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Update #7: Non-combat Skills with Tim Cain

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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.

Oh, didn't notice it earlier. Maybe we (or at least I) are reading it wrong? When you are talking about combat and non-combat skills do you mean literally skills (like combat Energy weapons and non-combat Science in F:NV or combat Concentration and non-combat Diplomacy in NWN2) or do you mean different abilities?

Edited by Olauron Mor-Galad
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Regarding lockpicking:


I feel a lot of games rely on a lockpicking system way too much as a way to put cheap hurdles in the player's way.


For PE, I would want it to be a restricted skill. Only characters with high DEX (or whatever stat is the closest to dexterity) should have access to it. In real life, if I'm not very good at doing precision work with my hands, I wouldn't be able to lockpick, period. I also feel that lockpicking skill progression should rely on experience as much as skill points. That is, you begin being only able to lockpick easy locks, and if you try a medium or difficult lock, you have a high chance of permanently locking yourself out of the chest (except if you find the key). You gain more and more experience, then you become able to lock medium locks quite safely. At the end, when you're very good at it, the chance of breaking a difficult lock could be reduced to 25%, so that there is always a risk.

I agree with the first sentence, but for me it's a big no on everything else. Locks of varying difficulty, sure, but players shouldn't be punished for trying something difficult early on. For me, getting locked out of a chest is a reload situation. I want to explore everything everywhere; the game should never close off avenues of exploration for anything other than narrative purposes. For example, if I choose to kill the bandit chief and burn down his hut then sure, the trapdoor leading to his treasure room is buried under rubble and I can't get to it. That's fine, that was my choice. But if I've managed to sneak into the hut past his guards, I should be able try the lock and if it's too difficult for me, know I can come back later.


Both reloading because you broke the lock and being given an infinite amount of chances to lockpick without any consequences sound unsatisfying to me, but right now I can't think of any solution.


By the way, your scenario made me think that it'd be awesome to be able to carry some of the smallest containers with you in case you can't open them on the spot (ie. a jewelry box). It'd add to the mystery.


I think one solution to this quandary would be to introduce levels of risk in non-combat ability use that are on a par with the risks you'd take in combat. In a combat scenario, when I am fighting a group of ogres, have almost killed them, but also have most or many of my characters at critical health, I have the option of either hanging in there--and risking character death--or fleeing--but forfeiting victory in the battle. I'd like to see a corollary in non-combat skill use; for example, if my low-level thief is picking a hard lock, I might get feedback from the game along the lines of "The bolt of the lock moves ever so slightly--or does it? Garrett knows that this lock might well be his undoing, but some days you get lucky..." and have the option to press on, with an increased risk of breaking the pick (and the lock, possibly), or quitting and keeping the lock for another day. Garrett might even get EXP for knowing when to quit--after all, in real life, sometimes you learn more from failures than successes.


On a tangent regarding "real life" lockpicking, I've--ahem--heard that it's easy to do on a simple lock. Friends of mine who are butterfingers with other manual skills such as art have easily picked simple locks, but more difficult locks can stop even the steadiest hands. If a pick breaks and gets stuck in the lock, there's a very real risk that you might not only never be able to pick the lock again, but also get the metal stuck deep enough in the lock that the genuine key won't work either. Bashing, anyone?


PS--Also love the idea of being able to steal smaller locked containers, lock and all!

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I too like the idea of being able to steal small containers to keep for another day when my PC has better lock picking skills. I have never understood in games why a jewel box cannot be picked up. The box itself might even be worth something.

 I have but one enemy: myself  - Drow saying



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I agree that non-combat skills are just as important as combat skills, but I'm concerned that by keeping them separate you risk discouraging the use of non-combat skills. Since learning non-combat skills would then have no associated cost in terms of reduced combat effectiveness, this system encourages dabbling.


I like my level-up choices to have both benefits and costs, and I don't see costs here. Choosing to specialise in combat should make me less effective at stealth. Choosing to learn both stealth and combat should prevent me from being as good at combat as someone who didn't learn stealth.


Having a combination of combat skills and non-combat skills offers the character versatility. Where is the cost for that versatility? Where is the reward for eschewing it?


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.


I agree with both of you? *grin*


I want separate pools for combat and non-combat skills, but I also want costs for decisions. Luckily that's not too hard. Combat and non-combat skills can be complementary. If you take stealth then you probably don't want to take plate mail and two-handed sword. Maybe a silenced bow would be better. So there's your cost.


Have non-combat skills have secondary effects in combat. If you improve communications skills then have combat formations work a little better. If you take metalsmithing then get a modest increase in weapon durability, or in your ability to sunder someone else's weapon. Jumping improves your defense a bit against trip attacks.

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  • 2 months later...

I've always appreciated that there was so deadly traps in BG 2. Disarm trap was really important there because of traps that could instantly kill you or turn into stone etc. I hope there will be so deadly traps too in EP. For example in NWN i always rather activate the trap with some protective buff on me instead of having some thief in party. Furthermore I'm still waiting for a game where the composition of traps will be logic. I mean there should be a lot of deadly hard-revealed traps in some estate of rich citizen but in some orcish cave should be only some basic ones independant on youre char lvl.

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  • 2 months later...

So everething sounds fine to me but one question. Whats the point in doing combat then anyway. I mean combat is dangerous maybe some one will die, I will consume a lot of health and mana potions or scrolls, armour will be damaged etc. why should I choose the fighting way then when I could finish a quest just by lockpicking the backdor and get the same reward without risk? There has to be a benefit from combat I think or there has to be a risk in taking the other way. Maybe loose some lock picks or spending money on bribing someone etc.

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