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Sotnik
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« on: March 19, 2017, 03:39:50 pm »

Hi!

The system of character progress (xp, sp, levels, synergies etc) had some problems in AoD and all of us want the one in CSG avoid them and not create new ones. Mainly basing upon the CSG update #11 http://www.irontowerstudio.com/forum/index.php/topic,7363.0.html , I would like to suggest some solutions which may be useful.

The term "learning points" is used as a measure of actions which improve a skill (please tell if there is another conventional term).
"XP" are just XP for level-ups (according to the current official concept, to get feats).
"Character" is either the player character or a companion.

1) Skills are developed on use. (as it was already stated; not a point for arguments)
2) Tagged skills don't increase faster on use. Instead, whenever a character gets accomplishes quests and get XP, tagged skills progress too. Learning points are not divided: every tagged skill gets a fixed amount of Learning points. This feature represents learning by reflection, discussion, watching, reading in addition to the item 1, learning by use. It is also an image of what the character is occupied with while travelling and resting (this will guarantee that a character is not stuck due to lack of low-level challenges for a specific skill)
3) You cannot change what skills are tagged on will. To do that, you assign skills to a queue. Only after the currently tagged skill gets a new rank, another becomes tagged and benefits from Learning points. If such a queue is not formed, the skill goes on getting Learning points. The queue can be formed at any moment. (this will help to avoid situations when a player changes tags right before finishing a quest to get a rank immediately for a specific task)
4) The total number of Learning points needed to get a new rank in a non-fighting skill is reduced by 3%*(Sum of that skill ranks of the other the party members - # of other party members). In other words, every rank of your companions above 1 reduces amount of Learning points required to get new ranks by 3%. This represents a kind of experience exchange in a party (as non-fighting skills don't require more than 1 character experienced with it, there should be some benefit from ranks of "junior skill-owners"; when I met Ismail in DR I learned out my alchemy ranks were a waste of skill points).
5) Synergy.
Whenever the player character is being created, the player chooses one or several weapon skills which form a "fight style". The number of weapon skills to choose depends on Intelligence. For example, 4 Int = 1 weapon skill, 6=2, 8=3, 10=4. These skills actually become one and develop simultaneously which means: if one respective skill is tagged, the rest become tagged too for free; if one skill is used, the rest get the same number of Learning points.
Moreover, a specific pick of skills grants you with a starting feat and gives more options to choose feats upon level-ups. From the point of view of these feats, skills divide into three groups: melee (fist, bladed, blunt), one-handed ranged (bullet pistol, energy pistol), two-handed ranged (shotgun, SMG, energy rifle, energy cannon). Consequently, there are 6 combinations and a player can pick up to 4 at the highest Int:
1. melee + melee,
2. melee + one handed ranged,
3. one-handed ranged + one handed ranged,
4. one-handed ranged + two-handed ranged,
5. two-handed ranged + two-handed ranged,
6. two-handed ranged + melee.
Besides, there are special feats for some skill combinations.
Example. A character with 8 Int has chosen Fist, Bladed, Shotgun. His fight style is called "Fist, Bladed, Shotgun". Or "Punch of Bladed Shotgun". Whatever Smile. After a few levels he picked several feats. Among them there were style-specific feats:
1. He can install his bladed weapon as a bayonet and use it efficiently. Therefore, his bladed weapon does not require a slot in the inventory. It also makes managing reaction attacks easier. (bladed+two-handed)
1.2. Whenever he impales an enemy with a bayonet (scores a critical hit with a special attack "impale"), he also makes a shot without paying AP. (bladed+two-handed)
2. Whenever he makes damage with fists, the next attack with bladed costs 1 AP less against the same target (melee+melee).
3. Whenever an enemy misses against him in melee, he gets +15 chance to hit that enemy with a shotgun for 3 turns (melee+two-handed ranged)
The feats #1 or 3 were taken at the character generation stage.
(the main idea of the this item is to introduce synergy between weapon skill with different roles instead of the ones with similar nature)

6) Learning points for fights.
I still need to verify the formula, but the main idea is here:
1. Each encounter gives a pre-set amount of Learning points.
2. A part of these Learning points (1/3) is divided evenly between the characters (just for attending).
3. 2/3 of Learning points is split in according to participation. The bigger the character's contribution in a form of AP spent on attacks, gadgets and consumables, the bigger part of the Learning points he gets. However, the less AP a character has, the more each AP is evaluated. Therefore, agile characters will not have advantage. This rule works from here on.
4. If a character used weapon skills that he did not include into his "fight style", Learning points he gets will split among his weapon skills according to AP spent on attacks with a specific skill.
5. Another question concerns Evasion and Critical Strike skills (not sure what Armor is).
Evasion could use the same logic as weapon skills, but have a separate pool of Learning points. Evasion skill Learning points will be assignment depends on who is chosen as a target by enemy and what a percentage of AP enemies spent on attacks (implying a chance of evasion) against the character. For weapon skills and Evasion it does not matter if a check is successful or not: people learn by mistakes too.
As for Critical Strike, it probably should have a separate pull too, BUT unlike weapon skills and Evasion, critical strike Learning points are earned only upon landing critical strike, therefore it is not guaranteed that all possible Learning points will be earned. CS skill seems to be the most problematic point in a learn-by-action system.

Thank you for reading, and if you are interested, I will elaborate more specifically.
« Last Edit: March 23, 2017, 02:19:03 pm by Sotnik » Logged
Vince
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« Reply #1 on: March 19, 2017, 07:17:26 pm »

2) Tagged skills don't increase faster on use.
Why? Wouldn't it make sense for skills you have a certain affinity with to develop faster? An artistic person would learn more from each hour spent drawing than a person who isn't.

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Instead, whenever a character gets accomplishes quests and get XP, tagged skills progress too. Skill xp is not divided: every tagged skill gets a fixed amount of xp. This feature represents learning by reflection, discussion, watching, reading in addition to the item 1, learning by doing. It is also an image of what the character is occupied with while travelling and resting (this will guarantee that a character is not stuck due to lack of low-level challenges for a specific skill)
Too abstract for my taste. You can solve quests by killing then get non-combat skills go up because they are tagged, allegedly because your character did a lot of thinking between killing.

Plus I prefer simple rules in complex systems. You want your skills to go up? Use them. You want to get more learning points out of every opportunity to apply your skills? Tag them.

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3) You cannot change what skills are tagged on will.
Or at all. Whatever your affinity is, you shouldn't wake up one day and realize that today you feel like guns & ammo (because your skills need a boost).

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4) When the maximum rank is achieved (if this is possible) other skills of the same group start to benefit whenever the maxed skill should get xp.
Not possible. After you max a skill, you'll unlock a mastery range. Maxing a skill won't be easy, maxing the mastery levels won't be possible.

Quote
5) The total xp needed to get a new rank in a non-fighting skill is reduced by 3%*(Sum of that skill ranks of the other the party members - # of other party members). In other words, every rank of your companions above 1 reduces amount of xp required to get new ranks by 3%. This represents a kind of experience exchange in a party (as non-fighting skills don't require more than 1 character experienced with it, there should be some benefit from ranks of "junior skill-owners"; when I met Ismail in DR I learned out my alchemy ranks were a waste of skill points).
While I understand the concern, the learn-by-use system would make things easier. In general though, having a full party would bring its own benefits, so I'm not sure yet if there's a need to boost the non-combat skills.

Quote
Whenever the player character is being created, the player chooses one or several weapon skills which form a "fight style". The number of weapon skills to choose depends on Intelligence. For example, 4 Int = 1 weapon skill, 6=2, 8=3, 10=4. These skills actually become one and develop simultaneously which means: if one respective skill is tagged, the rest become tagged too for free; if one skill is used, the rest get the same xp.
Using one weapon skill and raising up to 4 skills at the same time is too much. Same goes for the tagging suggestion. It seems that a big part of your proposal can be summed up as "we need more skills at higher levels", followed by different ways to achieve that. While your suggestion is well thought through, it goes against our core design.
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Sotnik
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« Reply #2 on: March 23, 2017, 01:49:17 pm »

Dear Vince,

Thank you for your comments. I have read again the Dev Diary and comments to them and slightly updated the OP: renamed "Skill xp" for "Learning points" (I presume the previously used term was misleading) and deleted one item.
If the ideas above do not comply with the core design, I still hope the discussion highlights some game design traps to be disarmed.
Some of my initial and further comments might be irrelevant in case the options for encounters and solutions are perfectly structured. As an option, a challenge with difficulty 5 could be easily done by a character with a rank 5 but if the rank is 3 it is also possible to accomplish the task by choosing correct "dialogue" lines several times and learning out some relevant information in advance like finding a blueprint of the lock.


2) Tagged skills don't increase faster on use.
Why? Wouldn't it make sense for skills you have a certain affinity with to develop faster? An artistic person would learn more from each hour spent drawing than a person who isn't.

Indeed. But I described an approach where tagged skills mean skills the character is currently concentrating on out of practical use.

Instead, whenever a character accomplishes quests and gets Learning points, tagged skills progress too. Skill xp is not divided: every tagged skill gets a fixed amount of xp. This feature represents learning by reflection, discussion, watching, reading in addition to the item 1, learning by doing. It is also an image of what the character is occupied with while travelling and resting (this will guarantee that a character is not stuck due to lack of low-level challenges for a specific skill)
Too abstract for my taste. You can solve quests by killing then get non-combat skills go up because they are tagged, allegedly because your character did a lot of thinking between killing.

Plus I prefer simple rules in complex systems. You want your skills to go up? Use them. You want to get more learning points out of every opportunity to apply your skills? Tag them.

I see that the system I proposed hybridizes the learn-by-use concept. Actually, it is already hybridized by levels and feats. Let me explain my concerns.
If you make a system that is totally dependent on activities, that means that whenever a character skips an opportunity to apply a skill, he gets behind (as you mentioned, achieving a grandmaster level is extremely difficult). Therefore, the player is forced to use any dialogue option, any encounter to update the skills he needs. Therefore, a player is forced to take decisions contradicting role-playing style he has chosen for his character.
For example, lockpick: I want to play a Robin Hood, I want to rob property of rich bad guys and befriend with good people. But that is impossible if I need to practice every time I have an opportunity. Maybe (!) I can invest all my feats into lockpick and compensate, but that means that my feat structure will be quite boring (I believe there will be something more interesting than just "-1 to check difficulty"). I hope I expressed myself clearly.
You mentioned skill books and trainers used to get additional learning points. This is, of course, a matter of taste, but this way brings excessive randomization (if you need to find them) and I personally don't like when your character's immanent variables depend on currency (if you need to buy them).

3) You cannot change what skills are tagged on will.
Or at all. Whatever your affinity is, you shouldn't wake up one day and realize that today you feel like guns & ammo (because your skills need a boost).

Well, in this case your character's way may become too streamlined. You need to go through a chain of encounters and solutions pre-determined at the character creation window because no alternative way gives you enough learning points to reach high ranks in initially untagged skills.

4) When the maximum rank is achieved (if this is possible) other skills of the same group start to benefit whenever the maxed skill should get Learning points.
Not possible. After you max a skill, you'll unlock a mastery range. Maxing a skill won't be easy, maxing the mastery levels won't be possible.

Thank you for clarification. I deleted the item from the OP.

5) The total # of Learning points needed to get a new rank in a non-fighting skill is reduced by 3%*(Sum of that skill ranks of the other the party members - # of other party members). In other words, every rank of your companions above 1 reduces amount of xp required to get new ranks by 3%. This represents a kind of experience exchange in a party (as non-fighting skills don't require more than 1 character experienced with it, there should be some benefit from ranks of "junior skill-owners"; when I met Ismail in DR I learned out my alchemy ranks were a waste of skill points).
While I understand the concern, the learn-by-use system would make things easier. In general though, having a full party would bring its own benefits, so I'm not sure yet if there's a need to boost the non-combat skills.

This is not about boosting skills because the described feature can always be compensated by correcting the default Learning points required for skill rank upgrade. The main purpose of the suggestion is to allow more diversity of the party structure by giving some benefits to having companions with similar skills. In real life a second mechanist could be useful in a party, but the game rules force me to choose an electrician who can bring a new skill to the party instead of the second mechanist whom I would prefer due to role-playing motives.

It can be done in another fashion like "assist" in D&D where secondary skill owner with a specific skill rank (or a rank close to the rank of the user) can increase the rank count of the skill user for a check.

A third solution has just came to my mind: having companions with similar skills increases their loyalty to you. You and Sandro are both skilled in pistols. This means your party might have troubles with ammo, but Sandro has another reason to respect you and he has a topic for entertaining conversations during travels. Both Sandro and John are experienced in hacking; having a second hacker is useless for you, however although John is sometimes displeased by your behaviour, he sticks to the party because he likes the company of his fellow hacker.

Whenever the player character is being created, the player chooses one or several weapon skills which form a "fight style". The number of weapon skills to choose depends on Intelligence. For example, 4 Int = 1 weapon skill, 6=2, 8=3, 10=4. These skills actually become one and develop simultaneously which means: if one respective skill is tagged, the rest become tagged too for free; if one skill is used, the rest get the same Learning points.
Using one weapon skill and raising up to 4 skills at the same time is too much. Same goes for the tagging suggestion. It seems that a big part of your proposal can be summed up as "we need more skills at higher levels", followed by different ways to achieve that. While your suggestion is well thought through, it goes against our core design.

I would not say this is too much for several reasons:
1) Party consists of up to 4 members, therefore all or almost all ammo types are covered.
2) Melee skills seem to hardly compete with ranged skills. So, this is the only way to keep them useful at least in specific situations.
3) The 3 melee skills and the 6 ranged skills are more or less interchangeable. Therefore, the proposal is aimed at a tactical diversification that could be compensated by a respective difficulty increase. The current design of 3 weapon skill groups implies that if I have pistols at the rank 6, I will have SMG at the level 3 (for example). What is the point to use SMG at all? I would better spend AP to make a tactical move or wait or whatever to use the full potential of pistols. Especially, if I already have a few pistol-specific feats. This way no synergy is possible.
4) You need Int 10 to have a fight style comprising of 4 skills which makes just a small compensation for lacking other attributes useful in a fight.


P.S. I've recently launched Tyranny and was amused by the necessity to run from one crate to another in a right sequence to upgrade the lockpick skill. At least, Tyranny features trainers, although the fact that you have to visit them before every lvl up in advance makes the implementation terrible.
« Last Edit: March 23, 2017, 02:24:22 pm by Sotnik » Logged
Vince
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« Reply #3 on: March 23, 2017, 05:45:07 pm »

If the ideas above do not comply with the core design, I still hope the discussion highlights some game design traps to be disarmed.
Of course.

Quote
Some of my initial and further comments might be irrelevant in case the options for encounters and solutions are perfectly structured. As an option, a challenge with difficulty 5 could be easily done by a character with a rank 5 but if the rank is 3 it is also possible to accomplish the task by choosing correct "dialogue" lines several times and learning out some relevant information in advance like finding a blueprint of the lock.
Not planned. Either way, eventually we'll present a demo with 3-4 areas and gather feedback before moving further. Thus everyone will have a chance to evaluate the actual gameplay and offer criticism and suggestions. I'm sure this first draft (the demo) won't be perfect but we'll tweak it and make whatever changes necessary to make it good.

Quote
If you make a system that is totally dependent on activities, that means that whenever a character skips an opportunity to apply a skill, he gets behind (as you mentioned, achieving a grandmaster level is extremely difficult). Therefore, the player is forced to use any dialogue option, any encounter to update the skills he needs. Therefore, a player is forced to take decisions contradicting role-playing style he has chosen for his character.

For example, lockpick: I want to play a Robin Hood, I want to rob property of rich bad guys and befriend with good people. But that is impossible if I need to practice every time I have an opportunity. Maybe (!) I can invest all my feats into lockpick and compensate, but that means that my feat structure will be quite boring (I believe there will be something more interesting than just "-1 to check difficulty"). I hope I expressed myself clearly.
If you want to play a thief, you'll have opportunities to play in a manner fitting your character without forcing you to click on every container. Basically, instead of giving you 10 generic containers that give you 10 points each, we can give you 3 "quest" containers that give you 30 points each.

Quick example: you're asked to get a certain item from a certain man with his own crew (meaning well guarded). You can convince him to sell you the item, you can CS him, grab the item and walk out, you can go all guns blazing, or you can sneak in and steal it. It's an early quest so the checks will be low (rank 2), this the way you'll choose to solve this and other early quests will define your character. You won't have to run around and talk to everyone/click on everything to raise skills. Choices & Consequences.

Quote
You mentioned skill books and trainers used to get additional learning points. This is, of course, a matter of taste, but this way brings excessive randomization (if you need to find them) and I personally don't like when your character's immanent variables depend on currency (if you need to buy them).
It's a good reward for explorers. You won't be able to buy them.

Quote
Well, in this case your character's way may become too streamlined. You need to go through a chain of encounters and solutions pre-determined at the character creation window because no alternative way gives you enough learning points to reach high ranks in initially untagged skills.
Which is fine. You decide what kind of character you want to play, pick skills you'd like to max, and stick with them. The rest are secondary and minor skills for you.

Quote
This is not about boosting skills because the described feature can always be compensated by correcting the default Learning points required for skill rank upgrade. The main purpose of the suggestion is to allow more diversity of the party structure by giving some benefits to having companions with similar skills. In real life a second mechanist could be useful in a party, but the game rules force me to choose an electrician who can bring a new skill to the party instead of the second mechanist whom I would prefer due to role-playing motives.
In general, the way we design quest checks, you either know something or you don't. Having two more guys who know as much as you do or less won't help you. While we can easily factor in party members' knowledge (group average, group sum, number of people with skill at a certain rank, etc), I don't want to force the player to play a high CHA character.

Quote
I would not say this is too much for several reasons:
1) Party consists of up to 4 members, therefore all or almost all ammo types are covered.
2) Melee skills seem to hardly compete with ranged skills. So, this is the only way to keep them useful at least in specific situations.
3) The 3 melee skills and the 6 ranged skills are more or less interchangeable. Therefore, the proposal is aimed at a tactical diversification that could be compensated by a respective difficulty increase. The current design of 3 weapon skill groups implies that if I have pistols at the rank 6, I will have SMG at the level 3 (for example). What is the point to use SMG at all? I would better spend AP to make a tactical move or wait or whatever to use the full potential of pistols. Especially, if I already have a few pistol-specific feats. This way no synergy is possible.
4) You need Int 10 to have a fight style comprising of 4 skills which makes just a small compensation for lacking other attributes useful in a fight.
You get 4 tagged skills at INT10. If you want, you can tag 4 weapon skills, so you do have this option. What you're suggesting goes too far, in my opinion. Might as well go with 3 skills: Firearms, Energy, Melee and let you use any weapon you want in each group. As for melee, while the focus is on firearms, bullets are somewhat expensive and thus limited, which makes melee a logical and reliable backup weapon. Basically, firearms are a superior general weapon as long as you have ammo. So most fights will be a mix of firearms and melee combat.

Quote
P.S. I've recently launched Tyranny and was amused by the necessity to run from one crate to another in a right sequence to upgrade the lockpick skill. At least, Tyranny features trainers, although the fact that you have to visit them before every lvl up in advance makes the implementation terrible.
Didn't play it (yet) so can't comment.
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Sotnik
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« Reply #4 on: March 23, 2017, 06:08:11 pm »

Some of my initial and further comments might be irrelevant in case the options for encounters and solutions are perfectly structured. As an option, a challenge with difficulty 5 could be easily done by a character with a rank 5 but if the rank is 3 it is also possible to accomplish the task by choosing correct "dialogue" lines several times and learning out some relevant information in advance like finding a blueprint of the lock.
Not planned. Either way, eventually we'll present a demo with 3-4 areas and gather feedback before moving further. Thus everyone will have a chance to evaluate the actual gameplay and offer criticism and suggestions. I'm sure this first draft (the demo) won't be perfect but we'll tweak it and make whatever changes necessary to make it good.

Thank you, I see your position and look forward to test when the time is right.


P.S. I've recently launched Tyranny and was amused by the necessity to run from one crate to another in a right sequence to upgrade the lockpick skill. At least, Tyranny features trainers, although the fact that you have to visit them before every lvl up in advance makes the implementation terrible.
Didn't play it (yet) so can't comment.

I think the game is generally good and relatively close to the CSG concept, so it might be a useful experience. 
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Vince
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« Reply #5 on: March 24, 2017, 06:41:51 am »

Thank you, I see your position and look forward to test when the time is right.
That would be best.

It's impossible to translate the concepts (which is all we have now) into gameplay with 100% accuracy. Since your suggestions are of a very specific nature, it would best to discuss them after you play the demo.
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NewAgeOfPower
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« Reply #6 on: March 24, 2017, 08:52:49 am »

OT Query: CSG is going to be longer or shorter than AoD? IIRC this was one of the biggest complaints about AoD; each run was relatively short although AoD has its content split across (mostly) eight runs with branching and significant overlap.

Optimizing towards four runs but doubling the length may yield a more enjoyable experience.
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Vince
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« Reply #7 on: March 24, 2017, 09:07:21 am »

OT Query: CSG is going to be longer or shorter than AoD?
Much longer.
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