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Darkfall: Unholy Wars Forum » General Discussion » DF:UW – The brilliance of the prowess system

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32 posts found
  lightmmorpg

Novice Member

Joined: 9/21/06
Posts: 26

 
OP  4/04/13 3:36:21 PM#1

A great article by Syncaine:  http://syncaine.com/2013/03/25/dfuw-the-brilliance-of-the-prowess-system/

 

"The appeal of a “use and improve” system to character progression is easy to understand, in part because it mimics real life. Want to get better at something? Do it (practice). Unfortunately sometimes being ‘realistic’ does not work in the gaming world, and “use and improve” systems very much fall into that category in the MMO genre.

 

From 1997 and Ultima Online’s skeleton wall, to Darkfall 1 and bloodwalls, players have always found a way to game such systems and get around them to get ahead. The devs in turn make changes to curb the behavior, be it slower skills gains in your house, slower gains off players, ‘power hours’, meditation, etc. The problem has always been that you are applying a Band-Aid to a wound that is ever-increasing (power-gamers will always create smarter macros, find better bugs, or simply brute-force harder).

 

The easy thing to do is blame the players, but the reality comes back to the fact that making an MMO is hard (right Lord British?), and making a PvP-based MMO might be the hardest design job in the industry. Design too much against the power-gamers, and your title becomes completely unplayable for anyone outside of that small minority. Limit the impact said minority can have, and you drive away the content-providers.

 

It’s with this history in mind that I bring such high praise to DF:UW’s new prowess progression system.

 

The basics of the system are this: every action earns you some amount of prowess points. Simple things like mining some iron might be worth 1 prowess per resource, while farming high-end mobs might be worth 20 or more prowess a kill.

 

On top of gaining pure prowess from your actions, the game also has an achievement system (feats) that reward prowess when completed. Gather 10 piece of iron, and you earn a bonus 7 prowess. Gather another 200, and you get 50. Gather an additional 3000, and you get 400. Feats cover all areas of the game; gathering, crafting, PvE, PvP, exploring, etc.

 

An example: You are out hunting goblins. Each goblin kill earns you one prowess. Skinning each goblin tombstone also rewards you with one prowess. After 10 goblins you earn the first goblin-slayer feat and open up the second (100 goblin kills). While skinning, you completed the first feat for collecting eyeballs (enchanting material). As you finish up your farming session, you return to town and salvage some of the drops, gaining a bit of prowess for that. Using those mats, you craft a new sword (prowess gain, progress towards crafting feats) to replace the one you just used and broke.

 

The beauty here is that a character at basically any level of prowess can do the above and make progress. The above can also be repeated for practically all varieties of mobs, as each has its own set of feats, and different mobs skin for different resources which again have their own feats.

 

So how you gain prowess is pretty brilliant, because you get it from simply playing the game, but not in the ‘play the game’ style of a “use and improve” system. That is only half the system however.

 

What you do with prowess is equally important. Simply put, you spend prowess on skills or character stats, with the cost increasing as the skill/stat gets higher and higher towards the cap. All skills outside of crafting can be increased in this way (crafting still increases from use, which works as you are resource-limited rather than time-limited with crafting).

 

The result is you can very easily become ‘viable’ with a bit of focus. Near-maxing one weapon skill, some basic spells, and your key stats can be done in a matter of weeks with normal (20ish hours a week) play. At the same time, ‘maxing out’ a character is incredibly difficult, both due to the increasing cost of skills as they increase and the diminishing returns on prowess gain as your overall total increases. On top of that, the more you play the more feats you will accomplish, so finding new feats to finish for a prowess boost will naturally drive players out of their comfort zone and into trying new things (different mob spawns, more PvP/PvE, crafting, etc).

 

How to spend prowess also adds some interesting decisions making, without becoming a “you just gimped yourself” choice system (you can always get more prowess). For instance, say you decide to gather for a bit; how much prowess do you spend on the mining skill initially? The more you spend, the faster you mine and the lower your chance of failure. However, spending those prowess points on the mining skill means you can’t spend them on combat-based skills. Each player will initially spend to a different level, in effect customizing their character’s skill to better suit their style of play.

 

And much like in EVE, maxing multiple weapon skills or role skills does not make you more powerful, it simply gives you more options. And just like docking up and getting a different ship in EVE, it will take some time and gear adjustment to make the switch in DF:UW. It’s good motivation to keep progressing, but it keeps the barrier-of-entry reasonable for players joining at a later date.

 

The impact this system has on how you play the game is rather dramatic, if sometimes in subtle ways. For instance, it’s no longer beneficial to use a spell as often as possible to skill it up, so players no longer run around cycling transfer spells ‘just because’. It’s not a game-defining change, but it cleans up one aspect that to new players traditionally quickly comes across as a flaw, or just stupid.

 

It also instantly removes blood walls, mount bashing, or the infamous ‘group-sex’ macroing from DF1. Instead you have the power-gamers identifying the best mob camps to farm, in the best group setup, and in the most efficient rotations. It creates new value in holdings close to such spawns, and rewards organized guilds that prioritize a guild crafter.

 

In short, the system rewards the kind of player behavior you want to encourage, which is basically going out and playing the game rather than doing boring/exploitive activities just to progress. It keeps the barrier-of-entry reasonable, while still retaining a very long character progression path. And most importantly, it feels fun and rewarding, both on a micro and a macro scale.

 

Funny that it took 15+ years, and a small indie studio to get us there, but better late than never."

 

  thebeach99

Advanced Member

Joined: 4/04/13
Posts: 46

4/04/13 3:40:55 PM#2

It is a good system but definitely not brand new at all.  Same concept has been done somewhat differently in other games.  Again good concept and is MUCH better than what they had for sure; but will not make people overlook all the other stuff.

 

  Badaboom

Elite Member

Joined: 10/04/10
Posts: 2387

4/04/13 3:53:41 PM#3
This system has completely changed Darkfall to the good.  So much better than the old system.
  carousel

Novice Member

Joined: 9/21/06
Posts: 12

4/04/13 4:33:53 PM#4
Good read, thank you Syncaine
  Scalpless

Advanced Member

Joined: 3/22/07
Posts: 1290

4/05/13 1:53:30 AM#5
This sounds like normal experience-based leveling, except you spend experience directly instead of getting skill points every time you level up.
  Gadzy

Novice Member

Joined: 11/02/09
Posts: 147

4/05/13 2:44:21 AM#6
Originally posted by Scalpless
except you spend experience directly instead of getting skill points every time you level up.

So what you meant so say was "not like experience at all".

  Scalpless

Advanced Member

Joined: 3/22/07
Posts: 1290

4/05/13 3:58:23 AM#7
Originally posted by Gadzy
Originally posted by Scalpless
except you spend experience directly instead of getting skill points every time you level up.

So what you meant so say was "not like experience at all".

Doesn't sound any different. You kill 10 goblins > get x Prowess > spend it on a skill vs. you kill 10 goblins > get a level and x skill points > spend them on a skill.  The only difference is that allowing you to spend XP directly makes your power increase in smaller increments. It's also a bit more intuitive IMO, but many like the feeling of leveling up. Getting +10 power once is more satisfying to them than getting +1 power ten times.

It's a good system and is very similar to what some games already had. For example, Anarchy Online allows you to spend XP on skills (but also has levels) and The Secret World gives you a skill point every time you get a certain amount of XP and has no levels.

  SysFail

Apprentice Member

Joined: 7/01/05
Posts: 377

4/05/13 5:28:21 AM#8

It is a great system for competitive games.

Pre-prowess we saw all the old methods being used to raise skills, but now people  can just play the game and know their progressing, so they will never have that left behind feeling, which isn't a factor in the typical MMO, but it's a huge factor in a competitive game.

  wrekognize

Novice Member

Joined: 7/30/07
Posts: 385

4/06/13 11:31:43 AM#9
Originally posted by Scalpless
Originally posted by Gadzy
Originally posted by Scalpless
except you spend experience directly instead of getting skill points every time you level up.

So what you meant so say was "not like experience at all".

Doesn't sound any different. You kill 10 goblins > get x Prowess > spend it on a skill vs. you kill 10 goblins > get a level and x skill points > spend them on a skill.  The only difference is that allowing you to spend XP directly makes your power increase in smaller increments. It's also a bit more intuitive IMO, but many like the feeling of leveling up. Getting +10 power once is more satisfying to them than getting +1 power ten times.

It's a good system and is very similar to what some games already had. For example, Anarchy Online allows you to spend XP on skills (but also has levels) and The Secret World gives you a skill point every time you get a certain amount of XP and has no levels.

 

It is like experience; however, this system provides something traditional experience does not. Freedom for the player to advance his character's skills in any way he desires. And freedom to choose how he wants to advance his character.

 

..

  ubermut

Novice Member

Joined: 10/03/06
Posts: 176

4/06/13 11:47:32 AM#10
always loved darkfall but hated the old system.  Can't wait for the 16th!
  jordy11

Novice Member

Joined: 9/09/06
Posts: 16

4/06/13 1:38:48 PM#11
Looking forward to login on April 16!!!
  ballakas

Novice Member

Joined: 9/21/06
Posts: 10

4/06/13 5:12:56 PM#12

I left DF 1 because of the need for endless macroing. This could be the end of macroing which makes UW the game that I'm looking forwward to play. 

10 days left;)

  User Deleted
4/06/13 7:43:30 PM#13

I'm really happy with the game now. I've been playing in beta whenever I have some free time. I'm hooked again. There are so many things to do and try and exploring pays off. There are Easter Eggs all over the place. DF makes the other games I was playing feel really boring now.

 

It's obvious, but I know I have to say this before someone comes in and starts pointing out all the flaws of this game. Yes, it has flaws. But for me, the fun, excitement, and differentness of this game outweigh the many flaws. For example, I don't like the current character models (I want the races to be different and unique and not all to look like humans). But that doesn't take away from the gameplay for me. So I can live with it and hope it gets changed, even if I don't think it will change.

  ubermut

Novice Member

Joined: 10/03/06
Posts: 176

4/07/13 11:22:56 AM#14
Originally posted by PWN_FACE

I don't like the current character models (I want the races to be different and unique and not all to look like humans). But that doesn't take away from the gameplay for me. So I can live with it and hope it gets changed, even if I don't think it will change.

Tasos said they plan on changing them later on since everyone hates them.  But that probably means a year from now.  :)

still can't wait tho!

  gekido

Apprentice Member

Joined: 2/04/04
Posts: 52

4/07/13 11:31:28 AM#15

Excellent read... are you on the aventurine payroll?

  ballakas

Novice Member

Joined: 9/21/06
Posts: 10

4/07/13 1:58:42 PM#16
Originally posted by gekido

Excellent read... are you on the aventurine payroll?

It is an excellent read  indeed

  User Deleted
4/07/13 6:43:00 PM#17
Originally posted by ubermut
Originally posted by PWN_FACE

I don't like the current character models (I want the races to be different and unique and not all to look like humans). But that doesn't take away from the gameplay for me. So I can live with it and hope it gets changed, even if I don't think it will change.

Tasos said they plan on changing them later on since everyone hates them.  But that probably means a year from now.  :)

still can't wait tho!

Nice. I guess that will be in the DF2016 patch.

:D

  MMOExposed

Spotlight Poster

Joined: 6/17/10
Posts: 5981

4/07/13 10:39:20 PM#18

I still would like a better understanding of how this system works, and what the main concern from the public has been about it.

i heard it was suppose to cut back on macros.

  luvboox

Novice Member

Joined: 2/01/10
Posts: 90

4/08/13 4:06:48 PM#19
I agree with the writer the OP quoted. The prowess system is a brilliant solution to a large set of problems people experienced in DF1. Despite the game's flaws, I'm pretty excited for launch (and yes I kind of expect it to be delayed a little).
  Hotjazz

Advanced Member

Joined: 11/13/08
Posts: 752

4/14/13 9:11:46 AM#20
Originally posted by lightmmorpg

 Funny that it took 15+ years, and a small indie studio to get us there, but better late than never."

 

I hatet the grind in DF, but I really like this system.

Now I can play how I want, and place my skillpoints where i want. No more macroing, boodwall, afk swimming etc. Great move from AV.

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