Remove 1 MP Spells


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Ziggurat Zagger

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Post Wednesday, 7th August 2019, 18:34

Remove 1 MP Spells

So there's a problem with 1MP spells, let's see if I can describe it in a way that makes sense:

1 MP spells are such a smaller percentage that it's hard to balance the difference in power between them and the other spell levels. For example, 1MP spells are half the cost of 2MP spells, this means you can cast twice as many, but they are rarely half as effective, in order for that to be true, you'd effectively have to double your power going from level 1 to level 2, which isn't (and probably shouldn't be) the case. The difference between cost and power jump gets smaller, but it's always present, until you get quite late into the game it's useful to keep a level 1 spell around to kill popcorn, just because of the MP efficiency.

What I propose is fairly simple. Take all spells and add 1 MP to their cost, add some extra MP (base, gained, and max) and MP regen to compensate (And adjust channeling sources etc.)
Probably other MP-consuming abilities should follow suit to keep them inline.

This has a few effects, going from level 1 to level 2 spells now is only a 50% increase in cost, which is much more reasonable to balance, power wise, a level 9 spell now is only 5x more expensive rather than 9x more expensive, and a solid level 5 attack spell is only 3x more expensive, rather than 5x, and a level 3 spell is only twice as expensive making using mid-tier conjurations for general attacking use comparitively much less of a problem efficiency wise.

I think spell costs going from 2->10 fits the power curve of spells a little more closely than 1->9, and it would reduce the awfulness of the balance between spells somewhat.

It also allows increments *below* that of 1 spell's worth, for both cost and healing which opens up new feature and balancing possibilities. For example searing ray's channel cost could remain at 1 MP and it's damage could be reduced to compensate, and it would be still be inline with it's MP cost. Another was the proposed "reduce spellcasting cost by 1MP" race which was completely broken in a lot of ways, but could be made less so if fractional spell cost reductions were possible (I still don't think it would be a good idea as a race, but it would at least be more possibile).

It also allows for abilities which are "weaker than a level 1 spell" which still have a cost.
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bel

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Post Wednesday, 7th August 2019, 19:23

Re: Remove 1 MP Spells

Siegurt wrote:1 MP spells are such a smaller percentage that it's hard to balance the difference in power between them and the other spell levels. For example, 1MP spells are half the cost of 2MP spells, this means you can cast twice as many, but they are rarely half as effective, in order for that to be true, you'd effectively have to double your power going from level 1 to level 2, which isn't (and probably shouldn't be) the case. The difference between cost and power jump gets smaller, but it's always present, until you get quite late into the game it's useful to keep a level 1 spell around to kill popcorn, just because of the MP efficiency.


Interesting idea. However, I don't think this analysis is right. I will only look at the early game case because it is here that MP-efficiency matters most (also, it's not important what method you use to kill popcorn late in the game).

Even if a lvl 2 spell is not double the power of lvl 1 spell, you might still want to use it because it provides more damage per turn, more range, whatever. Indeed, this situation creates an interesting decision: to kill the monster as fast as possible, or to kill it in the most MP-efficient way possible.

This is the same decision with cloud/summon spells vs direct damage spells: you're doing more damage over time in an MP-efficient manner, rather than killing the monster as quickly as possible.

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Halls Hopper

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Post Thursday, 8th August 2019, 00:05

Re: Remove 1 MP Spells

Flame Tongue, pain, magic dart, all the damage level 1's are quite fine at 1mp.

If you're looking to balance low level spells it would be better to just bump the animate skeletons of the magic world up to level 2.

Probably all non-damage level 1 spells, summon small mammal is the only one that might cause an issue because the summoner background has to clear d1

Blades Runner

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Post Thursday, 8th August 2019, 01:13

Re: Remove 1 MP Spells

I really like sandblast only costing 1 mp (and being limited by rocks). It results in sandblast being useful until late in the game. There are also elegant interactions between game mechanics which usefull because 1mp spells are so cheap. Examples are battlesphere + magic dart, and shadow mimic + shock.

I don't see much reason for change.
All level 2 starting spells get used afaik.

Ziggurat Zagger

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Post Thursday, 8th August 2019, 03:43

Re: Remove 1 MP Spells

bel wrote:Even if a lvl 2 spell is not double the power of lvl 1 spell, you might still want to use it because it provides more damage per turn, more range, whatever. Indeed, this situation creates an interesting decision: to kill the monster as fast as possible, or to kill it in the most MP-efficient way possible.

I guess the difference is that I don't find this decision interesting. I think it's a really boring decision that I've made millions of times now, and it doesn't contribute anything other than adding a tax to every attack with a spellcaster, rather than just whacking away with whatever my best option is, I have to weigh a micro-optimization on every.. single.. attack.

Imagine if melee was also like this, you'd carry a variety of weapons, and from turn to turn you'd decide if you want to use the worse-but-cheaper option or the better-but-more-expensive one, at a certain point it just becomes an interface screw, rather than something that contributes to your enjoyment of the game.
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bel

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Post Thursday, 8th August 2019, 23:07

Re: Remove 1 MP Spells

That comparison doesn't make sense. Melee is free. Spellcasting isn't. MP management is fundamental to how spells work.

If you don't want to manage MP optimally: well, don't. Crawl is generous enough that you can play sub-optimally in one aspect and still end up completely fine.

Ziggurat Zagger

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Post Friday, 9th August 2019, 06:16

Re: Remove 1 MP Spells

bel wrote: Indeed, this situation creates an interesting decision: to kill the monster as fast as possible, or to kill it in the most MP-efficient way possible.

bel wrote:If you don't want to manage MP optimally: well, don't. Crawl is generous enough that you can play sub-optimally in one aspect and still end up completely fine.

So is the decision interesting, or tedious but optimal?

If playing in one way is tactically optimal, but is discouraged *only by tedium* that's bad game design, and if we can improve it we should. (That's not to imply that this is the *only* thing that is this way, or that my suggestion eliminates the problem entirely, only that it increases the flexibility of the developer's tools to deal with it.)

Also I'm not suggesting that we *completely* remove the dynamic in question, only decrease the it's degree on one end of the curve.
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Ziggurat Zagger

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Post Friday, 9th August 2019, 06:25

Re: Remove 1 MP Spells

braveplatypus wrote:Flame Tongue, pain, magic dart, all the damage level 1's are quite fine at 1mp.

If you're looking to balance low level spells it would be better to just bump the animate skeletons of the magic world up to level 2.

Probably all non-damage level 1 spells, summon small mammal is the only one that might cause an issue because the summoner background has to clear d1


petercordia wrote:I really like sandblast only costing 1 mp (and being limited by rocks). It results in sandblast being useful until late in the game. There are also elegant interactions between game mechanics which usefull because 1mp spells are so cheap. Examples are battlesphere + magic dart, and shadow mimic + shock.

I don't see much reason for change.
All level 2 starting spells get used afaik.

Note I'm not suggesting that we change the balance of level 1 spells, or decrease the amount of level 1 spells you can cast in the early game, I'm suggesting *changing the relationship between early spells and later ones slightly* in terms of MP cost. I'm not looking to balance anything, I'm not making a suggestion to balance overpowered spells.

Balance and Overpowered spells isn't related to this suggestion at all, nor is the fact that level 1 spells are cheap, after the suggested change there would still be a beneficial relationship with them and battlesphere/shadow mimic, even at two MP (Which would have a lower relative cost because part of the suggestion is raising MP regen and Max MP to compensate)
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bel

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Post Friday, 9th August 2019, 06:56

Re: Remove 1 MP Spells

Siegurt wrote:
bel wrote: Indeed, this situation creates an interesting decision: to kill the monster as fast as possible, or to kill it in the most MP-efficient way possible.

bel wrote:If you don't want to manage MP optimally: well, don't. Crawl is generous enough that you can play sub-optimally in one aspect and still end up completely fine.

So is the decision interesting, or tedious but optimal?

If playing in one way is tactically optimal, but is discouraged *only by tedium* that's bad game design, and if we can improve it we should. (That's not to imply that this is the *only* thing that is this way, or that my suggestion eliminates the problem entirely, only that it increases the flexibility of the developer's tools to deal with it.)

Also I'm not suggesting that we *completely* remove the dynamic in question, only decrease the it's degree on one end of the curve.

Hard to say what anyone finds "interesting". It's possible that for a very experienced player, the decision may be easy in many cases, and thus not interesting. I can only say that it's a meaningful decision and it's pretty fundamental to how spells work.

Tangentially related, other RPG-style games tend to use similar mechanics. I would never hold Nethack to be any kind of design model, but for instance, the spell of healing (lvl 1) heals half as much as the spell of extra healing (lvl 3). So, it's optimal to use healing twice rather than extra healing once (if you're not short of time). I used to play a MUD years ago, and it had similar mechanics for healing spells.

As for the overall idea to rebalance spell levels, it's interesting and I don't have any particular opinion on the current power levels of various lvl 1 spells.

Blades Runner

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Post Friday, 9th August 2019, 11:53

Re: Remove 1 MP Spells

Siegurt wrote:
braveplatypus wrote:Flame Tongue, pain, magic dart, all the damage level 1's are quite fine at 1mp.

If you're looking to balance low level spells it would be better to just bump the animate skeletons of the magic world up to level 2.

Probably all non-damage level 1 spells, summon small mammal is the only one that might cause an issue because the summoner background has to clear d1


petercordia wrote:I really like sandblast only costing 1 mp (and being limited by rocks). It results in sandblast being useful until late in the game. There are also elegant interactions between game mechanics which usefull because 1mp spells are so cheap. Examples are battlesphere + magic dart, and shadow mimic + shock.

I don't see much reason for change.
All level 2 starting spells get used afaik.

Note I'm not suggesting that we change the balance of level 1 spells, or decrease the amount of level 1 spells you can cast in the early game, I'm suggesting *changing the relationship between early spells and later ones slightly* in terms of MP cost. I'm not looking to balance anything, I'm not making a suggestion to balance overpowered spells.

Balance and Overpowered spells isn't related to this suggestion at all, nor is the fact that level 1 spells are cheap, after the suggested change there would still be a beneficial relationship with them and battlesphere/shadow mimic, even at two MP (Which would have a lower relative cost because part of the suggestion is raising MP regen and Max MP to compensate)


Note the level 1 spells are only usefull in the midgame because they're cheap to cast. Being able to cast 10 sandblasts instead of 2 LRDs can make all the difference when you've been careless. If the balance was changed so that you only got 6 sandblasts for the price of 2 LRDs, it wouldn't help nearly as much.

Ziggurat Zagger

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Post Friday, 9th August 2019, 12:15

Re: Remove 1 MP Spells

petercordia wrote:Note the level 1 spells are only usefull in the midgame because they're cheap to cast. Being able to cast 10 sandblasts instead of 2 LRDs can make all the difference when you've been careless. If the balance was changed so that you only got 6 sandblasts for the price of 2 LRDs, it wouldn't help nearly as much.

Yes, obviously this would make the level 1 spells less MP efficient compared to the higher level spells than they are now, that's inherent to what I'm suggesting, I also think *this would be a good thing* hence why I proposed it.

My question is: Can you tell me why you think it would be bad if you could only get 6 sandblasts instead of 10 it would be worse for the game? Because from my perspective, this changes the internal math so that I don't want to use sandblast as strongly in the general case when my HP bar isn't threatened, which means when I get a new higher level spell online, it feels more like an upgrade (like getting a bigger, better weapon is for melee users), and less like a "big limited-use nuke, but one I want to strongly avoid using" so I see upsides, but don't see the downsides you seem to suggest.

As a thought exercise, suppose instead of proposing that I add MP to the costs of things, that fractonal MP already existed and I was proposing *reducing* the cost of every spell other than 1 MP spells by a set amount based on their level (basically changing the costs so they were 1MP + .5 MP per level above 1) and reducing the max MP and MP regen rate to compensate, would you feel the same way about it as this proposal? (this works out identically, math-wise, as what I am suggesting, but is less annoying to display and code)
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Ziggurat Zagger

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Post Friday, 9th August 2019, 12:29

Re: Remove 1 MP Spells

bel wrote:Hard to say what anyone finds "interesting". It's possible that for a very experienced player, the decision may be easy in many cases, and thus not interesting. I can only say that it's a meaningful decision and it's pretty fundamental to how spells work.

So the definition I use for 'interesting' is: "There's not a clear cut answer as to which is better, the options provide different benefits which might be useful in different ways even given the same threat level"

In this case, *most* of the fights in DCSS after the early game are nonthreatening, about 95% or more, in *all* of those nonthreatening cases you want to reserve as much MP as possible, so you *always* want to use the lower level spell. In the 5% that are left, about 75% of those are fights were time taken to kill it is (or should be) the by far the most important factor (basically any time you are fighting something that might threaten your HP bar, and it's also 1:1 in a cleared area, or it threatens you at range), so using the fastest killing method is the way you should go for every one of those times. The number of fights in which the choice of what spell to use is "interesting" (not clear cut and simple) is the remaining 1.25% of all fights (Where the fight is messy and has multiple things around, but also threatening, you have to manage your MP, but also time taken competes because there's enough attacking power to be threatening if you don't kill things fast enough). Decreasing the distance in efficiency between high and low level fights just increases this range of interesting decisions slightly, it muddies the decision and makes it less clear cut than it is now.
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Blades Runner

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Post Saturday, 10th August 2019, 01:24

Re: Remove 1 MP Spells

This is indeed a lot of interesting deliberation and swerving into what is interesting or not interesting only clouds the issue further. I'd just like to say that if level 1 spells (in general) were to be addressed as being unbalanced, that it should take a back seat to adjusting the balance issues between spells and ac/melee/ranged first. Fix the imbalance there, and see where the cards land, and then tweak spells after that.

Temple Termagant

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Post Thursday, 7th November 2019, 04:15

Re: Remove 1 MP Spells

Why the hell do you want to bone my poor GrEE so, so badly?

As mentioned just above, casting is ALREADY inferior to tabbing your way through the game. Nor are the earlier levels trivial, as it is. Simply put, this would stop me from ever playing magic users, period.

Ziggurat Zagger

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Post Thursday, 7th November 2019, 05:13

Re: Remove 1 MP Spells

Bozobub wrote:Why the hell do you want to bone my poor GrEE so, so badly?

As mentioned just above, casting is ALREADY inferior to tabbing your way through the game. Nor are the earlier levels trivial, as it is. Simply put, this would stop me from ever playing magic users, period.

You've misunderstood my suggestion, it's not to "bone" anyone, least of all low level casters. If the devs followed my suggestion as written, 1st level spells would cost twice as much, and you'd get twice as much MP and MP regeneration at the beginning of the game to compensate, so low level casters wouldn't notice any difference at all, they would be able to do exactly as much as they can now.

The difference would be at higher level, there would be a smaller percentage of difference between higher level spells and 1st level spells. So in the mid game instead of your spells doing three times as much damage per turn, and costing 5 times more, your spells would do three times as much damage and cost three times as much.
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Temple Termagant

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Post Sunday, 10th November 2019, 03:30

Re: Remove 1 MP Spells

Level 1 spells are quickly obsoleted. I usually amnesia them first when I need more spell slots. Why should you save a level 1 spell for popcorn when you can simply wack it with your +9 foo which will do way more damage than your level 1 spell? Most level 1 spells have a power cap of 25-50, and even if the power cap were removed, they'd still be pretty weak since their power scaling is low.

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