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Update #7: Non-combat Skills with Tim Cain


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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?

 

 

What if it was truly seperated into 3 different XPs (Bars/Levels etc.)?

 

So, instead of using Quest XP for distributing Combat XP and Non-Combat XP, it would be it's own thing.

 

Example:

Combat XP would be gained from combat, when you level it up you could then choose to increase something (via a perk or feat type system) from a list of Combat-Only abilities.

 

Non-Combat XP would be gained from non-combat tasks, when you level it up you could then choose to increase something (via a perk or feat type system) from a list of Non-Combat-Only abilities.

 

Quest XP would be gained from completing quests, when you level it up you could then choose to increase something (via a perk or feat type system) from a list of abilities that would be helpful in Quest-Related activities (traveling around the world via world map, teleportation, etc.), or even Party-Based abilities (since traveling around the world map is party-based).

 

The main problem I see here, is that there might not be enough perks/feats to place in the Quest category, but I could very well be wrong about that, as this idea is very new to me.

Edited by Silverdust
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Hrm, for those of you complaining that having non-combat skills separated from combat skills limits your ability to specialise I cannot but disagree. I see the basic logic that's led you there but I think if you examine it further you'll find it doesn't limit you at all.

 

Consider if there were no non-combat skills in the game whatsoever - does that impact on your combat levelling? No, you still gain a set amount of combat skills at each level and advance according to the appropriate balance of the game.

 

If you then add a set of non combat skills which give you a separate pool of points at each level, it still does not impact your combat progression.

 

The matter of specialisation is just something that needs to accommodate the dual skill sets. My gut instinct is that your base attributes will be used to determine the areas you are strongest in - much like traditional systems.

Edited by SanguineAngel
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Different kinds of XP is just making things complicated. And I think Obsidian don't want to make the game only to the hardcore geeks. They want everybody to enjoy it.

 

Also, obsessive gathering players would, following my previous example, sneaking past by bandit camp to gain xp for peaceful resolution and then go back to kill them all and gain more xp.

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Different kinds of XP is just making things complicated. And I think Obsidian don't want to make the game only to the hardcore geeks. They want everybody to enjoy it.

 

Also, obsessive gathering players would, following my previous example, sneaking past by bandit camp to gain xp for peaceful resolution and then go back to kill them all and gain more xp.

 

It's really not that complicated at all.

 

I actually see this as being a comfortable middle-ground between the Infinity Engine games (single XP type) & the TES games (which essentially creates an XP for each skill).

 

I'm pretty sure more than just the hardcore geeks enjoy Skyrim.

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I'm pretty sure more than just the hardcore geeks enjoy Skyrim.

Wat

 

Is that not accurate or something?

 

I actually haven't played it myself yet, but from what I've read it seems to have been pretty well received.

 

Only that in Skyrim you just gain one kind of exp to level up with. Skills get stronger when you use them but you level up seperately as well.

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Hrm, for those of you complaining that having non-combat skills separated from combat skills limits your ability to specialise I cannot but disagree. I see the basic logic that's led you there but I think if you examine it further you'll find it doesn't limit you at all.

 

Consider if there were no non-combat skills in the game whatsoever - does that impact on your combat levelling? No, you still gain a set amount of combat skills at each level and advance according to the appropriate balance of the game.

 

If you then add a set of non combat skills which give you a separate pool of points at each level, it still does not impact your combat progression.

 

The matter of specialisation is just something that needs to accommodate the dual skill sets. My gut instinct is that your base attributes will be used to determine the areas you are strongest in - much like traditional systems.

You just spectacularly missed the point. There needs to be a trade-off, so It ought to impact combat progression. In turn you get better at avoiding combat. Win-win for everyone.

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'm pretty sure more than just the hardcore geeks enjoy Skyrim.

Wat

 

Is that not accurate or something?

 

I actually haven't played it myself yet, but from what I've read it seems to have been pretty well received.

Do hardcore geeks enjoy Skyrim to begin with? I thought it was an action game for consoles. But, I haven't played it myself, so I don't know.

"Well, overkill is my middle name. And my last name. And all of my other names as well!"

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I've never been able to understand this argument. How in the world does having the ability to approach each situation individually limit your roleplaying options? If anything is limiting, it's being forced to choose a certain character type in the beginning and then being stuck with that one dimensional character throughout the game. It's much better to have a number of options available to deal with any given situation, and then pick the most appropriate one. You still have to choose between gambling, bartering, charming, or killing your way out of the situation, but you get to make that decision on the spot, not 40 hours ago. And if, for instance, you're dead set on playing a character that never gambles no matter what, just don't choose that option when it comes up. Where's the downside here exactly?

What? I think you misread my post. If I'm forced to allocate my points in various ways, of course that limits my options. I honestly can't see what your post has to do with what I wrote...

 

From what I understand, you said that having different pools of ability points for combat and non-combat abilities limits your roleplaying options, no?

Yes, because I can't make a character who's specialized in non-combat skills, an "auxiliary class".

 

Why not? Having combat abilities doesn't make your non-combat abilities go anywhere. You're free to design a pacifist character with good diplomacy, bluff, barter etc. and use those primarily those skills, without ever picking the option to fight. It's the difference between not taking an option because you can't and not taking the option because you choose not to. How is that limiting?

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.

Sure I can gimp my character, for example by skipping to allocate my "combat skill points", assuming that is possible, of course (which it isn't in Torment and BG, but let's pretend it is). But I'm not done yet. I must also see to it that my character is better at the non- combat skills. I don't know how to do this in- game but let's suppose it was possible to cheat. Essentially, I've thorugh these actions modded the game to include an auxiliary class. Do you see now why your argument does not work?

"Well, overkill is my middle name. And my last name. And all of my other names as well!"

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Sure I can gimp my character, for example by skipping to allocate my "combat skill points", assuming that is possible, of course (which it isn't in Torment and BG, but let's pretend it is). But I'm not done yet. I must also see to it that my character is better at the non- combat skills. I don't know how to do this in- game but let's suppose it was possible to cheat. Essentially, I've thorugh these actions modded the game to include an auxiliary class. Do you see now why your argument does not work?

 

Well, I don't think you need cheat. Most likely, the skills, both combat and non-combat will rely on your base attributes (strength, intilligence etc) and so, depending where those attributes are strongest will determine where your character's focus lies. So your character should still end up be much better at combat then non combat skills.

 

You just spectacularly missed the point. There needs to be a trade-off, so It ought to impact combat progression. In turn you get better at avoiding combat. Win-win for everyone.

 

Not really, I only partly addressed that particular issue. Regarding your issue, my point is that I don't think that there doesn't need to be a trade off. Combat and non-combat skills are not mutually exclusive. Sure, you can use non-combat skills to circumvent combat scenarios. But you can also use them in a variety of other ways.

 

Forcing the player to choose one or the other means that you will loose the balance. Specialising in combat skills means you will be functionally gimped in the non-combat sections of the game. Now, some people have offered up some alternative solutions, such as dual xp gain, or improve through doing. But these introduce their own problems. However, to my mind, Obsidian's solution is elegant. It doesn't mean that your character will be equally good at everything, but they should be able to function ably in both arenas.

 

The balance to that is likely, as I stated in my previous post and above, is that all skills are likely to be dependant on base attributes. So if you want a combat focussed character, you would focus on strength and dexterity perhaps. Of course, there will be out of combat skills which also use those and it is a natural fit that your character would also be good at those. Whereas, in the trade-off scenario, that would not be the case.

 

So that's my thought on the issue.

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You shouldn't be limited to either effective combat or non-combat actions only. It's better storytelling and roleplaying. So that's good (and not even fully explored yet). Costs can be managed other ways. Gameplay comes before balancing, I'd say (to begin with).

Edited by MattH
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Forcing the player to choose one or the other means that you will loose the balance. Specialising in combat skills means you will be functionally gimped in the non-combat sections of the game.

You'd also be functionally gimped in sections of the game that reward versatility. That's sort of the point.

 

I want both combat and non-combat skills to be valuable, but I would also like various distributions of those skills to be valuable. i'd like parts of the game to reward specialisation (and punish jacks-of-all-trades). I'd like parts of the game to reward versatility (and punish specialisation).

 

When I say I want my choices to have consequences, I don't want all of those consequences to be positive. I want negative consequences, too.

Obsidian's solution is elegant. It doesn't mean that your character will be equally good at everything, but they should be able to function ably in both arenas.

That's my objection. Why is the minimum possible level of versatility not zero? This seems like it's designed to protect the player from himself, which is something the game should never do.

The balance to that is likely, as I stated in my previous post and above, is that all skills are likely to be dependant on base attributes.

If that's the case, then I hope we get to roll for stats, rather than being forced into a balanced point-buy system.

 

Unbalanced characters are fun.

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

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It's worth noting that 2nd Ed. AD&D (which all of the IE games other than IWD2 were based on) did completely segregate combat and non-combat abilities (other than spells). It gave thieves and bards the ability to allocate skill points among their roguey skills, but weapon and non-weapon proficiencies were gained and spent separately. In 3E, skill points were still earned and spent separately from other currencies. The only difference is that feats are a pool from which combat and non-combat specializations are pulled. Even so, the class-specific bonus feats are typically narrowed down to a specific type of applications (e.g. fighter bonus feats and wizard bonus feats are pulled from specific lists [combat and metamagic/crafting/spell mastery, respectively]).

 

You're still going to have to make specialization choices within each category. Having a separate currency for non-combat abilities doesn't mean we're designing them so everyone is good at everything.

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To you they might be fun but others might think otherwise. I mean. With your solution people can do a gimped run when they want to (great for people who want to do runs with gimped characters). But what about the people who want to do an overpowered run? Those people then get shafted by that idea. So yeah what Obsidian wants to do would please both. There doesn't need to be any arbitrary limiting between non-combat skills and combat skills. Inside of those skils is another matter.

Edited by The Dark One Avoozl
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It's worth noting that 2nd Ed. AD&D (which all of the IE games other than IWD2 were based on) did completely segregate combat and non-combat abilities (other than spells). It gave thieves and bards the ability to allocate skill points among their roguey skills, but weapon and non-weapon proficiencies were gained and spent separately. In 3E, skill points were still earned and spent separately from other currencies. The only difference is that feats are a pool from which combat and non-combat specializations are pulled. Even so, the class-specific bonus feats are typically narrowed down to a specific type of applications (e.g. fighter bonus feats and wizard bonus feats are pulled from specific lists [combat and metamagic/crafting/spell mastery, respectively]).

 

You're still going to have to make specialization choices within each category. Having a separate currency for non-combat abilities doesn't mean we're designing them so everyone is good at everything.

 

I don't know if this has been answered, but are we forced to level-up/spend points?

 

For example, will a *hardcore* run possible where I try to finish the game while spending only a minimal/no amount of points?

Edited by C2B
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It's worth noting that 2nd Ed. AD&D (which all of the IE games other than IWD2 were based on) did completely segregate combat and non-combat abilities (other than spells). It gave thieves and bards the ability to allocate skill points among their roguey skills, but weapon and non-weapon proficiencies were gained and spent separately. In 3E, skill points were still earned and spent separately from other currencies. The only difference is that feats are a pool from which combat and non-combat specializations are pulled. Even so, the class-specific bonus feats are typically narrowed down to a specific type of applications (e.g. fighter bonus feats and wizard bonus feats are pulled from specific lists [combat and metamagic/crafting/spell mastery, respectively]).

 

You're still going to have to make specialization choices within each category. Having a separate currency for non-combat abilities doesn't mean we're designing them so everyone is good at everything.

Will we get equal number of combat and non-combat skill points to distribute? Will it be class-dependant? Will there be abilities (feats, traits, etc.) allowing to trade combat points to non-combat or vice-versa?

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^ A perk or powa that allows you to convert skill points across the combat and non-combat disciplines (maybe like a 3E cross-class x1.5 x 2 buy system) would be cool. If you were building the meanest most badass uber-killer who was a mute gimpoid you could boost combat stuff. If you were the most silver-tongued pacifist you could do the opposite. You still take a hit on the points, but you can transfer some.

sonsofgygax.JPG

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This reminds me of special abilities like that tracking in IWD. I felt a little bummed that essentially it was used at the beginning of an area to just check/have an estimation of enemy types but you'll bump into the soon enough so it doesn't matter so much to use them. Would had been neat if you could had predict an ambush if you find covered steps at some point or lots of footprints/single pair of footprints...But what about when you've got someome with extraordionary sense of smell (like canine)? You could tell what type of folks have recently passed through the area, get extra info on who passed and when in the area... If Obsidian guys want to see some neat system, you should play Discworld Noir. It's a pretty good adventure game, pr forgotten and unfortunately hard to get to work (but it's possible). GoG should pick that up and make it work...

Yeah whoops sorry, just throwing ideas again. This IS a good idea and I hope you'll figure out a good system for this (like in Fallout (1 & 2) but more balanced, eg scouting/wildreness ability was night useless to spend your points on). RPG-skills are a bit hard/need "creativity" to implement skills that require imagination in itself in the first place.

Edited by IEfan
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I just watched the video for this update and I have to say that I think it is really cool if we had options to avoid any fight we wanted to by using noncombat abilities. I also think it would be very interesting to have the options to learn certain things that help us in the game, but that would also allow us to learn more about the setting as well. I think both of these things would allow a depth to role-playing that would be quite fun to have in a game. I am very interested in seeing how these features turn out.

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Really like this update. I hope you are planning on giving XP out based on quest completion, rather than actions (killing, sneaking, talking, etc). That seems to work best I think, as it regulates the XP income and prevents the player getting in the position where they can never develop a skill path because it was not used early in the game - and thus became so poor its a liability to try to improve.

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That depends on how we structure our advancement system. It should be possible.

Depending on the setting for the PCs gainging powers, you may even be able to justify respecing. Soul series seem to have an explanation but I haven't played them - they were on consoles and, maybe, too "actiony" to me. And yet, possible explanations for skills may be hard to think of.
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