Early-game adjustments


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Post Friday, 21st January 2011, 15:04

Re: Early-game adjustments

Some good ideas. I don't think that damage reduction is necessary. I agree with kobold demonologists and would them have call those minor demons. (We could also have "kobold demonologist" and "big kobold demonologist", if we want.)

Agree on brain worms and porcupines.

Other ideas were: either remove the starting 25 xp or turn them into a skill. The early game would be a little easier if characters started with something... I proposed 0-2 (depends on background) fruits whose consumption adds a little HP (say 3-6 or so).

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Post Friday, 21st January 2011, 15:16

Re: Early-game adjustments

+1 to all of this (sorry to those who hate +1 posts, I think it is useful to add support without having to go on and on about it.)

I'd like to see the 25 XP spread across the existing starter skills. It would be nice if the player could choose that allocation but I expect that's a non-starter.

Zot Zealot

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Post Friday, 21st January 2011, 15:19

Re: Early-game adjustments

I support more monster variety for the early game.

The idea with more demons is simple and I think would really benefit the early game, but may cause some balance issues - with more demons, necromancers will have a more tough time, but paladins may be easier. This may not be a problem tough, and demons may be rare - but I think that the point of early imps as the only early demons is that it's very simple the escape from them if you have no way to defeat them. I also tought that the other thread was talked about the very early game - and even imps are very rare there. I just mention this because I only find the first 2-3 levels (of the dungeon) to be boring, afther that, once the character build has the first powers, will come one of the most exiting part of the game (for me).

Other toughts on early game:
My problem with the early game may sound strange or whinning, so I say in advance that I do like crawl a lot.

My porblem is, that sometimes I like to try out some weaker character combinations - or just ones that happen to be weak in the beginning (like EE). I know that different characters supposed to be different in difficulty, but in the very early game it's usually simply reducing to how many times you need to geenerate a character to reach level 4-5 before an unavoidable sudden death. These deaths happen rarely with strong starting characters (Trolls, spriggans, etc), but annoyingly frequently with other combinations. I do not mind the character being week even if it means that I die more often, but for the first levels with these characters the best strategy seems to be to start scum - not for good gear or mutations, but for good luck to reach level 4-5. This is boring (I do it nonethless, because if I succeed, I usually realy enjoy these combinations, much more that the strong ones.)

So I agree with anyone who said earlier that the early game needs some options, to make player decisons matter more. I agree with the opinion that there should be special early game items. These not need to be starting items, they may generate randomly - if they don't matter after level 5-6, then there will be no point for start scumming. Some weaker classes mey start with these.

* They should have no visible effect or any useful use after (character) level 5-6.
* We do not want to introduce a lot of new potions or scrolls to ruin the id game
* They must be useful for weak characters - so no skill is needed to use them effectively (and skills will not strengthen the effects)

Sorry for the long post, thanks for reading.

Dungeon Master

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Post Friday, 21st January 2011, 15:25

Re: Early-game adjustments

Brain worms would need an experience reduction to appear early as they are non-threats for the majority of characters yet give a large amount of exp. (I would place current brain worms as the best possible find for an xl 1 Lugonite CK in the starting abyss.)

TGW

Halls Hopper

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Post Friday, 21st January 2011, 15:54

Re: Early-game adjustments

Everything on this list would be awesome.

Dungeon Master

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Post Friday, 21st January 2011, 16:54

Re: Early-game adjustments

Regarding weakish starts, there are two cases:

One, unviable combinations (greyed out in the starting screen): If they're awkward to get to D:5, that's no problem. Rather, that's why they're unviable. Remember that not so long ago unviable combinations were not available (for a reason). So while you may try them out, there is no intention to make them any better.

Two, viable combinations: If one of those underperforms, we can either degrade it to an unviable combination, or (especially if it affects more species with that background) remove it altogether or else make it stronger.

In other words, when you complain about "XXYY is too weak", always bother to tell us which combination it is, and how much you have tried.

TGW

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Post Friday, 21st January 2011, 23:31

Re: Early-game adjustments

I don't see the greyed combos as a balancing consideration as much as an accessibility one. While there are going to be some antisynergistic or just bad characters, just because a combination is *currently* considered weak doesn't mean it has to be ignored for balance.

Having more options for viable characters is good, anyway. It doesn't have to be a conscious goal to create more, but there would be worse things.

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Post Saturday, 22nd January 2011, 00:52

Re: Early-game adjustments

TGW wrote:I don't see the greyed combos as a balancing consideration as much as an accessibility one. While there are going to be some antisynergistic or just bad characters, just because a combination is *currently* considered weak doesn't mean it has to be ignored for balance.

We don't plan for/care about unviable combinations. One of my points against allowing access to all combinations was that players would invariably ask for improvement of the weak ones, because they're so weak. We won't give in. I'd rather advocate making them unplayable again.

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Post Saturday, 22nd January 2011, 03:59

Re: Early-game adjustments

My wish list:

1) All backgrounds should have some sort of situationally useful ability or consumable item starting from D1. This can be useful for improving a generally weak background, or a new background could have the hook of having more useful starting consumables, but the important thing is that even a starting character should have something to do besides bump into monsters.

2) All backgrounds should start with something that will still be useful and meaningful throughout the early game. The fighter is a prime offender here -- a fighter's starting equipment is nearly guaranteed to be inferior to loot found on the floor in the first few dungeon levels, such that another background played like a fighter is different from the fighter at the end of the early game only by how it has better stuff.

3) Removal of surprise difficulty. Out-of-depth wands and weapon super-brands are the primary offenders here, since they are impossible to recognize or prepare for in advance and will kill regardless of playing skill. A monster the player must run from is fine, but it should be possible to distinguish from the monsters that are normal.

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Post Saturday, 22nd January 2011, 04:52

Re: Early-game adjustments

If early game survival is a problem, starting with a stack of 10 or so darts would be enough to make things significantly easier. No need for consumables.

Being able to soften up hobgoblins/kobolds from a distance is enough to let you survive most encounters with them, and they are the the most dangerous monsters.

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Post Saturday, 22nd January 2011, 05:00

Re: Early-game adjustments

Since they mulch, darts would qualify as consumables for the purposes of my wish list. The important thing is that using the item should be a meaningful choice. If you just automatically use it every time you see something move, you'll run out and not have it when you need it.

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Post Saturday, 22nd January 2011, 13:31

Re: Early-game adjustments

A pile of stones would suffice. But I think you could just throw all of them for all of your encounters until you hit XL2, I don't think it'd create a choice unfortunately.

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Post Saturday, 22nd January 2011, 20:30

Re: Early-game adjustments

I think there's a lot of merit in just boosting the starting skill levels a bit. This would make the very beginning easier to handle but the relative benefit would smoothly decline to a certain point as the difficulty of the dungeon increases. It's simple, and doesn't require inventing any new items or adding any starting equipment which would sort of homogenize the backgrounds (e.g. if everyone starts with darts, or with some healing items, the backgrounds become more similar to each other). Boosting the starting skills on the other hand would increase differentiation by improving the atractiveness of relying on your starting skills.

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Zot Zealot

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Post Sunday, 23rd January 2011, 00:15

Re: Early-game adjustments

For me, it's not the problem that early game is hard - it's not that you lose too much time to start over. And I do not support removing out of depth items, even if they mean more sudden deaths - they usually give fun moments to the game.
What I do not like is that early game is not really in your control, because you have too few options. At least too few with the most backgrounds. And sometimes even those options you have feels stupid like pillar dancing or throwing random items at all monsters. So restarting the game 5-6 times to get over it is just boring, if you got an unlucky series. If my character dies later, I usually don't have this feeling - even if most of my characters dies a little later.
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Post Sunday, 23rd January 2011, 00:21

Re: Early-game adjustments

danr wrote:I think there's a lot of merit in just boosting the starting skill levels a bit. This would make the very beginning easier to handle but the relative benefit would smoothly decline to a certain point as the difficulty of the dungeon increases. It's simple, and doesn't require inventing any new items or adding any starting equipment which would sort of homogenize the backgrounds (e.g. if everyone starts with darts, or with some healing items, the backgrounds become more similar to each other). Boosting the starting skills on the other hand would increase differentiation by improving the atractiveness of relying on your starting skills.

Good point. Also, I like that most builds have very little options in the beginning, because it promotes starting the id game as soon as possible. You are not going to wait for ideal circumstances (carrying unided wand and armour, wearing uncursed jewellery,...), because you need to id fear, blink and teleport as soon as possible.
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Post Sunday, 23rd January 2011, 00:33

Re: Early-game adjustments

danr wrote:I think there's a lot of merit in just boosting the starting skill levels a bit. This would make the very beginning easier to handle but the relative benefit would smoothly decline to a certain point as the difficulty of the dungeon increases. It's simple, and doesn't require inventing any new items or adding any starting equipment which would sort of homogenize the backgrounds (e.g. if everyone starts with darts, or with some healing items, the backgrounds become more similar to each other). Boosting the starting skills on the other hand would increase differentiation by improving the atractiveness of relying on your starting skills.

FWIW, I entirely agree.
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Zot Zealot

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Post Sunday, 23rd January 2011, 00:57

Re: Early-game adjustments

I agree with danr's reasoning of boosting starting skills - it would not solve my problem of options tough.

What if we give every class (who need it) one more option? It think most pure spellcasters shoulds start with two spells, like wizards have now (maybe wizards can have three). I know it would be necessary to create new level one spells, and it may not be feasible. Non spellcaster classes may have some additional items, like gladiators have the nets and assasins the blowgun - just to have at least two options to use in a fight. Maybe a stupid idea, but I'd like the game to move in this direction.

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Post Sunday, 23rd January 2011, 02:03

Re: Early-game adjustments

galehar wrote:Good point. Also, I like that most builds have very little options in the beginning, because it promotes starting the id game as soon as possible. You are not going to wait for ideal circumstances (carrying unided wand and armour, wearing uncursed jewellery,...), because you need to id fear, blink and teleport as soon as possible.


Crawl has no "id game" to speak of. Read-identifying scrolls as early as possible is as close to a no-brainer as you can possibly get. The worst possible result (barring special cases like cursing a non-edged weapon, which is absolutely avoidable to a spoiled player anyway) is to waste a scroll of enchant armor, and with no significant alternative ways to identify scrolls there is no possible gain to be had by delaying identification either. Similarly, potions have exactly one strategy to follow, which is to wait until the odds are in favor of having a potion of healing, and then rapidly quaff-identifying as much as possible and finishing off with the healing to correct anything that has gone wrong. Scrolls of identify will not spawn in sufficient numbers to identify the early consumables in time for them to be useful, although by the late game they'll be the preferred method for everything.

Contrast to Nethack, which has multiple ways to soft- or hard-identify every type of item, contains genuinely valuable items that must not be wasted, and contains genuinely dangerous items that must not be triggered. You can sort out your scrolls before read-identifying them by checking their prices in a shop, by watching monsters use them, by inferring from their frequency of appearance, and by accumulating holy water to bless your scant few scrolls of identify. Rings can be identified by checking their prices in a shop, by dropping them down a sink, by experimenting with a weak monster or potentially dangerous equipment, or again, by using your scant few scrolls of identify. Putting off identification allows you to use a more efficient method, but it also denies the utility of the more valuable forms of treasure.

Crawl does very little of this, and unless I understand incorrectly the move away from Nethack-style identification is a very intentional design choice. Your scrolls won't normally kill you. Your potions won't either, although mutation can be troublesome. Your jewelry will toll you for one scroll of identify, which now serves as a pacing mechanism to determine how quickly you can start to use early jewelry rather than a mini-game in its own right.

Sometimes sacred cows need to be slaughtered, and sometimes it's better to protect and care for them. The item identification sacred cow, however, has already been hamburger for the last several major versions.

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Post Sunday, 23rd January 2011, 03:04

Re: Early-game adjustments

minmay wrote:That is an oversimplification. I have frequently found it more useful to postpone identification of scrolls and especially potions. Certainly if you're playing a build that's weak in the early game (such as a fighter) then what you mention is true, but stronger backgrounds like wizards and berserkers have meaningful and interesting choices.


Can you name one example, other than, "I've already identified the important potions, and I don't want to risk mutation or waste cure mutation, so I'll give up on the marginal potions indefinitely"? The 'important' potions being healing and heal wounds, plus speed and might if you're using a weak background such as that fighter.
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Post Sunday, 23rd January 2011, 12:26

Re: Early-game adjustments

KoboldLord wrote:
galehar wrote:Good point. Also, I like that most builds have very little options in the beginning, because it promotes starting the id game as soon as possible. You are not going to wait for ideal circumstances (carrying unided wand and armour, wearing uncursed jewellery,...), because you need to id fear, blink and teleport as soon as possible.


Crawl has no "id game" to speak of.

I agree that Nethack's identification is a much more important part of the game than Crawl's. It also strongly discourage use-iding and replace it by spoilery and meta-gamey mechanisms. Crawl encourage use-iding by having far less dangerous bad items.
But I disagree about Crawl having no id game. My point is that it is an important part of the very early game because the players lacks options and wants to find some as soon as possible. If you give everyone an escape item or two, the urge to id is reduced a lot, and you can start iding on D:4 or D:5 when it's safe and easy. Then, you can also just remove it from the game because it has become completely uninteresting.
If you die a lot on D:2 and D:3 with a lot od unided stuff, it probably means that you should start iding earlier.
So I don't mind balancing the monsters on D:1, but I say no to giving escape items to everyone.
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Post Sunday, 23rd January 2011, 12:28

Re: Early-game adjustments

KoboldLord wrote:2) All backgrounds should start with something that will still be useful and meaningful throughout the early game. The fighter is a prime offender here -- a fighter's starting equipment is nearly guaranteed to be inferior to loot found on the floor in the first few dungeon levels

You couldn't be more wrong here. The fighter starts with a shield which is both somewhat rare and a big boost to early game survivability.
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Swamp Slogger

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Post Sunday, 23rd January 2011, 18:19

Re: Early-game adjustments

I like to play tiles, and there are some lovely 'forest' entrance vaults in the game now. This gave me a nutty idea:

Why not a D:0?

Basically, one pre-dungeon level that is basically forest and streams, that opens into a cave mouth / vault, the has the staircases into the dungeon. D:0 should probably only have rats and bats, groups of no more that two jackals, and maybe the odd gecko (Nothing with imposable thumbs and a brain). Traps should Should probably spawn at about half the D:1 rate, and items at about 1/3 of that rate. The whole of D:0 should have maybe 2/3 of one XL of XP. Other than the entrance to the dungeon, the area should only have one path out for those fleeing with the Orb (or those just fleeing).

Flavour wise, the defenders of the Orb of Zot should probably have some final (and random) nasty surprise near the entrance to the cave that has the stairs to the dungeon, before the player escapes into the wilderness and the bright light of day.

D:0 would be an early game buff, as there would be 2/3 or a level of XP to be had, and I think the contrast of going from a green space to a dark space (and back again) would bookend the game better.

Just an idea.

Vaults Vanquisher

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Post Sunday, 23rd January 2011, 19:52

Re: Early-game adjustments

I imagine going through D:0 each game would get tiresome pretty quickly.

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Post Sunday, 23rd January 2011, 22:50

Re: Early-game adjustments

I've started another thread for the item identification tangent, which is probably an unnecessary distraction for this thread. I should have probably started the other thread in the first place.

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Post Sunday, 23rd January 2011, 23:50

Re: Early-game adjustments

MrMisterMonkey wrote:I imagine going through D:0 each game would get tiresome pretty quickly.


Spawn the character at the mouth of the cave with the outside area already mapped. Then let the player make call. (A little XP, maybe some darts or stones, a chance to drain their XP pool vs diving right into the dungeon.) Admittedly my view of interesting may well be tiresome to others.
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Post Tuesday, 8th February 2011, 17:58

Re: Early-game adjustments

I'm all for what Danr and minmay have said. Early differentiation in the player and variety in the dungeon would be great. Concerning early exp and skills, see Backgrounds as combinations of basic components, which is another idea I'd love to see go in.
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