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Please, No Lockpick or Trap-Disarm XP!

experience xp traps lockpicking mechanics skills

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Poll: Trap and Lockpick XP Poll (116 member(s) have cast votes)

Should picking locks and disarming traps--both Mechanics skill checks--award experience points, even though no other XP pools are strictly bound to a specific skill?

  1. Yes (56 votes [48.28%])

    Percentage of vote: 48.28%

  2. No (60 votes [51.72%])

    Percentage of vote: 51.72%

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#41
PrimeHydra

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You're assuming the player won't get XP for using, say, Lore in convos or certain situations. If we do, then doesn't that argument apply to Lore as well? (i.e. that Lore is more desirable).

There aren't multiple ways to pick locks or disarm traps, though. (You can find the key, but there goes your XP). Most skill checks in scripted conversations that are part of quest objectives, are not the not the only way to achieve the objective. You can usually choose "[Attack] That's enough out of you!" and kill them.

 

Problem with limiting the number of points per level is twofold (and maybe more):
 
1) this means no high level skill checks unless the intent is to make the player come back again later when at a higher level or once again the checks are so high (compared to the player's possible skill level at that point) that you have to max the skill (to the point the restrictions allow) anyway to be able to pass. Or the skill checks are so trivially easy that they're inconsequential.
 
2) you'll have a whole contingent of players complaining they can't make a specialist character and are forced to build their character a different way than they want to because they're either forced to dump points into a skill they don't want or they end up not spending them and are getting a pool of 'useless' skill points.
 

 

This is true, which is why I conceded that such a system wouldn't work well with six characters and only five skills. If there were many more skills, there'd be (some) incentive to branch out, because you could get at least some of the skill checks for some of the skills.  But none of this really negates the need for unbiased skill selection in the first place. That can be achieved without regard to specializing or diversifying.

 

I think the better - although not ideal - solution is similar to Wasteland 2 in that you can attempt a skill check with lower skill values, but there's an increasingly large chance of failure (and critical failure) if your skill level is below the target threshold. But this does, of course, 'promote' save-scumming. But I think at some point the devs have to stop worrying about how the players are going to bypass certain challenges and stop worrying about 'degenerative' game play if it's something the player has to consciously choose to participate in.
I mean, the way I see it: XP for traps and locks? I don't care. Does that mean that some players will max out Mechanics and then disarm every trap and search out every lock just to get every last possible XP? Yes, it does. Who cares? It's a single player game and they're choosing to play it how they want. Same with save-scumming. Same with XP for kills. It's the player's choice to do that.
 
Meh, like I said I'm getting so sick of the angst surrounding XP awards in this game that I'm starting to not really give a crap how they decide to do it.

 

 

I guess I just don't see why we need XP for traps and locks. Most of the arguments for it state "I like it and I don't care if it's exploitable or creates a skill bias". OK. But why isn't disarming the trap or picking the lock reward enough? You get safe passage and/or loot. Do you really need to gain experience, too?

 

It echoes the combat XP argument in a lot of ways ("that's their choice so leave their XP alone"). The difference is, traps and locks are not nearly as common as enemies. Incentivizing them even more than they already are makes no sense, because a) you're not constantly encountering them, b) getting past them is a significant reward in itself and c) there is only one way to gain their XP--Mechanics.

 

As for throwing up your hands about the issue, there is still plenty of time until release. Expect people to debate it for a while. I joined the conversation well after the Kickstarter campaign, so maybe I'm less burnt out on it.


Edited by PrimeHydra, 17 October 2014 - 09:43 AM.

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#42
Cantousent

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Hopefully, someone can post this philosophy and see how lock/trap xp goes against it. I'm genuinely curious about this.

http://forums.obsidi...ives/?p=1242415

 

I was really hoping someone else would post a link.  There are other things, but this is from over two years ago.  Note that the salient point regards gaming the system, which I would take to include lock/trap XP.  I'm sure someone could make the disingenuous (well... let's just call it intellectually dishonest since that's what it really is) argument that he's only talking about kill XP.  The fact is, "[g]ameplay degeneration occurs when a player engages in gameplay not because they enjoy that gameplay but because the game's mechanics put the player at a disadvantage for not taking advantage of it[.]" clearly describes a system where you go out of your way to disarm traps because the system incentivizes you to do so even in situations where you would benefit from leaving the trap in place.  It clearly describes a system where you are better off *not* finding a key before you find the locked chest because you actually get an additional award for picking the lock.  lol They should just put in an option for every chest and door saying, "would you like to pick the lock for experience or just use the key that you found on the body of a tough enemy who yielded you no XP when you killed him?"

 

Kill XP is bad because opportunities to kill will be ubiquitous.  ...But I actually have more sympathy for kill XP.  Sure, even with mine fields galore, it's doubtful that traps/locks XP will be unbalancing, so I guess the advocates have a point.  On the other hand, if the argument is that it won't yield too terribly much XP, why worry if you don't get it?  If it's significant enough for advocates to evoke strong feelings, then it is potentially unbalancing.  ...And my gut instinct is that there are fewer people clamoring for lock/trap XP than kill, so why cater to that crowd rather than the kill XP crowd?  Because the XP probably won't be significant enough to worry about, so, while it makes even less sense than kill XP, it creates less of a nuisance for the design team, so just give it as a way to shut up a minority so small it isn't even causing much of a ruckus anyhow.  All of this leads me personally to believe that the design team itself has internal debates regarding the issue.


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#43
PrimeHydra

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I was really hoping someone else would post a link.  

 

I really did look. Kudos to your superior search skills! :)



#44
Tamerlane

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Obsidian, please make gold the primary source of EXP in PoE. It's the tried-and-true way, after all.


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#45
Matt516

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Thanks for the link, Cantousent. That'd pretty much what I was getting at. XP is a design tool. If you're offering XP for something as a designer, it's because you A) want to incentize the player to do the thing and disincentivize not doing the thing or B) allow the player to advance their character. Lock/trap XP doesn't seem necessary when either of these is taken into account. There's already an incentive for opening locks/traps that stand in your way, and incentizising that further only promotes degenerate gameplay. As far as advancement goes, the devs seem to want to advance the player at a certain rate, and that rate can easily be managed with the other sources of XP. Lock/trap XP is just weird, immersion breaking, and unnecessary IMO.
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#46
Marceror

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I won't cry if OE doesn't put it in -- I'm a grown man for god's sake -- but I would be happy to see it included. If it was good enough for the I.E games, god dammit, it's good enough for me! All you whippersnappers can take your trap and lock xp phobias and stick 'em where the sun don't shine... uphill both ways in the snow... and that's how we liked it!

 

/Spits


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#47
MReed

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I have no strong preference one way or the other, but I want to re-emphasize the point that Ink Blot made:

 

Other skills will unlock dialog options that will result in XP rewards (over and beyond what is accessible via the "ARGH! Attack!" option).  This may take the form of new quests, extra rewards for completed quests, or simply a straight "Wow, that's an amazing insight, professor!" type choices.  Obviously, quests unlock would only apply to side quests (critical path quests must be un-lockable for parties with any sets of skills), but side quests are likely to make up ~50% of the XP available in the game, so...  In theory, at least, adding trap / lock XP is actually necessary, to ensure that maxing out the mechanics skill offers the same XP rewards as (say) maxing out the Lore skill.

 

It is obvious that there will be many more opportunities for gaining trap / lock XP but one assumes that the rewards per instance will be much lower, so it is possible that a skill that appears in 3 dialogs (awarding 50k XP in total) would be balanced with mechanics -- if the total amount of XP available by unlocking every lock and disarming every trap is 50k.  It seems very unlikely that Obsidian has gone through this level of effort to balancing the addition of trap/lock XP in the game, at least not yet (since it was just introduced), but it isn't impossible... :)

 

Just my two cents.



#48
PrimeHydra

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MReed: If some subquests are accessed only via dialog skill checks, then it makes sense. Sure enough, Mechanics aren't used in dialog (much) so it would then be a way of bringing Mechanics up to the other skills in terms of XP-unlock potential.

 

I've yet to discover a side quest in the backer beta that was skill-gated, but I'd feel better if you're right and the final game has them. This would increase replay value, too.


Edited by PrimeHydra, 17 October 2014 - 01:15 PM.


#49
Cantousent

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If what you suggest is true, Reed, then why give systemic XP for the *act* of picking a lock?  You don't get XP for the act of a character opening his mouth to say hello.  You have specific checks which reward a success in a specific circumstance.  Once again, as I've often said, I personally (and perhaps others) don't have any problem with any specific skill, playstyle, attribute, or ability granting XP.  I don't even mind having some specific circumstances requiring any specific item off the preceding list.  What I don't want is for the game to systemically grant XP solely for the exercise of anything on the list.  I don't mind having an objective that can only be accomplished through mechanics.  That's never been my issue.  My issue is that granting systemic XP for each incident of mechanics use is a heavy handed way to fix the problem.  If there are specific instances where a dialogue skill grants XP, the solution to the perceived shafting of lock picking or trap disarming isn't to grant tiny bits of XP for each use.  It's to tie equally significant XP rewards to specific mechanics uses in the same way.


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#50
Quetzalcoatl

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I have no strong preference one way or the other, but I want to re-emphasize the point that Ink Blot made:

 

Other skills will unlock dialog options that will result in XP rewards (over and beyond what is accessible via the "ARGH! Attack!" option).  This may take the form of new quests, extra rewards for completed quests, or simply a straight "Wow, that's an amazing insight, professor!" type choices.  Obviously, quests unlock would only apply to side quests (critical path quests must be un-lockable for parties with any sets of skills), but side quests are likely to make up ~50% of the XP available in the game, so...  In theory, at least, adding trap / lock XP is actually necessary, to ensure that maxing out the mechanics skill offers the same XP rewards as (say) maxing out the Lore skill.

Attributes are the primary tool for resolving dialogue, not skills. And even then they're not necessarily the 'right answer'. The Ogre for example has a couple of attribute/skill checks, but the peaceful solution(s) don't require a check.


Edited by Quetzalcoatl, 17 October 2014 - 01:32 PM.


#51
sb5

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I'd say yes if this game has random encounters and unlimited XP.

This only leads to that you feel like you gimp yourself if you don't pick this and that

#52
Hiro Protagonist II

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Hopefully, someone can post this philosophy and see how lock/trap xp goes against it. I'm genuinely curious about this.

http://forums.obsidi...ives/?p=1242415

 

I was really hoping someone else would post a link.  There are other things, but this is from over two years ago.  Note that the salient point regards gaming the system, which I would take to include lock/trap XP.  I'm sure someone could make the disingenuous (well... let's just call it intellectually dishonest since that's what it really is) argument that he's only talking about kill XP.  The fact is, "[g]ameplay degeneration occurs when a player engages in gameplay not because they enjoy that gameplay but because the game's mechanics put the player at a disadvantage for not taking advantage of it[.]" clearly describes a system where you go out of your way to disarm traps because the system incentivizes you to do so even in situations where you would benefit from leaving the trap in place.  It clearly describes a system where you are better off *not* finding a key before you find the locked chest because you actually get an additional award for picking the lock.  lol They should just put in an option for every chest and door saying, "would you like to pick the lock for experience or just use the key that you found on the body of a tough enemy who yielded you no XP when you killed him?"

 

Kill XP is bad because opportunities to kill will be ubiquitous.  ...But I actually have more sympathy for kill XP.  Sure, even with mine fields galore, it's doubtful that traps/locks XP will be unbalancing, so I guess the advocates have a point.  On the other hand, if the argument is that it won't yield too terribly much XP, why worry if you don't get it?  If it's significant enough for advocates to evoke strong feelings, then it is potentially unbalancing.  ...And my gut instinct is that there are fewer people clamoring for lock/trap XP than kill, so why cater to that crowd rather than the kill XP crowd?  Because the XP probably won't be significant enough to worry about, so, while it makes even less sense than kill XP, it creates less of a nuisance for the design team, so just give it as a way to shut up a minority so small it isn't even causing much of a ruckus anyhow.  All of this leads me personally to believe that the design team itself has internal debates regarding the issue.

 

 

I think they're trying to ignore the elephant in the room that is kill xp by rewarding players with other types of xp regardless if that other type is degenerative or not. There's obviously 'something' missing if the dev's are introducing other forms of xp and their original design with quest only xp hasn't achieved the desired results. The whole design right from the start has shown with trying to eliminate degenerative gameplay, the game still has degenerative gameplay including introducing new unintended types that were never in the IE games. This is not something new I'm bringing up and has been brought up before.


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#53
600lbpanther

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Don't really care either way...could be neat for those who enjoy that sort of thing so long as it doesn't hold major XP weight... but I mainly voted yes because of the troll poll.



#54
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I think you're woefully misguided about kill XP, Hiro, but I agree with some of your perspective.  I don't think the philosophy has failed.  I think the philosophy is sound, but that showcasing the XP system wasn't as important to the team as working through combat and the like.  The backer beta is one of those things that has a little something for everyone to hate if they're looking for it.

 

At any rate, I noticed that you were called out by name for the Tides kickstarter update.  Very nice, mon frère.  I'm hugely anticipating that title and even considering contributing a bit more to the latest update thing... the Gullet?  Something like that.  I notice that Tides doesn't have kill XP.  <.<  :Cant's guffawing and offering a beer icon:



#55
Hiro Protagonist II

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I know WL2 seems to be brought up a lot with clearing land mines but does it really unbalance the game for that one character if you do/don't clear them? Only one of your characters benefits from clearing mines and I haven't seen any unbalancing issues, even if you do/don't clear every mine in the game which I think would be tedious. I've found your character is neither OP or gimped in either case. The argument of unlocking something without using a key to get xp depends on how it's implemented. In WL2, you can do the same if you have a high enough skill. Did you do that in WL2 with unlocking things even though you had the key? I did check the percentage and always went with the key.

 

And with Torment, I noticed Kevin Saunders and Colin McComb pledged for a signed print so I did as well. I'm not too concerned about the xp system in Torment. It sounds like it's very light on combat and it's mostly about storytelling.



#56
Lephys

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But this does, of course, 'promote' save-scumming.


It's not really so much that it promotes save-scumming. More just that it allows it. But, something like that's more of a question of "is luck maybe overstepping its bounds, here?" Because, it's fun to have a little chance involved in the outcome of something, but it's not fun to expend literally as much effort as you can towards maximizing your chances, only to have chance step in and hit you with that .5% chance to critically jam a lock. "Oh well... guess you'll just have to finish this playthrough, then start a new one and play the 30 hours back to this point to try this door again, and HOPE that you don't get unlucky next time! 8D" So, I think that's the lesson with things like critical failures, in regards to luck's involvement in things.

But I think at some point the devs have to stop worrying about how the players are going to bypass certain challenges and stop worrying about 'degenerative' game play if it's something the player has to consciously choose to participate in.
I mean, the way I see it: XP for traps and locks? I don't care. Does that mean that some players will max out Mechanics and then disarm every trap and search out every lock just to get every last possible XP? Yes, it does. Who cares? It's a single player game and they're choosing to play it how they want. Same with save-scumming. Same with XP for kills. It's the player's choice to do that.


This is true. at some point, they do have to not worry about what people will do. However, to answer "who cares?" regarding lock/trap XP... the problem is simply that nothing necessitates the design to award XP for these things. The link between XP and the player is already established as "you, the player, want XP whenever you can get it." Getting XP is never a BAD thing. And, as long as it's easy, why shouldn't you get the XP? That's the problem. Unlocking a door you don't even benefit from unlocking anymore isn't fun. Accomplshing something by unlocking a door is fun. "Oh, hey! we don't have to go around! My Rogue can unlock this for us! 8D!" Or getting something from a locked chest. Etc.

XP, as a mechanic, is purely a benefit. There is no "Hmm... maybe I should wait and get some XP later, instead of now by easily just using a skill on this thing."

It's one thing when there are infinite foes out in the wilderness, and you COULD go fight infinite foes, but you don't really need to. At least, then, you have to go out of your way to do it. And you don't need infinite XP. But, locks and traps might as well just be piles of XP lying around (some of them... unless you NEED to unlock and disarm every single thing in the game for some non-XP reason, in which case... I dare say that's a very linear/problematic-in-other-ways design). At which point, your game should not freely provide benefits, then say "Well, clearly, only a psycho player would just pick up all the piles of XP he walks past. I mean, you don't HAVE to pick them up."

That's basically what it comes down to. If you have to go out of your way, as the player, to produce degenerative behavior, then it really shouldn't be the developer's concern. For example, the sheer ability to save the game and load the game, at any point in time, coupled with the sheer existence of meta-knowledge that is unbeknownst to the player until he plays the game at least once. If someone wants to reload, then take advantage of some "I know that THAT guy's actually a bad guy!" tidbit, and go back to NOT help him, even though at the time they thought he was a good guy, then great. That's not a problem with the design, because the design doesn't encourage you to replay an hour of the game in order to change the outcome of the present. However, if the game litters a forest with individual coins, and there's actually 1 million coins there, but you'd have to run around clicking on every single one to pick them all up... that's just silly. The design, itself, is presenting you with beneficial money, which you don't already have infinite of purely because of the design itself. AND, it's giving you a free-yet-very-unfun way of acquiring that benefit that has nothing to do with the rest of the game. The act of picking up a bunch of coins is not founded in the purpose of the game's design at all. Getting the coins for doing other things is what the game's about. Fight your way to a chest, and unlock it? Coins! Spend time and effort completing a well-designed and enjoyable quest? Coins!

It's all about the design. The design, without lock/trap XP, says "Hey, if something's impeding you, or you want to get at the contents of something, try unlocking it or disarming it." Then, you throw on the XP, specifically for those tasks, and the game suddenly says "Oh, hey, if for no other reason, unlock/disarm things, because FREE XP!" Because XP is never not a goal. Unlocking things and disarming a whole room full of traps (that you've already gotten through and never need to go back to) wasn't always a goal, by design. The only thing making it a goal, at that point, is the XP. So why is the XP there? For no reason at all. So why, in a game built upon everything else happening for a reason, would you grant XP for no reason at all?

I mean, when do you beat the game? When you play through the whole story, right? What if you just beat the game when you clicked on a barrel in the prologue? You wouldn't just say "So, some people LIKE to do that. So what?" It makes absolutely no sense, and is at odds with the design of the game. XP happens for reasons, except for sometimes. Why not just make it always happen for reasons? And if you're not going to have a reason for SOMEthing, why have a reason for ANYthing? Why not just toss XP out every time anything happens, ever?
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#57
Mr. Magniloquent

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Give experience for every marginal action, but temper it with ECL. This problem has already been solved for us people.



#58
Matt516

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Nailed it, Lephys.

#59
Marceror

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I mean, when do you beat the game? When you play through the whole story, right? What if you just beat the game when you clicked on a barrel in the prologue? You wouldn't just say "So, some people LIKE to do that. So what?" It makes absolutely no sense, and is at odds with the design of the game. XP happens for reasons, except for sometimes. Why not just make it always happen for reasons? And if you're not going to have a reason for SOMEthing, why have a reason for ANYthing? Why not just toss XP out every time anything happens, ever?

 

Oh, you mean a reason like, you just took the time to pick a challenging lock, and you became more experienced at lockpicking as a result? I'm with you. Give XP only for reasons. Like opening a challenging lock, defeating a difficult foe, or completing an important quest.



#60
wanderon

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I challenge anyone to name a single IE game where the number of locks/traps that you would NOT normally open/disarm during the course of an average play through could possibly amount to enough experience to even be relevant to anything.

 

The concept that the numbers of locks/traps normally not opened/disarmed as part of a typical game is large enough that lock/trap XP will force people into degenerative gameplay  to open/disarm them is ludicrous.


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