The Let's Play Archive


by TooMuchAbstraction

Part 63: Bonus update 1: Options and Tilesets

Bonus update 1: Options and Tilesets

We're going to take a break from Freude for a moment to show off some of the gameplay and graphical options the game has. For that, we need a new character. Say hello to Rodna!

Before Rodna can quite finish being born, we want to bring up her options, by hitting the = key.

This is the default option set, and they're all reasonable except for the re-use randarts (especially since random artifacts are turned off). Freude is playing with this set of options:

"Monsters learn from their mistakes" simply causes monsters to not bother repeating ineffective spells. So for example, if you have Free Action then a given monster will only try to paralyze you once before learning that there's no point.

"Don't generate connected stairs" simply means that when you arrive on a new level, there's no staircase back in the other direction. The fact that Freude is using "Force player descent" means that the staircase wouldn't be usable anyway.

"Items always sell for 0 gold" means that the only way to make money is by finding it in the dungeon. However, to compensate, the size of gold drops is significantly increased. This tends to sound horribly wrong to RPG veterans, but it's a great liberation from the grind of hauling useless crap back to town. With this option turned on, if you find something useless, you can just squelch it and forget about it, instead of trying to figure out if it's more "valuable" than the other vendor trash taking up valuable slots in your inventory.

"Start with a kit of useful gear" will dedicate some of your starting cash to buying some basic items -- appropriate weaponry, some armor, a spellbook if you can cast spells, torches, food, and a Scroll of Word of Recall. These are things that most people will want to buy anyway, barring unusual circumstances.

"Don't show level feelings" requires an explanation of what level feelings are. The game has a feature where it attempts to quantify how good each level is, along two axes: how nasty the monsters are, and how good the items are. So normally, after exploring the level for a bit, you'd get a message like "You feel nervous about this place, and there are naught but cobwebs here." Some players love these things because they help them decide if they're wasting their time on the level or not (and if they are wasting time, then they re-generate the level and hope for a better feeling). My opinion is that every level is basically like any other, and I'd rather buckle down and play the game than worry about whether or not I'm going to find something interesting. It's much better to be surprised by something interesting and/or dangerous, rather than wander around wondering where the heck the cool loot / nasty monster is.

Besides, Freude can only ever play each level once anyways; whether or not there's cool treasure on the level won't really change his decision-making process. And the feelings are vague to the point of uselessness, and the algorithm for selecting feelings isn't necessarily all that accurate either.

Bottom line, level feelings are dumb

Anyway, that's character creation done.

Once the game proper starts, there's more options you can access by hitting =:

You can access the birth options here, but changes won't take effect until you die and create a new character with the same savefile.

The base delay factor is how much time passes between animation frames (like when Freude zapped those orcs with his Wand of Light). The hitpoint warning is how close to dead you have to get before the game starts screaming at you to run away and heal up. The movement delay is like the base delay factor but for running.

Subwindows let you bring up multiple windows that each show different bits of information. They can be very handy for keeping an eye on things. For example, this is what Freude's game usually looks like:

And this is the corresponding subwindow setup:

Here's the user interface options:

The roguelike keyset puts movement on the main island of keys instead of using the numpad, which can be useful when you're playing on a laptop. Assuming of course you're willing to learn an entire new command set. Otherwise, these are all pretty self-explanatory. Here's what Freude is playing with:

Mouse movement is relatively new, but in my limited experience it mostly just ends up getting me in trouble with stray mouseclicks

Finally for options, let's check out the keymaps by hitting k:

Angband can involve a lot of repetitive actions, so the keymaps here let you automate things. For example, let's say we don't know that the 'h' command exists, and want to make a command that targets the nearest enemy and fires our first set of arrows at them:

Now whenever we hit the h key, the game will feed in the keypresses *, t, f, and 1. That means "enter targeting mode, select the current target (which will be the closest monster), choose to fire a missile, and then select 1." Well, what's 1? Whenever the game prompts you for an item to interact with, you can use the number keys instead of letters to select specific items, if those items have particular inscriptions. In this case, if we inscribe our arrows with "@f1", then we can select them with 1 instead of o when firing:

This is important, since the letter that refers to a given item is subject to change whenever you pick up other items.

Anyway, let's get back to Rodna. And engage Wizard Mode!

You are about to use the dangerous, unsupported, debug commands! Your machine may crash, and your savefile may become corrupted! Are you sure you want to use the debug commands? [y/n]

Heck yeah! Make Rodna awesome, game!

Welcome to level 2. Welcome to level 3. Welcome to level 4.
Welcome to level 50. You can learn 57 new spells.

Debug mode can be accessed by hitting ^a (that is, shift-six, followed by a) followed by one of a number of different keys. In this case, ^ae will let you edit your character's stats. Rodna is still pretty flimsy even at level 50 with max stats (for comparison, Freude is a fourth her level, has more than a fourth her current HP, and still has near-default CON). But she has some wiggle room now.

^aa heals us up to full.

You feel *much* better!

^ac lets us create some equipment.

^aj lets us jump to any dungeon level we choose.

You jump to dungeon level 60.

^aw maps and lights the entire dungeon for us, and ^ad detects everything nearby.

You sense the presence of traps! You sense the presence of doors! You sense the presence of buried treasure! You sense the presence of objects! You sense the presence of invisible creatures! You sense the presence of monsters!

And now the reason why we're here. Let's check out some different tilesets, shall we?

First up, the original tileset.

I've blown up the image size a bit (by changing the font size), since the tiles aren't really intelligible when they're small. The original tiles are pretty pixelated, but they were made in the mid-90's, back when filesizes were still a big concern, so what do you expect?

Here's the Adam Bolt tiles. More colors and better resolution; pretty nice-looking!

The David Gervais tiles are a bit more cartoony and stylized, which is probably a good thing for being able to tell what things are at a glance.

Nomad's tiles are even more stylized; very much erring on the side of being informative rather than artistic.

Finally, Shockbolt's tiles. These are quite pretty, but you have to really blow up the image size to be able to see them well.

Our character actually looks like a female human mage! Those are some pretty mean ogres to our west, and check out that vortex!

If you really want to experience the glory of the tilesets, then you're going to run into the problem that they simply don't let you see as much of the dungeon as ASCII does. There's a birth option that halves view distances and the range on distance attacks, which is intended to make playing with a restricted display (not just for tilesets, but also for playing on mobile devices) more tolerable. I've not tried it myself but it could be worth giving a shot. Otherwise you're liable to get hit by a ranged attack from a monster you couldn't even see since it was offscreen.

That about does it for different ways of playing the game. Next time we'll be back with Freude as he does his level best to get into actual trouble.