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Characters, Skills, Etc.  » A Create-a-Class creation and advancement system

7 posts found
  PerfArt

Apprentice Member

Joined: 2/16/13
Posts: 863

 
OP  10/03/13 1:40:46 PM#1

Howdy. I'll jump right in. Ideas welcome.

I am fleshing out my class/advancement system for an upcoming game project some friends and I want to do. I wanted to create a class-based system where the player creates their own class in a flexible-enough fashion that self-nerfery IS possible. I am not interested in hand-holding, but freedom and uniqueness.

Before I begin, I must note that my races are elementally-aligned and thus experience some Talents differently than dissimilarly-aligned races.

Level-based. Science Fantasy/Planetary Romance/Steampunkish. 

My system has 40 Talents. These range from Blademastery to Fire Channeling to Subterfuge to Engineering to Survival to Beastmastery, ect. All are trees structurally, though no abilities are automatically gained by level. Points must be spent for every ability. The trees aren't perks that affect automatic class skills, but are instead made up of the skills themselves. Choices must be made.

A player chooses, at creation, one Primary Talent, two Secondary Talents, and one Tertiary Talent from any available to their race (the only restrictions here are, say, a water-aligned race trying to learn fire talents, ect.) for a total of four Talents.

These Talents define not only the class created, but determine the advancement of stats (Str, Dex, ect.) For example, a Primary Talent of Crushing Weapons will advance STR the fastest, while the two Secondary Talents would affect whatever relevant stats they govern to a lesser extent. This forces the player to choose 2-3 stats to level consistently, though I will provide alternate methods for raising ancillary stats situationally.

Primary Talents gain their own experience the fastest through usage, while Secondary and Tertiary Talents progress slower, respectively. Should a player wish to eschew some advancement "points" from Secondary or Tertiary Talents, they can instead spend those to advance down more paths of their Primary (the specialist approach.) Tertiary Talent points can likewise be used thusly for Secondaries. A Primary Talent may never exceed character level.

Elemental alignment colors certain branches of Talent Trees so that different factions have different styles of the same Talent. There are also dedicated Racial Talent Trees should the player want to be even more diversified ;)

Weapon and Armor choices are not limited arbitrarily. Rather, Armor affects Powers, Stealth, and Mobility adversely the heavier it is, while weapons other than Power Staves will render powers (spells) less-effective and more Fatiguing. This allows for hybrids, but ensures that a hybrid will never be as good as a specialist while allowing for total freedom over class type. Obviously, using a weapon one isn't trained in will result in lulz.

It is also important to note that I am combining Stamina and Mana into one bar: Energy. Hybrids can pull off some very versatile stuff if built right, but since their physical and magical abilities draw from the same pool, they can scarcely be godlike.

Crafting Talents are included in the 40 available Talents, and so take up valuable space as one or more of the character's four Talents if chosen. However, every Crafting Talent has not only creation tools within it, but also tools that contribute to warfare in the field, such as the Engineering ability to operate siege weaponry more effectively or the Weaponsmithing ability to apply dynamic effects to allies weapons. Overall, as crafting is a big part of the game, even those not engaged in the field will have a huge effect on the tide of battle.

Currently playtesting the sweet spot for current max level. The Talents max out at 20, though each has enough branches to require over twice that to "max out" should one specialize. I don't want to limit the player in a frustrating manner, but I DO want to force some choices to be made regarding their character type. Last thing I want is a ton of maxed-out Swiss Army Knives.

Kinda burned out on this right now, so any ideas or critiques are welcome.

 

 

http://www.mmorpg.com/blogs/PerfArt

  Quizzical

Guide

Joined: 12/11/08
Posts: 12768

10/03/13 4:16:37 PM#2
Just how "upcoming" is this?  If you're already burned out and haven't even started coding, you should probably just accept right now that you're not going to finish it.  If you've got a ton of other stuff in place and working such that it actually makes sense to implement talents now, that's a very different matter.  If that's still a year or two away, then whatever you decide now, you'll likely change your mind before it comes time to code it.
  PerfArt

Apprentice Member

Joined: 2/16/13
Posts: 863

 
OP  10/03/13 5:10:35 PM#3
Originally posted by Quizzical
Just how "upcoming" is this?  If you're already burned out and haven't even started coding, you should probably just accept right now that you're not going to finish it.  If you've got a ton of other stuff in place and working such that it actually makes sense to implement talents now, that's a very different matter.  If that's still a year or two away, then whatever you decide now, you'll likely change your mind before it comes time to code it.

Oh hehe I guess I exaggerated a bit. I just meant burned out for today, not overall. Very excited. I just figured I'd share since this forum seems to have some good heads in attendance. "Upcoming" as in a year or so. Definitely gonna finish it, as everyone involved is excited and it's not gonna be a huge production or anything, so it's definitely doable.

And yeah, I am sure I will change my mind quite a bit.

http://www.mmorpg.com/blogs/PerfArt

  Hype

Novice Member

Joined: 5/20/04
Posts: 261

10/18/13 9:49:36 PM#4

Self Nerfery being possible is cool, but usually that also implies having an Alpha created class... the presence of such an entity could dramatically undermine the creativity you seem to be going for. How are you managing balance between these custom class, if at all?

The basic premise seems solid, I don't understand what you're saying about the branches. You're saying each tree takes 20 points to max level, but there are an additional 20 points that could be spent on branches?

The Illusion of Choice

  PerfArt

Apprentice Member

Joined: 2/16/13
Posts: 863

 
OP  10/19/13 5:07:08 PM#5
Originally posted by Hype

Self Nerfery being possible is cool, but usually that also implies having an Alpha created class... the presence of such an entity could dramatically undermine the creativity you seem to be going for. How are you managing balance between these custom class, if at all?

The basic premise seems solid, I don't understand what you're saying about the branches. You're saying each tree takes 20 points to max level, but there are an additional 20 points that could be spent on branches?

 

Good point about the 'Alpha' class possibility. I am aware of the opportunities for FotM templates that this system could allow for. Indeed, we have been internally trying to break the system ourselves and create these kind of classes, but until the talent systems are implemented fully, it's mostly just theorycrafting with numbers at this point.

Also since there are 40 Talents, that allows for potentially 91,390 different builds if  any 4 can be chosen, and that's not even factoring in racial trees. Granted, many of those builds will be unusable, but even halved (just a ballpark) that is still a LOT of builds to balance. 

Even so, we have been able to spot some main offenders based on standard mmorpg archetypes and I have done some pre-balancing accordingly whether it be through the way certain Talents restrict the full usage of other Talents (such as Armor Mastery and Air Channeling, for example) or through the addition of equalizing abilities into Talents that are intuitively counterpoints to obvious 'Alpha' templates. It's a filtering process that will probably never be finished hehe.

Overall, however, I am less concerned with airtight, FULL balancing and more concerned with the diversity of creation, and so I am focusing more on options (through racial Talent Trees and, if I have the time, synergistic abilities that combinations of Talents might have) that encourage that. I want to create a system that allows for such 'Alpha' characters AND facilitates a way for players to create builds that directly counteract them. Could add interesting RP elements and give a sense of 'eras' to the game. "Remember the Illusionist/Acrobat days? Was so fun until the pbaoe tank root squads popped up and started hunting us." I want to reward creativity and make the cookie-cutters reconsider their motivations.

That said, I am fairly certain that it's going to be a nightmare. I look forward to it ;)

As to the 20 level max on trees: Talent trees have one to two main lines (one for most lines, and two for lines that split apart. Most chant/shout lines have two main lines, for example; one geared toward hybrid types who will be using melee weapons and one geared toward caster types who are not) and various branches off of those. The main lines only go to 20, but branches can be raised at any time during this advancement as long as stat requirements are met. Branch size is either 5 or 10 levels. So in effect, one could spread out their advancement points on more Talents or concentrate more on one or two and really flesh those out with branches.

http://www.mmorpg.com/blogs/PerfArt

  Mendel

Advanced Member

Joined: 7/22/11
Posts: 609

10/19/13 6:09:16 PM#6

An interesting sounding project.   Good luck as you attempt to define and develop this.   Here's some basic feedback to help you define what you are trying to accomplish (questions) and a couple of ideas you might not have thought about.

Questions:

Have you sorted your talents by 'Passive' (always active) and 'Activated'?   Do any of your talents have costs (mana, endurance, etc.) to use?  What about cool-down factors?  These are the three areas that seem to be toughest to balance.  Too minimal a cost with too slow a refresh timer can unbalance a game almost immediately.

If you're going to allow 'self-nerfery', why are there restrictions on choosing water-based talents if the character's race is fire-aligned?  Having skills hostile to one's nature is a pretty standard fantasy staple and opens up great story possibilities.  Norgot the Fire Mage (who's also an Undine).

What about universal skills, like running, jumping or dodging?   These tend to get involved in combat rather quickly.   Other types of universal skills might include some social skills (dancing, singing, etc.) and crafting skills (gathering, evaluating, identification).  Even the dimmest individual quickly learns which rocks are valuable and which aren't,and if he's going to ask for 3 eggs or 7 eggs in return for which kind of rock.  Are these skills distributed on talent trees, too?

Suggestions:

As to the Stamina and Mana in one bar, this can actually make it easier to create overly powerful characters if, for instance, the Energy pool is based on a single statistic.  (It's easier to get one 'lucky' stat than two).

One recommendation I think I would make:  Make the choice of talent trees reflect how far you can advance in each tree.  Your primary tree might allow all 'tiers' of the tree, while the second allows all but the highest, and the tertiary allows only the first 3 tiers.  This is similar to how I understand EQ:N is approaching this, and different max levels depending on which 'position' the skill occupies helps make a class consisting of (1: Skill A, 2: Skill B, 3: Skill C, etc.) operate differently from a (1: Skill C, 2: Skill A, 3: Skill B, etc).   Making each combination of skill trees interesting to play will be key.   (A secondary recommendation:  make swapping the 'positions' extremely difficult, if even possible.  Likewise for quests to 'unlock'  3rd position, Tier 5.  These should be extreme examples, not something everyone has in their standard build).

Logic, my dear, merely enables one to be wrong with great authority.

  PerfArt

Apprentice Member

Joined: 2/16/13
Posts: 863

 
OP  10/19/13 11:16:41 PM#7
Originally posted by Mendel

An interesting sounding project.   Good luck as you attempt to define and develop this.   Here's some basic feedback to help you define what you are trying to accomplish (questions) and a couple of ideas you might not have thought about.

Questions:

Have you sorted your talents by 'Passive' (always active) and 'Activated'?   Do any of your talents have costs (mana, endurance, etc.) to use?  What about cool-down factors?  These are the three areas that seem to be toughest to balance.  Too minimal a cost with too slow a refresh timer can unbalance a game almost immediately.

If you're going to allow 'self-nerfery', why are there restrictions on choosing water-based talents if the character's race is fire-aligned?  Having skills hostile to one's nature is a pretty standard fantasy staple and opens up great story possibilities.  Norgot the Fire Mage (who's also an Undine).

What about universal skills, like running, jumping or dodging?   These tend to get involved in combat rather quickly.   Other types of universal skills might include some social skills (dancing, singing, etc.) and crafting skills (gathering, evaluating, identification).  Even the dimmest individual quickly learns which rocks are valuable and which aren't,and if he's going to ask for 3 eggs or 7 eggs in return for which kind of rock.  Are these skills distributed on talent trees, too?

Suggestions:

As to the Stamina and Mana in one bar, this can actually make it easier to create overly powerful characters if, for instance, the Energy pool is based on a single statistic.  (It's easier to get one 'lucky' stat than two).

One recommendation I think I would make:  Make the choice of talent trees reflect how far you can advance in each tree.  Your primary tree might allow all 'tiers' of the tree, while the second allows all but the highest, and the tertiary allows only the first 3 tiers.  This is similar to how I understand EQ:N is approaching this, and different max levels depending on which 'position' the skill occupies helps make a class consisting of (1: Skill A, 2: Skill B, 3: Skill C, etc.) operate differently from a (1: Skill C, 2: Skill A, 3: Skill B, etc).   Making each combination of skill trees interesting to play will be key.   (A secondary recommendation:  make swapping the 'positions' extremely difficult, if even possible.  Likewise for quests to 'unlock'  3rd position, Tier 5.  These should be extreme examples, not something everyone has in their standard build).

Some great questions and advice. My thanks, Mendel :)

Talents are indeed divided into Passive and Activated, and some branches are devoted to one or the other for certain talents. Some Talents, like the aforementioned Armor Mastery are mostly Passive, but do contain some Activated abilities, while others, such as Subterfuge, are primarily Activated abilities, with only a small few Passives. Others, such as Mobility are split about 50/50 between the two, and many lie somewhere between these examples. 

As to Timed Abilities, these are only (currently) found in Racial Talents and Legendary Talents*. All but the smallest, most humbly utility-based abilities of racial talents will have considerable timers. How long won't be determined until waaay down the road, obviously, as only playtesting can really give a sense of what works.

*Legendary Talents are those available to very high-level characters and are characterized by abilities that are larger in scope than personal abilities. These are largely timer-based (rather severely so) and furthermore depend upon certain conditions to be met before use. Many of them involve ship-to-ship combat, time/space manipulation, rare summonings, mystical mounts, terraforming, curses, unique weapons, and immunities. Only one Legendary path is available to any character, and I am toying with other ideas to make them rarer and more sought after, perhaps even quantity-controlled. 

Self-Nerfery and unaligned Talents: you have a point, and I have been on the fence about this one. The idea came about because it fits the lore of the game world, but perhaps allowing it in a fashion you suggested would be a better idea. The numbers work themselves out and the player makes their own choices. Actually, I am glad you mentioned this. This is what I a looking for: impartial and objective perspective! I think you're right about this one for sure. I can change the lore :)

Running, jumping, dodging, and climbing are definitely a part of the action, in and out of combat. Everyone can of course run and jump, and dodging comes in various forms, though they are all Talent based. The Mobility talent is the prime example of this, containing paths for all three of your referenced actions and allowing for quite heroic bits of locomotion for those who invest. Dodging is implemented through the Mobility tree and some other Talents possess situational evasion-based abilities, such as some weapon trees and the Subterfuge tree. All of these actions consume energy with the exception of jogging and passive evasion.

Social skills are something I am treating like a luxury outside of having emotes. If time permits, that will be nice, but I am not counting on it. The design is primarily PvP and Crafting-based. As for crafting, there are four main Crafting Talents, each with four specialization branches (which interact with other branches, as Crafting will be much more synergistic than combat abilities, as this will be easier to achive with a smaller number of possible combinations:) Smithing (equipment), Engineering (technology, magical or otherwise), Alchemy (potions, poisons, transmutation), and Vitalism (creature breeding, accelerated evolution-crafting.) These Talents all take up the same space as the other 36, so a player can be a crafter/combatant or just a crafter. For example, a solitary type could have the Beastmastery, Survival, Archery, and Vitality talents in his/her arsenal to simulate a breeder and controller of fierce creatures that he/she fights beside.

Mining and gathering, etc. are lower-tier abilities in each of the above crafting talents.

Energy concerns: I share your concerns for the same reasons. In light of that, there is no stat that governs Energy per se. Energy is instead a static pool that is the same size for everyone. Stats instead govern the Energy Cost of activated abilities. Psyche, for example, affects how much Energy a spell uses (i.e. reduces spell cost by an amount determined by Psyche score,) while Endurance affects how much energy is used by physical actions in the same way. There are dubuffs and attacks that lower Energy, and there are others that raise energy costs of specific types of actions. For example, 'Silent Scream' is a pbaoe shout that interrupts and causes all spells cast to cost more energy for the duration of the effect, but a Shield Bash would still only cost a little Energy for affected parties. Obviously, abilities that affect Energy universally are more powerful, and thus rarer.

As more powerful iterations of spells cost more Energy, a raising Psyche counteracts this and so will (if kept up) make the percentage of Energy Cost consistent. I want to allow lower-level versions of spells to be hotkeyed as well, allowing for very low-cost utilities for powerful casters. Same for combat styles other physical abilities and Endurance.

As to your suggestions about the tiered trees: I completely agree. The final result is going to be very subject to playtesting, but I think something along the lines of what you suggested is a great place to start (and maybe even end!) Your ideas about unlocking a higher tier in the Tertiary spot is interesting... if it were exceedingly difficult, that could be pretty cool. And I agree about switching spots. I might not allow it at all, or if I do, only once per <insert long time period here> and only after a costly quest with real consequences for failure.

Thanks very much for your thoughts :)

 

http://www.mmorpg.com/blogs/PerfArt