Lets Talk About Demonspawn (Again)


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

Mines Malingerer

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Post Sunday, 6th November 2011, 01:27

Lets Talk About Demonspawn (Again)

Yes yes I've read enough posts to know that people hate this subject, but I really love my Demonspawns and I'd like to see some of their more frustrating elements addressed. Lets discuss some of the (perceived) problems and see if we can't bounce some ideas off one another. I'm not claiming I have great solutions (or even good ones), these are just to start to ball rolling.

1. The class still has serious balance issues. Despite some very timely and effective balances to the class some facets are blatantly and almost universally better/worse.
Ice: The worst offender, I think everybody will agree. As a tier2 facet this is wildly overpowered compared even to the T3 fire facet, let alone mediocre T2s like Spiny.
Antennae: Claws are highly situational. Hooves and horns are nice if generally underwhelming. Antennae are almost always universally better than any of them. Enemy radar and Sinv are almost always going to be preferable except in cases of hyperspecialized unarmed characters. Good work on solving the hats issue at least.
Magic Mapping: Does anybody really like this? Yes it could hypothetically be of use, but if Ds is indeed a challenge class as everybody protests then it offers experienced players little comparative benefit.

Another idea I had bouncing around would be an additional tier 1.5. Basically a tier for really mechanically awful, underpowered skills that would mostly just add flavor. It would be fun for adding extra character to your Ds.

2. Demonspawn have a spastic difficulty curves. Some people complain that Ds are too weak, some complain that they're too strong, and as far as I can tell they're both. A character that might be slightly more threatening than a 3 legged puppy in the early game can quickly turn into an unstoppable killdozer as the game progresses. Possible solutions for this could be weighting mutations more heavily towards the early/mid levels (might exacerbate 3), raising aptitudes (balance nightmare), or giving DS faster leveling in exchange for worse stat growth.

3. Currently Demonspawns encourage scumming. I'm not here to debate whether this is a good practice, or whether we should shake our fingers and cluck our tongues at people who do it. The point is that the mechanics as they stand encourage it, particularly at early levels. I think the biggest reason is that while the class hypothetically encourages versatility it rarely works out that way. The Ds's biggest liability is arguably its bad aptitudes. Trying to turn a fighter into a hybrid caster after he gets "Powered by Pain" is about as smooth as shifting gears without a clutch, so naturally if this happens below level 5 the player is going to be tempted to start scum until he gets what he wants. Raising aptitudes to human levels would partially ameliorate this, but at the cost of creating a fresh new balance nightmare to resolve. You could add more mutations to the point where scumming for builds becomes effectively impossible (aka double down on the problem). Alternatively you could just grey out non-hybrid classes so we won't think they're recommended. >_<
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Post Sunday, 6th November 2011, 01:40

Re: Lets Talk About Demonspawn (Again)

What's going on currently in trunk, in case you don't keep up with it:

  Code:
35bc405 | Chris Campbell | 2011-10-31 18:32:04 +0000

Re-retier some DS muts, add two new mutations: Foul Stench and Ignite Blood

Ignite Blood confers immunity to flame clouds and causes any blood
spilled in the player's sight to erupt in flames and create a flame
cloud (and also makes more blood get spilled in the first place). It's
a single-level mutation available as a replacement to Hellfire in the
fire facet (and making it a tier 2 facet instead of a tier 3 one).

Foul Stench provides resistance to rotting and miasma, sickens
monsters that attack the player in melee, and may create clouds of
miasma when the player takes large amounts of damage in melee. It's a
two-level mutation, and a level of Saprovore is gained as the
first part of the facet.

Both need plenty of testing and feedback!
MuCK;
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Swamp Slogger

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Post Sunday, 6th November 2011, 01:47

Re: Lets Talk About Demonspawn (Again)

Whats the take on frail skeleton? I mean seeing that pop up is basically a giant "SURPRISE YOU'RE A STABBER!" sign.

I get that D is supposed to kinda screw with you and force you to adapt, but with the massive HP cut that can give(and surprisingly late too..) it really almost just feels like a frail mutation sometimes.

Oh and for the record i think the biggest way to stop scumming, or lessen it, with Ds is to get rid of mutations that just flat out feel like punishment. Maybe I just suck(Heh..maybe) and thats why i see frail as one of them, or maybe it's just that obnoxious. The difference between a game where i get some resists and a game where i get summon minions is just insane.

Vestibule Violator

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Post Sunday, 6th November 2011, 01:50

Re: Lets Talk About Demonspawn (Again)

Your first point has recently been adressed to some extent. Mapping has been removed as a Ds mutation, passive freeze is tier 3 in trunk. Icemail is still tier 2.

Antennae were recently buffed (+1 detection radius). I don't know how useful the detection really is, but SInv is certainly useful. In any case, one body slot mutation being better than the others is fine.

Mines Malingerer

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Post Sunday, 6th November 2011, 01:54

Re: Lets Talk About Demonspawn (Again)

Ah thanks, I don't always keep up with trunk changes. I like the new stuff although I find it extremely perplexing that they're buffing fire and moving it down a tier. I'll take it on faith for now that there's a plan. Still other issues still stand if other people have feedback.

As for frail skeleton, generally I'm against the extremely specializing mutations since I think they encourage pigeonholing and scumming far more than adaptability. I just don't know how you could fix them without destroying the whole point of the species.
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Post Sunday, 6th November 2011, 02:01

Re: Lets Talk About Demonspawn (Again)

Petro wrote:Ah thanks, I don't always keep up with trunk changes. I like the new stuff although I find it extremely perplexing that they're buffing fire and moving it down a tier. I'll take it on faith for now that there's a plan. Still other issues still stand if other people have feedback.

As for frail skeleton, generally I'm against the extremely specializing mutations since I think they encourage pigeonholing and scumming far more than adaptability. I just don't know how you could fix them without destroying the whole point of the species.


Got nightstalker and frail skeleton on ZotDef tonight, woohoo! :lol:
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Mines Malingerer

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Post Sunday, 6th November 2011, 02:02

Re: Lets Talk About Demonspawn (Again)

minmay wrote:Having random content at all encourages scumming. You can startscum for gold dragon armour in the entry vault, after all. At least to scum Ds mutations you have to actually play them for a few levels.


Ok let me revise that. Ds is particularly easy to abuse via scumming, particularly when playing a specialized class (which are for some strange reason still recommended).
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Post Sunday, 6th November 2011, 02:33

Re: Lets Talk About Demonspawn (Again)

Petro wrote:Ah thanks, I don't always keep up with trunk changes. I like the new stuff although I find it extremely perplexing that they're buffing fire and moving it down a tier. I'll take it on faith for now that there's a plan. Still other issues still stand if other people have feedback.

The way it works currently is that the ice and fire facets can be either tier 2 or tier 3, with the 3rd level being better (Passive Freeze or Hellfire, as opposed to Icemail or Ignite Blood) if you get it as your tier 3 facet.

Snake Sneak

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Post Sunday, 6th November 2011, 02:43

Re: Lets Talk About Demonspawn (Again)

I find that the most useless mutations are horns, claws, talons, etc., since you'll eventually lose an armor slot. It would be great to see auxiliary attacks actually worth something so this doesn't feel like an irreversible cripple.

goo

Halls Hopper

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Post Sunday, 6th November 2011, 05:28

Re: Lets Talk About Demonspawn (Again)

I don't think the body slot mutations are useless, and they are all around even usefulness in my opinion. Sure, Antennae has more utility but claws/horns/hooves are great if you go melee, especially unarmed. They also buffed auxiliary attacks in trunk so they are based more off STR/DEX instead of Unarmed skill.

There is one mutation I haven't seen listed though that I believe is pretty overpowered, even with the constant tweaking it gets. Demonic Guardian can get to level 3 pretty early on, and it makes a huge chunk of the regular game a cakewalk.

Mines Malingerer

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Post Sunday, 6th November 2011, 10:26

Re: Lets Talk About Demonspawn (Again)

I was under the impression that body slots were supposed to be a slight net negative in the end, that's why you're guaranteed to get one.

Swamp Slogger

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Post Sunday, 6th November 2011, 16:06

Re: Lets Talk About Demonspawn (Again)

Zelkelion wrote:I find that the most useless mutations are horns, claws, talons, etc., since you'll eventually lose an armor slot. It would be great to see auxiliary attacks actually worth something so this doesn't feel like an irreversible cripple.


Claws 3 give +6 base damage and bleeding to Unarmed. Not useless for many builds. Not that Unarmed specialists have problem with damage output in the late game, but still.
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Post Monday, 7th November 2011, 09:50

Re: Lets Talk About Demonspawn (Again)

Zelkelion wrote:I find that the most useless mutations are horns, claws, talons, etc., since you'll eventually lose an armor slot. It would be great to see auxiliary attacks actually worth something so this doesn't feel like an irreversible cripple.


I agree with maybe buffing aux attacks in general, just a little, especially for people with aux-attack mutations (even minotaurs).

I once got horns, claws and talons on my heavy-armour long-blades DK. The last one turned up very late...

...having said that, I did laugh at the time. Even though I died a bit later, partly due to inability to adapt to my newfound circumstances. I think DS are about surprise. It's OK that some of the mutations are flat out better than others, and you gotta take the rough with the smooth. It's genuinely part of the appeal. "If you mess with the bull, sometimes, you..?"
I am sure I played flawflessly. This was an utmost unfair death. -- gorbeh

goo

Halls Hopper

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Post Monday, 7th November 2011, 10:08

Re: Lets Talk About Demonspawn (Again)

joellercoaster wrote:
Zelkelion wrote:I find that the most useless mutations are horns, claws, talons, etc., since you'll eventually lose an armor slot. It would be great to see auxiliary attacks actually worth something so this doesn't feel like an irreversible cripple.


I agree with maybe buffing aux attacks in general, just a little, especially for people with aux-attack mutations (even minotaurs).

I once got horns, claws and talons on my heavy-armour long-blades DK. The last one turned up very late...

...having said that, I did laugh at the time. Even though I died a bit later, partly due to inability to adapt to my newfound circumstances. I think DS are about surprise. It's OK that some of the mutations are flat out better than others, and you gotta take the rough with the smooth. It's genuinely part of the appeal. "If you mess with the bull, sometimes, you..?"


Demonspawn normally only get one body slot mutation. I think they have a 10% chance to get all three, and you get a message that says "you feel monstrous as your demonic heritage presents itself" or something along those lines, letting you know in advance you will be losing your slots. They make kick ass monks.

For this message the author goo has received thanks:
joellercoaster

Mines Malingerer

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Post Thursday, 10th November 2011, 00:51

Re: Lets Talk About Demonspawn (Again)

Getting off the subject of "good" and "bad" mutations, what do other people think of the difficulty curve? There's always going to be some randomness inherent in the system but since demonspawns rely on their mutations it seems like the system should be smoothed a bit to make their manifestation slightly more reliabe. In such a tight skill point situation getting no mutations for the first eight levels or so, or perhaps getting something incredibly inappropriate to your situation (torment resistance!), is a veritable death sentence. Getting a garbage T2 facet like PbP on a melee character doesn't overly concern me if I already have ice, horns, and +10% HP. Its those first few levels that are critical.
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Post Thursday, 10th November 2011, 01:14

Re: Lets Talk About Demonspawn (Again)

Petro: "veritable death sentence"?

Also, how is Powered by Pain garbage?

Mines Malingerer

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Post Thursday, 10th November 2011, 01:22

Re: Lets Talk About Demonspawn (Again)

dpeg wrote:Petro: "veritable death sentence"?

Also, how is Powered by Pain garbage?


Maybe I'm just bad (experience supports this theory) but when playing a hybrid class like a crusader or transmuter the skill points are spread so thin that not getting any applicable mutations will almost always kill me.

And as for PbP I meant if I got it after I'd already built up a character that didn't rely on magic. Getting bad or inappropriate mutations late game doesn't greatly hinder me. Getting nothing (or torment resistance) in the early-mid game makes it hellaciously difficult to survive till lair.

I guess what I'm asking is, would it be appropriate from a design perspective to weight mutations more towards the early levels?
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Post Thursday, 10th November 2011, 01:29

Re: Lets Talk About Demonspawn (Again)

Petro: more up front mutations are probably okay. There is a reason to not dish out too much too early: don't want players to play to level 5, check their three mutations and keep going or quit. (Think of draconians: they get to know their colour by level 7 only.)

You are shooting yourself in the boot by making a reasonable query like this and coupling it with "PbP is garbage".

Mines Malingerer

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Post Thursday, 10th November 2011, 01:38

Re: Lets Talk About Demonspawn (Again)

Yes, again I only meant in the context of a late level pure melee character. It was poorly written.

Another possible addition would to weight just the specialist skills to a certain level bracket, so you're not stuck with PbP/hollow bones on your level 20 plate/shield warrior. I'm all for adapting to changes but when that happens I usually just ignore it and play as though it didn't exist.
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Post Thursday, 10th November 2011, 01:44

Re: Lets Talk About Demonspawn (Again)

I am against such clauses. We prohibit conflicting mutations, but the actual playing style should not matter. (It did with old Demonspawns, leading to all sorts of undesirable behaviour.) If you get PbP on a pure melee fighter, it is not the most valuable mutation you could have got. On the other hand, there are gods to use MP and there is the amulet of guardian spirit (turning the mutation into healing from kills!).

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Post Friday, 18th November 2011, 00:05

Re: Lets Talk About Demonspawn (Again)

Can I ask a question about the torment resistance mutation? Why is lvl 3 of the mutation only a 60% chance of resisting? It seems a bit weak, and has a high variance as mentioned in the dev wiki. It is a bit strange as Lvl 3 of this mutation (is it still Tier 3?) is less useful in Tomb than Silence, a lvl 5 spell (for melee types at least). My guess is that it is to prevent players abusing symbol of torment: if that's the case then could we not have two sets of probabilities on resisting torment? Ie if a player casts torment then the resist probabilities are .20/.40/.60 for levels 1/2/3, but if a monster casts it the probabilities are, for example, .30/.55/.80.

Alternatively you can add a chance of failing the cast whenever the torment would have been resisted to get an effective difference in the resist probabilities. Eg if the base probability of resisting is 80, then 20% of the time torment is cast, and you are hit with it as well. 80% of the time an additional roll is performed: 75% of the time you succeed in the cast and resist it, 25% of the time you fail the cast. Thus you have a .8*.75 = .6 chance of resisting your own torments. This has added bonus of wasted turns when trying to cast SoT yourself with this mutation. This sort of makes sense with the whole "you must know pain to inflict it" deal on torment, as in if you only know pain some of the time then you can only inflict it some of the time.

Crypt Cleanser

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Post Friday, 18th November 2011, 00:23

Re: Lets Talk About Demonspawn (Again)

The main reason is that A) Torment is supposed to be a big part of what makes the end-game hard, B) torment resistance is one of Kiku's big selling points, and C) Silence may work against undead, but it doesn't have any effect on demons.

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