Saturday, January 4, 2014

Preparing ADOM for a more interesting late game

I had two interesting revelations about actual ADOM game play during the past couple of days (which might sound surprising from the creator of the game - but it's not that surprising if you consider the fact that I have neither the time nor the skill to enter the ADOM late game very often without cheating ;-) Still I'm surprised :-D ):
  1. There usually is not enough experience to be gained to reach the very high PC levels (40+) before you are extremely close to the endgame. This also comes from the challenge of having to balance experience acquisition and corruption. We have talked about that.
  2. Actually many of the higher level monsters almost never show up in the game. Another thing that never was clear to me. I also learned about that in the above-mentioned thread.
As I actually wanted to work on new maps and quests I was quite shocked about these revelations as more late game quests probably don't help much if you can neither gain much experience from them nor get corrupted too fast. So I decided to change two details about ADOM as an experiment:
  • I have slowed down the corruption rate for dungeon levels 30+ somewhat (reduced them to something between 80% and 33%). Just to provide more breathing space for the later levels.
  • I have looked intensely at the way monsters are distributed in ADOM. And actually found a surprising fact (which I was pointed to by the statement of one poster that even in the very late levels there are too many bats, goblins, etc.). The current monster distribution algorithm works like this:
    1. It assigns a rarity to each monster. 
    2. If the basic monster danger rating is more than 10 levels below the level of the PC, the rarity value will be used as is. 
    3. Otherwise the standard rarity will be halved (making it rarer).
    You notice one problem? The actual dungeon level never factors into this calculation! So I now have changed the algorithm to work like this:
    1. The monster danger rating is compared to a range rating consisting of the average of twice the danger rating of the dungeon level and the level of the PC (e.g. if you are playing a level 20 PC and venture to a dungeon level with a danger rating of 40 the actual danger rating will be (20+ 2 * 40) / 3 = 100 / 3 = 33.
    2. If the monster danger rating is more than 20 levels below that averaged danger rating it's almost impossible to encounter such monsters.
    3. If the monster rating is more than 10 levels below that rating it's only half as likely to be encountered.
    4. Otherwise the default rarity is being used.
This adjustment probably will be quite a heavy change to the later game and I'm very curious to see how it will work out. Maybe we break things for a while but as the change is a very local one it's also very easy to revert or adjust. So I am very much looking forward to playtesting experiences starting with ADOM 1.2.0p21 (oh, and if you are not yet a prerelease tester you might want to decide to become one).

The original code really is weird - very low level monsters (compared to the current PC level) are a lot more likely to occur than appropriately leveled monsters. It will be interesting to see if this change wrecks the whole game balance but as it's easy to revert I'm applying it.

Issue 2601 documents this adjustment.


  1. This is fantastic! :) IMO the later CoC levels will be a lot more exciting (and thematically appropriate) if you're not running into giant bats and goblin rockthrowers hanging out with greater molochs. Always thought that was a little weird. :) As a suggestion, maybe a good way to rebalance would be to lower monster generation/maximum monster cap? 42 goblins or orcs aren't hard to deal with even for a level 5 character, but even 10 lich kings, death oozes, greater titans, frost giant jarls, etc. can be a significant challange, let alone 40!

    1. That should read, "lower monster generation/maximum monster cap... For later levels." Like, start gradually lowering past D:25. Not across the board.

  2. I've always felt that the monster distribution is well balanced in ADOM, and there is no need for other changes in addition to those done in The deeper levels have a nice variety of monsters and enough danger, except maybe for the hardcore players. The experience curve problem, though, is quite real; people who go for ultra endings often have to embark on a grindfest or to waste a wish on an emperor moloch to reach level 45. The xp required to advance to higher levels could be downscaled: 1/5th of the current amount for levels between 25 and 33, 1/10th between 34 and 42, 1/15th above 42.

    Regarding corruption: another thing you may want to do is shifting the 90 day limit a bit later, to give more time to do additional quests; the exact amount will have to wait for feedback after the quests are implemented, but I'd say 10 or 20 days is a good start.