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Skills and balance in PE

skills balance non-combat

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#41
Sacred_Path

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Rather than being balanced, I think good flavor for the skill uses is very important. I think certain skills should be more useful if you are dealing with the thieves guild compared to the church. The skills you choose should be thematic and not just mechanical.


I hope that skills will be more or less useful on certain paths throughout the game. A law-abiding party may ultimately get less out of their lockpicking skill than a shady party whose main pastime is breaking and entering. In that case an imbalance is just fine IMO.

I do hope they try to spread item acquisition across all the skills so you don't get "combat avoidance" skills and "treasure acquisition skills". The reason being, I want to kill all the enemies, combat is the best part of the game for me. It is kind of annoying when you get a dialogue option that uses your intimidate or diplomacy skill and all it does is avoid the battle... I was hoping something more interesting would happen.


Well I'll wait for more updates before I form an opinion on this.

IMO the big three (parlay, combat, stealth) should all play out somewhat differently over the course of the game. Sneaking can be used to avoid enemies (if the game allows it), but it can also be used to get yourselves into a favorable position before combat. Diplomacy could sometimes lead to avoidance of combat, in other cases it might just reduce the number of opponents you face or bestow a morale penalty on enemies. Initiating combat on your own should give you a slight intiative bonus and of course it should be possible to kill and loot NPCs who weren't hostile to begin with.

What I'm most concerned about is that in IE games (well most CRPGs) combat by far takes the most skills, thought and ingame preparing. Sneaking was ridiculously simplified, and finding the "right" diplomacy options wasn't difficult. I definitely hope they implement different mechanics for both to the point of becoming mini-games. I want to have to deftly move my rogues through the shadows, alternately running, walking and sneaking, and I want to pick from a lot of text in the case of diplomacy.

If you're really bent on just killing everyone though... well I'm sure you'll have the option to build a party around that ;)
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#42
Sacred_Path

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Now the new information is that classes will have bonuses in certain skills favored by this class. The example given was lockpicking for rogues.

Now that's basically what I was hoping for

What I'm hoping for in P:E is that

a) skills are derived from stats. So maybe a high INT character would be best suited to be an alchemist, thereby reducing your choice for the best possible alchemist to a wizard or cipher. So alchemy wouldn't be something you'd rely heavily on if your party concept calls for a different class to fill that slot.


Let's say rogues gain bonuses in both lockpicking and disarming traps. I also hope that

b) non-combat skill points are few (thereby again enforcing choice)


So if you're going for the best locksmith available, you won't have the points to also make him the best possible trap springer. This is important IMO since most 6 person parties could accomodate 1 rogue (since all classes are combat viable), but 2? And not even one of them has the points to be great at sneaking? Tough choices :dancing: Although I'm not sure if skill points will really be so rare. Also this builds on the assumption that specializing in a skill pays good dividends.

#43
Lephys

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Well, if all classes have access to all skills, and all classes get the same amount of skill points, and all classes can raise all skills by the same amount per level, that would put a dent in the viability of a class system IMO. I'm just not sure about barbarians being great at lore and alchemy.


Good point. It seems there was a comment about no one who isn't a Rogue being quite the absolute best at lockpicking, etc., in update #36. So, it's the same idea you're suggesting. Which I think is a very good, really. I think it's more a matter of bad implementations in the past. It's really hard to gauge it with math ("what percentage of effectiveness should we allow a Barbarian to have at lore and alchemy?", for example) and call it a day. You often run into a system that says "Hey, Barbarian! You can totally pick some more potion-making instead of some more skull-demolishing. Of course, A) you'll be delaying progression in what Barbarism is all about, and B) your potions will pretty much never be useful." The system wasn't really designed with the effects of a Barbarian taking Alchemy skills in mind, but then it was decided that more options were better than fewer, so it was tossed in and "controlled" with a hard skill cap.

Obviously all the bad implementations weren't quite so simplified, but I'm wordy enough without citing all the variants from that basic concept from 5 different sources, in MLA format. The point is, you don't want to offer an option that's basically a lose-lose situation. But, then, in that same example, if you simply don't allow the Barbarian to even TAKE Alchemy or Lore or anything that isn't femur-fracturingly applicable, then you basically make it so that a Barbarian has no variance.

Of course, a lot still depends on other factors. Take lockpicking. If the Rogue's the best (100%) at it, and a Priest can only get to pretty good (80%) at it, then there should be a reason to pick 80% lockpick skill (as opposed to there being absolutely no reason to pick it... I'm not saying there should be a reason to always pick it.) This is affected by chest placement, and the progression of chest skill checks, and the usefulness of chest contents at various levels, etc. Which is really just balancing, when it comes down to it. But, since the class mechanics (and limitations) exist within pretty much every other element of the entire game, you have to build these mechanics and decide how to introduce variation accordingly.

And, I understand the idea of the Priest's use of lockpicking being moot because it's a party-based game, and the Rogue will always be better. But, with, what... 12 classes? 13? More than 6 classes... and 6 party members total, and at least one NPC companion per class? That gives you many feasible party builds that don't involve a Rogue, but you may still want to be ABLE to pick locks, and you accept that you won't get to pick all of them. That just seems like a very inefficient use of content to give people the viable option of having an entire party makeup with no Rogue (maybe they just don't prefer the other class mechanics) and then have them still go through the exact same world FULL of locked things controlling characters who all just shrug at one another at the mystery mechanism that is a lock. You'd pretty much hafta severely lessen the significance of getting past locked things, or balance every class-ability-restricted segment of the game as a fully standalone, optional part of a far less homogenous game world. Imagine if only certain classes could even engage in dialogue (much less gain access to more dialogue options).

I think it's obvious I'd like that ;) but of course it depends on how much depth is gained by this. In Darklands playing your alchemist resulted in taking different routes gameplay-wise; you were actively questing (and spending time and money on) gathering new recipes. You had to buy raw materials. If alchemy (or any other skill) comes down to "something to click on while resting" then of course nothing is gained by having characters built around this.


Yeah, I'm sorry about that. I didn't mean to say that an alchemist party member who pretty much couldn't even fight has absolutely no use or place in any RPG gameplay, whatsoever. And I totally understand the value of such a particular balance of skillset and restriction in a party member, given the right gameplay environment to support it. It's really just a matter of other design foundations in P:E that we know aren't malleable enough to support that type of character without making it a completely different game.

#44
Game_Exile

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The other stuff doesn't necessarily "lead to" combat. It exists alongside it.

Every less significant part in a whole leads to what is most significant. I expect combat to be central in P:E (why else would you have an XP system and all those stats for it?), but I could be wrong. It depends on how the player needs to reach the game winning goals. Like I mentioned before, there are always additional resource mechanics like timers and food, that would affect the dynamic. But that is all moot, anyway, if the devs don't seriously try to balance for a proper checkpoint system or an "ironman" mode.

But, I don't understand what you're suggesting that's any different from "Things should affect combat, wherever applicable, and these things should be well-implemented and balanced."

I'm not saying anything contrary to this. I am suggesting that combat should, first of all, be really good. And then all the little non combat actions, the ones whose long term strategic significance is supplementing combat anyway, should be balanced appropriately in relation to combat encounters to help ensure that combat will be really good. The devs should know what their most significant stuff will be, and not fly off the handle in too many different directions with "content", that's all.

I mean, if the only thing that mattered about quest dialogue was its effect on combat, then the depth of dialogue would be moot (which it is not). The only thing that would matter would be the outcome.

I was talking about balancing, remember? Don't try to pin opinions on me that aren't mine. Why would I want dialogue to suck? Do I have to quote you my initial post again?

You have to balance anything non-combat with its effects on combat in mind, and you have to balance all things combat with non-combat systems in mind.

You have to balance everything with everything according to what the player can do, will likely do, etc., etc. First time playthroughs, second time playthroughs, constant reloading, and lol. OK, then.

You seem to be suggesting that, since combat situations will take up a greater percentage of the total gameplay time, that we need to worry less about the impact of other gameplay elements on the game as an entire unit and focus solely on making sure everything supports the crap out of combat. Maybe I'm the only one misunderstanding you.

"focus solely on making sure everything supports the crap out of combat". Yeah, you're definitely misunderstanding me. I don't know about anyone else, though.

#45
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Of course, a lot still depends on other factors. Take lockpicking. If the Rogue's the best (100%) at it, and a Priest can only get to pretty good (80%) at it, then there should be a reason to pick 80% lockpick skill (as opposed to there being absolutely no reason to pick it... I'm not saying there should be a reason to always pick it.) This is affected by chest placement, and the progression of chest skill checks, and the usefulness of chest contents at various levels, etc. Which is really just balancing, when it comes down to it. But, since the class mechanics (and limitations) exist within pretty much every other element of the entire game, you have to build these mechanics and decide how to introduce variation accordingly.


And, I understand the idea of the Priest's use of lockpicking being moot because it's a party-based game, and the Rogue will always be better. But, with, what... 12 classes? 13? More than 6 classes... and 6 party members total, and at least one NPC companion per class? That gives you many feasible party builds that don't involve a Rogue, but you may still want to be ABLE to pick locks, and you accept that you won't get to pick all of them. That just seems like a very inefficient use of content to give people the viable option of having an entire party makeup with no Rogue (maybe they just don't prefer the other class mechanics) and then have them still go through the exact same world FULL of locked things controlling characters who all just shrug at one another at the mystery mechanism that is a lock. You'd pretty much hafta severely lessen the significance of getting past locked things, or balance every class-ability-restricted segment of the game as a fully standalone, optional part of a far less homogenous game world. Imagine if only certain classes could even engage in dialogue (much less gain access to more dialogue options).


Absolutely. I hope that varying degrees of skill leads to varying degrees of profits, rather than only one being viable. OTOH I want to see a difference if I have a natural at lockpicking (rogue) specializing in it. Just that last margin of success that wouldn't be possible otherwise.

I'm still curious about how they will avoid the classical party setup being the most viable option. I personally hope the world/ content will not be adjusted towards your party setup, so that you'll badly miss a specialist in a certain skill at certain times. As long as this is true for all classes/ skills I don't see a problem there. I hope there will be points where you miss a specialist Rogue just as much as the Paladin's AoE attacks or the Chanter's songs.

Good point about dialogue though. It is a bit separate in that it won't make use of character skills. I hope that all characters can chime in at some point if they have something useful to say/ do (like a stealth specialist, be it a rogue or a ranger).

#46
Lephys

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"focus solely on making sure everything supports the crap out of combat". Yeah, you're definitely misunderstanding me. I don't know about anyone else, though.


Ahh, well, my mistake. I'm not claiming to be capable of misunderstanding. I just try my best. I apologize for the inconvenience.

Every less significant part in a whole leads to what is most significant.


This is the only thing left I don't quite see as very accurate. Take an internal combustion engine. Surely the cylinders, pistons, and crankshaft are the most significant parts, right? Maybe we could include the fuel/air mixture and the spark. But, the cylinders are where the engine's operation occurs, and they turn the crankshaft. These are part of the actual significant function of the engine. However, if you take out the engine's oil, it's going to overheat and seize. So, which is more significant: the oil, or the rest?

I get that the combat is most likely going to be very prevalent (as far as portion of the game spent within it goes), but the other systems make the game what it is, as well, obviously. So, I'm just wondering specifically what kind of balancing combat should get more attention in than other systems? I don't know how you would conceivably balance between combat and lockpicking in favor of lockpicking. Or, take the item system... look at Borderlands 2. If you put 3,000,000 different pieces of equipment in the game, the item system STILL doesn't steal the microphone, so to speak, from combat or exploration or anything else. It still just supports it, and, in-turn, is supported by it. The relationship doesn't seem to change at all.

Might I trouble you for a specific example?

#47
Game_Exile

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Every less significant part in a whole leads to what is most significant.

This is the only thing left I don't quite see as very accurate.

There is nothing accurate or inaccurate about it. It's an observation about how things work psychologically, and it's practically in the definition of the words "whole" and "significant". When you are gathering resources and strength in a game, what are you gathering them for? Like I said, it depends on how the player needs to reach his goals.

I get that the combat is most likely going to be very prevalent (as far as portion of the game spent within it goes), but the other systems make the game what it is, as well, obviously. So, I'm just wondering specifically what kind of balancing combat should get more attention in than other systems?

It was obviously a general balance issue that I had. My post would actually be very easy to understand if you weren't just trying to claw for the possibility of an error I might have made somewhere in those three sentences. The amount of explanation you've asked from me has really gotten ridiculous. I would accuse you of intentionally trying to obfuscate the issue, but I'm beginning to suspect that you don't really have a choice about it.

Might I trouble you for a specific example?

If you lockpick a chest at the beginning of the game and you get excalibur, combat at the beginning of the game will be too easy. LOL.

Ahh, well, my mistake. I'm not claiming to be capable of misunderstanding. I just try my best. I apologize for the inconvenience.

OK, run along then.

#48
Lephys

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There is nothing accurate or inaccurate about it. It's an observation about how things work psychologically, and it's practically in the definition of the words "whole" and "significant". When you are gathering resources and strength in a game, what are you gathering them for? Like I said, it depends on how the player needs to reach his goals.


Something can't be neither accurate nor inaccurate. And I was referring to its application in the realm of RPG design. Using combat as a basis for all balancing efforts would probably work just fine in a Fighting game, or a multiplayer shooter, since those games are literally made out of combat. They harvest it from mines with pickaxes, then refine it into a game.

It was obviously a general balance issue that I had. My post would actually be very easy to understand if you weren't just trying to claw for the possibility of an error I might have made somewhere in those three sentences. The amount of explanation you've asked from me has really gotten ridiculous. I would accuse you of intentionally trying to obfuscate the issue, but I'm beginning to suspect that you don't really have a choice about it.


Perhaps. I think it also would've made a lot more since if it hadn't been a ludicrously inefficient method of saying "when balancing anything in the game, it's probably best not to screw up combat, and also combat happens a lot." If you weren't just stating the obvious (there was no contextual talk of screwing up combat), and you weren't stating some foundationary notion that formed the framework of "All you need to worry about while balancing," then I seriously, truly don't comprehend what your intention was. I would accuse you of purposefully conveying things in a convoluted manner so that you can come back with snappy retorts to people's responses, but that would be pure speculation.


If you lockpick a chest at the beginning of the game and you get excalibur, combat at the beginning of the game will be too easy. LOL.


An excellent example of the fact that combat is capable of being screwed up in game design. However, I was actually asking for an example of the balancing relationship to which you were referring that I don't seem to be comprehending. Also, it's good that you're so jovial. Laughter burns a lot of calories, you know. It's good for you. Just ask Patch Adams. :)

Ahh, well, my mistake. I'm not claiming to be capable of misunderstanding. I just try my best. I apologize for the inconvenience.


I've actually made quite the typo here. I meant "incapable of misunderstanding." Sorry for any confusion that might have caused.


OK, run along then.


Since it's a public forum, I don't comprehend what this means. Am I to go "home," on my browser? Would that be symbolic of running home, perhaps? o_O. Running IS good cardio, though, u_u. Better than laughing, even.

#49
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Perhaps. I think it also would've made a lot more since if it hadn't been a ludicrously inefficient method of saying "when balancing anything in the game, it's probably best not to screw up combat, and also combat happens a lot." If you weren't just stating the obvious (there was no contextual talk of screwing up combat), and you weren't stating some foundationary notion that formed the framework of "All you need to worry about while balancing," then I seriously, truly don't comprehend what your intention was. I would accuse you of purposefully conveying things in a convoluted manner so that you can come back with snappy retorts to people's responses, but that would be pure speculation.

"Seriously" and "truly", liar? There is no space in between "obvious" and "foundationary", with general comments, amirite? This is what I posted, in case you forgot:

Why even bother making a bunch of one-off "skills" that won't affect anything outside of 10 or 100 specific instances of success/failure die rolls? The reason why combat is so interesting is because when the player uses combat abilities, it affects like a hundred different things in combat, i.e. it's more complex than the other stuff. If the "application" of certain skills are not particularly "dense", then these skills should at least be designed with an emphasis on how they will (eventually?) impact combat challenges. How else would you balance them?

I am making a simple recommendation about balance based on what I am guessing the game's content will look like. If some skills will not be that interesting to use on their own, they should at least be linked to combat. "Ludicrously inefficient", my ass.

If you lockpick a chest at the beginning of the game and you get excalibur, combat at the beginning of the game will be too easy. LOL.

An excellent example of the fact that combat is capable of being screwed up in game design. However, I was actually asking for an example of the balancing relationship to which you were referring that I don't seem to be comprehending.

That's it, you're simply not comprehending, and trying your hardest to pretend like it's some glaring fault in my initial post. It is an example of how lockpicking can impact combat challenges, moron. And people want to call me a "troll".

#50
rjshae

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Sigh. And another name goes into the Ignore prefs... bye Game_Exile.

#51
Lephys

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I am making a simple recommendation about balance based on what I am guessing the game's content will look like. If some skills will not be that interesting to use on their own, they should at least be linked to combat. "Ludicrously inefficient", my ass.


If a skill isn't going to be that interesting on its own, then why even implement it in the first place? I think we could do without the Melon-Balling skill, rather than Obsidian spending their resources and efforts trying to make sure it "at least" enhances combat. If you could somehow incorporate mellon-balling into the game such that the skill became interesting (like if it was a cooking game instead of P:E, for example), then the skill would be completely viable. No skill "isn't interesting at all" to an absolute degree. It depends on the contextual details of the game design.

RPGs aren't very interesting, to some people. That isn't a valid reason for not-making them, or for just making sure they support some other genre of game.

That's it, you're simply not comprehending, and trying your hardest to pretend like it's some glaring fault in my initial post. It is an example of how lockpicking can impact combat challenges, moron. And people want to call me a "troll".


I'm actually just pointing out things that I don't understand about your initial post. I don't see how blatantly admitting that I fail to comprehend your point is "trying my hardest" to pretend like there's a flaw in your reasoning. Besides, I'm not trying to suggest you're one of those mortals who's capable of flaws or anything. You could be a demi-god for all I know. Which is why I'm simply pointing out what I do understand (regardless of whether or not it's wrong) as I believe it pertains to the things I do not understand, so that you might, should you so choose, help unite my current understanding with your point.

If you don't care about such things, then I suppose the validity of your point will remain misunderstood. If you somehow get points for that, then... I guess I'm glad I could help.





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