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Yoink

Thoughts or ideas on skill training "catch up" system

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I know AC has mentioned that there will be some sort of catch up mechanic for new players joining down the line. I would like to see a catch up mechanic. Might make it less daunting for a new player to join down the line.

Some sort of accelerated training tied to micro transactions or VIP might work and make VIP worth something to late comers. Say the game goes live today, 6 months down the line a new players starts up and is able to get 6 months worth double speed training. Maybe you can pay more for a month worth of triple or quad time. Maybe a 1 time fee to just get caught up? Would this be good, bad? Would a new player look at this and think it sucks, now you have to buy the game and shell out money just to catch up?

Maybe some sort of active skill advancement from playing the game. Tied to VIP again maybe. Maybe just enabled when you are behind a certain amount.

These systems should never allow you to surpass the amount that you would have if you were a day 1 account, only allow you to catch up.

What are your thoughts on ways to "catch up" for the passive training? Should there even be one? If so what would you like to see? Keep in mind that if you are reading this these hypothetical systems most likely will not directly affect you at all.


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I'm glad to be able to comment early on this, because I don't have a strong opinion but hope players think hard before answering.

ACE is a small shop and will probably need to push the release out earlier than a AAA developer would.   If so, the catch-up players will be the majority, not the minority.  We want them to play.

We may need to accept an aggressive catch-up mechanisms than otherwise seems "fair" until we have a stable, playable release to compete with other games.

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The non-linear training times coupled with equal value to the skill nodes would be a natural catch up mechanism.  In the basic design where say a 5% crit chance is spread over 5 nodes and each node takes twice as long as the previous.  The catch up is that in the time a player trains the final node a new player will be able to train all the way up into the 4th node.   What causes more problems with this catch up is high value nodes in various trees.   These nodes have skills not spread over a non-linear time, they are one shot add a skill or are gateways.   Players with these trained (like CC durations or strong nodes in the AT skills) have distinct advantages and the new players will not get them for potentially several months leading to a stronger mismatch than other skills.   However combine this with the fact that 2/3 of the advantages of being in the game early can be eliminated by acquiring better gear, vessels, and disciplines (given the new player has veteran contacts and suppliers available).


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Purchasable XP boosts - which this would effectively be - have been an established and accepted thing in many MMOs for a very long time, I see no reason why CF would not have such a mechanic, especially if it helps bring value to VIP/more income to the game. I would perhaps want to preserve some form of advantage to those who were in it from day 1 that went beyond the cosmetic. I'll have to think on what that might be.

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24 minutes ago, Frykka said:

The non-linear training times coupled with equal value to the skill nodes would be a natural catch up mechanism.  In the basic design where say a 5% crit chance is spread over 5 nodes and each node takes twice as long as the previous.  The catch up is that in the time a player trains the final node a new player will be able to train all the way up into the 4th node.  

 

I understand this part and actually think its fine. But do you think new players to the game will understand this? Lets say its 3 years down the line and not 6 months. Is the diminishing returns a good enough catch-up mechanic? What if people just spend a year or two training tier 1, 2, 3, 4 skills. This is viable with all the combat, armor, vessel, exploration skills. 


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1 hour ago, Frykka said:

The non-linear training times coupled with equal value to the skill nodes would be a natural catch up mechanism.  In the basic design where say a 5% crit chance is spread over 5 nodes and each node takes twice as long as the previous.  The catch up is that in the time a player trains the final node a new player will be able to train all the way up into the 4th node.   What causes more problems with this catch up is high value nodes in various trees.   These nodes have skills not spread over a non-linear time, they are one shot add a skill or are gateways.   Players with these trained (like CC durations or strong nodes in the AT skills) have distinct advantages and the new players will not get them for potentially several months leading to a stronger mismatch than other skills.   However combine this with the fact that 2/3 of the advantages of being in the game early can be eliminated by acquiring better gear, vessels, and disciplines (given the new player has veteran contacts and suppliers available).

Nodes don't have equal value. The ends of trees are better than middle nodes, and are usually more efficient time-wise. Not only that, but skills are multiplicative in their effect - with more skills, you not only gather more, but you gather better and faster. But skills are more linear than it seems, at least to train to full skill. I mean, the gap between two days and 8 days for a skill isn't that huge - compare to EVE where the gap is 8 minutes to something like 8 days. They're changing something about skill design, and there might be a way to train half the skill before you move on, but that still doesn't solve the quadratic power effect. I mean, drinking one pot is okay. Drinking two is good. Drinking three and ore is practically raining from the sky. Crowfall is, at least as the game stands right now, a game with quadratic power advancement for linear costs.

Edited by ringhloth

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9 minutes ago, ringhloth said:

The catch-up mechanic shouldn't be something you buy in the store. Hell, it shouldn't be something you buy in the game. That's not making the game less daunting for new players, that's letting whales, even late-coming whales, get a bigger advantage.

I'm not saying I disagree it shouldn't be in the store but how does it give an advantage? That late coming whales have an advantage over late coming fish? What about the advantage day 1 accounts have over all latecomers? Should that exist or would you like to see a catch up mechanic, just not in store?


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12 minutes ago, Colest said:

Thought not a silver bullet for this issue, Skill Injectors from Eve could really help on this front.

What is that system?


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1 minute ago, yoink said:

I'm not saying I disagree it shouldn't be in the store but how does it give an advantage? That late coming whales have an advantage over late coming fish? What about the advantage day 1 accounts have over all latecomers? Should that exist or would you like to see a catch up mechanic, just not in store?

I don't think the skill system should exist at all if it's time based while still being essential to the development of your character :P I really hate the current skill system, and I really hope it gets radically reworked. It's just so poorly thought through. I feel like they centered around this idea that there wouldn't be grinding, played EVE for 5 minutes to learn about its skill system, and then any drawbacks they just felt "well, we'll fix it later!" Skills are a core part of the design of the game - they have to be if gathering and crafting are something you have to dedicate yourself to. Yet skill progression is completely outside of the actual goings on in the game. That's just such a terrible idea. EVE gets around this because skills aren't really that important for success - you can get killed in a Titan by a handful of destroyers if they outplay you. You get the same type of ore out of a rock whether you have a million skill points or a billion. You'll make way more money buying and selling goods if you know how to read the market than you ever will if you're a fully skilled player who just buys and sells random things. Same with industry. That's just not going to be true in Crowfall - if I'm a no-skill miner, I'm pulling worthless pebbles while my skilled up buddy over there is pulling avalanches of high quality ore. If I'm a no-skill crafter, I'm going to be able to cobble together a stick and a stone and call it an axe, while my buddy over there has 8 factories going constantly churning out purple weapons for less material than I would build them with even if I knew the recipe. And why do these differences exist? Is it because my friend is better at this game than I am? Nope! Is it because he's invested more time in the game? Nope! It's because I bought an account later than he did. He doesn't even have to play it to get better than me. He just always will be. I can easily brainstorm ways to prevent the game from being about grinding while still tying such a vital part of the economy to what's actually happening in the game. I usually give developers the benefit of the doubt, but not here. This is the worst progression system I have ever seen in any game I have ever played, hands down.

Now that my small rant is over, I don't see a good system for implementing a catch-up system. An item you buy from the cash shop? That's definitely pay to win. Skills are so essential to crafting and gathering that you can't have cash involved in getting them without it being PTW. An item you acquire in game? That doesn't actually help new people, because they still have to acquire the item anyway.

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6 minutes ago, ringhloth said:

 

Now that my small rant is over, I don't see a good system for implementing a catch-up system. An item you buy from the cash shop? That's definitely pay to win. Skills are so essential to crafting and gathering that you can't have cash involved in getting them without it being PTW. An item you acquire in game? That doesn't actually help new people, because they still have to acquire the item anyway.

I don't care much for the current skill system either but let's assume it's what we get. With as important as the skills are is the game healthy for new players 6 months, 1 year,  years down the line? I don't think so. With the current skill system I think there needs to be a catch up. Maybe diminishing returns will make it manageable but that still requires some change to what we have now.


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You know what? Just replace the skill system with disciplines. If grinding levels to get skills are such a big problem that you need to basically automate the system, just take the system out. Why am I a great crafter? Because I worked my ass off to get 5 great crafting disciplines. But I also didn't have to grind mobs to do it - I can do whatever I wanted to make enough dosh to trade for them. You can easily change the amount a better discipline costs to get ahold of. As a way of progression, your high quality disciplines can be permanently bonded with your spirit, so they basically act as a default discipline - they're weaker than normal disciplines, but you always have them (unless a campaign has rules that prevent it; this has the added benefit of some campaigns being a total even playing field, with the only deciding factor being player skill) until you override them with a normal discipline. Then, when you unslot that normal discipline, your default discipline comes back. New players get a discipline package  - they can pick combat, crafting, or gathering, and get a set of neat default disciplines. Not overpowering, but they get a kick-start on their chosen path, and they can change their minds later at some cost. Want a catch-up mechanic? Offer a discipline event - pick a free default discipline of your choosing by doing this easy task! Veterans wouldn't care, because they've already got a set of decent default disciplines.

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But we know that isn't going to happen. I'm not asking about how to scrap the system or change it (I'm sure we could do that for days) but how to address the issue of new players being behind old players.


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I always felt that the Current Skill training system to be quite fair. I've gone into 1v1s against people who are nearly maxed out in training for their AT. And found the fight to be rather fair. Even with crafting and harvesting it felt fair, as yes the person has an advantage, it took them months upon months to get there.

But while I feel that way, others will not. Especially the whales, who are so used to being able to simply buy their way to the top.

And while the ability to purchase catch up experience or training sounds ideal. And whales will buy it by the fist full. I do not believe this is the correct course for the game to go.

The reason being is that there is a large portion; by no means the major but still large, of the gaming community that despise this very kind of mechanic, just on principal. And it goes beyond the player base. This kind of change would impact community PR for the game via online sites or youtube.

If this is implemented. Everyone of those sites and youtube videos would essentially say, hey if you want to play the game great its really fun... but if you join late you better be willing to shell out an additional $20, $50, or if your late enough $100 in order to be on an even playing field. Which is a massive turn off to new coming players with little to no knowledge about the game.

 

I would like to see a catch up mechanic that's actually part of the game itself. I think it would be nice if there was a craft-able item in the game itself that allowed for a catch up mechanic. Perhaps some kind of training thrall in game, that offers a player in the same guild a faster training time.

Not only would this give incentive to join a guild, but now guilds would have a good point of focus to aim for so that their new members have an advantage, and commercial guilds that are focusing on producing good thralls for sale now have an ideal thrall that every guild will either want to buy or make their own.

Edited by SirGeorge

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Somewhat tangential to the skill catch-up question, is the issue of retaining value or reward for those who bought in early should such mechanisms exist. I think it is important to both make sure there is some way for players to feel they are catching up, even if in actual fact in terms of practical advantage, earlier training start is not that significant in the long run.

One way to do this would be to change the system in effect for the number of training slots. Currently, everyone gets 1 Universal Slot and 1 Archtype Slot. If you buy VIP, you get 3 AT slots. I propose that anyone who buys CF prior to release, up to and including launch day, gets a Founder slot. This would give all such people 2 AT slots as a base. The result would be the following:

Non-Founder, Non-VIP: 1 Uni, 1 AT
Founder, Non-VIP: 1 Uni, 2 AT
Non-Founder, VIP: 1 Uni, 3 AT
Founder, VIP: 1 Uni, 4 AT


This would have a number of effects. It would encourage pre-purchase, as well as launch-day says, something which is very important from the publishing perspective and the success of the title. It would preserve advantage for those people in some form, but not be unbalancing. It would have a significant impact on those who intend to purchase multiple accounts, by reducing the number of accounts needed to be able to train everything at once - covering all 13 ATs with the current system requires 5 accounts, where with 4 ATs possible per account, it requires only 4. It also means that with a single 'Founder' VIP account, with the 4 AT slots, you could train ATs for all 4 of the roles - Tank, DPS, Support and Specialist.

It would perhaps reduce the number of accounts purchased overall, but also increase the number of pre-release and launch day sales as well as VIP buys. Something to consider.

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1 hour ago, yoink said:

But we know that isn't going to happen. I'm not asking about how to scrap the system or change it (I'm sure we could do that for days) but how to address the issue of new players being behind old players.

Yes, that's quite fair. I've definitely derailed this topic to some extent. Ultimately, the goal shouldn't quite be evening skills out - the goal should be that someone who's lost a lot of campaigns because they have less skills should be able to close the gap. A catch-up mechanic for skills should be part of this, but not the whole. Board games are where we should look, as should be done more often, for catch-up mechanics. Ultimately, you could categorize catch-up mechanics in board games in four broad strokes: make it more difficult to rack up points the more points you have to bunch up players, such as Suburbia, where you lose income when you pass point thresholds, or Lords of Vegas, where you need to score more points per action to advance the more points you have; obscure the amount of points everyone has, so it's difficult to tell who's in the lead, such as Chinatown, where everyone's money is hidden, Archipelago, where everyone has a card that says how points will be awarded at the end, or Fast Food Magnate, where you can make so much money in a final turn that the game can suddenly end with someone jumping ahead; make it advantagous for the players at the top of the score track to ally with players at the bottom, such as Cosmic Encounter where racking up colonies can make people unwilling to ally with you, since allying with you would give you more colonies, but allying with someone who's far behind can make you stronger without jeopardizing your victory chances as much, while still allowing the guy in back to get closer to victory; and giving people different rewards for losing and winning.

A strategy using the first would be the more skills you have (not the further you are in a tree) determines the amount of time it takes to master a skill. I don't like this, and it could seriously penalizing someone for picking the "wrong" skill set. At the same time, you can't make skills determine career and make progressing further in the tree incur a serious penalty, because it'll just encourage generalists, similar to EVE's encouragement of breadth with its skill set, not depth. That's not the design goal for Crowfall, so it doesn't work. The second doesn't make sense for Crowfall at all. I mean, you get hit by someone, you know they're hitting you hard, you know they did that because they're more skilled. You can't craft something, someone else can, they're more skilled. The third seems to be somewhat baked into the game, as they've mentioned allying with the winning side to get slightly more rewards than losing, but not as much as if you had won, but we'll need more information about campaign rewards before then. Still, this wouldn't really lead you to win games, as it could in Cosmic Encounter, but instead just lead you to lose less hard. That's not really the aim.

The fourth (as indicated by the paragraph break) has potential. In fact, we have a great example of an analogous game. Seafall is a legacy game: a game where actions in one game carry over to the next, telling a story. Islands are discovered and named; advisors are hired, named, and trained; more that I won't detail so as to not spoil the game. Each game contributes to a campaign of 10-15 games, where the person with the highest total sum of points from all games wins. Because actions are supposed to carry over from one game to the next, while most of the game board is wiped clean, there is some persistence to the game. You get to keep one of your 7-8 advisors, and improve your ship a little bit, specializing as time goes on. This should sound really familiar, yeah? Sounds a little like EKs and exporting. But you get more from winning - you get to make permanent improvements to your character or home province. In order to keep one player from dominating every game, however, the further behind you are in points, the more resources you get at the start of the game.

Okay, okay, I'll get to the point. How do you add a player to an MMO without them feeling forever behind? Well, how do you add them to a board game? You put them in last place! In Seafall, to add a player to an ongoing campaign, you take the last place player's score, subtract the amount of games you've played, and then give them a third of the winning rewards as there have been games - basically, it's as if they've won about as many games as would be expected of anyone else (you also get permanent rewards from doing some things in game, so it basically evens out even if there are four or five players). Similarly, how do you add a new player to Crowfall (or make up for missed time)? Quantify how much time everyone has spent training skills, and sort it. Find out the first quartile of active players. If someone is behind that when they finish a campaign, give them a skill booster to get closer to that point. The skill booster is similar to a skill injector in EVE - it's raw time you can directly apply to skills, instantly getting progress. It wouldn't be instant, and the amount of the gap closed would be based on the amount of time you played. So it might take a few campaigns to get to that point, so that you aren't just instantly boosted. This approach isn't uncommon in MMOs, though they often don't set a moving target. If you purchase HoT for GW2, for instance, you get a boost to level 80 and a full set of decent gear. You could also introduce a "beginner gear set" every so often, so that the gear gap is a little closer.

This took a while to write, and I ended up having to rewrite it a couple times, so ended up being a little winding, and also got off topic as I considered catch up mechanics in general, not just how they apply to skills. Still, I got there in the end!

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13 minutes ago, Anthrage said:

Somewhat tangential to the skill catch-up question, is the issue of retaining value or reward for those who bought in early should such mechanisms exist. I think it is important to both make sure there is some way for players to feel they are catching up, even if in actual fact in terms of practical advantage, earlier training start is not that significant in the long run.

One way to do this would be to change the system in effect for the number of training slots. Currently, everyone gets 1 Universal Slot and 1 Archtype Slot. If you buy VIP, you get 3 AT slots. I propose that anyone who buys CF prior to release, up to and including launch day, gets a Founder slot. This would give all such people 2 AT slots as a base. The result would be the following:

Non-Founder, Non-VIP: 1 Uni, 1 AT
Founder, Non-VIP: 1 Uni, 2 AT
Non-Founder, VIP: 1 Uni, 3 AT
Founder, VIP: 1 Uni, 4 AT


This would have a number of effects. It would encourage pre-purchase, as well as launch-day says, something which is very important from the publishing perspective and the success of the title. It would preserve advantage for those people in some form, but not be unbalancing. It would have a significant impact on those who intend to purchase multiple accounts, by reducing the number of accounts needed to be able to train everything at once - covering all 13 ATs with the current system requires 5 accounts, where with 4 ATs possible per account, it requires only 4. It also means that with a single 'Founder' VIP account, with the 4 AT slots, you could train ATs for all 4 of the roles - Tank, DPS, Support and Specialist.

It would perhaps reduce the number of accounts purchased overall, but also increase the number of pre-release and launch day sales as well as VIP buys. Something to consider.

This is the opposite of a catch-up mechanic, and terrible design. No, you should not be rewarded for being ahead of people. The goal of this thread is so that if you purchase an account a year after someone else, you aren't always a year behind that person!

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As of catch-up, give new players 1-2 instantly trained skills, depending on the time needed for the skill they choose, for every month that goes by from release?

ex:
People playing from release have trained a lot of skills in the first two months.
A guy starting 2 months after release gets 2-4 instantly trained skills (varying on the training time on the skill), and then can start training the next node he wants.

Just an idea.

Edited by Yumx
Edit* new players get instantly trained skills in both general skills and archetype skills

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