Better DD


Although the central place for design discussion is ##crawl-dev on freenode, some may find it helpful to discuss requests and suggestions here first.

bel

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Post Monday, 24th June 2019, 21:53

Better DD

[For an older thread discussing similar issues, and an older implementation as well, see this.]

DD has been a problematic (read: broken) species for a long time. The problems are well-known, but just to recapitulate, and to set the stage for the solution:

Problems:
  • God healing, vampiric draining and vamp weapons exist, so "no healing" is limited in practice.
  • The heal wounds cost (permanent MP loss) isn't really meaningful in practice because of the above factor, and the ability is too strong in general (especially in the early game, where you literally cannot die.)
  • Scummy and silly behaviour is encouraged: like leaving bags of HP alive, or using vampiric draining on popcorn instead of killing them with your executioner's axe.

Solution:
So, what's the solution? Well, here's mine. You can find it here, if you want to play around with it. Beware: I have done minimal testing.

  • You get a "heal on kills" mutation. Healing bonus on kills is same as what Makhleb provides.
  • Healing bonus gained over your max HP is stored in an "overflow". If your overflow reaches 30 HP, you get an ambrosia potion and your overflow is reduced by 30.
  • Ambrosia potion heals you like it normally does.
  • No healing from any other source. This includes:

    • You can quaff heal wounds and curing, but they will not heal you. They will still have the other effects, like curing rot.
    • No god healing: Ely Greater and Lesser Healing, Ru Draw Out Power, Trog's Hand, Yred's Drain Life, Makh and TSO's heal on kills. Gozag potion petition can grant heal wounds and curing, but as discussed above, they will not heal you.
    • No healing from vampiric draining.
    • No healing from vamp weapons.

    I've not handled Jiyva yet. Or Nemelex Elixir card. If I missed anything else, let me know.

We can now discuss the solution.

Why use heal on kills?
Clean, simple mechanism. Very common, since most DD worship Makhleb anyway.

As to why not use an exploration based system (which I used in my previous implementation), the main reason is that I no longer think that exploration-based piety makes sense. See this thread for my thoughts.

Other (smaller) reasons include problems with balancing the drop rate in the previous version: I found that the "healing buffer" wasn't smooth because branch ends are typically much tougher than the floors which come above them.

Why use a buffer in the form of ambrosia potions?
Crawl combat is very swingy and unpredictable, so a "no regen" species needs some sort of buffer to make it playable.

This particular implementation discourages "banking" easier monsters. You get the same healing no matter when you kill a monster. Ambrosia potions, on average, provide about 30 HP. So, I generate a potion at 30 HP overflow.

Why use ambrosia instead of heal wounds?
To discourage healing in combat.

Minor things and possible tweaks:

There are some quality of life improvements from the previous implementation. Only the "overflow" is stored as ambrosia potions, not the entire healing amount. Thus, button mashing to heal is reduced. Of course, simply granting heal-on-kills is strictly a buff to earlier implementation, but can easily be balanced by nerfing DD in some other way.

Healing functions can, of course, be tweaked if they are too generous or non-smooth or whatever. It's also possible to generate DD with a few ambrosia potions in case they find the early game too tough without healing.

Comments are welcome.
Last edited by bel on Monday, 24th June 2019, 22:27, edited 1 time in total.

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Airwolf

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Post Monday, 24th June 2019, 22:17

Re: Better DD

I like the idea. Despite the sense that DD is one of - if not the - strongest races to play, I really don't enjoy playing them in their current design. Right now, they have an easy early game with the damage shaving and healing, and then go all-in on the existing healing mechanisms (Makhleb, vampiric draining, etc.) to cancel out the species' main disadvantage.

This would actually allow the species to play the game straight through (no stashing), with a range of gods and spells and weapons. It might take a little balancing, though.

That said, it almost feels like it'd be simpler to just add a "No healing when monsters are around" mechanism that lasted for a while after the monsters were gone, since that seems like your intended use of the accumulated ambrosia potions.

bel

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Post Monday, 24th June 2019, 22:30

Re: Better DD

Aean wrote:That said, it almost feels like it'd be simpler to just add a "No healing when monsters are around" mechanism that lasted for a while after the monsters were gone, since that seems like your intended use of the accumulated ambrosia potions.

It would be somewhat similar, but not really. Ambrosia potions are limited. Unlimited regeneration is, well, unlimited.

Slime Squisher

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Post Monday, 24th June 2019, 23:33

Re: Better DD

I like the idea to make DD more streamlined, and allow them more variety of gods.

How would you prevent the situation where these Ambrosia potions become like food, where for some playstyles they never run out? Or would that not be a problem if it happened?

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Post Tuesday, 25th June 2019, 02:58

Re: Better DD

this proposal is better than current DD but it's also like, just an HP version of pakellas, and i'm not sure that's gonna work well either

bel

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Post Tuesday, 25th June 2019, 08:09

Re: Better DD

It's definitely possible (I noticed a lot of old Pakellas code in the same places I inserted my DD code). However, the problem with Pakellas, as I understood it, was that evocations are hard to balance; and you don't really want "conjurers who just use evocations" to be a thing.

This species has less interactions with the other mechanics of the game, so it will be easier to balance. As long as the main idea of "HP is a strategic resource also instead of just a tactical resource" is maintained.

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Post Tuesday, 25th June 2019, 08:47

Re: Better DD

bel wrote:As long as the main idea of "HP is a strategic resource also instead of just a tactical resource" is maintained.


I guess you know but this exactly is the assumption that simply does not work in DCSS, which is full of non-threatening monsters. If HP is a strategic resource, then there is a strong incentive to not use it against weak monsters. Who enjoys kiting entire yak packs killing them with some ranged option so that they do no damage.

Current DD only bearable because it is overpowered. The main problem with HP as a strategic resource is that this will remain so: either unbearable to play or overpowered, no middle ground.

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bel

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Post Tuesday, 25th June 2019, 08:56

Re: Better DD

That's what the damage-shaving part is supposed to mitigate.

Anyway, I am not going here into whether DD should exist or not, or whether ranged weapons should exist or not. Those are separate discussions. As I say in the title, I'm aiming for a "better DD". Whether "better DD" is still too bad, I don't know.
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Post Tuesday, 25th June 2019, 18:42

Re: Better DD

bel wrote:That's what the damage-shaving part is supposed to mitigate.

Anyway, I am not going here into whether DD should exist or not, or whether ranged weapons should exist or not. Those are separate discussions. As I say in the title, I'm aiming for a "better DD". Whether "better DD" is still too bad, I don't know.


In this thread there were plenty of interesting ideas thrown about. Not sure if your proposed changes were made with it as inspiration or independently, and it doesn't really matter at this point. I do like the mechanics of HP getting regained without consumables or divine help, so that's a step in the right direction from my (limited) perspective.
So yes, your proposed DD may well be better than the existing species imo.

bel

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Post Tuesday, 25th June 2019, 23:42

Re: Better DD

I'm aware of that thread, but that thread proposes unlimited regeneration for DD. That is not what I have in mind. There are some other suggestions further down which come close to what I'm proposing here.

My solution isn't really "inspired" by that thread though. It's much older, and is based on an idea by Siegurt many years ago (the thread is linked at the top). Siegurt also proposed a similar solution in the thread you linked.

Ziggurat Zagger

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Post Tuesday, 25th June 2019, 23:45

Re: Better DD

bel wrote:I'm aware of that thread, but that thread proposes unlimited regeneration for DD. That is not what I have in mind. There are some other suggestions further down which come close to what I'm proposing here.

My solution isn't really "inspired" by that thread though. It's much older, and is based on an idea by Siegurt many years ago (the thread is linked at the top). Siegurt also proposed a similar solution in the thread you linked.

Yes, I remember proposing ambrosia as a logical non-tactical healing resource to replace /HW for DD
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bel

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Post Tuesday, 25th June 2019, 23:47

Re: Better DD

Just as an idea: one mechanic which could be used instead of the "heal on kills" is the Bloodborne "rally" mechanic. Whenever you take damage, for a short time afterwards, if you damage a monster, you regain some HP. This mechanic promotes a fast-paced style of play. Bloodborne also has no natural HP regeneration and essentially drops heal wounds potions (vials of blood) when you kill monsters -- except that the healing is percentage of total HP instead of fixed amount.

Bloodborne is also a game where you get to wear very little protective armour, so we could give DD something like Dr "no body armour" and no shield. Not sure if that would work in a game like DCSS though. The reason it works in Bloodborne is that all monsters are slower than you, so you can avoid most of them by just running through them. Also, Bloodborne doesn't have permadeath.
Last edited by bel on Wednesday, 26th June 2019, 00:00, edited 4 times in total.

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Post Tuesday, 25th June 2019, 23:50

Re: Better DD

I like your ideas. I would play DD versus currently, I have no interest in playing DD. One thing to consider: the new version may be very interesting early and mid game, but by late game, it could become too powerful. I'm of the opinion that heals on kills is about the best thing you can have, and is one of the (if not the) biggest considerations in god selections and overall training.

I would probably like to start taking Vehumet with DD, because you could have:
* lichform (you can't with TSO)
* mana on kills (partial with TSO, none with Makhleb)
* high level kill spells easier to cast thanks to Vehumet (not with either TSO or Mak)
* be able to train armour and melee stuff without bad aptitudes
* be tanky in general (multiplicative effect for a hybrid that could also cast late game)

I hate to say it, because I'd love to play it, but it might be a bit overpowered for extended. It could be even better than gnolls.

bel

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Post Saturday, 13th July 2019, 01:43

Re: Better DD

I'm trying to achieve the result that, at any point in the game, the "total damage taken" should be roughly equal to (ideally, a little less than) "total healing".

I have been trying various healing functions and might have found a half-decent one: (Monster XP)^2 / (Player XP). Also, the player starts with 3 potions of ambrosia (to smooth out any initial hiccups).

Here's a graph of a partial run of DDFi. I played somewhat riskily: not worshipping a god, not entering Lair etc. So there should be a little bit more slack in the system than the graph shows.
Attachments
plot-turn-ouch-heal-ratio.png
plot-turn-ouch-heal-ratio.png (4.7 KiB) Viewed 178 times

Slime Squisher

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Post Saturday, 13th July 2019, 09:19

Re: Better DD

That's pretty cool.
What happens when you do go through Lair? I'm curious whether you end up with a huge ambrosia stockpile.

bel

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Post Saturday, 13th July 2019, 16:19

Re: Better DD

Nvm, the healing function goes to crap as soon as I enter the Lair branches. Back to the drawing board.

bel

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Post Saturday, 13th July 2019, 16:25

Re: Better DD

petercordia wrote:That's pretty cool.
What happens when you do go through Lair? I'm curious whether you end up with a huge ambrosia stockpile.

In general, the game becomes easier as one goes through Lair. I cannot fix the game difficulty curve by a healing function. Also, keep in mind that I am a fairly experienced player. I want to make the curve to make sure the game remains playable for most players. So I wound tend to err towards more slack rather than less slack.

With the above healing function (now discarded), going through Lair wouldn't make much of a difference because easy monsters tend to not give too much healing anyway. Since the healing depends on (Monster XP) squared, it's very heavily dependent on monster difficulty. Easy monsters tend to give very little healing.

Anyway, as I said, this function doesn't work anyway.

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