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New Tester Guide - Skills.

Crowfall Columns - By Jacob Semmes on November 02, 2017

New Tester Guide - Skills.

With more than a few of the minds behind the fondly remembered Star War Galaxies (SWG) working on Crowfall, it’s not hard to see how its legacy lives on in some fashion in ArtCraft’s crowdfunded title. Since the game is still, technically, not really a game and is in pre-alpha, the testing environment is guaranteed to change. Testers jumping into this super early phase of the game can get a taste of the skill system that will, in some form or another, show up at launch. It’s this skill system where the SWG’s influence is most felt, followed shortly by Crowfall’s plans for crafting. What was once an entire class, whose tree required job specific experience to level a profession, takes form in passively trained passive skills.

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The Breakdown of the Breakdown

Ignoring how awkward the double passive sounds, it is very much just as it seems. All of the skills are small incremental passive stat advancements in quite a few different aspects of the game ranging from combat to crafting to harvesting. Many of these have no bearing on the game itself yet and a lot of them are simply placeholders with funky development titles that haven’t received more interesting names. But focusing on the now: skills play an important part in progression. In fact, skills are currently only one of the two forms of progression in Crowfall, the other being crafting advanced gear. 

Training a skill is simple and straightforward. I hope training skills remains as accessible and user friendly as development progresses. The skills menu divides skills into two categories: universal and archetype. Underneath the categories are the total number of skills that are trainable at one time and how many are currently being trained from that allocated max. These are pretty small. Players can train one universal skill and three archetype skills at a time. All skills are effective account wide, but a particular vessel might not take advantage of all trained skills. Archetype specific skills apply buffs only to the chosen archetype. These will most likely change from being archetype skills to class skills since archetypes are changing in the future. You can see the categories further broken down in the image above. Their titles are self explanatory as to which each contains. These are broken down even further and each subcategory contains up to 10 skill trees.

Start Training

On the righthand side of the skills menu, new testers will see four empty circles, each corresponds to the two skill categories. Selecting one of the trees in a subcategory will let you choose which skill to begin passively training. Choosing Exploration Basics, you can begin training the first necessary skill in the tree. If you have ever seen a skill tree in your life, you’ll understand these. Crowfall’s skills have pips, much like the pips coming to harvesting in patch 5.3. These pips indicate the increment that that skill has been trained, much like assigning skill points in other RPGs. In Crowfall’s case, though, there are no skill points. Passive training is just that. You select the first skill and the skill will accrue levels, or pips, over time. Holding the Left CTRL key will show players a more detailed breakdown of the training: green text designates time and stat increases per pip and orange is for max rank. There is no experience currently in Crowfall. Every skill is earned in a set it and forget it manner, though you’ll want to manage these rather frequently.

Testers can only train from one skill tree at a time. So even though testers will have three training slots open for archetype training, it is not possible to train three confessor skills at a time, even if you have met the prerequisites. This feels like it will ensure that players have at least three classes that they will focus on. Universal skills are the most desired as this is where the crafting and harvesting skills are. This adds a lot of value to the universal skill training slot, especially since there are nearly ten crafting trees. As an example of what testers might find in these skill trees, the Harvesting tree has skills that increase the chance of additional resources or rare resources that come from nodes. The combat tree has skills such as increasing maximum weapon damage.

Thoughts

Star Wars Galaxies had a similar system with character progression, and honestly, it was one of the most fond memories of progression I have: tons of small incremental improvements culminating in a rather large boon in the whole picture. But it wasn’t without its own large flaws. I’m not saying Crowfall has eliminated those; it’s too far from completion to come to any kind of conclusion. It is, however, nice to see those elements return. Skills are fun. Skill trees are fun period. The sheer number of skills means there are a ton of options to look through, all of which give me that little yip of excitement I get when perusing skill trees looking for fun and interesting builds for characters.

Passive training is a different type of progression than I’ve experienced. There are a lot to skills and obtaining them currently feels somewhat like a mobile game. Set a task. Leave task. Profit. It’s not bad. It encourages players to log in either infrequently or frequently as some skills may take up to 8 days to complete all five pips. But it’s also not great. It needs to be paired with another form of progression, something even beyond crafting, that is earned. Perhaps I’m stuck needing horizontal progression, because even SWG classes had that. If Crowfall does eventually have horizontal progression, I’d like to see it use a system other than the currently click it and forget it skill training. Feel free to let us to know what’s in the works that you’d like to see in character progression for Crowfall.