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Request: Skill Training Through Usage


Pathfinder Online

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Hello. I began a discussion in another thread regarding skill training, but find it more appropriate to start a separate one for it.

Basically, I do not like Goblinworks' idea of making use of EVE Online's time/queue-based skill training system in Pathfinder Online. I believe a system in which you gain skill level ups through actually using your skills to be superior in a variety of ways.

I think of EVE's system as inferior based on multiple considerations:

First, in a time-based skill training system, the character is forced to progress in a very specific pace. This is due to the nature of the system itself, as your actions have no real impact on how fast or slow your skills progress. For this reason, I believe it can lead to a discomforting position, where the player finds himself wanting to progress his skills at a certain rate but is unable to do so because the system imposes an extremely restrictive time limitation.

Second, it is an artificial, job-like form of progression. Instead of training to become a better swordsman by actually grabbing a weapon and hunting monsters, the player has to wait for a timer to expire. I'm sorry, but where is the fun in that? Where is the sense of achievement when you gain that new skill point? In a system where skills are trained through use, your actions directly lead to the molding of your character. Your adventures gain weight, and slaying that extremely tough opponent gives you more than just a few pieces of gear, it actually makes your character a more experienced being.

I do hope the community and Goblinworks give this thread some consideration as Pathfinder Online seems to be the game many of us have been waiting for and I can only hope it lives up to its expectations. Thank you for your time.

Shadow Lodge

As someone who has friends with wildly differing amounts of spare time than I do, the learn-by-doing method would mean that if we all wanted to play together there would need to be dedicated alts for the times we could all get online, or we'd end up at hugely disparate levels. The time-based training method means that nobody would fall behind skill-wise, and that the friends with more time could spend it exploring, or gathering resources, or even just hanging around in a tavern being a drunkard, without worrying about putting too big a gap between us.

To more directly address a point you've made: Where is the sense of achievement when you gain that new skill point? It's been moved, to just after you go out and earn that merit badge that the skill training just opened up for you.

It has been said before that your trained skills do not directly make you better at anything. What the skills do is unlock the potential for merit badges, which DO make you better at whatever, and require you to actively go out and earn them.

Think of it this way: when you play a normal MMO, only one kill actually earns you each level - the rest is basically a grind to get to that point. The time-skill-training system just takes care of that grind for you in the background, leaving you free to do whatever you want until it's time to take that last step. As for the Eve levelling system being too slow for you...that's just a pacing issue. Or would you be happier about it if it took the same amount of time as normal, but required you to spend all of that time grinding mobs?

Goblin Squad Member

@stealthbr, if you haven't already, I highly recommend you read Your Pathfinder Online Character from the blog. It goes into quite a bit of detail on the pros and cons of the different systems, and then goes into the specific reasons Goblinworks made the decision they made.

If you want to have a chance at getting them to change their mind, I would advise you to try to address the specific points they raise in the blog, especially if you can point out something they may have missed.

I say this as someone who is very pleased with the current design of skill training over time, and I really don't want them to change that. And I would echo Kalmyel Stedwethren's comment (that is also touched on in the blog) that skill training over time really opens up your gameplay experience to doing stuff that's fun rather than grinding out stuff that builds up your skills.

Goblin Squad Member

I'm looking forward to the advancement system outlined in the GW blog. First you learn the skill (training time), then you demonstrate competence in it (earn the merit badge). The reward comes when you demonstrate competence.

I haven't played EVE, but the merit badge system sounds like an evolutionary advancement from that system. The merit badges also seem to be a built in series of small quests as well; it's a game-given task with a reward at the end. Also, there was an indication that some merit badges would require more than one skill to unlock, so I'd guess the total number of merit badges exceed the total number of skills.

Just killing mobs for skill - well, after you kill about 25 goblins you might have learned all you can about fighting them. Been there, done that, got the merit badge. You might fight more for their drops or because your group needs to clear a den from the map for a strategic reason, but you don't necessarily learn anything more.

I think the system they've outlined is appropriate for a sandbox with long-running characters.

Goblin Squad Member

stealthbr wrote:

Hello. I began a discussion in another thread regarding skill training, but find it more appropriate to start a separate one for it.

Basically, I do not like Goblinworks' idea of making use of EVE Online's time/queue-based skill training system in Pathfinder Online. I believe a system in which you gain skill level ups through actually using your skills to be superior in a variety of ways.

I think of EVE's system as inferior based on multiple considerations:

First, in a time-based skill training system, the character is forced to progress in a very specific pace. This is due to the nature of the system itself, as your actions have no real impact on how fast or slow your skills progress. For this reason, I believe it can lead to a discomforting position, where the player finds himself wanting to progress his skills at a certain rate but is unable to do so because the system imposes an extremely restrictive time limitation.

Second, it is an artificial, job-like form of progression. Instead of training to become a better swordsman by actually grabbing a weapon and hunting monsters, the player has to wait for a timer to expire. I'm sorry, but where is the fun in that? Where is the sense of achievement when you gain that new skill point? In a system where skills are trained through use, your actions directly lead to the molding of your character. Your adventures gain weight, and slaying that extremely tough opponent gives you more than just a few pieces of gear, it actually makes your character a more experienced being.

I do hope the community and Goblinworks give this thread some consideration as Pathfinder Online seems to be the game many of us have been waiting for and I can only hope it lives up to its expectations. Thank you for your time.

I believe GW has given considerable consideration, very little on the blog implies to me that they have made any snap decisions related to anything in the game. Every decision made for the game will make some people happy, and some people unhappy, I think that is a given fact.

As a whole I think the majority of people favor this system, due to many benefits it encompases. In addition to what the blog has, IMO it greatly reduces the normal time split between self and group development.

A traditional system, means to level up your sword mastery skill, you must be staking your time out killing endless lines of enemies, grinding it up so that you are ready when the real danger arives etc... With this system, you essentially can focus your play time doing what you enjoy, or what is best for your group, without worrying about whether or not what you are doing benefits your individual character, or whether it is the most cost/time effective means to carry out your goals. To me that is a huge plus that allows me to spend my time doing what I enjoy, rather than spending 70% of it grinding through tasks I find tedious, in order to allow my character to do what I enjoy.

I'm sure there are others who will agree with you, and I am not saying you are directly wrong, but I will say that it is highly unlikely that GW or the majority of people who are looking foward to the game, will agree. It all comes down to will more people be happy with the system then unhappy, and the general answer is most likely yes.


Sorry about that. I had already read that blog post a while back but had forgotten about their merit badge concept. Anyway, here's another question I have: In the blog it is stated that after you gain a capstone in a certain archetype you can go on and work towards the capstone of a different archetype. Does that mean one character could have multiple capstones? Wouldn't that be unbalanced?

Goblin Squad Member

stealthbr wrote:
Sorry about that. I had already read that blog post a while back but had forgotten about their merit badge concept. Anyway, here's another question I have: In the blog it is stated that after you gain a capstone in a certain archetype you can go on and work towards the capstone of a different archetype. Does that mean one character could have multiple capstones? Wouldn't that be unbalanced?

Yes it does mean that, the only requirement for a capstone, is that you devote the full 2.5 years consecutively in one archtype without getting skills in a different archtype. IE if you go 10 wiz, 10 rogue, 10 wiz, 10 rogue, you get no capstone, while if you went 20 wiz 20 rogue, you would get both.

As far as the power of capstones, they may not be powerful at all. Ryan has mentioned they don't intend them to be extremely powerful, and they might even be purely cosmetic status symbols that are just for bragging rights, (IE it is possible it will be identical to an ability the class already has, but with a different animation). Course these are all hypotheticals, until they go more in depth as to what skills will be, how strong they are etc... it is all speculation.

Goblin Squad Member

And if you take the class capstones from the pen & paper game as a possible example, they work pretty well. Fighters get better criticals, Monks become outsiders and get some benefits, Rogues get a fort-save-or-die/paralyze attack, etc.

They certainly have a "cool" factor, and are notably powerful, but don't make a single character necessarily better than all others. They just get a particular edge based on their class.

If the PFO capstones are similar to the pen & paper RPG, then multiple capstones shouldn't unbalance things, especially if it takes years to get there.


One of the huge problems with the Eve system is that it discourages people who play in spurts of activity.

I'm a software consultant. I might go on a job and barely play at all for 3 weeks, then suddenly have a week to play as much as I want. Since my wife games too, one of those recuperation weeks can have 8 hour game sessions a day easy.

In a sandbox like Eve if you are clever you can become immensely wealthy very quickly. For example, the last time we played we had enough ISK to easily afford 4-5 high tech battleships, had we the skills to pilot them properly.

Unfortunately, it would have taken 2-3 more months of passive skill training to get there. So, what do you do? You go play something else, where you can feel like you're accomplishing something.

Sandboxes reward smart play. If you have far more assets than you need the only productive thing left to is metagame to have /more of the same/. It gets very boring.

Being able to do *something* in game to speed the process of passive skill training would alleviate most of my issues.

Maybe a skill rank takes 2 real weeks to train but I have events and challenges I can do over the course of 2 of the days I have plenty of gaming time to take that down to a week.

I can happily play games all day that don't provide any advancement or progression, but they have to have really top end fast gameplay with definitive *chunks* like matches, etc. Shooters, fighting games, RTS, racing, you name it. However, even then those that allow me to put in effort and unlock additional things are more interesting than those that don't.

At the end of the day people have to feel like what they are doing is not a boring waste of time. If you are smart enough to be rich in a sandbox there isn't a whole lot to do. It's almost like you "won the game" if running a large settlement/starbase/etc doesn't interest you.


Marou_ wrote:
<snip>

Agreed. Simply, I prefer having the ability to dictate how fast I progress. In EVE Online, I would log in with the sole purpose of putting skills on queue, then I would log off and do something else because I had to wait for those extremely long timers to expire before I could start doing something interesting. That to me is not the definition of fun, more like a second job. The real-time based training system simply dictates progression's pace far too strictly, there's little room for wiggle. Things end up taking too long, and instead of playing to feel rewarded, I end up waiting for hours, days, months, to feel like I am getting somewhere.


stealthbr wrote:
Marou_ wrote:
<snip>
Agreed. Simply, I prefer having the ability to dictate how fast I progress. In EVE Online, I would log in with the sole purpose of putting skills on queue, then I would log off and do something else because I had to wait for those extremely long timers to expire before I could start doing something interesting. That to me is not the definition of fun, more like a second job. The real-time based training system simply dictates progression's pace far too strictly, there's little room for wiggle. Things end up taking too long, and instead of playing to feel rewarded, I end up waiting for hours, days, months, to feel like I am getting somewhere.

I'm glad to see another person who played Eve sharing the same concerns. Eve's system is imperfect, and this is one of the worst aspects of it.

While I agree with the developers that getting better through doing is too heavily flawed and promotes botting and idiotic gameplay I don't see why we can't earn "experience" in the game we're free to spend to progress skills further towards completion.

If someone is living on disability and their joy in life is Pathfinder Online, shouldn't they be way more advanced than me? What exactly is the problem with rewarding players for the time they spend actually playing the game? I don't have a problem with it, and sometimes I don't even get to play games for weeks at a time.

The game should reward and allow effort towards advancement. Incentive to advance economically only carries a player so far. If they far surpass the needs of their character in liquid assets it turns into a very boring waiting game.

"Hardcore" players will have settlements, chartered companies, and other concerns to occupy their time. I will definitely get engaged in some of that along with people that have way more time than me to make sure it doesn't die on my job related absences.

More casual players who can play sometimes or "lone wolves" get left out in the cold in an Eve-like sandbox. They don't have the social obligations to do things that don't progress their character and lack the incentive beyond a certain point to accumulate more wealth.

Goblin Squad Member

It sounds like this hasn't been brought up, so I'll remind everyone...

In PFO, as planned, skill training through time is ONE HALF of the character-advancement system. Merit badges are the other half, and those are more action-oriented, and maybe a little grindy. (But not very grindy, hopefully...)

The current idea is that your character will be training a skill while completing merit badges that were unlocked by the skills you trained last week. So, for people who want to get lots and lots of skills, they can spend a lot of time chasing merit badges. Not queueing up a skill and logging off, actually having to run out and get the badges. We're not sure how merit badges will be unlocked yet, but I wouldn't be surprised to find the classic theme-park achievements becoming merit badges: Exploring a zone, killing some number of enemies, use this skill on enemies a certain number of times, etc. Once again, I have no idea if merit badges will actually work this way, but they will most definitely not be unlocked just by sitting in town doing nothing.

So, to stealthbr and others, who dislike EvE Online's skill-training system: Yes, it will be in PFO. However, unlike EvE, it will not be the only part of the game; even lone-wolf players will be out unlocking merit badges.

And to Nihimon, myself, and others with not as much free time, and who like EvE Online's system: To keep pace with your friends/company-mates, etc, you will need to keep doing merit badges. However, keep in mind, even an archetype-5 character is going to be pretty effective in a group, just not as effective as an archetype-20. So although we may not be able to keep pace merit-badge wise, we'll still be able to keep pace skill-wise, and still contribute a lot in a group. And three cheers for that!

Also, as a forum/community, we have GOT to get some terminology. So characters don't have levels, so we shouldn't call them level 5 and level 20... what do we call them? Archetype levels? Tiers? I'm not sure. Also, should it be company-mates? Corpmates, like EvE? Companions? Hmm...

Goblin Squad Member

Terminology...

Members of a party might be called teammates while members of a chartered company are called companions and members of a settlement are called citizens.

Regarding levels. The blog talks about leveling or earning archetype merit badges. I think in time we might shorten that to earning an archetype badge or a level badge. Do we call someone a 5th Level Fighter or a 5-badge Fighter?

Goblin Squad Member

People who work in the same company? Aren't those called coworkers? /sarcasm

I prefer companions, or comrades.

Well, someone who's attained five levels of merit badges in an archetype would be a fifth-level Fighter, for example. The hard part, is remembering that they are not also a fifth-level character.


Arbalester wrote:

It sounds like this hasn't been brought up, so I'll remind everyone...

In PFO, as planned, skill training through time is ONE HALF of the character-advancement system. Merit badges are the other half, and those are more action-oriented, and maybe a little grindy. (But not very grindy, hopefully...)

The current idea is that your character will be training a skill while completing merit badges that were unlocked by the skills you trained last week. So, for people who want to get lots and lots of skills, they can spend a lot of time chasing merit badges. Not queueing up a skill and logging off, actually having to run out and get the badges. We're not sure how merit badges will be unlocked yet, but I wouldn't be surprised to find the classic theme-park achievements becoming merit badges: Exploring a zone, killing some number of enemies, use this skill on enemies a certain number of times, etc. Once again, I have no idea if merit badges will actually work this way, but they will most definitely not be unlocked just by sitting in town doing nothing.

So, to stealthbr and others, who dislike EvE Online's skill-training system: Yes, it will be in PFO. However, unlike EvE, it will not be the only part of the game; even lone-wolf players will be out unlocking merit badges.

And to Nihimon, myself, and others with not as much free time, and who like EvE Online's system: To keep pace with your friends/company-mates, etc, you will need to keep doing merit badges. However, keep in mind, even an archetype-5 character is going to be pretty effective in a group, just not as effective as an archetype-20. So although we may not be able to keep pace merit-badge wise, we'll still be able to keep pace skill-wise, and still contribute a lot in a group. And three cheers for that!

Also, as a forum/community, we have GOT to get some terminology. So characters don't have levels, so we shouldn't call them level 5 and level 20... what do we call them? Archetype levels? Tiers? I'm not sure. Also, should it be company-mates?...

What's wrong with that is the advancement itself is still completely out of the player's hands. I'd liken it to acquiring an expensive skill book from halfway across the galaxy in Eve. Sure, getting it was a bit of work; but the 3 weeks you'll spend training it to rank 4 are non-negotiable. So, log back on in 3.5 weeks and unlock the next thing to do your next 3 weeks of training? Sounds just like Eve actually.

Goblin Squad Member

Marou_ ,

You're trivializing the "unlock the next merit badge to get the next skillbook" part, but I don't think Goblinworks is. Sure, you just spent 3 weeks logged out, but now you have to spend at least a day or two getting that merit badge, if not a solid week of gaming (a solid month of gaming if you don't have as much free time). I'm throwing numbers out, but that's the idea. So someone who just sits in town training skills can only get so far, and people who play the game constantly are still going to have a huge edge over people who log in every week or so... if one thing, they're going to be a lot richer. This has already been discussed in another thread, though.


Arbalester wrote:

Marou_ ,

You're trivializing the "unlock the next merit badge to get the next skillbook" part, but I don't think Goblinworks is. Sure, you just spent 3 weeks logged out, but now you have to spend at least a day or two getting that merit badge, if not a solid week of gaming (a solid month of gaming if you don't have as much free time). I'm throwing numbers out, but that's the idea. This has already been discussed in another thread, though.

In a way what you're describing is actually worse than the situation in Eve. So, I could only hope that's not how it works (steep grinds for merit badges). A system where everything is training along and you can earn multiple badges/XP to bump the process into overdrive is vastly more appealing.

It'd lets you progress constantly but at an accelerated rate when you spent high amounts of time playing.

Arbalester wrote:
So someone who just sits in town training skills can only get so far, and people who play the game constantly are still going to have a huge edge over people who log in every week or so... if one thing, they're going to be a lot richer.

As previously mentioned if you are clever you can make tons of money very fast in sandbox games. Beyond that, the wealthy (in reality) gamer will never want for material things on account of buying and reselling training time. Money simply cannot be the draw in a fantasy MMO. It works to an extent, but how much money do you really need? If you have everything your character could make use of that's purchasable for currency in triplicate you have more than enough. In fact you're probably a few training months ahead of the curve, wherein lies the crux of the issue.

So, you had a vacation, you knocked out 3 months worth of training pre-reqs. Meaning, for the next 3 months you have little incentive to log into the game other than to refresh training queues if necessary if you aren't highly engaged in a settlement or guild, which since you can't devote 4 hours a day to playing on a very regular basis you probably are not.

MMO Reality: The types of guilds that are populated with players who play irregular schedules and random hours are not the ones running space stations, and settlements, and elite mercenary corps. They are glorified chat rooms that in theme parks tackle some raid content months after it has been out, or occasionally queue PvP together. In sandboxes like Eve they are at most lowsec corps that could be easily pushed back to highsec if anyone took offense to their presence.

Goblin Squad Member

Arbalester wrote:
Also, as a forum/community, we have GOT to get some terminology. So characters don't have levels, so we shouldn't call them level 5 and level 20... what do we call them? Archetype levels? Tiers? I'm not sure. Also, should it be company-mates? Corpmates, like EvE? Companions?

Vic called them "levels", so I'm happy with that. At least, I think he did. I'm having a hard time finding the post where he said that a level 30 would not be significantly more powerful than a level 10, but would just have more options. The only thing we need to remember about calling them levels is that they're not linear. A level 30 might be a 20/10 or a 5/10/15, etc.

I'm also a big fan of "companions" for members of a company.

Goblinworks Executive Founder

Don't trivialize the ability of a large group of loosely coordinated players with irregular schedules. The time zone coverage and surge numbers can be the key factors in victory.


DeciusBrutus wrote:
Don't trivialize the ability of a large group of loosely coordinated players with irregular schedules. The time zone coverage and surge numbers can be the key factors in victory.

It's easy to trivialize because I've been playing these sorts of games for over 20 years, ever since I (as a teen) scraped up enough money to buy my first computer mowing lawns and started dialing into BBS' and telnet to play MUDs.

A highly coordinated group of 20 players who game with each other 4+ hours a day on a Teamspeak or Ventrilo is superior to 100, perhaps even 200 random players that intermittently play with each other and don't use voice chat every day.

They are a vastly more capable fighting force in PvP, and also in PvE. It has little to do with raw 1v1 PK ability and everything to do with working together in a very tightly knit group for months (or years) and the quasi psychic link they form with their gaming partners.

Sandbox PvP games such as this one will attract extraordinarily militant PvP groups that may have been already doing this for years. If you think you can compete with them without becoming like them you are in for a rude awakening.

Goblin Squad Member

Marou_ wrote:
Sandbox PvP games such as this one will attract extraordinarily militant PvP groups that may have been already doing this for years. If you think you can compete with them without becoming like them you are in for a rude awakening.

Competing against them in head-to-head PvP is not the only way to compete against them. They may be able to successfully raid any small-scale target they choose, but they won't have the presence to stop a significant percentage of caravans, or deny access to resources to a much larger force.

In other words, they may be able to disrupt 10% of our activity 100% of the time, but they're never going to disrupt 30% of our activity. (DISCLAIMER: Numbers are entirely made up, and are only used to illustrate a point.)

Goblinworks Executive Founder

Your 20 hardcore players playing a total of 400 hours a week will beat 100 casual players totalling 400 hours a week. When you expect to beat 500 players playing 2000 hours a week, the dynamic changes.


DeciusBrutus wrote:

Your 20 hardcore players playing a total of 400 hours a week will beat 100 casual players totalling 400 hours a week. When you expect to beat 500 players playing 2000 hours a week, the dynamic changes.

I used 20 as a loose example, some of the aforementioned guilds have over 100 members and have little difficulty fielding most all of them at 3am on a Tuesday to raid a settlement/space station, etc.

This is the reality in Eve, Darkfall, etc, etc. I don't really need to speculate because it's all already observable.


Please, try and remain on topic. Remember, we are discussing the Skill Training system.

Anyway, here's my take. Real-time skill training provides an unnecessary time sink that does not make the game any more fun. It's only purpose is to allow players that do not have a lot of playing time to keep up with others that do. It also serves to control the rate of progression for the player characters, which I think is unnecessary to this degree, especially in a sandbox game.

In relationship to those that play less and would still like to keep up with their friends, the solution is to add a form of Rest XP. Meaning, the more they stay logged out, the longer they stay Rested in-game, and the faster their skills progress. Another element that helps out a lot with this is the implementation of diminishing returns. Diminishing returns, if used correctly, basically makes grinding a less effective activity than actually playing the game in terms of progression. Not only that, diminishing returns can make it so that a player that spends hours upon hours playing the game won't be that much ahead of someone who plays considerably less.


stealthbr wrote:
Please, try and remain on topic. Remember, we are discussing the Skill Training system.

My apologies on the unrelated segway.

stealthbr wrote:


Anyway, here's my take. Real-time skill training provides an unnecessary time sink that does not make the game any more fun. It's only purpose is to allow players that do not have a lot of playing time to keep up with others that do. It also serves to control the rate of progression for the player characters, which I think is unnecessary to this degree, especially in a sandbox game.

I agree in principle. However; I don't think it needs to be thrown out, I'd just like to see it be able to be accelerated beyond it's default idling rate via activity directed towards speeding advancement by players.

stealthbr wrote:


In relationship to those that play less and would still like to keep up with their friends, the solution is to add a form of Rest XP. Meaning, the more they stay logged out, the longer they stay Rested in-game, and the faster their skills progress. Another element that helps out a lot with this is the implementation of diminishing returns. Diminishing returns, if used correctly, basically makes grinding a less effective activity than actually playing the game in terms of progression. Not only that, diminishing returns can make it so that a player that spends hours upon hours playing the game won't be that much ahead of someone who plays considerably less.

Neither diminishing returns or rested XP have been proven to equalize progression effectively in the past. I think it's time developers accept that a 1% fraction of the playerbase is going to do everything "first" no matter what limitations are put in place. Limitations rather than stopping those dedicated power-gamers penalize people who play in spurts of high activity.

There is a fictional percentage of players that log in for 1-2 hours a night every day. I don't think they exist. I think instead Bob the Banker who plays 20 hours a week does 3 on Tuesday, 1 on Wednesday, and 16 on Saturday-Sunday. Rested XP and diminishing return mechanisms do not account for what reality looks like. They penalize weekend warriors and only significantly benefit people I'm not sure exist (or that I have never met).

Goblin Squad Member

stealthbr wrote:
It's only purpose is to allow players that do not have a lot of playing time to keep up with others that do.

Not true. As we've pointed out several times now, there are a significant number of pros and cons discussed in the blog where Goblinworks announced their intention to use real-time skill training.

Goblin Squad Member

stealthbr wrote:
Real-time skill training provides an unnecessary time sink that does not make the game any more fun. It's only purpose is to allow players that do not have a lot of playing time to keep up with others that do.

I agree with Nihimon, there are pros and cons. One that wasn't discussed in the blog was that an offline training mechanism like EVE encourages and rewards player loyalty. You maintain your subscription in part so that you do not fall behind. PFO looks like they will temper that with the badge system so in-game play and achievements will have some more weight. I'd suggest that GW is trying for a long-term game tied to PF, they aren't looking to be just another game with a race to end game content.

As for making the game fun - I've played games that require skill usage to train; to give a game a life greater than 2-3 years requires tiny incremental gains. Skilling will become monotonous. I think removing *that* time sink is the goal, to let the fun come from the adventure in the wide world, not the training grind.


Nihimon wrote:
stealthbr wrote:
It's only purpose is to allow players that do not have a lot of playing time to keep up with others that do.

Not true. As we've pointed out several times now, there are a significant number of pros and cons discussed in the blog where Goblinworks announced their intention to use real-time skill training.

From the blog:

"One huge upside is that unlike almost every other MMO, your character gets better in EVE even when you're playing another game...It also levels the playing field between people who can only put in a few hours a day (or a few a week), and those who can play continuously...Finally, it encourages characters to specialize, but doesn't inflict overt penalties if the player doesn't do so."

3 points made in favor, the first 2 being closely linked. Point #3 could also be said about a "level through use" system, therefore I find it redundant to acknowledge.


Marou_ wrote:

Neither diminishing returns or rested XP have been proven to equalize progression effectively in the past. I think it's time developers accept that a 1% fraction of the playerbase is going to do everything "first" no matter what limitations are put in place. Limitations rather than stopping those dedicated power-gamers penalize people who play in spurts of high activity.

There is a fictional percentage of players that log in for 1-2 hours a night every day. I don't think they exist. I think instead Bob the Banker who plays 20 hours a week does 3 on Tuesday, 1 on Wednesday, and 16 on Saturday-Sunday. Rested XP and diminishing return mechanisms do not account for what reality looks like. They penalize weekend warriors and only significantly benefit people I'm not sure exist (or that I have never met).

The intent is not to equalize, but to contain that power gap so that it is not overly large. Regarding the weekend warriors, the solution is to allow the Rested state to not only quicken skill training, but also alleviate the diminishing returns. As with everything, a careful balance needs to be established. You want to discourage mindless grinding while rewarding players that really dedicate themselves to the game.

Goblin Squad Member

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stealthbr wrote:
In EVE Online, I would log in with the sole purpose of putting skills on queue, then I would log off and do something else because I had to wait for those extremely long timers to expire before I could start doing something interesting.

Except the special case of the Learning skills, which are an acknowledged mistake and have been removed, if you played EVE in this way you were, as they say in the EVE community, "doing it wrong".

You don't train skills for a long time before you can do "anything interesting". Instead, as you train skills, the number of interesting things you can do increases. If you convinced yourself that it was only "interesting" to fly a Tech2 Battleship with max skills, you missed out on months of engaging play that would have also prepared you to make the best of that high-skill gear when you reached the training needs you need to use it.

There's a fairly smooth power curve in EVE. But you need to follow it, not just decide that the only fun to be had is at the end.

Goblin Squad Member

Marou_ wrote:

A highly coordinated group of 20 players who game with each other 4+ hours a day on a Teamspeak or Ventrilo is superior to 100, perhaps even 200 random players that intermittently play with each other and don't use voice chat every day.

Interestingly, when tested in the actual game of EVE, your thesis proved to be invalid, and the massive Zerg rush of untrained, inexperience pilots did just fine against the experienced vets in thier expensive ships and gear. Thus the Goons quickly became one of the most powerful forces in EVE despite having no skill, no money, and no prior history in the game.


Ryan Dancey wrote:
Marou_ wrote:

A highly coordinated group of 20 players who game with each other 4+ hours a day on a Teamspeak or Ventrilo is superior to 100, perhaps even 200 random players that intermittently play with each other and don't use voice chat every day.

Interestingly, when tested in the actual game of EVE, your thesis proved to be invalid, and the massive Zerg rush of untrained, inexperience pilots did just fine against the experienced vets in thier expensive ships and gear. Thus the Goons quickly became one of the most powerful forces in EVE despite having no skill, no money, and no prior history in the game.

I know some of those guys, and while a subset of them may have been casual a large portion of them were on 6+ hours a day during the events in question and were on teamspeak/vent the entire time. Ergo, they may have been "newer" players, but the core of their group weren't playing casually by any stretch of the imagination.

In addition, the only way they won were through the machinations of Mittani and theft by deception against their primary antagonist.

/edit: Sorry for the addition, I'm just not sold on the fact that a large group (several hundred) of internet trolls and griefers from a place like Something Awful or 4chan being very successful wresting control of the game world from established power blocs using borderline or unquestionably exploitative tactics is a good selling point.

While it's undeniably entertaining to read about, it's only entertaining from afar.

Goblin Squad Member

Action based skill ups are imo inferior. I will use WoW/Rift as examples, one being old, one being new and having played both myself, although I haved lots more. This type of leveling skills create a shorted time played. In both games, you can reach max level in less than a week. You can have your "professional" skills maxed in the same or less time. Now you need only play at raid times, exciting. But wait, there are week long timers on raid resets. Damn, sounds like time based leveling to me. Lets make best in slot gear, wait, there is materials that are on timers or from raids. Damn, sounds like time based leveling again. So even top games are using time based leveling in thier games.
So now we have poeple maxed out waiting on content, and a push for it to come out, which causes sub-par expans. We have a crap economy because every one can make almost every thing, causing it to be worth nothing. And a few that can make top tier items, but the materials are costly which makes the item outrageously expensive.

Time base skill ups seem to be a better route, especailly with a low disparity <I think this is the term I want> in level difference. So now it will take years to max out your character, so you want need several alts to occupy your time. You also wanr need one to play with your friend who just started. Alts being more than likely a micro transaction, this will be good. Less alts, means less characters with "professional" skills, which will mean that they may actually be worth something. Being that economics is a big part of this game,

GW post:
GW wrote:
While a lot of attention is paid to combat and exploration, the real engine that drives a sandbox game is its economy. Economics is often called the "dismal science," and this blog goes into quite a bit of detail on the system we have planned, so please keep in mind as you read that not all of the accounting bits we're talking about are going to be experienced to the same degree by to every player. (Don't worry: Pathfinder Online is not going to be the World of QuickBooks MMO!)

that is also good. This may also mean, not every one will want to take the time to learn that skill, making it have more worth.

Now, IMO, the hard part will be determining how long each skill takes to learn. Long enough to make it not for every one, but short enough not to discourage those who want to use it. Hopefully they also make capstones, or specailties also to make the "professional" skills more worthwhile.

Goblin Squad Member

It all comes down to what else there is to do in the game.

If the game truly is all about waiting for those skills to progress, then that's obviously going to suck.

From what we've heard though, there are going to be other things keeping us busy. The best example that comes to mind is that many of us will be community building. Be it a settlement, a mercantile franchise, a mercenary organization, or whatever other options people are already planning: these things are the ways in which you "level up" or progress. You will be actively engaged in leveling up your organizations, and this will indeed happen through "usage".

Taking an approach that strongly focuses on sandbox elements is what makes that make sense, and would indeed be frustrating in a theme park MMO, but the way GW have stated they're making the game - I feel it fits well.


Ryan Dancey wrote:
You don't train skills for a long time before you can do "anything interesting". Instead, as you train skills, the number of interesting things you can do increases. If you convinced yourself that it was only "interesting" to fly a Tech2 Battleship with max skills, you missed out on months of engaging play that would have also prepared you to make the best of that high-skill gear when you reached the training needs you need to use it.

I understand where he is coming from because I've had similar discussions with my wife usually preceding our departures from Eve for months. Lemme give you an example scenario.

Running as a duo we are piloting ships fitted for PvE missions. With some refit we can do small scale pirating in lowsec, however those refits and retooling could take quite some time depending on where we had to go for the parts. So, that rules out doing anything different during the week where we might only have 2 hours to play. As a result we don't play most of the week cause we spent the last 2 weeks doing agent missions and we're burnt out on them. We can't trade because our characters were built around combat to the extent that it would take X weeks training to do that, plus hauling cargo is boring. We can't mine for the same reason but that is even more boring.

So, we wait till Saturday and refit for small scale pirating. We target a decent lowsec area and get at it. This is a pretty slow process but we have some success, and finally end up losing our ships to a coordinated response from a resident corporation. No surprise, right? Also, no big deal, between what we took in and insurance payout we actually made money. Well, our replacement ships (don't pilot what you can't afford to lose) are many jumps away. So, we won't be back anytime soon. End of day.

Beginning of Sunday, tedium of being back to where you were the beginning of the week. The skill you started training at the beginning of the week is still going. You're sitting in the exact same place with the exact same choices you had Monday.

If you aren't willing to become part of a large corporation and do what other people want you to do during your playtime, either through inability to satisfy corporation requirements on you being somewhere at a certain place and time, or a flat out desire to do whatever you want with your time; you have limited options with respect to what you can do in Eve dependent upon the development level of your character and where you are currently situated geographically.

It often gets to a point where making a decision to engage in a different activity than the one you are burned out on could take days or weeks to do. From a logistical perspective as well as a training perspective.

So? Doing it wrong? Perhaps. Most people do it wrong, or rather it does them wrong. Since everyone I know who "plays" Eve spends most of their time offline training or logs in for a month here and there a few times a year as I am prone to doing.

I'm sure there is plenty of stuff that's fun in Eve if you form the social obligations to facilitate it. Heck, during beta I had a blast running a very successful pirate corporation. However, if you are unwilling or unable to dedicate huge amounts of time to accomplishing ANYTHING, you will have a narrow range of activities open to you.

Many times when you get off of a 10 hour workday you just want to play a game with friends and have fun. You don't want to worry about spreadsheets, logistics, and/or doing what your "corp" needs you to do. For the most part Eve is too hardcore for me, but I only game like 20-30 hours a week so I'm outside their core target market I think.

In conclusion, I'm not casual by any means; but I'm definitely not hardcore enough for a game like Eve outside of small bursts of play here and there when I have unusual amounts of free time. I'd hate to see PFO follow the same path of /game I love the ideas behind that I actually don't enjoy playing on a regular basis/.

Goblin Squad Member

Blaeringr wrote:
Taking an approach that strongly focuses on sandbox elements is what makes that make sense, and would indeed be frustrating in a theme park MMO, but the way GW have stated they're making the game - I feel it fits well.

I agree. Taken seperately I don't think it would work well. But in the situation with the way GW is running everything, I think it will make the game much more enjoyable.

Goblin Squad Member

@Marou_, it sounds like you'd be more interested in a game like LOTRO. There are so many Deeds, and more Quests than you can possibly do in the level that's appropriate for them, that you'll never be at a loss for something to do for the hour or two you have to play.

((I'm not being at all sarcastic. I actually enjoy that aspect of LOTRO.))


Nihimon wrote:

@Marou_, it sounds like you'd be more interested in a game like LOTRO. There are so many Deeds, and more Quests than you can possibly do in the level that's appropriate for them, that you'll never be at a loss for something to do for the hour or two you have to play.

((I'm not being at all sarcastic. I actually enjoy that aspect of LOTRO.))

Didn't like LOTRO much. I get bored with theme parks really quickly but all of the sandboxes on the market tend to forget they are games and include a bunch of tedious elements that make them unsuitable for blowing off steam on a regular basis.

I believe it would be possible for a game with many sandbox elements to figure out novel ways to make the interesting part of the game (nullsec) more accessible.

Guild Wars 2 might be my silver bullet with sandbox styled dynamic events and jump in meaningful World PvP and instant gratification bragging rights scenario based PvP.

However, I love the Pathfinder system, and I love the idea of players more directly dictating the fate of the game world in a true sandbox. I just don't like how that always ends up playing out in reality.

If you get bored doing the exact same thing all of the time, a game like Eve will leave you rather bored within a matter of weeks. The issues caused by their time based advancement and long travel times make a *change in activities* really painful. The issues could easily be alleviated by trimming some of the more punishing simulation elements that push anyone who doesn't play 40+ hours a week away from the game.

A large part of this is the time-based advancement that actively and brutally discourages new players who will *never catch up* from continuing to play the game.

The games I played the longest were UO (sandbox) and DAOC (sandbox PvP).

Goblin Squad Member

Marou_ wrote:
Sorry for the addition, I'm just not sold on the fact that a large group (several hundred) of internet trolls and griefers from a place like Something Awful or 4chan being very successful wresting control of the game world from established power blocs using borderline or unquestionably exploitative tactics is a good selling point.

That's not cheating, that's good technique.

----------------
Skills-over-time

Pros: Lack of "level" disparity, Playtime means economic/community rewards, Experience more of the game, Treats full-time and part-time players equally, play at your own pace

Cons: Developers control progression, Character progression not part of playtime rewards, Takes real time ("slow"), Can't progress at your own pace

Skills-over-playtime

Pros: Develop at your own pace, Character progression part of playtime rewards, Playtime can also include economic/community rewards

Cons: "Level" disparity can be rampant, Part-time players have less opportunities for character progression, Game content can be completed faster than developers can create more, Character progression can finish before experiencing much of the game
----------------

For the most part I see these two systems as mutually exclusive. The benefits and drawbacks are mirrors of each other. Furthermore, "Skill Training Through Usage" as your title says, presents a situation where one's character progression is tied to the activities they do in game. Are you suggesting something along the lines of The Elder Scrolls series? That seems very problematic. Skills in a sandbox game include much more than adventuring and crafting. There are community/company skills, market/economy skills, and others that aren't directly tied to "normal" gameplay. If I wanted to run a larger company, would I then need to recruit more players, or do some series of actions to level up my "community management" skills? Would I need to first make a successful sale or three before I could start leveling up basic market/economy skills? Would my ability to better manipulate the market be based solely on how often I made good sales by manipulating the market?

continued...

Goblin Squad Member

If character progression is tied directly to in-game activity, then it puts a large burden on the game (and thereby the developers) to provide rich, interactive, and immediately rewarding content for all aspects of the game. This content can neither be "too grindy" nor so simple as to be meaningless and boring. Designing every single aspect of the game to work in that sweet spot seems far too difficult. Not even TES gets it right.

And it can penalize character development by narrowing your options. In order to raise certain skills, you have to take certain actions and paths. If I wanted to focus on adventuring/combat skills, but also needed to craft and sell things to make money, and work with my company on infrastructure, then anytime I was taking care of economic and community concerns, I would be neglecting my desired character development.

You've got a point. Character development not related to playtime does have its downsides and frustrations. However, I don't see the alternative as being a better solution for a sandbox game with many different facets and different ways of playing. Maybe there can be a way where the amount of time you are logged-in gives you a slight reduction in the amount of time skills train. Other than that, I'm not comfortable endorsing skill training through usage.


Skwiziks wrote:


That's not cheating, that's good technique.

Heh, it's not cheating; but is it good for the game? Probably not. If you weren't aware, the catalyzing event that allowed to them originally wrest control of Delve was a defector in the BOB alliance with the press of a button destroying the alliance, and removing ownership of most of their critical assets.

Goblin Squad Member

Which is what happens when players have control over the game environment. The player community is responsible for the timbre and quality of the game, so no, it's not good for the game environment, but policing it is not the responsibility of the developers.


Skwiziks wrote:
<snip>

I will tell you what I would do. My ideal system would contain 3 main spheres of advancement. The spheres would be the Adventuring Sphere, the Production Sphere, and the Social Sphere. Each sphere would contain their respective archetypes and skill trees. Player characters would be able to advance in each sphere and the progress in one sphere would not affect the progress in another.

Goblin Squad Member

stealthbr wrote:
Skwiziks wrote:
<snip>
I will tell you what I would do. My ideal system would contain 3 main spheres of advancement. The spheres would be the Adventuring Sphere, the Production Sphere, and the Social Sphere. Each sphere would contain their respective archetypes and skill trees. Player characters would be able to advance in each sphere and the progress in one sphere would not affect the progress in another.

Vanguard did a lot of things right. I think the way they separated Adventuring/Crafting/Harvesting/Diplomacy was fantastic.

I'd love it if PFO did something similar, and allowed me to train Crafting Skills simultaneously with Adventuring Skills, but I'm not holding my breath :)


Nihimon wrote:

Vanguard did a lot of things right. I think the way they separated Adventuring/Crafting/Harvesting/Diplomacy was fantastic.

I'd love it if PFO did something similar, and allowed me to train Crafting Skills simultaneously with Adventuring Skills, but I'm not holding my breath :)

Bingo! Vanguard has some amazing qualities and I find it surprising how other games have not borrowed some ideas.

Goblin Squad Member

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Nihimon wrote:
stealthbr wrote:
Skwiziks wrote:
<snip>
I will tell you what I would do. My ideal system would contain 3 main spheres of advancement. The spheres would be the Adventuring Sphere, the Production Sphere, and the Social Sphere. Each sphere would contain their respective archetypes and skill trees. Player characters would be able to advance in each sphere and the progress in one sphere would not affect the progress in another.

Vanguard did a lot of things right. I think the way they separated Adventuring/Crafting/Harvesting/Diplomacy was fantastic.

I'd love it if PFO did something similar, and allowed me to train Crafting Skills simultaneously with Adventuring Skills, but I'm not holding my breath :)

Indeed, what I dislike of that idea, is it kills the pure crafter, as well as greatly lowers the value of crafters to other people. A team of 6 is essentially 100% self sufficient as they are all adventurer+crafters, there is absolutely no reason to not be a crafter, and with a guaranteed 1:1 crafter to adventurer ratio, the markup for crafted goods would barely be 2-3% (even factoring in a seperate craft for every category of every type, say 20 unique crafting paths... that means 5 in competition for the same task in a city of 100). Since people didn't miss out on anything in earning the craft, there will be almost no value to the skill.

Goblin Squad Member

Won't there be value in the skill in that it will take a long time to fully train?

Goblin Squad Member

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Skwiziks wrote:
Won't there be value in the skill in that it will take a long time to fully train?

Not really if everyone is training it simultaneously with while they are playing. Lets start with 4500 people for the first month, 20 crafting abilities, yours is 100% identical to the other 225 who chose the same ability as you at the end of the month. There is no added value, because 100% of the population has put in the exact same quanity of crafting time. When some people craft and some don't, then the crafters have value to the non-crafters, when there is absolutely no reason, no time split etc... to learn crafting, then crafters are pretty much useful only to themselves.

Goblin Squad Member

Ah, I misunderstood, I thought you were talking in general, but you mean specifically in regards to the system Vanguard had right?

If players can simultaneously train crafting and adventuring skills, crafting loses its value. Where as if players can only train one skill at a time (as it seems the devs are planning on), then a dedicated crafter will have skills that other players won't, therefore their skills will have value to other players.


Onishi wrote:
<snip>

That is true under an EVE-like skill training system. Under a "use to level" system, where mastering even one craft could take very long, this situation would be almost non-existent. Also, it is important to note that envision such a system providing a limited amount of skill points per sphere. Meaning, a character would not have the potential to be everything. The character would be able to designate a maximum value a skill would be able to reach, would be able to pause the skill's progression (using it wouldn't generate skill points), would be able to take points away from it (in case he does not like the skill and wishes to respec). This would encourage specialization and pre-planning while still allowing for generalist-type of characters.

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