Restriction on Summoning Overleveled Demons

Discussions about possible changes and new features that might happen someday.

Restriction on Summoning Overleveled Demons

Postby Ferret » Fri Oct 14, 2016 11:49 pm

WHAT'S GOING ON?

One of the design challenges of Demon is figuring out ways to challenge the player that don't subvert the basic premise and don't lead to an arms race I'm destined to lose.

The basic premise of the game is, of course, "you can recruit your enemies and learn their abilities!" It's pretty fun, I think. :D It'd be good to not subvert this!

On the other hand... since you CAN recruit your enemies and CAN learn their abilities... this means anything I throw at you, in theory, you will shortly have to pick up and throw right back at the game. So that leaves out the usual options roguelikes utilize like, for example, throwing 'out of depth' monsters at you, if I throw you such a monster, you immediately have it to use: in effect you kind of become out-of-depth yourself. A similar problem arises with scary abilities: If I add a demon with say, Petrification, I've just given it to any player who encounters one. :) Interesting problem is interesting. :D

I had thought that Demon's balance was such where I could throw a few of these around now and then and it would be no more disruptive than say, finding a good random artifact in most roguelikes. Sure, it makes you a little more powerful for awhile, but eventually you outgrow the demon and the advantage is lost.

But, I'm starting to see some problems:

1) My desire to throw higher-level demons around as a form of challenge has made them a fair bit more common than "good random artifacts" are in most roguelikes. Rather than being a rare and exciting occurance, it may be impacting the overall challenge level much more often than that.
2) Even the ones I do use, I can only make somewhat higher level, because even one demon that was WAY over level would be way too much.
3) There is a bit of a steamroll factor for sure. Since many capture mechanics are based on combat performance, getting a strong demon early will help you get more strong demons that you might have otherwise failed to capture.

So, let's get to the meat of it:


PROPOSED CHANGE

Restrict Summoning of non-unique demons to those which are your level or lower. You may still freely recruit, Copy Abilities from, Fuse, Consume, Recycle, Soul Armor, etc. any demon. The only restriction is literally on Summoning. This would also apply to enemy summoners of course. Finally, demons currently over your level would gain 0 XP until you caught up.

The hope is that this would still give some benefit to recruiting higher level demons (learning their abilities, fusion possibilities, etc. seem to still be pretty strong arguments for recruitment), while avoiding completely subverting the main premise of the game, and also keeping the acquisition of these powerhouses from becoming more steamrollery than people (including me) seem to prefer.
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Re: Restriction on Summoning Overleveled Demons

Postby Sandman25 » Sat Oct 15, 2016 2:27 am

Test message
Edited message: If the overleveled demon cannot be summoned and does not get XP, I think it should not count against demon limit so you can have 6 "normal" demons and unlimited number of demons which are higher level than you. When you level up and some of those demons become "normal" and can be summoned, you get a standard dialog to disband some of demons.
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Re: Restriction on Summoning Overleveled Demons

Postby geminimax » Sat Oct 15, 2016 2:59 am

I'm not a fan of limitations of this kind but i do agree that without it, the design space is pretty limited. If implemented, it would be cool to see relic upgrade(s) that remove or mitigate this effect.
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Re: Restriction on Summoning Overleveled Demons

Postby mbj » Sat Oct 15, 2016 9:17 am

Seems pretty special casey and on/offy, I don't like it, especially if it takes up one of your slots. The on/offy part means that a demon that's only a level or two higher than you (with marginally higher stats than you) is just as unsummonable as something that's ten levels higher. And demons that are higher level (that I've captured) don't really seem common enough, nor are they helpful enough for me to want to take a relic upgrade just to summon them for a couple floors until I catch up. Sure an Anomaly Shoggoth is strong but the increased difficulty of negotiation breaks my balls sometimes. Raiju in general are virtually uncapturable without an offering or paralysis/sleep, and an early raiju is basically red alert panic mode destroy at all costs before it destroys you (actually raiju at any point are like that). Restricted summoning would also mean you'd never be able to summon bigfoot or [spoiler]slenderman[/spoiler], on the off chance you manage to even capture them, let alone see them, which is a massive achievement in itself, which seems kinda (really) silly. And if you're underleveled for the floor for whatever reason (instead of the demon(s) being OoD), it just makes the game way harder since you can't use any of the natural demons in the area. I routinely find packs of enemies that are higher level than me late in the tower, possibly because I skip some battles I can't win or because I skip or get chased out of a floor or two; optional branches might become a necessity.

Sandman's idea is good and simple. If you can't summon them they definitely shouldn't take up a slot.

Alternatives that allow for summoning the higher leveled demon:

1) Increase the difficulty of the link requirements, proportionally to how many levels higher the demon is relative to you. Negotiations are already like this, but other types of links, like keep in sight for x turns or kill x enemies, aren't any more difficult than when you encounter them "naturally". You could still get the powerful demon but you have to work for it.

2) Require a level difference based fee to use the demon. Charge demon souls for summoning the demon (this could lead to just keeping it summoned the whole time, but if it's in danger you have to pay to summon it again after desummoning, or risk losing it), and/or charge a small fee for each time the demon acts or for each turn it's summoned. You could also make copy ability costs based on both the starting level of teacher and target, instead of just target alone, so that you have to pay more for stronger out-of-depth abilities.

3) Scale EVERYTHING with the level of your highest level demon. Every new demon encountered would have a level equal to or greater than your highest leveled demon, currency rates would increase, the level of out-of-depth demons would increase. You'd be able to replace your lower leveled demons with the new, higher leveled demons, so it's not like the difficulty would permanently spike if you did opt to capture the OoD demon; the main problem is that eventually, your main character might seem hopelessly out-leveled by everything, including your own demons.

4) Force ALL wild demons to have the same level as each other in a given floor, and have that level scale with the floor. This means that "OoD" demons wouldn't have higher stats than anything else, but would still bring in the higher leveled abilities or modifiers; they shouldn't spawn alone either since they wouldn't be any stronger stats-wise. It also means no pushover level 1 free exp gandayahs that spawn with bmola packs... ok bad example since they're just SP batteries in those packs, but still :D .

Doing this also opens up the possibility of adding much more variety to spawns throughout the tower; no more guaranteed gandayah/goblin pairs on Tower:1, maybe you get lucky and find a Ruler in training at the bottom of the tower! Rumors of a baby Bigfoot (Smallfoot) in Tower:3! :lol: Actually writing this out made me realize that angel packs get really common in the high tower which actually makes sense flavorwise. Also there wouldn't be much sense of progression if any demon could spawn anywhere in the tower, so probably don't do that, but #4 is still ok.

5) Make the overleveled demon unruly until you reach their level like in Pokemon, where you need badges to control pokemon up to a certain level. Since you can't directly control your demons, just make the overleveled demon loaf around and miss turns, or maybe have him take a stab at your PC once in a while; something like the panic status but probably not that bad. Maybe make the severity of this related to the level difference until you catch up.

6) No change 8-) . Honestly I don't see this as a problem. I can't think of any game changing overleveled demons I've captured in any of my games, except bigfoot I guess, and not being able to summon him would be a massive dick move. I usually kill most OoD enemies because the negotiation demands too much, or because they're too risky to try to link, or because I have a demon that already fills their niche who I've already invested in, or because there's no room for them, or because I don't feel like capturing them. And they die just as easily as anything else if you don't play properly.
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Re: Restriction on Summoning Overleveled Demons

Postby Ferret » Sat Oct 15, 2016 4:11 pm

Lots of good feedback here already. :D I should have made this forum ages ago. :) Let's dive in.

The restriction is only for non-unique demons, so you'd always be able to summon Bigfoot or Slenderman if you found them. :) The underleveled issue is a bit harder to tackle though: while it's true that a fair number of the demons on a level will be at least a couple of levels behind the curve, it is entirely possible (and within the current design, recoverable) if the player ends up further behind that even that if they are forced to portal dodge say, an entire branch.

Relic upgrades would probably be too expensive for dealing with it, I agree. :( As it is you only get 5 per game at present, and 2 of those not directly chosen.

Having unsummonables not take up a slot would be doable, though I would probably put a limit on the number of these too if I go that route.

As for the alternatives:

1) Adjusting link requirements for lower level demons: This is something that probably needs to happen anyway, and I probably should try it first before I do something more drastic like restricting summoning anyway. It's already done for negotiation, and for anything that involves defeating the demon itself, but it should be expanded to the other types as well.

2) This would certainly be a nod to the Shin Megami Tensei roots: back in the very oldest games, you had to use a currency in order to summon demons. In some cases it was restrictive enough where it was routine to *not* use the maximum party size you could because it was just too expensive. :P Anyway, I could see using something like this as a pretty good alternative to the original idea. It fits flavor wise too: your relic is using the extra energy to help you control the demon you can't handle alone yet.

3) Yeah, this is pretty much a version of the arms race I must avoid. :P People already get turned off sometimes by the fact that the one character you directly control is, relatively speaking, not particularly powerful. :( Granted, I knew that would be a design issue going in so I shrug it off mostly, but I don't wanna make it worse. :D

4) You pretty much argued both sides of this one already. :D I would also add that it would probably overwhelm new players if any of the 120 or so demons could appear on the first floor. It's the eternal struggle of the lower floors in particular: balancing the need to introduce players to the game fairly with the need to somehow still make it interesting for old hands who are there for the 50th time.

5) This is neat, but I think people would come after us with pitchforks. :P Unruly allies in a roguelike would probably drive people insane (or at least, to never use them, the last thing you want is your overleveled Shoggoth hungrily devouring you at a critical moment.)

6) I admit I'm leaning more here, or at least "let's try #1 first" after reading the feedback from you, Sandy, and Geminimax so far. :)

Thank you for the awesome feedback up to this point everyone. :) You've been a big help already. :D
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Re: Restriction on Summoning Overleveled Demons

Postby Gaswafers » Sat Oct 15, 2016 9:54 pm

I know access to powerful abilities is part of the issue too, but couldn't just capping the level of the demon at the level of the summoner be enough of a penalty?
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Re: Restriction on Summoning Overleveled Demons

Postby Ferret » Sat Oct 15, 2016 10:11 pm

The powerful abilities don't actually bother me all that much, for the most part. :D In theory at least, abilities are supposed to be roughly balanced against one another. :P Okay, have your good laugh, but I did say in theory. :D I acknowledge that isn't where things are right now... but since that is the goal, I'm not as interested in trying to fight against its current state. The level difference issues on the other hand, *are* part of a system that is working as intended (other than lingering grumbles w/ Agility) so that's a thing worth trying to hash out.

As for downleveling it when recruited... that is possible, but it does run afoul of mbj's point about trying to recover from a rough game when you've had to run away from a floor or two. One of the ways you can currently recover from that is by recruiting the current level demons, but if they just get nerfed down to your level, that won't help you very much.
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Re: Restriction on Summoning Overleveled Demons

Postby nikheizen » Mon Oct 31, 2016 3:41 pm

Locking it to levels seems like it would be very bad for branchless challenge runs.

Locking it to depth seems like it would adversely affect players going through anomaly.

If you are going to implement this with the level limit, I feel that an overhead of 2 or 3 levels would be good. Slightly overlevelled demons are not that big a deal in my experience.
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Re: Restriction on Summoning Overleveled Demons

Postby onget » Sat Dec 17, 2016 4:30 pm

To not use the recruited demon immediately? It is *WORST* and NOT FUN!

Alternative ideas

1:remove experience and level.

Demon has a progress system:recruit and transmutation.

Additional levels are minor progress. New ally and abilities are absolute and major progress.

Because you have more abilities sources in late game, even in this case even more strong in late game.
(However, the early game adapts to Ability, the late game needs the refinement ability set, it seems to make a broken difficulty curve.
It is need to have a mechanic to make more difficult late game)

But,it will not solve the strong more strong problem.
If you are strong, you have more abilities sources and demon...

2:hero/summoner
Since hero cannot recruit it does not have a problem of a very strong ally.

But,it will not solve the strong more strong problem.
If you are strong, you have more strong and rare abilitie...
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Re: Restriction on Summoning Overleveled Demons

Postby Ferret » Sat Dec 17, 2016 10:29 pm

Yeah, I wouldn't worry too much about this taking the form of not being able to summon the demon at all. :D I'm pretty against that at this point. :D

Removing levels is an interesting idea, but it serves other purposes beyond just being a way to get stronger: it also is used in part as pressure to fight enemies. In theory, without levels, you would only want to fight if the encounter in question had new abilities/demons you wanted to recruit. But, thanks to levels, you also need to fight to keep even with the opposition. Then too, while I agree new abilities and allies are the major progression element, it is helpful to have levels/bonus points there alongside them so that once you have a solid party and the ability set you want, you still have some way to progress steadily, even if it takes a while to find a new demon or ability you feel you need.

These aren't problems that couldn't be solved some other way... but it'd still be a pretty big change for Demon.
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