Starting Traits vs Development

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Starting Traits vs Development

I'm going to come clean right now & admit that I cheat. I used C++ to edit the game's .exe file so that it's possible to take all 16 starting traits. Why? Because I frikken need all that stuff to be all I can be in this post apocalyptic world, that's why. But enough about my failings as a human being. Let's talk about the game.

So we have 5 traits.

Eagle Eye (Or Myopic)
Slow Metabolism (or Fast Metabolism)
Strong (or Weak)
Tough (or Frail)

These represent specific strengths and/or weaknesses that make each individual unique. They are not traits every human will have. Although I will point out that an inordinate amount of raiders seem to have strong & tough as traits.

And we have 11 skills:


These are meant to represent the sum total of human skill in the world of NEO Scavenger. Everyone has some level of ability at all of these skills, but some are better than others.

My suggestion here is that rather than assigning an absolute 4 abilities, that we be assigned a rating for all these 11 skills. We start out with a base # of creation points to assign as we choose, which determines our proficiency at these skills. The traits either cost us or provide us with points, in accordance with their particular traits.

Example: It costs me 10 points to buy Eagle Eye, but I get a bonus to all skills involving sight (ranged, botony, tracking, etc). Conversely, if I took Myopic, I would get 10 points, but get a penalty in all those skills. Maybe I use those points to be more proficient at lockpicking & melee, which don't require such keen eyesight.

Further, I would like to see a system by which we obtain XP's for completing quests, or for succeeding at tasks (i.e. 2 xps for picking a lock, 5 xp's for making a pair of gloves). At each experience level, we gain points to assign to our skills.

My reasons for suggesting this are:

1) It would be nice to have some chance at character development throughout the game.

2) I don't believe that anyone has absolute proficiency or ineptitude at anything. We all fall on a spectrum between absolute ineptitude & absolute mastery of any given skill.

3) I think that expecting a new player to pick 4 random abilities from a list of 16, upon which they will be required to rely for the duration of their life, is a bit unforgiving. Again, as one sees how the game unfolds, they may choose to focus on different traits than they originally selected. Maybe they discover that botany is pointless because there are only berries & mushrooms in this world, and apparently you get all the nutrition you need from crackers, gummy bears, and squirrels. So maybe instead they throw points into lockpicking, because they've gotten jumped sixteen trillion times by dogmen while trying to pry open doors, and want to be sneakier.

"Principles have no real force except when one is well-fed." - Mark Twain

Makes sense, maybe in the future we'll see something like that.


Universitarian Nerd and Java Programmer

i have made a post about pretty mutch same thing.
though now i think that the traits should have the same system that we hawe now but only with one slot for normalhuman

sorry english is not my first languige neither is grammar


I have been noticing 90% of the mobs are Tough & Strong, and that makes doing much of anything in a conflict a somewhat grueling process if I want to fight (and in some cases, fleeing a battle can take me 5-10 minutes), but using these abilities myself doesn't seem to put up the same kind of output that the NPCs have.

Personally though, I'd hate to see a Point system. It'd probably take re-writing the entire engine to do it that way for one thing. Selecting a couple of skills I can be 'good at' is entirely the fun for me here. Getting into a point system brings along min/maxing and cookie cutter builds that I see a lot of other games succumbing to, and killing them. Traits and abilities have got me playing again and again and again because I'm determined to try to beat the odds and survive instead of focusing which talent to put points into for the highest number results.

Since the core engine is still being worked on, I'm not so focused on individual character development. I'm looking at this with a more objective view to the overall goal rather than actually focusing on keeping any one character alive long enough to grow attached ("A Valley Without Wind" touched on this concept, actually).

One thing I don't really understand though, is why Hacking and Electrician are separate abilities. In modern day, it makes sense, but in this Post Apocalyptic world, I puzzle over Electrician being used to... Do much of anything really. If Hacking is all about re-routing power, security and finding information, Electrician seems to fall by the way-side for nothing beyond maybe turning on a power switch. Seems to me they'd be better off bundled together.

Hey Bloodindex,

I gotta say I agree with you. I'd hate to see this game turn into another xp chasing click fest like so many other ho hum games that feel like the've lost their way in the process of feeding xp to the player. I'm all for somekind of character progresion but I feel it has that well enough in the character abilities that I put together and strategize myself. Any ways just my thoughts on it.

One thing I don't really understand though, is why Hacking and Electrician are separate abilities. In modern day, it makes sense, but in this Post Apocalyptic world, I puzzle over Electrician being used to... Do much of anything really. If Hacking is all about re-routing power, security and finding information, Electrician seems to fall by the way-side for nothing beyond maybe turning on a power switch. Seems to me they'd be better off bundled together.

I was thinking the same thing about some of the outdoor skills. Tracking & Trapping are sort of the same skillset. The game is missing a Negotiation/persuasion/social skill of some type. In theory, this would be useful for negotiating, to boost your chances of successfully threatening in combat, and a number of other interactions with other beings.

Personally though, I'd hate to see a Point system. It'd probably take re-writing the entire engine to do it that way for one thing. Selecting a couple of skills I can be 'good at' is entirely the fun for me here. Getting into a point system brings along min/maxing and cookie cutter builds that I see a lot of other games succumbing to, and killing them.

With respect, I would disagree with this one. Having a point based system allows for something more than "on" & "off" for skills, and doesn't limit your ability to develop. Without any sort of development, or chance for character growth, the game is more 2-dimensional. Now I will say that using a point-based system is only 1 way to implement what I'm describing. Maybe you don't earn XP's....maybe you earn skill boosts that raise your abilities in some way through plot development. There's more than one way to skin the cat, so to speak.

As far as min/maxing...that's a separate issue. If the only way to slog through the game is combat, then you will have min/maxing. If the game became multiplayer & had open world PvP, then you would have min/maxing. However, if it became viable & fun to be able to resolve situations through means other than combat, then you will have those who chose the non-combat approach. The problem with most RPG's is they talk about free action, but in the final analysis, it's really all about combat one way or another. That's why so many of them end up being about who can squeeze in the most bonuses to boost their abilities.

I'll be honest. If I'm not scrounging, sleeping, crafting, or eating, I'm fighting. So far I've only really run into 2 non-combat situations involving other humans. And there appear to be dogmen everywhere, making combat even more necessary. Most fights end when my opponent runs, although I have made my share of kills. I never use bullets because I have only three...and cleavers & crowbars seem pretty plentiful. So really, where I'm at in the game right now is essentially where I was back when I was playing Fallout, without the amount of quests available.

With that said, this game is not finished, so really there's no way to say what the final incarnation will look like. I've got high, high hopes for it, and I plan to continue supporting it as best I can. I'll give all the ideas I can - even if everyone thinks they're stupid. Maybe some of them are usable, and maybe not. Maybe they're not a good fit for NEO Savenger, but they'd be a great fit in NEO Scavenger 2. Again, it's not for me to say which ideas can, should, or will be implemented.

"Principles have no real force except when one is well-fed." - Mark Twain

Hey Khemeher,

Don't feel bad I don't think anyone liked my hardcore mode idea either lol. So you're in good company. This idea wasn't my cup of tea, but i can appreciate it is a solid, and well thought out idea. The worst thing we could do is stop putting ideas out there wether they stick or not. Any ways hope you didn't take my reply too critical, just voicing my honest opinion. Good luck!!

I appreciate the detailed response, and the different stance gives me things to think about. Didn't mean to seem insulting or anything, and I'm glad you were willing to expand on ideas for me. :)

I agree with Tracking/Trapping.

Negotiation or Charisma setting would be great, especially if there were more variations on encounters, as you say. A short dialog sequence and maybe I could get a Raider to leave my campsite alone for a while, or recruit other looters to hunt and kill a Dogman in the area slaughtering everyone in its path. A chance to rescue another survivor and save or kill them based on quality of supplies and how charming you are.

I should go write up my list of random encounter ideas, I could go on for a while, hehe. ;)

Hmmmmmm.... I don't think that XP grinding should be a part of the game. you know. maybe you get assigned some random traits, or talents at the beginning of the game. Like for example the talent, 'methodical' would allow you to be proficient in botany, electrican, and tracking, but give a detriment to skills like melee, and athletic because that requires quick thinking that one just doesn't have.

these talents would allow a player to unlock the 'good stuff' in electrical, like said talent giving the player the ability to modify a scope to produce either a 'red dot' or a 'holographic' sight. Rather than just producing a shiny new laser pointer.

Hey Guys,

There's a lot of good stuff in here, and I apologize in advance if I miss any points. Overall, it seems there are a few major themes being talked about. To wit, they are:

1 - Character growth
2 - Non-absolute skills
3 - Skill/trait balance
4 - Skill ideas

Character Growth

I agree that the game should allow new skills/traits to be obtained over time. In fact, I've talked about it enough that maybe I should put that on the feature voting page. A lot of the inspiration for making NEO Scavenger came from pen and paper games like AD&D, Rifts, Shadowrun, etc. And part of the fun of those games was growing one's character over time.

NEO Scavenger is still pretty rough, so few characters live long enough to get that far. But it's something I'd like to do. The mechanism for doing it is uncertain, though.

There are some improvements I'd like to add which are non-trained abilities. Things like booking surgery at a cyber clinic for night vision eyesight, or prosthetic limbs for more strength. I'd also like to experiment with more supernatural improvements, like enchanting/cursing a player to give them skill-like and trait-like bonuses and penalties. These are pretty easy, in terms of game mechanics.

The hard part is coming up with a way for characters to gain new skills and abilities while offering strategy, challenge, and realism. Trainer NPCs are one possibility, as are handbooks/manuals that can be studied. It wouldn't make sense to switch those abilities on like a switch, though, which leads to our next point.

Non-absolute Skills

I agree that real humans don't have binary skill states. I can change my car's oil, so clearly I have some mechanical aptitude. But I can't change the engine's valve timing for optimal performance, so I wouldn't call myself an advanced mechanic.

You could argue that this is a point-based scale, and I simply don't have enough points. The beauty of a point scale is that it can be used to calculate the probability of success. That's a useful mechanic in RPGs, especially when there's a human judge (Game Master/Dungeon Master) to arbitrate the results. A GM can not only determine if it's successful, but they can ad-lib an outcome that's entertaining, even if it fails.

However, NEO Scavenger's engine simply waits for a player response, then gives the next encounter based on that response. Did the player choose "mechanic?" If yes, choose encounter A. "Electrician?" Choose B. Nothing at all? Choose C.

I realize this is a break from traditional pen and paper games. It's more like a point and click adventure. But I wanted to give it a try, and see what people thought. Would they like being able to choose a response, and have it automatically succeed? I know I tend to get annoyed by cRPGs with skill ratings, because I basically end up failing all the time until later in the game, when my skills are better.

Some games, like Fallout New Vegas, get around this problem by presenting skill checks that are achievable for the current player's level. Early in the game, the skill checks are low, and in more advanced areas, they are higher. But then, if you're doing this, why not just make them binary?

Going back to my mechanic example. What if there was a "mechanic" skill, and an "advanced auto mechanic" skill? In that case, there could be binary skills that work within the current system, but they would offer levels of aptitude and specialization.

Of course, none of this deals with the topic of user interface. The UI is a major obstacle in any change. Managing points requires a new UI. Gaining new skills does too, though I could probably repurpose the starting skill selection screen to some extent. And letting the player choose skills with a probability of success means showing them something to help them gauge that success.

There isn't really a conclusion here, just my thinking out loud.

Skill/Trait Balance

This one's a bit easier to deal with. It's true that some skills are underutilized in NEO Scavenger right now. Electricians definitely feel jipped, for example.

My aim is to make more situations for players to use these skills meaningfully, so every choice has attractive opportunities. Most of the time, this means encounters with skill-based options. However, sometimes I'm able to directly integrate the skill into gameplay.

Hiding is a good example, since it can be used both in encounters and on the map. Tough is another one, since it gives you more resistance to pain/illness (useful everywhere) and an extra combat move.

It's harder to make electrician useful in either the map or combat, but maybe I can add crafting recipes and/or encounters which make it attractive? Like the heater/light in the Cryo facility. Choosing electrician lets you repair that equipment to have a well-lit, heated, well-concealed campsite. If there were more situations like that in the game, it would make up for the lack of combat/navigation uses for electrician.

In any case, I will definitely be trying to balance skills and traits better over time.

Skill Ideas

Lastly, there are some interesting skill ideas mentioned here. A number of folks have asked for more non-combat options when dealing with NPCs. Negotiation is definitely a possibility. It'd be tricky to implement satisfying outcomes. Almost every outcome would require some special-case code. But I know for a fact that people would like it, based on comments here and elsewhere.

One thing I'm considering is making skills more narrow in focus, and simply offering more skill choices (and slots). For example, slow metabolism not only reduces food/water intake, it also applies a penalty to healing rate. This may be logical, but it might be more fun to break that into two separate things. Let the player choose the hunger/thirst part, or the healing part, or even both. Let the player make up his own story for why he eats less, but still heals quickly.

That's part of the reason I have certain skills which seem similar. E.g. tracking and trapping may seem like the same skill, but they're actually two different skills that the same person usually takes at the same time. Knowing how to follow tracks does not teach you how to create a snare. They're just skills that go well together.

In the end, it's all about me making sure each skill has an opportunity to shine. I don't want to add a skill until I'm sure I can make it useful, and there are already some unloved skills that I need to catch up on :)


Fooled you, there is no conclusion :)

I don't have the "right" answer to these questions. This was more of a chance for me to join the discussion, and share some of my thoughts and philosophies on the game's design. Thanks for sharing your detailed thoughts and ideas. Discussions like these are part of the reason I wanted to become an indie developer. I really enjoy game design exploration.

The trouble is, it also takes a lot of time. I've probably spent over 40 minutes on this post. Back to work, Dan!

Dan Fedor - Founder, Blue Bottle Games

Thoughts on gaining new skills;

The thought of skillbooks irritates me, but more on a lore basis than a mechanics basis. Books seem like they'd be pretty rare in Neo Scav and coveted, if anything, considering all the scraps of recipes laying around and newspapers being used as a secondary form of firestarter. I'd think a Post Apoc setting would be much harsher on environmental rules (That and the costs of sending out lumber excursions when shit like Dogmen are roaming around could get pretty pricy :P)

The kinds of skill systems I find myself enjoying are ones I can use but not directly see the results until I've practiced it a while. Skill checks are a good ideal example (and I love you to bits for mentioning Shadowrun, its my top fave pen and paper game) but I'd rather not actually be able to see how high or low my skill is, just that I have it and if I use it often enough (IE; Practice the trade), I'll get better and my success chance for attempting related skills goes up. I just feel that being able to view the numbers in the AI would take away from the Survivalists experience and turn it into kind of a maddening grind to get all the best skills 'maxed out'.

Regarding sources; Traveling NPCs. Still essentially 'skillbooks', but in a different format, and you could keep a degree of your randomization by having the system randomize which NPCs with learn-able skills spawned at the beginning of the game or trigger specific ones as a player completes jobs for the Hatter or some such. Have them move like Raiders or Bandits so a player has to chase, lure or trap an NPC into a tile where they can 'train' together. (Maybe some of them would also only train advanced skills for a character in exchange for currency. It'd be one thing to have a punk teach you how to better kick someones ribs in when they're on the ground, and entirely different and worth money to learn how to judo chop and disable an opponent's firing arm, etc)

Others could just be raw skills that branch off base skills; Medic could branch out into Pharmaceuticals if a player got into crafting his own pills, EMT if he was good at applying first aid in a fight (maybe getting a bonus heal to the first turn or two of a bandaged wound immediately after a fight), or Hazmat (increased resistances after surviving infections over and over).

Just some loose ideas. I'm not sure how much of a memory issue tracking all those values would be. Not too bad with 4 traits, but if I took all the negative traits and my favorite positive skills, I could see some issues cropping up.

Im sure Electricians would be a lot happier if they could scavenge up Tazers and find a way to craft batteries for a few shots. Would probably be a great weapon against Dogmen; not really damaging but could stun for a turn or two and allow either a few mortal blows or give the electrician a chance to fleeeeee. ;)

I think that we should split skills in what can and can't be learned, for example:

  • Athletics can't be learned
  • Lockpicking can be learned
  • One could learn to skin a squirrel or to make bark tea
  • One can't become a medic from one day to another

So, we might keep a skill system like the current one, with skills that include many abilities, and maybe let the player learn some of said skills during the game; or else a new system could be implemented, allowing the player to learn how to perform some tasks ( cure squirrel meat, identify edible mushrooms, etc ).


Speaking about skills that don't have much use right now, there is always room for improvement. Examples:

  • Electrician could allow the player to repair and maintain better devices like night vision goggles, iSlabs, and energy weapons that might be added in the future
  • Hacking could allow the player to hack working iSlabs making them much more valuable, as they wouldn't be stylish paperweights anymore. Maybe, hacking a DMC pass, one could get inside the citadel even with orange alert...
  • And so on...


Universitarian Nerd and Java Programmer

I'm not really sure why athletics & medical can't be learned. I think you're trying to make a good point, but you're using some bad examples. Every child who has ever played a sport in school has been taught athletic skill. Some have more natural ability than others, but even a naturally uncoordinated person can learn to be graceful & athletic with hard work & training. Medical training is a spectrum. I could teach someone all the basics they need for first aid in a single afternoon, but I couldn't perform surgery. Again, we have the problem of a polar skill. The game doesn't make a distinction between someone who is trained to administer first aid and someone who is a trained doctor.

Strong & Tough are even possible to "learn" through training & conditioning.

Eagle Eye is arguably a natural ability - but then again it's completely possible to train someone to be a better observer. The military & police train people to do that on a daily basis.

"Principles have no real force except when one is well-fed." - Mark Twain

Eagle Eye is meant to represent an increased visual range, though. Can't teach someone to see further.

Which is where you hit the distinction between a trait and a skill; Eagle Eye being a trait - a biological advantage over most people. Observation and situational awareness, which can be taught, would probably fall under Tracking in the current build, or necessitate a new Skill to cover them in the future. Likewise, Strong and Tough. You can increase your carrying power and so on via training and conditioning, but in the context of the game, you're unlikely to see a timescale wherein doing the training and conditioning would make a noticeable difference. You can't just do calisthenics every morning for a week and expect to see +1 STR and a concurrent bonus to how much weight you can carry, after all.

Strong, Tough and even Eagle Eye can be broken down to concepts which are trainable in anyone over time. Whether that fits into NEO Scavenger is less easy; they work as things that you have when you emerge from cryosleep because you had them before you entered it. Not so sure they'd work in the context of the game as things that you can train, learn or significantly improve, purely because of the timescales involved.

That being said, I do agree that scope for character development is viable and desirable and that the systems you've outlined are definitely workable. I just think that it makes sense in the game's context for any change or improvement to a character to be fairly limited and 'low-level.' No barriers to reading a First Aid Guide and applying its principles, or learning how to set a snare and skin an animal, but not so sold on things that should take weeks, months and even years to train.

Hi all,

rather new to the community and the game but I think this is an interesting discussion and I had some thoughts about the Traits myself.

First, I agree that in the very least we need to make a base distinction between 'skills' and 'traits', traits are 'innate' aptitudes or physical abilities, like better eyes, faster legs etc, skills are knowledge.

Now, I think both groups should ideally 'change over time', either for better or for worst, but of course the mode of 'change' is different. Traits should change either from use, prolonged positive/negative physical conditions (i.e, how can a character who is famished all the time maintain its muscle mass and remain strong? head trauma can impair eyesight, cause insomnia, etc). I think the game is missing more acquired 'not necessarily permanent' traits that have drastic impact on the game play, concussion & disorientation can make a person forget a skill, or become worse at it, or permanently impair coordination and decrease "to hit" and scavenging stealth, safety and loot etc. I think all of this can be realized within the binary skill/trait engine of the game. Also losing limbs etc, of course you'll usually die from blood loss but what if you have a nano kit at hand? at the moment injuries are either lethal or you can completly heal from that, that actually makes gameplay more forgiving, as long as you can get away everything is probably fine etc.

So, those are physical traits (and some possible effects on skills), as for skills, I don't have any particular opinion concerning whether a statistically based approach or a binary best approach is better but I definitely think that you've achieved sufficient depth and playability through the current mechanic that it should probably be explored further. If you can divide the skills into different categories and have skills correlate to 'game world events' you can have incremental skill acquisition, for instance, a person might not learn how to be a medic but you can definitely gain a 'first aid' trait after administering treatment a few times which increases bandage durability or gives the user some minor hints concerning the advised treatment etc. Personally I would create a mechanic that allows you to 'group' traits, so that 'medic' can contain 'first aid' 'advanced diagnosis' and 'improved drug usage' so that selecting a 'major knowledge branch' in the beginning will still have benefits over acquiring skills over time.

as for 'knowledge inquisition', other than use (and tangential use) which should earn some basic skills (camp in the forest a few times? congrats you've figured out who to trap small gain) I think that rare books are a possibility and are not really problematic lore wise if we assume they are rare books that survived from pre-apocalyptic days, alternatively I think some skill acquisition events/quests should also randomly appear ("You run into an old man living in a cabin, he offers to teach you how to cure squirrel meat if you can catch a squirrel and give him a butcher's knife and a lighter") etc.

Just to further explain my suggested 'grouped traits/subset traits' mechanic, it is very similar to what Khemeher has suggested with medic being a 6*2 container that contains subtraits which are actually responsible for the gameworld boosts/actions, only i propose that the traits will be 'hidden', the user should still only see 'medic', this way, in the future, it will be possible for players to be given/earn subsets of these skill groups, allowing for easier survival in the apocalypse but not really changing the impact of selecting traits at character creation.

I think that going with a mechanic like this will open up a lot of very cool gameplay and character creation possibilities, I would also split the physical/knowledge traits in the character creation screen and re balance them and add a whole bunch.

For instance, A character should be able to select from two conflicting traits "Intelligent"/"Simple Minded", selecting Intelligent will both allow an additional 'knowledge slot' in character creation, allow more traits to be learned from books/events etc, while 'simple minded' does the exact opposite. On top of that, you can have further repercussions, like an intelligent person that relies on knowledge and rational analysis of the situation might be more likely to 'lose skills' in the event of head trauma, moreover, the 'intelligent' trait it self might go away if the character is really tired/suffered head trauma (might even become 'simple minded') or has taken intoxicants, so a person that relies on his wits for survival has to get up extra early in the morning to keep on his toes from Tough Strong brutes and won't be able to rely on his wits to always get him away from situations.

Traits like "Mechanic","electrician" and "hacker" can all be at the moment combined and a single trait called "Technical aptitude" as you can't really get too much mileage from each at the moment, moreover, it's likely that some aspects of all those traits should be easily learnt during game play, especially by 'intelligent' characters. (small note: you might even consider categorizing knowledge, so that some forms of learning are not possible for dumb dumbs and alternatively some skills are affected more by 'coordination' than 'intelligence' giving some balance and allowing a realistic 'clever but not crafty' character type, this would also open the possibility for a 'Savant' trait that allows you to only specialize in 1-2 areas of knowledge, or to spawn with all available skills in those branches but learning anything else comes with a great cost).

I agree with other posters that preventing classic RPG-esque grinding or even classic Roguelike "loot everything" encouragements should be paramount, NEO Scavenger already discourages grinding by never being truly safe but since at the moment there isn't a lot to do other than try to power play your character most players find themselves 'grinding' anyway. I think that most skills should only be earned by attempting to do risky actions, and that repeating a billion times the same simple task should never have any benefits only tasks that carry considerable risk should reliably improve your skills most of the time, i.e, scavenging crumbling apartment buildings with no night vision might grant you some quasi 'eagle eye' benefits but you also get to possibly die in the process etc, on the other hand, making a campfire 10 times but give you a basic level of 'survivalism' that gives you 'some benefits' but no more, ideally might also want to implement a 'learning clock' that prevents characters from improving a specific skill 'too often' or maybe even simply by repeating the same action (perhaps a system of diminishing returns?).


I mentioned point-based stats previously, as an example of character development & non-polar skills. As I said before, there are other ways to skin the cat. You can implement this type of system without making hardly any changes to your current user interface system.

Currently the character trait screen is essentially the same as the inventory screen in how it functions. Your trait "Basic Human" creates an available inventory space that is exactly the same size as an ability. When you select an ability, you simply stick that ability in the available inventory space as if it was an item being loaded into a backpack.

So what would happen if the traits were broken down into smaller pieces, and it were possible to take multiple levels of the same thing? Right now the size of a trait is 6 blocks wide x 2 blocks tall. What if there were 3 level of each trait, that were 2 blocks x 2 blocks? Maybe you have Beginner, Intermediate, and Expert. This would allow you to take either multiple levels of the same skill, or a variety of lesser skills, or some combination of the two.

Additionally, character growth in this system simply means providing for more “inventory space” in which addition traits (or advanced levels of current traits) can be added. Earning these slots can be handled in a variety of ways:

1) Maybe the game is organized into chapters, and by successfully completing each chapter, you earn a new 6x2 box.
2) Maybe you have to unlock the boxes through quests, and the purchase the training from NPC’s.
3) Maybe some of the skills you pick up along the way are new traits like night vision, claws, or other things that could be added into the character by way of surgery, mutation, drugs, etc.

The key here is to provide a way for the character to develop over time. This is not the same thing as grinding for experience like you might do on a MMO. XP’s or development points don’t have to come from combat. They can originate from completion of tasks, successful use of skills, discovering recipes for crafting – or a variety of other sources.

"Principles have no real force except when one is well-fed." - Mark Twain

Albertros just touched on what I was going to respond with regarding splitting Skills and Traits. Khemeher's ideas for the UI are intriguing, and would fit well alongside the rest of the game, I think.

But I also wanted to mention that our characters are just coming out of the Cryo chamber. The past 2 years I've been playing a game called Fallen Earth that works with a similar concept of "Hey, your here in the wasteland now, but someone valued you enough to put you into stasis so you can be thawed later!"

With that in mind; starter skills like Medic, Electrician, Mechanic.... Would NEED to be included during character creation. Just being spat out into the world with "this is what an average human should know for sure," leaves one confused as to why they might've been in the cryo unit in the first place (especially being sandwiched between a CEO and a celebrity :P). More options may 'need' to be added for the sake of variety, but I don't really want to think about what might be missing right now.

Altering the UI to separate physical traits vs knowledge's learned over time would be really nice (and theres certiantly room for it in the skills window after initial creation). Maybe give the players 1 basic Knowledge Slot (offer some kind of mental or social disability to add more than 1/2 knowledge at the beginning, to slow down the rate of becoming a super genius after a days travel)... And 2-3 Trait slots as usual, with the standard options of expanding with taking negative qualities.

Well BloodIndex, you have my respect for playing Fallen Earth - one of the coolest MMO's I ever played! I haven't played it for a while, but I fondly remember my time there as a member of the Saints back in the day.


You make a good point about the destiny of our hero. Although....we really don't know what Dave has in mind for us once we get into the big city.

"Principles have no real force except when one is well-fed." - Mark Twain

I'll leave the Fallen Earth discussion to another thread, but you probably have a better idea of what I'm getting at. Hacking early might cripple a starter character, but on the long term it could end up being extremely beneficial to have from an earlier period (Especially if you end up with a kind of sickly character and have to rest/sleep a lot rather than work)... That might be a bit far fetched though. As you say, who knows where Dan will take us. :p

I hope Dan will not faint when he'll see the lenght of this thread.

Anyway, like someone else said, I don't think that one can become an Athlete or a trained Medic in a few turns of conditioning, or neither strong nor tough: in my opinion, that would be only possible if the game allowed some kind of prosthetics ( like Deus Ex if you know it ), elseway it would sound a bit far-fetched to me.

Also mutagens/drugs/etc could do the trick.


Universitarian Nerd and Java Programmer

I would like to have innate/natural abilities be separated from proficiencies during character creation. For simplicity sake, I will simply borrow from the OP.

Traits are things that are inborn; things you have next to no influence on. Currently, the traits are:

Eagle Eye (Or Myopic)
Slow Metabolism (or Fast Metabolism)
Strong (or Weak)
Tough (or Frail)

Strong, Tough, and Athletic are all things that can technically be learned, however, individuals have varying inclinations towards those things. I have a few ideas I would like to suggest in order to add a greater diversity to traits which would allow for a greater range of meaningful choices at character creation:

Iron Stomach (flaw: Weak Stomach) - The ability to better (or not) withstand a number of factors such as food poisoning, drinking dirty water (things that would eventually lead to dysentary/sickness). You wouldn't be able to eat rotten meat with no problems, however you would be able to consume food/water that would make average people sick. You also recover from illnesses like dysentary a little faster than the average person.

Resilient (flaw: Delicate) - The ability to better withstand the elements. You remain warmer in less clothing than the average person, and you are less prone to overheating. You also recover faster from heat exhaustion and hypothermia with less difficulty.

(I don't know if Tough or Strong deal with what I've suggested with Resilient. However, I would rather be able to better resist the cold than better resist physical injury.)

As far as Skills go, I think the current list is pretty comprehensive. It would be nice, to be able to learn one or two additional skills through the course of the game via various means, such as random NPC encounters.

At character creation, I think it would be awesome if players chose from up to 2 traits, and up to 4 skills. I think the current system for taking Flaws to open up additional Skill slots should remain.

i agree with the beginner intermittent, and expert thing short reply for the win

Official Trained Dogman

I'd like to add a bit in favour of a point based skill set which increases over time.

As soon as you don't see the actual value of your skill, there is no real problem anymore.
You won't really know, how good you are until you try and suffer from the consequences.
Say you are a botanist, as soon as unidentified mushrooms stack (i.e. type is determined at identification), it could happen that you identify a Death Cap as edible when your skill is low. So you have to deal with the consequences, if you really want to grind on this ability, because you can only get better by try and error. In addition, all tasks in NeoScav take some time and staying at the same spot to long puts you in danger, hence benefit per grinding ratio is limited.

Benefit of binary skills - or how to be a professional:
A continous skill scale is not in conflict with the separation of beginners and professionals, as long as you have a sufficiently large skill point range and you do not progress too fast. Therefore I like skill points between 0 and 100, reflecting your percentual skill knowledge/mastery. An unskilled person could start at skill level 5%, an expert would start at 80% or above. If you take in consideration, that your skill level could increase by 1% only every 20th success (beginners) or 20th failure (experts), this keeps the beginners separated from the experts for weeks, months or even years of in game time.

Keep the UI simple / as it is:
It was mentioned, that using a point based skill set would change the UI. I'd like to object that. As I stated in the first part, putting numerical values in the UI would kill the survival feeling and would support grinding. So why bother with it. Keep the UI as it is, just enable all skills and use the sucess probabilities derived from the skill points to determin the result (but do not necessarily tell the player the truth). If you feel generous, give the player a little hint on how good/secure he feels in a specific task. Creative (random) tool tips like "You think, you're bad as shit in this!" when hovering above a skill will tell the player all he needs to know.

Learning from Books, NPCs, Quests, scripted events:
An automatic learning mechanism does not prevent the benefits from the above sources. By keeping a slow learning curve and separating the professionals by a large skill offset from the noobs, it is indeed valueable to have a mentor or a book to lern from. Also, these sources could be coupled to the players active skill level. Books being to complex would be to obscure to understand, and those being to simple won't give any benefit. If Dan is generouse, he could even draw the benefit level of those encounters or items randomly from a range around the players skill level, depending on the surrounding circumstances (risk of obtaining, quest reward, map tile). The possibilities are endless and enable fine grained tuning.

Learning by trial and error:
Of course, it is a hard thing to tweak or determin how continuous learning should take place. If the player learns too fast, the world NeoScav will be inhabitated with omnipotent demigoods more sooner than later. But if the player learns too slow, he won't see any effect at all. Also, you have to decide if the player should learn from success, from failure or in general. I would say, that in the early learning phase, one learns most from success and later one learns from failure, to the learning sould be coupled to the unlikeliest outcome. Furthermore, the better you are, the longer it should take to improve. Getting the basics is fairly simple but mastering a skill is hard and takes a lot of time. From this assumptions, I derived an ad hoc formula which I want to present here:

Say X is your skill level in per cent, i.e. a natural number bigger than 0 and (in most cases) smaller or equal to 100. Values above 100 should be really sparce and represent post-master-skill, i.e. being outstanding even with harsh circumstances (under time pressure, bad weather conditions, etc).

The player tries to to something, so we estimate his success by multiplying his skill level (as per cent) with the circumstances and other factors and determin if he was successful or not, but we do not necessarily tell the player. So the learning only takes place then the result of the task takes effect. As stated above, a mushroom could be identified wrongly, but learning only takes place, when it is eaten or sold (and maybe rejected/discarded when identified wrongly). Once the player (character) knows the result, we determine if he is able to learn from the result.

If his skill level is below 50, he learns only from a success.
If his skill level is above 50, he learns only from a failure.
Also he should learn the faster the lower his skill level is. I modeled this by using an exponential ansatz:

P = 0.01 ^ (X/100)

That is: Taken a basic minimum learning level of 1 percent, we raise this probability to the power of our skill level in per cent.

As a Table:
1% ^ 0% = 100%,
1% ^ 10% = 63%
1% ^ 25% = 31%
1% ^ 50% = 10%
1% ^ 60% = 6.3%
1% ^ 75% = 3%
1% ^ 80% = 2.5%
1% ^ 90% = 1.6%
1% ^ 100% = 1%

If X is low (near 0), he will learn something on nearly every success.
If X is medium (near 50), he will only learn something one out of ten times.
If X is high (near 90), he will only improve in about 16 out of 1000 failures.

If we take X/100 as the probability of sucess (for X < 50) and 1-X/100 as the probability of failure (for X >= 50), we can derive the probability of increasing the skill level X by 1 on a task as a function of X. This is:

P_inc(X) = IF (x < 50) THEN max(0,x/100)*0.01^(x/100) ELSE max(0,1-x/100)*0.01^(x/100) ENDIF

You can find a plot of this function here:*0.01^%28x%2F100%29%2C+max%280%2C1-x%2F100%29*0.01^%28x%2F100%29+%5D+from+0+to+100

In order to get a learning curve without dealing with integration, I did an ensamble simmulation. I took 100 "characters" with a starting skill of 5% and applied 1000 tries to each of them. This can be seen in the following graph. The gray lines are the individuums, the green line is the ensamble mean, red is the ensamble minimum and blue is the ensamble maximum.


As you can see, it needs about 200 applications of the skill to get to a 20% skill level and about 1000 applications to get to an 80% level, which could definitely be considered professional. So yes, you can indeed get better by practicing, but it takes you an awful lot of time, and probably you won't get to the level of a professional as long as you play (or live), but you can reach a fairly decent all-day-use level more or less quickly.

What do you think ?

Player was gored and eaten by a sabretooth tiger.
Survival Time: 48 days, 16.51 hours.

I really, really like this idea.

Unfortunately I was not able to submit my spelling corrections fast enough (because of the first reply and the lateness of the night), so sorry for that.

As a little addendum (or a correction), the 0.01 constant in the formula for P(X) should be called learning rate (instead of basic minimum learning level). Increasing this value increases the overall speed of learning.

As one can see from the P_inc(X) graph (see Wolfram Alpha link from above), this function has a steep increase in the beginning, a maximum at a skill level of about 21%, and decreases sharply above a skill level of 50%. Also, this function never exceeds a mean learning probability of 8% per skill application. In this example, I used a learning rate of 1%. Increasing this value to 5% does not change the overall behaviour or shape of the function but would increase the maximum learning probability to about 12%. So adjusting the speed of character improvement is a piece of cake.

Player was gored and eaten by a sabretooth tiger.
Survival Time: 48 days, 16.51 hours.

I appreciate work and thought you put into it Ineluki. And I must say I love skill based systems in my games, it gives this deep, rights vibe to the gaming experience.

But error I see here is that NeoScavenger is a very item-oriented game (as opposed to skill- or action-oriented ones). That means it is very specific with items players use so we have no generic "herbs" or "reagents" here. It would not feel right if recognizing Deathcap mushrooms 20 or even 200 times from edible ones would give player a boost when dealing with berries of any kind. Same as skinning and gutting a hundred squirrels won't make no one a zoologist (and teach him nothing about dogs or elephants).

With system as it is we assume that character with botany perk knows about all manner of plants (most of which he will never encounter or even don't exist anymore) because he was some sort of "plant guy" before cryo-chamber. He had years to learn about all kinds of stuff - experience he gains right now, on-route means nothing to what he knows already. Recipes of specific items are just sorting his knowledge and adapting it to real wateland-life use.

<--Mighty (mini)Mod of Doom-->
DeviantArt Gallery of MoD Sprites

I get your point, Kavaan, but I'd like to object to some extent. Not everything the player lets the character do is what the character does in in-game terms. You are totally correct that the character will learn nothing about berries when only identifying mushrooms - if that would be everything he does. Instead, think about dealing with a skill set to be a way of life. If the character is practising or relying on his (lacking) botanic skill, he won't use it only when he identifies a mushroom. He will think about it when walking over the map, will pay attention to his surroundings when walking through woods and fields, trying to remember what he was told about plants when he was in kindergarten and school, have a look what berries are likely to be eaten by animals .. and so on. And most of the time, he won't use the botanic skill only for mushrooms but on everything he could benefit from, getting used to a versatile set of facts and rules. Being good in a survival oriented botanist skill does not necessarily mean to know the Latin name of the plant, its family, genus or kingdom, but you may get used to pay attention to small details while telling plants apart after you ingested a death cap instead of a button mushroom the fourth time.

I think, the above is good enough to explain the in-game knowledge benefit at berries from eating mushrooms. For everything more specific, it is to most extent ... taste. Simulating the consequences of putting your left leg in the trousers first instead of your right leg by adding an increased falling damage probability may be more realistic but does only appeal to a very small minority of gamers. This is a game after all, and in games, we are used to greater nonsense than learning to make tannin tea from trees by eating (in)correctly identified mushrooms, anyway. And remember, that grinding on a skill will likely take ingame months to years to get it to a decent level, and every time you use it, it puts you in danger. Relying solely on a 5% level skill without taking care of its dangers won't even get you to a 20% level because you will be dead long before. And if not, starting bad will result in staying bad of a very long time.

I think, the main point you are opposed of, is, that I did not separate book knowledge from practical knowledge. Skinning and gutting a squirrel is not so different from skinning and gutting a dog(man). Snaring a rabbit is not so different from snaring a coyotee. But switching from one to the other may not contribute to your book knowledge. If there IS a need for book knowledge in the game (which I doubt at the current stage), we could treat both branches of the skill separated internally, anyways. When talking to a real botanist, you still feel dumb as shit. But this does not mean that you are necessarily worse in surviving in the wilderness using your practical botanics skills.

Player was gored and eaten by a sabretooth tiger.
Survival Time: 48 days, 16.51 hours.

Ok, I'll answer that in parts. (don't take it too seriously I'm teasing here a little - really, would like to test skill-based NS)

Not everything the player lets the character do is what the character does in in-game terms

In most games yes, but not in NeoScavenger. Here you are not using "Medkit" or "Heal" skill to help 6 damage you received. Here you have to: put the clean rags, which you boiled sterile first, on a deep, painful, bleeding cut on your right thigh that you first cleaned with boiled water or whiskey if you had one. And then wait for it to heal. And only having Medical perk will let you know if your wound got infected or not. If it was to be more specific than this a professional medical terminology had to be implemented :D

he won't use it only when he identifies a mushroom. He will think about it when walking over the map, will pay attention to his surroundings when walking through woods and fields, trying to remember what he was told about plants when he was in kindergarten and school, have a look what berries are likely to be eaten by animals...

So you want skills like that to level on every move, not only when used? And how can thinking about derelict gas oven you dismantled yesterday help at all with repairing an old motorcycle? Except, of course, that both have moving parts.

Simulating the consequences of putting your left leg in the trousers first instead of your right leg (...) does only appeal to a very small minority of gamers

How is that any different from upgrading your Ranged skill by 0,01% every 10 shots you take?

grinding on a skill will likely take ingame months to years to get it to a decent leve

Than why to bother at all? Adding mechanics that barely be used/useful at all seems a little like a waste of time. Also, in my experience, characters don't live that long anyway.
On a side note, experience that rises too slow can be a great game-killer since it brings a lot of grief and disappointment. Playing for two in-game weeks and Mechanic skill jumping from 5% to 7,7% can make a lot of people furious and leave the game.

Summarizing, I can see that some sort of character improvement would be nice and fun but experience based skills are just too abstract for me for NS.
Maybe a kind of achievement/story-based bonuses (like Fallout 2 special perks - Valut City Medical Training, Gecko Skinning) would be better, for example: repairing cryo-lab to the full will grant you a "Cryo-tech" perk to be used later in-game - showing that character had learned something beyond scope of his standard training.

<--Mighty (mini)Mod of Doom-->
DeviantArt Gallery of MoD Sprites

I think, you got me wrong in some points. So I'll answer to your paragraphs.

Part 1: Even though NeoScav is fairly explicit in what you have to do, your example does not invalidate my argument. The game is not - and will never be - able to explain everything needed for a in-depth analysis of the world. We won't get the characters thoughts and won't be able to see all of the characters actions. (And to be honest, actively controling the characters actions down to managing his hygiene and putting the left leg forward in order to move would result in a plain boring game.) So there is lots of room for in-game explanation what the character does and doesn't do between moves, including thinking on several topics. Also the medic skill is in the moment limited to a faster healing rate and identification of infections, this could change in the future. As you can imagine, a medic will be better in bandaging wounds than untrained average peoples. But this does not necessarily stop there. As an analogue to the botanics skill, the medic skill could be used to identify unknown pills, or with only a low skill level in medic one could easily mistake an anticoagulant for a pain killer (or forget about the anticoagulative side effects of one). Of course, this does not trigger in a world with only 3 types of pills, but this may change, too.

Part 2: NO, I do not want to level skills on every move. You are mixing up in-game explanation and game mechanics. Inside the game world there are no such things as moves, rounds, damage points. That's game mechanics. In your first reply, you made me belive that you are unsatisfied with my explanations / skill system because it would be unexplainable in in-game terms that you may get getter in identifying red berries from eating mushrooms, to which I objected with my reply by stating that the character would not stop thinking about his skills the moment you are not using them. And of course, thinking about that derelict gas oven you dismantled yesterday helps a lot with repairing an old motorcycle, because this is the way our brain works. You gain experience related to one thing and apply it (even in surprising ways) to something totally different. All inventions of human kind were made in such a way, that's how improvisation works, that's how all rules of physics are derived.

Part 3: The difference is a matter of detail and forced action. Spelling out every level of detail in terms of game mechanic is not a fruitful way to roam. Increasing a numerical value hidden from the player in oder to get better does not bother as much as having to deal with everything on a meticulous level. And wanting to simulating everything in game mechanics (as you suggested) is definitely more the latter than explaining the missing detail by in-game lore (as I suggested).

Part 4: I guess, you did not get the point of my calculations. My skill levels will increase in natural numbers, there is no such thing as 7.7%. In addition, the formulas are explicitly designed to rapidly increase in the begining until a somewhat mediocre level and getting better is then really hard / takes a lot of time. So I hope, it can be tweaked to do not frustrate the players. However, getting better in small increments is fairly better than not getting better at all, as it is the case at the moment. But you are right in asking: How long is long ? My first character lived a long life of about 40 days in the wild and was only killed by some kind of random accident. Poor me, but I do not think this was exceptionally long. Even more, because Dan is thinking about reducing the overall death rate, moving beastly dogmen away (or at least reducing their probability of spawning). Also consider that the game has a total story to tell which will definitely spawn a longer time span in the future. So surviving longer than nowadays is very likely, and improving your skills by practice is therefore getting a greater importance. Also I doubt that players will quit because they improve too slow. Most players won't even actively notice they are getting better until they are better anyways. Remember that I proposed to hide the numeric value from the player and to only translate it to a meaningful context.

Part 5: Using achievement/story-based bonuses goes hand in hand with my suggestion. Because training by doing IS really slow, achievements and story-based encounters ARE a valueable and important source of knowledge. In terms of experience, they could easily save you 200 times of patching your wounds with boiled cloths yourself. The whole point of my system is, that it is nearly useless to explicitly grind for experience (because benefits will not cover the araising problems - e.g. you only learn by curing wounds correctly and for that you have to be damaged) but using your skills in a normal way (because you have to anyways) DOES pay out by making your skills a little bit better.

Player was gored and eaten by a sabretooth tiger.
Survival Time: 48 days, 16.51 hours.

Ok mate, I wont use paragraphs, just overall thoughts. Here it goes:

Remember it is you who want's to implement more rules and details into character actions by putting into game a (invisible) skill level meter. I want it to stay the way it is: trained medic knows his job, untrained dude will never learn workings of 100's of different drugs by bandaging his wounds (and eating Deathcaps three times in a row kills or cripples you, not teaches anything). Talking about what character thinks and what are his learning capabilities is pointless. What I'm saying is, you are right, there is no need for more detailed mechanics because we end up with "breath in" and "breath out" buttons.

Now on your graph. When I given 7,7% that was for example only. But now I looked carefully and saw something. You made it about 200 tries needed to reach 20% skill level there. When I play my character for about month in-game time I use bandages 2-3 times, depending how careless I go. Even with drugs identifying added it would be like 10 times. So I gain what, like 0,5%? That means 2 month for a real 1% rise. Harsh, don't you think?

With me avoiding fights at all cost I don't have to do medicine any more. And, obviously, I don't fight thanks to that. So my medicine and fighting skills are not used almost at all. So, with learning-by-use mechanic, I will be (or at least feel like being) penalized for good game-play (because this is not Oblivion or Fallout and not-fighting is actually a good tactic right now).

Also, with mechanic like that only wait to see first Hiding or Tracking macro to come out :D Believe me I know what I'm talking about, I'm veteran Ultima Online player - there is a system almost exactly like the one you proposed in it.

In the end, it all comes down to what we think NS should be like. I think it's way too EASY right now, steep learning curve alright, but too easy once you get to know it better. Dan's info on making it easier and ideas like yours, about adding character improvement, make me fear for the game that can possibly reach my top 5 games of all times.
I would like thing like character degradation to be included instead :D (<-don't know how to make an evil smile...) -
dogman bite taking character's eye out, raiders cleaver chopping off his hand. Guy who survived cholera three times by drinking tree-bark tea and eating expired ketchup should not come out from this stronger. Of course interesting ways to overcome such looses should exist to be a part/point of the game (cyber eye that allows to see in darkness but makes your head more damage-able or zombiefied, voodoo hand that makes you stronger but sometimes tries to choke you in your sleep - that is what I call fun. Levels and skills we seen so many times before. It is the original, take on survival that makes this game unique, story follows that. It is the Scavenger that is interesting, not Neo (take on game rather than story or setting)

<--Mighty (mini)Mod of Doom-->
DeviantArt Gallery of MoD Sprites

Sorry, I don't get your point. If you do not want to change anything, fine. That's OK with me. But we are here in an "improvement by doing vs. improvement by script" thread, so of course we are talking about how to implement a way to get better over time.

You are totally correct by stating that talking about what the character thinks etc is futile. Maybe I got you wrong, but I interpreted your first reply in the way that you stated that it would be inconsistent and incompatible with in-game logic to learn about A by doing B to which I objected and commented. Ok, topic closed.

Concerning the lerning rate, of course it is harsh, but on the other side, NeoScav is a harsh world and at the moment it is even worse because you will never ever learn anything. So a harsh improvement system will be an inprovement anyways.

I don't get, why you complain that in my proposed system you would be penalized for good game-play. What you do and not do is realy up to you. If you choose to prevent fighting at all costs, fine. But why should you learn medic skills from not dealing with wounds ? If you want to play a pacifistic medic, choose the medic skill at character generation (which gives you about 80% in an instant) and go play hide and seek. Your decision. But if you want to play a brawling character who's up in any dogmen fight around, you have to deal a lot more with wounds (at a greater risk) and should be able to slowly learn basic medic skills from it even if you did not pick the medic skill in the begining. What "good game-play" is, is just up to the player playing the game. There is no right and wrong way to play NeoScav and there is no competition between players, so why should you feel penalized for playing the way you like it ? What is the objective of the game at this moment anyways ? And if a player decides, he'll have more fun using a Hiding and Tracking macro, where's the problem ? As long as he does not compete with other players in multiplayer, let him have his fun.

I agree that the game is fairly easy at the moment once you got the hang of it. But it is just the begining. As far as I know, we are roughly through the intro. I have no clue, where this game is going but I presume that harder surviving areas will be introduced sooner or later and difficulty levels will progress. Anyways, each of us has a slightly different vision of how this game will develop, fortunately only the vision of Dan is what counts. All we can do is make constructive suggestions which he should feel free to ignore. So there is no point in fighting for ideas. We do not need do convince each other. All I did was to suggest a way to implement improvement-by-doing that is compatible to most ideas raised within this thread.

So, thank you for your interesting replies and your constructive criticism, but I do not think it is fruitful to discuss any further without introducing new arguments or especially with the assumption of "keep everything as it is".

Player was gored and eaten by a sabretooth tiger.
Survival Time: 48 days, 16.51 hours.

It is "Starting Traits vs Development" thread and not "improvement by doing vs. improvement by script" as you said. The whole point in this discussion is to give pros and cons of either leaving (and/or upgrading) perk system as it is or exchanging it for a new, development based one.

In this spirit I am stating that, in my judgement, what you proposed is not fitting the game's setting and might easily unbalance the game-play. Or implemented with too much holding back can turn useless (which will only add a pointless process, slowing the game down). That's all really.

<--Mighty (mini)Mod of Doom-->
DeviantArt Gallery of MoD Sprites

Ok, I LOVE these Ideas I gotta' admit but how did you use notepad + + to cheat exactly? :P I'm a MAJOR noob compared to that AND Neo Scavenger. If you could help I'll be MUCH obliged.

I love games,
I make games,
I love computers,
And I love puppies :)

Interesting discussion, even though I’m a little late to it I think I’ll add my two cents.
Suppose I know how to bake a cake but not how to make mac and cheese, and someone else knows how to make homemade mac and cheese, but not how to bake a cake. Who is the better chef? It can’t really be determined. Now let’s suppose that the other person knows how to make butter as well. Are they a better chef now? Well not really because the knowledge of how to make butter doesn’t really affect his cooking, so how can you determine which of us is more advanced in skill than the other?
Another thing to think about is the fact that everyone doesn’t remember everything they learned. For example I “learned” the different parts of a plant cell. Can I recall even a single part of such a cell now? Nope. Often we only remember skills that we put into practice regularly. Even then various exterior forces could cause us to forget (lack of sleep, getting hit in the head with a truck, being sick).
While it is true that you can accidentally learn some skills, (people teaching you because they want to, eating the wrong thing, having an epiphany, etc) often learning is a conscious act. You go out of your way to learn (searching for teachers, trial and error, etc)
So what I propose is a system where every skill is broken down into almost their smallest components. For example instead of trapping you could learn skinning creatures, trapping creatures, and or starting fires with friction, or instead of melee you learn specific moves. These skills could then be learned during special plot events (watching someone else perform them, being taught, freak accident, reading a book, etc) however you could also lose these skills if you didn’t use them enough, or if you sustained a large enough head injury from like a falling church. In addition if you maintain and use your skill enough then your character would have time to think about what he’s doing and after a while may learn something new yet related to the already learned skill. For example if you manage to maintain the skinning creature skill long enough you’ll get a bonus like you can get a little more hide or meat out of the corpses, or you realize that bones would make great arrow points, or if your good enough at hiding then you get to thinking about how you could construct more secretive campsites. If a skill is lost you could get it back the same way you got it before.