[eWIP] Connecting Paths

By on January 29, 2012 3:57:43 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

seanw3

Join Date 12/2007
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Traits are largely the best part of the game right now. Leveling is fun. This is why every game you play nowadays uses it.  There will obviously be more content added to traits as we get closer to a finished product. What I want is to give the devs my vision of where I see traits headed. Right now they are fun, but not particularly well balanced. Many common traits are undesirable unless I roll all common traits and have to pick the least worst. This makes the mechanic less fun. The Path of [Class] traits are the best traits one can get. Granted these are rare and granted you generally only get two per hero by level 15. But the problem is that these traits don't feel connected enough to the traits they unlock. We also need a better description of what each Path is specializing in. (Also, in the XML I get a rarity of 5, but seem to always get them on my first level. How do I set traits to do that?)

 

Right now I know that Path of the Mage will let me cast more powerful offense spells and lower the cost. That is the best Path because it feels specific and useful. Path of the Assassin, Defender and Attacker are okay as they give tactics to the player to fight different kinds of enemies. They need a little more content before they are going to seem very different from each other. Assassin is just weaker due to lack of strength bonuses. Path of the Governor is not really that useful. The problem is that too much of what I get after choosing a path feels random. I may be a mage and get +10 Initiative on the first round, breaking the Blizzard and Fireball spells and causing a win button. I might also get +2 to Constitution, which is totally useless to a Mage and arguably any other Class. Because most of the traits have no prerequisite, it feels more like feeding time than level progression. I am just going for whatever is there. For traits to be at their best, they need to have a measure of progression, connecting them to the choices made in previous levels. Afterall, leveling is a mechanic that simulates getting better at what you are training in. Traits are essentially the products of that training. 

 

A more interesting way to handle what traits pop up when I level would be to make the system less random, while preserving the thrill and disappointment of randomness. I propose you increase the number of traits that pop up to at least 8. If at every 3 levels I made a class choice, and every choice opened up new random traits for my next 2 levels, I would start to feel as if I was making progress. My hero would start to feel more like a character. I need the option to cross to a new path, choose a new specialization within my current path, continue in the specialization I last chose, get a random trait, or get a rare path or specialization trait. Here is a rough idea of what it would look like for specializing:

Chart of Basic Progression.

 

I like getting some randoms and I like getting traits in my path or in this proposal, specializations. If i could choose a new specialization every three turns, I could have some levels focus on using the class progress I have, and others choosing a new area to focus on. If each specialization offered 4 traits, I would have some real class choices to make. Let alone if I somehow get a random rare trait from randomness that I choose over one of the 4. Now Paths feel unique. Heroes have solid classes. Randomness is preserved, lending to replayability. 

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January 29, 2012 6:35:13 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I think that is a great idea, because currently there is too much randomness in the hero advancement. A player can have path of the mage, evoker III and affinity at level 5 and that is overpowered.

Your idea could be used with my suggestion to replace the professions with the paths: http://forums.elementalgame.com/416771

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January 29, 2012 7:04:05 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I really like your idea seanw3 and would strongly support it.  The last thing we want is the hero trait system, arguably one of the best systems in the game, become bogged down in over-randomness and lack of specialisation and making it too easy to become a jack of all trades (or is that traits? ).

Might I also suggest toning down hitpoints for heroes, to make constitution related traits more of a good choice.

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January 29, 2012 8:38:37 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Either way, their should be a "commander" path. What I would suggest is moving the army related traits into this commander path. Then I would change "cross path" trait availability as follows

 

Cross Path Traits- 1 level less common. So if a trait was "Uncommon", it would now be rare. An example of this would be the evoker trait being a cross trait for a warrior. This would still allow crossover but reduce it.

 

While i'm at it, I would only allow traits from the army leader to affect the whole army. Otherwise you could start stacking multiple generals together to get an unstoppable force.

 

 

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January 29, 2012 9:03:24 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

And for this, we need to be able to select what place (number) in the party a unit or champion is.  At the very least we need to be able to define the leader.

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January 29, 2012 11:54:10 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

You could make hero unit's abilities unstackable, but allow every leader in the army to give bonuses. The choice is probably between doing it this way and only allowing the army leader to give any traits to the whole army. Which, as you point out, requires us to be able to choose our leader instead of it defaulting the hero with the highest level.  IMO Shield Wall needs to let any regular unit give a bonus to all adjacent units, alleviating the uselessness of this trait. Other traits that adjust the army's stats should either do it by proximity, which we have the code for, or by leader, which is how all of them are right now. They just need to be sorted out. 

I also think there should be some simplification to the Path system. It should be Path of the Leader, Fighter, Mage. Those are the real differences. Assassins, Defenders, and Attackers are all the same melee Path. They could then have this:

I refined the system a little better to offer forks instead of levels within levels. 

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January 29, 2012 12:08:43 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

This does seem to make good sense, and possibly help with making it easier to balance.  HOWEVER, I would miss the randomness, in the fact that I could not change my mind later in this system to reclass, and would limit the ability to make a good all around hero.  Say I am making a firemage then realize I have no way to secure many shards and I need to go a different direction, it would be disappointing to be stuck in a certain path.

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January 29, 2012 12:18:43 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I made another Chart for magic:

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January 29, 2012 12:23:58 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Rhadagast,
This does seem to make good sense, and possibly help with making it easier to balance.  HOWEVER, I would miss the randomness, in the fact that I could not change my mind later in this system to reclass, and would limit the ability to make a good all around hero.  Say I am making a firemage then realize I have no way to secure many shards and I need to go a different direction, it would be disappointing to be stuck in a certain path.

The point is to make class choices every 3 levels. The stuff inbetween is a random traits from the traits you have unlocked in your class. It would also have the general pool of random and the possibility to choose a new path (except it would have to be a different path, not a new class in your current path). 

The fire mage example wouldn't apply because all the classes in the mage path are only giving bonuses to any spell cast. And on another note, if you do try to make a fire wizard without a plan to get a shard, you need to rethink how you make strategies. 

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January 29, 2012 12:32:46 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Hmm, yeah that sounds pretty good in that case then, as long as you can choose a new path every 3 levels or so this would be fun to try.

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January 29, 2012 1:04:51 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

And I am not even suggesting that the whole system be added to the game. We just need some progression like this. All the mods I am planning will probably use a similar system. 

The part you can't really see in the theory is that when the max number of trait options is set to 10, you can then afford to set the rarity of paths to 100% (always show them) as well as the class traits. So you would have probably 4 traits that are not random (ones that are from class choices) show up on every level, plus 3 or so random traits that you could choose if they were better for your hero given your unique position at that point in the game. You could also allow every path to always be an option when the level up screen pops up. There is really alot that can be done here. 

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January 29, 2012 4:30:23 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I like this. Some sort of alternating between "improve path" and "random trait" would be nice.

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January 29, 2012 4:43:41 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

If I had my way- the paths would also unlock later on after say level 5, you'd have a chance to get character classes if you had the right stats.


Classes would unlock additional stronger promotions (Rare though)

 

I'd dump paths into four: Governor, Rogue, Warrior, Mage

 

Example of classes:

Ranger might require a certain DEX and Con.  Ranger would unlock terrain bonuses, archery damage, and chance to tame animals.

Paladin might require Life magic+STR+INT.  Would give group healing bonues, courage, etc...

 

Pyromancer might require a certain level of Fire Mastery.

 

Pyromancer might be the only way to get level 5 spells, but would give a penalty to water/air/earth magic.

 

 

 

 

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January 29, 2012 4:50:27 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I think it would be fun to get the kind of specialty feats every third level based off your path, but I don't think the game needs this much specialization. I do like the idea of it being more focused and based off of a differently probability set, like greatly reducing a mage being able to take strength while increasing the chance to him getting to improve his spell mastery or something of the ilk. Baby steps.

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January 29, 2012 5:00:25 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums


This is in response to the original post:

My distaste for all things random aside, I'm at a loss as to what route you are taking in implementing this. Are the skills in between levels left blank because you haven't thought of what they will be, that they will intentionally be nothing (and give stat boosts or something), or that they will use the same random pool already present.

And on that note: How do you plan to organize these random traits? You suggested 8 possibilities per level up. Will some of these be static, will some of them be more rare than others? And if so how you will accomodate for rare traits appearing with common ones, or rare traits not showing up at all for several levels?

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January 29, 2012 5:09:29 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I like it.

I'm unsure if you addressed this but I'd split Fighter into something like Warrior (attack or defense oriented), Thief/Assassin (crits), & Archer (bow or ranged stuff).

And we REALLY need a leader path... something like Commander (army bonuses), Administrator (city or empire bonuses), Merchant (gildar bonuses), and Researcher (research bonuses).

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January 29, 2012 5:26:16 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

The leader path is not viable as he cannot kill enemies to level up.

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January 29, 2012 8:42:12 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Sorry for the wall of text up there. Hard to read it all and totally understand what I propose. I realize that.

 

@Taiyun, Your idea would seem less drastic but actually require alot of new code. This system only requires the devs to make the new content they are already making, have a clear direction, while still allowing for some randomness

 

@CdrRogdan, I left those blank because I want to highlight the basic idea of how a trait system should probably work. I could fill i every blank, but I am trying to persuade the devs that this would be a good way to go, not write the whole game for them. I invite the community to fill in those blanks though. Each empty space between classes would be nonrandom traits that you get from your class. Not all of them would be amazing, but there would be some great ones and some that are still going to make you stronger in the given class. You only have to choose the class upgrades every 3 levels to get to the next set of class traits, so anything you find lackluster could be avoided until there is absolutely nothing better. That will take up the first 5 traits that show up on the levelup screen. The other 3-6 would be random pool. The random pool is currently all we have. As you may recall, some are really nice to pick up, even if the opportunity cost is not getting a trait from your class that level. The limit on the number of traits shown at levelup is potentially infinite in the XML. As long as there is a scroll feature, it should be possible to display 8-10 traits with no additional code necessary. I hope that helps you see what I am proposing. 

 

@James009D, I haven't even touched the warrior classes, but that is because I believe it should be the largest. I think Baldur's Gate is pretty much the way I would lean on that.

 

@taltamir, I'll make a new chart for leader, but basically they should just be heroes that give bonuses to an army of regular troops. Lots of command and fear and such. 

 

 

 

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January 30, 2012 1:24:30 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums


I like this alot, seanw.  Here's my post from the other thread, just to keep it out there.  We probably need a "general (warleader)" path and a "administrator" path as well.

The decision when a hero is hired should be what the hero will do, either sit in your capital or other city (in which case he/she/it should have faction wide bonuses, not city bonuses), or be an adventurer.  I know it was discussed elsewhere for city bound heros getting some exp/season for sitting home, and my suggestion to that is that all the administrator heroes gain exp whenever a building or unit is built in any city, or if any city is successfully defended against attack.  That's the role of those heroes, making your civilization stronger; reward them for that.

I'd like to talk mostly about the adventuring heroes, and how to differentiate them.

It looks like there's only one type now; arcane warrior.  A person with armor and an axe that can cast spells.  There aught to be 4 types: Gimli (melee/aggro), Gandalf(defensive spellcaster), Saruman (offensive spellcaster), Strider (ranger/leader).

Melee/aggro should be able to wear plate, and should have traits that make them more likely to be targetted by the AI.  Some damage output.

Defensive casters should be able to wear robes only (and there should be robes in the magic/warfare crossover tree that can be built with crystal that gives advantages to this kind of hero), and should have faster access to buffs/heals

Offensive casters should be able to wear robes only, and have access to DD and AOE spells faster.

Rangers/Leaders should have some ranged attack, and have traits/levelups that allow the whole army to gain bonuses.

My personal opinion is that we should be leveling up more, not less, to get more specialized traits, but not have any (or very little) intrinsic level up bonuses like HP.  If I want a Saruman, he's gonna be a paper cannon, and I need to defend him on the battlefield.  Don't give him 100 hp at level 15.

But I'd like to see level 30 heroes with lots of specialization.  There doesn't seem to be that much right now.

 

I also like the differentiation between melee soak (warrior) and melee dish out (rogue).  Limit rogues to leather, increase their initiative.  Give them invisibility traits, but make them only able to handle single units (or few units; I don't see a rogue backstabbing a whole company).  But to get rid of that caster in the back row making things not go your way?  Bring a fast, invisible, high initiative rogue, and get the job done right.

Traits ARE the key, though.  And we need to be able to put traits on built units that allow for spellcasting, but that's a different discussion.

I am hoping that at this point, we're working out game mechanics, and that all this stuff we're talking about can be modded in using XML closer to release, but the Stardock guys are looking to see if any basic mechanics are broken or need fixing, and of course stability.

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January 30, 2012 5:44:30 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I think the reason we are not getting a beta this week is due to major changes. I could be wrong.

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January 30, 2012 6:58:09 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I would call them "Path Traits" and "Meta Traits."

Great idea.

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February 2, 2012 2:37:53 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Maybe some more paths?

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February 2, 2012 12:40:36 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

This is a blown up version of the Fighter section. It would only go to level 5 and then you would choose a specialization. Each specialization further develops your character.

 

The A and B traits are mutually exclusive. The idea is that you choose between one of those two traits or from the random pool. There will be 2 class traits and at least 3 random options. At level 6 you may choose another Path or one of the next classes in this path. You could therefore make a multiclassed hero like a Spellsword or Battlemage. The options are endless. 

 

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February 2, 2012 1:05:19 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

This would then give you the option to be a Warrior or Archer. Archers would look like this:

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February 2, 2012 1:21:32 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Warriors would be:

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February 2, 2012 3:27:20 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums


This is great, but I'm afraid it's too drastic of a change to be inherited into the game at this stage. Also requires a very large number of traits (which is not necessarily a bad thing, but can cause balance issues).

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