Level effects


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Tomb Titivator

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Post Friday, 18th January 2019, 01:02

Level effects

This is a proposal for a new mechanic: level effects. I'll start with the WHAT and then talk about WHY.

WHAT

When a level is generated, there is a low chance for it to get a special effect. This would be a relatively rare occurrence, you would expect to see about one special level per 3-rune game. The effect could be good, bad, or neutral for the player.

Some example effects:

* This floor is poorly lit and you cannot see as far as normal (-LOS)
* You hear the rattle of bones... spooky! (all monsters are zombies or skeletons)
* You enter a lush greenhouse, it seems like plant life is taking over the floor (firewood appears, level generates as "ruined" with some grass and mossy floors, a few oklobs spawn).

Level effects can:
* Change map generation logic (eg generate the map "ruined")
* Modify the map after generation (eg replace tiles, add features)
* Modify monster set before placement (eg use a different branch monster set or depth)
* Modify monsters after generation (eg convert all monsters to zombies)
* Apply permanent passive effects (eg -Stlth+, increased trap rate)

Other details:
* Each level effect would be valid for only certain branches (eg zombie effect wouldn't fire in Crypt)
* Some places would be invalid for level effects (D:1, Abyss, Tomb, Zot:5, probably Hells, etc)
* Each floor can only have one level effect (at least initially)

WHY

I think level effects represent a relatively efficient way to add more variety to DCSS. A small number of effects that fire rarely will add a lot of novelty and replayability to the game ("remember that time I got zombie vault:5?"). Because level effects could modify multiple systems (map, monsters, passive effects) they can have good thematic cohesion, and because they are rare and localised they can be relatively intrusive without becoming annoying.

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Ziggurat Zagger

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Post Friday, 18th January 2019, 01:25

Re: Level effects

While I don't see something fundamentally wrong with the idea of level effects, none of your suggested level effects sound compelling to me.
Derived undead, firewood, and oklobs are some of the worst monsters in the game. Ruin is already used quite a bit. +/- LOS or changing effective depth is more of a difficulty increase/decrease than anything else, which means you'll just do levels out of order (because DCSS allows backtracking). I can't think of any good ideas for level effects myself, either. The fact that you can backtrack really limits what you can do with level effects.

You also need to consider that this is quite a bit of additional stuff for new players to learn.

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Ziggurat Zagger

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Post Friday, 18th January 2019, 06:49

Re: Level effects

That probably means effects should not care about backtracking, something like
1) you cannot enter Lair more than once
2) you cannot buy rings
3) you cannot use robes
4) you cannot train evocations
5) you cannot join gods in Temple
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Tomb Titivator

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Post Friday, 18th January 2019, 08:51

Re: Level effects

The effects would only apply on the level in question, to be clear.

Shoals Surfer

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Post Friday, 18th January 2019, 15:40

Re: Level effects

Instead of focusing on technical limitations, can we discuss the kinds of level feelings that would be fun to have in the game?

Pulling monstersets from other branches sounds fun for sure, especially if it's something that the player wasn't expecting to see in that game, like from branches that didn't generate.

duvessa wrote:The fact that you can backtrack really limits what you can do with level effects.

You also need to consider that this is quite a bit of additional stuff for new players to learn.

Re: backtracking: All you really need to do to address this is to couple level feelings with some flavor of short-term upstair-related trick. One option is dropping the player in away from any < (shaft/tomb-style), another option would be something like locking out+hiding the < on a small XP timer (mini-elemental evoker-style). Either of these would force some engagement with the floor and a possible downward dive. Granted, this kind of approach overlaps with shafts, but, y'know, people *like* shafts.

Re: New player info load: "This floor seems spooky" coupled with, e.g., a bunch of skeletons appearing, is pretty self-explanatory. The trick here is to not try and be subtle with level effects, I think.
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Snake Sneak

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Post Friday, 18th January 2019, 16:40

Re: Level effects

This floor feels... spooky. All monsters spawn as derived undead.
You hear scuttling within the walls.... Greatly increased chance of spider/insect spawns, replacing other normal spawns.
CRASH! You hear a cave-in in the distance. Only one down stair on this level.
This place seems to be on fire. Random short-lived clouds of flame spawn and despawn around the player. (Note that I'd love to make this "Around the whole level" but clouds disappear outside LOS of the player, seems redundant)
The fates are capricious... Every creature on the level is subject to Xom effects at random.
You feel a strong breeze blow past you. All creatures get rMsl on this level.
You're filled with determination! +1 to all skill XP modifiers on this floor. (Shouldn't be too abusable now that OOD timer spawns have been removed.)
The air hangs with the heavy fog of antimagic. Spells are harder to cast on this floor.
The magical essence of this place infuses you! Spells are easier to cast on this floor and cost one less MP.
The veil between worlds is thin here. Summoning spells call one extra creature on this floor.
A demented essence lurks here... Spawns one very powerful OOD neutral-aligned demon on this floor.
Reality is fragmented here. Level is corrupted with many areas from many different branches.
Reality is completely broken here. Abyss corruption, high chance of Lugonu altar(s).
The gods make their presence known. 100% chance of all god altars appearing on this level.
The gods have no power here. Active god powers unusable on this level. Passives remain in place.
You feel like you've missed something.... Completely removes this floor from the game and shunts the player to the next floor. Going up from the next floor skips this level as well. i.e., the dungeon skips right from D:4 to D:6.

Some of these are bad, I'm well aware. Just throwing out some ideas to facilitate discussion.

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Mines Malingerer

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Post Tuesday, 22nd January 2019, 05:08

Re: Level effects

duvessa wrote:The fact that you can backtrack really limits what you can do with level effects.

I don't think this is a problem if level effects are designed to add variety instead of just challenge. A -LOS floor would generally be considered a good thing, and I think effects that tend towards giving the player an advantage would be best. Although then there is the issue of luring everything to that floor, if the effects were too good... Another option could be to provide a strictly advantageous effect that disperses as soon as you leave the floor.

"Bad" effects could also be constrained to branch ends, or floors with another branch entrance on them. Or even combine them with timed portals.

You also need to consider that this is quite a bit of additional stuff for new players to learn.


Very true, but if they're pretty rare - one per 3 rune game on average was the proposed frequency - it's very unlikely to affect new players that can't get as far as getting a rune anyhow.
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Tartarus Sorceror

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Post Tuesday, 22nd January 2019, 07:42

Re: Level effects

The concept and some of the suggestions sound neat. I'd like to see this more than once per game, if it's well executed. Even as often as 10% of all levels.

Especially the ones which change only monsters and level generation, as opposed to those which temporarily change the rules of the game.

Vestibule Violator

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Post Tuesday, 22nd January 2019, 17:15

Re: Level effects

I think there are a few level effects that could work well, but most of these will either be pure flavor (low, but not zero value) or will encourage annoying non-dangerous gameplay like backtracking.

My favorite idea is 'crumbly stairs'; this floor has no upstairs (thematically because the stairs crumble when used and turn into hatches.) I believe there's a fork around that's done that to all levels; I'm not sure I'd want that, but having to deal with a Tomb 3-style level a time or two per game sounds like a lot of fun.
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Spider Stomper

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Post Tuesday, 22nd January 2019, 17:42

Re: Level effects

1) Player encounters floor with no up stairs.
2) Player proceeds to collect orb.
3) Player climbs back up to said floor.
4) Player despairs.
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Snake Sneak

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Post Tuesday, 22nd January 2019, 18:00

Re: Level effects

"No up stairs" can (and should) still spawn hatches.

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Vestibule Violator

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Post Tuesday, 22nd January 2019, 20:32

Re: Level effects

Yes, it would have 3 guaranteed up-hatches as well, ala tomb:3.
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Ziggurat Zagger

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Post Tuesday, 29th January 2019, 01:31

Re: Level effects

Sorry for just nitpicking, but replacing the monsters on a floor with derived undead is going to generally make the floor much easier, and particularly if it happens to a very hard level like vaults:5, will remove a lot of the challenge from that run.

Overall the effects shouldn't change difficulty too much, or err on the side of making the floor slightly more difficult. A good example from the already mentioned effects is spawning one powerful OOD monster, and the message can give you a hint as to what type of monster it is. Something like demon, human, or even "you hear electric crackling" to warn about an electricity using monster (possible spawns: storm dragon, spriggan air elementalist, elec golem, depending on depth). I'd say give the OOD some reasonably good item to tempt the player to go kill it. If you want to prevent backtracking, you can remove the item if the player leaves the floor, but keep the monster.

While backtracking can make the floor easier later, presumably the player came to the floor because it's the safest floor for them to clear next, so forcing them to go somewhere else is automatically more challenging. As long as the difficulty increase from level effects is neutral to slightly harder, it shouldn't be a huge disruption.

Snake Sneak

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Post Tuesday, 29th January 2019, 11:19

Re: Level effects

I like the idea of level flavors for (mostly) cosmetic purposes, but don't think they should change the rules of the game.

So changing map/monster generation would be fine, but no +/- LOS shenanigans or taking away stairs[1]. and branch ends should at most get purely cosmetic changes.

Some ideas I like
* A whole level devoted to a god, e.g. all blue tiles and a Sif altar vault or a whole corrupted level
* The map is generated like one of the other branches, but the monsters stay the same
* Custom tile/wall colours/patterns for the whole level
* Spawning a lot of (additional, zero-xp) neutral monsters wandering around
* Maybe use monster generation from a different branch (not sure how interesting this is, as you'll also find them in that branch anyway)


[1] Because that breaks the "there are always exactly three up/down stairs per level" expectation, which would be especially annoying/confusing when just backtracking through.

Vaults Vanquisher

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Post Tuesday, 29th January 2019, 18:56

Re: Level effects

I rather like the +/- LOS and "change how stairs work" shenanigans :)
I quite like being shafted, so any level effect with a similar effect I will like.
I agree that many level effects would not be appropriate for branch endings.

2 more suggested level effects:
'the plumming is broken...': All normal ground is replaced with shallow water.
For messing with the stairs: All down stairs are replaced with shafts, and then proper down stairs are placed in a special vault which can only be opened from the inside. (you could use a transporter if runed doors don't work that way)

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Ziggurat Zagger

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Post Wednesday, 30th January 2019, 00:49

Re: Level effects

I also like the +/- LOS effects, it's impactful enough to matter but also not so warping to feel unfair. It's also easily explained by the dungeon floor itself: "this floor is unusually bright" (or dim).

For messing with the stairs: All down stairs are replaced with shafts, and then proper down stairs are placed in a special vault which can only be opened from the inside. (you could use a transporter if runed doors don't work that way)

This seems like it could be entirely done with a vault, and so I'd probably say it makes more sense to do it that way. There's already several vaults which take all 3 downstairs and place them inside a monster filled area, which means that you can only find down shafts outside of it. The most famous one is probably the oklob plants in a room in lair, where you have to get past/kill them to reach the downstairs. Or take a hatch. I don't think you can do "runed door only opens one way" in a vault but if you added the transporter to get into the vault, it'd essentially be the same thing.

Vaults Vanquisher

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Post Wednesday, 30th January 2019, 12:58

Re: Level effects

Would such a vault interact badly with any other crawl mechanics? Some potential problems I can think of:
Shafts/hatches must be guaranteed to spawn outside the vault, but might not be
One of the stairs in the vault could be replaced with a hatch, with the real stair placed outside the vault (I've seen this happen to some stair-containing vaults)
Crawl auto-travel might not take you through a transporter

Swamp Slogger

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Post Wednesday, 30th January 2019, 13:52

Re: Level effects

rigrig wrote:Some ideas I like
* A whole level devoted to a god, e.g. all blue tiles and a Sif altar vault or a whole corrupted level
* The map is generated like one of the other branches, but the monsters stay the same


How about this?
* Make all the walls of one level into hives(or tree). but the monsters stay the same.
* Slime Pit:5 where all the walls have been replaced by the tombstone. but the monsters stay the same.
* Make all the topography of one level into hell(of Geryon). but the monsters stay the same. Place an red Imp named Gery.

Vestibule Violator

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Post Thursday, 31st January 2019, 01:06

Re: Level effects

petercordia wrote:Would such a vault interact badly with any other crawl mechanics? Some potential problems I can think of:
Shafts/hatches must be guaranteed to spawn outside the vault, but might not be
One of the stairs in the vault could be replaced with a hatch, with the real stair placed outside the vault (I've seen this happen to some stair-containing vaults)
Crawl auto-travel might not take you through a transporter

You could manually place hatches/shafts down on the outside of the room in the vault definition
This is a problem; I'm not sure it's completely preventable at the moment?
Crawl auto-travel will take you through a transporter if you've been through it before.
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Halls Hopper

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Post Sunday, 3rd February 2019, 18:06

Re: Level effects

How about making the effects god-themed?

Vehmut = lots of blaster casters
Kiku = undead
Dith = that -LOS thing
Chei = +slow
Fedhas = plant stuff
Qaz = clouds all over
etc. etc.

If you happen to be worshipping that god, you still get hit with the effects but maybe you get some +piety if you clear everything and prove you're worthy.

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