Post-Build Triage, Bug Fixes, Skill/Trait Review

Yesterday's new test build seems to be fairly stable, if forums are any indication. Few bugs have surfaced. As long as that remains the case, we should have a new default build soon!

Taking advantage of this relative quiet, I decided to do another triage of remaining issues. Looking through my old top-100 list, I was able to close about 30 of them as "fixed," "cannot repro after 5 months," or "won't fix." There are still almost 70 remaining, but a lot of the more major ones were solved, which is good.

While going through that list, I also managed to fix a few more bugs. They were mostly easy fixes, so I figured I'd nab them while I was looking into it.

One of these was to make the melonhead reinforcement move have a cooldown. Many players have expressed some frustration (and breaking of immersion) when melonheads just materialize out of thin air endlessly. This new cooldown means they cannot use it turn-after-turn. And what's more, newly-spawned melonheads also have the cooldown, so we shouldn't see as much cascading in the future.

I also fixed a bug which caused strapped compound bows to un-craft into small parts and string, instead of a bow and medium string. There was a typo here and there, and a weight mistake on the copper beads item. I also fixed a dead-end in the DMC interrogation sequence, for some characters. And I fixed an issue that allowed running on the map when using carts.

Finally, I started doing a review of the skill and trait system, to see if I could further balance it. I've long talked about changing their relative values once the game's content was stable, and now's a good time to look into that. Not all skills are equal, so I'm considering making some larger or smaller accordingly. And since some traits are better or worse, they will accommodate corresponding amounts of skills.

So far, this list shows the relative values I had in mind for each skill:

  • 6 = Strong
  • 4 = Melee
  • 4 = Medical
  • 4 = Tough
  • 4 = Trapping
  • 3 = Tracking
  • 3 = Athletic
  • 3 = Hiding
  • 3 = Mechanic
  • 3 = Botany
  • 2 = Hacking
  • 2 = Metabolism
  • 2 = Eagle Eye
  • 2 = Lockpicking
  • 2 = Ranged
  • 1 = Electrician

These numbers are based on how many uses each skill has, including scavenging, encounters, combat, active abilities, passive bonuses, and crafting. There are also some fudge factors in there for things which can be obtained via items/implants.

Similarly, I did a list of traits that looks like this:

  • 5 = Feeble
  • 5 = Metabolism
  • 5 = Fragile
  • 4 = Enervated
  • 1 = Insomniac
  • 1 = Myopia

Again, these are relative scores based on number of penalties, plus fudge factors if items/implants can counter them, or if the drawback is partially beneficial (e.g. insomnia).

One thing I could do is to make each skill use as many spaces as the score above, and make each trait have a space equal to its score. That was the original intent, after all. And most of these traits would "buy" a reasonable number of skills.

One major issue with the above is "Strong," which has no corresponding trait that could fit it. However, the above scores don't include the "Basic Human" freebies. What would those freebies offer as space? And how could that help a player "buy" the "Strong" skill?

One such approach would be to make several different "Basic Human" traits, each with a different size:

  • 6 = Basic Human
  • 4 = Basic Human
  • 3 = Basic Human
  • 2 = Basic Human

This way, players have enough room to take any skill at first, but remaining space dwindles fast if major skills are taken.

So far, I think this idea might work, and these numbers seem like a good place to start. What do you think?


Wyrenth's picture

I like the idea, since it means a better chance of squeezing in skills that would be nice to have, but aren't as useful as other ones (especially in surviving the first few days), so tend to sit at the bottom of the barrel when rolling a new savegame.

If balance tweaking becomes an issue, you could even go so far as to add a zero. Strong being worth 60 instead of 6, etc. That way you can tweak certain skills up or down half a notch (10->15 or 30->25).

Kaaven's picture

The system looks quite decent on the surface, but would need a lot of balancing tweaks - especially since the "worth" of each skill is based on number of used, but does not take into the account the actual usefulness of that uses.

For example - Tracking is worth more than Ranged or Lockpicking. In theory it does have more uses, but in reality it is almost useless. Double range/accuracy of Ranged on the other hand is a difference between life and death on many occasions (especially at the beginning, when using a Sling). Lockpicking may have literary one use, but with the recent changes to the scavenging chances, that one use means tripled or quadrupled chance for finding items... Also I don't think that anyone will say that Hiding or Mechanic is equally as useful as Botany(a.k.a. the endless food skill :).

Still, even with balancing issues, I like that system way more than treating all skills equally (and such a point based character creation is way more reminiscent of the real RPGs :D).

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linibot's picture

I'm not entirely sure I understand the exact concept, but seeing this tackled is fantastic nonetheless, I've been hoping for it! So I'll try to keep this short, but the question is close to my heart, bear with me. :)

Re: values and balancing, I completely agree with Kaaven. My strongest gut reactions are: ranged and botany are undervalued, tracking is overvalued and the metabolism penalty is far less of a penalty then the value assigned to it. I'm partially basing that reaction on what I see/hear being used and prefered by players lately. This is the sort of issue that will have as many opinions as players, but I still feel the "number of uses" concept needs far more fudging, maybe taking into account commonly used playing strategies.

That aside, I think limiting player choice within a specific set of parameters can be really interesting, but if the system feels too restrictive (the possible viable options feel too limited or there's a clearly "superior" build that the system favours), then you might end up with both the players enjoying overpowered builds and the once prefering underpowered ones being put off by it.

At the end of the day, what I personally would like to see come out of this would be more players experimenting with the "lesser" skills and the "harder" traits - thus experiencing the game differently and also seeing more story options. And that rarely happens atm, there are clearly one or two main variations being used by almost everyone 95% of the time. While it's good for games to have an "easy/easier mode" that works, I still find the current situation less than ideal, and I really hope a new system might change this tendency a bit.

Whatever this turns out to be though, sounds like it could add an interesting layer to skill selection. I can't wait to try it. :)

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Fins's picture

I like the idea in general IF space will be made joint. I mean, if i can take the 4th basic-human trait which has space = 2, then "add" to it, say, Insomniac, forming an open joint space of 3 squares, and then put, say, Athletic to it (which occupies 3 squares) - then yes, i like it. Especially if it's possible to join all traits into a custom player-made single shape (space), and fill it with skills which have different shapes and can be rotated.

Tetris, you know? :D

If i can't do that at all - i.e., if every trait is its own separate space which can't be enlarged by attaching another trait to it, - then there are several problems. Both immediate and also ticking-bomb ones, too. Ranging from as simple as some sad and some funny consequences of having only 1 skill worth 1 "point", but 2 traits worth 1 "point" - to as complex as players' feeling that they are being "herd" to take "correct" combination of skills (which is one real bad thing). As a result of those problems, such a change would be significant net negative impact, i'm fairly sure.

Ugh, may be i'm a bit too straight about my thoughts, but i think you want honest feedback, that's why...

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goldbit's picture

Point system based skills and traits could work. After reading over the possible start up base, i had some immediate thoughts.
First was i saw 15 points for a character to start with ,not a "6,4,3,2" and 4 slots. This way a character could just load up on 1,2 and 3 value point skills(that would take more then 4 slots) and have a very diverse character but not a more specialized character that required high point skills.
Second i saw a total of 48 possible points for skills and 21 for traits. Meaning with my outlook a starting character would have 15 points to choose out of 48 with no bad traits , then could add up to 21 points of traits to that for a grand total of 36 out of 48 points used.

Those would allow a character still to customize a build with more uniqueness then just a plain one for one skill exchange.

Also like some have already mentioned, by using numbers instead of just of a skill exchange, you would be able to modify adjustments on the fly much easier which may or may not play into this 1st scavenger game but may play into the 2nd and more etc...

KILK's picture

I don't think it will be a good idea to give skills a fixed price because they have different performance in different builds.
To improve usability of Electrician, Lockpicking, Hacking and Mechanic, why not add a mechanism to randomly generate different freelance jobs or work contracts which require one or more of these specialized skills every month inside Detroit? Player can get food or be paid for that, and this adds more interaction with the city. For RP player who wants to live a relatively peaceful and honest life, choosing these professional skills will be a good option.
Hat may also provide randomly generated side quests involving these skills.

goldbit's picture

Why stop with just Detroit, Use any special location in game that has interaction. Those skills should be needed for freelance jobs in places like ATN Enclave,Zoms Zoms and others. The only one i dont see up there that is used in "real" life is a plumber and that skill is not in game :)

KILK's picture

Well you have a point. There is a large "To central city" button on the right side of Detroit map, so we have plenty of room to fill up and that is where I started thinking.

myncknm's picture

Skills already have a fixed price. Currently, every skill/trait costs/buys 1 point. If some are on average better than others, why not reflect that through their prices?

ra1's picture

4 different "Basic Humans" seems a bit boring to me. How about something like "Young Adult"/"Middle Aged Adult"/"Old Adult"/"Geriatric Adult"; or "Genius Human"/"Intelligent Human"/"Normal Human"/"Stupid Human"? The player would be required to pick exactly one of these, which would give them e.g. 8/6/4/2 skill points.

asthepanda2iscool's picture

yeah, maybe there could be a "basic, Advanced, Primitive" settings.