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Author Topic: Skills and training...  (Read 64220 times)
pspeed
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« on: October 01, 2012, 05:22:34 PM »

Many are familiar already with my negative thoughts on "skill levels" and "experience".  Crafting and related skills are one area where this made me the most uncomfortable.  

From a meta-level, levels and skill trees play an important role in tying the world together.  They are the reason that training/masters exist.  They provide a purpose for guilds, etc..  They also give players something more obvious to strive for if they are still struggling to figure out "what next?"  So aside from all of the unfun aspects of skill levels there is some benefit here.

The other side of it is the raw self-sufficient side.  Your character can do any skill for which they have the proper tool and upgrading the tools will upgrade the skill.  This is the direction I had been leaning because it greatly fits in with my general ideas on character development.  However, this also had some glaring problems.  For one, to learn even a handful of skills you'd end up having to carry around a whole pack of specialized tools.  For another, it's completely non-obvious what skills are available and how to even do them once a tool has been acquired.  And finally, there is no "in" for how you'd get access to fixed facilities like smelters, forges, anvils, etc. that you could not afford or easily build yourself.

Also, the thing that really bugged me about that is that it goes against everything else I've designed with respect to physical items.  Skinning an animal shouldn't require a special "skinning tool" if you already have the right-sized sharp knife in your belt.  Nor should carving your own arrow shafts, etc... a sharp knife is a sharp knife.

These things have really bothered me.  One danger of total flexibility is that a majority of players will just find the game baffling without hitting 5 video tutorials and a few wikis.  As a game developer, I see that kind of as a sign of failure.  Beyond some simple initial learning curves, the tenacious player should be able to find what they need in game.

It also makes the world seem separate and sort of "dead".  Too much encouragement on being a lone-wolf and there is little other ways to play without working really hard.  And you miss creating relationships with NPCs which will make the game feel more alive, to me.

So, to balance...

Skills

Skills will be learnable things.  Many of them will not be hard to learn.  Some will require other skills to be learned first.  Maybe you get taught by a local trainer, or a merchant, or... a crafting guild.

A skill is either learned or not.  There are no "skill levels" though there may be specializations.  For example, an unskilled person hacking at a dead deer will probably get some meat and skin but anyone with basic training can skin a deer and successfully get basically everything of use off of the carcass.  That being said, skinning a mouse and skinning a giant lizard are very different things for which specialization in a follow-on skill will be useful.

This serves a few purposes right off the bat.  For one, it ties skills into the world.  You not only learn a skill but you now know where to buy supplies, you get some idea of what the next skills available might be, etc..  Also, there are now quest opportunities just like anything else.  Maybe the trainer doesn't care about your gold and needs some job done.  Maybe the guild doesn't charge money at all but requires you to work for the guild for some period of time.  Maybe another player can teach you the skill but wants you to come on a dungeon run with them first.

This also explains where you would get access to facilities.  If you join the blacksmith's guild then there is a logical place for you to rent, buy, or borrow equipment.  Perhaps some guilds even have some low-quality equipment to use when you are starting out.  You can also get a line on where to sell your products without opening your own store, potentially even just getting deals to include your goods in regular town exports without having to worry about those dealings yourself.

Skill Journal

This will be where the player can see the skills that they've acquired.  This can have brief descriptions on how to use the particular skill, what general equipment is required, where the skill was trained, etc..  If you come back to try to use a skill six months later, this will be helpful as a refresher.

In my imagination, this is treated like a narrative written by the character as if they were writing in their journal.  A special button would take them to a game mechanics description for the skill.  Less jarring to immersion that way and I like the idea of character-written journals in general if I can make it work and not look stupid.

Boostrap Skills

During character creation, the player will be able to choose some number of bootstrap skills.  These will be skills that require no prerequisite skills (or the prereqs are bootstrap skills) and can be done with just the equipment carried, ie: they require no guild or facilities.

For example, skinning, tracking, basic weapon repair (sharpening, etc.), basic amor repair (banging out dents, etc.), foraging, and so on as just a few off the top of my head.  So as an example, if the player starts with three skill slots they could load them up with skinning, and two skinning specializations.  Or skinning, tracking, foraging.  And so on.

This prevents the player from choosing initial skills that may take a long time before they are useful.  A player who loads up on smelting and leather-tanning skills will be pretty disappointed when none of the nearby towns have the right equipment or stores.  And besides, you wouldn't even know where to go to know what you need to find.

Other than taking up skill slots, skills will also come with their basic tools... this will be automatically deducted from the character's starting gold.  This encourages the starting character to pick complementary skills.  For example, basic skinning and fletching could both require a sharp knife... but you only need one knife for both skills so you save some gold to use on other equipment.

Reentry
So without having to go into specifics on how the systems will work, that is the high-level framework that I'll be working from.  It's nice because a lot of questions have been answered in my mind and it helps tie a bunch of stuff together.  The bonus is that it adds a whole other set of quest sources.

I've also been designing the character creation process so this answers a bunch of questions about that, too.
« Last Edit: October 01, 2012, 05:27:18 PM by pspeed » Logged
FutureB
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« Reply #1 on: October 01, 2012, 06:43:19 PM »

so does this mean that there wont be "levels" for say armor making. so people cant boast in other games like oh im 99 smelting 84 fletching 66 woodcutting ect...  one other thing in some games success rate of say smelting iron increases as you level and become more experienced would anything like this happen or would just your rate of creating these items increase but the success rate stays similar and realistic
:p
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Iggyjeckel
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« Reply #2 on: October 01, 2012, 06:44:05 PM »

Sounds very nice, thanks for update. Ill read through it 5 or 6 more times then if I have any questions ill post em, but sounds pretty well thought out
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belgariad87
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« Reply #3 on: October 01, 2012, 07:16:36 PM »

I'll post a more thought-out reply in the morning, but for now i just want to say this design looks foolproof, and thanks for the update! I check these forums everyday for posts like this Smiley
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pspeed
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« Reply #4 on: October 01, 2012, 07:54:45 PM »

so does this mean that there wont be "levels" for say armor making. so people cant boast in other games like oh im 99 smelting 84 fletching 66 woodcutting ect...  one other thing in some games success rate of say smelting iron increases as you level and become more experienced would anything like this happen or would just your rate of creating these items increase but the success rate stays similar and realistic
:p

No levels.  You can smelt iron or you can't.  Iron smelting may be the prerequisite for some other metallurgy skills.  And on that note, there is a difference between smithing a horse shoe and smithing a blade.

I've been over the XP problem before but I think it creates more problems than it solves.  It makes a game more tedious and destroys everything else that could be cool... whether killing 400 badgers or making 400 bows.  For example, if you have to make 400 bows just to get good at it then bow-making needs to be trivially simple and bows have to be worth only pennies or every bow-maker would get rich just trying to get good at it.  Lame all the way around, in my opinion.

And frankly, now that I've held this position for some time and started to look around at the real world... there are many trainable skills, very specific trainable skills, that just don't improve that much once you know what you are doing.  There are only so many different ways to dig a ditch or lay concrete... or smelt iron.  Once you've trained and done it once successfully there isn't much room for improvement.  If we each took a class on carving arrow shafts I bet once we graduated that we'd all make arrows just fine.  Only our speed would improve with practice... and considering we are super beings, time is accelerated, etc..  It's reasonable to think that if you deep-train our characters on some specific skill that they've pretty much got it.  Certainly after you've made three of anything.

Anyway, you will find that wherever possible, I will replace a raw number with something more meaningful.  So no skill levels.  At best, as discussed in some other posts, you may have a three use tool adjustment period when you swap out one tool for another... but right now I'm considering the tool you trained on as "already learned" when you acquire a skill.
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« Reply #5 on: October 01, 2012, 09:26:10 PM »

Hmm... Let's say you have a smith shop. And you wanted to make a specific sword. Would you buy a mold from a molder? And let's say you could make your own molds. Would you be able to sell them to other smiths that had a high demand in long-swords and watch them use your mold?
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« Reply #6 on: October 01, 2012, 09:31:23 PM »

Hmm... Let's say you have a smith shop. And you wanted to make a specific sword. Would you buy a mold from a molder? And let's say you could make your own molds. Would you be able to sell them to other smiths that had a high demand in long-swords and watch them use your mold?

Sure.  You may be oversimplifying sword-making but to the extent that there are molds then they should be marketable in both directions.  The trick will be determining their value.
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FutureB
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« Reply #7 on: October 01, 2012, 09:51:45 PM »

That sounds great..... i cant wait to playyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy ahhaha keep working hard paul xD
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belgariad87
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« Reply #8 on: October 02, 2012, 04:06:58 AM »

That sounds great..... i cant wait to playyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy ahhaha keep working hard paul xD
Ditto
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« Reply #9 on: October 02, 2012, 12:05:45 PM »

Hmm... Let's say you have a smith shop. And you wanted to make a specific sword. Would you buy a mold from a molder? And let's say you could make your own molds. Would you be able to sell them to other smiths that had a high demand in long-swords and watch them use your mold?
Molds are used for bronze, copper, etc.
For iron and steel it might be more of a blueprint, or a sample blade for the smith to replicate and improve.


From what you (Paul) said it seems like you might oversimplify skills by missing some sub-skills. For example, if you can make a bow out of maple, you might be able to make on from yew, but it wouldn't be very good unless you either got lucky or learned a few trade secrets. Little things like that could be easy to overlook.
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« Reply #10 on: October 02, 2012, 12:13:46 PM »

Hmm... Let's say you have a smith shop. And you wanted to make a specific sword. Would you buy a mold from a molder? And let's say you could make your own molds. Would you be able to sell them to other smiths that had a high demand in long-swords and watch them use your mold?
Molds are used for bronze, copper, etc.
For iron and steel it might be more of a blueprint, or a sample blade for the smith to replicate and improve.


From what you (Paul) said it seems like you might oversimplify skills by missing some sub-skills. For example, if you can make a bow out of maple, you might be able to make on from yew, but it wouldn't be very good unless you either got lucky or learned a few trade secrets. Little things like that could be easy to overlook.

Adjusting to different woods kind of pails in comparison to learning a craft from scratch.  I know that maple carves different than poplar but it only took a little bit of time to adjust how I worked the wood.  A teeny tiny fraction of the time it took to learn to carve anything in the first place.

And if you are referring to how the different woods have to be conditioned maybe?  (you will need to be more specific for me to answer specifically) ...then that's a player experience thing and not necessarily a skill.  If every bow you make snaps under use then you figure out that you did something wrong in the overall construction.
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belgariad87
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« Reply #11 on: October 02, 2012, 12:22:10 PM »

what we are discussing makes me want to play this game!
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« Reply #12 on: October 02, 2012, 12:25:34 PM »

what we are discussing makes me want to play this game!

Me too!  I hope the lazy developer finishes it soon. Smiley
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« Reply #13 on: October 02, 2012, 01:00:25 PM »

Adjusting to different woods kind of pails in comparison to learning a craft from scratch.  I know that maple carves different than poplar but it only took a little bit of time to adjust how I worked the wood.  A teeny tiny fraction of the time it took to learn to carve anything in the first place.

And if you are referring to how the different woods have to be conditioned maybe?  (you will need to be more specific for me to answer specifically) ...then that's a player experience thing and not necessarily a skill.  If every bow you make snaps under use then you figure out that you did something wrong in the overall construction.
In the example of making bows, some woods you have to only use the inner wood or only the outer wood. Some it doesn't matter. Yew, I know, works best (or only works) when you have the outer wood on the front of the bow and the inner wood on the inside. For their compressing/stretching resistance.

But, come to think of it, these wouldn't need to be separate skills. Just little tidbits of player knowledge. Regardless of my bad example, I do hope you take care to keep the skills and sub-skills appropriate.

I have faith in you, Paul!
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belgariad87
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« Reply #14 on: October 02, 2012, 02:03:10 PM »

what we are discussing makes me want to play this game!

Me too!  I hope the lazy developer finishes it soon. Smiley
haha he's taking his time to do it right i bet
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