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Ketchaval

Skill Develpment Tree Structure?

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Inspired by Jonas''s table of jobs / skills http://www.chronocross.de/bt/btjcac.htm Is character development by means of an RTS style tech-tree of choices a good way of doing allowing the player to develop their character''s skills / character? Advantages: 1. This allows the designer to limit the number of choices which face the player at any one time. Particularly, early on in the game, where too much choice could make the learning curve steeper. The designer can put some of these choices in at significant plot events if necessary. 2. It should "theoretically" allow you to balance the game on paper, more easily. As you know when they will upgrade. (And know what the range of possible combinations are, even though they may be fairly wide). 3. Earlier choices can be more general choices, thus allowing the player to get the flavour of the different path-ways through the table. (Ie. If they want to become a dedicated archer, and what they will then choose to put that skill to use for). Keep clicking those banner adverts! (They do give some cash to gamedev.net right?, and gd need all the cash they can get.).

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i was just thinking of the same thing
but i was mostly inspierd by diablo II...
you could play with, lets say, the amazon
four time and each time you choose a
different skill tree.

i had both the same ideas for using it for the story,
but what happends when its a skirmish? Multiplayer?
the route is waaaaay too steep.

gil

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1) But it also limits the number of choices the player can make. I guess that the proposed system is a hybrid of the pre-set classes (pick: warrior, thief, cleric or mage and stick with that choice throughout the game) and the skill-based game (pick skills at lots of moments throughout the game, and let the skills determine the overall ''class'' of your character).
I''ve never been a fan of the RTS tech-tree style anyway... seems too much like a forced path to me. You either pick a or b. It still doesn''t give me a lot of options.

2) I''m not sure if it''s easier to balance a system like this. Any time you let players make choices, you make it harder to balance. I think that if you start out with 32 classes to choose from as opposed to starting out with only 1 but giving the player 5 ''a or b'' choices throughout the game (which would also result in 32 classes) it''s actually easier to create a balance.
I do think it''s more FUN to be able to make the choices during the game though, and I think it''ll make for better gameplay.
You could make the choices part of a character''s life growing up. As a 10 year old you get to choose whether you prefer sports over study (probably the most used ''choice'' in rpgs to determine if your character will be a spellcaster or a melee fighter). Say you pick sports. As a 15 year old you get to decide what sports you want to proceed in: track or boxing (agility or strenght). Say you pick strenght. Then at age 20, you get to pick if you want to be a heavyweight fighter or a featherweight (brute strenght and endurance, or strenght combined with speed and agility). These choices can of course be put into pretty much any setting you like (for rpgs, the norm seems to be fantasy)
More fun... but I don''t see how it''s easier to balance.

3) Hm, I should''ve put the whole ''choices'' part into this third point. Ah well, too lazy to cut/paste

In short: limiting choices of player in beginning is logical and seems to be a better way of approaching rpg. But, I don''t think it''s easier to balance (especially, since you''ll have to make ''a'' and ''b'' equally useful for a player. If ''a'' is just a much better choice, you might as well not even give them the choice, as every player will pick ''a'' anyway. Then again, if choosing ''b'' allows them to choose ''c'' later on, which is even better than ''a''... there you go)



Woohoo... I''m on day 7 on my C++ in 21 days course. %Another two weeks and I''ll be a master programmer!%

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I don''t like tech trees. IMO, they''re bogus because they offer a limited amount of gameplay. As well, you have to memorize or refer to a cheat sheet to get the path right for the technology you''re seeking. Furthermore, you are vested in a tech tree.

"Aww hell! I got a and b so I could get c but after I got c, which was really expensive it opened up d and e. E is what I wanted but after I ''purchased'' it, I''m finding it''s not what I want. Now I wasted all that ''money'' (resources, time, improvement points) on a,b,c, and e!"

Instead, I think investing in particular skills makes more sense. Sure, classes are easier because you let wizards learn whatever is wizardly but for REAL, do you know someone in a white collar job who is incapable of providing any means of support/experience outside of the office?

Probably not. Dave, by trade, is a white collar office guy. He writes games and uses a computer. That''s what he''s good at and is really proficient with. But Dave also is pretty good at mountain climbing, white water rafting, knows a thing or two about welding, and even has some experience with carpentry.

If I decide I want to learn about feline birthing procedures, the library won''t bar me from getting the book because I work in an office. Now on the flip side, a vetrinarian''s library might require me to either be a vet or pay some sort of "friends of vets" fee to use their library. Fine, but that''s because I don''t have the skill yet. If I become a vet (ie, pay to get books, study, prove my ability through a test) then I get to get in the library for free.

I think it''s about balance but without limiting characters desire to grow into a unique combination of skills and attributes. I think Warhammer(?) has a pretty good system for this with career exits and so on but it''s not as open as I''d like to see.

At the very least it makes folks think twice. Sure, he''s a warrior and I just knocked him down to where he''ll probably die of wounds but how do I know he doesn''t have herblore skills and could heal himself. Or he might look like a thief and I as a warrior should just go club him on the head but what if he''s also a spellcaster.

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My alias is Jonus - NOT Jonas. The chart is made for a Turn-Based Role Playing Strategy(RPS) game.
I focus on jobs NOT on skills, ''cause i need something like stone/scissors/paper in my game.

A skill-based system is difficultier to design than a job based system, ''cause
1. If you give players the chance to get all the strong spells/skills, you will be unable to balance anything.

2. in the end it make the party less unique, because the player will find the most powerfull skill/set of skills and then every character will have it/them.

3. finally you must make very strikt requirements for each skill which will annoy new players, ''cause they must read through the whole skill req. guide to get that cool armorgeddon spell 5 lvls sooner.

For a normal RPG or a MMORPG a skill based system is a good choice, but for anything strategical - forget it - just my two cents.

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Ketcheval:
It depends on what kind of development you''re talking about. If you''re talking about regular trades anyone can learn (archery, spell-casting, cooking), than a skill-based system is most definitely best because of kerryl''s analysis. Even people who specialize in one field know more than what their college taught them.

Now, if you''re talking about specific powers or spells (i.e., Diablo II), then I think using a tree would make sense. This forces a person to decide beforehand if they want to use mostly fire spells or mostly ice spells, and I think this makes sense because you really need to specialize if you''re going to be a master sorcerer. Then again, this is based entirely on how dynamic you want your magic/skill sytem to be.

I''m using a cross between both. Basic abilities are developed individually using a skill list. I''ve got nine skill groups, each of which is associated to one of nine attributes. I''m also using a synergy system so related skills can improve one another (e.g., swinging a sword is not very different from swinging an axe).

Specific powers, which I''m calling "qualities," are learned separately from the skill system. Since I''m dispensing with levels, I have to find a new way to learn them (originally it was one quality every five levels), but basically it works like Diablo II''s skill trees. This is for an action-RPG, by the way.
quote:
Jonus said:
A skill-based system is difficultier to design than a job based system, ''cause
1. If you give players the chance to get all the strong spells/skills, you will be unable to balance anything.

2. in the end it make the party less unique, because the player will find the most powerfull skill/set of skills and then every character will have it/them.

3. finally you must make very strikt requirements for each skill which will annoy new players, ''cause they must read through the whole skill req. guide to get that cool armorgeddon spell 5 lvls sooner.

Jonus''s points are completely irrelevant. Balance and simplicity are creatures of the designer and have absolutely nothing to do with which system you use.

1. Limit the number of skill points you give out. Limit the maximum rating a character can attain in any given skill, or all skills. Ultima Online allowed a maximum of 700 skill points to be distributed among some 60 skills (max rating: 100).

2. If your system is balanced, there is no such thing as a "most powerful" skill. The easiest way to achieve this is to give each skill a compliment that makes it less effective (i.e., defensive abilities). If someone wants to specialize in defense and make a tank character, let them. They won''t be able to kill anything with their non-existent fighting skills.

3. I totally don''t understand what point you''re trying to make here. You always have to read something to know what abilities you can attain later no matter what type of system you use. Jobs make it even more difficult because you have to read the ability table for every single job, which is something I would rather not have to do.

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quote:
Tom said:
Jonus''s points are completely irrelevant. Balance and simplicity are creatures of the designer and have absolutely nothing to do with which system you use.

Yes your somewhat right

quote:
Tom said:
1. Limit the number of skill points you give out. Limit the maximum rating a character can attain in any given skill, or all skills. Ultima Online allowed a maximum of 700 skill points to be distributed among some 60 skills (max rating: 100).

As i wrote in my first post i absolute aggree with your No.1. A skill based system is a good choice for a normal RPG or a MMORPG. IMHO its not possible to balance such systems very good as you can see on Diablo2 and UO when it comes to PvP. Lets see what SW:G will do.

quote:
Tom said:
2. If your system is balanced, there is no such thing as a "most powerful" skill. The easiest way to achieve this is to give each skill a compliment that makes it less effective (i.e., defensive abilities). If someone wants to specialize in defense and make a tank character, let them. They won''t be able to kill anything with their non-existent fighting skills.

Yes this is all right, but the fighting skills that kill MAX will be prefered by most players. An example for this is D2, WW_Barbs, Hammerdins, FireSorc, and so on ... u choose the most killing skill and then MAX it. In an ''real'' RPG this would make no sense ''cause you need lock picking, cooking, repairing ... various other skills to survive out there.

Btw D2 is a primary Job based, secondary skill based system and bad designed too IMO.

quote:
Tom said:
3. I totally don''t understand what point you''re trying to make here. You always have to read something to know what abilities you can attain later no matter what type of system you use. Jobs make it even more difficult because you have to read the ability table for every single job, which is something I would rather not have to do.

Where i want to point is at games like the old AD&D PC games and its clones.

In the end i like all kinds of tree systems. :D
Btw Tom have you put the design docs of your Action-RPG online somewhere? The link to your website in your profile is dead. The system you described sounds intressting.

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quote:
Original post by Jonus
As i wrote in my first post i absolute aggree with your No.1. A skill based system is a good choice for a normal RPG or a MMORPG. IMHO its not possible to balance such systems very good as you can see on Diablo2 and UO when it comes to PvP. Lets see what SW:G will do.

...

Yes this is all right, but the fighting skills that kill MAX will be prefered by most players. An example for this is D2, WW_Barbs, Hammerdins, FireSorc, and so on ... u choose the most killing skill and then MAX it. In an ''real'' RPG this would make no sense ''cause you need lock picking, cooking, repairing ... various other skills to survive out there.



Diablo only has one way to do things: kill everything. Of course they can''t balance the skill trees , the combination of skills which produce even the slightest advantage in killing more/faster is going to be picked by everyone.

Any game with an extremely limited number of ways to accomplish goals is going to suffer from this lack of balance.

Or more specifically, a game where you can only get score/experience for killing things is probably going to be unbalanced.

If you want more balance, award score/experience based on accomplishing goals, with no particular reward for how it was accomplished. This was something that I really liked in Deus Ex, and was part of what made its skills so well balanced.

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