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RPG skills, narrow or broad

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Just a simple A or B question. But feel free to explain your reasons. Concerning a detailed character advancement role playing game, as a player who is enjoying both gameplay and character advancement (contrast to enjoying character advancement while puting up with gameplay, or vice versa), do you prefer improving skills that have a narrow capacity, or improving skills that have a broad capacity? All skills will be useful, either way, to some types of characters. With narrow skills, each one will cost less, and improve a very specific enhancement, giving the player absolute control and authority over exactly what changes. Broad skills would cost more, and be spread out over a range of improvements, removing some responsibility and commitment from the player. I've just started coming up with a list of likely enhancements for the game (rather than coming up with a list of skills), and the list is already rather large. Here are a few examples: + Counters the weight penalties of heavy armor. + Determines the quickness of aiming ranged weapons. + Determines maximum stamina. + Determines the maximum height that can be dropped from while avoiding damage. + Determines the magnitude of attack power that can be absorbed without reacting to it. + Determines the chance of quick near-death recovery. + Determines the amount of intimidation and anger inflicted by taunting opponents. Another way to go would be to use a header-style grouping of skills. Which would effectively allow either type of access to players. They could spend experience on the header itself to increase everything it parents, or open it and spend it on specific improvements for a fraction of the cost. Honest opinions are welcome.

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Quote:

Another way to go would be to use a header-style grouping of skills. Which would effectively allow either type of access to players. They could spend experience on the header itself to increase everything it parents, or open it and spend it on specific improvements for a fraction of the cost.


That bit right there sounds like a wonderful idea. How about nesting headers even? You could have combat abilities, then defensive and offensive, then specific abilities. Ally the same to other headers. The main thing to watch for here is to make sure that everything under a header is related and that there are about as many equally useful abilities under each. Alternatively, you could create a formula to calculate cost based on what is under the header therefor circumventing the need to level the headers as they are costed per item within them (though that doesnt preclude giving a discount for mass purchase via a header)

As to the question you actually asked, I generally put up with gameplay, but only cus it often sucks because of massive holes in its design. i would love to enjoy both equally. I like relatively narrow abilities that have general use. I am a bit enamored with the idea I read in the Dues Ex postmortem where they designed the game in terms of problems and game tools to create solutions. They didnt think in terms of puzzles with a specific solution, they created challenges and then created tools with multiple uses and allowed the player to solve their problems with them. That in mind, i would support abilities that acted in that way, they could have very specific functions, but should have general usability in a wide variety of situations.

Im not entirely sure that made since, Im thinking about it as I talk about it.

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Sounds pretty much like the "packages" in neverwinter nights... Packages were just pre-assigned groups of skills that players who were'nt d&d nuts or just in a hurry could pick and get a generally beneficial set of skills, or you could drill down and pick exactly what you thought to be good.

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Well there's a difference - spending on a skill group should spread the investment over groups in the skill more efficiently than individually investing in those skills to the same degree. That provides some counter-balance to skill optimization.

Regarding narrow and broad options, I always prefer narrower options since there is more opportunity for strategic variety, and character differentiation.

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I should also note that I prefer the ability to permanently differentiate my character from other possibilities. For instance, choosing skills, but ultimately leveling to the point where I have taken all possible skills or maxed my stats means that I am not longer different from other choices and, to me at least, some of those early decisions lose meaning. On that though, having narrow abilities means variety and lessens the possibility that every character ends up a generalist and essentially the same. Keep in mind though that if a skill is too narrow you may find that either everyone or no one takes it because its a false choice. (IE, extra carrying capacity. If your game fills the inventory a lot, everyone will take it, if it doesnt, no one is. It doesnt end up being a real choice because the decision is too narrow)

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I think I certainly agree with what has gone before...

Narrower skills == good;

skills too narrow == bad, e.g. if you have four or five factors which alter standard attack damage in subtly different ways, giving the player the opportunity to alter each seperately will just create confusion and the player will not kno if they are making a sensible choice, limiting those choices to for example min/max damage would give some flexibility but also keep things simple.

And I like the header idea

And, don;t forget you are asking mainly game developers rather than game players here (not that of course we don't play games, but I'm sure everyone knows what I mean...)

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It's true.

For some strange reason, when a gamer becomes a developer, they somehow lose the ability to know what the average gamers want. It's really bizarre, and kind of sad.

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I prefer a mixture of two...

Let's say the game has a skill tree where players can advance along the skills and become more focused in each category depending on what the player choses.

For example:

Weapon Master - Grants 1% improvement to all weapons per level
- Sword Master - Grants 2% improvement to swords per level
- Spear Master - Grants 2% improvement to spears per level
- Bow Master - Grants 2% improvement to bows per level

Weapon Master grants improvement to all weapons used by a player, while Sword Master grants improvement to usage of sword. The improvement will be much more when compared to Weapon Master, this allows a player to customise the character accordingly to how they want to play it.

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Note that header-style groupings is not a perfect answer to combine the two concepts into one. Some broad skills would be able to combine a multitude of minor effects that wouldn't work very well or be very meaningful as stand-alone skills.

Since everyone seems to be favoring narrow capacity skills, I thought I would try to bring attention to a few positive things about broad capacity skills.

+ It works like a bonus. You're trying to improve a skill, but then later realize that you have this other incredible ability to do something else.

+ Every individual skill can be made equally important. When one isn't, it's as simple as adding another positive effect to it. This makes choosing between skills a heavier choice. You may not know exactly what to choose, because you want everything.

+ It could lead players to explore gameplay that they wouldn't have, otherwise. Maxing out a skill that increases your melee kicking power could result in your ability to jump down from great heights without injury. That could lead players to begin exploring a side of the game that they wouldn't have considered on their own, just to make use of their side-effect ability.

Having all of that said, I prefer narrow capacity skills, because I enjoy taking risks and making personal sacrifices to obtain more power.

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Quote:
Original post by Argus2
Well there's a difference - spending on a skill group should spread the investment over groups in the skill more efficiently than individually investing in those skills to the same degree. That provides some counter-balance to skill optimization.

I considered that, but I'm not sure it's the way to go. The counter balance already exists in the fact that you don't need to know exactly what you want (aiming speed, aiming accuracy, recoil suppression, etc), and can just invest in a general concept (ranged offense).

Increasing the header would have resulted in a slow and balanced climb in all ranged abilities. There really isn't a negative side to it for players who prefer balance, since it would have taken just as long to increase individual skills seperately.

However, some players may have a certain style of playing that makes some skills less useful than others, giving them an edge by focusing on the ones that compliment their style the most. An example would be someone who loves sniping with single-shot rifles. In which case, recoil suppression could be ignored to more quickly boost accuracy. But they would have to accept and play with the limitation that they can not use automatic weapons very well, and that is a negative cost for specialization.

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