Remove Labyrinths


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Post Saturday, 6th January 2018, 18:08

Remove Labyrinths

I just ctrl-q'd a game because I couldn't find my way to the minotaur in anything like a reasonable time frame, and I was dying of boredom.

Does anybody know why there are there mazes in a tactics/strategy game anyway? The best possible and least tedious labyrinth is one where you find the minotaur in the shortest number of turns, so why not just do that?

This is all made indescribably worse by the automap erasing itself so you don't even get the consolation of knowing that eventually you can find the path by a process of elimination. Should I be getting out my graph paper, 1984 style?

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Post Saturday, 6th January 2018, 19:33

Re: Remove Labyrinths

Here's some news for you: when you see an entrance to a labyrinth, you actually don't have to go in there.
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Post Saturday, 6th January 2018, 21:19

Re: Remove Labyrinths

Legitimate reasons for not going in a labyrinth might be "I am too weak to kill the minotaur", not "this part of the game is horrible to play", surely? Otherwise there's a dissonance between what's optimal for the character (getting the phat minotaur loot) and what's enjoyable for the player (not spending an hour in some godawful maze).

Presumably you're not saying labyrinths are intentionally horrible as some kind of 'balance' mechanism?

I've not had a labyrinth this bad before - usually they're OK due to being over in 5 minutes or so - but even given that I'm not sure the maziness really adds anything gameplay wise except tedium.

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Post Saturday, 6th January 2018, 21:35

Re: Remove Labyrinths

The thing about labyrinths is that most of the time they are okay to play, and quickly done with, but have the potential to bore you silly. When I choose to go in there, I know what I'm up to. If my character is going well, I would certainly not ctrl-q the game, even after lots of frustrating looking around. So I suspect that there may have been other issues with your character, not just the fact that you spent more time in the labyrinth than you would have preferred.

Like many things in crawl, facing a labyrinth places a choice in front of you: you have the potential for nice loot, with the trade-off of potential grind. Your call to "remove labyrinths" seems to be a bit of an overreaction to one bad experience, and is probably a sentiment not shared by too many players.
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Post Saturday, 6th January 2018, 21:39

Re: Remove Labyrinths

A fair sized number of players enjoy the maze running, it's only tedious if you don't enjoy doing it, and yes, there's some skill/techniques for solving the maze faster. The longest maze I've ever been in took me about 20 minutes (I picked the wrong direction at the start and had to go all the way back around the map to get to the entrance to the center) but I have a particularly good sense of spatial orientation, and I enjoy maze-solving and have since I was a small child.

At least one player has suppressed all the labyrinth announcement messages and set the display of the entrance to be the same as the floor, that way they never have to solve a lab, and never feel bad about missing the loot, effectively this removes labyrinths for that player (so your request is already effectively an option)

Also: The loot is Ok, but not worth frustrating yourself about, if you don't like the labs, the minimal power increase provided by doing them is typically going to have a near-unnoticeable effect on your win ratio, so skipping them is not sufficiently suboptimal that it should matter to you. (It's about the equivalent of skipping that lair vault that has the little alcove with some loot guarded by oklobs in the lair when you have no rCorr, it's occasionally going to provide you with something nice to have, but 99% of the time, it's just time and effort for no net result, even if you can do it safely, skipping it will not make your game significantly worse.)
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Post Saturday, 6th January 2018, 22:44

Re: Remove Labyrinths

I greatly enjoy the maze running and the loot. Labyrinths are one of my favorite parts of the game.
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Post Saturday, 6th January 2018, 23:24

Re: Remove Labyrinths

"If you don't like labyrinths just don't enter them", "if you don't like Evaporate just don't cast it", "if you don't like grinding just don't do it", etc etc. Yes, you can ignore these features, but ignoring them actively puts you at a disadvantage, and you're not saying anything about what the feature actually adds to the game. If the best defense of a feature you can come up with is "using the feature isn't literally mandatory", maybe you should reconsider whether that feature is worth defending.

But there is no reasonable defense of labyrinths that does not involve ignoring or rewriting DCSS's design goals. Maze solving is an activity with no risk and no impactful or difficult decision-making, that takes a lot of time*, yet the game gives you a reward (items) in exchange for doing it. That is DCSS's very definition of grinding:
  Code:
Anti-grinding
========================================

Another basic design principle is avoidance of grinding (also known as
scumming). These are activities that have low risk, take a lot of time, and
bring some reward. This is bad for a game's design because it encourages
players to bore themselves. Even worse, it may be optimal to do so. We try
to avoid this!
*(even a labyrinth defender is admitting one took them 20 minutes, which is ridiculous, 60 minutes is enough to win an entire DCSS game!)

That should be enough on its own, but there's more: labyrinths have maprot and don't even allow autoexplore, forcing you to perform manual exploration instead - something that the game itself calls "tedious" in two places: the manual:
  Code:
Interface
========================================

The interface is radically designed to make gameplay easy - this sounds trivial,
but we mean it. All tedious, but necessary, chores should be automated. Examples
are long-distance travel, exploration and taking notes.
and the tutorial:
  Code:
Exploring manually can get tedious after a while, so you might want to let that
happen automatically. Try it by pressing <input>$cmd[CMD_EXPLORE]</input>

But since labyrinths are at least one developer's pet feature, I expect that nothing useful will happen until they leave the devteam (and even then I wouldn't hold my breath). In fact, if anything labyrinths have been made worse by the addition of more secondary loot vaults, increasing the reward for exploring most of the labyrinth instead of just going to the minotaur, which takes even more time.
MainiacJoe wrote:I greatly enjoy the maze running and the loot.
Lots of people enjoy grinding, and lots of people enjoy no-brainer decisions, or games that require spoilers to win. That. Doesn't. Matter. DCSS's design goals are explicitly against these things, no matter how much you enjoy them.

And if you really like the flavour of labyrinths, or the minotaur fight, or giving the player a bunch of loot with no risk, good news: none of those things require making players manually explore. You can get rid of the maze and keep all of those.

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Post Sunday, 7th January 2018, 00:44

Re: Remove Labyrinths

The easiest fix is just to add this line to DCSS design principles:
"Labyrinths are ok though."
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Post Sunday, 7th January 2018, 00:52

Re: Remove Labyrinths

Every time I'm complaining about the Labyrinth, I remind myself what it looked like in ADOM (item destroying traps every few steps, the whole branch 7 levels deep including false staircases and levels) and then suddenly Crawl's version becomes an incredibly fun stroll in comparison.

But yes, navigating Lab is horrible.

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Post Sunday, 7th January 2018, 01:10

Re: Remove Labyrinths

Majang wrote:The thing about labyrinths is that most of the time they are okay to play, and quickly done with, but have the potential to bore you silly. When I choose to go in there, I know what I'm up to. If my character is going well, I would certainly not ctrl-q the game, even after lots of frustrating looking around. So I suspect that there may have been other issues with your character, not just the fact that you spent more time in the labyrinth than you would have preferred.

The character was actually going well, which is why I was particularly annoyed; if it had been a bad character I wouldn't have gone in there in the first place. The game made itself unbearable to play so I ragequit.

I agree with duvessa that this kind of thing just doesn't fit with the rest of Crawl or its design goals. Still, if we do have to have them what about at least having an exit generate if you're stuck for more than 3k turns or whatever? At least then if you get completely fed up you can just wait until it spawns and leave the loot behind.

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Post Sunday, 7th January 2018, 17:36

Re: Remove Labyrinths

Labyrinths are bad.

Btw, if you find yourself stuck, teleporting one or two (or more) times helps.

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Post Monday, 8th January 2018, 03:55

Re: Remove Labyrinths

Hairmachine, you do know that wall type is a clue?

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Post Monday, 8th January 2018, 05:02

Re: Remove Labyrinths

duvessa wrote:(even a labyrinth defender is admitting one took them 20 minutes, which is ridiculous, 60 minutes is enough to win an entire DCSS game!)

Note that I play *very very* slowly (in large part because I mostly sit on the couch and play while watching TV). A typical dungeon level takes me 10-15 minutes, my fastest 3 rune win is 7 hours of play time, my fastest 15 rune win is 14 hours. I assume that someone who plays quickly enough to win an entire DCSS game in 60 minutes would be correspondingly faster in a labyrinth. For a counter example the longest I've spent trapped in the abyss while trying to leave is about 2.5 hours; if lab solving is long, Abyss escaping is even more so.

Since a typical Lab takes me about as long as a typical dungeon level (And it's actually slightly shorter than a typical portal vault takes me) I, personally, consider the time taken to be 'not tedious', maybe other people consider that long.

The other primary argument against Labs is that they are "no brainers" in that the combat portion is "riskless". Assumedly, you know how hard the Minotaur is, and can reliably predict whether you'll be able to beat him (meaning you can reliably predict whether there's any risk to entering), this is partially mitigated (although probably not substantially enough) by the Minotaur's equipment being randomized and above average (thereby making his difficulty only slightly more varied than a typical creature you might encounter elsewher).

However, the "no challenge" argument for Labs can be made for any portal vault, with sufficient advance knowledge you can know whether any portal vault will or will not be a challenge, and make the 'no brainer' call as to whether to enter or not. The difference between a Lab and any other portal vault (challenge wise) is the variation in challenge level, for a volcano, the risk might be higher or lower by a larger degree than a Lab would be, at some point you can say with certainty that a Volcano is riskless, to the same degree that you can say that about a Labyrinth.

So for me Labs:
1. Don't take very much time, 2. No more or less "no brainer" than any other lab vaults, the risk involved depends on what level you are and what the RNG provides. 3. Kind of fun to actually solve.
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Post Monday, 8th January 2018, 05:43

Re: Remove Labyrinths

Abyss is bad too.

The main issue with Lab is not that the minotaur is riskless, but that the maze-solving is riskless and tedious. If you had the minotaur but dropped the maze, there wouldn't be any design problems. Of course, the resulting thing would no longer be interesting, an outcome which happens when you strip out all the bad mechanics of an inherently bad idea. So, it would be best to simply remove Lab.

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Post Monday, 8th January 2018, 06:03

Re: Remove Labyrinths

Duvessa, the risk is that you starve to death, which could feasibly happen if you are really, really bad at solving mazes. Or that the minotaur kills you at the end, which can easily happen now that he picks up and uses your loot. Or that, perhaps most commonly, you rush to find the portal (not having magic mapping) and end up getting yourself killed in the process before ever even entering it.

Adding hungry ghosts to the maze was a good idea, in my opinion there should be some more of them. The minivaults are also an interesting concept that should occur somewhat more often, with a few more threats added as well. But any loot found in them should be fairly rare, its a bad idea to incentivize exploring the entire maze.

Changing the maze layout so that the minotaur can spawn anywhere other than close to the center was a bad idea. Yes it makes the maze harder to solve, but thats exactly what you dont want to do here design-wise. It introduces far more tedium than a universal position for the solution does.

Lowering his loot was needed from old versions, but it often feels a bit too thin now. This also weakens the minotaur.

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Post Monday, 8th January 2018, 09:32

Re: Remove Labyrinths

Yep I know about the wall type thing. It didn't help as neither of the two paths into black stone I found contained a minotaur. I did a couple of teleports and then thought 'I can't believe this is literally making me waste strategic resources as an antidote to boredom, screw that'

The risk of starving here really seems like a horrible way to kill the player - if you have like 20 rations it doesn't bear thinking about. You're just much more likely to psychologically abuse them into quitting the game. Having a bunch of hungry ghosts in there might make it better from that perspective, and it would at least suggest some kind of design goal other than 'mazes are cool', though I find hungry ghosts annoying anyway.

Abyss used to be really a lot worse until they increased the frequency of exit spawn points and allowed you can get out faster by killing stuff. But at least Abyss can generate some dangerous and exciting situations, so banishment can be a fun thing to happen. It's certainly not my favourite part of the game though and I generally don't go in there voluntarily.
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Post Monday, 8th January 2018, 10:00

Re: Remove Labyrinths

What if:
1) The minotaur would be seriously buffed.
2) The treasure+exit would be placed at location A and the minotaur at location B. You would enter the Labyrinth at location C, which would be somewhere between A and B.
3) The minotaur would immediately come after you. You would now have a chance to escape without the fight, if you find the exit before the minotaur finds you.
4) Additional optional bonus: Make the minotaur worth 0 exp.
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Post Monday, 8th January 2018, 10:37

Re: Remove Labyrinths

The problem with maze is that it sticks out like a sore thumb. It doesn't have much to do with Crawl. Its objectives, as a level, are very different from those of anything else. The minivaults are cute in that they make the maze less mazey, but, ultimately, offer only a momentary respite. There's also the weird sounds; I have no idea if they really signal anything.

Of course, map rot has its own problems, since it's tedious in that you can have graph paper and make an X over squares representing walls.

And maze isn't like Beogh, Centaur, or other bad (ymmv) features that are self-contained and you can exclude from your game if you don't like them. Maze appears in your game and requests you to make a choice: do you want to have fun, or do you want to get better gear? A bit like identifying all cloaks in Zot, or all blue weapons and armour. It can have great results with little risk, but it breaks down the game flow.

Personally, I think that all features that request you to choose tedium to be stronger should be removed or reworked. What kind of choice is to say "Enter here, mortal, if you dare: great riches await, very little risks involved, but you might get BORED!".
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Post Monday, 8th January 2018, 16:26

Re: Remove Labyrinths

I enjoy labyrinths, as I mentioned above, but I have been persuaded by this thread that they ought to be removed. :(

I suggest the following mainly to confirm that I have correctly understood the reasons why Labyrinth is bad: the tedium of the maze and the risk/reward ratio.

Proposal: The Arena.

The niche that Lab has in Crawl is an optional fight against exactly one Big Boss to get loot.

The Arena is a portal that drops you into a vault layout where you can see the loot and the monster through clear indestructible walls, with both of these behind a runed door. There is a portal out of the Arena in the loot chamber, and also one in the entry chamber before the runed door. The monster of course can be varied, it isn't always a minotaur.
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Post Monday, 8th January 2018, 16:27

Re: Remove Labyrinths

Shtopit wrote:Personally, I think that all features that request you to choose tedium to be stronger should be removed or reworked.

So, finally I have an ally in my campaign against allies!
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Post Monday, 8th January 2018, 16:29

Re: Remove Labyrinths

MainiacJoe wrote:I enjoy labyrinths, as I mentioned above, but I have been persuaded by this thread that they ought to be removed. :(

Yep. Duvessa convinced me, too.
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Post Monday, 8th January 2018, 17:15

Re: Remove Labyrinths

I like lab too. Please don't remove it.

How about devs test out the following changes in trunk:
- No map rot
- autoexplore allowed (magic mapping still forbidden)
- No more maze reconfiguring itself, as apparently players don't realize this is happening
- A few commonly placed minivaults with exits back to the dungeon, but no treasure. Some could have a guardian or require digging, others could be free.

And then see how it goes.
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Post Monday, 8th January 2018, 17:33

Re: Remove Labyrinths

Majang wrote:
Shtopit wrote:Personally, I think that all features that request you to choose tedium to be stronger should be removed or reworked.

So, finally I have an ally in my campaign against allies!


That's quite true, I have made tirades about allies being boring, and there being too many gods that have allies as special gimmick, with too little variation.
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Post Monday, 8th January 2018, 17:43

Re: Remove Labyrinths

Shtopit wrote:The problem with maze is that it sticks out like a sore thumb. It doesn't have much to do with Crawl. Its objectives, as a level, are very different from those of anything else. The minivaults are cute in that they make the maze less mazey, but, ultimately, offer only a momentary respite. There's also the weird sounds; I have no idea if they really signal anything.

Of course, map rot has its own problems, since it's tedious in that you can have graph paper and make an X over squares representing walls.

And maze isn't like Beogh, Centaur, or other bad (ymmv) features that are self-contained and you can exclude from your game if you don't like them. Maze appears in your game and requests you to make a choice: do you want to have fun, or do you want to get better gear? A bit like identifying all cloaks in Zot, or all blue weapons and armour. It can have great results with little risk, but it breaks down the game flow.

Personally, I think that all features that request you to choose tedium to be stronger should be removed or reworked. What kind of choice is to say "Enter here, mortal, if you dare: great riches await, very little risks involved, but you might get BORED!".

What if you never get bored with Labs? Are they still tedious?

What if I do get bored slogging through all the popcorn in a sewer or ossuary vault, does that make those tedious? They also typically entail small or no risk (less risk more frequently than the Minotaur poses, frankly, and also greater rewards proportional to the character who finds them) and it's always optimal to do those, does that mean we should remove those, how far does that rabbit hole into "some player(s) don't enjoy this thing, but do get some reward" do we want to go?

The Minotaur's loot, frankly, is overvalued by a lot of people, it's reasonably often not useful at all for me, and frequently the best thing I get out of it is a few more wand charges. Yes, *sometimes* there's a good item that's worth using, and somewhat more often the Minotaur is actually dangerous, potentially being something that could kill you. Really skipping Labs entirely is a totally legitimate not-un-optimal choice. Calling it "great rewards" is misleading particularly considering that the possibility of it being some risk to obtain is probably greater than the possibility of the rewards actually being good. It's certainly less rewards on average than the bump in XP for doing a sewer or ossuary is at the time you get those (not to mention that you sometimes get something nice item-wise there too)

I'm going to make the contention that I think that hitting a key on your keyboard with no monster present to move your character is actually *more* entertaining for me than hitting a key to attack a monster that poses no threat, and that if your interpretation is the reverse, you probably think that Labs are bad. Labs are in some senses, a more "pure" version of how DCSS is in large part, vast tracts of actions that are in and of themselves meaningless, punctuated by occasional bouts of relevance and randomly granted rewards. If that's not your thing, then you're really playing the wrong type of game, and should go find something a little more action packed, trying to make all of DCSS "relevant" is a recipe for a different kind of game, typically those are either pure tactical or pure action/arcade games, trying to add RPG elements *always* results in some fluff, the nature of character advancement is to trivialize some things.

Some other tidbits:

The grinding sounds are the lab rearranging itself, periodically it closes/opens a corridor, possibly changing the path to get from where you are to the end (although in practice that actually happens very rarely, as the vast majority of the maze wasn't on the path from where you are to the end anyway) I think ideally this would never happen if one of the changes wasn't in your LOS, having a corridor close off or open in front of you is at least interactive, having some random thing happen somewhere else that just amounts to "some noise" is mostly just silly.

Maprot is intended to make it less trivial to solve the maze, what it really does is make it harder for people (or way more tedious if you use graph paper) who don't already have a very solid spatial sense, removing it would go a long way towards evening the playfield and making map-solving less annoying for a subset of people, without really impacting the people who are capable of navigating despite it. It could be argued that *developing* a good spatial sense is a form of increasing your skill at playing the game, however I feel that Labs are infrequent enough that the benefit is so tiny and marginal that it's not worth the cost by a long shot. I'd probably increase the frequency of corridor shuffling slightly to make up for the decrease in difficulty, if it's felt like the removal of maprot made the mazes too trivial and a difficulty bump was needed. Plus doing my suggestion of the above (where changes to the map must involve something in your LOS) more clearly communicate that the map might change than "you just forgot the area outside your LOS" does by a long shot.
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Post Tuesday, 9th January 2018, 00:07

Re: Remove Labyrinths

Siegurt wrote:What if I do get bored slogging through all the popcorn in a sewer or ossuary vault, does that make those tedious?

Huh. Is this rhetorical? I think popcorn is almost tautologically a waste of time, but this is mitigated by usually being able to tab-hammer through it - i.e. the game is self-aware enough to know that it's boring and provides methods for getting it over quickly so you can get to the fun bits. I may be crazy, but it does seem to me that by removing uninteresting stuff from the game it would become proportionally more interesting. To put it another way, the ideal proportion of interesting-ness in the game should be '100%', even if in practice it's not possible to achieve.

Siegurt wrote:The Minotaur's loot, frankly, is overvalued by a lot of people, it's reasonably often not useful at all for me, and frequently the best thing I get out of it is a few more wand charges. Yes, *sometimes* there's a good item that's worth using, and somewhat more often the Minotaur is actually dangerous, potentially being something that could kill you. Really skipping Labs entirely is a totally legitimate not-un-optimal choice. Calling it "great rewards" is misleading particularly considering that the possibility of it being some risk to obtain is probably greater than the possibility of the rewards actually being good. It's certainly less rewards on average than the bump in XP for doing a sewer or ossuary is at the time you get those (not to mention that you sometimes get something nice item-wise there too)

This seems strange to me. If a lab gave just one scroll of teleport in exchange for a ration or two, even that seems worth having from the game's internal resource perspective.

Sure, maybe you like mazes. People like different stuff. I like minesweeper myself, but I really don't think there should be a minesweeper portal in DCSS that gives you the chance of getting some free things at essentially 0 strategic risk if you can be bothered to solve 100 puzzles. I think generally if there's not a positive reason for something to exist - i.e. not "these other things are also bad so leave my pet bad thing alone" but "this thing is actively good" - and if it doesn't meld well with the core mechanisms of the game, then these are sufficient reasons for that thing to be removed.

Being a bit less negative for a moment, I think that Crawl is noticeably tighter and more engaging than the vast majority of its competitor big roguelikes. I don't think this is an accident, but is a result of a design philosophy and the willingness to prune away aspects of the game that are ugly, boring, tedious, don't fit etc. DCSS has at least some sense of game design aesthetics, it's not just a big ol' dungeon simulator RPG with 56 different types of polearms where you spend most of your time moving things around in your inventory, and that is good!

Siegurt wrote:I'm going to make the contention that I think that hitting a key on your keyboard with no monster present to move your character is actually *more* entertaining for me than hitting a key to attack a monster that poses no threat, and that if your interpretation is the reverse, you probably think that Labs are bad. Labs are in some senses, a more "pure" version of how DCSS is in large part, vast tracts of actions that are in and of themselves meaningless, punctuated by occasional bouts of relevance and randomly granted rewards. If that's not your thing, then you're really playing the wrong type of game, and should go find something a little more action packed, trying to make all of DCSS "relevant" is a recipe for a different kind of game, typically those are either pure tactical or pure action/arcade games, trying to add RPG elements *always* results in some fluff, the nature of character advancement is to trivialize some things.

I don't really understand why parts of the game being bland pap is anything except for an unwanted emergent property that should be pruned back as far as is possible. To me it just seems self evident that as the game becomes more meaningful it gets more interesting, and that 'vast tracts of actions that are in and of themselves meaningless' sounds like you're just saying the game is mostly boring?

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Post Tuesday, 9th January 2018, 07:20

Re: Remove Labyrinths

I think of Labs as akin to Sokoban in Nethack. It's ok, even fun, the first few times, but doesn't really fit in a game which you play over and over.

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Post Tuesday, 9th January 2018, 10:52

Re: Remove Labyrinths

bel wrote:I think of Labs as akin to Sokoban in Nethack. It's ok, even fun, the first few times, but doesn't really fit in a game which you play over and over.

The problem with Sokoban in Nethack when I still played it was that the puzzles were fixed (selected from a very small set). Random Sokoban levels would have been ok imo.

Labyrinth is always different so it does not have that problem. For what it's worth, I like Labyrinths. The problem is that there actually is no risk of starvation at all. If starvation should be an actual risk in Labs, maybe multiply all hunger costs there by some factor? Or prohibit bringing any food in?
...SENeGEFEMDBeDDFiHOWzVpVMHuEE{HEMoDEHuDDAs}{HaBeKoAK}CeVM{MfWnMiAK}TeAMDrIE{FoVMVSFi}
{MuVMGhGlVpMo}HaWrSpWz{OgGlTrMo}{CeWnMfBeMiSk}DrEE{GrFiFoGl}DgEnFeNe{OpGlHuSu}
DDArHaCKSpAEGrTmDgFEDsCjGhMoHuVM{HaAMBaEn}{HuMoHOWn}DsWzDDHu{DgWnGnBe}FeIE{MiEnMfCj}SpNe

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Post Tuesday, 9th January 2018, 11:50

Re: Remove Labyrinths

Sprucery wrote:The problem is that there actually is no risk of starvation at all. If starvation should be an actual risk in Labs, maybe multiply all hunger costs there by some factor? Or prohibit bringing any food in?


I don't think that starvation should be a problem. Sometimes players are very unlucky with mazes. Should characters die when players didn't guess direction of exploration?
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Post Tuesday, 9th January 2018, 12:33

Re: Remove Labyrinths

Right, it seems that the Labyrinth description no longer mentions starvation, so I guess devs have decided that it should not be an important issue. Also "beware, starvation awaits" has been changed to "beware, the minotaur awaits".
...SENeGEFEMDBeDDFiHOWzVpVMHuEE{HEMoDEHuDDAs}{HaBeKoAK}CeVM{MfWnMiAK}TeAMDrIE{FoVMVSFi}
{MuVMGhGlVpMo}HaWrSpWz{OgGlTrMo}{CeWnMfBeMiSk}DrEE{GrFiFoGl}DgEnFeNe{OpGlHuSu}
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Post Wednesday, 10th January 2018, 08:32

Re: Remove Labyrinths

Give an situational (a)bility to all characters in the Labyrinth to allow mapping of X tiles for the cost of 1 ration, à la Hansel and Gretel.

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Post Wednesday, 10th January 2018, 08:45

Re: Remove Labyrinths

Or just make an ability to give up a ration and instantly get teleported adjacent to Minotaur.
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Post Wednesday, 10th January 2018, 10:21

Re: Remove Labyrinths

tankra wrote:Give an situational (a)bility to all characters in the Labyrinth to allow mapping of X tiles for the cost of 1 ration, à la Hansel and Gretel.

This gets me to an idea that I should try next time: Putting down a trail of stones or arrows to indicate places I have already visited.
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Post Wednesday, 10th January 2018, 20:01

Re: Remove Labyrinths

duvessa wrote:But there is no reasonable defense of labyrinths that does not involve ignoring or rewriting DCSS's design goals. Maze solving is an activity with no risk and no impactful or difficult decision-making, that takes a lot of time*, yet the game gives you a reward (items) in exchange for doing it.

I'd say the loss of god piety is the risk, although that really only applies to people who are bad at labyrinths. I usually solve them in a few hundred turns so the piety loss is minimal.

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Post Thursday, 11th January 2018, 00:19

Re: Remove Labyrinths

hairmachine wrote:To put it another way, the ideal proportion of interesting-ness in the game should be '100%', even if in practice it's not possible to achieve.

This actually isn't true. You want to drip-feed new stimuli to your players, interspersed with adequate-yet-relatively-short acclimatization periods. It's a pacing thing.

*Constantly* throwing new challenges at the player results in a loss of interest as they don't yet have their head around the last thing you threw at them, and what's this, another new thing? Fuck, okay. [This can be good if your game's hook is a frenetic real time thing, but DCSS isn't that.]

You want to introduce the mechanic, give them a little bit of time to understand it, then move on.

(Mario doesn't throw everything at you on the first level.)


Re: The thread topic:

I think the only reason DCSS has a maze-solving minigame is that Nethack had Sokoban. The ancient Crawl devs had a penchant for loudly trying to differentiate from Nethack, while doing their best to make a game that wasn't too far from it.

(At least Crawl got timed portals out of the deal, eventually. Those are pretty fun, right?)

There is nothing else to say about labs that hasn't been said many times over the years. The reasons for removing labs are solid, but they still exist in Stone Soup. Make your own branch and remove them and get it hosted somewhere so people can play it, or do what crate did and hide the lab entrance through rcfile shenanigans, because the arguments haven't changed and they haven't swayed the DCSS team.


edit: Apparently the post just below the one quoted mentioned Sokoban. That's what I get for not reading the whole thread.
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Post Thursday, 11th January 2018, 00:29

Re: Remove Labyrinths

Implojin wrote:I think the only reason DCSS has a maze-solving minigame is that Nethack had Sokoban. The ancient Crawl devs had a thing for loudly trying to differentiate from Nethack, while doing their best to make a game that wasn't too far from it.

Sokoban was introduced in Nethack in December 1999. Linley's Dungeon Crawl already had Labyrinths before that.
...SENeGEFEMDBeDDFiHOWzVpVMHuEE{HEMoDEHuDDAs}{HaBeKoAK}CeVM{MfWnMiAK}TeAMDrIE{FoVMVSFi}
{MuVMGhGlVpMo}HaWrSpWz{OgGlTrMo}{CeWnMfBeMiSk}DrEE{GrFiFoGl}DgEnFeNe{OpGlHuSu}
DDArHaCKSpAEGrTmDgFEDsCjGhMoHuVM{HaAMBaEn}{HuMoHOWn}DsWzDDHu{DgWnGnBe}FeIE{MiEnMfCj}SpNe

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Post Thursday, 11th January 2018, 01:24

Re: Remove Labyrinths

Sprucery wrote:
Implojin wrote:I think the only reason DCSS has a maze-solving minigame is that Nethack had Sokoban. The ancient Crawl devs had a thing for loudly trying to differentiate from Nethack, while doing their best to make a game that wasn't too far from it.

Sokoban was introduced in Nethack in December 1999. Linley's Dungeon Crawl already had Labyrinths before that.

I didn't know that Linley's labs predated Sokoban being added to Nethack. Thanks!

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Post Thursday, 11th January 2018, 18:16

Re: Remove Labyrinths

How about instead of a mostly-static maze of one-tile-wide passages, labyrinths basically just copy the Abyss code with fewer terrain types and a weaker monster set? Probably slow down the terrain changes as well. Escape hatches back to the main dungeon replace Abyss exits, and when you get enough exploration or xp to generate a new exit the labyrinth will place the minotaur vault at the next valid set of unexplored tiles you enter. In addition to making the labyrinth a gameplay challenge and guaranteeing that players don't get stuck wandering through empty hallways for hundreds of turns, this would have the benefit of introducing new players and their early-game characters to the Abyss mechanics without also throwing random endgame monsters at them at the same time.

I don't particularly hate solving current-labyrinths when I get them, but I do have to admit that they are very out of place in the current design of the game.

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Post Friday, 12th January 2018, 03:41

Re: Remove Labyrinths

Labrynths would be greatly improved by making them smaller (say, including only the metal-walled region), or by starting the player close to the center (say, somewhere in the metal-walled region, with a path to the center that never leaves the stone-walled region).

The minotaur fight is fun, racing to the timed portal is fun, fighting in an unusual layout is fun and the flavor is cool. This would preserve all that.

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Post Friday, 12th January 2018, 11:10

Re: Remove Labyrinths

phloomp wrote:The minotaur fight is fun, racing to the timed portal is fun, fighting in an unusual layout is fun and the flavor is cool.
This. I think the Labyrinth could be a pretty neat DCSS portal, but the experience is ruined by maprot and lack of autoexplore.

Some people might like maprot and hate autoexplore, but then DCSS is not the game for them.

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Post Friday, 12th January 2018, 12:01

Re: Remove Labyrinths

Implojin wrote:This actually isn't true. You want to drip-feed new stimuli to your players, interspersed with adequate-yet-relatively-short acclimatization periods. It's a pacing thing.

*Constantly* throwing new challenges at the player results in a loss of interest as they don't yet have their head around the last thing you threw at them, and what's this, another new thing? Fuck, okay. [This can be good if your game's hook is a frenetic real time thing, but DCSS isn't that.]

You want to introduce the mechanic, give them a little bit of time to understand it, then move on.

I expected someone to pick up on that. :)

I would probably posit you have the pacing thing backwards - pacing matters less in a turn based game because the player is able to 100% dictate the rate at which things happen. I mean you can literally fly around the world between each turn if you want to. In a denser game, players would just play slower and at a more consistent rate. In addition '100% interesting' doesn't necessarily imply constant perplexities or new things, it just means everything is interesting. I see no reason in principle why you can't develop mechanical acclimatisation periods that are interesting - they certainly shouldn't be boring because that implies they aren't actually necessary. There is particular care to be taken in a game that's meant to be replayed a lot. Finally 'interesting' doesn't have to just be stressful or dangerous situations; it can (in principle) be interesting to make strategic decisions like choosing what loot to equip or what skilling to pursue, but only when there's some ambiguity to navigate.

On topic, I like everyone's ideas here and think they would all improve the labyrinth from its current state - which is kind of revealing IMO.

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Post Tuesday, 16th January 2018, 15:23

Re: Remove Labyrinths

Turn labyrinths into a 10x10 room based maze (with room dimensions of 6x6 and a 1 tile width indestructible wall for border and room separation, making it a 71x71 map). Use doors on the N/S/E/W walls to move between rooms (removing doors as needed for maze generation). Have the rooms chance between empty, trapped, or minotaur room (using Tomb style mini-vault population to do so). Auto explore can then be re-enabled. Magic mapping/teleport restrictions and maprot can stay or leave, I don't care.

This keeps the maze solving aspect and labyrinth flavor (although more like a Cube style than pure Minotaur's Maze) while making the portal's gameplay less like a Sokoban side-game and more like Crawl.

Edit: The dimensions for the rooms can be smaller to fit more rooms in the grid (must be less than 80x80, I think), but they can't be too small or it becomes harder to make unique mini-vaults.

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Post Tuesday, 16th January 2018, 23:21

Re: Remove Labyrinths

Floodkiller wrote:Turn labyrinths into a 10x10 room based maze (with room dimensions of 6x6 and a 1 tile width indestructible wall for border and room separation, making it a 71x71 map). Use doors on the N/S/E/W walls to move between rooms (removing doors as needed for maze generation). Have the rooms chance between empty, trapped, or minotaur room (using Tomb style mini-vault population to do so). Auto explore can then be re-enabled. Magic mapping/teleport restrictions and maprot can stay or leave, I don't care.

This keeps the maze solving aspect and labyrinth flavor (although more like a Cube style than pure Minotaur's Maze) while making the portal's gameplay less like a Sokoban side-game and more like Crawl.

Edit: The dimensions for the rooms can be smaller to fit more rooms in the grid (must be less than 80x80, I think), but they can't be too small or it becomes harder to make unique mini-vaults.
This would be a great way to do a ton of work while improving absolutely nothing.

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Post Wednesday, 17th January 2018, 00:10

Re: Remove Labyrinths

duvessa wrote:This would be a great way to do a ton of work while improving absolutely nothing.

I guess I could stick an oklob plant in the corner of every room if you really want.
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Post Wednesday, 17th January 2018, 00:18

Re: Remove Labyrinths

I was actually quite happy with the updates to Labyrinth over the last couple versions (forget exactly when it was now). I feel like I'm encountering interesting monsters (and occasional loot, wouldn't mind upping that a bit but hey) along the way there more often. I also feel like the mazes have sometimes gotten a little harder than they used to be, maybe it's just me -- but for me that's just to be expected now and then from a maze-themed space.

And I've always enjoyed the Labyrinth. Occasionally I just don't touch it if the character isn't up to par, but usually I give it a shot if I have food and at least some "special" combat resources (seems rarely a problem lately).

Also still kind of tired of sooo many requests for really all sorts of stuff to be flat out removed... Often when on the same over-broad principles much of the whole game could probably just as 'logically' be deleted, if people were consistent.
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Post Wednesday, 17th January 2018, 14:02

Re: Remove Labyrinths

stoneychips wrote:I was actually quite happy with the updates to Labyrinth over the last couple versions (forget exactly when it was now). I feel like I'm encountering interesting monsters (and occasional loot, wouldn't mind upping that a bit but hey) along the way there more often.
This was a terrible change in my experience. Extra loot and xp incentivizes the player to fully explore each labyrinth, which is made as inconvenient as possible by the special labyrinth interface.

stoneychips wrote:Also still kind of tired of sooo many requests for really all sorts of stuff to be flat out removed... Often when on the same over-broad principles much of the whole game could probably just as 'logically' be deleted, if people were consistent.
Labyrinth removal arguments are in fact the exact opposite of this. The labyrinth is problematic specifically because it is so unique - it doesn't require use of the tactical skills honed throughout the rest of the game, and it is the only place in the game where you can't autoexplore. So if your "over-broad principle" is [autoexploring makes the game more enjoyable and travelling would be inconvenient without it] or [crawl is a game built around its tactical and strategic combat system], congrats you should reach the conclusion that the labyrinth is an outlier and should be removed.

Even bungus game mechanics like food variety and item destruction were consistent across the whole game and had some relation to the strategic/tactical game at the core of crawl. Labyrinth is a fucking minigame.

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Post Thursday, 18th January 2018, 05:56

Re: Remove Labyrinths

Actually, the Labyrinth experience isn't entirely foreign to crawl, at least with respect to some of the bad mechanics countering crawl's design philosophy as quoted by duvessa above.
Consider the following floor layout, as found in my current game:
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#..##  ##.#  ##.##   ##.#     #.#   ###       ##..##  ###    ##.######......## 
####    ###  #.##     ###     #.#              ####           ##..#  ######..# 
             ###              ###                              ####       #### 

Each game seems to have at least two of these layouts in the dungeon alone, which have the following characteristic: it takes three times as many turns to explore the level on autoexplore than to do so manually, where you methodically start to explore the edges of the floor and work yourself inside. The catch is the same: if you do not explore every nook and cranny of this level, you might forgo the benefit of a potion or weapon or even just a stack of stones, forcing you into a lot of tedium for a potential benefit. The difference to the Labyrinth is the lack of map rot, but on the other hand you have a guaranteed benefit in the labyrinth for the anticipated tedium of clearing it.

I'd be all for removing these ridiculous layouts alongside with the labyrinth, for the same stated reasons: tedium in exchange for potential benefit.
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Post Thursday, 18th January 2018, 13:00

Re: Remove Labyrinths

KoboldLord wrote:How about instead of a mostly-static maze of one-tile-wide passages, labyrinths basically just copy the Abyss code with fewer terrain types and a weaker monster set? Probably slow down the terrain changes as well. Escape hatches back to the main dungeon replace Abyss exits, and when you get enough exploration or xp to generate a new exit the labyrinth will place the minotaur vault at the next valid set of unexplored tiles you enter. In addition to making the labyrinth a gameplay challenge and guaranteeing that players don't get stuck wandering through empty hallways for hundreds of turns, this would have the benefit of introducing new players and their early-game characters to the Abyss mechanics without also throwing random endgame monsters at them at the same time.

I don't particularly hate solving current-labyrinths when I get them, but I do have to admit that they are very out of place in the current design of the game.
I quite like this idea. Though the Abyss don't *need* an introduction, it would serve to make the newer labyrinth far more interesting. The labyrinth is an interesting change of pace the first few times you have played it, the main problem is that it doesn't have much replayability, and only serves to fustrate or bore those who either have poor spatial awareness or are otherwise unlucky with the changing of passageways. It should be retained in some manner.
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Post Sunday, 21st January 2018, 16:28

Re: Remove Labyrinths

My gut feeling is it's probably not something we'd ever agree about anyway, but just one swing. Some bold added to help find stuff.

amaril wrote:
stoneychips wrote:I was actually quite happy with the updates to Labyrinth over the last couple versions (forget exactly when it was now). I feel like I'm encountering interesting monsters (and occasional loot, wouldn't mind upping that a bit but hey) along the way there more often.
This was a terrible change in my experience. Extra loot and xp incentivizes the player to fully explore each labyrinth, which is made as inconvenient as possible by the special labyrinth interface.

I dunno, everyone defines their own incentives. Some people think staying alive easily or even, "not wasting time" is much more important than the highly variable loot table you get in Lab. It doesn't bother me if you don't want to go in. That's not a good reason to say I shouldn't be allowed to either. Doesn't the game scoring system also punish you for spending more time to finish a game in any way at all (including wandering the Labyrinth), in the big scheme of things? If you follow that kind of incentive. I like that the Lab can drop some nice loot, sure, but if you don't want a relatively easy chance of loot anywhere, then it's potentially remove Trove, eventually remove various vault types by much the same reasoning.

stoneychips wrote:Also still kind of tired of sooo many requests for really all sorts of stuff to be flat out removed... Often when on the same over-broad principles much of the whole game could probably just as 'logically' be deleted, if people were consistent.
Labyrinth removal arguments are in fact the exact opposite of this. The labyrinth is problematic specifically because it is so unique - it doesn't require use of the tactical skills honed throughout the rest of the game, and it is the only place in the game where you can't autoexplore. So if your "over-broad principle" is [autoexploring makes the game more enjoyable and travelling would be inconvenient without it] or [crawl is a game built around its tactical and strategic combat system], congrats you should reach the conclusion that the labyrinth is an outlier and should be removed.

Even bungus game mechanics like food variety and item destruction were consistent across the whole game and had some relation to the strategic/tactical game at the core of crawl. Labyrinth is a fucking minigame.

Really, aren't many vaults arguably mini-games? I'm not sure I understand where you think the difference lies precisely, or why it should always be bad.

So... Stuff is not really spelled out. What "tactical skills" exactly are not required? It doesn't usually give you squads or hordes that must be faced simultaneously and in the open, but neither do some Dungeon levels generally? (Like okay, so it isn't Zot or Depths.) The minotaur can be beaten if you pack some advantages and know how to use them well, but it can also surprise you with a power evocable or smack you if you're below par on gear. Pretty similar to many moderate uniques I'd say, if not always so flexible.

A fair portion often depends on placement of the meeting too. If you get to control the entry to a chamber you may do pretty well (unless you rely on retreat and maneuver); if you don't spot it until you're nearly adjacent that's another matter. This is dicey for a few characters, but also hardly unique to Lab.

Now... what do you mean by "special" interface exactly? Is this just another proxy for saying you really prefer to use auto-explore -- and how often do you mean? Must you have auto-explore everywhere? Or something else? Personally, I'm not nearly so married to using auto-explore everywhere, or even for a majority of each level. This feels like the crux of it to me, at least for what little you've actually explained. Is it?

In my view, auto-explore only makes a game easier if you land an uber set of gear or extra-strong background you know inside and out. Otherwise, it disorients me and sometimes outright gets me in trouble. I really dislike feeling disoriented. Getting "merely" confused and distracted "out of character" leads me to a lot of stupid deaths. I typically manually explore a lot at a slower pace, and just use auto to finish each level off. I can understand that you might not like the pace of "your" style being changed either, but again it would make for a pushy excuse to demand that the game only accommodate one and only one all the time in all places. (I wouldn't go demanding all teleport traps be removed because they can be very disorienting, and at least the Labyrinth gives you a choice.)

Reliably getting a whole pack of white super-weapons usable by my class arguably "makes the game more enjoyable" too, but I don't assume I'm 100% entitled to that every single game -- unless say, I stack the deck by playing Trog/Oka and not doing other things the game offers for other sorts of possible enjoyment. You're similarly entitled to stack the deck against restricting your auto-movement by simply not going to Lab. Or not. The only difference being, you even have the option to go fast sometimes and slow others. You and anyone else, some of whom might actually enjoy a little change of pace (oops bad Chei pun).
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Post Monday, 22nd January 2018, 06:29

Re: Remove Labyrinths

Of course defeating the minotaur is not a mini game and is completely fine. Finding your way to the minotaur is an unique mini-game, nothing is even close. I think moon wiz lab is a good example how labyrinth should look: lots of hard fights (autoexplore still works!) and then a fight with boss via transporter.
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Post Tuesday, 23rd January 2018, 16:41

Re: Remove Labyrinths

I totally dig the labyrinth. I hope that the approach taken is to understand why people find it enjoyable and not boring/grindy, and improve upon that while mitigating downsides.

You could easily add a scattering of exit trapdoor vaults for frustrated players like the OP. That'd improve enjoyment for players who stay in too, since it would renew the activity as a choice.
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