How you tackle Classes and Skills Progression/Customization

HumanNinjaToo

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If I understand you correctly, I usually do not. I should quickly release many skills at level 30~40 to make it fun for players. Is that your suggestion? Thank you for your time to keep explaining to me.
No, what I meant is that a lot of jrpg's tend to have a max level of 99 but you get all your skills way before you ever get to level 99. So my suggestion is do away with such a high max level. I prefer wrpg's that use low max levels and give you all your skills more quickly. So I would rather have a max level of 20, and get all my skills in those 20 levels, than have a max level of 99 and get all my skills in the first one-third of available levels (levels 20~40 for example). When you drag out level progression to level 99 you're mostly just delaying the player from gaining extra stats on their characters, so why not shorten the max level and give all those stats in that shorter amount of time? There's no point in having a level 99 when the average player will beat your game at level 40. I think very few people will play a game longer just to grind out 99 levels.
 

Frostorm

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I'm so glad I didn't listen to my friend who wanted a level cap of 999! (He loves grinding)

I noticed my system naturally gives the players more skills earlier then slows down gradually. This is simply due to each tier costing more JP than the last. Tier 1 costs 1 JP, tier 2 costs 2 JP, all the way to tier 5 which costs 5 JP. Assuming a player grabs all 3 skills in each tier (which they aren't forced to, w/ 1 skill being a utility, another an offensive, and lastly a passive), they could get 3 skills at lv 1, 3 skills at lv 3, 3 skills at lv 6, 3 skills at lv 10, and finally 3 more skills at lv 15. Next, they could move onto another tree (if they didn't already do so) and get 3 (tier 1) skills at lv 16, then 3 more at 18, 21, 25, & 30. This is just an example if the player decided to focus on a single tree before moving onto another. However, I imagine more players will likely do something like this: (Lv. cap is 50)

1594597978446.png

Edit: Added more permutations to the table.
 
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Kupotepo

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When you drag out level progression to level 99 you're mostly just delaying the player from gaining extra stats on their characters, so why not shorten the max level and give all those stats in that shorter amount of time?
Do you think level progression based on the gameplay's time?
Some game is 3 hours, some game is 24 hours, and some game is 3 days length of gameplay.

I do not I would reach those levels just wandering. I agree with you that some games try to stretch the playtime try to create an illusion of the high-value game. It is not fun for many people to do repetitive work. Except @Frostorm's friend lol. + or - the uncertainty of players is always in my time play calculation just like many people here.
 
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Pootscooter

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@Frostorm I really like the versatility of your skill system! Would I be able to spread points around more than 3 trees? I noticed your table only goes up to lv45 but you mentioned the cap is 50. Also, can you elaborate more on "Spellweaving"?
 

Frostorm

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@Frostorm I really like the versatility of your skill system! Would I be able to spread points around more than 3 trees? I noticed your table only goes up to lv45 but you mentioned the cap is 50. Also, can you elaborate more on "Spellweaving"?
Yes, you will have a total of 50 JP by max lv (1 JP per lv). You can spend it in any combination you see fit. For the following example, let's call the various skill trees: Trees A, B, C, D & E. For instance, you could reach tier 5 in Tree A and then only go up to tier 4 in Trees B, C, & D. You'll notice this leaves you with 5 JP remaining, just like if you were to max out 3 trees to tier 5. This is an intentional design and is meant to be spent on learning "Spellweaving", which costs exactly 5 JP.

This brings me to Spellweaving, which you can think of as a separate tier that doesn't belong to any tree in particular. It unlocks access to the various "hybrid" skills in the game.

An example of such a skill would be "Plasma Bolt" which has prerequisites of Tier 2 in both Pyromancy (fire) & Keraunomancy (lightning). It deals dual Fire/Shock damage and has a 25% chance to Burn and a 25% chance to Paralyze.

Another example is "Frost Fever" which requires Tier 1 in Thanatomancy (shadow) and Tier 3 in Cryomancy (ice). This skill Chills the target and leaves a DoT for 3 turns. It also has the unique property of being contagious, so it will spread to adjacent units, infecting them with Frost Fever as well. The DoT portion deals pure Frost damage.

Edit: Going back to the skill tree combinations, another possibility would be to reach Tier 4 in Trees A, B, C, D & E. Such a character would have access to skills from 5 trees, however, this would mean forgoing "Spellweaving".

1594600180168.png 1594600824155.png
 
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TheoAllen

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In almost every game I play, I prefer to have a small selection of skills to use.
So, something like "we have 100 of skills selection to use" is not my thing.

I mainly play action games in which the skill hotkey are limited or tactical games in which you only have a small selection of skill that guaranteed to do something for your tactical choices.

What I do like (and I do in my game) is when you have passive upgrades to the skill you're using or just your character in general. Not necessarily a new skill to learn, a new skill to equip and use. For example, a new passive that improves the skill you have been using all of these times.

Skill: Flame blast
Upgrade 1: Increase Flame blast damage by 25%
Upgrade 2: Add burns to Flame Blast
Upgrade 3: Burns stackable up to 3 times
Upgrade 4: When the enemy is burned and get struck by another fire spell, do extra damage.

Seeing one particular skill you always use gets stronger feels good.
It doesn't matter what kind of progression you have.
Let it be a linear progression, skill tree, perk choice, job point, achievement, and all.
 

Frostorm

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In almost every game I play, I prefer to have a small selection of skills to use.
So, something like "we have 100 of skills selection to use" is not my thing.
I'm so glad I made stat allocation and skill learning utilize the same resource (SP). This way I can please both crowds (players that prefer to use just a handful of skills vs players that want tons of skills at their disposal). Neither side loses out since players that choose to have fewer skills get to spend more SP on boosting their raw stats.

What I do like (and I do in my game) is when you have passive upgrades to the skill you're using or just your character in general. Not necessarily a new skill to learn, a new skill to equip and use. For example, a new passive that improves the skill you have been using all of these times.
I too am a proponent of this. Many of the passives in my game also improves upon existing skills, or if it doesn't directly affect a skill, then it may improve your character in such a way that using said skills is more effective/attractive.

Example of passives in my Cryomancy tree:
Hypothermia: Chilled/Frosty/Frigid/Frozen reduces Focus (TP) generation by 10/20/30/40%.
Frostbite: Chilled/Frosty/Frigid/Frozen reduces healing received by 10/20/30/40%.
Permafrost: Chilled/Frosty/Frigid/Frozen lasts an additional turn.
Shatter: Chilled/Frosty/Frigid/Frozen increases Blunt, Slash, & Pierce damage by 5/10/15/20%.
Cryogenics: Attacks that would kill you instead freeze you for 1 turn, leaving you with 1 HP. (CD: 5)

Note: These passives would benefit any spell that applies Chill since most Frost attacks will apply a Chill effect. Chill is the 1st stage of a chain, where successive Frost attacks would put the target further along the chain until they are Frozen. By itself (before any of these passives) Chill/Frosty/Frigid/Frozen simply reduces Speed by 25/50/75/100%, with Frozen also preventing the target from acting.

I also do have passives in other trees that sometimes buff certain spells specifically. In those cases, I try to make the bonus more substantial than the Cryomancy examples above (since it would only affect 1 spell in particular).
 
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HumanNinjaToo

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Do you think level progression based on the gameplay's time?
Some game is 3 hours, some game is 24 hours, and some game is 3 days length of gameplay.

I do not I would reach those levels just wandering. I agree with you that some games try to stretch the playtime try to create an illusion of the high-value game. It is not fun for many people to do repetitive work. Except @Frostorm's friend lol. + or - the uncertainty of players is always in my time play calculation just like many people here.
For my own game, I don't base level progression on game time, I base it on gameplay progression. I am trying to eliminate the necessity of grinding to reach max level. If you defeat every enemy you come across while going through a dungeon then the idea is to gain the appropriate levels, thus gaining access to the skills associated with those levels. If the player decides to skip trash mob battles, then they will become underleveled if type of playstyle is consistent. I am trying to divide the time spent going through a dungeon so that it feels balanced between exploration time and time spent in battles. My time percentage goal is about 30~45 per dungeon: 10 mins spent clearing trash mobs, 10 mins exploring the dungeon, 5~7 mins spent watching cutscenes at the beginning and/or end of the dungeon, and 5~7 mins spent fighting the boss. As far as spending 10 mins clearing trash mobs, that would come to about 30~90 seconds per battle; however, this planned amount of time is going to be based on a player who is familiar with the character skills and battle mechanics. I would expect the first battles to take closer to the 90 seconds, and closer to 30 seconds once you have the enemy mechanics figured out and have optimized your strategy. Keeping this in mind, I am looking to do about 7 or 8 trash mob encounters within each dungeon. While this is my goal, I'm still in the design process of the dungeons and enemy encounters so things may change slightly as I make more development progress. I will also add that I do plan on having a way for players to grind out missed levels if they chose to ignore encounters throughout the various dungeons because I don't want people to feel stuck and unable to progress because they missed too many trash mob encounters.
 

Frostorm

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So I was just about to start a new thread but felt this thread would cover this topic as well. Basically, what are your guys' thoughts on learning skills from a menu anywhere/anytime vs learning from an NPC at a set location(s)? Or perhaps even learning from a "mentor" that travels with you? The latter approach would be mechanically the same as the anywhere/anytime approach except it would feel more immersive, I guess. The trainer NPC at a set location(s) would work like in WoW, or at least the earlier versions. Thoughts?

I personally use the anywhere/anytime menu approach atm, which you can see in my earlier posts. However, my friend is insisting on having skills learned from an NPC, or at least a dummy mentor NPC that travels with you.

(Ugh, I hate these annoying suggestions he always brings up, but I feel like I can't refute him w/o some good counterarguments...)
 

TheoAllen

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Having a mentor to travel with you is the same as learning anywhere from the menu.

However, if you can only learn new skills in a town or a certain place, that opens up a gameplay design that "once you enter this dungeon, you will not able to level up, learn a new skill, etc, even if you accumulated enough Exp to do so, until you finish this dungeon or retreat". Which, you will be committed to finishing it with what you have right now. And in the next dungeon, you need to be prepared, including choosing the skills.
 
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So I was just about to start a new thread but felt this thread would cover this topic as well. Basically, what are your guys' thoughts on learning skills from a menu anywhere/anytime vs learning from an NPC at a set location(s)? Or perhaps even learning from a "mentor" that travels with you? The latter approach would be mechanically the same as the anywhere/anytime approach except it would feel more immersive, I guess. The trainer NPC at a set location(s) would work like in WoW, or at least the earlier versions. Thoughts?

I personally use the anywhere/anytime menu approach atm, which you can see in my earlier posts. However, my friend is insisting on having skills learned from an NPC, or at least a dummy mentor NPC that travels with you.

(Ugh, I hate these annoying suggestions he always brings up, but I feel like I can't refute him w/o some good counterarguments...)
I really like the menu idea, I don't want to have to leave a dungeon to learn/upgrade skills. A dummy npc could be fine, but it would be no different than a menu, to me anyway.

The main problem I have is that I can't usually find a good reason to separate it from levels other than just for the sake of being separate. I don't make my games with grind in mind so they would be getting everything about the same time anyway, it just feels superfluous. Although, I always want to do this a sort of branching skill system, but I have never been able to set it up where there were interesting and not obvious or both weak choices.
 

Frostorm

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I'm personally not a fan of having trainers at set locations. Mostly due to the issues you mentioned, like not being able to learn something mid-dungeon. However, when using a menu based skill learning system, I've gotten asked, "How does the hero/actor learn a skill just like that?" Does he/she just have an epiphany when they level up and "realizes how to do something new"? Where does the knowledge of this new skill come from? I have yet to come up with a good answer to this question... Any ideas?

This issue was basically why my friend wants to use trainers instead of an anywhere/anytime menu. The mentor accompanying the hero idea was basically a compromise of the 2 approaches since it mechanically functions like the menu approach. However, I don't think it would work as well as hoped for my project since I use a tactical battle system. This means this mentor NPC would have to be physically present and visible, thus taking up space on the field. If the mentor doesn't participate in combat then he/she is just wasted space. If he/she does fight, then it begs the question: What level should the mentor be? Would the mentor come with all the skills the hero/protag will eventually learn? The more I think about it, the less it makes sense from a design perspective.
 
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I'm personally not a fan of having trainers at set locations. Mostly due to the issues you mentioned, like not being able to learn something mid-dungeon. However, when using a menu based skill learning system, I've gotten asked, "How does the hero/actor learn a skill just like that?" Does he/she just have an epiphany when they level up and "realizes how to do something new"? I have yet to come up with a good answer to this question... Any ideas?
They have accumulated enough experience in battle and have focused their training on that particular skill. I mean you could ask that question about games that give skills on level up. It's a non issue

edit - I don't mean to sound flip but you can ask lots of questions about why things are the way they are in video games.
 

Frostorm

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They have accumulated enough experience in battle and have focused their training on that particular skill. I mean you could ask that question about games that give skills on level up. It's a non issue

edit - I don't mean to sound flip but you can ask lots of questions about why things are the way they are in video games.
Yea, that's totally true. I'm unfortunately working with an immersion nut on this project...:kaosigh:

I'm literally on the verge of just going back to solo cuz I can't stand all these asinine suggestions. FYI, this guy is our D&D DM and an avid world builder, so he's doing most of the writing. However, he doesn't know how to look at things from a gameplay mechanics PoV, so most of his ideas just follow the rule of "this seems cool, let's implement it" with no regard for technical feasibility or user experience (besides story/lore).

So yea, that's why I'm trying to explore possible arguments/explanations for using an anywhere/anytime menu-based skill learn system instead of the NPC approach.
 
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HumanNinjaToo

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Ask your friend what it means to “take a turn” and “role the dice” when playing D&D. No need to explain these things to the player for the purpose of world building for a D&D campaign is there?

Games are a mimicry of life, there’s no need to explain every detail because 99% of players will accept your game logic of: level ups = more skills.
 

TheoAllen

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Mostly due to the issues you mentioned
It's not an issue, it's a design decision. Some designs require you to not level up mid dungeon because that would trivialize stuff or something. A design like lobby --> dungeon --> lobby --> dungeon probably one of the examples.
 

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I'm personally not a fan of having trainers at set locations. Mostly due to the issues you mentioned, like not being able to learn something mid-dungeon. However, when using a menu based skill learning system, I've gotten asked, "How does the hero/actor learn a skill just like that?" Does he/she just have an epiphany when they level up and "realizes how to do something new"? Where does the knowledge of this new skill come from? I have yet to come up with a good answer to this question... Any ideas?
That's easy. They learned the basics of the skill back in town, but were unable to pull it off properly on their first try and have been practicing it in their spare time while they travel. The moment they level up is simply the moment they finally manage to pull off the skill.

(That said, for certain kinds of magic skills, the "epiphany" argument could also be quite valid.)
 

Frostorm

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That's easy. They learned the basics of the skill back in town, but were unable to pull it off properly on their first try and have been practicing it in their spare time while they travel. The moment they level up is simply the moment they finally manage to pull off the skill.

(That said, for certain kinds of magic skills, the "epiphany" argument could also be quite valid.)
That's probably the best explanation I've seen thus far, thx! Time to say goodbye to the NPC trainer lol. I worked too hard on my skill trees to just toss it away. Some people don't appreciate a system just cuz it looks aesthetically simple.
 

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@Frostorm Questioning how actors do something "from the menu" is dumb (it would be like like asking how adventures can be "saved and loaded") and if your friend isn't designing the game then you don't have to please him if he's making dumb objections.

With that said, if the NPC that's following you around is a character that you can (or already have) developed within the story, especially if it's a likable character, then there may be some wisdom in having him/her follow you around and "train" you (even if that training is just a menu where you select skills/stats/passives to improve like you're already doing). It's a good way to make an NPC feel like an essential part of your team and your success, instead of just window dressing that's standing there and giving you tasks to complete. Much in the same way you'd feel grateful and somewhat connected to an NPC who could heal you and restore your MP in town, if there were no magical Inns to heal/restore you.

If this NPC is just a nobody with a single line like "Do you want to train your stats?" then they're going to fall completely flat and you shouldn't bother, but if you can work them into your plot (or work an NPC that's important from your plot into this role as an NPC), and be sure to give them a few good and interesting lines to say as they're traveling with you, you can use the upgrade mechanic as a way to immerse and connect the player to the plot and the characters, and that's always a good thing.
 
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Im making a game with this npc, its going to be a little blue ball that screams "HEY LISTEN" every 5 minutes
 

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