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Starting skill levels & combat skillgains

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Starting skill levels & combat skillgains

Postby Throttle » Tue Jul 22, 2014 1:11 am

There was some discussion in the orc forum about starting skill levels, and I recently talked to Icarus about this as well. Apparently there was a change a few weeks back, further lowering starting skills in the name of prolonging the progress phase of PCs (that's what I was told). While it's probably being discussed staff-side already, it's worth a thread here as well.

Currently, starting skill levels are the lowest they have ever been in any of the ARPI-based games. The game also has probably the highest death rate in the aforementioned history. There's probably a connection there, along with some irritating side-effects such as unsightly over-sparring and a general IC apathy towards death that doesn't seem befitting of the setting.

Before the nerf to starting skill levels, they seemed to generally begin at amateur and farmiliar levels. However, the change lowered this to novice and amateur starting skills even with a modest number of skillpicks. With my last PC, one even came out low novice despite having a 'great' in one of the two associated stats. Such a character is basically of no value whatsoever in a fight and is going to take weeks or months to bring to a level where they're a dependable fighter. This wouldn't be such a problem except there's probably a 90% chance they'll be dead long before then.

What's the best balance for starting skill levels? Throughout A/PRPI, picking four or five skills meant they started out at or near familiar (excluding deflect which always began at 30) which was usually boosted a bit by roles as most regular players had at least one or two RPP. It was also easier to access combat, first through that horrible arena that Atonement had and later in the sewers as they were packed with squicks that were good for little more than slaughtering for skillgains. With SOI, it's harder to just go out and fight because venturing into the forest alone is just a question of when you're going to die.
Last edited by Throttle on Tue Jul 22, 2014 1:16 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Starting skill levels & combat skillgains

Postby Throttle » Tue Jul 22, 2014 1:11 am

Skillgains:

Since this is alpha, it's probably the right time to figure out the game's skillgain model, too. Do we want it to be like Atonement where most combat training is in the field, with a little sparring on the side? Like Armageddon where it's almost all sparring (excluding hunters and twinks) for an extremely long period of time? Do we want to have to depend on other players for combat training or make a game where one's skillgains aren't crippled by, say, being an off-peak player or by the clan being in a slump while you play in it?

SOI used to have some practice crafts. Basically, you'd stand there swinging your weapon a little and the craft would check against your weapon skill a few times, giving you a small chance to improve it. There were also some more advanced training crafts with obstacle courses and pells, though they had insanely long craft timers. This wasn't a very interesting system, and it could be abused due to the nature of crafts, but it was an activity that didn't hinge on player availability.

SOI also used to have sparring NPCs in some of the military clans. This is where it really differed radically from the other RPIs. It was great for off-peak players as they weren't so disadvantaged as they have otherwise tended to be, but it also inflated the overall average of people's combat skills to the point where it was frankly too easy to max out your skills when you could always spar at will. The latter shouldn't be as much of an issue as this codebase has criteria for advanced combat skillgains preventing mastery via sparring.

I was never a fan of the practice crafts as they felt weird and unrealistic to me. It seemed to be the sort of thing one would do in order to learn weapon skills as opposed to honing the skills one already has. It's also going to be problematic with the new code for crafting timers as it would be possible to spam practice crafts repeatedly.

I'm more partial to the sparring NPC. It fixes most of the problems and is probably easier to regulate as it can be progged to appear and leave at certain times of day, plus it can be animated/commanded or used in multi-PC training drills. It should also help to relieve some of the pressure that there currently is on players to spar as much and as long as possible.
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Re: Starting skill levels & combat skillgains

Postby Songweaver » Tue Jul 22, 2014 1:25 am

Disagree on the PvE mortality rate and danger of the wilderness (there are easy mobs in safe areas to kill). Agree about sparring crafts. A two-person required sparring craft with actual (and long) timers would be much better than the way players spar now. It would also let them roleplay their training more, as opposed to having them try to find the best way to trick the code for maximum skillgain.

Sparring crafts.
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Re: Starting skill levels & combat skillgains

Postby Jeshin » Tue Jul 22, 2014 1:32 am

I also agree that sparring crafts are the way to go.
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Re: Starting skill levels & combat skillgains

Postby FightClub » Tue Jul 22, 2014 1:53 am

Would agree with sparring crafts, as long every combat skill could be bumped once during that time period. This would save time on balancing sparring weapons to other sparring weapons, and sparring weapons to different grades of gear. Problems with crafts is you get that timer, and bam everyone rushes back to the training area for more. Going to be a trade-off either way. Guess it depends on what everyone was more comfortable with. Or more importantly what the staff is comfortable with.
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Re: Starting skill levels & combat skillgains

Postby Jeshin » Tue Jul 22, 2014 1:57 am

There's a lot of smart people playing and staffing this game. I think once people agree that some kind of craft or 'scripted event' is the way to go. A clever and least abuseable solution will be thought of and tested.
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Re: Starting skill levels & combat skillgains

Postby Throttle » Tue Jul 22, 2014 2:05 am

There isn't really much basis in the code for such a thing as 'sparring crafts' unless someone wants to invent an entire new system. As it stands, the crafting code can't represent sparring in any but the most primitive and symbolic fashion. It would be incredibly awkward to design and would require new code to balance.

I don't see any way for it to work with the features currently available for crafts, you'd have to give them an absurd amount of phases and have all sorts of different crafts for every possible combination of weapon setups that two combatants might have. The old training crafts had nothing to do with actual sparring.

I think having a sparring NPC available to each sphere's main combat clan is a much more realistic approach during alpha.
Last edited by Throttle on Tue Jul 22, 2014 2:13 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Starting skill levels & combat skillgains

Postby Matt » Tue Jul 22, 2014 2:12 am

Why do you think sparring crafts would be hard? You don't combine the different styles and skills each one gets its own craft. I'd say make it get you up to familiar as well and not higher. No deflect craft as well. Timers stack so you could do a 6 hour longblade craft then do a 6 hour solewield right after. Tada!
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Re: Starting skill levels & combat skillgains

Postby Throttle » Tue Jul 22, 2014 2:17 am

Because there would have to be silly number of crafts and they would be a nightmare to design. You'd need a craft for long-blade with sole-wield, a craft for long-blade with dual-wield, a craft for long-blade without either style skill, and repeat this for each weapon skill.

If these are to be two-man sparring crafts, you'd need an individual craft for every possible combination of skill setups across two separate characters. In fact, I don't think the code currently lets a craft check separately against the skills of different participants, so you wouldn't be able to use a sparring craft with someone who hasn't got one of the skills that are checked against.

In order for these crafts to actually matter, as opposed to the weak supplements that the old practice crafts were, they would also need an ungodly number of phases for all the skillchecks, and this would make the craft highly likely to fail somewhere along the way and thus allow it to be spammed near-indefinitely.

There can be training crafts and all, but it's not going to replace sparring or define the game's skillgain model with the way crafts currently work. Besides, there's a big issue with training crafts and the new timer system, as well as the fact that a craft can be stopped before its last phase and the timer then avoided.
Last edited by Throttle on Tue Jul 22, 2014 4:13 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Starting skill levels & combat skillgains

Postby krelm » Tue Jul 22, 2014 2:30 am

Because there would have to be silly number of crafts and they would be a nightmare to design. You'd need a craft for long-blade with sole-wield, a craft for long-blade with dual-wield, a craft for long-blade without either style skill, and repeat this for each weapon skill.


Theoretically, if we're talking about crafts for every combat combination, there'd be:

practice long-blade
practice bludgeon
practice dual-wield
practice sole-wield
practice small-blade
practice brawling

Then two more if you wanted the defensive skills. So, in total, 8 crafts. Idealistically, you'd only be able to run a single one of those crafts a day, or within X amount of hours, so you'd just have to pick which one to practice.

This is opposed to old SoI's practice crafts:

practice small/medium/heavy-pierce
practice small/medium/heavy-edge
practice small/medium/heavy-blunt
practice dual-wield
practice brawling
spar pell-block
run obstacle-course
climb rope
Whatever else I'm forgetting.

So, something like 14 crafts, just off the top of my head.

This may sound like I'm advocating putting in sparring crafts-- I'm not. Sparring crafts are 100% more abusable than sparring N/PCs, even if you somehow make it to where it can't raise skills up past familiar.
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Re: Starting skill levels & combat skillgains

Postby Throttle » Tue Jul 22, 2014 2:34 am

Well, those are solo practice crafts, not sparring crafts. Group crafts have never been used for anything more complex than simple heavy lifting type crafts. I don't think the code can even check against skills for anyone except the person who starts the craft, so two-man sparring crafts are basically out of the question. I think sparring NPCs are a more feasible solution -- it worked in the past.
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Re: Starting skill levels & combat skillgains

Postby Icarus » Tue Jul 22, 2014 5:38 am

We can designate failure timers on basic practice crafts so they aren't abusable. With 12hr timers, they would be the perfect thing to show the difference between combat and crafter PCs. Rather easy to design as well, each one focuses on a particular skill. Relatively low rolls means they will be good for lower skill folks to utilize.
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Re: Starting skill levels & combat skillgains

Postby Throttle » Tue Jul 22, 2014 5:55 am

The abuse refers to halting a craft (with the 'stop' command) before it ends, thus avoiding the timer. I mean, it's not by itself a reason not to have practice crafts, but it's a thing. However, practice crafts aren't really the solution to the current problem on their own, and don't suffice as an alternative to sparring with other PCs. Not that crafts should be as good as sparring, but there's currently little hope as an off-peak member of a combat clan when you start out with skills in the 20s and low 30s and are lucky to spar once per RL day.

I think it would help more if actual sparring was more readily available in the clans where this should be so. Can't speak for the orc side, but there's currently very little reason to actually join the Guard. As it stands, the clan feels rather sparsely populated and frankly dwarfed combat-wise because there's nothing to prop it up and every reason to just use it as a gym you visit when you want.

In fact, you have a situation rather similar to what has plagued Armageddon for ages: anyone can just help themselves to the same kind of training that the military clan(s) provide while also being free to do all the other things that those clans can't. Members of the Guard are largely unable (or at least fiercely discouraged) to just wander out at will and fight boars or whatever in order to raise skills. As a result, being a member of the supposed combat clan is actually one of the worst ways to become good at combat.

SOI used to balance this by providing sparring NPCs in the main combat clans so that soldiers had the ability to train as often as it makes sense for them to do so, as opposed to as often as they can find other players willing to do so. With the hilariously meager pay that this clan provides, it kind of needs something else to make membership appealing. A clan-only sparring NPC would be just that, ensuring that the town's soldiers are actually among the best fighters in the town and that playing in the clan appeals to those with an interest in combat. That's really missing at the moment.
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Re: Starting skill levels & combat skillgains

Postby hobbitboots » Tue Jul 22, 2014 7:17 am

I'm going to echo some things that have already been said, but yeah...

The guard should get a sparring NPC for the reasons Throttle said.

The preferred method of training should be sparring because killing wildlife for skill gains is ridiculous.

Some basic training crafts should be made available for off-peak players, but they should be designed so that you're limited in how far you can get with them.
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Re: Starting skill levels & combat skillgains

Postby Icarus » Tue Jul 22, 2014 7:45 am

A sparring NPC has been approved. I'll work on getting that IG.

As a note, he will be Guard exclusive, and require clanning to access.
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Re: Starting skill levels & combat skillgains

Postby Holmes » Tue Jul 22, 2014 8:37 am

Songweaver wrote:Disagree on the PvE mortality rate and danger of the wilderness (there are easy mobs in safe areas to kill).


SoI is on course to surpass Parallel's player death total within the next week. Parallel had active players for ~6-7 month, SoI's been open for one.
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Re: Starting skill levels & combat skillgains

Postby Oblivion » Tue Jul 22, 2014 8:41 am

Geeze.. I started the thread in the orc forum as an attempt to -curb- over sparring to level skills as fast as possible... and it ends up giving the human sphere an npc trainer with the sole purpose of skilling up the only people the orc sphere are ever going to interact with?

Talk about irony.

Guess I should just go ahead and support sparring as much as possible since, instead of armor-creep we're now aiming for skill maxing before actual player engagements.
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Re: Starting skill levels & combat skillgains

Postby Throttle » Tue Jul 22, 2014 8:52 am

People are going to train their skills regardless. If a fair and accessible method can be provided, I expect it will lessen the feeling of being pressured to spar to the last breath or kill every boar in the world, a practice that comes from not knowing when you might get the opportunity again. This should turn it into less of a powergaming arms race.

I'm sure the orc sphere can get something equivalent, I just don't know what the clan structure is like over there so I couldn't suggest anything concrete for you lot. I'm guessing there's a main warband under Striza or whatever, which is where a training NPC would belong.

Much of the reason for this proposal is to reinforce the prominence and advantage of each sphere's primary combat clan, something that has been somewhat lacking in Utterby so far and, judging by the grapevine, also in Orcville. You can't discourage training altogether, nor should it be discouraged, but you can provide training facilities that don't make players feel like they have to do questionable shit in order to get anywhere.
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Re: Starting skill levels & combat skillgains

Postby Oblivion » Tue Jul 22, 2014 8:58 am

Hey, I'd just be happy for a place to buy training weapons that we break in the constant sparring we need to do in order to take ten steps outside the tunnels.

Relying on crafters to 'maybe' join the orc side, and 'eventually' branch the right skills to crank out a couple of training weapons now and again is a major hindrance.

I'm not saying I want some troll npc chained to a wall that everyone and their cousin can come beat up to their heart's content for a half hour at a time.

Again, the main intent of my original post was to get people to realize they don't have to either A) spar, B) craft-hunt boars to fight, C) mob up and go look for wolf/warg packs, D) kill one another when they think their skills are l33t enough to get away with it, as the only things to be doing in game. Maybe roleplay out your wounds a bit, or perform some of the manual labor tasks that need to be done (in orc sphere).

But as I look back on things, that's all there is for the time being so perhaps I stepped out of line.
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Re: Starting skill levels & combat skillgains

Postby Smooly » Tue Jul 22, 2014 9:02 am

Oblivion wrote:Geeze.. I started the thread in the orc forum as an attempt to -curb- over sparring to level skills as fast as possible... and it ends up giving the human sphere an npc trainer with the sole purpose of skilling up the only people the orc sphere are ever going to interact with?

Orc side has had a trainer for awhile now
Oblivion wrote:Hey, I'd just be happy for a place to buy training weapons that we break in the constant sparring we need to do in order to take ten steps outside the tunnels.

Relying on crafters to 'maybe' join the orc side, and 'eventually' branch the right skills to crank out a couple of training weapons now and again is a major hindrance.

Adding in that as a nasty little human player myself, I honestly wouldn't even be against that for yall, orcs are kind of boned when it comes to the whole crafting thing.
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Re: Starting skill levels & combat skillgains

Postby Raukran » Tue Jul 22, 2014 9:07 am

In addition, the orc sparring NPC is for the entire sphere, whereas the human one is Merchant Guard access only. That both makes a lot of sense ICly, and provides another exclusive perk to being a full-time guardsman.
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Re: Starting skill levels & combat skillgains

Postby Throttle » Tue Jul 22, 2014 9:12 am

I can't comment much on the state of the orc sphere, but I did talk to Icarus about the likelihood that it would need to depend more on NPCs than the human sphere does. There was never going to be any way for orcs to single-handedly sustain a PC-driven sphere in the long term, that has failed every time anyone has tried it.

They're either going to kill eachother the whole time or there won't be enough players to fill out all the necessary roles -- usually the latter as a result of the former. I've always figured that it would need to be turned into a half PC, half NPC sphere that can be adjusted dynamically to accomodate who's there. If that includes the need for an NPC that sells something which PCs can't provide, that sounds reasonable enough. Then someone rolling a PC weaponcrafter can be allowed to kill off the NPC competition if they can prove they're able to provide the same service.

Trying to make the two spheres mirror eachother is probably an exercise in futility, they're way too different and shouldn't work the same even if they could. What works or is necessary in one sphere usually won't work or be necessary in the other. It's also hopeless to expect to maintain a state of sphere vs. sphere conflict exclusively via PvP -- the orc side should be supplemented heavily with NPC fodder.

But that's a huge derail.
Last edited by Throttle on Tue Jul 22, 2014 9:13 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Starting skill levels & combat skillgains

Postby Oblivion » Tue Jul 22, 2014 9:13 am

As an orc player, I've never (in my granted short time here) seen any orc sparring npc in use... or even known that one existed. So if that's the case, that we've had one, I'll step back on that (even though I disagree with training npcs in general as a crutch).

If it's been moved off into the leadership chambers, that's something that ought to be... well... rectified. If it's standing out in the open somewhere, I've never seen any of the many combat oriented characters using it. Which is a surprise.
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Re: Starting skill levels & combat skillgains

Postby Raukran » Tue Jul 22, 2014 9:16 am

Oblivion wrote:As an orc player, I've never (in my granted short time here) seen any orc sparring npc in use... or even known that one existed. So if that's the case, that we've had one, I'll step back on that (even though I disagree with training npcs in general as a crutch).

If it's been moved off into the leadership chambers, that's something that ought to be... well... rectified. If it's standing out in the open somewhere, I've never seen any of the many combat oriented characters using it. Which is a surprise.


It's been a few weeks since I've played in the orc sphere myself, but I think it's a well-equipped orc who is wielding a wooden sparring weapon. If he agrees to stop or you have to flee, I'm unsure. But from what I understand, that's his purpose.
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Re: Starting skill levels & combat skillgains

Postby Oblivion » Tue Jul 22, 2014 9:19 am

I guess I'll have to go wandering around and pay a bit more attention to the scenery. If it hasn't been removed during the interim of your last visit here and my coming back to the game.

edit*

And just to throw it out there...

4 skills chosen. Avg int. Priority on affiliated stats.

All skills start amature except language skill. Really? I should've maxed out potential skills at that point. I would've had more to keep me occupied.
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