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Character advancement


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#1 HNikolas   Members   -  Reputation: 192

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Posted 05 April 2012 - 07:44 AM

I am designing a RPG game and I am not sure what skill advancement system to implement. Currently systems I can think of:

- Time based. Similar to EVE, character gains X amount of XP every minute in specific skill, training also continues when player is not playing.
- Each skill gets X amount of XP when player trains this specific skill.
- Player gains XP doing different actions and then allocates the gained XP on any skill he chooses. Could be improved by categorising all the skills and then letting player spend XP only on that skill category he gained it from.


Bare in mind that the game will have nearly 30 different skills ranging from combat to gathering to vehicles.

Was wondering what people here think would be the most fun and also am I missing anything?
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#2 Zethariel   Members   -  Reputation: 310

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Posted 05 April 2012 - 08:12 AM

A skill system has to compliment the overall game experience -- each of the systems you mentioned is good for certain game flows. What is your game about, what players are supposed to do, how fast do they gain all the skills?
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#3 wuut   Members   -  Reputation: 126

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Posted 05 April 2012 - 12:02 PM

My favourite is: learning by doing.
Make the skill-levels scalar and raise them by doing the appropriate skill. Like Ulima Online, Oblivion/Skyrim and many others.
The main advantage on this is, you dont have to care about xp at all.
Disadvantege: its maybe difficult to balance and sometimes makes no sense IMHO.

J

#4 HNikolas   Members   -  Reputation: 192

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Posted 06 April 2012 - 03:42 PM

A skill system has to compliment the overall game experience -- each of the systems you mentioned is good for certain game flows. What is your game about, what players are supposed to do, how fast do they gain all the skills?

The game is basically a small RPG set in distant future where people live in settlements. The games purpouse is mainly settlements gain but also personal gain.

My favourite is: learning by doing.
Make the skill-levels scalar and raise them by doing the appropriate skill. Like Ulima Online, Oblivion/Skyrim and many others.
The main advantage on this is, you dont have to care about xp at all.
Disadvantege: its maybe difficult to balance and sometimes makes no sense IMHO.

J

I gave it some thought before making the thread too but I feel like that system would really be just about grinding levels. In the other hand, with careful planning, it could work well.

Currently I am leaning towards modified version of wuut's suggestion. Basically all the skills are categorised and by training any of the skills under a certain category, player can spend the XP on any of the skills in that category.

Another idea what I am humoring is basically adding the following to the previous idea: Player can use instruction discs on himself and by doing that, he will absorb the data and gain X amount of XP of that skill in X amount of time.

So in a nutshell: The game would have time based learning and playing based learning together.


What do you guys think?
Ruby on Rails, ASP.NET MVC, jQuery and everything else web.. now also trying my hand on games.

#5 wuut   Members   -  Reputation: 126

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Posted 07 April 2012 - 07:12 PM

Currently I am leaning towards modified version of wuut's suggestion. Basically all the skills are categorised and by training any of the skills under a certain category, player can spend the XP on any of the skills in that category.


Like having a category "fire magic" with skills like "fire ball", "passive fire skills", "fire nova" and so on.
So you can level up the category "fire magic" by doing "fire ball", get xp points and spend them later on "fire nova" !?!
Sounds intersting.

Another idea what I am humoring is basically adding the following to the previous idea: Player can use instruction discs on himself and by doing that, he will absorb the data and gain X amount of XP of that skill in X amount of time.


I am not sure what you mean. More explanation please.

#6 jefferytitan   Members   -  Reputation: 1650

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Posted 09 April 2012 - 02:24 AM

I did have one thought that I don't recall seeing around. XP based on both quantity AND quality of events, e.g. killing a rat gives you 1XP, but XP from rat-killing is capped at 5XP. If you want more XP you can't grind by killing rats, you need to move up to something tougher. Perhaps if someone wants to specialise in rat-killing they can become an idiot-savant at killing rats, but that extra experience doesn't help them killing anything else (above the cap).

#7 ImmoralAtheist   Members   -  Reputation: 118

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Posted 09 April 2012 - 05:40 AM

I am designing a RPG game and I am not sure what skill advancement system to implement. Currently systems I can think of:

Here's some of my ideas.

You could make it so that every skill is learn by doing but that there's a level cap how how much you can train in each skill.
You need special skill points, and these can be gained through time, xp system (for each level), or doing certain special stuff (missions), or a combination of these.
These skill points could be used on a skill to raise it's level cap.

Say skills go from 0-100. Unupgraded they are capped at lvl 30. You can spend a skill point to upgrade a skill to the next stage, and thereby raising the level cap to 40. Depending on how important a skill is, it may require different amount of skill points to upgrade. Skill points can also be specialized into categories. Some are for gathering, other for combat.
They could also be catecorized into eary stage or late upgrade. Normal skill points might upgrade 30-40, 40-50, 50-60, 60-70 while gold skill points are needed for 70-80, 80-90, 90-100. Normal skill points could be limitless so that in time you could train every skill up to atleast lvl 70. Gold skill points could be limited, and a player must carefully choose what he want to specialize in.
This would be somewhat similar to the Witcher with its bronze, silver and gold talents. You could do most bronze upgrades, but only a few gold upgrades.

#8 Sayid Ahmed   Members   -  Reputation: 134

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Posted 09 April 2012 - 06:14 AM

Try Mortal Online's mechanic. From what I understand it's basically grind less - you can prepare yourself for PvP in a week. It's more of a factor of how good you are with the action of fighting. It's also more crafting orientated; getting hold of the right metals and catalysts to create the right weapons and armour.

That may not be exactly true for Mortal Online but nonetheless it's a thought.

If you look at Mount and Blade, your character advances through better item capability and better companions. Skills are more important in the leadership and party management sense than in the personal development. Again, it's action based so your style of fighting > your level.

Alternatively, if your game isn't action based, what you suggested above with experience being a function of time is not bad at all.

#9 HNikolas   Members   -  Reputation: 192

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Posted 09 April 2012 - 07:51 AM

Thank you all for the ideas!

I did have one thought that I don't recall seeing around. XP based on both quantity AND quality of events, e.g. killing a rat gives you 1XP, but XP from rat-killing is capped at 5XP. If you want more XP you can't grind by killing rats, you need to move up to something tougher. Perhaps if someone wants to specialise in rat-killing they can become an idiot-savant at killing rats, but that extra experience doesn't help them killing anything else (above the cap).

I like the realism in the idea a lot and it also reduces grind a lot by basically forcing the player to equip for harder monsters and slay them. Very interesting!

Here's some of my ideas.

You could make it so that every skill is learn by doing but that there's a level cap how how much you can train in each skill.
You need special skill points, and these can be gained through time, xp system (for each level), or doing certain special stuff (missions), or a combination of these.
These skill points could be used on a skill to raise it's level cap.

Say skills go from 0-100. Unupgraded they are capped at lvl 30. You can spend a skill point to upgrade a skill to the next stage, and thereby raising the level cap to 40. Depending on how important a skill is, it may require different amount of skill points to upgrade. Skill points can also be specialized into categories. Some are for gathering, other for combat.
They could also be catecorized into eary stage or late upgrade. Normal skill points might upgrade 30-40, 40-50, 50-60, 60-70 while gold skill points are needed for 70-80, 80-90, 90-100. Normal skill points could be limitless so that in time you could train every skill up to atleast lvl 70. Gold skill points could be limited, and a player must carefully choose what he want to specialize in.
This would be somewhat similar to the Witcher with its bronze, silver and gold talents. You could do most bronze upgrades, but only a few gold upgrades.

If I understand you correctly: Player could level a certain skill some levels without needing any additional skill upgrades? After reaching the point, he unlocks the ability to use skill upgrades on the skill which in turn allows him to level the skill more by X levels? If thats so I like it very much. Very good suggestion and it has a time based factor too which is great and exactly what I wanted. Did you thought this idea yourself or is there a game I could see it in practice?

Try Mortal Online's mechanic. From what I understand it's basically grind less - you can prepare yourself for PvP in a week. It's more of a factor of how good you are with the action of fighting. It's also more crafting orientated; getting hold of the right metals and catalysts to create the right weapons and armour.

That may not be exactly true for Mortal Online but nonetheless it's a thought.

If you look at Mount and Blade, your character advances through better item capability and better companions. Skills are more important in the leadership and party management sense than in the personal development. Again, it's action based so your style of fighting > your level.

Alternatively, if your game isn't action based, what you suggested above with experience being a function of time is not bad at all.

The game is mainly focused on exploration-slaying-crafting and not so much on killing players, socializing etc(its single player RPG afterall). I haven't played MO but the idea I get from your post is that the player is given a task of some sort on each level what he has to do(in MO case the task is to kill someone) in order to advance to the next level, after which he gets another task and so on until the skill is maxed.


Didnt think I am able to net so many good ideas so big kudos. Posted Image
What do you guys think when looking from the fun perspective, what system is the most fun and also, does any of you have any other suggestions?
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#10 ImmoralAtheist   Members   -  Reputation: 118

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Posted 09 April 2012 - 10:05 AM


Here's some of my ideas.

You could make it so that every skill is learn by doing but that there's a level cap how how much you can train in each skill.
You need special skill points, and these can be gained through time, xp system (for each level), or doing certain special stuff (missions), or a combination of these.
These skill points could be used on a skill to raise it's level cap.

Say skills go from 0-100. Unupgraded they are capped at lvl 30. You can spend a skill point to upgrade a skill to the next stage, and thereby raising the level cap to 40. Depending on how important a skill is, it may require different amount of skill points to upgrade. Skill points can also be specialized into categories. Some are for gathering, other for combat.
They could also be catecorized into eary stage or late upgrade. Normal skill points might upgrade 30-40, 40-50, 50-60, 60-70 while gold skill points are needed for 70-80, 80-90, 90-100. Normal skill points could be limitless so that in time you could train every skill up to atleast lvl 70. Gold skill points could be limited, and a player must carefully choose what he want to specialize in.
This would be somewhat similar to the Witcher with its bronze, silver and gold talents. You could do most bronze upgrades, but only a few gold upgrades.

If I understand you correctly: Player could level a certain skill some levels without needing any additional skill upgrades? After reaching the point, he unlocks the ability to use skill upgrades on the skill which in turn allows him to level the skill more by X levels? If thats so I like it very much. Very good suggestion and it has a time based factor too which is great and exactly what I wanted. Did you thought this idea yourself or is there a game I could see it in practice?

Yes that's basically right (I think).
I'm renaming skill points to talent points (like in Witcher) for less confusion. Earning talent points, and gaining levels in skills are two separate things. Just like in Skyrim you level up skills by using them. However you can not train them up to 100. You can increase them to some cap (say lvl 30). You can raise this level cap by spending talent points on a specific skill. A talent point might raise the level cap of herb gathering from 30 to 40. You can still spend it, although you have not yet reached lvl 30 in herb gathering.
Talent points may also do other things. In Skyrim they could have the perk system, and also this level cap. upgrading perks in a skill tree will raise the level cap of that skill.
Pherhaps more important is the categorizing of talent points. It takes lots of time, but a player may be able to get enough normal talent points, so that every skill can be trained up to level 70, and with even more time, all skills will be trained to lvl 70. The gold talent points is the specialization part, where a limited amount of skills can be trained even further and up to lvl 100.

No game does this (that I know off), but you can find the different elements in different games. It's simply mixing different designs and somehow fusing them together:
Posted Image

Like with the categorized talent points, I didn't think of the Witcher until after I thought of this categorizing talent points, but I may have thought of that because I have played the Witcher. If not, then the picture above would not be representative.

What do you guys think when looking from the fun perspective, what system is the most fun and also, does any of you have any other suggestions?

I liked the levelling by doing in Skyrim. Since Oblivion they've eliminated most of the grindy stuff, and you also have the perks, so that not only skill level matters. However it could have been more strict. You could still power lvl a magic skill, although no spent perks were mage related, and you had not have invested in mana. Still you would get access to the most kickass spells and mage armor, and you could cast those spells (with mana enhancing gear).

#11 Mario D.   Members   -  Reputation: 198

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Posted 09 April 2012 - 10:33 AM

I am against Time-based skill advancement like the one you have described. This is because I don't believe the player would be engaged at all with the skill (depends how it’s designed, of course). The skill would automatically have less value to the player than the player who uses the skill to improve it. The player has to do other things while it is leveling meaning the skill you are leveling can’t be too crucial to the situations the player participates in, skills, in a way, become supplementary instead of necessary. Even if a lot of the skills are optional in advancing, they should feel necessary (I need this to get this, to use this, to play this). Hopefully the core of your game doesn’t depend on waiting.

There are only two advantages (that I could think of) to the time-based skill advancement: Christmas Presents, and Multitasking.

Because training a skill becomes passive, you'll either forget about it and be surprised by the faithful day you skill increases or look forward to the exact day/hour/minute that skill increases. The former would be fun, no doubt in my mind, the latter, however, depends on how long the waits are as their skill increases. Too long and it could become frustrating and boring if you need to level a crucial skill. Too short, and while it would be more exciting, the player might progress too quickly for the situations they will take part in. Also finding items that give you time-based Exp just seem pointless. If I'm a player... "I want it now...wtf?"

I feel multitasking is fun. If I can train this skill, while doing something else, I would feel like I’m progressing as fast as I can, I’m efficient, I’ve understood that the skill I’m training might be needed for another task I’ve put aside for this one instead and I’ll go back after I’ve benefited from the current task and the training while I was completing it.
The other methods are fine in my opinion.




I think a good idea would be progression of not only the character but the advancement system itself. It could be just “use Skill X to increase Skill X” then evolve into “use Skill X to increase Skill X, as well as gain points to allocate into those skills for extra benefits they should be getting anyway and extra choices they didn’t know they had”. It could (maybe) even evolve into the time based system once they reach some kind of “end game”. It would be fun to come back after a while of finishing the game to kick even harder ass (in not only combat) then you did before.

In the end, my suggestion would be an evolving system that does not rely on any time-based mechanics. To keep the player engaged, to keep advancing fresh, and keeping the player feeling like they are mastering the game and its systems.

Edited by Mario D., 09 April 2012 - 11:07 AM.


#12 HNikolas   Members   -  Reputation: 192

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Posted 09 April 2012 - 12:46 PM

I agree with you, Mario, that a pure time based skill system would be either boring or just broken.

What I have against usual XP leveling systems is that they tend to be a lot of grinding. I could loose the advancement of skills from the game completely and let everyone build and use everything from the start, only filtered by their knowledge of the game world and playing skills - the world is vast and there could be a lot of hidden items ready to be discovered and used.

I like it and think it could be a lot of fun for the explorer types but that would, im my opinion, completely cut off the archiever types.
I would ideally like to have a system that tracks advancement of character without giving the player the need to grind and thats probably why I liked the time-based skill system in a way, but its faulty as hell and has a lot of shortcomings.

Perhaps I should choose something along the lines of Archievents in FPS games: Have an archievement diary that keeps track of all the monsters the player has slain and also all the cool stuff player has found, made, used.
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#13 Mario D.   Members   -  Reputation: 198

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Posted 09 April 2012 - 01:58 PM

If you put the player in different situations that allows the use of these skills in different/challenging ways, you won't have a problem with the gameplay feeling like a grind. The grind (at least for me) comes from when I already understand and have mastered the gameplay to the full extent that the game allows me to at the given moment but it still wants me to continue using those skills in the same manner as before. This is because we have to make sure the game is a certain amount of hours (Of course this isn't good design practice in my opinion but its true, some people assume quality when a game asserts having tons of hours of gameplay).

If I'm having fun using the skill in the given situations that challenge my understanding of that skill, then leveling up that skill is a huge plus that could (and probably should if possible) open up new situations and applications of that skill.

I like the idea of allowing the use of everything from the start but you should make sure to present the information in a way that won't overwhelm the player. I don't enjoy games that give a huge list of stats, abilities, and situations and then tell me "Go." You can present pacing that essentially accomplishes what a leveling system would and I think that has a lot of potential.

You won't have a problem cutting off achiever types if what they can build and use is a significant...well...achievement. The system should allow the items and skills to matter and be a sign of status like the way leveling up would be.




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