A while ago we proposed our plans for player progression, and I’m pleased to let you know about some changes we’re wanting to make to improve the design. These changes come in two halves, one half is about how you gain experience which Luke will post soon, and the other half is about the skills you can buy once you’ve levelled up your character, and that’s what I’ll cover here.
I’ll start by recapping the foundations concepts of the skill system:
- Blank Slate – all characters begin the game the same and can progress from there (i.e. no classes).
- Generalist or Specialist – characters can become very specialised in one area, or generalists, or anything in between.
- Free-form – skills are not pigeonholed into strict areas and players can make their own combinations (e.g. you decide what skills make a good hunter, you’re not told what we think are are good hunting skills).
The design we proposed covered those points well, but there were a couple of areas that you highlighted in which it lacked. The things that I took away from the feedback was that the presentation was a little dry, and there wasn’t enough choice between two different skills or downsides to choosing a given skill. We want to address these issues, but without damaging our foundation concepts (especially number 3).
So we’re looking to split the skills into more “trees”, which are more interestingly presented. Each tree is unlocked after you’ve bought a certain number of skills. These trees are grouped into themes, and contain a series of paths you can go down. Within each tree the cost of buying skills increases with each skill bought whether you are going further down a path or starting new paths. For example the Attributes tree, has a path of each of the eight Attributes (Vitality, Power, Control, Dexterity, Agility, Intelligence, Luck and Energy) and each path is eight steps long. The cost of each Attribute skill increases with each one bought, but that cost is the same whether you buy all eight skills in one path (i.e. max out an Attribute) or whether you buy the first upgrade in each Attribute. Each tree tracks its own cost, so at some point it becomes more cost effective to move to a fresh tree to pick up some cheaper skills.
Here is a mockup of the Skills GUI (content is placeholder):
The current list of trees is:
- Core (e.g. Basic Recipes, Sprinting, Join Guild)
- Attributes (e.g. Vitality, Power)
- Equipment Crafting (e.g. Machine Crafting Recipes, Weapon Crafting Recipes)
- Core Mastery (e.g. Slingbow Mastery, Hammer Mastery)
- Exploration (e.g. Compass Upgrade, Warp Distance)
- Endurance (e.g. Health Regeneration, Impact Damage Resistance)
- Item Crafting (e.g. Decoration Crafting Recipes, Bulk Crafting)
- Extended Mastery (e.g. Grapple Mastery, Gem Mastery)
- Abilities (e.g. Double Jump, Threat Multiplier)
- Survival (e.g. Durability Drain, Revive Speed)
- Atmosphere (e.g. Volatile Atmosphere Protection, Caustic Atmosphere Protection)
One other concept we’re looking at is the ability to “unlearn” skills. At any one time you can choose one skill to unlearn. After you’ve gained a certain amount of experience that skill is removed from your character and you get all the skill points back that you spent. In this way you can shift your character’s skills over time, and try things out without fear of committing permanently to something.
As always, thoughts and comments are welcomed.