a very good player


You're ranked 15th overall in the tournament with a 100% win rate : P I think you can gloat a little.
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Post Wednesday, 23rd October 2013, 15:27

Re: Proposal: Making rune collection more epic

How about we make it so you can force open the door, but it requires 5 runes to get back through it if you choose to do so?
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Post Wednesday, 23rd October 2013, 15:36

Re: Proposal: Making rune collection more epic

I'm sure players will enjoy grabbing all the junk they'll possibly need and hauling it to that door.

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Post Wednesday, 23rd October 2013, 15:39

Re: Proposal: Making rune collection more epic

Sar wrote:I'm sure players will enjoy grabbing all the junk they'll possibly need and hauling it to that door.


That's a good point, but I don't think that's too big of an issue.
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Post Wednesday, 23rd October 2013, 15:53

Re: Proposal: Making rune collection more epic

Like I said, discussions about how to bypass the lock come up all the time but I don't think that's a central point. The discussion should rather be about gains and losses of the rune lock itself. Sar mentions loss of freedom but I don't really like the "interesting self-challenges" bit. The problem is that the current Lair branch ends are only interesting if you impose a challenge yourself. You are well advised (in fact, any number of DCSS guides do it, and it's proper advice) to postpone everything as long as possible.

The gain of the rune lock, as I see it, would be to have the player attempt one (just one!) rune branch (of their choice!) a little earlier than they might have done otherwise. I freely admit that there will be those poor scoundrels who found nothing on D:1-14 etc. etc. But you can see that the other way around: the level of Crawl skill is measured by how well a player can adapt to that. So this is why I consider the rune lock not (only) as a nerf but rather as an invitation to interesting (= more challenging) combat and a slight increase in the game's depth.

Sar

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Post Wednesday, 23rd October 2013, 16:08

Re: Proposal: Making rune collection more epic

Well, as I said earlier I'm more inclined to do a Lair branch early if I feel my character lacking to take on lower Dungeon and Vaults. Of course I usually try D till around D:17-18, depending on stuff I get, but generally when stuff like ogre magi and various giants and dragons starts coming in droves and I don't feel confident in handling them, Lair branches are the safer and logical choice. Let's say D:16 and lower are locked. Okay, I clean D as I did then take on one of branches, which are 4 levels of mostly safe and predictable content (often with annoying floor features) and the last level has a usually manageable vault. So I clean 4 levels of one branch, if I absolutely need XP - 4 levels of another, and then get the rune from the safer branch and bypass lock. I don't think this will make the game so much harder, but it will take away some freedom.

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Post Wednesday, 23rd October 2013, 16:15

Re: Proposal: Making rune collection more epic

Sar: I know -- this is why I said "mild stick" somewhere. However, it is still progress, in my opinion. For example, it may change the assessment of Orc end and of Elf in a given game a little. If games are still too dull, we will come up with something different, I am sure.

In any case, I think that the rune lock is at least an attempt to do something about the generally perceived midgame slump and the fact that collecting Lair branch runes is often anticlimactic.

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Post Wednesday, 23rd October 2013, 16:27

Re: Proposal: Making rune collection more epic

I don't think forcing the player to do a particular part of the mid-game first will solve anything. It will just make the part they are forced to do later become the "boring, easy" part of the game.

In any case, my path through this part of the game, and the order I collect runes, consists primarily of turning around and going to a different branch as soon as I see Nikola/Mennas/Lamia/etc. In other words, if the devs don't want me to be XL27 before going to Snake/Shoals, why do Lamia and Ilsuiw exist, and why can Mennas appear there?

Vaults Vanquisher

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Post Wednesday, 23rd October 2013, 16:40

Re: Proposal: Making rune collection more epic

Rune lock makes the game more linear which is a fine way to manage the difficulty curve.
no rune lock gives more options for the player, in terms of loot and experience by allowing the player some additional floors before attempting a lair branch.

As the game currently stands, spending hard times in one place will make others easier. If you want a "mild stick" why not make a jump in enemy difficulty, or some ominous staircases on D:13 that lead to a mid-game challenge level, people love full map challenge levels.

Snake Sneak

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Post Wednesday, 23rd October 2013, 16:53

Re: Proposal: Making rune collection more epic

I guess problem is like "filthy players decide to go deep dungeon/early vaults instead of lair subbranch endings because they have better profit/risk ratio".
May be instead of using rude crutches, which feel bad because limitin' player's freedom you can just tweak loot/challenge of aformentioned areas of game?
I got Vow of Courage II in this tournament. In very first game. It's not very challenging with some luck, but i think it will dramatically decrease survival in some cases.
What would be fun is a God who uses piety like a fighting game style super meter. Piety decays rapidly outside of combat, builds up during fights, spend it for secret techniques and super moves.

Ziggurat Zagger

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Post Wednesday, 23rd October 2013, 17:27

Re: Proposal: Making rune collection more epic

WildSam wrote:I got Vow of Courage II in this tournament. In very first game. It's not very challenging with some luck, but i think it will dramatically decrease survival in some cases.


It is feature of Be who use the strongest early game god. I will try to analyze current tournament.

Edit. Analyzing players with Vow of Courage I.
He, Gr, VpHu, Be, Gr, Gr, CeHu, OpAs and I got tired ;)

Spider Stomper

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Post Wednesday, 23rd October 2013, 23:11

Re: Proposal: Making rune collection more epic

Rune lock feels like a band-aid for the fact that the main dungeon is a predictable fight through 27 levels of mostly evenly increasing difficulty. I'd rather see a shorter dungeon with more branches allowing the player to choose which order to tackle them in instead of forcing them to pick from one of essentially 2 lair branches in order to proceed onward as before.

This has the potential to produce more swingy games until balanced well, as well as requiring more branch design, so its not one I'm proposing could happen now, just putting out there as food for thought and discussion. One other issue would be how to discourage or prevent tackling all but the branch ends like is done now.

Mines Malingerer

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Post Thursday, 24th October 2013, 13:19

Re: Proposal: Making rune collection more epic

@minstrel Crawl has too many optional branches as it is. I don't see how adding branches would solve anything.

Clearing one branch makes all the others a notch easier, because you get exp and loot. After the early game, every branch is a notch (or several) too easy. It's not possible to have an interesting level of difficulty throughout the entire game whilst giving the player so many (valid) options. The player will get ahead of the curve and ride the wave to victory.

For me the most fun part of crawl is start to lair - the part before branching.
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Vestibule Violator

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Post Thursday, 24th October 2013, 14:26

Re: Proposal: Making rune collection more epic

Here are my thoughts on what makes mid game boring:

The shoals and the swamp are so dull and lackluster and they pose more of a challenge of patience rather than strength. I enjoy SP and SN but SN is still pretty boring.

The thing in particular that I noticed is that there is a HUGE lack of vaults within all 4 of these branches. The same goes for slime pits, hells, pan, and the tomb, but those already have enough of a gimmick to compensate for lack of customized terrain. I believe that if we dedicated a big chunk of 0.14 to improving the lair branches through new content and vaults, we would end up with a much more enjoyable midgame.

One other suggestion that I really wish would get into the game soon is to add a guaranteed ring of flying on the first floor of swamps and shoals. Please, it is so frustrating having to wait for the tide for all 5 levels of shoals just because you couldn't find flying.

(Also, midgame dullfest might just have to do with the curse of the water levels)
To all new players: Ignore all strategy guides posted on the wiki, ask questions in the Advice forum, players with lots of posts normally have the best advice.

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Dungeon Master

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Post Thursday, 24th October 2013, 14:27

Re: Proposal: Making rune collection more epic

Words like "band-aid" will not help your cause.

The open nature of the Crawl environment (which generally is desirable, of course) makes it natural to postpone fights beyond the stage they were designed for. This is why collecting Lair branch runes very late is anticlimactic. There are a number of ways how to address this. One of them (and generally preferred by players, I believe) is to make branch end levels more attractive by way of loot. Another would be to make D:15- just that much harder -- but note that this is just a different way of decreasing "freedom" (often seen in games). And the rune lock is the third.

I also read a lot of "until balanced well" and "a little tuning". The merit of the rune lock proposal is that we know very well what challenge the Lair branches are supposed to be. There may be indeed some tweaking necessary (for example about unique generation) but I expect it is not very much and, most importantly, all complete within reach.

For some perspective: Nethack has two "locks". One is the quest (with the condition of XL>13 attached) and the other is the Castle. Nethack has many flaws but these two are certainly not the problem.
I am more concerned about how the rune lock would feel to a new player. And I think it can be very natural, if done right.

Abyss Ambulator

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Post Thursday, 24th October 2013, 17:28

Re: Proposal: Making rune collection more epic

Rune lock idea- Make it a "soft" lock. Have instead of stairs there be a gate with a warning. If you go through anyway, branch-specific OOD monsters with start to spawn in packs occasionally in the dungeon (Naga packs, random merfolk in water, etc).

Small idea to make runes more interesting, aside from the rune lock idea: Give them a small, evokeable ability, just to make there be a feeling of having earned something valuable.
Three wins: Gargoyle Earth Elementalist of Ash, Ogre Fighter of Ru, Deep Dwarf Fighter of Makhleb (0.16 bugbuild :( )

Spider Stomper

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Post Friday, 25th October 2013, 14:54

Re: Proposal: Making rune collection more epic

Dpeg - I'm not sure why you took offense to "band-aid". It was meant as the term often is - to signify that the fix being proposed (rune lock) is a patch covering up a problem rather than directly addressing the problem itself.

Anyway, as I tried to get across - the problem (obviously from my point of view, since I'm not privy to anyone else's cranium) is that there is too much reward in dipping your toes into each of the branches, then continuing with the more predictable, less spikey, risk-wise, main 27 level dungeon, then returning when the branch end is trivial. And thus game-play follows predictable patterns in most cases.

Before going further, I want to state that it is my understanding that the goal of a rune lock, or other change, is to make each game a little more varied in regards to the order in which the content is explored. If that's not the case, much of what follows won't resonate because we're talking about different desired outcomes.

I think the proposed rune lock adds little variety. The normal progression path will be different than it is now, but more or less predictable. It adds the forced clearing of one branch end when you hit D:14 and nothing more.

My idea would be something along the lines of the following (I didn't do the math with actual numbers of levels, but hopefully no one's too pedantic about that and people can get the gist of the idea):

The dungeon is revamped from 27 levels to 18, roughly compressing the current content, so D:27 now becomes D:18 and difficulty ramps up faster. Shortening Lair would also be a possibility.

Two additional branches with rune-endings are added, bringing the total of non-extended (I'm counting Slime and Tomb as extended) possible runes to 5.

Hell and/or Pan are reduced by 2 runes, with the available branches randomly selected each game.

Upon entering a branch with a rune-ending, the branch rune becomes unstable. Leaving that branch (except by way of an abyss round trip), causes the rune to disappear forever. A one shot portal type entrance could be used to much the same effect.

Concerns that all-or-nothing rune branches would encourage stash-hauling are well founded and would have to be addressed. One though off the top of my head would be to add a Temple stair at the top of each branch, and allow travel to and from it freely once entered from the branch side. This travel would not disturb the rune. Also, the shallower nature of the dungeon would make game-long Temple stashes more practical and hauling Lair:2 stashes to Hell less so.
One shot portal entrances to branches would be an easier way to make hauling stashes more risky.

Zot remains as before, requiring any 3 runes to enter.

Newbie players, or those only after a win or streak without concern for losing a rune, could still dip their toes into at least 2 branches and forfeit the rune. But you're taking the risk that the benefits of doing so outweigh the possibility that something overly risky exists in one of the remaining 3 that you're now forced to complete (short of going for an extended rune).

The more steeply increasing difficulty of the main dungeon is another stick to push players toward a more varied game in terms of areas visited.

Time spent in Demonic branches is somewhat decreased. I don't know how others feel about this, but I find the enjoyment of extended wanes about halfway through and I'd welcome that.

The resulting level map is more of a shrub than a tree, and the path you take through each game would depend on branches generated and species/class, increasing variety and decreasing tedium.

Again, I know this would be much too large an undertaking for those giving of their own time to develop the game. I'm hoping discussion will lead to some better ideas than rune lock more so than that the whole wad of it be implemented.

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Post Friday, 25th October 2013, 15:08

Re: Proposal: Making rune collection more epic

minstrel: No need to bicker about words. I thought that "bandaid" is meant deprecative, but I am not a native speaker. Whatever, thanks for the long reply!

My goal is actually not about variety! The rune lock would basically force people to pick up one of the easy Lair runes, perhaps earlier than now -- so it may actually decrease variety (then again, perhaps Orc becomes a little more useful but like the talk about Elf that is basically irrelevant to the proposal). When I wanted to increase the variety of the Crawl layout, I suggested the branch roulette.
The rune lock is about something different: I want to make sure that players have to pick one rune to obtain "before the branch end is trivial" (your words). I find this behaviour logical but very undesirable. I also think that the Lair branch ends can be attempted earlier -- there will be costs, of course (and I may be overly optimistic). Some games will be much harder than now but I believe on the whole mortality rates for good players will not go up much. To put it another way, I'd like to throw players in at the deep end, possibly before they wanted to.

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Vestibule Violator

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Post Friday, 25th October 2013, 15:17

Re: Proposal: Making rune collection more epic

dpeg wrote:minstrel: No need to bicker about words. I thought that "bandaid" is meant deprecative, but I am not a native speaker. Whatever, thanks for the long reply!

My goal is actually not about variety! The rune lock would basically force people to pick up one of the easy Lair runes, perhaps earlier than now -- so it may actually decrease variety (then again, perhaps Orc becomes a little more useful but like the talk about Elf that is basically irrelevant to the proposal). When I wanted to increase the variety of the Crawl layout, I suggested the branch roulette.
The rune lock is about something different: I want to make sure that players have to pick one rune to obtain "before the branch end is trivial" (your words). I find this behaviour logical but very undesirable. I also think that the Lair branch ends can be attempted earlier -- there will be costs, of course (and I may be overly optimistic). Some games will be much harder than now but I believe on the whole mortality rates for good players will not go up much. To put it another way, I'd like to throw players in at the deep end, possibly before they wanted to.


I appreciate and respect this brutal honesty.
To all new players: Ignore all strategy guides posted on the wiki, ask questions in the Advice forum, players with lots of posts normally have the best advice.

crawl.akrasiac.org:8080 <- take this link to play online or spectate.

Spider Stomper

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Post Friday, 25th October 2013, 16:02

Re: Proposal: Making rune collection more epic

dpeg wrote:minstrel: No need to bicker about words. I thought that "bandaid" is meant deprecative, but I am not a native speaker. Whatever, thanks for the long reply!


I was initially going to suggest it might be a language barrier issue, but the rest of your post was such flawless English that I decided it must be otherwise! If my non-native language fluency is ever that strong I'll consider myself lucky.

dpeg wrote:...The rune lock is about something different: I want to make sure that players have to pick one rune to obtain "before the branch end is trivial" (your words). I find this behaviour logical but very undesirable...


With that goal in mind, I see the lock in one form or another as probably the most logical and narrowly focused (ie not disrupting the content as it exists) solution.

The only other that comes to my mind is the idea of making the rune disappear if it's not picked up by a certain XL or move count. You find an empty pedestal in its place with a message indicating so. "The slimy block of obsidian once held a Rune of Zot, but it has since moved on. If only you had arrived here sooner!". This gives species with a strong early game an advantage in early rune acquirement (good for newbies), but I don't see that as a strong positive or negative. The upside is it's one more stick to discourage scummy behaviour as well as encouraging a little bit more exploration of the levels loosely deemed "extended content" now, while leaving options for exploration fully open. Technically you could still dip into 1-4 only if you wanted, but it wouldn't make much sense. Downside is it's a little spoilery.

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