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The Lunch Break Blog

For those of us who would rather be leveling right now.

Author: cmagoun

Non-Combat Skill Systems (Anyone seen one?)

Posted by cmagoun Thursday August 14 2008 at 7:22AM
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Having dabbled in way too many MMOs, I find that generally, aside from crafting/gathering skills, non-combat skills are second-class citizens. This makes sense of course -- the games are combat games, after all, but wouldn't it be nice, as a change of pace, if you could use diplomacy to convince the goblins to stop looting the village as opposed to wiping them off the face of the earth? Or perhaps, when confronted by a surprise attack by wolves, if you could use your superior animal handling skill to avoid the attack?

Unfortunately, most MMOs don't have non-combat skill systems that can go that deep. You get stealth and crafting and that's about it. Vanguard's Diplomacy system is one notable exception. (Anyone know any others?) I am talking skill systems that allow you to solve quests in ways aside from combat, or systems that change the players' interaction with the world and the NPCs... and aren't about DPS.

I can't think of any either :) Help me out here. What games have you played that have the best non-combat skill systems? Heck, what games have you played WITH a non-combat skill system?

More to come on this topic, but first I wanted to see what others had experienced.

dgagley writes:

I know of two:

Earth and Beyond was one, you actually had a trade class where DPS could be secondary.

Eve is also similar but not as divided.

Thu Aug 14 2008 8:51AM Report
UncertaintyP writes:

Well there still aren't any games with good non-combat interaction, not even singleplayer ones.

Thu Aug 14 2008 1:29PM Report
apella writes:

The only one I can think of is Vanguard with its diplomacy system. Using that system you can obtain items, there are quests for it, you use it to be able to walk trough regions without being attacked by the guards at first sight etc.

And for crafting, there's a seperate level line for it and all the time that you're crafting, things can go wrong (that actually put me rather off, while I generally love crafting, but they just made it unnecessary frustrating).

Thu Aug 14 2008 3:16PM Report
Dreamstrider writes:

Was there not a game that had something like a card game to represent diplomacy? I can't really think of it now. I think you rise a very valid point however, that MMOs are way too much about the mindless combat and too little about players that want to use their brains and their creativity to solve problems. I believe this is one of the (if not THE) main reasons why girls play MMOs a lot less than guys do. As far as I have understood, most girls are not as big fans of mindless slaughter as a lot of guys tend to be. Myself I am looking forward to games in the future where you can solve things the way you are saying.

Thu Aug 14 2008 4:38PM Report
Daelus writes:

The best game I've played with a non-combat system was SWG. The crafting system was so incredibly deep that you could pretty much dedicate your entire time to being a crafter. In fact there were quite a few people that dedicated their time to being a resource gatherer; a mere facet of the crafting experience.

Other than this however, I've found no game that really has a non-combat system that is both deep and entertaining. Most crafting systems are shallow, 1-click crafting, where the items are usually useless.

One thing that I am personally dreaming of is a political system in one of these games. If I've learned anything from SWG it's that when you give control of the content to the players, you create so much more than if you make it static. What if you held elections in these games, and the person who wins sets laws and taxes, or declares war on other factions? You could just dream of the campaigns and built in corruption that the players would conspire too.

Also, vanguards diplomacy system seemed to be more of a mini-game to me rather than a way you could take instead of combat. That might have changed since I looked at it, but that's how it felt to me.

Thu Aug 14 2008 7:28PM Report
Azmaria writes:

Vanguard's diplomacy system is more than a mini-game, but not as developed as it could be.  It would be extremely difficult to make it so that you could talk to a mob instead of fighting it (and get an unique/semi-unique conversation that pertained to the situation) and still gain loot/xp that would equate to if you had just killed the sucker.  However, the way it is now, you -need- diplomats in a guild (if you want a guild hall) and it is a viable way to make money and influence the world (civic diplomacy, something I still have yet to master).  I hope that SOE will continue to develop content for it.  I know that, right now, a starting character can make over 1g within the first 5 levels of diplomacy, not sure how well it scales up because I haven't done much with it to date.

Thu Aug 14 2008 8:43PM Report
cmagoun writes:

Vanguard's Diplomacy system is intriguing in concept, though I have to admit, I find the implementation to be ... eh, ok. However, I do like the fact that the system gives buffs to an entire city and that diplomats are required for certain guild functions. Very cool stuff there and I hope we see more exploration of systems like this in the future.

Mon Aug 18 2008 11:09AM Report
xS0u1zx writes:

Eve definitly, it's very open with what you want to do.  If you wanna be say an industrialist and make ships, stations and w/e you can train specific skills for that which is completely combat unrelated.  You can spec into being the most bad ass ship in the universe.  Hell you could just be a miner collecting and selling resources to other players for a profit, salvage wrecks destroyed by others.  Whatever really.    I recommend this game if you like sitting at your screen watching lasers do all the work >.<

Wed May 13 2009 11:48AM Report writes:
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