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Author Topic: On useless skills  (Read 2456 times)

Merry76

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On useless skills
« on: March 10, 2014, 11:37:04 AM »
I know the game isnt nearly finished, but there are some things that rub me the wrong way. One of them is useless skills - or to be precise, skills that become useless during gameplay.

One of them is (of course) mining. Mining can be done by anyone, and having a miner with a good skill is very nice in early and midgame. But then you are done digging, and mining is barely touched afterwards. Because there are no "infinite mines" or cave-ins that would require re-mining of old mining spots, a mining skill of 100+ simply isnt needed if all you are doing is a little "rebuilding" post your big mining operations. Of course, infinite mines are probably a bad idea, cave ins on the other side would be interesting (coupled with a different spawn mechanism probably the source of quite some Fun).

The next one is, surprisingly enough, Weaponcrafting. If you have crafted the number of steel weapons you want (in the shape you want) you can ditch this skill. The quality of the weapons produced is moot, as they become legendary on their own (meaning they practically sharpen themselves during combat) and they never tarnish or break. This is of course a stark contrast to armourcraft/leathercraft, who indeed get broken equipment, and are needed for re-assembling. They can even improve their items that way, though its the only way they can. Would they get tarnished (read: take damage, but not (yet) break) or break into parts the weaponsmith would need to reforge them. Given that players like to baptize their weapons in the blood of countless goblins, this could be kept in the game by baptizing the components of a weapon up to legendary status -> which in turn could the crafting of a weapon to higher quality. Think of Andruil, the sword of Aragorn from Lord of the Rings. It came in (legendary) shards to him, and even a quite bad smith would have turned at least a fine sword out of it. But they gave it to a legendary elven craftsman... and you know how it went.

The worst offender now is Tinkering. You give a gnome the engineer job, and he starts to tinker until he has researched all there is to research. This takes him about 1-2 years, depending on starting skill, sleeping quarters and what else the engineer has to do in your kingdom. Then you got everything, and tinkering is a useless skill, never to be used again. Now if there where more to research? Not helping, because that would just take a bit longer and you stand at the same point. Making single discoveries harder to attain? Even worse! Half the fun in Gnomoria comes from building intricate death machines that are fun to build, but dont replace a good army (unless you break the pathing and/or build impenetrable automatical defenses. At which point the enemies will never stand a chance at all. Play like that if you want, it isnt my cup of strawberry wine). Moving that back to year 4 or 6 will just lower the fun many people have building said mechanics. So what could we do? Make tinkering useful, of course. Give the gnomes the ability to "re desing" and tweak traps, walls and other mechanical gadgets. I am not asking for a "break and repair" thing (though it would be a possibility) because that would probably go into the mechanics skill. But maintaining/improving blunderbusses (like the swords in the last paragraph) and mechanical traps would certainly be a interesting option. Way better than the "melt it down again, build from scratch" that we have to do now.

I probably should have posted this in suggestions, but I kind of wanted a discussion about it first, and then maybe split it up if it grows too big. Cat, move it if you find "General" a bad choice  ;)

Anyway, what skills do you guys find useless (in the long run). Armour doesnt count, as it doesnt do anything at all at the moment anyway *G*
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rivenwyrm

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Re: On useless skills
« Reply #1 on: March 10, 2014, 12:15:35 PM »
Not a bad point, truthfully.

How about we suggest tinkering becomes a "post-processing" skill, i.e., when a metal/leather good is finished, it can be "tinkered" to improve its stats at the tinkering bench? It's not a perfect solution but it does make the skill valuable later on, especially if weapons/traps also eventually break (or at least need to be repaired).

This would have to be along some non-linear curve, so you can't make infinitely good copper armor/traps/etc just because you have 275 tinkering, but it is a fun way of "increasing" your kingdom's worth by having knowledgeable gnomes rather than just crafting stuff.

DaniAngione

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Re: On useless skills
« Reply #2 on: March 10, 2014, 12:36:58 PM »
I understand your point - and I agree with it. However I think this matter goes a little deeper than simple gameplay issues.

For once, even the suggestions you gave would give 'longevity' to skills but they'd still be useless on the long run - for instance, Cave-ins... It's a cool idea, however it shouldn't happen to built walls/tiles. I mean... you build a whole hall underground, make it beautiful and then it collapses? What kind of builders these gnomes are? lol So they should happen only on cave tiles (raw stone walls and floors) but then again, if a mine section that you explored already collapses, there would be no reason to dig it back. IF it was some kind of passage or something - people would just swap walls/floors for it to be 'built' and then no cave-ins would occur...
Anyway, my point is not to discuss cave-ins, just throwing my two cents on why I think that your ideas are good but would still make for useless skills on the long run.

I think that what causes this 'useless skills' problem is a more conceptual reason. I mean, the core concept of the game. RoboBOb said on that recent interview that one of the ideas of Gnomoria's sandbox is that of a 'closed system'. You have this blocky chunk of the world where everything there can be altered, deconstructed, rebuilt, etc. And although we do have internal AND external factors to alter that balance (goblins, merchants, food consumption) - as of now they're still pretty much under our control. And as long as unbalancing factors are under our control it would be very difficult for the game to challenge us with situations that would unbalance the stability of our system. So if you dig everything you want to dig, there's no unbalancing point in the game that would change that - as if each kingdom was a closed, safe 'scientific experiment'.
What I'm trying to say is that if you make a rough comparison between a gnomoria kingdom and a select piece of land in real life, you'll see that there are 'changing external factors' that won't happen in gnomoria. For instance: people usually grow old and die. Gnomish life cycles would certainly help change that. You'd lose skilled workers, you'd have to train new workers, etc. Nothing would be permanent - if you have good defenses and a skilled worker, you're almost 100% sure that he'll live forever. I'm not saying that I'd like to see life cycles on the game (lol), but I'm trying to point out that Gnomoria currently runs on the idea of exhaustion. You have almost everything under your control and that allows you to reach a comfort zone that makes some skills useless over time.

Now then, in my opinion, what could be changed? Well, changes are coming already. I don't know if what I said above is 'right' - it's just my opinion after all - but the addition of diplomacy (and ALL it's possibilities) and the expansion of enemy AIs and all that are certainly a way to change what I said.
I'd say there are 3 main points that could increase the gameplay experience greatly and would, somehow, solve the problems of 'useless' skills.

1. Trading revamp.
Trading is the most direct and practical way to change our 'closed system' - take things out and add things in. However it's fairly unbalanced with weird things that many people have already pointed out: produced goods are incredibly less valuable than the raw materials used to make them. A skilled weaponsmith wouldn't be useless if your kingdom had to rely on his fine crafts for trade and survival. But why would you sell weapons if bone statuettes do the job? So, for me, trading needs the following changes:
-- A reevaluation of all the values. It's currently too easy to make good trades. Many things are too cheap, nothing is expensive enough to require sacrifices.
-- More 'merchant AI' (I know it's not actually AI, just using it as an experssion): one of the things that makes trading in Gnomoria too easy is the fact that you can convince someone that they should give you a ton of livestock for hundreds of silly statuettes (lol). It would be awesome if other kingdoms had different needs and would only buy certain things and certain amounts. "You have statuettes? Nice! We need only 10. We're desperate for weapons - we'll pay more for those! We don't need stone blocks, thank you." This would improve economy drastically. And would give use to most crafting skills.
-- Variety. It was not needed before the diplomacy system was implemented, but now we really need it. I think merchants carry too much - they should carry way less and have a lot more variety on their stocks. Miner cities should not have all types of stone or ore, making it important to estabilish contact with different cities of the same kind, for example. There's some variety already, but pretty much all the merchants have what you'll need from them.

Put all of this together and you'll have a trading system so dynamic and complex that would not only make the game more interesting and challenging but also increase the value of most of the crafting skills. And it would be even better with the second point...

2. World type/resource availability.
This is, for me, the most important point when discussing 'what currently holds the game potential'. You always have *everything*. Even if you play on a Tiny map, you'll most likely have at least 2 or 3 types of wood and everything else in the game. This has worked for now, but I suppose that with new additions, diplomacy (and let's suppose that my 'trading revamp' is a possibility) this is now game-breaking. Gnomoria might be challenging at first, yes. But in a logical way - like I said, it's a controlled, closed system. Once you learn how to deal with it, there's no more issues. There are no 'unforseen problems'. Even zombies or beetle nests have their own tactics for experienced players. Different world generation types and what people usually call 'biomes' would change that. Starting with different conditions that hinders our usual ways of building our kingdom. Imagine spawning on an arid land where you can't have pastures or farms far from rivers/lakes, where there's no strawberry or cotton plants on the wild. Imagine spawning on beaches, or plains with lots of pasture and fertile land but almost no ores underground? Alongside with the 'embarking' feature where we would be able to choose what to bring with us on embarking, this would improve the game and add a lot more usefulness for different skills, because many things would be more important than they currently are in our games where we have everything in the map. And I'm not talking about a lot of content here. It could be done, of course, but it can be done without adding content. Imagine a terrain made of clay with few patches of dirt. It's a 'placeholder' for a desert with little fertile land.

3. Harshness and more external influence.
And finally the third point that I think would be really important to 'shake' things up a little and add a lot of usefulness for different skills is the addition of some random events and flavour.
That's where your cave-ins would come in, for example. But there are nearly infinite possibilities for this one: crop plagues, diseases, storms and snow... Some things that are already in the game could have more meaning as well. For example: rain. It only exists to help farming/collect water. Rain could be a lot more: gnomes could be bothered to work under rain, they could get sick, there could be lightning strikes and all that...
Animal packs passing by for 'hunting' (or to be hunted) and things like that... Like I said, there are infinite possibilities that would increase the need of skilled works. Imagine that a rain causes a flood on a lake and water starts pouring into your base. Even if you are done digging, you'd really like having some skilled miners to quickly dig tunnels for the water to go away (for example) or landslides (like cave-ins) could require you to dig and reshape hills after storms.
And one thing I'd love to see are diplomacy events and requests. For example, a messenger arrives and says they're under siege and need any military help you can provide. You could send weapons, armour, or even squads! You wouldn't see anything, they'd just be gone for some time and come back with a 'random' outcome. Maybe one of them died, maybe they've lead a glorious victory... Maybe they'll never return at all?
Not only military help but all kinds of different requests and relationships. "The kingdom of ABC is starving! We need help!" You can send food and improve relations or ignore and maybe they'll even be wiped and removed from the diplomacy screen. This would add A LOT of depth to the game and could add usefulness to pretty much all the skills. Even miners or tinkers, for example, could be 'rented'. You send your best tinker on a 4-season work with your friendly kingdom and it comes back with rewards for your help - maybe even some unique mechanism research possibility that could only be 'unlocked' through diplomacy (for example)...

Anyway, these are my thoughts on the matter.
Like I said, I agree with you - but I believe that the reason behind these feelings are more conceptual, so the changes shouldn't be mere gameplay additions but reworking on some core concepts :)
And sorry for the long post lol
« Last Edit: March 10, 2014, 12:40:37 PM by DaniAngione »

greaterix

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Re: On useless skills
« Reply #3 on: March 10, 2014, 01:32:21 PM »
I agree there's definitely a point where skill progression is pretty useless except in building/hauling/farming/consumable crafting.

With this new diplomacy system, I'd love to be able to "contract out" my highest skilled miner/weaponsmith to other kingdoms - higher the skill the higher the price sort of thing.

Would definitely make it worthwhile in developing + keeping the highest skilled alive + healthy. They could return demanding Bigger + better personal quarters, similar to how ambassadors work.

Arylin

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Re: On useless skills
« Reply #4 on: March 10, 2014, 09:50:55 PM »
I'd say there are 3 main points that could increase the gameplay experience greatly and would, somehow, solve the problems of 'useless' skills.

As a huge fan of 'harvest, process, trade', I'm very much in support of your ideas. Most kingdoms I play right now intentionally do not dig much underground so I've got reason to sacrifice a lot buying metals and stone. It'd be nice to have other expensive stuff to work towards; in Towns that usually meant weapons and armor, the odd special weapon or various furniture. If military equipment can be bought they should be scaled to your worth to avoid seeing players equip early gnomes with iron armor; the merchant should supplement and not totally replace the need for the relevant workshops and mining. I'd also support being able to buy expensive gems (uncut or otherwise) and turning it into pricier stuff for resale, or a random chance of buying higher quality items (increasing a little over time to reflect growth in the skills of the workers in the merchant's kingdom). The trade values of items would definitely need to be rebalanced.

Having gnomes with preferences for certain goods and a more fully fleshed out happiness system may help too. Perhaps a gnome has an avaricious personality; he may want to have a silver necklace at first, then maybe a gemmed one of a certain quality and value. Or perhaps a soldier has a discerning tongue and prefers to drink fine quality wine, with superior and masterful ones being preferred as his skill and value to the community increases. If you can't satisfy the demand yourself then merchants can become a way to do so.

If kingdoms are to be limited in what they offer (and your lands limited in what you can naturally find) there might be a need to slightly revamp the way they are found as well. Since it appears we find new ones according to certain milestones there might be times where the time gap between one kingdom and finding a new one needed for specific goods becomes too large. Imagine the frustration at finding that all the mining colonies you find consistently offer only marble or bauxite when you want basalt, and you manage to get the right one at say, 1 million kingdom worth when you really wanted it at 350k. I'd suggest that City-States be always capable of selling anything at lower quantities (pretty much like how they are now, a general store), with their stock being randomized every time a merchant arrives or you send one to them. Having random world events affect economies might help randomize things further by altering prices and availability.

Anyway, what skills do you guys find useless (in the long run).

My pick would be blacksmithing. I think the solution would be roughly the same as for weapons and armor in that the skill should be used in the maintenance of colony tools. Other than breaking perhaps worn tools can also cause a cumulative decrease in effectiveness (up to a point) at lower durability levels; a tired gnome with low skill and a barely functional pickaxe would probably take forever to get any extensive mining done, while a rested one with higher skill will still incur a slight performance hit. This may require a cap on the maximum skill attainable to prevent a super-skilled gnome from ignoring the speed penalty until the tool breaks.

Perhaps this can also be extended to workshops; cutting wheels will eventually dull, ball peen hammers may break, etc. If you allow certain workshop items like stone sawblades, chisels and knives to be upgraded to metal ones (providing a speed increase) then you'll add some more stuff for the blacksmith to maintain. The rate of degradation can be tied to the material; steel ones may require significantly less maintenance. The stone versions could be affected as well (thus requiring maintenance by a mason), or left alone as the always-reliable basic option.

For mining, I'm not sure how popular this suggestion may be, but I'll put it here regardless: some kind of uncommon creature that passes through the middle and deepest levels of the earth and occasionally creates new patches of ore or gems, with the type determined by the level depth it inhabits. This may allow players to create special 'ore farms' starting from the edges of the map (these creatures can be migratory like wild animals) that will provide an infinite supply of ore as long as there is enough stone for the creature to pass through and spawn veins. The chances of the creature(s) appearing may be randomized, tied to a cycle the way crops are on the surface, or even by season. If torches are tweaked to not be an absolute protection against underground spawns it'll provide a small amount of risk as well if anyone needs it. As a whole, this provides some use for miners once you've mined out the underground sections of your kingdom. Again, this is a bit fantastical and you guys may think it doesn't fit in Gnomoria.

With this new diplomacy system, I'd love to be able to "contract out" my highest skilled miner/weaponsmith to other kingdoms - higher the skill the higher the price sort of thing.

I'm curious as to the form of payment for the services rendered: are you going to offer the services of your miner for 2 yaks, 500 strawberries or 50 iron ore? It may be easier if there is a currency system should this idea be accepted as payment would be (to me at least) a bit harder to determine. Alternatively payment could be in the form of 'trade credits' scaled to your worker's skill which are used to subsidize future trade with them; if your relations are good and you both have a mutual friend the credits may even be good there as well. Contracting out workers could certainly improve relations a little, more if you're willing to do it for less or even free. This may be useful if relations can decay slightly over time, although it may be annoying to some people.
« Last Edit: March 11, 2014, 07:49:07 AM by Arylin »

Manjack40

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Re: On useless skills
« Reply #5 on: March 11, 2014, 05:39:15 AM »
Gnomish life cycles would certainly help change that. You'd lose skilled workers, you'd have to train new workers, etc.

This would be hell. To have a level 200+ farming gnome just die of old age...
/rageface ensues
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Merry76

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Re: On useless skills
« Reply #6 on: March 11, 2014, 11:47:24 AM »
Anyway, these are my thoughts on the matter.
Like I said, I agree with you - but I believe that the reason behind these feelings are more conceptual, so the changes shouldn't be mere gameplay additions but reworking on some core concepts :)
And sorry for the long post lol

I dont quite follow your train of thought there. Trading, world ressources and diplomacy may all be "needed too" for a finished game but wouldnt change the "usless skills" at all. Even a death of old age wouldnt work, if one gnome could just invent everything there is, and no one would ever have to tinker again (same with mining etc.). Mining was thrown in to elaborate how easy it is for a quite useful skill to drift into uselessness if nothing is done about it.

Essentially, if the product of a skill isnt used up (I realized after posting that this also applies to carpentry and stonemasonry...), the skill will go useless sooner or later. So basically EVERY skill should have the need to keep it. This means that tables and chair should break, and tools from workshops should get dull or useless, and need repair or replacements. Thats the reason I always analyzed the MMO's I played: Is there a crafting good that gets used up, and that people actually wanted to use? I'll pick up that craft! Simple reason being: sooner or later, a weaponsmith will loose his job  ;)

I mean, if Banished can get away with wiping a village because of broken tools, surely we can afford to replace a stone chisel every other season... (Still havent got it... but heard this happens a lot if you are not careful). In DF you loose fortresses due to misplaced/stolen socks (I have read somewhere... sounds... odd).

This would be hell. To have a level 200+ farming gnome just die of old age...
/rageface ensues

Happens all the time in other games (Banished being the newest at that). Nobody bats an eye about it. You would quickly get used to gnomes only reaching a certain amount of skill (say 60-100) before they die. Would make the game quite a bit more realistic, because what a 100+ woodcutter does to a forest - and with a simple hatchet no less. An automated laser axe couldnt do it quicker....
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reggubha

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Re: On useless skills
« Reply #7 on: March 11, 2014, 12:26:46 PM »
Can't agree more with the OP, although in all of my games, I haven't personally arrived at a point where I have no further need of Miners (I usually become bored with the kingdom before that happens). I'd venture that two directions could be beneficial:
1. Skill overhaul
  - Some skills can be merged. Tinkering will stop being useless if it's the same skill as the one used to make ammo/contraptions. Likewise, mining can be the same as stoneworking or stonecarving.
  - Skill requirements for tasks, from crafting tiers to mining tiers. You found Platinum, but your highest miner has a skill of less than, say, 100? Leave it until he levels up a bit.
  - Armor skill.
  - With the latest advances in trading and diplomacy, administrative skills are sorely needed. I really want to have an actual colony manager, with skills to keep it running, and demands in accordance, requiring expensive and large accommodation (two different qualities, so that you can't have a 2x2 gold-plated room), as well as an office and some helpers.
2. Tool overhaul
  - Tool/weapon longevity. From simply having a chance of breaking on every use, to tools actually having HP. And, potentially, XP/other modifiers?
        "Sabertooth", epic gem-encrusted thrice-reforged ancient bronze pickaxe of ultimate badassery vs marble (+7), anyone?
  - Following from the previous sub-point, stone-grade tools that you can make using a crude workshop, allowing for rebuilding from the ground up.
  - Tool tiers. Want to mine Platinum? Craft that steel pickaxe! Furthermore, want to smelt it? Build a workshop using higher-grade components. Oh, and your skill should be up to the task, too.
  - Ability to apply a crafting skill to improve an existing lower-quality item.

R86

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Re: On useless skills
« Reply #8 on: March 11, 2014, 07:08:40 PM »
I am okay with skills becoming obsolete. I'm a strip miner who only play on Tiny maps, and I've still never played the same kingdom long enough to completely mine the map. If I ever did, it would feel like an achievement and my miners would be able to retire with pride. It seems natural for tinkering to become obsolete, but I kind of just let my idle guys take care of it instead of having a specialized research department.

To help mining, it would be kind of cool to add an infinite node, kind of like gem veins on Dungeon Keeper. You would designate the block to be mined and your miner would just keep generating stone forever. The nodes could be deep in the map, and there could be a really rare metal node on some maps. Mining a node would take way longer than normal mining, so your legendary miners would still have something to do. Actually, the node could require a "Miner's Workshop" be built on it. The workshop would work off of the mining skill and would generate stone up to your "craft to" amount. That way you wouldn't ever be drowning in stone unless you wanted to.

For tinkering it would be cool to implement some kind of "Future Tech" like on Civilization. Each rank of future tech would require more points to get, but it would give you a small stacking bonus. Once we get robot gnomes, the skills of the robot gnomes could be partially determined by your future tech rank. I'm not sure on the small stacking bonus before robot gnomes though. If it increased the productivity of your farms it would be cool, but food is hardly a problem by the time you have your tinkerer's going full steam. A combat bonus would be cool, but might get out of hand. Maybe each gnome getting +1 to each skill per future tech? But then if you had like 10 tinkerers you might hit a point where each future tech would take the same amount of time as the last one since all your tinkerers just gained another +1. With 20 tinkerers you could actually research them faster and faster! Unlimited gnome knowledge!

Having all your workshops break down over time and need replacement parts would be kind of cool too. Furniture stockpiles would become more common and you'd always have spare tables or barrels or sawblades or wheelbarrow wheels laying around, then your little repairmen gnomes would buzz around your fortress keeping everything tip top. It'd be good to also be able to smash the old parts down into resources though, just so we don't feel like we're losing too much.

Or, he could just combine the skills. Mining, Masonry, Stone Carving, Construction (with stone) could all just become "Stone Sense" or "Stoning." Our starting miners are already our starting masons anyways. Combining the skills would make things way easier to learn. I wouldn't have to have a specialized stone carver and a separate specialized mason, or 5 different specialized blacksmith skills.

Also, I would love Gnome life cycles.

Also, about Banished (yeah I gave in and tried it) your people die like crazy, but there's way less micromanagement. Your people don't gain skill in their job, they just switch to whatever job is closest to their house. Maintaining tools for you village literally just requires you to build a blacksmith and then click the up arrow by total number of blacksmiths to assign a guy to the forge. The tools require iron to make, so I imagine the whole tool system was just added in as an "iron sink" to make sure you were always mining for more iron. And a tool could be a fishing pole or a hunting bow or wicker baskets (for your gatherers to use), but they are all just "iron tools" or "steel tools" to the game. I still would recommend Banished when it goes on a Steam sale, but its systems are a little shallow.

Also, the sock stealing thing is just some of the DF fiction. Dwarves like socks (a lot), but the negative thought associated with losing a sock would only send the dwarf over the edge as a very last straw, as in your fortress would already have to be failing. Like that dwarf already watched his entire family be murdered and was just looking for an excuse to berserk. (The sock joke came from a weird bug where dwarves would equip as many socks as they could find. You could never craft enough socks to outfit your entire fortress because one guy would be wearing all of them. You don't even need socks to keep your dwarves happy though.)