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What are the skills in this game?


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I'm consulting my copy of Game Informer over the course of this estimation, and I'll leave page numbers so you can find it in your own copy (assuming you have one).

 

On page 43, there's a quote from Chris Parker: "you have 10 skills."

 

Here's an overview of my estimation from the text:

1. Pistols. Mentioned in the section on emulating the JBs tactics on 43. Also on page 44, it mentions "points in pistols." This is the logical basis for a lot of this - if pistols are mentioned, then I can somewhat guesstimate what else is a skill.

2. Some sort of gadgetry. It mentions using "remote-detonated explosives" if you want to emulate 007 on page 43.

3. Hand-to-hand. Mentions stealthy neck-snapping on 43, also mentions "the monk".

4. Assault Rifle. Mentions the assault rifle on 44. If "pistols" is a skill, then "assault rifles" is probably one too.

5. Shotgun. Picture on page 47 clearly shows Michael holding a shotgun.

6. Stealth. Mentions stealthy neck-snapping on 43, also mentions "the stealth guy," also mentions "the assassin".

7. No idea. Anybody find any other clues in the text?

8. No idea.

9. No idea.

10. No idea.

Edited by Cycloneman
I don't post if I don't have anything to say, which I guess makes me better than the rest of your so-called "community." 8)
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Maybe "Hacking" is a skill? That way you could tap phones and hack into computers and stuff?

"Lockpicking" ought to be a skill, but probably isn't. It might be baked into some other more general skill though.

"Persuasion" is a pretty good skill for a spy to have. Might also be called "Diplomacy".

 

And I don't think they've made one especially for each weapon in the game. More likely "Handguns (revolvers, pistols, etc.)" and "Rifles (including shotguns, assault rifles and sniper rifles)".

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Weaponry will probably be set up in a "small arms" and "big guns" fashion. Hand to hand will definately have it's own skill. If there was mention of explosives, there will likely be some sort of general explosives skill. Stealth is a no-brainer. That gives you 5 skills to start.

 

I'd say there will be some sort of computers skill that will allow you to hack in to systems and various other computer related things. I don't know what else you could combine lockpicking with to make some sort of general skill though. Maybe some sort of general "security" skill? It's an RPG, they will definately have some sort of diplomacy related skill. It'll be interesting to see how they set this one up. Will it be a catchall interaction skill, or will you have separate skills for things like lying, smooth talking and intimidation.

 

The only one that I can think of that hasn't been mentioned in some form would be some sort of athletics skill that'll do things like reduce damage from big falls, allow you to swim faster, or hold you breath longer.

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Maybe "Hacking" is a skill? That way you could tap phones and hack into computers and stuff?

"Lockpicking" ought to be a skill, but probably isn't. It might be baked into some other more general skill though.

I'd say there will be some sort of computers skill that will allow you to hack in to systems and various other computer related things. I don't know what else you could combine lockpicking with to make some sort of general skill though. Maybe some sort of general "security" skill?
Those seem more likely to be just general, automatic spy-skills. Since the article does say:

"At the beginning of the game, Michael is a completely competent CIA operative, but his talents lack the comic book edge that distinguishes other famous special agents. He may be able to defuse bomb and score headshots, but he won't be jumping any motorcycles out of exploding airplanes just yet."

It seems likely those would just be automatic skills Michael has.

It's an RPG, they will definately have some sort of diplomacy related skill. It'll be interesting to see how they set this one up. Will it be a catchall interaction skill, or will you have separate skills for things like lying, smooth talking and intimidation.
"Persuasion" is a pretty good skill for a spy to have. Might also be called "Diplomacy".
Personally, I find the idea of that unlikely, given a couple points:

1. The (current) mechanism for conversation is that you select a mood and it goes automatically. It seems kind of weird if it had you randomly start rolling dice in the middle, without any sort of warning.

2. It seems to imply the game will try to be a bit more "inclusivist" with your playstyle still earning rewards, no matter what you choose with Chris Parker saying things such as "If you play the entire game as the flirt, you'll get one kind of reward. If you're aggressive, you'll get another one. But what if you do a little of everything? We're making sure you get rewarded for that, too." Or another quote (not from Parker) saying "If a game provides a reward for one course of action (but not another) many gamers will re-load a save until they feel they have achieved the best payoff. This will not be necessary with Alpha Protocol."

3. Diplomacy skills are just lame, honestly. They are quite frankly pointless to have because they are so important that most players will put points into them whenever they can.

And I don't think they've made one especially for each weapon in the game. More likely "Handguns (revolvers, pistols, etc.)" and "Rifles (including shotguns, assault rifles and sniper rifles)".
Weaponry will probably be set up in a "small arms" and "big guns" fashion. Hand to hand will definately have it's own skill. If there was mention of explosives, there will likely be some sort of general explosives skill. Stealth is a no-brainer. That gives you 5 skills to start.

Direct quote from text (after mentioning some pistol power tricks):

"If you place enough points in pistols, he will."

 

Oh, and I just found this reading through it again. Speaking about skills: "These can range from individual weapon specialization to stealth." (emphasis added, obviously)

The only one that I can think of that hasn't been mentioned in some form would be some sort of athletics skill that'll do things like reduce damage from big falls, allow you to swim faster, or hold you breath longer.

I dunno, the article itself says that "you won't just get marginally better at shooting a pistol" and such. I mean, what sort of things would an athletics skill do that are active/interesting passives?

Edited by Cycloneman
I don't post if I don't have anything to say, which I guess makes me better than the rest of your so-called "community." 8)
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Using the "Van Buren" style categories:

 

Fighty-skills

We clearly nees a Gunplay skill, as well as a Close Combat skill. I also like the idea of a defensive skill-- call it Evasion. I think that should probably cover it sufficiently. I really don't think that bigger guns needs a separate skill-- sure, there are occasional instances where 007 gets to spray bullets from an AK during a motorboat chase, but I really don't think that movie spies are known very much for being really good with the big guns.

 

Sciency-skills

This one is a little tougher. Computers is a definite yes. Apart from that, I'd like the Fallout-style split between Mechanical (a.k.a., Repair, but would also include the picking of non-electronic locks) and Theoretical science (chemistry, code-breaking, electronics, etc.). Although I don't know the degree to which the latter would be integrated into the game mechanics. One could easily eliminate situations where theoretcial scientific knowledge is needed and instead lump the remainder in with "Computers."

 

Talky-skills

From the "conversation stance" info we have, I'd say that, at a minimum, we need an Intimidation skill and a Sweet Talking skill. (I read the "professional" conversation stance as a neutral approach to take when you don't want to risk offending someone.) I don't really like the idea of a discrete "bluffing" skill-- "Sweet Talking" is pretty much the same regardless of whether you're telling the truth or lying. Ditto with a "haggling" skill. (Although, if the "bagging chicks" element is played up, there might be a use for a Seduction skill.)

 

Other skills

I hate "Stealth" skills. In any semi-realistic environment, the ability to hide and sneak is determined so much more by circumstances (environment, cover, light, attentiveness of the hidee/sneakee, etc.) than it is by skill of the hider/sneaker that there really isn't much point in having a skill for it modeled in a game. (Plus, it suffers from either "fail roll = reload" problems or, if thresholds are used instead of rolls, "high skill = invincible" problems.) I do, however, like the idea of a general Athleticism skill, which could cover climbing, damage from falling, keeping one's balance while engaged in combat on the roof of a moving train, and the like. A lot of the hiding and sneaking could be handled through this skill, gaining the player access to places where less-athletic characters cannot (e.g., guards don't notice guys hanging from the rafters). Lockpicking, I think, is best handled under the Mechanical/Computers skills discussed above. There also probably needs to be a Sleight of Hand skill, so we can cheat at cards and pickpocket the key to the launch-code briefcase. This skill would probably also be useful in attacking from hidden locations. (The skill involved in slipping a garrote around someone's neck isn't all that different from the skill used in nicking the keycard in his pocket.)

 

Disguise would be fun, but it's tough to imagine that there would be enough opportunities to use it for it to be on par with the other skills. Plus, it shares the same "fail roll = reload" problem that "Stealth" does.

 

Given the preponderance of chase scenes in the inspirational material, Driving might be a useful skill, but I really don't like it when my RPGs turn into racing games, so I say no.

 

Lastly, this may be covered as an attribute, but I really like the idea of an Observation skill. Perfect for picking up an opponent's "tell" at the Baccarat table, noticing the far-to-expensive watch the dealer is wearing, or spotting the femme fatale quietly slipping something into our martini.

 

 

So, my list goes:

Gunplay

Close Combat

Evasion

Electronics/Computers

Mechanics

Intimidation

Sweet-Talking

Athleticism

Sleight-of-Hand

Observation

Edited by Enoch
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3. Diplomacy skills are just lame, honestly. They are quite frankly pointless to have because they are so important that most players will put points into them whenever they can.

I agree wholeheartedly that diplomacy usually is a bit lame and way too important to ever pass up on, but history tells me there's going to be some sort of skill like this in the game anyhow. It's Obsidian we're talking about, after all. Maybe some sort of skill that you can steer in a certain direction, form flirty to persuasive to intimidating? Not all in the same build, but you can spend points to become an expert in one of the three fields? As always, time will tell :p

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Apparently, I can no longer edit my first post, so I'll put this down here...

 

Known skill traits (assuming Game Informer is accurate):

1. There will be individual weapon skills.

Reasons:

a) "These [special agent skills] can range from individual weapon specialization to stealth." 43

b) "If you place enough points in pistols," referring to being able to use the pistols skill. 44

2. The skills will not include basic CIA operative stuff.

Reason:

"At the beginning of the game, Michael is a completely competent CIA operative, [...] He may be able to defuse bombs and score headshots [...]" 42 Goes on in each quote to say "but he doesn't have magical awesome action hero powers."

3. Skills will not just be "get marginally better" type things.

Reason (prepare for block of text, couldn't really figure out how to make this as clear without dumping it all out):

"The idea is that your skill points don't just increase damage or accuracy, but actually have a tangible effect on your character build. In other words, you won't just get marginally better at shooting a pistol - you will open up new skills that change your perception of a situation."

I agree wholeheartedly that diplomacy usually is a bit lame and way too important to ever pass up on, but history tells me there's going to be some sort of skill like this in the game anyhow. It's Obsidian we're talking about, after all.
History tells me that this game won't have shooter qualities. It's Obsidian we're talking about.

 

Maybe some sort of skill that you can steer in a certain direction, form flirty to persuasive to intimidating? Not all in the same build, but you can spend points to become an expert in one of the three fields? As always, time will tell
Seems unlikely, as Chris Parker is quoted as saying: "If you play the entire game as the flirt, you'll get one kind of reward. If you're aggressive, you'll get another one. But what if you do a little of everything? We're making sure you get rewarded for that too." Later in the article, the writer says "The team is avoiding this roadblock [refering to a quote by Parker about how it's annoying to re-load because you felt you did it wrong] by making sure players are rewarded for any course of action, not just cleaving tightly to one paradigm." Dividing up "Diplomancy" in different directions would be pretty much the definition of "punish you for not going down the straight and narrow choices we give you".
I don't post if I don't have anything to say, which I guess makes me better than the rest of your so-called "community." 8)
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Later in the article, the writer says "The team is avoiding this roadblock [refering to a quote by Parker about how it's annoying to re-load because you felt you did it wrong] by making sure players are rewarded for any course of action, not just cleaving tightly to one paradigm." Dividing up "Diplomancy" in different directions would be pretty much the definition of "punish you for not going down the straight and narrow choices we give you".

I think the solution to people re-loading when they 'fail' a diplomacy or other check is to make the consequences of failure just as interesting as, but very different from, the consequences of success. Failure is always good for a hero - it reduces smugness.

"An electric puddle is not what I need right now." (Nina Kalenkov)

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History tells me that this game won't have shooter qualities. It's Obsidian we're talking about.

Well, since "shooter qualities" have already been confirmed we already know you're wrong. Time will tell if that applies to me too. My money's on some kind of diplomacy skill.

Swedes, go to: Spel2, for the latest game reviews in swedish!

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Later in the article, the writer says "The team is avoiding this roadblock [refering to a quote by Parker about how it's annoying to re-load because you felt you did it wrong] by making sure players are rewarded for any course of action, not just cleaving tightly to one paradigm." Dividing up "Diplomancy" in different directions would be pretty much the definition of "punish you for not going down the straight and narrow choices we give you".

I think the solution to people re-loading when they 'fail' a diplomacy or other check is to make the consequences of failure just as interesting as, but very different from, the consequences of success. Failure is always good for a hero - it reduces smugness.

 

Agreed; and to limit the feeling of "you just arbitrarily cut off a whole line of quests because you said the wrong thing".

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Later in the article, the writer says "The team is avoiding this roadblock [refering to a quote by Parker about how it's annoying to re-load because you felt you did it wrong] by making sure players are rewarded for any course of action, not just cleaving tightly to one paradigm." Dividing up "Diplomancy" in different directions would be pretty much the definition of "punish you for not going down the straight and narrow choices we give you".

I think the solution to people re-loading when they 'fail' a diplomacy or other check is to make the consequences of failure just as interesting as, but very different from, the consequences of success. Failure is always good for a hero - it reduces smugness.

I was actually responding to the idea that they'd divide up Diplomacy into multiple subsections with what you quoted.

 

But, to counter your point and make a couple of my own.

If you "fail" a Diplomacy/Charisma check in game with this alternate system, are you going to think a) "Ooh, interesting, now the conversation is different," or b) "Ugh, dammit, time to reload"?

 

I mean, for example, suppose you want Michael to bag a female character, but you fail your Charisma roll. Are you going to go, "oh, an interesting new thing that isn't sex" or are you going to go "****! RELOAD." Or, say you want to access some area by smooth-talking your way in, but you fail your Charisma roll. Are you going to go, "oh, an interesting new thing that isn't the area I wanted," or are you going to go "****! RELOAD."

 

I suppose if failure was functionally the same as success, it would be okay. But then it would be a huge waste to actually put points into Charisma.

 

It's okay when you fail because that's the natural flow of the conversation - nobody feels bad when they can't do X or Y because the game says they can't (like, say, not being able to convince Malak to turn to the light side). I mean, in one of the paths for the example conversation, Michael totally gets shot down by Scarlet Lake.

 

And, again, the bizarreness of having a roll that you don't technically know whether it succeeded or failed (ie were you destined to get shot down or not?) or at best (if it says [success] or [Failure] like some games do) didn't even know that you had a Charisma check coming up until after you rolled.

 

Plus, how would a Charisma skill not just be a "you got marginally better at talking to people" thing? What sort of interesting stuff would it let you do other than talk better? Since you've always got only 3 dialogue options based on mood, not specific choice, it's not like it can open up new options.

 

I just looked over that and wow it's kind of drawn out.

 

Summary:

1. Failing diplomacy checks is going to make people reload, unless failure is functionally the same as success, in which case no one will put points in Charisma unless they're a masochist.

2. You wouldn't know when a diplomacy check is coming up in conversation, as you'll just set Michael's mood to a particular setting.

3. Charisma would probably be one of those marginally-better kinds of skills where each point gives you nothing but a bigger bonus.

 

Well, since "shooter qualities" have already been confirmed we already know you're wrong. Time will tell if that applies to me too. My money's on some kind of diplomacy skill.
Why would there be diplomacy? You've already admitted it's not fun, the other skills mentioned in the text are all combat/combat-related, it doesn't really fit with the dialogue system, and it ends up cutting off your choice by picking an arbitrary number out of a hat to decide what happens. Edited by Cycloneman
I don't post if I don't have anything to say, which I guess makes me better than the rest of your so-called "community." 8)
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What if, instead of just one speech skill, there are several? The benefits are obvious.

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What if, instead of just one speech skill, there are several? The benefits are obvious.
I went over this a bit before, I guess you missed it.
Seems unlikely, as Chris Parker is quoted as saying: "If you play the entire game as the flirt, you'll get one kind of reward. If you're aggressive, you'll get another one. But what if you do a little of everything? We're making sure you get rewarded for that too." Later in the article, the writer says "The team is avoiding this roadblock by making sure players are rewarded for any course of action, not just cleaving tightly to one paradigm." Dividing up "Diplomacy" in different directions would be pretty much the definition of "punish you for not going down the straight and narrow choices we give you".
(note: slightly adjusted because I think I messed up my second quote so it didn't point towards the right bit; also I mis-spelled diplomacy)
I don't post if I don't have anything to say, which I guess makes me better than the rest of your so-called "community." 8)
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To be clear, I wasn't basing my list on a micro-level parsing of the statements made in the preview article. (I think it's far to early in the promotion/hype process to do that kind of analysis.) I was assuming a generally "Fallouty" approach to skills, and then stating how I would structure the skill system, based on my interpretation of the inspiration/source material (i.e., spy movies).

 

It's more what I think it should be, rather than a guess as to what it will be.

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I agree with Cycloneman: clear cut division of diplomacy is a bad idea; it's always made me feel like I'm missing out on something in the games that do it.

 

By all means, though, use stats, a speech skill, and sometimes other skills together to determine dialogue options. But don't divide speech.

 

I'd be against a speech skill altogether if Fallout hadn't shown how it can work.

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Rather simply. Whilst even legendary story/diplomacy-based games such as Planescape: Torment opt for regulating dialogue options through statistics, or not regulating dialogue at all, Fallout actually has a skill called 'speech', similar to guns or lockpick or science. Dialogue options in game depended primarily on speech, then intelligence, then perception, then charisma and finally the rest of the stats, in order of use.

 

It wasn't perfect but I certainly haven't heard any complaints about it.

 

Still, it was almost assumed that your character tagged the speech skill and put points in it each level up, thus it became kind of redundant. PS:T was sort of similar in that regard to: you either pumped wis/int/cha, or dex/str/con.

 

I dunno, I wish there were a better way; perhaps fewer restrictions on dialogue and no speech skill (i.e. all or almost all dialogue options automatically)? It seems restricting dialogue IS an arbitrary design choice - would it hurt the game if it weren't there?

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I loved how Arcanum handled diplomacy. In order to be able to increase Persuasion skill you needed to keep pumping Charisma up. In addition to that, more sophisticated dialogue choices required your character to have high Intelligence to show up. Maxing all of this out took plenty of skill points, which were rare in Arcanum, and choosing Persuasion over other skills wasn't a no-brainer as a result.

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Indeed. So instead the player had to choose between story/atmosphere depth or combat skills.

High Charisma score also increased the number of NPCs that could join you. Bringing along some muscles and letting them to handle the fighting was a viable solution for a frail diplomat.

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Nothing about Arcanum's character creation system deserves to be emulated. There was a serious case of Idiocy going around Troika HQ when they came up with their character mechanics.

Edited by Enoch
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Nothing about Arcanum's character creation system deserves to be emulated.

Wait, what? Arcanum had the most flexible character creation system I've ever seen. The mere fact that it supported plenty of different builds speaks in its favor.

 

WINDMILLS DO NOT WORK THAT WAY!

Kudos for the Futurama reference, but what's your point?

Edited by H
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