Hello Crows, I'm quite new to Crowfall and the thing that attracted me here is advertisements that it's a bastard child of EVE-Online.
As a long time EVE player (2006-2016) first thing I did before starting, is analyzing skill tree and how to optimize my in-game advantages and what I found was lackluster and not engaging at all. While I understand that for some (maybe even most) passive skill training is boring and just a thing to do, for me personally planning long term for that little 0,5% advantaged in a long run is oh so satisfying. Another complain I read on these forums is that there is no way to f***-up your character (like in Shadowbane, haven't played it so I don't know). Basically passive skill training is too basic lacking any risk reward and not engaging. If your are not yet bored from this rant, lower I will outline some changes that would change all that.
But before I start some disclaimer:
*English is not my first language (not even a second) so bare with me.
*In my 10 year EVE career I only skipped about a month of passive training even when i was not playing actively (i'm sucker for sunk-cost fallacy)
*This is MY opinion so don't take it as a god given gospel, discuss and criticize.
So all that said lets us begin.
Lack of uniqueness. We all are unique in some ways, so we would also like to be unique in game. As it stands now no Crow will be that unique, we all get to specialize in 2 races 2 classes so combinations are limited, while they will diverge in time it won't be that pronounced. Professions are a bit different next on them.
Greater value of professions. Weapons skill tree has greater value then race and class, since weapons crossover to all classes and races. Crafting and Exploring has even greater value since they unlock game content. Race/class gives you an advantage, Weapons gives you advantage/flexibility, crafting/exploration unlock game content. Before Pvpers blow there gasket remember that probably (and I am basing this on my EVE experience) 90% of time will be spent preparing/bored and 10% will be adrenaline rush trying to bash somebodies head in. So you need to fill that empty time with something.
Lack of risk/choice in skill progression. Currently when leveling skill pips you have 2 choices. One is do i get that level 5 pip, and second is which way to progress in the skill tree. Problem with the first one is that there is really no cost/risk in taking or not taking that level 5. Problem with the second is that you don't actually have a choice some skill are useful no matter what you're trying to specialize in, others are useless for your path. So from this single logical path for progression comes forth and most will take it (lack of uniqueness).
Redundant/unnecessary game mechanics. Choosing which tier of skill tree to put your training in, serves no purpose. Two things it does is to force players to login and spend points/change the tier, which is just a chore. And probably waste some skillpoints if you over-train in one tier.
Here I will outline the changes I propose and explain their pros and cons.
a.Get rid of class/race/profession separation, just leave 9 skill trees we have now.
b.Let players train in any 3 of their choosing (non-VIP) and 4 for VIP.
c.Make skill pips give linear benefits with progressive cost.
c1. Unlock next skill pips at level 3 not level 4.
c2. Make pips that require ALL the skill tree to be trained (or just pips that lead to it) be trainable maximum to the lowest level of prereq.
d.Remove the selection between which tier of the skill tree you train in. Skillpoints accumulated in your chosen skill tree for you to spend as you wish.
3.WHAT WILL THIS CHANGE
As the skill training goes we have 2 options now, Pvper and Crafter. PvPer will take of course Weapons, Class skill, Race skill (2nd class/race skills are irrelevant since they only give you more flexibility and don't add anything to your current vessel+Weapons skill tree limits what race/class is most effective for you) and either Crafting or Exploration. Crafters have the same choice, but they skip Weapons. So what we have now is a PvPer that can do half of a Crafters work and compete with them and a Crafter that has a a slight disadvantage in combat. This is simplified version since pips you choose will make a difference.
Conclusion. We have 2 bland option which overlap, lowering the prestige/importance of both.
With proposed changes many more options open up. Pvper go Weapons/Class/Race, Crafter go Exploration/Crafting/Race, maybe you want to fight and gather no problems go Exploration/Weapons or Class/Race, maybe you are undecided which path to take explore them all by a little. All of these will give advantages and disadvantages in your given profession. Raising the prestige/importants of those who specialize. Want to be a legendery blacksmith whose wares are sought after by everybody, sure why not but your sure as s**t won't be god in the battlefield and vice versa.
And this lead to another change (c;c1;c2). Numbers are just and example.
Currently if i want to upgrade a skill that cost 5k skillpoints it goes something like this 5k/5k/5k/5k and wow now I have a choice to drop another 5k or move on (Total cost of maxing 25k). Uninspiring. Not much choice.
What I propose would go something more like this. Skill that cost 5k now becomes 2k/4k/6k/8k/10k and at level 3 I have an option to move to next skill (Total cost of maxing 30k). This opens some options "Is this a skill you don't care much about, but need it to progress?" great now you can move on faster 12K compared to 20K. Or is this something that is essential to your game style and that last 1% which cost x5 more then level one is so important that your willing to lose some progression elsewhere. This will turn passive skill training (bland part of the game) into a little min/max, risk/benefit mini game, which doesn't punish those that wander that hard, but rewards those that plan in advance.
And the cherry on top. Skill that need prereq (ALL) make them stronger but limit the level to the lowest of that tier (so level 3 max when you unlock it with minimal investment), that is a nice way to reward min/maxers without punish others.
4.VIP vs. NON-VIP
Current mechanics. VIP have 2/2/2 in training, Non-VIP 1/1/1 referring to skill categories. Ignoring other advantages (irrelevant). On paper looks great VIPs get 100% advantage in flexibility if not power so no game breaking in-balance. But that 2/2/2 is more like 2/1/1 as 2nd Class/Race skill is not that important it is nice to have, but more like a buffer for nerf-bats. So that 100% flexibility advantages turns to 33% and Non-VIP players are locked from content (i will assume most go pvp way since this is a pvp game). Not very happy clients
Proposed mechanics. VIP has 4 paths to train. Non-VIP has 3 paths to train. Same 33% advantage in flexibility. Non-VIPs are not locked out of content since now they can go pure carebear route, without all those nasty pewpewers. If they want to fight they can fight on par with a VIP since both can sink 3 training paths into pvp power improvement. And VIPs can do some stuff on the side excluding pvp.
Please discuss and hopefully find flaws in my thinking everything i wrote is based on CCP Games and their approached to EVE-Online. They had 15 years to master passive skill training, they had goofs and bad design decisions, but they took players feedback (although reluctantly) and improved.
EDIT. Removed some non-sense I wrongly assumed.