Thoughts on RotDG's endgame

Discussion in 'Realm of the Diggle Gods' started by OneMoreNameless, Oct 3, 2012.

  1. Yesterday I won my first DoD game (playing rogue/permadeath, using a defensive melee build). As in my previous games, I was very impressed by the enemy balance and constantly meaningful and rewarding skill/loot progression through the first ten floors. They were great fun! However, during the last five floors ... not so much. Here's basically why:

    90% of my skills felt useless during the final floors. The focus of character progression already shifts towards equipment over skills as you near floor 10, but this felt like a natural result of the skill system (able to max any one skill early) and even then you were still picking up useful bonuses or abilities from other trees. The problem is that after floor 10 the power of items scaled up far, FAR higher and faster than the power of the skills I was using. The bonuses from skill buffs (or consumable buffs, for that matter) felt too small to even be bothered with vs finding a new item with larger constant bonuses, and the damage from my active offensives skills was laughable compared to my basic melee or ranged attack.

    The way the enemies scaled after floor 10 didn't feel great. Instead of feeling like I was taking on more and more dangerous foes, it just felt like I was playing resistance roulette each new floor - a piercing-damage enemy would be literally unable to harm me, then a holy-damage enemy would hit for moderate unavoidable damage because I lacked that resistance. The player can effectively "max out" certain stats by floor 10, so afterwards there's no way to further progress in their character's focus. Instead that hard-earned strength feels somewhat tiresome and worthless as you run around trying to plug up the holes in your build with different equipment.

    The result of the above is that my character felt increasingly generic and uninteresting to play during the final floors. Not helping this is Dredmor. Due to his very powerful attacks and very high defences to most of your attacks, it seems like there are rather a select handful of ways to actually kill him. (I stacked piercing damage items with my crossbow, spammed daze with wand/skill, and used blink/invis potions to retreat.) Aside from being rather unfair on unspoiled players this means that presumably every character I manage to bring down this far will ultimately be using the same tactics and winning the game the same way, a stark contrast to how delightfully varied each character begins.

    What can be done about this? Unfortunately, not much. Stretching the current D1-10 progression over D1-15 would slow it down too much and be unfair for those not using the expansion. Downscaling the enemies and features of D11-15 to fit into D1-10 would lend itself to more variety and fun during the game, but also isn't gonna happen because paid expansion pack. One cool idea that comes to mind is coding half a dozen or so different Dredmors (melee-heavy Dredmor, summoning-capable Dredmor etc.) with toned down strength/resistances and spawning one randomly such that the player couldn't abusively prepare for or get wtfpwned by him. Or fight each variant as a shade mini-boss! I'd imagine that would be hard to balance though and I somehow don't see it happening at this end of DoD's development.

    Oh yeah, and shops were effectively useless D11+ as I'd walk over multiple copies of that same friggin' OP sword (I used polearms) on the way there, so even if there was anything left to buy it would take no effort to afford it.

    I should perhaps mention this was only my third character. The first was effectively insta-gibbed by Dredmor, the second effectively insta-gibbed by myself when I forgot the range of squid bolt. The biggest reason that I've found the game easy (compared to other roguelikes, anyway) is that the AI basically does nothing when it can't see you. It's almost always possible for the PC to duck behind a wall and wait around to heal without expending any resources (save food for convenience). Displacement glyphs, stairs and (for ranged PCs) doors make retreat almost always trivial due to equal movement speed and enemies not using them. Copious quantities of unused expendables fill the rare gaps. Combined, actually dying from a strong group of enemies or bad choice of engagement is all but impossible without conscious player effort. If you were ever going to add another difficulty level, an aggressive and smarter AI would be the way to do it without breaking the game balance or slowing it down to a tedium.

    ... 'kay, imma go try some weirder skill combos out in NTTG now.
    Kazeto, thecraww, lujo86 and 2 others like this.
  2. Bohandas

    Bohandas Member

    That sounds more like Rock-Paper-Scissors type thing than roulette.
  3. Bohandas

    Bohandas Member

    You mentioned characters feeling increasingly generic towards the final levels. One thing that contributes to this feeling that I think you forgot to mention is the lack of item variety in the final few floors (which is perhaps best illustrated by the Brax shops on the 15th floor, which generally contain nothing but Ulmish Platemail and Axes of the Solar Disc).
  4. Kazuhiro

    Kazuhiro Member

    I've been considering trying out just a 10-floor dungeon one of these times. I only get that far in one out of five games anyway, and although it might cheapen my first Dredmor kill, there's also the fact that yeah later floors are kind of a grind in a lot of ways.
  5. Psiweapon

    Psiweapon Member

    That. Floors 1-15 always tend to get a bit monotonous with items - whether it be Pan-Galactic Gargle Blasters and Lirpas or Ulmish Platemails and solar/lunar disc axes, it gets a bit silly, there are loads of OP items but the game always seems somewhat fixated over a certain couple of them in the later levels.
  6. Coolthulhu

    Coolthulhu Member

    I also recently won my first DoD game (also with a defensive melee build on permarogue).
    The biggest difference between that character and my current one (randomly selected skills now, only common skill is astrology) was that my winning character had found the ring of Deepest Skies, which gave him incredible regen in battle as long as he stood in one place and countered attacks (got 20/turn at least once), while my current one has hunger from unstable encrusts, thus degenerating instead of regenerating.

    Only some of the skills matter in late game. If it doesn't proc limitlessly with a nice effect (like fleeting life or ki cascade), isn't spammable and/or stackable well (gog's pyre, nerve staple), doesn't have an impossible to scale effect (unliving wall, teleport), great stats (wall of blades, celestial circle) or cheesy use (killing blow crossbow cheese), it's probably relatively useless. Not even the amazing scaling on Stars Aligned and Fulminaric Bolt save them from being just a way to remove or delay unliked dudes (corruption inducting or righteous ones).

    Wizardlands managed to make some skills useful in late game - crafting skills, that can stack overpowered encrusts and hope that a resistable unstability is rolled. Still, best weapons won't be crafted, but found in evil/uber chests, possibly encrusted further.

    Dredmor battle is also much too generic. Powerful melee means he's going down from ranged attacks. Fulminaric means he can't be tanked at range for long, so he'll get some form of spellcasting prevention applied quickly. Nice stack of bolts of doubt and an evil/uber/encrusted crossbow are both easy to get and solve the problem, though some haywire and critical chance might be required.

    It would be nice if artifacts had a higher chance to appear when item variety is too low. Instead of 10 ulmish plates, we could have 5 ulmish plates with tiny bonuses, 2 clockwork armors with similarly cosmetic ones, a serpentine platemail with a moderate buff, moderately upgraded Sagan cloak and an armored archmage with godly qualities.
    Isasaur, Bohandas, Kazeto and 2 others like this.
  7. Stakhanov

    Stakhanov Member

    I agree that mechanics tend to break down in levels 10-15. Monsters block attacks all the time (and yet so do you) which makes monster zoos very tiresome. Also , there's the small matter of high counter.

    I also agree with the game filling discrepancies in item varieties with random stats artifacts (including penalties !)