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Old December 4, 2009, 06:41   #1
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Tweaking identification

I've never been a big fan of the identification part of roguelike games. As a matter of practice you're not going to equip gear unless you know it's safe, which means you end up identifying or pseudo-identifying all the gear you see up until you're willing to just outright destroy items in the search for artifacts.

I've come up with this alteration to the base game that I personally think will make it a great deal more fun (by eliminating tedium) without making it significantly more difficult:

* The to-hit, to-dam, and to-ac modifiers of all items are always known
* The number of charges on wands and staves is always known
* Whether an item is an artifact or an ego-item is always known
* ego-type is known so long as you have identified at least one of that type of ego-item before (e.g. once you've seen one Westernesse, you can recognize others on sight). This reveals their pvals.

Notably, I don't intend to touch flavored items at all (except for noting the number of charges in wands and staves).

I haven't looked at the Angband source code in over a decade. I've managed to figure out how to automatically identify every item that gets generated (add "object_notice_everything(j_ptr);" to make_object() in obj-make.c), but the more nuanced changes I'd like to try are going to be trickier. In particular, I have the following questions:

* Is there any straightforward way of recognizing "equipment" as distinct from other types of items, or am I stuck checking TV_HARD_ARMOR, TV_SOFT_ARMOR, TV_DRAG_ARMOR, TV_SHIELD, etc.?
* Is there currently a listing of ego-types the player has seen before anywhere? If not, is there a guide somewhere to modifying the save file so that I could figure out how to add such a listing?
* Is it possible/feasible to display equipment modifiers without displaying pvals, and vice versa? (IIRC the number of charges on a wand/staff is also its pval, right?)

As for balance considerations, here's the major changes to gameplay that I predict from this:
* As soon as you find an item, you can make a keep/sell/reject decision. You don't need to carry it around to pseudo-ID it; you don't need to stop to cast Identify; you don't have to try destroying it in the hopes that it's an artifact. This grants a significant increase to the speed of gameplay.
* You're less likely to accidentally skip over a useful item because of inventory constraints; you can also examine vaults with detection to determine if they're worth your while without actually having to enter.
* Early game dungeon dives can be longer, since you aren't carting around a bunch of might-be-good, probably-not-useful equipment items waiting for pseudo-ID to kick in. You're still limited by flavor items for the first few dives, though.
* Because you don't have to spend as much money on identification scrolls, and because you can prune out the crap items from your inventory without heading to town to ID them, money is easier to come by in the early game.

On the whole, I think that the decreased tedium is worth the slight easing of gameplay.
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