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Update #7: Non-combat Skills with Tim Cain

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Hi

 

I was very exited to read this last post,

I think that what makes games enter the hall of fame is not how many combats you fight, but the quality of the conversations with NPCs, the depth of the world and SOUNDTRACK!!!

Not that battle is not important. combat as well as the combat engine has its very basic and important role in the game.

Character development is very important as well.

 

T

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Well I've always been more in favour of climbing over walls, rather than smashing through them, I think non-combat skills make a game.

I mean, don't know many people who don't tag speech in Fallout.


The call of the deep.

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Would there be any chance of little hint further clarifying about how the skillprogression works (how does it work with the separation of combat and noncombat "categories" with the "not being forced to choose between magic missile and herbalism")?


Perkele, tiädäksää tuanoini!

"It's easier to tolerate idiots if you do not consider them as stupid people, but exceptionally gifted monkeys."

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Isn't the problem really that there is only one type of XP?

 

What if there was Combat XP for participating in combat, and Non-Combat XP for participating in non-combat activities?

Each would have their own XP bar and level.

 

Maybe even add some sort of Quest XP too.

 

I'm not really sure how this would affect the overall Character Level though.

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One thing that I've always appreciated about Obsidian RPG's is that they tie stats and skills into character experience and ability. What I mean is that I'm constantly (as a player) drawing on prior experience and learning of past games on what a game can and can't do, then as I'm playing the game I build up this immidiate skillset that it requires for me to advance. If the game is put together well, that skillset is rewarding and I find that I don't die.

 

Unlike other companies;- like Deus Ex:HR required a certain type of gameplay...until you hit a boss battle. Dragon Age Origins rewards me by using skills to advance a quest - click on a reindeer to find out what's wrong with it and get an answer based on your wilderness skill, click on a book and get rewarded with XP and a codex entry...click on a bedroll in the forest and get rewarded with death. ME:2 as a cover based shooter...until you get plonked into a hover vehicle that handles completely differently and you have to dodge a 1-shot canon of game over.

 

Sometimes I think having 20 years experience with games is a bit of a disadvantage. You could win a ZX Spectrum racing game by just pressing up -because it didn't have enough memory to recognize the edge of the track and slow you down - as a result I'm still playing games and playing them within the percieved limitations of the technology.

 

So it'll be really nice to play a game again where my wilderness lore skill/constitution will be checked (and not my reflexes or understanding of how the game is scripted) in the event that someone at Obsidian decides it's really funny to script a 1-shot kill mosquito finding finding its way under my characters armour.

 

Hope that made sense.

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Isn't the problem really that there is only one type of XP?

 

What if there was Combat XP for participating in combat, and Non-Combat XP for participating in non-combat activities?

Each would have their own XP bar and level.

 

Maybe even add some sort of Quest XP too.

 

I'm not really sure how this would affect the overall Character Level though.

 

I was thinking about that too earlier in here.

Edited by Undecaf

Perkele, tiädäksää tuanoini!

"It's easier to tolerate idiots if you do not consider them as stupid people, but exceptionally gifted monkeys."

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I would love to finally see an RPG that puts a lot of care into social interactions with NPCs. Skills like "bartering" which instantaneously give a discount never felt exciting because you never really "used" them. They just acted like buffs.

 

Lets see skills that change my interactions with NPCs in a profound way. If I'm good at "speech" let me calm a mob, or argue a case before court, rather than just see some extra dialogue options. If I'm good at "crafting" let me be well known in town for my craftsmanship.

 

In short, it would be great to see non-combat skills affect the players relationships with NPCs in more interesting ways than we usually see.

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I played many of the IE games, the D&D games, other games that the developers have been involved in. In every game there are some things that I don't like. I have also played games of various genre outside of those games. No game is perfect. There is always going to be something that I wish they had done differently. I think at this point the one thing that would get me very, very upset is to have a game released prematurely and then be patched 7 times and still be buggy.

 

I do like the sound of how the skills are going to be handled. In Oblivion my stealth character was able to quickly close the Burma Gate without killing anyone. I really enjoyed that. Racing the clock to see how fast I could do and just streaking past enemies. Sneaking around an enemy, pick pocketing or if you wish being an assassin and striking that lethal blow are much more challenging to me than simple slash and bash tactics.


 I have but one enemy: myself  - Drow saying


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Umm.. How about the actual decisions that you get to make on the spot? When actually confronted with a situation, you don't get to choose X, Y, and Z, you choose X, Y or Z. You can't charm and kill someone at the same time, you just have those options available to you at the moment, not only once at character creation. Then if you want to try something different in another playthrough, you just pick a different option when it comes up.

 

My point was that if you have a Strong, Intelligent, Dextrous, Cunning, Conversationalist Warrior then there isn't much left to do in another playthrough. All options are available to you, of course you can only pick one but you get to see them all if your one character can be everything. If it was impossible for a Warrior focusing on the Strength stat to reach the max level of Lockpicking for example because the max level of Lockpicking requires a high Dexterity score then you might find certain locks inaccesible to you.

 

Sure you could throw points into dexterity to get the max level and you can do that if you want, I'm not saying you shouldn't be able to but there is a cost involved, the cost of the points that didn't go into more Strength to hit things harder. This is where I'd like to see more info. If you can make a character that can see all options simply by being everything at once it will be a bad system in my opinion.

 

For example there are certain skills you might choose to ignore because they have less impact on your game choices, particularly dialogue or thievery encounters. Like Herbalism, there might be certain conversations that utilize a high Herbalism skill level but they will probably be few and far between. On the other hand something like Bluff, Picklocks or Disarm traps would have much more impact on your gameplay.

 

What I am saying is there has to be some cost to trying to be Mr Everything.

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Umm.. How about the actual decisions that you get to make on the spot? When actually confronted with a situation, you don't get to choose X, Y, and Z, you choose X, Y or Z. You can't charm and kill someone at the same time, you just have those options available to you at the moment, not only once at character creation. Then if you want to try something different in another playthrough, you just pick a different option when it comes up.

 

My point was that if you have a Strong, Intelligent, Dextrous, Cunning, Conversationalist Warrior then there isn't much left to do in another playthrough. All options are available to you, of course you can only pick one but you get to see them all if your one character can be everything. If it was impossible for a Warrior focusing on the Strength stat to reach the max level of Lockpicking for example because the max level of Lockpicking requires a high Dexterity score then you might find certain locks inaccesible to you.

 

Sure you could throw points into dexterity to get the max level and you can do that if you want, I'm not saying you shouldn't be able to but there is a cost involved, the cost of the points that didn't go into more Strength to hit things harder. This is where I'd like to see more info. If you can make a character that can see all options simply by being everything at once it will be a bad system in my opinion.

 

For example there are certain skills you might choose to ignore because they have less impact on your game choices, particularly dialogue or thievery encounters. Like Herbalism, there might be certain conversations that utilize a high Herbalism skill level but they will probably be few and far between. On the other hand something like Bluff, Picklocks or Disarm traps would have much more impact on your gameplay.

 

What I am saying is there has to be some cost to trying to be Mr Everything.

 

I don't think they have said you can be Mr. or Ms. everything. They indicated that you can focus on combat or non-combat skills. Your choice. They have also said it is early days yet and they are working on the dtails. No harm and maybe helpful to express your opinion but let's not jump to conclusions. I think we will need to make choices and that it won't always be easy. Do we know what the attributes will be? At the moment we have only a broad outline of the game. Isometric, party based, classes, skills both combat and non-combat. The engine ha been chose. There will be a variety of ways to travel. There will be gods mucking things about and the soul will be very important. There will be cultural diversity.

 

What did I leave out?


 I have but one enemy: myself  - Drow saying


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Actually I think they are telling us you will be able to focus on BOTH combat and non-combat skills seperately from one another but I never got the impression that you would be able to do "everything" surely both the combat options and the non-combat options will force some choices - you may be able to be a str based warrior with good diplomacy skills but probably not a lockpicker and herbalist and archer at the same time.

 

I suspect the only way to become Squire Everything would only be to have relatively low levels of many skills - levels that would no doubt have limited use in higher level areas and thus lead to a very weak playing character.

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Nomadic Wayfarer of the Obsidian Order


 

Not all those that wander are lost...

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Hmm, I'd like to have XP from fights.. i mean if not then getting into random fights will mean nothing right? (if its not quest related) or am i mistaking something?

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Hmm, I'd like to have XP from fights.. i mean if not then getting into random fights will mean nothing right? (if its not quest related) or am i mistaking something?

 

I don't think there's any plan to not offer experience from fights - they are just saying that there will often be non-combat options to choose from as well and that choosing them (and succeeding with them) will not mean less experience to you than taking the combat option.


Nomadic Wayfarer of the Obsidian Order


 

Not all those that wander are lost...

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Hmm, I'd like to have XP from fights.. i mean if not then getting into random fights will mean nothing right? (if its not quest related) or am i mistaking something?

 

I don't think their plan is to have it where you get zero XP from fights, but just that the bulk of the XP will be from completing missions, of which some can be dealt with using non-combat methods.

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"Console exclusive is such a harsh word." - Darque

"Console exclusive is two words Darque." - Nartwak (in response to Darque's observation)

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I know Sawyer has said in the past that he liked the idea of quest/objective only experience. Will the game have kill xp on top of quest or no?


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I'll chime in that I too love all the updates so far including most of this one, but I'm not too keen on every character having to have both combat and non-combat skills.

 

For all intends and purposes the XP you spend serves as an abstractor for the time spent to learn a skill. I want to decide whether I spend my time 50:50 on combat and non-combat training or not. Weighing the costs of different kinds of abilities differently by way of implementing a full-blown point-buy system within each class would IMHO be best.

 

And just to be clear, getting XP for completing quests is great and combat-heavy XP gain (as well as gameplay) all the time sucks, but I do want to be rewarded for every successful action of mine, be that killing an enemy or sneaking past them. Of course that would need some system to avoid exploitation. Maybe XP for every room cleared/passed and once you got that you get no more XP from enemies in that room?

 

Isn't the problem really that there is only one type of XP?

 

What if there was Combat XP for participating in combat, and Non-Combat XP for participating in non-combat activities?

Each would have their own XP bar and level.

 

Maybe even add some sort of Quest XP too.

 

I'm not really sure how this would affect the overall Character Level though.

Now that would solve these problems and also grant greater immersion, so I'm totally behind this. Although it does add another layer of potential balancing nightmare. Hmm... making Quest XP universal spending points would work, but if the bulk of the experience gain comes from finishing quests that would defeat the whole purpose of splitting it up in the first place. So, maybe divide the XP you get from quests between Combat XP and Non-Combat XP percentually depending on how you solved the respective quest?

Proud Probatanthrope @D:OS

Tor.com: Boob Plate Armor Would Kill You (cf. "ball plate armor" - Just think about it.)

 

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I think we are jumping to conclusions here based on insufficient data. As I understand this update we can decide which we want to focus on: combat or non-combat. The details are still being worked out. I am sure we will be updated when the developers themselves have worked this out. This is an important part of the game but it is only part of the game. Different games give different ways of giving XP and leveling up. I have survived and enjoyed many games. My main interest is the game itself, the story, the challenge, how much fun I have with it. In fact I find this whole leveling up and picking skill perks rather boring and intrusive. "Oh yegads I just leveled up! Do I put that one point into health, stamina or magic? Do I pick sneak attack or dual wield?" If I can save points sometimes I do. This gives me the illusion of having some real choices and doesn't break the flow of the game so much.


 I have but one enemy: myself  - Drow saying


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Having seperate levelling up for combat and non-combat skills sounds like an excellent idea to me. I often ended up crippled/struggling because of my choice to put all my feats and skills into non-combat areas for the extra dialogues/options it would open up. Really enjoying the frequent updates!

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I think the implementation is reasonable in a way it can satisfy any play style. Only people who wouldn't be happy with that is probably those who want to be blocked by other possible game-plays by strictly defining their characters - other possible ways should be for replay-value, they would say. I understand their point but I find, Cain's decision is, at least, reasonable.

 

PE focuses on party-based game-play (solo play seems to be possible, though). It would be good if any character has his role no matter in the game-play how the players decide to tackle obstacles. I think it's a kind of similar line of thought with what Sawyer wrote about weapon balancing:

I like the idea of having types of weapons with distinct strengths and weaknesses that the player can analyze for tactical application. If a player looks at a type of weapon and instantly realizes it will never have a place in his or her arsenal, I feel that's a failure on my part.

Likewise, if there are pacifist and militant companions, who go through the same advancement system with the players, and if you choose either pacifist path or militant path, the choice of your companion NPCs will be restricted by that, which wouldn't be good resource-wise, too.

 

In any case, if everything is done right, the most valuable rewards for replays would be reactions to your choices from NPCs both inside and outside of the party members, which forms an important part of the narrative.

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I could not disagree with you more. You should NEVER have to choose between being a strong idiot or a competent wimp. That was the single worst design aspect of Torment, and I'm so glad to see that they're going in a different direction here. I'm sure there are still going to be some tradeoffs, such as points put into stealth limit points put into conversation abilities, choosing between martial prowess and magic, etc. but there should absolutely be two different pools for combat and non-combat skills.

 

Having to choose between combat and non-combat abilities necessarily pigeonholes your character into a certain type, and limits your role-playing options.

Pigeon-holing is itself a roleplaying option.

I don't want to be forced to handle every situation I come across the same way. If I want to kill my way through a group of bandits, I want to be able to do so. If I want to charm my way past a nice guard, I want to be able to do so. If I want to intimidate my way past a rude guard, I want to be able to do that as well. In short I want to be able to pick a situationally appropriate option, without being forced to do the same thing every time by my character sheet. One dimensional heroes that always act the same are boring, predictable, and I don't want to play one.

Then don't. But I think that versatility you desire should carry an in-game cost.

 

I also like playing versatile characters, but if versatility is a no-brainer then leveling up risks becoming less interesting.

 

I want the game to punish me for spreading myself too thin, and I expect it will, but I see no reason to place an artificial limit on where that punishment starts. Splitting the skill point pools establishes an arbitrary minimum amount of versatility - I'd rather see that minimum amount be zero.

 

And in a party-based game, you're not likely to have the whole party unable to choose a variety of options. I don't think the problem you're imagining is real. In a single-character game, it could be (but, again, you could avoid it by no building a one-dimensional character), but in a party-based game you've got six characters across whom to spread those disparate abilities.

Edited by Sylvius the Mad
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God used to be my co-pilot, but then we crashed in the Andes and I had to eat him.

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Because other characters of a comparable level will have the same amount of auxiliary skills, (and challenges appropriate for this level will require them) of course! I think you've missed the point. An auxiliary class is a class which excels in non- combat skills. This means, that such a class is better prepared for non- combat challenges than other characters of the corresponding level. Capisce?

I'm sure that if you're so inclined, there will be a way to gimp your characters combat abilities to the point where they will be pretty bad at combat. What abilities other people's characters have shouldn't matter. It's a single player game.

Not other player characters. non-player characters. By splitting the pools, the game doesn't allow a character to be ever better with non-combat by avoiding combat skills. Yes, he could choose to employ non-combat skills every time, but his maximum ability with them is artificially limited by his having been forced to spend some points on combat skills.

 

Splitting the pools doesn't just allow us to be good at both combat and non-combat, but it prevents us from being exceptionally good at one at the expense of the other.


God used to be my co-pilot, but then we crashed in the Andes and I had to eat him.

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As far as I am concerned the whole leveling thing is artificial. It attempts to reflect real life in an artificial fantasy world or science fiction world or what ever fictional world. We are not born with equal talents, equal intelligence, equal strength. No matter what the developers do I doubt we are going to be 100% happy.

 

I am a versatile person. I taught, I was an account, I did arts and crafts, I read many different types of books, I fixed locks and some basic electrical things. I learned to repair computers . I can't sing. I will never write the Great Novel or create a game like this one but there are many things I can do. So why not have some versatility in the game? If I play a warrior I want him or her to be intelligent, if the PC is going to lead a party then he or she should have some brains. Brains means being able to do different things. No I don't want my character to be able to do everything. There have to be some limits. If I want a character who can do it all, be it all I can go back and play a TES game.

 

I want choices, challenges and some versatility. I think Obsidian is headed in the right direction.

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 I have but one enemy: myself  - Drow saying


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I have to say... I LOOOOOOOOVE the sound of this. This sounds like the type of thing I've been wanting from an RPG for years now.

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Just because they said they're separating combat or non-combat skill points doesn't preclude the option of creating a character that focuses on one or the other. All you need is a toggle at character creation that lets you choose a focus (War, Peace, or Balanced). That'll determine how even/uneven your point spread is between the two skill sets.

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Figuring out how to get by without beating everybody sensless is fun in it's own way, but every gamer always goes for the most profitable way. Do I sneak around the bandit camp without being notice and gain exp for that, or do I KILL EVERYBODY and also gain mother load of loot?

 

I think there are two ways to balance this out. By following the peaceful way, the player earns more exp, or (and I think this one is much more fun) neutral NPCs and companions comments on your actions, and often, praise the player for choosing it. SImply, the world repfects your actions.

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