Skill Trees, Part I

All the concept work has paid off, and we have here a skill tree. This is the one for the ‘Slashing Weapons’ skill (swords, scimitars, etc) which is a skill (and a type of weapon) found in the Medieval Era.

Each colour/letter combo denotes something different:

Red ‘D’ = Damage Upgrade.
Green ‘A’ = Accuracy Upgrade.
Pale ‘X’ = Unlock a Special Attack.
Yellow ‘O’ = Increased chance to spot openings in combat.
Blue ‘S’ = Increase a stat (Str/End/Dex/Int/Wil).
Light Blue ‘U’ = Upgrade weapon abilities (e.g. ability to sever limbs, for slashing weapons).
White ‘+’ = Start of the skill tree.
Orange ‘T’, Brown ‘P’, Purple ‘F’, Silver ‘C’, Olive ‘V’ (not shown) = ??

The double-lines around the D on the right denote that the cursor is currently resting on that skill. Soon there will be a little box which will follow your cursor around and tell you what each skill would do if you unlocked it. The blank squares have a cost like any other (see below), but do not give you anything; they are a larger investment for the significant upgrades like raising a stat or unlocking a special attack. Each skill tree will look totally different, though there is some commonality between some skill trees in some eras (for instance, the Medieval weapon trees – Slashing, Long, Short and Heavy Weapons, are roughly comparable).

As for progressing through this thing – you can unlock all of a skill tree. The challenge of choosing your path comes from prioritizing certain areas of the skill tree to collect early before the price goes up, but if committed to a particular skill tree, you can unlock the entire thing. The cost of each section of each skill tree goes up rapidly, but the overall skill cost does not. That is to say, if you have 100 XP to spend, you could either unlock ten starting points on ten skill trees, or – on a skill tree you’ve already purchased nine parts of – make a single purchase for the full 100 XP (these are not actual values, obviously). I think  the rising costs for each skill tree offer an interesting way to make you choose decisions whilst still allowing for specialization.

A few other conceptual decisions have also been made.

1) I’m going to remove the quotes from the loading screens: I will leave them on screens about political/social/cultural choices and the ‘strategy’ element, but for the normal gameplay segments, they will be removed and replaced with more detail instead.

2) World Generation and player generation will be split. A lot of people have said this, and I’ll make it happen. This might be 0.2.0, but will definitely be 0.3.0 if not.

3) As has been hinted above, URR is no longer just medieval. I have three eras planned, but I intend to keep #2 and #3 closely guarded until there is a reasonable amount of content for them. We’re looking at 1.0.0, or more likely, 1.1.0 for that (so the first half of next year).

Lastly, I hope this entry was worth the fortnight wait and lays out much of the planning for 0.2.0 in terms of skills. The next entry will focus on the changes to combat, some of which – openings and special attacks – have been hinted at here. That will also likely be in a fortnight. I’ve not entirely switched to fortnightly entries, but fortnightly entries are generally going to be a lot larger. After that entry, I’ll probably switch back to weekly as development on 0.2.0 really gets moving. So, let me know what you think about the skill trees, and the options for how you advance along them

Unrelated final note. Some people commented on the description of the ‘Swimming’ skill before I removed the old skills, and seemed to think it was a reflection of me as a developer (i.e. apparently a colossal anorak). So, allow me to set the record straight for those of you who read it: it was a joke.

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12 thoughts on “Skill Trees, Part I

  1. @ vBelialv – various reasons. Firstly, the previous skill system could be very easily farmed – obviously I’m not saying this one can’t be, but this is easier to put in safe-guards against. Secondly, all skills went up in a linear manner, and this way you have to make choices about which skills to pursue. Thirdly, this version offers you interesting choices about which bits of each tree to prioritize before the price goes up. Fourthly, the previous version gave you instant access to all skills, which seemed strange, whereas now you have to work your way to the more advanced/important/powerful parts of the tree. And lastly, I guess, I just liked the idea. It’s also much less daunting, I think, than that colossal pile of skills, and because, for instance, slashing weapon damage now has only 5 upgrades rather than a 1-100 scale, I think that makes it much easier to see what effect your skills are having.

    @ XLambda – glad to hear it! It went through about a dozen designs, most of which were struggling over how to display parts of the skill tree you’d already unlocked (should the squares be in the colour of the letter, single lines, double lines, joined, not joined…) but in the end I’m pretty happy with it.

  2. “This is the one for the ‘Slashing Weapons’ skill (swords, scimitars, etc) for the Medieval Era”.

    If this wording is what you really wanted to say, then that means the other two eras will have different skill trees for the same thing. Why bother changing it, then? Only because it’s another era, seems a bit silly to change a skill tree for the exact same weapons.

    Regarding conceptual decision #1. Well it makes me sad. And ponderous, as to what are you talking about when you wrote that you’re going to replace them with. Detail, more detail regarding what?

    A suggestion, once you’ve reached lore production, is to have the loading screens contain important events, regarding the civilizations you know of, or simply random things about your army or self. Such as, describing in few lines the glory of last fought battle, and the number of personal slays, or how your eldest and most trustworthy general is a bit of a cuckoo. I’m hinting here at simply flavor text, because I thoroughly enjoy them, being on the side of the internet which has slow enough computers to see a loading screen(and a long duration one, at that) to pretty much everything I try to run.

  3. @ Reyn – ah, that’s unclear. That skill tree only exists in that era. Each skill tree is limited to its one era (10 per era, 30 total). The weapons and skills for each era are broadly inappropriate for the other eras. Regarding #1, I was wondering if anyone would want me to keep them in. Maybe I will, then – I haven’t quite decided yet, but thanks for providing feedback on that one : ). I 100% intend to have loading screens do that; a long number of loading screens will be generated according to the history and tell you important parts of the history. It would be nice if in the end they might tell you about art, leaders, monuments, wars, revolutions, the whole deal – similarly you’ll be able to find out about these in history books, but loading screens are going to be a source as well.

  4. I, for one, vote (meaningless beyond a show of support since you’re set on it, anyway) in favor of this great skill tree look and mechanics. Is 10 per era really enough, though? Seems like 10 would maybe be enough for combat-oriented skillsets, but I was assuming these would also be used for other non-combat systems as well.

  5. @ Kyzrati – thanks for the feedback – glad to hear it! I’ve been pondering similar; there are currently twelve classes you can start as in each era, and each gets 50% off the price of three skill trees (and starting skills in the skill tree linked to it), but +50% the price on three other skill trees (this is subject to change, still considering balancing atm). I have actually just now upgraded each era to 12; that’s enough to meet all the requirements I want, and allows each era to have three screens of 4 skills each (which is pointless, but should look neat). Medieval, for instance, has: Slashing/Long/Short/Heavy Weapons, Archery, Survival, Armor, Leadership, Stealth, Rule, Navigation, and one other I haven’t decided on yet. Each of those skills has a class which specializes in it.

    @ vBelialv – XP will be gained from killing things, but also from a host of other actions; finding a ruin, exploring a cave, discovering an island, implementing a policy, giving successful orders… I haven’t even remotely decided on the full list yet!

  6. Wait, Rule and Leadership? I assume Rule will be used for kingdoms and such, and Leadership will be more about leading troops on the field of battle, right? Because otherwise I’m confused. Those two skills sound like they would be pretty similar to me.

    Anyway, the skill tree itself looks pretty good. I’m eager to test how well your method of balancing it all out will work, once you get the basics fleshed out.

  7. @ Exlo – affirmative, Rule is for kingdoms, diplomacy etc, Leadership is combat. I could maybe change Leadership to Command? Thanks; I’m working on a list of activities that’ll gain you XP at the moment…

  8. I like the changes to the skill system, the 1-100 system with that HUGE variety of skills may very well have caused issues now that you want to do 3 eras throughout the game.

  9. Definitely agreed; it’s much more interesting and much more manageable now, I think! Just finished putting in all the medieval trees, and they’ve got a nice little ASCII animation when you select one, so now I just need to factor in XP, a ‘key’ to tell you what each icon means, and a little description of what each skill does…

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