6/22/2014 - Snip snip

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6/22/2014 - Snip snip

PostPosted by Railboy » Sun Jun 22, 2014 1:44 pm

Alright. It's time to get serious about cutting features. *Puts on game face*

Last night I went through the skill tree and cut absolutely everything that I didn't have immediate plans for. Meaning that any time a skill either hadn't already been fully implemented and tested, hadn't already been worked into a quest or didn't serve the core gameplay in a concrete way it got cut. Some of them may make their way back in during the beta, especially if it turns out there's a hole in the balance, but even so, it hurts to see some of them go.

Snip snip. Gotta get this beta out the door.

I also merged several skills that were related and turned them into bonuses for existing skills whenever possible. All told we cut everything down from 86 skills to 57. Nothing major was lost - all the survival skills and magic skills are mostly in place - but a lot of the 'fringe' skills that are just fun-sounding had to be dumped. Horseback riding was one. I loved the idea (and again, I may still implement it during or after the beta) but with all the other travel options there was no reason to include it.

I'm also cutting back on the level of customization between different regions. I'd planned to have more different in architecture in residences between northern and southern regions. It's going to be limited to texture variation now. Thankfully the terrain is varied enough to help make up for it. (And we've already seen how big a difference textures alone can make between two separate regions.) I'm not too broken up about this one.

No creatures have to be cut, praise the gaming gods. And we already have our cast of characters so we won't see a loss in NPC variety.

One that really hurts is the Obex temples. I already have a pretty decent suite of Obex assets (you've seen them in early gameplay trailers and screenshots) but getting them properly finished would take way too long. So I'll be modifying a set of generic assets for the temples. I hate resorting to more generic assets - I've already had to use them to patch the holes in my above-ground structure templates - but at least I can retexture them with my Obex textures and sort of make them my own. Blarg. Oh well, whatever - the end result will be the same from the player's perspective, and that's all that matters. In fact the end result will be better from the player's perspective. Gotta hang on to that.

This one stinks too - I'm eliminating destructible structures. Not entirely, because several structures have to be destroyed during the main quest, but I'm eliminating the ability for any random structure to be destroyed. This is something that may return in an algorithmic form, because currently it relies on me creating a destroyed variation of each structure. If I can find time to write a system that intelligently removes and blackens / scorches the appropriate parts of a structure template - and I don't see why that's not possible, though it would be difficult - then it'll be back on the menu. But given how fringe this feature already was, I have a feeling it's gone for good. (I'll keep the destructibility system fully in place for modders, of course.)

Okay, and the number one feature I'm bummed about cutting is: paths modifying foliage. The plan has always been for stuff like grass and ferns and other foliage - anything that isn't a tree, basically - to get pruned away when you lay down a new path. I've got it partly working, but this is purely aesthetic so I can't justify finishing it. Paths will work the same with or without it. So I'm cutting it. (Stay strong, Lars.) This is one I will be adding to the game post-release if I have to. It may not affect gameplay but goddamn it, it's just too cool not to include somehow.

On the additive side of things: I've finalized how archaeology will work. (You saw a tidbit in the University video, but only of the end result.) I'll save the play-by-play for next month's Kickstarter update but I predict you're going to like it. It's not crazy complicated and it relies mostly on existing mechanics (crafting, bartering, examining) but it's a multi-step process with four independent skills involved.

[edit: There's been some confusion elsewhere about what I meant about cutting paths modifying foliage. The paths in general are NOT getting cut - you'll still create paths, alter paths, fast travel with paths and so on. All that's getting cut is a purely visual impact that paths would have had on their environment. So don't worry, FRONTIERS hasn't lost its only truly unique feature. I'd cut whole regions before I cut that. :)

Also, I shy away from bringing up modding in situations like this because I don't believe in leaving features unfinished and then saying 'modders can fill in that gap.' I feel that's a form of laziness / passing the buck. But because of the way I save and load foliage data and chunk data, implementing this visual feature after the game's release won't be difficult. So even if I never get around to implementing it myself post-release, someone else will, I'm confident of that.]
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Re: 6/22/2014 - Snip snip

PostPosted by yarnevk » Sun Jun 22, 2014 3:10 pm

I actually would prefer flora in my path, since the whole point of it is fast safe travel using these light beams why would I have to actually have a sunken dirt path there that destroyed the flora? Its magic so why ride the light beam and enjoy the flora? Think of how many beautiful nature hikes that got ruined with a modern handicap accessible path.

You do have to remove the trees though or at least weave around them (insert emoticon smashing into brick wall that seems to be missing from the forum)

And we don't really need to be breeding a new generation of pyromaniacs so no burning down the town! It was a popular skyrim mod but not part of the game other than as needed for story.
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Re: 6/22/2014 - Snip snip

PostPosted by Starfia » Sun Jun 22, 2014 4:31 pm

Holy heck, I know the feeling. Cutting RPG was possibly even harder than writing it, and the only driving forces are your self-managed and unintuitive reminders that it's for the better.
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Re: 6/22/2014 - Snip snip

PostPosted by postnjam » Mon Jun 23, 2014 5:24 pm

As you snip off bits, I will break in and take those scraps of paper from the bin to mod them back in.
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Re: 6/22/2014 - Snip snip

PostPosted by Katorone » Thu Jul 03, 2014 4:53 pm

Your changes with the skills remind me of how morrowind's skills were reworked into Oblivions, and again reworked into Skyrim's system.
Still, it sounds good to me. I just hope that skills are consistent. :D
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Re: 6/22/2014 - Snip snip

PostPosted by yarnevk » Fri Jul 04, 2014 12:40 pm

Except Bethesda did not cut skills because of dev time, considering they had already defined all the skill mechanics in prior games. They cut skills because it was considered to be unaccessible to the kiddie console players despite the game being rated M so that market should not even be playing the game. My acrobatic khajit never got to play Skyrim to do some second story work...because they figured I as a player was not smart enough to play like that. So hack and slash to skills it was. Of course the excuse they used was Morrowind players abused the skill bunny hopping all over to level it up, ignoring the fact it was a stamina based game and it would be very easy to remake that a draining activity that cannot be spammed.
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Re: 6/22/2014 - Snip snip

PostPosted by Katorone » Fri Jul 04, 2014 1:33 pm

I agree, though, in part I liked some of the simplifications.

As far back as I can remember, I've always played the TES games with a mod that gave made all minor skills equal. Leveling a skill would go towards progression of an attribute.
It made most sense to me that way. If a skill is governed by endurance, then getting better at that skill should increase your endurance.
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Re: 6/22/2014 - Snip snip

PostPosted by yarnevk » Fri Jul 04, 2014 2:39 pm

I used GCD in Morrowind which was like that though major skills was easier to skill and could even master more than 100 and minor skills harder and unlikely to ever hit 100 (Oblivion had something similar) . Characters need to have strength AND weaknesses, after all the genre is about Role Play, yet the trend in AAA is every character is good at everything and can play all roles; maybe someday they will realize that limits replay but I guess when their job is shoveling out incremental annual franchise releases they do not want you replaying games.
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Re: 6/22/2014 - Snip snip

PostPosted by Gazz » Fri Jul 04, 2014 6:53 pm

yarnevk wrote:yet the trend in AAA is every character is good at everything and can play all roles

That's based on giving every player the "full game" to experience without requiring multiple play-throughs.

Players are expected to consume the game, then buy the next one.
This works better if they are "done" with the game after the first time through.
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Re: 6/22/2014 - Snip snip

PostPosted by Katorone » Sat Jul 05, 2014 7:19 am

Luckily, Morrowind offered more than just skills to warrant several new playthroughs. And even with GCD (IIRC I took the wheel option), I replayed Morrowind a lot. I just made different choices at the start so my focus was elsewhere.
Instead of sword fighting I'd take destruction. This way my focus early game was more on magic than on physical combat.

The main reason why I liked this, is that it was hard to gimp your character (though that's more of a problem in oblivion thanks to leveled lists). Anything you trained made you better at something, and if you found you were weak in some area, you could just go train something else.

Perhaps a balancing addition could have been that the higher your overall level gets, the slower leveling of skills go.
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Re: 6/22/2014 - Snip snip

PostPosted by yarnevk » Sat Jul 05, 2014 12:04 pm

Time invested has always been a better skill balancer than skill buckets because it is more realistic. In Wurm Online you can master everything if you work at it for five years as a daily job, vs. Mortal Online where you have to take a skill penalty to take a skill boost once you get maxed on your skill bucket after a few weeks of grinding. Then there is Eve Online which rewards you for not playing as it skills offline, which leaves those who are still playing wondering why they invest the time. They are all balanced in their own way because of the various disparity difference from noob to master, the silly thing is even if master is only 5% better people will chase that goal!

With the time invested method you are given the choice of eventually doing it all on a main if you invest the time or distributing skills amongst alts for roleplay reasons as you see fit, whereas skill buckets force you to have alts if you want to do it all

Of course this harkens back to when games was designed with character attributes so that they actually had strengths and weakness, back when the best wizards was frail, old, smart, wise and fighters was young, strong, stupid and foolish. At least D&D is sticking to that character based roleplay that doing it against your archtype can be fun to roleplay around weakness, but it has basically vanished from AAA about the same time every kid started getting soccer trophys for signing up even though they never showed for practices and games.
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