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Author Topic: End-Game Enemy Rebalancing  (Read 4555 times)

GrimmC

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End-Game Enemy Rebalancing
« on: September 26, 2011, 20:19 »

My biggest issue with this game, and my only real issue, is that the enemies you face at the end of the game are horribly overpowered. All of them (Revenant, Mancubus, Archvile) can one-hit KO you, more or less, without you even seeing it coming. Moreover, they essentially require specific strategies to defeat or else just cheap tactics. I mean to say, there's no intuitive way to defeat them: you have to structure your build around "killing the damn archvile."

The necessity of structuring your game to kill these suckers is a big turn-off to the average player. Now I know we could get into the whole "causal vs. hardcore gamer" debate. And I'm not suggesting we water down DoomRL to appeal to anyone. But there shouldn't be such gigantic hurdles that the player will simply get frustrated and give up. We should allow as many people as possible to get a satisfying DoomRL experience, no? Since DoomRL considers itself a "coffee break RL", it seems fairly imperative to operate with this goal. With that in mind, some suggestions:

Revenants

1. Actually, in Doom 2 Revenants only got homing rockets 50% of the time. The same thing should be done here. Having the player take a guaranteed rocket to the face EVERY TIME it attacks (unless they pick Fireangel) is fairly ridiculous. When the Revenant doesn't roll a 50%, the normal projectile rules will be followed. The player will still probably get nailed, but at least now there's a CHANCE.

2. Also, the original Revenant behavior was actually to close in and use melee attacks more often than other monsters. Implementing this would further balance the enemy.

Arch-Viles

Oh my friends the Viles. In Doom 2 the Vile's whole "I never miss thing" was balanced by the fact that his attack took 10 seconds to go off. Here there's no such luck. If one targets you while you're in the open, you're screwed. And fighting more than one--nothing but an exercise in frustration.

Is it truly so impossible to work towards a multistage attack? Since enemies can use weapons, and know to reload when they run out, how about some sort of invisible weapon that isn't dropped? Viles can do a toned-down version of their current attack, maybe 3 damage, plasma, for 3 turns or so. And then, at the reload, kablooey! An explosion that's good for 80% damage or so.

It might be complicated/hacky but it'd be entirely worthwhile.

Mancubus

My first encounter with one of these involved getting sniped from off-screen. Pretty frustrating in a turn-based game. But actually, I can't really think of any way to balance them better. Making them truer to the original would actually make things more difficult. Any suggestions?

* * *

The resistance system makes things a littler easier to cope with, but ultimately only hides the fact that the behavior for at least two of these enemies is fundamentally flawed. I'm aware that there may be technical issues preventing an easy implementation for these changes. But it's definitely something the game needs to work towards. It's simply frustrating (and potentially game-ending) to fight these enemies.

At any rate, since any such changes surely won't be happening over night, if nothing else perhaps thread could serve as a point of discussion.
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Malek Deneith

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Re: End-Game Enemy Rebalancing
« Reply #1 on: September 27, 2011, 06:57 »

Vile attack was 3 seconds I believe not 10. Still plenty of time to dodge though. I believe there are plans of trying to implement Viles' slow attack speed, same with more proper pattern for Mancubi.
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Re: End-Game Enemy Rebalancing
« Reply #2 on: September 27, 2011, 07:36 »

I believe there are plans of trying to implement Viles' slow attack speed
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Re: End-Game Enemy Rebalancing
« Reply #3 on: September 27, 2011, 08:29 »

[hardcore]All enemies should autohit, or else DoomRL will become too casual.[/hardcore]
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Re: End-Game Enemy Rebalancing
« Reply #4 on: September 27, 2011, 16:56 »

[hardcore]All enemies should autohit, or else DoomRL will become too casual.[/hardcore]

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Re: End-Game Enemy Rebalancing
« Reply #5 on: September 28, 2011, 10:44 »

Revenants

1. Actually, in Doom 2 Revenants only got homing rockets 50% of the time. The same thing should be done here. Having the player take a guaranteed rocket to the face EVERY TIME it attacks (unless they pick Fireangel) is fairly ridiculous. When the Revenant doesn't roll a 50%, the normal projectile rules will be followed. The player will still probably get nailed, but at least now there's a CHANCE.
This is a good change, makes plenty of sense. Although even the homing rockets were dodgable if you knew what to do, so perhaps the auto-hit aspect on their attack should be dropped completely. Instead, half the time there's a fairly good chance to miss, and the other half there's almost no chance (besides having HR/running on). At least it gives another point to Dodgemaster, which tends to be a bit weak these days.

2. Also, the original Revenant behavior was actually to close in and use melee attacks more often than other monsters. Implementing this would further balance the enemy.
I believe ALL enemies tended toward the player, it's just that Revenants happen to have a fast movespeed and only an occasional attack. I don't see the need to lower their attack chance TOO much, but 40% is a fair amount (that would be down from 50%).

Arch-Viles

Oh my friends the Viles. In Doom 2 the Vile's whole "I never miss thing" was balanced by the fact that his attack took 10 seconds to go off. Here there's no such luck. If one targets you while you're in the open, you're screwed. And fighting more than one--nothing but an exercise in frustration.

Is it truly so impossible to work towards a multistage attack? Since enemies can use weapons, and know to reload when they run out, how about some sort of invisible weapon that isn't dropped? Viles can do a toned-down version of their current attack, maybe 3 damage, plasma, for 3 turns or so. And then, at the reload, kablooey! An explosion that's good for 80% damage or so.

It might be complicated/hacky but it'd be entirely worthwhile.
This sort of thing is already being considered by the developers. My variant is that the player has that fire aura on them for a couple of game seconds while the Arch-vile can't move, and after those couple of seconds the damage is done. This is definitely possible with lua AI.

In addition to that, I'd also like to see Arch-viles' ressurection range be dropped considerably. Right now it is based on their OnAction hook, which gives them a chance to ressurect anything in their vision, on average, every three actions. This is ridiculous: better to have them search for corpses in their vision, get adjacent to them, and THEN ressurect. In doing so, the Arch-vile can't easily multitask between killing you and unkilling everything else, which would alone balance out the severely constricting effect of their existence on higher difficulties.

[Mancubus

My first encounter with one of these involved getting sniped from off-screen. Pretty frustrating in a turn-based game. But actually, I can't really think of any way to balance them better. Making them truer to the original would actually make things more difficult. Any suggestions?
The problem with Mancubus lies with the way that the weapon-spreading function works. Currently, IF_SPREAD bases the angle of spreading by the distance from the player (that is, where the attack is aimed), and can only fire three shots at once. Ideally, this flag would be replaced with the ability to define your own projectile-based spread, in which the number of spreaded shots and the maximum spreading angle are modifiable (and will work with a number of shots, like a spread-chaingun). An even number of shots would cause the "extra" projectile to undergo a reflective transformation on each fire, and an odd number would work as-is.

If we could get this kind of result, then the Mancubus could shoot only two projectiles, specifically at a particular angle, and could be forced to fire three times consecutively, with the off-projectile shooting left-right-left or right-left-right. This would imitate the original's quite nicely, and have the benefit of not causing insta-kills in a hallway. It's a start, anyway.
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GrimmC

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Re: End-Game Enemy Rebalancing
« Reply #6 on: October 17, 2011, 10:54 »

Sorry for the delay, I left it open to see if there were any other responses. All I can say is that's all good news, very happy to hear of it!

One thought I had after reading your post (Game Hunter), besides correcting the amount of projectiles (truthfully, they attack so quick I never actually saw what was going on), there could be a delay between attacks. i.e., in Doom 2 there was a pause after each Mancubus volley, which left enough time for you to dodge in and smack him with a supershotgun blast or even a berserked fist. Usually this would trigger the pain state and end the attack.

The same thing could be done here. The Mancubus could fire the first volley, then wait in place for a full Manc turn (however long that is), fire again, rest, etc. until all three shots are fired. Then resume normal behavior. This would make them pretty damn dangerous (three guaranteed attacks), but still balanced (you have a chance to sneak in and throw 'em off. I'm imagining an AoB build trying to close the distance and end 'em in between attacks.) Additionally, if the attack was powerful enough to cause knockback, it would end the attack sequence.

If you add in the random directions you mentioned, the player would never know which angle the fireball would take (straight, left, right)....man that would be so so sweet. I'd actually enjoy fighting the darn things.

Anyways, here's hoping these changes can be implemented, because all of these enemies are quite game-ending as they are. When I first played DoomRL, I was wondering how you could possibly fight the Mancubus. I found out when I was sniped from across the map when I first met one and literally didn't play the game again for 3 or 4 months. :-( Not so user-friendly.
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Re: End-Game Enemy Rebalancing
« Reply #7 on: October 17, 2011, 19:07 »

In general, I like the fact that DoomRL is an adaptation instead of a direct port.  What works in a FPS doesn't work in a roguelike.  For that reason I don't mind that revs keep their distance (which is actually deliberate) and that viles attack instantly.  But I do agree that the end game has problems.  Nobody likes being one-shotted and that kind of death is far too common.

Mancubi being insta-kills when you're backed in a corner seems fine to me, though I would like spread customization for other reasons and they ARE a little overpowered.  Arch-vile resurrection definitely needs altering, and good news--according to the commits this week vile rezzing will now take about 20 ticks, up from zero.  That should help a lot; LOS or proximity changes would also be nice in my book, but that's up for debate.
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Sambojin

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Re: End-Game Enemy Rebalancing
« Reply #8 on: October 27, 2011, 16:49 »

This is just a thought, but the invisible weapon system sounds quite good. Actually, I was thinking about a AoB/AoS/AoMr system, where you look at their weapon, pick it up, equip it, you just can't use it. A weapon that regenerates its ammo (ala nano-mod) with the enemy carrying an ammo stack (for doomguy to grab) shouldn't be hard to mod them into, affecting nothing in gameplay but making them so much easier to tweak for balance. Having them drop unusable weapons would make the BFG more damaging due to extra secondary explosions, but its those exact situations that the BFG is designed for. I tend to lug the stupid, big thing all the way through hell and only fire half a dozen shots all game (at most). I tend to be slightly underwhelmed when I do, so a touch of extra splash effect against the really deadly packs might not be so game changing.

Mancubi don't seem too bad (which is a strange thing to say about the hardest enemy in the game), since they really do miss a hell of a lot.

Revenants/archviles could simply have their weapons fire-time/accuracy downgraded a little. Plus you could add a little flavour to the game by giving the weapons body-part names, having the mortuary littered with archvile corpses and heads (and revenant arms and mancubus nether regions) after you've slaughtered them all.

Smacking cybie to death with a mancubus nethering part in hand sounds like it would be good, clean (if somewhat immature) fun for the whole DoomRL family.
« Last Edit: October 27, 2011, 16:59 by Sambojin »
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GrimmC

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Re: End-Game Enemy Rebalancing
« Reply #9 on: October 30, 2011, 19:55 »

Hmm, that would be an interesting way to incorporate the enemy attacks...!

Kornel mentioned that there will be new AI for these three baddies so I have to take that as a pleasant hint! Hurray! As far DoomRL not being a direct port, obviously that's true. Many improvements have been made and even some new enemies. I think the plasma-toting zombie is a great addition. Nonetheless, people are coming here because its DOOM the roguelike, not Phobosmaze the roguelike or something. So I think it's reasonable to look to the FPS for guidance. Truth is, Doom is actually a 2D game in the first place...there's very little difference between the values powering the combat in Doom and the ones at work here. (At least in theory, maybe not in specific.)

Having said all that, after further gaming I surely hope the Mancubi could be slowed down a bit. Having those suckers launch attack after attack at you just gets ridiculous. There's no way those fat suckers were meant to attack so fast. Three or four attacks in a row is just too much. I hope some sort of pause system like I mentioned could be implemented...Otherwise I guess I'm just watching and waiting :-)
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Re: End-Game Enemy Rebalancing
« Reply #10 on: October 30, 2011, 23:11 »

Truth is, Doom is actually a 2D game in the first place...there's very little difference between the values powering the combat in Doom and the ones at work here. (At least in theory, maybe not in specific.)
There's a huge difference, whereas in Doom you can easily charge a large group of monsters and survive by dodging, here, you'll get roasted the instant you try.
Partly because of not being able to move while you shoot.
Also the indirect shotgun fighting, wheareas in Doom it's the weapon of preferance overall, here it's the corner-shot weapon of preferance.

And the little fact that the double shotgun doesn't do 2d4x20 (3d5 in Doom) damage. :x
But yes, values.. Values..
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Sambojin

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Re: End-Game Enemy Rebalancing
« Reply #11 on: November 02, 2011, 16:07 »

I guess you were refering to the fact that height actually had very little to do with Doom. It looked 3d, but sort of wasn't. You could still play quite effectively with just a keyboard, never having to use mouse-look for aiming if you didn't want to. Except that mouse-look was better (strafing circles are far easier with the mouse).

On the easiness of mancubi, I probably should qualify the statement a little. One or two mancubi can be dodged at least a bit. A pack of them is rocket-instant-death even if you dodge the first barrage enough to not get wall splattered. Wall splattering will probaly follow regardless, especially if there's a vile or revenant around auto blasting/raising as well.

Say, as a stupid little challenge/medal suggestion, we could have one where you have to carry 13 archvile heads to cybie. Just an equipment room negation medal, with a little flavour and a bit of randomness in aquiring enough heads to complete it (and less backpack room if you do). Alter the number (or bodyparts) required to make it harder as required. Six each of mancubi/revenant/archvile parts would make for a nice medal with the number connection, but might be a lot easier than "x" amount of vile heads.

Just a thought (that should have gone into the challenge ideas thread admittedly).
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