Poll: What do you think about shaft effects?


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What do you think about shaft effects?

Shaft effects are alright as they are
16
52%
Probability should be slightly reduced
4
13%
Probability should be reduced
2
6%
Probability should be strongly reduced
3
10%
Shaft effects should be removed
6
19%
 
Total votes : 31

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Post Tuesday, 3rd December 2019, 21:07

Re: Poll: What do you think about shaft effects?

duvessa wrote:But there are a ton of things you can do to minimize the risk of malmutation and paralysis before they happen...


True. You can even guarantee you'll never get teleported into Zot:5 lungs in every single game.

...if you're willing to endure sufficient tedium to make it so. You can *always* scum abyss for -tele or *always* switch to Ashenzari s a non-Dg, or even *always* gradually farm up to magic like D Door + revivification + shatter/tornado/firestorm with mana pots. Similar, but to less extremes, for blocking para/malmutes using summons (butterflies aren't reliable, but SLS is pretty reliable as are options like fog/cblink/etc).

I do dislike no-MR option games, though I've died to paralysis in a no-MR option game exactly once in 700+ games (which is why I remember it). That felt pretty bad, but it's the kind of fluke-odds thing even I'd not advocate putting significant time into addressing. Too many potential interactions at lotto ticket odds to care about them.

As for shafts specifically, they have the potential for extreme lethality/unfair outcomes on D:1 and quickly fall off after a couple floors. Kind of an annoying extra cheap death way to end streaks, in addition to the typical D:1 "jackal pack vs wizard" or "no pillar gnoll encounter" that decides your streak is over.

if shafts aren't dangerous past early game it's because nothing is dangerous past early game; that would be a problem with past-early-game, not with shafts


This is fairly disingenuous; in crawl many floors have a few situations where poor play by the player will take you from 100 health to 0 health in 5 turns or fewer. Sometimes as few as 1 turn. Good players recognize these threats for what they are, properly anticipate which actions will give them low-to-no risk, and choose those actions. But that doesn't mean the situation isn't/wasn't dangerous; for every good player that almost never dies in depths there are 10 more who are lucky to get past depths at all. Maybe more than 10 more.

What later areas don't share with starting areas is the number of options available to the player. Early on, you can lack resources due to RNG or even if you have them, they're not ID'd yet. Meliai are much more dangerous than bees. A pair or D:11 Meliai can smite a -hp% character to death 100-0 even if you read TP on-sight, if unlucky. But in practice they're much less dangerous than D:2 to D:4 bees, because by the time you encounter Meliai you have wands, god abilities, identified potions, and at least good odds of getting away with TP or blink. On D:3 you probably don't have any of those things, just a couple 20 speed monsters you can't 1v1 bearing down on you, so you blind use whatever resources you have and hope to get lucky.

I consider the Meliai encounter to be the better one, despite that it's less lethal to expert players. I died to them early as a player, learned the danger, and improved. Can't say the same for D:3 bees before identifying resources, or getting shafted next to an adder I can't 1v1 or escape.

~~~

TL/DR:

Crawl does not need more of the game to be like D:1.
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Post Wednesday, 4th December 2019, 03:33

Re: Poll: What do you think about shaft effects?

I really like shafts, think they make the game far more interesting, and would like to see more of 'em.

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Post Wednesday, 4th December 2019, 17:24

Re: Poll: What do you think about shaft effects?

Reptisaurus wrote:I really like shafts, think they make the game far more interesting, and would like to see more of 'em.


Fundamentally, what do shafts do to "make the game more interesting" that you couldn't do by intentionally moving into bad situations?

People say what you say about shafts fairly often, enough that there's merit in unpacking why that is. What standards for "interest" apply to shafts, beyond that they occasionally force good players into situations otherwise only seen with poor play? There must be some other standards being used, but it's not clear to me what they are.

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Post Wednesday, 4th December 2019, 18:24

Re: Poll: What do you think about shaft effects?

TheMeInTeam wrote:Fundamentally, what do shafts do to "make the game more interesting" that you couldn't do by intentionally moving into bad situations?


Whenever someone proposes to remove a bad feature like a broken spell or god or having upstairs, somebody proposes: why don't you simply ignore the feature?

In game design I take it somewhat granted that the aim is a game where you do not need to come up with your own set of conducts that form your own minigame in order to make the game interesting.

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Post Wednesday, 4th December 2019, 19:08

Re: Poll: What do you think about shaft effects?

It's a common error in crawl talk to say that a given situation only occurs with bad play and therefore can be dismissed. In dcss, good play virtually guarantees nothing interesting ever happens and good play is not otherwise interesting or exciting -- the greater the player's capacity for boredom, the better they can play.

You have to look at the possibilities of the game, judge them carefully, select those that create interesting play, and make those things happen. The fact that the player has so much control over the game that they can essentially eliminate situations that everyone with sensible opinions on the matter agrees are some of the most interesting is a basic failure of design.
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Post Wednesday, 4th December 2019, 19:53

Re: Poll: What do you think about shaft effects?

Past say level D5 what is the effective difference from a gameplay perspective between having shafts enabled and wearing a cursed ring of teleportation?
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Post Wednesday, 4th December 2019, 20:38

Re: Poll: What do you think about shaft effects?

Without shafts, you can nearly always stairdance your way into a foothold on every level. Shafts sometimes but by no means always create a situation where the player has to make that foothold with no stairs to rely on or get through a chase scenario. Both of these are very different from the easy stairdance. They are also better than the stairdance. They force real engagement with randomly generated content by removing much of the player's control.

In current dcss stairs are a core mechanic. Exploiting the broken mechanics of stairs is a huge part of high winrate play. Shafts also play a major role in high winrate play in that they're one of the only ways reasonable players are going to lose. These are related issues. We should be looking to make entry to new levels closer to getting shafted than stairdancing.
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Post Wednesday, 4th December 2019, 20:39

Re: Poll: What do you think about shaft effects?

TheMeInTeam wrote:
Reptisaurus wrote:I really like shafts, think they make the game far more interesting, and would like to see more of 'em.


Fundamentally, what do shafts do to "make the game more interesting" that you couldn't do by intentionally moving into bad situations?

People say what you say about shafts fairly often, enough that there's merit in unpacking why that is. What standards for "interest" apply to shafts, beyond that they occasionally force good players into situations otherwise only seen with poor play? There must be some other standards being used, but it's not clear to me what they are.

Shafts, like all traps, increase variance. In other words, you sometimes encounter them and sometimes don't. The situations can lead to very different outcomes and different decisions. Similar to other mechanics in Crawl like random monster generation, or creating artifacts randomly, or randomly generating starting items for Wanderers etc., more variance can mean more replayability and more avenues for players to make decisions.

Traps should be relatively "dangerous" because the player has a lot of resources and if you don't increase the danger by a significant amount, you're not increasing the variance by a meaningful amount. Certain types of variance can feel un-fun or unfair because the player doesn't have meaningful control over them or the variance is too high. These kinds of discussions occurred over traps as a whole when the "Traps and Doors" skill was removed.

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Post Wednesday, 4th December 2019, 20:50

Re: Poll: What do you think about shaft effects?

severen wrote:Past say level D5 what is the effective difference from a gameplay perspective between having shafts enabled and wearing a cursed ring of teleportation?

Primarily that reading a scroll of teleportation isn't as likely to improve a bad situation after a bad shafting as it is after a bad teleport. (Also rings of teleportation are guaranteed to put you in LOS of at least one creature, and shafts are not)
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Post Wednesday, 4th December 2019, 21:13

Re: Poll: What do you think about shaft effects?

You can increase the variance of something that's good by randomly adding things that aren't, right? Crawl doesn't have a problem of lacking replay value by virtue of too few theoretical possibilities. It has a problem of competent play reducing most of this possibility down to the same thing. It's fine to decrease some naive concept of "variance" if doing so increases the player's exposure to the better part of what remains or limits the ability of the player to make what remains all look the same.
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Post Wednesday, 4th December 2019, 21:45

Re: Poll: What do you think about shaft effects?

tealizard wrote:Without shafts, you can nearly always stairdance your way into a foothold on every level. Shafts sometimes but by no means always create a situation where the player has to make that foothold with no stairs to rely on or get through a chase scenario. Both of these are very different from the easy stairdance. They are also better than the stairdance. They force real engagement with randomly generated content by removing much of the player's control.

In current dcss stairs are a core mechanic. Exploiting the broken mechanics of stairs is a huge part of high winrate play. Shafts also play a major role in high winrate play in that they're one of the only ways reasonable players are going to lose. These are related issues. We should be looking to make entry to new levels closer to getting shafted than stairdancing.


Didn't Hellmonk already do this in Hellcrawl? I dunno what people's win rates would turn out to be in Hellcrawl but its definitely quite winnable (I have won it at least 10 times and there are much better players than me out there) and taking the downstairs is functionally the same as taking a one-way hatch. There is no stair dancing because there are no upstairs, in fact you can't even stay on a level for an extended period of time either (which sucks for my OpBe's when they are clearing the bottom of Vaults since they need to rest so much).

The implementation may bother some people since it fundamentally disables the ability to go anywhere in the world, but its affect on winnability/level gameplay is certainly concrete and can be studied. Especially since Hellcrawl is also harder than normal crawl. Additionally due to this implementation Hellmonk removed shafting since you can't go back up it would be stupidly punishing. The fact is half the things in this thread already have a ready made experiment with tons of playthroughs as evidence.

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Post Wednesday, 4th December 2019, 22:11

Re: Poll: What do you think about shaft effects?

sanka wrote:
TheMeInTeam wrote:Fundamentally, what do shafts do to "make the game more interesting" that you couldn't do by intentionally moving into bad situations?


Whenever someone proposes to remove a bad feature like a broken spell or god or having upstairs, somebody proposes: why don't you simply ignore the feature?

In game design I take it somewhat granted that the aim is a game where you do not need to come up with your own set of conducts that form your own minigame in order to make the game interesting.


In this case, however, we're stuck with a "feature" that cannot be ignored. Yet the question remains what it does to make the game interesting. I reject the notion of a perfect player, unless google's secretly been doing machine learning on crawl no player is close.

It's a common error in crawl talk to say that a given situation only occurs with bad play and therefore can be dismissed. In dcss, good play virtually guarantees nothing interesting ever happens and good play is not otherwise interesting or exciting -- the greater the player's capacity for boredom, the better they can play.


As such, I reject this statement as an *untrue* assertion, outright. Even the world record streak players have each encountered multiple dangerous scenarios of their own making, well into the games in question, during their streak. No human has the capacity to do what you assert. It's fantasy.

The fact that the player has so much control over the game that they can essentially eliminate situations that everyone with sensible opinions on the matter agrees are some of the most interesting is a basic failure of design.


"Everyone with sensible opinions" ---> drivel. Quoted is a poorly vield ad hominem.

If the game is actually boring when played well, that is indeed a failure of design. But that assertion doesn't seem consistent with the reality of crawl play + the crushing majority of players playing it, newbies + elite players alike.

Without shafts, you can nearly always stairdance your way into a foothold on every level.


Sometimes attempting this objectively lowers your expected winrate. Which is 1) dependent on build/species 2) consistent enough to happen in games as frequently as shafts and 3) is an interesting choice with significantly more agency.

You claim that "exploiting broken mechanic of stairs is a huge part of high winrate play", and yet the more experienced + higher winrate I've become, I stairdance less frequently, because there are multiple inherent risks to it that I have learned the hard way. I still do it when I evaluate it to give me the best odds of survival...which isn't even 1/3 of floors. Maybe not even 1/4.

You seem to consistently assert that removal of player agency = "interesting/engaging", yet the logical conclusions from that argument suggest that such preferences are better suited to another game entirely. Like slot machines. In crawl, the overwhelming majority of RNG interactions are intentionally designed with player agency in mind and interact well with player choices/control. It's not clear why the repeated assertion of an apparent intentional violation of this design is arbitrarily desirable only in specific contexts.

The game could force you to only use one spell school randomly. It could randomly instantly kill you on high rolls from any particular monster. It could make what skills you train random. Most of the arguments being made in favor of shafts would also apply to these examples...all of them "increase variance" for instance. In other words, dilute the outcome differential between good and poor play arbitrarily. I reject that as a desirable goal. If you don't, do you accept all these extra random bits tossed in without question? If not, why not? Let's see more coherence and less insult.

Traps should be relatively "dangerous" because the player has a lot of resources and if you don't increase the danger by a significant amount, you're not increasing the variance by a meaningful amount. Certain types of variance can feel un-fun or unfair because the player doesn't have meaningful control over them or the variance is too high. These kinds of discussions occurred over traps as a whole when the "Traps and Doors" skill was removed.


Yes, player agency is important. Critical, even. You should anticipate better outcomes when you make good decisions rather than bad decisions. Crawl's design mostly manages this, and part of the design philosophy mentions that the occasional unwinnable scenario is a byproduct of this design, but rare enough that it's not worth sacrificing the mechanics to get rid of it.

But (some) traps break that rule, intentionally, for what appears to be arbitrary reasons. They create variance independent from player decisions, and in some cases constrain player decisions rather than add to them (especially under "theoretical optimal play"). This isn't a case of a randomly generated combination of monsters showing up at the wrong time too early being near-unwinnable but so rare that it'd be silly to try to tweak against it. It's a case of straight up copying bad play and pasting it on good play because some people think that's fun.

If variance is fundamentally interesting, why are traps okay but random OHKOs against player + making skill progression completely random not okay? Those increase variance. They can "force player to re-evaluate and make different choices". We can even conveniently ignore previous/implied choices that now don't matter regarding them, just as we do for traps. Or are players in favor traps actually okay with such mechanics, carrying that preference set to its logical conclusion? If so I disagree, but at least it's a coherent, if strange in game context, position.

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Post Wednesday, 4th December 2019, 22:43

Re: Poll: What do you think about shaft effects?

TheMeInTeam wrote:
Traps should be relatively "dangerous" because the player has a lot of resources and if you don't increase the danger by a significant amount, you're not increasing the variance by a meaningful amount. Certain types of variance can feel un-fun or unfair because the player doesn't have meaningful control over them or the variance is too high. These kinds of discussions occurred over traps as a whole when the "Traps and Doors" skill was removed.


Yes, player agency is important. Critical, even. You should anticipate better outcomes when you make good decisions rather than bad decisions. Crawl's design mostly manages this, and part of the design philosophy mentions that the occasional unwinnable scenario is a byproduct of this design, but rare enough that it's not worth sacrificing the mechanics to get rid of it.

But (some) traps break that rule, intentionally, for what appears to be arbitrary reasons. They create variance independent from player decisions, and in some cases constrain player decisions rather than add to them (especially under "theoretical optimal play"). This isn't a case of a randomly generated combination of monsters showing up at the wrong time too early being near-unwinnable but so rare that it'd be silly to try to tweak against it. It's a case of straight up copying bad play and pasting it on good play because some people think that's fun.

If variance is fundamentally interesting, why are traps okay but random OHKOs against player + making skill progression completely random not okay? Those increase variance. They can "force player to re-evaluate and make different choices". We can even conveniently ignore previous/implied choices that now don't matter regarding them, just as we do for traps. Or are players in favor traps actually okay with such mechanics, carrying that preference set to its logical conclusion? If so I disagree, but at least it's a coherent, if strange in game context, position.

It's unclear to me whether you're agreeing with me, disagreeing with me, or partly agreeing with me.

I don't think "player agency" is necessarily important. At least it's not clear to me what you mean exactly. You don't have any control over whether Grinder generates or not, or what particular layout of Snake:$ you'll encounter. You make decisions after the fact, same as you do with a trap.

Your last paragraph doesn't make sense to me. Yes, variance is one of the factors which is good, but that doesn't mean it's the only factor. Nor am I saying that the variance should be so high that your situation after the fact should be completely independent of your situation before the fact. In fact, I say the opposite. If I'm talking about a glass of wine at dinner, that doesn't mean that I want you to drink alcohol till you puke.

As for OHKOs, Crawl combat is very swingy. Also, for instance, an early Ogre (or, say, an Ettin or Stone Giant in Orc, or a Hydra in Lair) can be a OHKO (or close enough) for many characters. I think, overall, it's a good thing to have swingy combat. Though, of course, one can debate the degree of swinginess and particular cases.

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Post Wednesday, 4th December 2019, 23:23

Re: Poll: What do you think about shaft effects?

TheMeInTeam wrote:You should anticipate better outcomes when you make good decisions rather than bad decisions.

This thread of the discussion makes it obvious that shafts feel bad because they are perceived as the game arbitrarily and randomly "doing something" to the player. Seems clear that much of this bad gamefeel is removed if you simply remove upstairs and make "shafting" part of the dungeon structure. Psychologically, this would make shafting feel more like other aspects of dungeon generation, as part of the background game structure that one makes good decisions or bad decisions against. It goes without saying that good decisions made following a shafting are more likely to lead to good outcomes, even with crawl's current trap system. There is no evidence whatsoever for the assertion that shaftings "dilute the outcome differential between good and poor play arbitrarily"; highly dangerous situations (of which there are few in a typical crawl game) are precisely the situations where skill is most important and shafts, for all their faults, occasionally generate these.
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Post Wednesday, 4th December 2019, 23:41

Re: Poll: What do you think about shaft effects?

I didn't read these last posts. Personally, I find shafts very marginal, especially while there exists an effect like Banishment, which is essentially Shafts on Steroids. Yes, they can mix up things a bit, which is nice. But I probably would handle them in a different way, with something like a "Shaft" status from a spell or trap that makes you fall down shafts for a certain period. It ends sooner if you can climb upstairs.

I understand how infuriating they must be for streakers, given how much important a game is for them, but I never will try to streak, so I don't see much of the problem for the common player.

But I agree that they are part of the problem of front-loaded difficulty, and could need tweaks because of this.
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Post Thursday, 5th December 2019, 12:15

Re: Poll: What do you think about shaft effects?

sanka wrote:In game design I take it somewhat granted that the aim is a game where you do not need to come up with your own set of conducts that form your own minigame in order to make the game interesting.


This is a wrong premise in a game without explicit difficulty levels. Hard MiBe game for experienced player without own set of conducts, really???
I like how you use the word "minigame". Yes, shafts can be a minigame, you are instantly moved into a different mode where you don't have ability to retreat, teleport, stair-dance etc. It is a different game and should be optional.

Shafts are bad because they try to do too many things, even according to those who like them:
1) make boring game more interesting (it would be better to fix the root cause of boredom instead)
2) remove player control (I don't know word "agency") in a game which is all about control. Go play roulette if you like randomness, this game is closer to chess than to roulette. Even banishment is better as at least there are items that can decrease/remove the risk of banishment
3) regularly does nothing, players get excited and end with simple return to previous level
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Post Thursday, 5th December 2019, 14:05

Re: Poll: What do you think about shaft effects?

@severen: There's no doubt that the most successful approach to shafts/stairs/level-entry taken in an actual playable version of crawl is the no-upstairs approach of hellcrawl and I tend to think this is in fact the best way forward for dcss. To my mind, with the proliferation of forks that basically take a "crawl classic" approach, dcss ought to adopt a more ambitious approach to solving the problems of crawl (and to some extent, that may be happening). That could mean looking for a middle ground between hellcrawl and recent dcss, like shaft-stairs or shafts to enter branches, or maybe a different direction that hasn't occurred to me at all.
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Post Thursday, 5th December 2019, 14:59

Re: Poll: What do you think about shaft effects?

VeryAngryFelid wrote:Go play roulette if you like randomness, this game is closer to chess than to roulette.

Actually, I think that this game is perfectly between roulette and chess. You take a chess-like decision (I want to hit that orc), and then you have to roll the roulette (get red to hit the orc).

I wonder how it would be if the roulette were before the chess part. It would be something like "roll to see if you can attack right now", and if you win you can use a non-randomised attack.
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Post Thursday, 5th December 2019, 16:01

VeryAngryFelid wrote:Go play roulette if you like randomness, this game is closer to chess than to roulette.

Maybe.

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Post Thursday, 5th December 2019, 22:01

Re: Poll: What do you think about shaft effects?

It's unclear to me whether you're agreeing with me, disagreeing with me, or partly agreeing with me.


Partly agreeing.

I don't think "player agency" is necessarily important. At least it's not clear to me what you mean exactly. You don't have any control over whether Grinder generates or not, or what particular layout of Snake:$ you'll encounter. You make decisions after the fact, same as you do with a trap.


Agency --> player's outcome is consistently determined by player's choices.

There are many interactions in crawl where player gets more variety at the expense of an extremely small amount of agency on average. Traps, on the other hand, have a tendency to significantly reduce agency (still small, but much larger than another arbitrarily selected mechanic on average) without adding commensurate variety...even very good players (the best in the world by any objective measure) encounter trap-like scenarios without traps.

Your last paragraph doesn't make sense to me. Yes, variance is one of the factors which is good, but that doesn't mean it's the only factor. Nor am I saying that the variance should be so high that your situation after the fact should be completely independent of your situation before the fact. In fact, I say the opposite. If I'm talking about a glass of wine at dinner, that doesn't mean that I want you to drink alcohol till you puke.


Yet that glass at wine at dinner has several orders of magnitude greater chance of causing you to puke than any other thing on the table. Maybe all other things on the table combined, after D:1 to D:4 or so. Though this is also where traps are at their most damaging.

OHKO example was that literally everything has a chance to just kill you regardless of HP or its damage. That would add variance. We could even make the chance small (1 in 100,000 hits, or even 1 in 1,000,000). That way people just randomly die, to add "interesting" variance :p.

This thread of the discussion makes it obvious that shafts feel bad because they are perceived as the game arbitrarily and randomly "doing something" to the player. Seems clear that much of this bad gamefeel is removed if you simply remove upstairs and make "shafting" part of the dungeon structure. Psychologically, this would make shafting feel more like other aspects of dungeon generation, as part of the background game structure that one makes good decisions or bad decisions against. It goes without saying that good decisions made following a shafting are more likely to lead to good outcomes, even with crawl's current trap system.


Yes, you could rework crawl significantly to the point where getting shafted has reduced chance of no-agency lethality, rework inventory/backtracking, and leave the game playing more like Tomb (perhaps with less torment). And then shafts wouldn't be meaningful. That's a lot of work to create a few extra scenarios that even the most elite players in the world still encounter without doing this, but you could do it.

There is no evidence whatsoever for the assertion that shaftings "dilute the outcome differential between good and poor play arbitrarily"


True or false: player movement choices have a significant impact on outcome differential?
True or false: there is a non-zero chance, however small, that players can be shafted/TP'd next to something they don't yet have resources to defeat or escape?
True or false: zero is less than any positive probability

We can argue "how much" it dilutes the outcome, or discuss different value judgments about how much dilution is acceptable. Pretty much everyone in this thread accepts at least some amount of dilution. But let's not pretend it doesn't exist.

highly dangerous situations (of which there are few in a typical crawl game) are precisely the situations where skill is most important and shafts, for all their faults, occasionally generate these.


It should be relatively uncontroversial to point out that frequency of "highly dangerous situations" is inversely proportional to how skillful somebody is at crawl.

I didn't read these last posts. Personally, I find shafts very marginal, especially while there exists an effect like Banishment, which is essentially Shafts on Steroids. Yes, they can mix up things a bit, which is nice. But I probably would handle them in a different way, with something like a "Shaft" status from a spell or trap that makes you fall down shafts for a certain period. It ends sooner if you can climb upstairs.


But banishment has significantly more counterplay than shafts, especially early shafts. You can't even get banished before mid-dungeon unless you're worshiping Xom (and he can move stairs away from you to mimic shafting too lol). While MR gear is RNG, it's at least an option. You can also identify and move away from banishers, or block their LoS. On top of all that, outside a few edge cases banishment is typically safer than D:1 through D:4 or so shafts!

If shafts had a similar degree of *consistent* counterplay to banishment when the player encountered them, I'd not be bothering to argue in this thread!

The more I discuss here the more I realize that I agree with you WRT front-loaded deaths. I'm not sure I'd call them "difficulty", which implies agency/better choices available. Often there are, sometimes there aren't...and that "sometimes" is *extremely* front-loaded in crawl.

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Post Friday, 6th December 2019, 00:41

Re: Poll: What do you think about shaft effects?

TheMeInTeam wrote:
There is no evidence whatsoever for the assertion that shaftings "dilute the outcome differential between good and poor play arbitrarily"


True or false: player movement choices have a significant impact on outcome differential?
True or false: there is a non-zero chance, however small, that players can be shafted/TP'd next to something they don't yet have resources to defeat or escape?
True or false: zero is less than any positive probability

We can argue "how much" it dilutes the outcome, or discuss different value judgments about how much dilution is acceptable. Pretty much everyone in this thread accepts at least some amount of dilution. But let's not pretend it doesn't exist.

You're missing a part of the picture, yes, there's a non-zero chance that shafts will put you in a situation where no difference in skill will make a difference in the outcome, however there's *also* a non-zero chance that shafts will put you in a situation in which skill will make *more of a difference than would be made if you were never shafted*

We aren't comparing the chances that being shafted will produce a negative outcome to *nothing*. Which of these two possibilities is greater is a subject which there's not a reasonable way to quantify, it's not reasonable to say with any certainty whether shafts have a positive or negative impact on the degree to which skill influences a positive outcome in the game.
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Post Friday, 6th December 2019, 03:48

Re: Poll: What do you think about shaft effects?

TheMeInTeam wrote:Yes, you could rework crawl significantly to the point where getting shafted has reduced chance of no-agency lethality, rework inventory/backtracking, and leave the game playing more like Tomb (perhaps with less torment). And then shafts wouldn't be meaningful. That's a lot of work to create a few extra scenarios that even the most elite players in the world still encounter without doing this, but you could do it.

Indeed, I could (and did) make a fork of crawl with these mechanics. It was good, hence I am advocating the adoption of these mechanics for mainline crawl.

True or false: player movement choices have a significant impact on outcome differential?
True or false: there is a non-zero chance, however small, that players can be shafted/TP'd next to something they don't yet have resources to defeat or escape?
True or false: zero is less than any positive probability

We can argue "how much" it dilutes the outcome, or discuss different value judgments about how much dilution is acceptable. Pretty much everyone in this thread accepts at least some amount of dilution. But let's not pretend it doesn't exist.

"There is a non-zero chance, however small, that normal crawl monster generation can generate something in a position where it can unavoidably kill you, therefore generating monsters that can kill the player dilutes the outcome in player skill." Perhaps ponder this for a moment.

The mistake you're making here is forgetting that, in order for player choice to "have a significant impact on outcome differential," some of the player choices have to have bad outcomes. Situations that can kill the player are good at doing this. It's easy to make DCSS have no unavoidable deaths, by playing in wizard mode, for example (wizard mode also gives the player much more "agency," though in a shallow, meaningless sense). Wizmode DCSS has no meaningful skill differentiation at all. If shafts are more likely to generate a dangerous situation with few survival outcomes than to generate an unavoidable death then they may increase player skill differentiation. DCSS monster generation and not playing in wizmode likewise increase skill differentiation even though they sometimes lead to unavoidable deaths.

It should be relatively uncontroversial to point out that frequency of "highly dangerous situations" is inversely proportional to how skillful somebody is at crawl.

In a theoretical sense, a situation is "more dangerous" than another if a relatively smaller number of sequences of play survive it (one can add probability to this model, but the point should be clear enough). Expert players are better able to make the right moves and survive, thus differentiating them from players with less skill. Situations where you can do whatever you want and live do not evaluate player skill at all. Increasing the frequency of dangerous situations is good for differentiating between different levels of player skill.

With regard to skilled players playing themselves into dangerous situations, I will not speak for everyone, but in my experience this occurs largely because half of the game is fucking boring unless you are doing an explicit challenge run. I do not play very seriously for significant portions of the game even while on streak. I would expect the top players to play better (and for skill differentiation among the top players to improve) if DCSS generated dangerous situations with greater frequency. Unlike Siegurt I think it's reasonable to say qualitatively that shafts are more likely to lead to dangerous, interesting gameplay than to unavoidable deaths. Crawl's trap mechanic has bad gamefeel and should be removed, but not out of some misguided idea that it lowers the game's skill cap. DCSS should generate more dangerous situations than it currently does.
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Post Friday, 6th December 2019, 09:30

Re: Poll: What do you think about shaft effects?

TheMeInTeam wrote:Agency --> player's outcome is consistently determined by player's choices.

Let us unpack this statement.

First, "determined" is a strong condition. Crawl has a lot of RNG-influenced stuff, so it's hard to have deterministic outcomes. The game has inherent variance. Instead, a better formulation would be "player outcomes are correlated with player choices", that is, better choices will probably lead to better outcomes, but not always. Now, the degree of correlation can be argued.

To illustrate this, let's extend an analogy already made in this thread, chess and roulette. Instead of using roulette (which is just luck), I'll use poker, because it's a strategy game with inherent variance.

If I play chess against Magnus Carlsen, I'd lose pretty much 100% of the time. If I play poker against Phil Ivey, I have a decent chance of winning by simply going all-in every hand. Even the worst hand in poker (seven-deuce offsuit) has a 12% chance of winning against the best hand (pocket Aces). However, if we look past the inherent variance of poker, then the decisions you make are still correlated with outcomes; it's just not a one-to-one correspondence.

Coming back to Crawl: some people like to play a more chess-like game, suppressing variance as much as possible; other players are happy with the more swingy aspects of Crawl. My own preference is towards the latter.

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Post Friday, 6th December 2019, 17:25

Re: Poll: What do you think about shaft effects?

Hellmonk wrote:Unlike Siegurt I think it's reasonable to say qualitatively that shafts are more likely to lead to dangerous, interesting gameplay than to unavoidable deaths.

I should clarify that I don't think it's reasonable to *prove* either assertion beyond all reasonable doubt, given the type of information available. I *strongly suspect* that shafts create more survivable player skill challenges than they create unavoidable deaths, but I don't see any way of collecting enough empirical evidence to prove it one way or the other, and arguing assertions which are unprovable seems a fruitless sort of endeavor to me. (Particularly when these kinds of decisions can, as you rightly point out, be made from other, more concrete assertions)
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Post Friday, 6th December 2019, 21:16

Re: Poll: What do you think about shaft effects?

You're missing a part of the picture, yes, there's a non-zero chance that shafts will put you in a situation where no difference in skill will make a difference in the outcome, however there's *also* a non-zero chance that shafts will put you in a situation in which skill will make *more of a difference than would be made if you were never shafted*


It's hard to see this as plausible. Shafts (and TP traps) sometimes place players near monsters with no immediately available escape route, other than using some consumable resource. The typical crawl player (and even those well above average among unique players), frequently encounters this scenario regardless of traps (and frequently dies). Perhaps this is part of the reason traps "feel bad"; what they present you with is very similar to what you see when you simply make a mistake as a player.

It's true that good players are less likely to die in this scenario, just as good players are less likely to die on average for nearly all scenarios in crawl. I hold that this differential between good vs average players is lower in the case of high RNG variance (traps) than it is with moderate to low RNG variance (most mechanics in crawl); the outcome is more likely to be identical between Yermak and a player that has never won in this case than it is between their typical movements/reactions to say seeing an orc priest on D:3. Yermak will still live more often, but with less frequency advantage than otherwise.

The mistake you're making here is forgetting that, in order for player choice to "have a significant impact on outcome differential," some of the player choices have to have bad outcomes.


That's a strange assertion to make, given I've already said this line in the post you've quoted:

"even very good players (the best in the world by any objective measure) encounter trap-like scenarios without traps."

--> this is unambiguously asserting that even the best players in the world make mistakes = choices with bad outcomes. We can observe this by watching their games. This also implies a wide possibility space of choices with bad outcomes already exists in crawl. Not that such needs much backing-up when the median player has never won a game while the streak record is > 50. There are obviously many choices that can be made, and most of them are bad.

In a theoretical sense, a situation is "more dangerous" than another if a relatively smaller number of sequences of play survive it (one can add probability to this model, but the point should be clear enough). Expert players are better able to make the right moves and survive, thus differentiating them from players with less skill. Situations where you can do whatever you want and live do not evaluate player skill at all. Increasing the frequency of dangerous situations is good for differentiating between different levels of player skill.


The argument being made is that the increase in frequency of situations where "# sequences of play to survive" = 0 or "use unidentified crap and pray" is costly enough that it's not worth arbitrarily introducing these situations, when literally every player in the world still encounters them organically/directly as a consequence of the choices they make regardless.

In essence, their function right now is to artificially increase the frequency of player-mistake situations.

Coming back to Crawl: some people like to play a more chess-like game, suppressing variance as much as possible; other players are happy with the more swingy aspects of Crawl. My own preference is towards the latter.


You are correct that this ultimately will come down to preference to at least some extent. What's odd to me is that crawl is much closer to chess than it is to poker. Most "variance" (RNG on hits, item drops, etc) does not meaningfully alter expected winrate under either theoretical optimal play or top-tier human play. Nobody has ever lost a game simply because they didn't get Arga or something. Exceptions to this are, again, typically heavily frontloaded in crawl. My favorite example is my FeEn loss to a bat 1v1 at XL 1, a truly unwinnable scenario.

You might think FeEn getting tabbed to death by a bat randomly on D:1 is "interesting" gameplay or preferable. I disagree; to me there is nothing interesting about that. I don't consider what traps do to be worth their small increase in the number of deaths like this, because crawl gives every player alive similar scenarios without traps as a more direct result of their choices. You consider it worth the trade. That's where we disagree. What I still don't personally grasp is what makes the particular interaction of traps interesting.

As hellmonk points out, he's built a game where this is more organically part of the experience. It changes the equation, just like Tomb does to an extent. Players play hellcrawl and choose to go into Tomb sometimes, but that doesn't mean these will necessarily make crawl's experience better by including them everywhere. That we have this option for those who prefer it is a good thing though.

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Post Friday, 6th December 2019, 22:27

Re: Poll: What do you think about shaft effects?

Hellmonk wrote: Unlike Siegurt I think it's reasonable to say qualitatively that shafts are more likely to lead to dangerous, interesting gameplay than to unavoidable deaths.

There is a logical fallacy here. Unavoidable deaths are really rare, but interesting gameplay that comes from a shaft is also really rare. Who cares which one is slightly less rare?

Annoying shit like missing a timed portal that I really wanted to reach because of a stupid ass trap is much more likely. Or forcing me to burn valuable consumables for nothing.

By the way. If shaft traps are removed, still nothing stops the shaft fans from diving down 2-3 floors and trying to survive there, pretending that they are shafted and there is no stair back. You can actually do it on every level. Right now.

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Post Friday, 6th December 2019, 22:56

Re: Poll: What do you think about shaft effects?

Actually, we have largely seemed to avoid pinning down what constitutes "interesting" in the context of traps, and particularly what they offer beyond standard crawl. For example when I asked why randomly dying to 1 in 1,000,000 hits regardless of HP/damage taken isn't "interesting" that's not even addressed, despite that it meets the standards of both "dangerous" and "variance" as-presented as standards for "interesting".

So either that would also count as "interesting" per shaft-favored players, or there is some factor that makes shafts interesting that doesn't make randomly dying on-hit interesting that is yet-unsaid.

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Post Friday, 6th December 2019, 22:57

Re: Poll: What do you think about shaft effects?

TheMeInTeam wrote:I hold that this differential between good vs average players is lower in the case of high RNG variance (traps) than it is with moderate to low RNG variance (most mechanics in crawl);


Well, you say this apropos of nothing, there's no evidence to support (or refute) this, which is what I was saying in the first place, it's literally *just what you happen to think* I happen to think the opposite, and *it doesn't matter*.

It sounds to me like we measure player skill with different yardsticks. Someone who believes that the largest portion of player skill comes from preparation and planning would probably feel that higher variance (things which subvert any planning and preparation) are negative with respect to measuring skill, and someone who believes that the largest portion of player skill comes from in the moment evaluation of situations outside of their expectations and proper responses to those situations would probably believe that situations which subvert your expectations present greater skill challenges.

In truth, both elements are important for crawl, you need to prepare, plan, *and* respond properly when things go unexpectedly, which is the more important aspect is immaterial, everyone will grow in both aspects at different rates, and everyone will have different amounts of strength in both, and everyone can, to some extent lean on their strengths to shore up their weaknesses.
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Post Friday, 6th December 2019, 22:59

Re: Poll: What do you think about shaft effects?

TheMeInTeam wrote:Actually, we have largely seemed to avoid pinning down what constitutes "interesting" in the context of traps, and particularly what they offer beyond standard crawl. For example when I asked why randomly dying to 1 in 1,000,000 hits regardless of HP/damage taken isn't "interesting" that's not even addressed, despite that it meets the standards of both "dangerous" and "variance" as-presented as standards for "interesting".

So either that would also count as "interesting" per shaft-favored players, or there is some factor that makes shafts interesting that doesn't make randomly dying on-hit interesting that is yet-unsaid.

Well unilateral death doesn't present you with *any* choices, as stated earlier "dangerous" is when your "number of survivable choices is much lower than normal but non-zero" shafts present *more* of those types of situations than non-shafts, and the question we're asking is "are the number of "zero choices are survivable" occurrences higher than the number of "survivable choices is lower than normal, but higher than zero" occurrences.
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Post Friday, 6th December 2019, 23:15

Re: Poll: What do you think about shaft effects?

Siegurt wrote:
TheMeInTeam wrote:I hold that this differential between good vs average players is lower in the case of high RNG variance (traps) than it is with moderate to low RNG variance (most mechanics in crawl);


Well, you say this apropos of nothing, there's no evidence to support (or refute) this, which is what I was saying in the first place, it's literally *just what you happen to think* I happen to think the opposite, and *it doesn't matter*.

It sounds to me like we measure player skill with different yardsticks. Someone who believes that the largest portion of player skill comes from preparation and planning would probably feel that higher variance (things which subvert any planning and preparation) are negative with respect to measuring skill, and someone who believes that the largest portion of player skill comes from in the moment evaluation of situations outside of their expectations and proper responses to those situations would probably believe that situations which subvert your expectations present greater skill challenges.

In truth, both elements are important for crawl, you need to prepare, plan, *and* respond properly when things go unexpectedly, which is the more important aspect is immaterial, everyone will grow in both aspects at different rates, and everyone will have different amounts of strength in both, and everyone can, to some extent lean on their strengths to shore up their weaknesses.


This game isn't on a timer unless you're speedrunning. Preparation/planning is not separate from "evaluation of situations outside expectations". You necessarily have incomplete information in crawl constantly, and must constantly update. Nothing is particularly "in the moment" relative to other decision points.

You might not be expecting a shaft, Arga, D:4 centaur, Wyrmbane, early Erolcha, Zephyr, or Gastronok blocking Lair. But one of these things is not like the others, and that's the point being made.

As for your first point, it doesn't hold. The more variance/noise you introduce, the more you necessarily blur the outcome's dependence on skill. That's what variance does. Skill should be measured by the consistency which a player makes decisions that maximize his/her chance to win the game, or at least avoids meaningfully reducing that chance. The poker vs chess example was apt; you have a small chance of beating someone who is the best player randomly just by going all in constantly. But intentionally introducing that element into crawl, when nearly all of its mechanical interactions don't carry that kind of "lose regardless of choice" element, seems strange to me, for the same reason the 1 in 1,000,000 always-death on hit seems strange.

This was something I was under the impression crawl tries to avoid generally, and tolerates mostly because it's impossible to design a "completely fair" experience in practical terms. But this mechanic is different. At the fundamental level, it intentionally introduces something unfair outright, albeit rarely.

Well unilateral death doesn't present you with *any* choices, as stated earlier "dangerous" is when your "number of survivable choices is much lower than normal but non-zero" shafts present *more* of those types of situations than non-shafts, and the question we're asking is "are the number of "zero choices are survivable" occurrences higher than the number of "survivable choices is lower than normal, but higher than zero" occurrences.


But knowing you have a 1 in 1,000,000 chance of unilateral death informs your choices. The number of survivable choices in the existence of such a mechanic is, in fact, higher than the < 0 ones by a wide margin (1 in 1,000,000 is pretty rare!). Players would alter their gameplay based on this mechanic, significantly. Good players would still win much more often than bad players. Perhaps even more disproportionately so compared to traps as they figure out more/better approaches to avoid taking hits. So it's not clear why you'd prefer traps to this mechanic.

And no, we're not asking whether "zero choices is higher than > 0 choices". We're asking whether the introduction of artificial player-mistake situations is a) sufficiently "interesting" (per a yet-undescribed standard) and b) worth the cost of adding unavoidable deaths in the context of the rest of crawl's mechanics.

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Post Saturday, 7th December 2019, 00:10

Re: Poll: What do you think about shaft effects?

I think the point the others are trying to make is that Crawl is more interesting if some games can be won by average players and other games can only be won by excellent players.

This doesn't "dilute the outcome differential between good and poor play", it is the very essence of the outcome differential between good and poor play.

Shafts contribute to the outcome differential between good and poor play, at the cost of a small number of games which are unwinnable. How this balance falls, I don't know. I don't usually care much about the characters lose to shafts because they were all <XL10.

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Post Saturday, 7th December 2019, 00:22

Re: Poll: What do you think about shaft effects?

TheMeInTeam wrote:This game isn't on a timer unless you're speedrunning. Preparation/planning is not separate from "evaluation of situations outside expectations". You necessarily have incomplete information in crawl constantly, and must constantly update. Nothing is particularly "in the moment" relative to other decision points.


And yet there's a plethora of decisions you make well before unexpected situations occur, from "how will I train my skills" to "how will I explore this level" to "what weapon will I keep in my hand" and "should I engage that monster here or move" and "how should I fight to avoid making noise or fighting in the open, while still killing this thing with minimal risk to myself" Obviously you get to make decisions at your own pace, but there's a clock in terms of "number of actions you can take" .

If you prepare and plan you'll obviously have better outcomes available at each step, and just as obviously, if you sit there and hit "tab" repeatedly when you should have long since fled you'll be dead no matter how well your skills or trained or what equipment you're wearing or whether you took care not to make too much noise or fight in the open.

Each of those subcategories of decision making are differently taxed by Shafts. The "in advance" decisions are muted, and the "what should I do right now" ones are emphasized.

Also I misread your comment about 1 in 1,000,000, I thought you had meant a 1 in 1,000,000 chance of death on any action, not just being hit, which you're right, does change things slightly, you can take measures to avoid being hit, you can't avoid taking action at all in the game. For some creatures you *currently* have a very low chance of being killed outright on being hit, so this isn't actually much different than the current circumstance (except that it only applies to some creatures, in some circumstances, not all of them) In fact one of the more important measures of crawl skill is "can that kill me right now". I'm not sure why that's relevant, it's not very similar to shafts; when shafted you can't really die *directly* from it, so you'll always be able to do *something* even if it doesn't keep you alive. It would feel weird/bad because someone would inevitably have their character killed on that 1 in a million chance of dying to a rat when ascending with the Orb, nobody wants to have to avoid possibly being hit by every trivial creature that can't hurt you normally because they have a minuscule chance of killing you, that's just dumb and annoying. (Shafts on the other hand aren't avoidable, so there's no "Avoiding being shafted" tedium introduced)

I'm also not sure labeling shafts as "artificial player mistakes" is reasonable, I can't envision making enough mistakes that I could accidentally wander into type of situation a shaft puts me in. I personally feel like what shafts do is *very* different from anything I could do to myself through unintentional direct action.
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Post Saturday, 7th December 2019, 01:55

Re: Poll: What do you think about shaft effects?

TheMeInTeam wrote:
The mistake you're making here is forgetting that, in order for player choice to "have a significant impact on outcome differential," some of the player choices have to have bad outcomes.


That's a strange assertion to make, given I've already said this line in the post you've quoted:

"even very good players (the best in the world by any objective measure) encounter trap-like scenarios without traps."

Your analysis of the argument didn't account for it. I suppose it's my fault for taking the laughable claim that any mechanic that could cause an unavoidable death necessarily decreases skill differentiation seriously though. Your analysis of dcss shafts is equally applicable to dcss monster or terrain generation.

The argument being made is that the increase in frequency of situations where "# sequences of play to survive" = 0 or "use unidentified crap and pray" is costly enough that it's not worth arbitrarily introducing these situations, when literally every player in the world still encounters them organically/directly as a consequence of the choices they make regardless.

Cool, you have not demonstrated this. It is not obvious that they occur more frequently than situations that are interesting, or even appreciably close to as frequently, and even if we take your ridiculous assertion that actually, good players boring themselves into an interesting situation twice a game leads to good skill differentiation at face value, it is obviously true that """arbitrarily""" (in the same sense that any form of dungeon or monster generation is arbitrary) introducing more of those situations will further differentiate between different levels of player skill. The argument that shafts reduce player skill differentiation has zero merit, but since this was a relatively minor point in my original post I don't intend to respond further.

As Magipi points out, shafts feel really shitty for a bunch of other reasons and are not particularly good at generating interesting situations, even though they do that more often than they unavoidably kill you. I have maintained this from the beginning and favor their removal for these reasons. People are so quick to accuse shafts of being "arbitrary" for psychological reasons related to the way the game presents them to the player. You have more control over being shafted than over the level layout you get on D:6 or what monsters generate there, but people are recalcitrant to claim that crawl's level generator is arbitrary bullshit. Hellcrawl stairs are the way to go if you want to improve upon what few benefits there are to shafts and psychologically orient the gameplay they provide as part of the game structure.

My favorite example is my FeEn loss to a bat 1v1 at XL 1, a truly unwinnable scenario.

Have you considered that your felid enchanter play might have been suboptimal? You're very quick to declare games unwinnable. Maybe reflect on that.

To conclude this post and perhaps steer the conversation in a more constructive direction, let's talk about Slay the Spire. Slay the Spire on its highest difficulty level has an optimal win % that is much lower than DCSS. You make far fewer strategic and tactical choices than DCSS but those choices have far greater impact in terms of whether or not you'll survive the run. The game is very good at evaluating player skill at that level. At the minimum difficulty level, the game is winnable in practice almost 100% of the time. Choices matter less and there's much less differentiating a player like me from, say, Jorbs (one of the best players in the world). Our ascension 0 winrates would look pretty similar unless we played a thousand games each; his ascension 20 heart kill winrate will be notably higher than mine after 20 or 30 games, let alone a couple hundred. There are some lessons to learn from Slay the Spire's design here, both with regard to player skill evaluation and the advantages of modal difficulty.
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Post Saturday, 7th December 2019, 02:09

Re: Poll: What do you think about shaft effects?

man, I have so many thoughts on the topic of incentive structures in Crawl but this thread is bad

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Post Monday, 9th December 2019, 09:21

Re: Poll: What do you think about shaft effects?

Hellmonk wrote:You have more control over being shafted than over the level layout you get on D:6 or what monsters generate there, but people are recalcitrant to claim that crawl's level generator is arbitrary bullshit.


I guess here "you" means the player, but I suggest to take a look at greater picture. Devs are balancing layouts and monsters all the time and surprisingly "we" (together with devs) have more control over level layout and monsters than we do over shafts. I am sure there are no entry vaults that put you in the middle of orc pack and adjacent to an ogre and that's what can happen if you get shafted from D:1 to D:4. And if by some miracle such entry layout is added, it will instantly be removed by devs as "unbalanced". Why won't the devs just decrease the chance to 0.001% and give some unidentified scroll of fear/blinking/noise for "interesting start challenge"? (sarcasm).

Shafts are Xom-like mechanics (annoying, punishing, no reward even in the best case) and should be optional.
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Post Monday, 9th December 2019, 17:07

Re: Poll: What do you think about shaft effects?

Your analysis of the argument didn't account for it. I suppose it's my fault for taking the laughable claim that any mechanic that could cause an unavoidable death necessarily decreases skill differentiation seriously though. Your analysis of dcss shafts is equally applicable to dcss monster or terrain generation.


My argument is that monster and terrain generation add more interesting decisions while their chances of creating unwinnable interactions is far less than traps. I do think it's worth sanity checking D:2 - D:4 bees/centaurs out too though, for similar reasons. These are major statistical outliers in monster encounters that constrain interesting choices rather than adding to them.

Cool, you have not demonstrated this.


I have, but similar the the above you've left it out of things you've chosen to address.

Have you considered that your felid enchanter play might have been suboptimal? You're very quick to declare games unwinnable. Maybe reflect on that.


Yes, I considered it. You're welcome to fsim out whether using corona before the bat gets in melee range, and then attacking the bat had potential better actions.

Claiming that I in particular am "quick to declare games unwinnable" is flagrantly dishonest, even in the context of this thread alone. Why quote/post responses to people while ignoring the content of the posts? Seems more like you're trying to make someone look bad than discuss what's actually said.

I don't know anything about slay the spire beyond seeing a video of some gameplay ~year ago and hearing good things, so it's hard to address that example with any nuance. A quick search suggests global winrates much higher than crawl, tapering off for recently added max difficulties (a20 I guess?). It's not clear to me how often RNG screws someone over in STS, but the a15 winrates for top players resembles crawl. Not sure how this adds much to the point either way though. Elite players in crawl survive bad situations more frequently, too, in addition to encountering fewer (an important point + important part of crawl's general design, I'll not allow it ignored in genuine discussion). Very few people sustain high winrates in crawl. An account with > ~12% win rate is top 1% or something right? Yet we're seriously making the case that the game needs more non-player variance in this context?

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Post Tuesday, 10th December 2019, 10:33

Re: Poll: What do you think about shaft effects?

Oh, I somehow missed the Slay the Spire part. I reached A20 there (no wins yet, I have suspended playing at A20 because it is not fun) and have about 100% winrate at A0 indeed and the lesson from that game should be quite different than "create dangerous situations randomly to differentiate player skills", it should be "ADD THE *** EXPLICIT DIFFICULTY LEVELS TO CRAWL" so players can choose how much fun and challenge they want. And no, choosing a character is not enough at all, playing MiBe every time is not fun and there is no combo as challenging as A20 slay the spire.
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Post Tuesday, 10th December 2019, 10:44

Re: Poll: What do you think about shaft effects?

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Post Tuesday, 10th December 2019, 15:10

Re: Poll: What do you think about shaft effects?

TheMeInTeam wrote:In this case, however, we're stuck with a "feature" that cannot be ignored. Yet the question remains what it does to make the game interesting. I reject the notion of a perfect player, unless google's secretly been doing machine learning on crawl no player is close.


I honestly do not really understand how "perfect play" comes into this picture, whatever you mean by that. Stairdancing and freqeuntly retreating to safe territory is a very simple tactic - I cannot imagine what complex strategy you envision with this machine learning example. This simple startegy works most of the time, and it is very boring. Yes, there are a few situations where it does not work, not just traps. I think these situations should be much much more frequent, because the times where it does not work are more interesting, and currently, even with traps, they are very, very rare.

Of course you can choose not to reterat, and run towards monsters, many times I even play like there. This fact does not make the game better. If you want a game where you have a feature that makes it easy and boring but can be ignored, remove permadeath (add saving/loading, or death just restores you automatically at the previous level, etc.). Surely you can ignore it if you do not like it. I personally would prefer removing permadeath than keeping stairdancing and arbitrary retreating in the current state, because it is easier to ignore.

VeryAngryFelid wrote:This is a wrong premise in a game without explicit difficulty levels. Hard MiBe game for experienced player without own set of conducts, really???
I like how you use the word "minigame". Yes, shafts can be a minigame, you are instantly moved into a different mode where you don't have ability to retreat, teleport, stair-dance etc. It is a different game and should be optional.

Shafts are bad because they try to do too many things, even according to those who like them:
1) make boring game more interesting (it would be better to fix the root cause of boredom instead)

I personally agree with you, moreover I would prefer removing upstairs like in Hellcrawl. I just think that this may not happen in main crawl, and having shafts are better than not having shafts in the current game.

VeryAngryFelid wrote:2) remove player control (I don't know word "agency") in a game which is all about control. Go play roulette if you like randomness, this game is closer to chess than to roulette. Even banishment is better as at least there are items that can decrease/remove the risk of banishment

I personally do not see how shafts remove player control or how is this game is all about control. I can still control my character after it is shafted. The interesting thing is that this is a situation where it is not always obvious what to do (as I can not retreat or stairdance). But there are almost always many things I can choose from.

VeryAngryFelid wrote:3) regularly does nothing, players get excited and end with simple return to previous level

Well, you are right. That's why simply removing upstaisr would be better.

Actually, I personally would not mind diffictulty levels, but I think the developers feel that would be too much balance work . I do not think that simple numeric changes (like multiplying enemy hp or decreasing player walking speed) would work well, because the game is so complex. The thing is, you tend to focus on difficulty, but for me shafts, removing upstairs are not so much about diffictulty, but to change the game so that good strategies do not lean so heavily towards luring/stairdancing/retreating. I feel that these should be decreased a lot, and hellcrawl achieves it well. Once you decreased these strategies you can start to "rebalance" the game to your tastes, so that it is not so hard, for example to rething some early OOD monsters. But early OOD monsters are a minor problem to me because they are rare. Luring/stairdancing/retreating etc. is so, so frequent in good DCSS play.

One bad aspect of this arbitrary retreating ability is that it foils many mechanics in crawl. There are many monsters with the premise that they are dangerous if you meet with them together with other monsters. Yes, even with good play it occassionally hapens (for example, with shafts). But it is not so frequent. I feel that I kill at least 10 times as much of these monsters amongst circumstances where they are completley harmless. Because it is easy to fight them one-by-one (if I can stand a little bit of boredom).

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Post Tuesday, 10th December 2019, 18:00

Re: Poll: What do you think about shaft effects?

I honestly do not really understand how "perfect play" comes into this picture, whatever you mean by that. Stairdancing and freqeuntly retreating to safe territory is a very simple tactic - I cannot imagine what complex strategy you envision with this machine learning example. This simple startegy works most of the time, and it is very boring. Yes, there are a few situations where it does not work, not just traps. I think these situations should be much much more frequent, because the times where it does not work are more interesting, and currently, even with traps, they are very, very rare.


He was making a (false) claim about the frequency of stairdancing being optimal. It's sometimes useful, often pointless, and sometimes detrimental. I'd hold that once you have a piece of the level explored that luring on same-floor tends to be superior. No monsters hitting you that you couldn't see previously, no multi-turns of stuff beating on you as you go back up, etc. For example I once died to a floating eye by stairdancing...it was not on-screen at all when I went up. Better standard tactical play (aka not stairdancing in this context) would have prevented that death entirely (and in future runs altering my standard practice in these scenarios likely did save me from similar paradeaths, considering where I occasionally encountered eyes!). Since you can get stuff like this from shapeshifters there's a nonzero chance to die that way chain stairdancing any of slime/depths/elf/vaults that simply doesn't exist if you use a better alternative when available.

The problem with removing permadeath in a game like this is that it trivializes the ties between player choices + player outcome that's central to the experience. Interestingly, I'd say this is bad for the same reason traps tend to be bad - it makes routine player choices throughout the game less meaningful. Though note that removing permadeath would do this to an orders-of-magnitude greater margin! Also while crawl has some tedious interactions, few things carry the rote tedium of savescumming.

Difficulty levels would be a balancing nightmare. Some players like to claim otherwise, but having them really does directly effect design too. Short of effectively making 3 separate games if doing easy/normal/hard mode you tend to get shortcuts like "hard means you whale on the same enemy for longer" while the experience tends to get centralized on one of the 3 in terms of how level design/monsters are implemented. We already have wizmode too, which is probably good enough in terms of time investment/payoff in this context.

Retreating is an important + core part of crawl's design. It's directly implied by the game's basic premise + rules + controls. You're not getting away from this w/o making a new game, so it's strange to harp on this as particularly bad. There are games that don't require it in other genres. You can play games where you never need to retreat (such as Celeste) or games where sometimes doing it will lose you the game (StarCraft 2) while other times it's necessary, etc. In crawl it's usually, but not always, a good idea. Nature of the genre.
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Post Tuesday, 10th December 2019, 18:19

Re: Poll: What do you think about shaft effects?

The fact that you have done stairdancing wrong does not negate points made here about the centrality of stairdancing in high winrate crawl or any of the judgements made about its impact on crawl gameplay.

About "the design of crawl," there is no coherent design to the game. It would be more correct to say that it has a history and some thought and commentary around it that has guided its development over many years by many people, almost none of whom, as far as I know, had any coherent vision of what the game should be or where it is going in the long run, other than possibly Linley -- and whatever his vision was, it never coalesced into a playable game. DCSS in particular has no central figure or documents that could be described as a designer or design document. What documents exist are really about general principles, process, and plans that presuppose an existing product to build on. As such, making some observations about its current mechanics and claiming they reflect some overarching "design" is generally pretty suspect.

As far as "the nature of the game," again this is a fluid and I have to say I don't think you've presented a very deep read on it, more of a poorly formulated, tossed off half-argument made to fill out overly long posts.
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Post Tuesday, 10th December 2019, 19:08

Re: Poll: What do you think about shaft effects?

The fact that you have done stairdancing wrong does not negate points made here about the centrality of stairdancing in high winrate crawl or any of the judgements made about its impact on crawl gameplay.


That you claim stairdancing is optimal does not make it optimal. Sometimes it is, sometimes it isn't. You've no more substantive data beyond that than anybody else, so it's awkward to make assertions regarding optimal behavior in this context and then reject others' assertions.

About "the design of crawl," there is no coherent design to the game.


Perhaps, but we do have evidence based on the totality of the game's mechanics. Though coherent design standards would be useful to define if what you say is true.

As far as "the nature of the game," again this is a fluid and I have to say I don't think you've presented a very deep read on it, more of a poorly formulated, tossed off half-argument made to fill out overly long posts.


Do you want my posts longer or shorter? You're simultaneously complaining about both in one sentence. Impressive, but not useful :p. Regardless, retreating is going to remain a central element in nearly every game that lets you move + presents multiple enemies that can attack you. I don't see why it's particularly more of a problem in crawl than in, say, Binding of Isaac.
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Post Tuesday, 10th December 2019, 20:01

Re: Poll: What do you think about shaft effects?

Shorter.
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Post Tuesday, 10th December 2019, 23:27

Re: Poll: What do you think about shaft effects?

tealizard wrote:DCSS in particular has no central figure or documents that could be described as a designer or design document. What documents exist are really about general principles, process, and plans that presuppose an existing product to build on. As such, making some observations about its current mechanics and claiming they reflect some overarching "design" is generally pretty suspect.

One note: There do still exist many archived docs containing design intent and dev plans. You've referenced some of these, and your assessment that much of what's archived often focuses more on individual feature plans, rather than overarching design goals, is probably broadly fair, but I'm going to post links to the archives I know about for people who are unaware:

docs/develop contains basic style guidelines for new contributors.

The CDO doku wiki, while irregularly used (and seemingly fallen into disuse), contains feature design and release plans for several major versions from roughly late 2009 to 2017.

The C-R-D mailing list was a common venue for much older design discussion, and is archived back to 2006. As far as I can tell this has fallen into disuse as well? (My contribs to DCSS have been quite minor; I never bothered to bug anyone about being added to the mailmap, and I'm unsure of current mailing list activity.)

Most of this discussion has tended to occur on IRC, in ##crawl-dev on freenode, which is logged and has a searchable archive back to 2012.

The Tavern has also been searchable since its creation around 2010, although the stuff posted in GDD has tended to be more about player feedback than underlying design direction.

edit: There's also a dev wiki on Crawl's github, which a couple of currently-active devs have recently begun using in place of the old CDO doku wiki.

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Post Wednesday, 11th December 2019, 08:00

Re: Poll: What do you think about shaft effects?

TheMeInTeam wrote:Difficulty levels would be a balancing nightmare.


I don't understand what you mean here provided we have MiBe and MuCK available in our only difficulty level. Do we already have a problem with balance here? If yes, why isn't it being fixed???

I believe we can just make the game easier on easy difficulty level and harder on hard difficulty level, we don't need to make anything else like making sure difference between those levels or for different combos is the same.

Slay the spire has 21 difficulty level and 3 base characters are roughly equal on all of them. Then there are several dozens of custom characters from mods and they still are harder on harder difficulty levels and easier on easy difficulty levels despite the characters don't need to do anything to support it. There is even a mod that adds easier difficulty levels than default and harder difficulty levels than the hardest level from devs. Basically difficulty levels change PC HP, increase monster damage/buffs, increase monster HP, CHANGE monster patterns (they are more likely to attack instead of defend, for instance), increase prices in shop, change loot probabilities etc.

TL/DR: there is no need to balance difficulty levels in crawl, players will pick what they enjoy the most.
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Post Wednesday, 11th December 2019, 10:31

Re: Poll: What do you think about shaft effects?

The problem as I understand it with balancing is that most things you can change globally would make some aspect of the game unfun. The characters max-hp can't be too low, otherwise you get one-shotted and that's unfun. Some monsters can have too much hp, because they're only funish if you can take them out quickly (eg mutators, certain monster Spellcasters). Messing with piety could easily backfire, as could meeting with xp.
That said, I think there are some things you could change globally without messing up too much. you could increase the character hp, increase/decrease character stats, increase/decrease SH EV and AC, decrease player accuracy.

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Post Wednesday, 11th December 2019, 11:01

Re: Poll: What do you think about shaft effects?

petercordia wrote:The problem as I understand it with balancing is that most things you can change globally would make some aspect of the game unfun. The characters max-hp can't be too low, otherwise you get one-shotted and that's unfun. Some monsters can have too much hp, because they're only funish if you can take them out quickly (eg mutators, certain monster Spellcasters). Messing with piety could easily backfire, as could meeting with xp.
That said, I think there are some things you could change globally without messing up too much. you could increase the character hp, increase/decrease character stats, increase/decrease SH EV and AC, decrease player accuracy.


All those things you described are already in the game, like Sp/Ko/Ha with dagger trying to kill Orb of Fire.
I believe it is quite the opposite, current situation is unfun because players don't have freedom to play the game the way they want. For instance, there is no way to play as Tr with +200% HP or -Sp with -80% HP. I remember I was not the only one who enjoyed fighting monsters with triple HP in my branch.
Also my main point is that nobody is forcing you to play at those difficulty levels, you can still play at default difficulty.
Again, similarly to slay the spire. Some guys like getting fancy builds at default difficulty, other prefer to go for the hardest challenge, third are having fun with custom runs where there are several dozens of different modifiers: https://slay-the-spire.fandom.com/wiki/Custom_Mode

I just don't see how having a single way to play the game is more fun than having many more ways including the existing one.
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Post Wednesday, 11th December 2019, 21:10

Re: Poll: What do you think about shaft effects?

I believe we can just make the game easier on easy difficulty level and harder on hard difficulty level


You're handwaving a LOT of detail here. Why not "just make DCSS play better" while we're at it :p?

In practice, it's not trivial to do these things. STS and crawl are very likely designed with different things in mind. Zelda games that lack combat RNG do a good job with combat, but that doesn't mean removing damage ranges in crawl is necessarily a good idea that will improve the game.

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Post Yesterday, 07:45

Re: Poll: What do you think about shaft effects?

TheMeInTeam wrote:You're handwaving a LOT of detail here. Why not "just make DCSS play better" while we're at it :p?


Because so far devs refused to even consider adding difficulty levels, they want the game to be the same for all players, even vetoed adding options to make this SINGLE PLAYER OFFLINE game different based on player preferences.
We can discuss/decide details later if they agree with basic idea. You know, there is no point in arguing over color of a car when your wife refuses to buy it anyway :)

In practice, it's not trivial to do these things. STS and crawl are very likely designed with different things in mind. Zelda games that lack combat RNG do a good job with combat, but that doesn't mean removing damage ranges in crawl is necessarily a good idea that will improve the game.


I remember a long time ago I have already linked to a big article from devs of DCSS-like roguelike which have explicit difficulty levels where they describe how happy they are about right decision to add difficulty levels to their game, what problems it solved etc.
If you are not new to roguelike, you probably know there are many roguelikes with difficulty levels, there is nothing really special about DCSS here. Proved by ADOM, TOME etc.

Also I believe it is not off topic in this thread, shafts are trying to solve a problem which does not exist in games with explicit difficulty levels i.e. to make the game not-so-boring for experienced players. At the same time shafts create problems which are not present in games with explicit difficulty levels i.e. if I choose easy difficulty (kind of like MiBe), I want the game to be easy, there is no need to throw me in random crazy situations "just because you can". The problem is DCSS does not know if the MiBe is controlled by a new player trying to win their first game or it is a top player trying to win in 8k turns and then throws shafts just because. Add the difficulty levels or at least provide customization options (no shafts, no teleportation traps, no mutations, no torment etc.).
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Post Yesterday, 12:21

Re: Poll: What do you think about shaft effects?

VeryAngryFelid wrote:Also I believe it is not off topic in this thread, shafts are trying to solve a problem which does not exist in games with explicit difficulty levels i.e. to make the game not-so-boring for experienced players. At the same time shafts create problems which are not present in games with explicit difficulty levels i.e. if I choose easy difficulty (kind of like MiBe), I want the game to be easy, there is no need to throw me in random crazy situations "just because you can". The problem is DCSS does not know if the MiBe is controlled by a new player trying to win their first game or it is a top player trying to win in 8k turns and then throws shafts just because. Add the difficulty levels or at least provide customization options (no shafts, no teleportation traps, no mutations, no torment etc.).


I think shafts try to alleviate a little bit more specific problem than that: the problem that in most situations you can simply retreat.

A long time ago an experienced player in this forum told us that he used a simple fact to distinguish experienced and beginner players: simply check whether they move towards monsters. Shafts has a promise to create a situation where you do not have a choice in this simple test, therefore you need to come up with more clever solutions.

I think that the negative critique of shafts addresses a different property of it: that it can place you close to severly OOD monsters (compared to the character level). I think that your critique addresses the possiblity of OOD monsters, and does not focus on the positioning challenge. I think this second property of shafts (that it may place you close to severly OOD monsters) is not a good one, because it would be much better to simply generate OOD monsters if we want it, and not to combine two kinds of challenge into one feature. This combination just makes it harder to balance the challenge.

Unless there is an explicit difficulty level that somehow removes upstairs (which would be really strange and I have no idea how to balance), I fail to see how explicit difficulty levels solves the retreating problem.
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