Changes to make Crawl harder


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Post Tuesday, 27th January 2015, 22:59

Changes to make Crawl harder

So I have seen a lot of complaints lately about Crawl being too easy. I figure this is good context to bring up some balance changes that I've been complaining in favour of for a long time. Post your "make Crawl less easy" changes here.

Remove teleport control and -cTele
I think the case for this is self-evident; if scrolls of blinking are really too good without -cTele, surely they should be nerfed everywhere instead of just on 2% of levels. Even if you don't change blinking this is a difficulty increase everywhere that isn't zot:5.

Remove ring of teleportation and *Tele property
Unlimited teleport leads to grindy behaviour (because of things like water, vaults that have to be teleported into...) and makes consumable teleport awkward on top of that. Admittedly this is an unnoticeably slight difficulty increase.

Remove or nerf lantern of shadows
Aside from the horrible interface screw, finding this item makes pretty much the whole game (more) trivial. It is downright embarrassing that it has been like this for so long. Rod of shadows is ridiculously overpowered, sure, but at least it doesn't give you a free cloud of powerful summons that regenerates even when you are constantly moving. It needs to either go away outright, or at least consume MP/HP when wielded (but every character in the game would still carry it so that's not enough imo).

Nerf elemental invokers, probably sack of spiders
These are not nearly as egregiously insane as lantern of shadows, but they are very common and a large part why it's a no-brainer to get evocations skill on every character ever. Sack of spiders is less ridiculous than it used to be but elemental invokers are as bad as ever. I know the stacking removal was meant to nerf them, but you don't use a whole bunch of invokers in a single fight anyway. My suggestion here is to at least make them rarer, and if the stacking change stays, using an invoker should deplete all invokers of any type, instead of just all invokers of that type. I know that takes stone of tremors from basically useless to completely useless if you have any other invoker, but it's still an improvement over the status quo imo. (I know there's not a shadow of a chance of getting them removed.)

Don't start deep dwarves with a wand of heal wounds
Again the rationale for this is pretty obvious, starting a character with unlimited heal wounds destroys all pretense of difficulty and on turn 0 to boot. Even in the worst case (DDAK) early game is trivial.

Remove zombies, skeletons, goliath beetles, water/lava monsters from natural monster generation (and appropriate vaults)
They're free XP and piety, especially noticeable early game. Worms too but I discovered some people have an attachment to those.

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Post Tuesday, 27th January 2015, 23:16

Re: Changes to make Crawl harder

duvessa wrote:Nerf elemental invokers



elemental evokers god dammit
take it easy

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Post Tuesday, 27th January 2015, 23:27

Re: Changes to make Crawl harder

Harder does not necessarily mean better. I trust that duvessa only listed nerfs to improve the game. So do I:

Permanent allies disappear after a while
Can use turncount for this. Applies to zombies, skeletons, oklobs. God gifts are excluded (Yredelmnul, Beogh) -- note that oklobs are paid for, not gifted.

Lose beneficial temporary effects when using stairs
This applies to haste, repel missiles etc. Does not apply to negative effects, symmetry be damned.

Unkilled monsters disappear after a while
This applies to monsters the game reckons to be non-threatening when you come back. If you bailed out from dealing with all the Lair:8 elephants and you come back when elephants are peanuts to you: your loss. Uniques are exempt.

Remove haste spell.
Haste is fine as a potion: rare, hence requires some thought before use. Already the wand is problematic, I suggest that recharing gives less charges than it does now. I don't like the spell (at the very least, I think that the contamination cost is not enough to keep the spell in check.)

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Post Wednesday, 28th January 2015, 01:12

Re: Changes to make Crawl harder

Make all needle effects dependent on throwing skill.
Better yet, introduce new Blowguns skill because blowguns and throwing don't belong together any more than bows and throwing. Also, a new place to spend experience is never a bad thing.

Make all (reasonable) wand effects dependent on Evocations skill.
Notably hasting and heal wounds. Not digging, I guess.

Throwing a stone at a monster should make it no less likely that it'll shout.
However the monster notices you, shouting should be equally probable.
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Post Wednesday, 28th January 2015, 01:15

Re: Changes to make Crawl harder

Regarding digging: I don't think we really need a wand that both affect layout and does damage (disintegration). So why not remove disintegration and use Evocations to determine how far wands of digging tunnel?

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Post Wednesday, 28th January 2015, 01:26

Re: Changes to make Crawl harder

The only problem I have with that is that it's often preferable (to me) to dig one and only one square, so this violates the "Training things shouldn't ever make them worse" rule.
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Post Wednesday, 28th January 2015, 01:42

Re: Changes to make Crawl harder

Siegurt: That's a good point! Something tells me things are off here, but I cannot pinpoint it well enough to propose a simple rule change. So consider that suggestion withdrawn for now. (Killholing is a problem, and wands of disintegration are kind of made for it, but your point still stands, of course.)

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Post Wednesday, 28th January 2015, 01:50

Re: Changes to make Crawl harder

Sprucery wrote:Better yet, introduce new Blowguns skill because blowguns and throwing don't belong together any more than bows and throwing. Also, a new place to spend experience is never a bad thing.
Crawl used to have a blowguns skill and it was removed
Sprucery wrote:Make all (reasonable) wand effects dependent on Evocations skill.
Notably hasting and heal wounds. Not digging, I guess.
pretty sure hasting already depends on evo, it's just digging and heal wounds that are unaffected

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Post Wednesday, 28th January 2015, 05:11

Re: Changes to make Crawl harder

Hm, why not introduce new monsters and/or increase the capabilities of existing ones? It sounds like a lot of people are saying that the player character has become stronger in recent versions (due to evocables and other factors), but there's two sides to consider. It seems to me that the game is more likely to move in interesting directions by increasing the threat posed by monsters according to the capabilities of the player rather than by trimming back what the player can do.

If evokers are a problem, one way to go would be to introduce monsters that eat your charges, maybe a new moth. Eating wand charges might be too much, but recharging evocables would be fair game. Or draining attacks could also drain XP recharging evocables.
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Post Wednesday, 28th January 2015, 05:27

Re: Changes to make Crawl harder

in every game with online community eventually forms a minor, vocal community of skilled players, who will constantly demand to make game harder for them. in some cases the dev(s) cave in and start catering exclusively to these players. it ruined my favourite diablo 2 mod for me. I think a crawl is in a good place right now difficulty-wise, accesible without being too easy to a moderately good player.
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Post Wednesday, 28th January 2015, 05:37

Re: Changes to make Crawl harder

Siegurt wrote:The only problem I have with that is that it's often preferable (to me) to dig one and only one square, so this violates the "Training things shouldn't ever make them worse" rule.

dpeg wrote:Siegurt: That's a good point! Something tells me things are off here, but I cannot pinpoint it well enough to propose a simple rule change. So consider that suggestion withdrawn for now. (Killholing is a problem, and wands of disintegration are kind of made for it, but your point still stands, of course.)

How about evo skill increases dig max range, but players can use . to have the beam stop prematurely, like with projectiles?
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Post Wednesday, 28th January 2015, 05:56

Re: Changes to make Crawl harder

mps wrote:Hm, why not introduce new monsters and/or increase the capabilities of existing ones? It sounds like a lot of people are saying that the player character has become stronger in recent versions (due to evocables and other factors), but there's two sides to consider. It seems to me that the game is more likely to move in interesting directions by increasing the threat posed by monsters according to the capabilities of the player rather than by trimming back what the player can do.

If evokers are a problem, one way to go would be to introduce monsters that eat your charges, maybe a new moth. Eating wand charges might be too much, but recharging evocables would be fair game. Or draining attacks could also drain XP recharging evocables.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feature_creep

Consider the side of a new player who has to learn what 1000 monsters do instead of 100. The total number of monsters in Crawl already increases almost every version.

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Post Wednesday, 28th January 2015, 06:09

Re: Changes to make Crawl harder

The Lantern could bring drain status after a while so as to limit its holding or make it less attractive or paying a cost. Just the first thought I've come with, though.
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Post Wednesday, 28th January 2015, 06:21

Re: Changes to make Crawl harder

duvessa wrote:
mps wrote:Hm, why not introduce new monsters and/or increase the capabilities of existing ones? It sounds like a lot of people are saying that the player character has become stronger in recent versions (due to evocables and other factors), but there's two sides to consider. It seems to me that the game is more likely to move in interesting directions by increasing the threat posed by monsters according to the capabilities of the player rather than by trimming back what the player can do.

If evokers are a problem, one way to go would be to introduce monsters that eat your charges, maybe a new moth. Eating wand charges might be too much, but recharging evocables would be fair game. Or draining attacks could also drain XP recharging evocables.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feature_creep

Consider the side of a new player who has to learn what 1000 monsters do instead of 100. The total number of monsters in Crawl already increases almost every version.


Well, actually, until recently I primarily played angband, so I have a pretty good feel for what your example is like. The number of monster types in crawl seems small to me. I understand and agree with what you're saying in some asymptotic sense, but I don't think crawl is anywhere near having too many types of monsters.

Anyway, if monsters will be added, as they inevitably will, it would make sense for them to target aspects of the player's game that may be getting too strong. Making draining attacks/effects drain XP chargeable evokers seems pretty incremental to me in any case.
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Post Wednesday, 28th January 2015, 06:31

Re: Changes to make Crawl harder

All right, what if I call it "power creep" instead? You're suggesting that since players have become stronger, monsters should become stronger too. Then when another version inevitably makes players stronger again, will you want to make monsters stronger again, too? Granted, the power of player characters was immensely knocked down in DCSS 0.6 and there's a reasonable argument that it still hasn't returned to DCSS 0.5 levels again, but if the current trend continues it certainly will, and then go past it. Constantly increasing player and monster damage, defense, mobility, etc. doesn't seem healthy for the game to me, even if it's done in a way that keeps difficulty the same. It seems much easier to preserve balance (and a sensible number of features) if you pick a "power level" and stick to it.

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Post Wednesday, 28th January 2015, 06:33

Re: Changes to make Crawl harder

Well, then I guess the question is, is crawl too easy now? And for whom (if anyone) is it too easy?
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Post Wednesday, 28th January 2015, 06:51

Re: Changes to make Crawl harder

I noticed a larger-than-usual number of complaints about Crawl's difficulty level going down, here and on even worse places. Although I started this thread, I don't personally care about it (but have been concerned about feature/power creep for a while).
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Post Wednesday, 28th January 2015, 07:04

Re: Changes to make Crawl harder

Is the level going down or are the people going better playing at Crawl?
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Post Wednesday, 28th January 2015, 07:07

Re: Changes to make Crawl harder

duvessa wrote:Crawl used to have a blowguns skill and it was removed

Oh, thanks for the reminder. I guess it's time to bring it back along with Traps&Doors :)

pretty sure hasting already depends on evo, it's just digging and heal wounds that are unaffected

OK, I suppose with hasting the effect isn't so noticeable, as it lasts long enough for the fight you need it for anyway.

As a side note I'd like to add that the main point of my proposals is to make Crawl more consistent. That the game should become a bit harder is just a side effect.

For a difficulty setting I propose what I've proposed before: an rcfile option to scale your HP. Try beating the game with 50% maxHP, should be harder.
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Post Wednesday, 28th January 2015, 07:16

Re: Changes to make Crawl harder

duvessa wrote:All right, what if I call it "power creep" instead? You're suggesting that since players have become stronger, monsters should become stronger too. Then when another version inevitably makes players stronger again, will you want to make monsters stronger again, too? Granted, the power of player characters was immensely knocked down in DCSS 0.6 and there's a reasonable argument that it still hasn't returned to DCSS 0.5 levels again, but if the current trend continues it certainly will, and then go past it. Constantly increasing player and monster damage, defense, mobility, etc. doesn't seem healthy for the game to me, even if it's done in a way that keeps difficulty the same. It seems much easier to preserve balance (and a sensible number of features) if you pick a "power level" and stick to it.


Yes, that is what I'm suggesting. I think there's some kind of economic or control theoretic analogy to be made here. In an evolving, complex system like this, you inevitably see drift and while most of it evens out in the long run, sometimes there's a persistent trend that you have address and counter, hence this kind of discussion. Here, the long term dynamic seems to be that the player has more and more powerful options over time, so that the effect combined with relatively constant monster capability is a decline in difficulty. Two ways to address that are by countering the trend on the player side or the monster side.

Countering it on the monster side would result in "power creep," as you say. I'd think of this as being a kind of inflation. On the flip side, you can decrease the player's options and power. I'd call that a kind of deflation.

While I agree it's important to keep both under control, I think one or the other is inevitable and inflation is better than deflation. The reason is that when you increase the capabilities of the monsters to match the capabilities of the player, if it's not done in a silly way by just adding hp or the like, you introduce new challenge and content, which keeps new versions fresh. By contrast, a long term trend of nerfing creates challenge in a way that's not often novel and looks more like a subset of play that existed in prior versions. On the margin, it erodes interest in new versions creates nostalgia for old ones, which is not a healthy situation.

To be clear, I don't mean to suggest that crawl is heading in the direction, just that it's a possibility in principle.
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Post Wednesday, 28th January 2015, 07:38

Re: Changes to make Crawl harder

I don't think the game is easier. If anything it is harder, for example harder than 0.13. For example there are like 3 times less potions of hw.

Remove -ctele and teleport control

Support this because -ctele is weird and special cased and consistent behavior is good. It will make pan levels good (or would if it wasn't for the "stealing shouldn't be a valid tactic" change). But what happens to controlled blink?
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Post Wednesday, 28th January 2015, 07:42

Re: Changes to make Crawl harder

Siegurt wrote:Well, then I guess the question is, is crawl too easy now? And for whom (if anyone) is it too easy?


The early game is noticeable easy. And that is what a big part of the playerbase notices the most, but I feel the game has overall become harder and feels less stretched out past that point (version I played previously was 0.11)

I don't agree with many of the changes here, mostly those that suggest axing stuff instead of trying to make it work. I think the way teleport works is fine, cTele is still useful and not as overpowered as in old versions. Maybe teleport scrolls could be a little less frequent.

I do agree there is a problem with Haste as a spell, it is an effect too good to have no significant drawback and unlimited casts. Contamination is just a hassle, mostly.

Here is something that could turn into the "new" Haste spell:

Haste Actions: Increases the speed of your actions to Haste levels, but decreases your movement speed by half for the duration of the spell.

Did not really put a lot of thought into it, but it would also be nice to have Swiftness as a tool that doesn't get completely superseded by Haste don't you think?
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Post Wednesday, 28th January 2015, 07:49

Re: Changes to make Crawl harder

duvessa wrote:Don't start deep dwarves with a wand of heal wounds
Again the rationale for this is pretty obvious, starting a character with unlimited heal wounds destroys all pretense of difficulty and on turn 0 to boot. Even in the worst case (DDAK) early game is trivial.


I don't like this idea. You are probably assuming the player will always go for some good/magic school that provides some independent source of healing, in fact, with this change these (Vampiric Draining, Trog, Elv...) would become musts for Deep Dwarves. Boring.

As it stands, with that wand you give the player more flexibility and let him try stuff that would otherwise be unviable for Deep Dwarves.

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Post Wednesday, 28th January 2015, 08:34

Re: Changes to make Crawl harder

I don't think DD /HW is that big of a problem since it only affects one race (DD) and races in Crawl are allowed to be OP or horrible. There's bound to be the strongest race and I guess DD are just that.

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Post Wednesday, 28th January 2015, 11:48

Re: Changes to make Crawl harder

Does anyone else think the game gets easier as you progress, seems backwards.
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Post Wednesday, 28th January 2015, 12:21

Re: Changes to make Crawl harder

1010011010 wrote:Does anyone else think the game gets easier as you progress, seems backwards.

Yes, it is a widely known fact that if you reach Lair you won ;)

Personally I like it that way. The more time I invest into a particular character, the more I want to win it. The late game is just avoiding stupid mistakes and there are plenty enough possibilities to make them. It takes discipline (which is the same as skill in Crawl).

I don't mind splatting characters in the early game, and I'm willing to accept even unfair situations that derive from the randomness of the game.
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Post Wednesday, 28th January 2015, 12:51

Re: Changes to make Crawl harder

1010011010 wrote:Does anyone else think the game gets easier as you progress, seems backwards.


it spikes when you get to depths
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Post Wednesday, 28th January 2015, 14:08

Re: Changes to make Crawl harder

Reduce maximum weapon enchantment from scrolls
In earlier versions it was very rare to get a +9 anything in a 3 rune game (aside from Trog or artefacts). Now it happens in most of my games. I'd suggest limiting scroll enchantment to +5.
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Post Wednesday, 28th January 2015, 14:19

Re: Changes to make Crawl harder

Reduce Lair to five levels and all other branches to three without readjusting monster XPs, item drops etc.

Damn game takes too long anyway.
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Post Wednesday, 28th January 2015, 14:49

Re: Changes to make Crawl harder

On power spiral and feature creep: DCSS has always had something of a nerf culture. Starting from DCSS 0.1, features have been nerfed or removed. I think this is very healthy for any game under long-time development (and on balance, there are always more things added than removed).

Crawl also used to have a reputation for being fiendishly difficult, even though it never really lived up to it -- I guess that's what you get when Nethackers describe a game :) If in doubt, I'd generally swing in favour against the player (i.e. for more difficult) because that way tends to make it easier to differentiate player levels. The philosophy outlines why: if all games can be won, players reaching a high enough level of player cannot be distinguished, except using external means (conducts etc.).

Feature creep: we are aware of it, but I guess it is inevitable. Adding stuff is just much cooler than removing content (also removals have a tendency towards drama). However, if you look at what we've cut (levels, a spell school, items), then you can see that there is at least some care about creep. Among things that have been added, sometimes we're cautious with it, too (branch roulette to create more layouts without making the game larger, same for new gods, species and, arguably, vaults).

As I understand it, this list is about suggestions that make the game harder *and* better. This goes along with the basic concept of removing no-brainers and adding actual choices: every meaningful decision gives you a chance to make a mistake, allowing for greater depth in player levels.

Finally, I don't think that Crawl development is driven by players: we have cut and nerfed regardless of player reactions, and when we add or buff, there'll be complaints, too :)

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Post Wednesday, 28th January 2015, 14:54

Re: Changes to make Crawl harder

dpeg wrote:Permanent allies disappear after a while
Can use turncount for this. Applies to zombies, skeletons, oklobs. God gifts are excluded (Yredelmnul, Beogh)


I'd exclude Yred gifts (maybe excepting enslaved souls, which aren't gifts anyhow) from this, as well, honestly. Not for power reasons, but because it makes Beogh allies less special. Yred gifts could expire, or be summons with piety or draining cost.

I have more thoughts on Beogh I'll try to post soon; I like him because he encourages me to play a different game. I think that keeping Beogh allies as unique as reasonable will strengthen the things I like about him.
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Post Wednesday, 28th January 2015, 19:11

Re: Changes to make Crawl harder

Sprucery wrote:Throwing a stone at a monster should make it no less likely that it'll shout.
However the monster notices you, shouting should be equally probable.

This is the best suggestion in the thread, and should be repeated often. It has the wondrous property of not making the game harder for newbies (who don't know 'shoutless' exists) while making the game much less abusable for skilled players. As an added bonus, it reduces inventory screw by not making you carry around a pile of stones.

Also +1 for either removing the lantern of shadows or making it have a heavy draining cost every time a shadow is summoned.

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Post Wednesday, 28th January 2015, 19:18

Re: Changes to make Crawl harder

Remove teleport control and -cTele
I think the case for this is self-evident; if scrolls of blinking are really too good without -cTele, surely they should be nerfed everywhere instead of just on 2% of levels. Even if you don't change blinking this is a difficulty increase everywhere that isn't zot:5.

This one seems like it also has some buffs for the player. You're now making controlled blink work on slime:6, Zot:5, hell boss floors, etc. Semi-controlled blinks are lost, but fully controlled blinks can be made anywhere. I'd like to see it happen because I hate having blink suddenly shut off on me, but I'm not sure I'd call it an overall nerf. It would be a huge boost for simplicity and intuitiveness for new players, which is probably the best reason for it. Two kinds of blink, one cheap one expensive, and teleports always work and are always risky. Simple.

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Post Wednesday, 28th January 2015, 20:20

Re: Changes to make Crawl harder

tasonir wrote:
Remove teleport control and -cTele
I think the case for this is self-evident; if scrolls of blinking are really too good without -cTele, surely they should be nerfed everywhere instead of just on 2% of levels. Even if you don't change blinking this is a difficulty increase everywhere that isn't zot:5.

This one seems like it also has some buffs for the player. You're now making controlled blink work on slime:6, Zot:5, hell boss floors, etc. Semi-controlled blinks are lost, but fully controlled blinks can be made anywhere. I'd like to see it happen because I hate having blink suddenly shut off on me, but I'm not sure I'd call it an overall nerf. It would be a huge boost for simplicity and intuitiveness for new players, which is probably the best reason for it. Two kinds of blink, one cheap one expensive, and teleports always work and are always risky. Simple.


I agree with duvessa. I'd suggest simply making both the spell controlled blink and the scroll act like semi-controlled blink everywhere, and I'd drop cTele. If necessary, lower the spell level to 6, possibly, as compensation.

I agree with dpeg that most of the suggestions here improve the game, and do not (only) make it harder.

A bit of a tangent, but I'm not sure Crawl is easier or harder than earlier versions. Perhaps I am biased because I won my first 15 runer with a merfolk crusader back when they (and armour skill) were ridiculous. Swamp and Snake were easier, Dungeon levels 16 to 27 were longer but much less dangerous overall than depths is now. You didn't have as many spells or fancy gizmos, but you had more than enough tools to win. Gargoyles and vine stalkers are very strong, but then DD have existed for a while now, and centaurs for even longer, so there have basically always been really strong species, and having additional really strong species (ditto gods) doesn't make the game easier, overall (though if the species and gods are well designed, it certainly makes the game richer).

Anyway, I think most of the changes proposed here are good changes, regardless of the question of overall difficulty.

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Post Thursday, 29th January 2015, 00:10

Re: Changes to make Crawl harder

and into wrote:A bit of a tangent, but I'm not sure Crawl is easier or harder than earlier versions. Perhaps I am biased because I won my first 15 runer with a merfolk crusader back when they (and armour skill) were ridiculous. Swamp and Snake were easier, Dungeon levels 16 to 27 were longer but much less dangerous overall than depths is now. You didn't have as many spells or fancy gizmos, but you had more than enough tools to win. Gargoyles and vine stalkers are very strong, but then DD have existed for a while now, and centaurs for even longer, so there have basically always been really strong species, and having additional really strong species (ditto gods) doesn't make the game easier, overall (though if the species and gods are well designed, it certainly makes the game richer).

Anyway, I think most of the changes proposed here are good changes, regardless of the question of overall difficulty.


I agree with most of this as well. I didn't play for a few years but when I saw player Gargoyles for the first time I thought it was some kind of joke. On the other hand I've definitely died to Shambling Mangroves and Thorn Hunters more than a few times, and Vashnia is a real unpleasant surprise for some characters.

As to the "fancy gizmos" - if there is a problem, it's these. Evocation items are just too strong, especially that ridiculous Lantern of Shadows.

Maybe split Evocations up in to Elemental Lore and Magical Devices, or something.
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Post Thursday, 29th January 2015, 00:14

Re: Changes to make Crawl harder

Why not just remove the summons from lanterns altogether, and have it be evokable for LoS-1 with duration dependent on evocations and recharge like the other evokers? I guess it "steps on" Darkness as a spell, but I don't see Darkness used all that often.
remove food

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Post Thursday, 29th January 2015, 01:23

Re: Changes to make Crawl harder

tasonir wrote:
Sprucery wrote:Throwing a stone at a monster should make it no less likely that it'll shout.
However the monster notices you, shouting should be equally probable.

This is the best suggestion in the thread, and should be repeated often. It has the wondrous property of not making the game harder for newbies (who don't know 'shoutless' exists) while making the game much less abusable for skilled players. As an added bonus, it reduces inventory screw by not making you carry around a pile of stones.
Unfortunately, you would still want to carry around a pile of stones or the equivalent, since there isn't really any other way to make monsters aware of you without making extra noise (short of setting your stealth to 0 with e.g. lantern of shadows, I guess). Still a very good change obviously.

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Post Thursday, 29th January 2015, 01:24

Re: Changes to make Crawl harder

I actually don't care all that much whether Crawl is getting easier or harder. I might get bored with it if it was actually objectively easy, but there's still plenty of wiggle room before that happens. I care much more about whether the difficulty is the fun kind. Crawl got more fun when Victory Dancing and item weight and so on went away, so even though the game got easier in the process I'm pretty satisfied that this sort of change is worth making.

That said, I'm also glad some of the duller parts of the game got more dangerous recently. The late game used to be very hard to die in, but after all the renovations by the devteam I've been having fun all the way to the end.

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Post Thursday, 29th January 2015, 02:37

Re: Changes to make Crawl harder

dpeg wrote:Harder does not necessarily mean better. I trust that duvessa only listed nerfs to improve the game. So do I:

Permanent allies disappear after a while
Can use turncount for this. Applies to zombies, skeletons, oklobs. God gifts are excluded (Yredelmnul, Beogh) -- note that oklobs are paid for, not gifted.


I wouldn't exactly call them permanent, then. :P

Remove haste spell.
Haste is fine as a potion: rare, hence requires some thought before use. Already the wand is problematic, I suggest that recharing gives less charges than it does now. I don't like the spell (at the very least, I think that the contamination cost is not enough to keep the spell in check.)

I strongly agree. Haste is the best status effect in the game - giving the player a limitless source of it is way too strong. The contamination does does nothing to address this - it just prevents players from being permanently hasted.

I personally don't see too much of a problem with the wand because it's not something you come across trivially, but I can see the rationale for toning it down too.

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Post Thursday, 29th January 2015, 15:31

Re: Changes to make Crawl harder

Continuing in the line of my previous suggestions...

re: cTele and controlled blink (and haste), maybe the problem is not so much that they're too powerful in some absolute sense as that monsters don't have any real answer to it. I would suggest adding extra damage to certain monster attacks when they target a player with contamination/glow with the amount of extra damage scaling with contamination or attacks that drive up the player's contamination independent of spell/magical effect use, so that there's more risk in using effects that cause contamination. Examples of attacks that might have this kind of effect and still make sense thematically might be pure conjurations and chaos effects.

One merit of this kind of approach is that the player can judge the risk in using haste, controlled blinks, etc. both on a strategic and tactical level. Strategically, the player may expect to run more or less attacks of this kind and plan to invest in haste, cblink, etc. accordingly. Tactically, on a fight by fight basis, using them may have little or no more risk than it does now or it could be a death sentence or just risky. This seems better than just not having these options to consider at all.
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Post Thursday, 29th January 2015, 17:53

Re: Changes to make Crawl harder

dpeg wrote:If in doubt, I'd generally swing in favour against the player (i.e. for more difficult) because that way tends to make it easier to differentiate player levels. The philosophy outlines why: if all games can be won, players reaching a high enough level of player cannot be distinguished, except using external means (conducts etc.).

That's a really stupid reason for anything regarding a game. Scare away the more casual players so that the pros who do not have a real life can feel like heroes? If a game needs to provide players with external motivation like bragging in a forum or tournament badges, then chances are that it's just crap, no? Because it does not motivate players?

every meaningful decision gives you a chance to make a mistake, allowing for greater depth in player levels.

So what, is that some crawl developer fetish? Like holding back important information from players so that mostly people who spend half their life on the game find out how it works?

In my eyes, the game could be much more interesting for many non-pro players if it was much easier to get to the late game and to thus see more of the various branches. There are a lot of players who never manage to get past lair and the mines, never get a rune and know only two dull branches and the first half of the dungeon. That doesn't mean the game would be automatically easier to win, though. Currently, crawl permanently violates the self-proclaimed design principle that it should be possible for a persistent player to win a game if she's reading only in-game information. Instead of making crawl harder to learn by removing important escape options, why now make it simpler to learn and leave the self-proclaimed pros to their contest to become the first "greatestestplayer"?

tasonir wrote:
Sprucery wrote:Throwing a stone at a monster should make it no less likely that it'll shout.
However the monster notices you, shouting should be equally probable.

This is the best suggestion in the thread, and should be repeated often.

+1

Also +1 for either removing the lantern of shadows or making it have a heavy draining cost every time a shadow is summoned.

I rather vote for giving it a meaningful description that doesn't scare away inexperienced players.

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Post Thursday, 29th January 2015, 19:46

Re: Changes to make Crawl harder

DDDD wrote:
dpeg wrote:If in doubt, I'd generally swing in favour against the player (i.e. for more difficult) because that way tends to make it easier to differentiate player levels. The philosophy outlines why: if all games can be won, players reaching a high enough level of player cannot be distinguished, except using external means (conducts etc.).

That's a really stupid reason for anything regarding a game. Scare away the more casual players so that the pros who do not have a real life can feel like heroes? If a game needs to provide players with external motivation like bragging in a forum or tournament badges, then chances are that it's just crap, no? Because it does not motivate players?


Generally speaking, the existence of a vibrant online/competitive scene indicates the game is good, not crap. There's a sort of economic argument for courting (coddling?) more casual players who don't want a challenge, especially for commercial games, but I don't think it applies as much for free software that, in the scheme of things, is relatively obscure.

There are two dynamics that cut against the consumerist argument you make: One is that there are acquired tastes and the other is that many people appreciate things whose value takes effort to realize. So sure, from an adoption/playerbase perspective, maybe what dpeg's saying is not strategic. That kind of philosophy wouldn't fly with the marketing department of EA, for example. That doesn't mean it's the wrong way to produce a deep game for an audience ready to work at it.

You're not alone in having these kinds of ideas. Lots of the dorks you see on youtube with channels about game design have the same focus group tested ideas and there are even authors out there who express roughly this idea in relation to literature. But not everyone shares that perspective and it's not because they're stupid.
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Post Thursday, 29th January 2015, 20:34

Re: Changes to make Crawl harder

Learning and playing the game is fun for new players even when they don't win. I guess you might disagree but I don't understand how anyone would have ever played enough to win if it weren't the case.

The early dungeon is one of the most fun parts of the game and new players get to play that regardless of how well they do after.
Last edited by johlstei on Thursday, 29th January 2015, 20:34, edited 1 time in total.

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Post Thursday, 29th January 2015, 20:34

Re: Changes to make Crawl harder

DDDD wrote:That's a really stupid reason for anything regarding a game. Scare away the more casual players so that the pros who do not have a real life can feel like heroes? If a game needs to provide players with external motivation like bragging in a forum or tournament badges, then chances are that it's just crap, no? Because it does not motivate players?


This same paragraph rubbed me the wrong way too. For the record, I don't think that Crawl is in general too easy. Actually, I wouldn't mind if it got a little easier. However, you're coming on pretty strong here in a way that I don't think helps your case. I also think well-done nerfs improve the game for devoted players while having only modest impact on casual ones. Often it's the devoted players who know how to benefit most from any overly powerful resource. How many causal players are breezing to victory due to lantern of shadows?

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Post Thursday, 29th January 2015, 20:38

Re: Changes to make Crawl harder

johlstei wrote:Learning and playing the game is fun for new players even when they don't win. I guess you might disagree but I don't understand how anyone would have ever played enough to win if it weren't the case.


Right, I disagree. I would abandon crawl before my first win if there was no wizard mode. It was not user-friendly game when I started playing it (0.11). It is much better now. Sorry about offtopic.

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Post Thursday, 29th January 2015, 20:46

Re: Changes to make Crawl harder

Am I the only one who thinks that outright depriving a race who is unable to heal naturally of their (initial) means of healing is problematic? Maybe let them keep the wand but remove the recharge device ability?

Also, I don't think that crawl is too easy and it should be taken into account that many non-pros also play it.
Last edited by comebackshane on Thursday, 29th January 2015, 20:50, edited 1 time in total.

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Post Thursday, 29th January 2015, 20:49

Re: Changes to make Crawl harder

DDDD wrote:
dpeg wrote:If in doubt, I'd generally swing in favour against the player (i.e. for more difficult) because that way tends to make it easier to differentiate player levels. The philosophy outlines why: if all games can be won, players reaching a high enough level of player cannot be distinguished, except using external means (conducts etc.).

That's a really stupid reason for anything regarding a game. Scare away the more casual players so that the pros who do not have a real life can feel like heroes? If a game needs to provide players with external motivation like bragging in a forum or tournament badges, then chances are that it's just crap, no? Because it does not motivate players?

I received a moderation request for this message due to its abrasive tone. I'm not going to remove it since it still seems to be driving useful discussion. DDDD, your tone here is really unnecessarily hostile, and does not demonstrate a good level of engagement with the points to which you are responding. Please try to keep civil and try to engage earnestly in future posts.

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Post Thursday, 29th January 2015, 21:22

Re: Changes to make Crawl harder

On power spiral and feature creep: DCSS has always had something of a nerf culture. Starting from DCSS 0.1, features have been nerfed or removed. I think this is very healthy for any game under long-time development (and on balance, there are always more things added than removed).

I think completely removing a feature should be the last resort when all attempts to rebalance it to healthy levels fail.
Crawl also used to have a reputation for being fiendishly difficult, even though it never really lived up to it -- I guess that's what you get when Nethackers describe a game :) If in doubt, I'd generally swing in favour against the player (i.e. for more difficult) because that way tends to make it easier to differentiate player levels. The philosophy outlines why: if all games can be won, players reaching a high enough level of player cannot be distinguished, except using external means (conducts etc.).

I have a hard time calling any roguelike game easy seeing as even experienced players will die on a regular basis. I consider crawl one of the more difficult games I played in my life (of any genre). Btw, why is there a need to differentiate skill level of players in a game like crawl? I don't feel that roguelikes are particualrly well suited for competetive play other than maybe the tournaments you guys already run.
Also, I unfortunately have the impression that crawl community is dominated by a tightly knit group of maybe 10 ore so "pros" who are... not too forthcoming when it comes to new players and their needs (i. e. not making the game impossibly difficult). The sterile and elitistic atmosphere I sense around here is completely unnecesary. It's only a game. Maybe it's just me.

Feature creep: we are aware of it, but I guess it is inevitable. Adding stuff is just much cooler than removing content (also removals have a tendency towards drama). However, if you look at what we've cut (levels, a spell school, items), then you can see that there is at least some care about creep. Among things that have been added, sometimes we're cautious with it, too (branch roulette to create more layouts without making the game larger, same for new gods, species and, arguably, vaults).

You gotta keep things fresh! :P

As I understand it, this list is about suggestions that make the game harder *and* better. This goes along with the basic concept of removing no-brainers and adding actual choices: every meaningful decision gives you a chance to make a mistake, allowing for greater depth in player levels.

Agreed.

Finally, I don't think that Crawl development is driven by players: we have cut and nerfed regardless of player reactions, and when we add or buff, there'll be complaints, too :)

I personally don't care, but isn't that against the whole "stone soup" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stone_Soup) philosophy?

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Post Thursday, 29th January 2015, 21:26

Re: Changes to make Crawl harder

Lasty wrote:I received a moderation request for this message due to its abrasive tone.

I've no idea why this was perceived as "abrasive tone", but this was not my intention at all. If anybody was annoyed by my wording, let me please apologise for that.

--

P.S.: If you read my lines again you will see that I did not call anybody stupid and I did not say that crawl is crap.
Last edited by DDDD on Thursday, 29th January 2015, 21:36, edited 1 time in total.

Mines Malingerer

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Post Thursday, 29th January 2015, 21:35

Re: Changes to make Crawl harder

cjo wrote:However, you're coming on pretty strong here in a way that I don't think helps your case. I also think well-done nerfs improve the game for devoted players while having only modest impact on casual ones. Often it's the devoted players who know how to benefit most from any overly powerful resource. How many causal players are breezing to victory due to lantern of shadows?

I have no case. What I say is that instead of making crawl harder in the suggested ways and thus even more difficult to learn (and it's really, really very difficult to learn), making it more accessible to less intense (or more casual) players would certainly help crawl's popularity. On the other hand, offering players purely external rewards does nothing to make it a better game.
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