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The Phasing Spell, a Treatise
09-02-2005, 03:26 AM (This post was last modified: 09-02-2005 12:23 PM by Attika.)
Post: #1
The Phasing Spell, a Treatise
The Phasing Spell, a Treatise

Working with a developing 1@17 Mage, I've had to resort to using Phasing as sort of a "poor man's" Teleport spell. Now if you look at most guides, Phasing is just spoken of as a "random Teleport" spell.

If you think that's true, you're wrong, and you could be DEAD wrong (if you're using it for your 1@17 that is.).

First of all, try this experiment. Using your highest level character who has both Phasing and Teleport as a spells, find a nice patch of open ground, with no walls or obtructions nearby (the center of a large Church chamber, or even the center of the Pentagram on dlevel 15 Hell will do -- remember NOT to kill Laz!).

Then begin laying out gold in each of the four cardinal directions away from your position. Drop a pile of one gold in each adjacent North, South, East, and West tile away from you. Then step out a bit further and drop 2 gold in the next tile in each of the four directions. Continue until you have ten piles of gold extending each N, S, E, and W away from a central tile. Then do the same thing in each of the ordinal directions, that is, NE, NW, SE, and SW, extending lines of gold out to ten tiles distance.

Walking back to the centermost (empty; zero) tile, you will be able to see each of the tenth gold piles in each of the directions. Bring up Teleport first. Cursoring to the tenth gold pile, you'll cast Teleport, and sure enough, you teleport ten tiles away. Teleport back to the center tile, and now point the cursor at any of the tiles 1, 2, 3, etc., tiles away from you and in any direction. Click again, and you can teleport into those tiles also, as you can for any tile on the screen from 1 to 10 tiles away.

NOW move back to the center (empty) tile and hotkey Phasing. Cast it. Note your position. Walk back to the center tile, and cast again. Note your position. Walk back to the central tile again, and repeat it as many times as you wish until you are satisfied as to your observations and your data.

The result? Phasing will ONLY teleport a distance between 4-6 tiles distant! It cannot teleport farther out than 6 tiles, NOR can it teleport you less than 4 tiles! So the active range of Phasing looks kinda like a big donut, with you at the center, the inner edge of the the donut being at the 4 tile range, and the outer edge of the donut being at the 6 tile range. This is the ONLY area Phasing can teleport you to!

Ok, so how does this matter? Right off the bat, it's futile to try to teleport over a wall that is six tiles or more in thickness. You can SEE over those walls, but you can't PHASE over those walls. Not a chance.

Plus let's suppose you are trying to Phase in a somewhat specific direction, such as South, and there is a somewhat thick (three tile thick) wall to the North of you. You'll get your best chance to Phase properly and for the greatest distance if you walk until the North wall is three tiles distant from you, then hit the Phase key. Now the Phase spell won't move you to the North, since it can't! It won't teleport you into the three available empty tiles to the North, as they are too close, and it can't teleport you INTO the North wall itself, and finally it doesn't have the range needed to teleport you beyond the North wall! Thus you've maximized your chances of Phasing to the south, or southeast, or southwest.

Ok, next observation. The Phasing spell will try NOT to teleport you onto a tile already occupied by a foe. It seems it checks for whether the tile is "free" before teleporting you into it (not always; you CAN Phase onto a foe, just very rarely, when the foes are VERY numerous).

So, what does that mean again to your 1@17 character? Well, take the above example again, suppose you are trying to move to the South, there is a three tile thick wall to the North, and now let's add some foes coming toward you from either the East or West. Again, move so that you are three tiles away from the North wall, and now wait and watch the approaching foes. As soon as the bulk of them are about four tiles away, cast Phase!

Again, you won't go North (see above), but this time ALSO you won't teleport in the direction of the approaching foes! Why not? Well, you waited until they were four tiles away, and when you cast Phase you cannot end up in the three closer tiles, NOR can you teleport onto the tiles your foes a.) occupy or b.) are walking into! Thus your foes actually HELP you Phase in the direction you wish to go!

Finally, let's suppose you are in this same situation, but this time the foes are coming from the South, the direction you wish to Phase. Yer outta luck, right? You cast Phase, and you'll go East or West, not the direction you wish to go.

Well, yes and no. If you cast Phasing when the foes are in the 4-6 tile range, then yes, by default you'll go East or West. However, you wish to go South, so what you do is WAIT. You wait until a large number of the foes are within the 1-3 tile range, then you do one of two things. Cast Phase, and try to Phase right over them! Or, wait until the bulk of the foes are in the 1-3 tile range to your South and then retreat to the East or West while moving South just slightly, putting the foes at four tiles distance from you to either the East or West themselves. Then cast Phase. You'll stand a 50/50 chance of Phasing South. Not too shabby.

Ok, another scenario. With Phasing hotkeyed you open the door into a room/corridor you wish to enter, and immediately see a number of foes in the room approaching. What you DON'T want to do is cast Phasing immediately, you'll go backwards! What you SHOULD do is either a.) wait for the foes to approach, and as soon as you see a majority of them in the 1-3 tile distant range, Phase then, OR take two steps back and let lots of the foes pour into your room and take up positions one and two tiles distant from you. THEN cast Phasing. At least then you'll have the chance of going OVER the entire group in each scenario.

Another scenario. Sometimes you are just outmatched, and have to run. Problem is, you've run into a dead end corridor, and you've JUST noticed that it is a dead end. By the time you've seen this and stopped running, you're probably about 7-8 tiles away from it. Your immediate reaction is to turn to the approaching foes, and cast Phasing trying to teleport over them.

And you've just doomed yourself. Since you've outdistanced the foes by running and aren't presently engaged with them, they are probably in that magic 4-6 tile range away from you, and you'll immediately Phase further INTO the dead end corridor. (Read below as to how this can DOOM you.)

What should you have done? Turned and charged the pursuing mob! When you get the majority of them into the 1-3 tile range, THEN cast Phasing and try to teleport over them. There's at least a chance . . .

But what if you aren't successful, and teleport further into the dead end corridor. Well, think a minute about the spell and its range and how it works. What should you do? That's right, run out THREE TILES EXACTLY from the dead end wall toward the approaching foes and wait. Wait again (taking hits as need be) until the majority of the foes are again in the 1-3 tile range, THEN cast Phasing. Now you stand an EXCELLENT chance of Phasing over them, as you can't teleport back further into the dead end room (as Phasing MUST teleport you four tiles distant, and you stand three tiles away) and walls block the other two directions of the corridor, so you MUST teleport OVER the mob!

Well, almost. And here's where there's something dangerously funky with the spell, and maybe it's a bug. Because in a few rare cases I've found that even after taking all these precautions, casting Phasing in just these circumstances produces absolutely no results, no movement whatsoever, and also takes away Mana for a "cast". Doesn't matter how many times you cast it, your character doesn't move and you lose mana. Even if there is a free tile over your enemies, sometimes these foes can be so "tightly packed" that the Phase spell can't seem to teleport you over the mess.

(Why do I consider this buggy? Because with Teleport, if you unsuccessfully cast Teleport and do not move -- like you cursored into a wall and couldn't teleport there -- you DON'T lose any mana. It seems doubly frustrating that Phasing sometimes can't move you at all AND you lose your mana for attempting to cast it. Blizzard, you sure this is how you wanted the spell to "function"?)

And in that case, you're doomed, or have to simpy fight your way out.

It's easy to test/create this bug. The dead end corridors of the Catacombs are probably the best at doing this, since there are LOTS of dead end in Catacombs! Try it yourself and see. Attract a good mob and have them follow you into the long dead end corridor, and sure enough you'll eventually find a spot where casting multiple/infinite Phasing spells is an exercise in futility. Nothing happens except you lose mana.

In still other situations you may find yourself surrounded and getting frustrated, and quickly hitting Phasing over and over again trying to escape, while all that happens is you teleport to one spot and then teleport right back to the same tile you just vacated on the next cast! Sort of a "out of the frying pan into the fire" scenario, with you continually teleporting back and forth between these two spots. Now if Phasing were TRULY random, you'd teleport from tile A to tile B to tile C to tile D, etc., but if foes and walls occupy the magic 4-6 tile distance from you, you can find yourself teleporting from tile A to tile B to tile A to tile B to tile A to, well, you get the idea -- ad infinitum (or at least until your mana gives out. On a lark I put together an A-to-B-to-etc. cast sequence of 22 exact repeats until my mana gave out.)

Stop! The only way out of this is to try and move to a new tile, and then try the cast from that new point. If you are totally surrounded at ONE of the points and can't move, teleport to the second position and try to move TOWARD the foes and MAKE THEM MOVE. Even if you don't teleport over the lot of them, it may free up a different tile in their midst that you CAN phase into, and them from THERE you may be able to Phase over the rest of them on your next cast. The key is, you have to move/walk to a different tile before you cast, preferably walking TOWARD your foes (yes, I know, this seems counter-intuitive) if you wish to teleport OVER them! (When all else fails and you are totally surrounded, you can always kill one of them and try to move into that vacated tile, and try the Phasing cast from that new point.)

One more caveat. I've also been in a long narrow corridor where I've just opened a door and tried to step through and a foe steps both in front of me and another behind me to engage me, trapping me in the door tile. For some odd reason, the game won't let you Phase out of this position (when you are also in a long narrow corridor), but you'll of course lose your mana for as many times as you unsuccessfully attempt it. This regardless of how many empty tiles are beyond said foes. It's rare, but it does happen; you have been warned! (Another bug?)

Finally, a last note about casting over walls only one tile thick. There's a particular maneuver (I've nicknamed "The Gunfighter") with which I've had a great deal of success. Walk straight (perpendicular) toward the wall, and when you reach the tile adjacent to it shift-whirl around and cast in the OPPOSITE direction of that in which you wish to go! The 'recoil' from blasting out the spell in that opposite direction has a good chance (seemingly about a 60% success rate) of knocking you over the wall! (If that doesn't work, go locate about three foes, have them chase you toward the wall, and when they are that magic 4-6 tiles away from you walking toward you, cast your Phasing then.) Try it; you'll see.

So Phasing is anything but a random Teleport spell; it isn't random, and it doesn't have the range of the true Teleport spell. If you see the open areas on the map, and see the directions your foes are attacking from, and know the thickness and distance of the walls around you, you'll pretty much KNOW where that Phase it going to take you. Make your plans accordingly, and you'll find that you can _almost_ depend on this "poor cousin" to the Teleport spell as a means of moving about a dungeon, especially when you are working a 1@17 character.

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09-02-2005, 10:19 AM (This post was last modified: 09-02-2005 10:27 AM by Jarulf.)
Post: #2
The Phasing Spell, a Treatise
Attika,Sep 2 2005, 04:26 AM Wrote:The Phasing Spell, a Treatise


INteresting post. I took out my notes on the code for the spell and indeed, I have noted it as Rnd[3]+4 for the direction of x and y. In addition, there is two rnd[2] rolls to determine if the range (4-6) should be positive or negative in each direction. No idea why this has not ended up in my guide. Checking the guide though, I note that it really have NOTHING listed for how Phasing work. Oops.

As a note, the game will only try to find a valid tile to phaze you to 500 times, if all those 500 tiles it rolled for are occupied, it will abort the process or rather, it will then phase you to your current location, which should include costing mana.

For the target tile, there are three checks into various tables to see if the tile is "empty". Since I don't remember those tables by heart and not sure were the notes on memory addresses for tables are, I really can't tell all about those tests, however, one of the checks is the same array that keep monster locations (and which can have both negative and positive numbers for the monsters which casuses certain tohit checks go wrong). This must be "zero". I don't recall the exact details of moving monsters and how it set the location values, it is possible that in some directions a monster can be moving into a location while it is still listed as empty, but I can recall wrong, perhaps this is the reason you sometimes end up in the same location, no? One of the other seems to be the one that lists objects such as chests, sarcophgus and such. I would assume the final one is for walls and such but have not looked.

Finally after that, there are additional checks for things that I really need to go and look up more carefully for when the spell can be aborted, perhaps they aren't even used really, since I don't know the code that well withough checking thoroughly.

EDIT: Regarding the non randomness, I am not sure I follow you, You seem to indicate that if there is only one spot to teleport to and from the target only the spot you came from is free, then you teleport between them and that it is not random. Can't see the problem though.

As for the bug of costing mana even if you abort, no idea if intended or not. But I added the note above that if it finds no location in 500 attempts, it will basically phase you to your current location. Could that be it? This is deliberate, the game does not exit the phase function but just sets the relative X-Y coordinate to phase to to 0.

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09-04-2005, 12:57 PM
Post: #3
The Phasing Spell, a Treatise
Wow. I'm starting to see why I've always had so much problems phasing over lava out of an imminent stair trap in caves. I always tried to move close enough to a lava river to see the other side in the corner of the screen, thinking it was indeed a 'random teleport to a corner of the screen'.

End result, the lava was blocking the southeast or southwest corner I wanted to teleport to, and the level wall was usually blocking another two corners, teleporting me into the fourth corner with all the monsters I was trying to phase away from.

Thanks Attika! :)

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