Balance Suggestion - Redo book learning

Focus and Skill rust are the two mechanisms in place to limit how much can fast the player can speed-level skills. But even so, the player can become a PhD and Master Warrior in short order by stumbling cross a decently stocked school (library and to lesser degree bookstore).

Suggestion #1 - rather than Focus, there should be a limit as to how much one can progress in a given day by book learning. It should take, for example, a game year to go from novice cook to gene splitting, mutagen blending chemist. It should probably work on some kind of curve as well, with the earlier levels able to develop much faster.

Suggestion #2 - Combat skills - level 1 or 2 at most from books. Those skills need to be learned by using.

Suggestion #3 - Limit how many skill levels a single person can have. Something like a multiple of Int or something?

These things would force the survival part of the game to last much longer. getting to 8 mechanics skill in a few days and able to build your Tank of Death would now takes a year, during which you would need to survive on foot, or with whatever cars you can find.


  1. This just stretches the time required for learning. A year is a ton of time, it may be better to just disable book skilling for crafting altogether and just have them provide recipes (possibly more than now). Then it would be all about craftgrind.

  2. Combat skill books are usually only to lvl 3, sometimes 4. The ones up to lvl 1 or 2 are nearly useless, because you will have those levels before you get the books.

  3. This would make useless skills (construction, swimming, barter) even more useless, while doing nothing to the ones everyone wants already.

getting to 8 mechanics skill in a few days and able to build your Tank of Death would now takes a year, during which you would need to survive on foot, or with whatever cars you can find.

actualy you need only 1 level in mechanics* to make tank of death, everything elsle is practice with book under the hood (lvl up to 2) i got over 10 because i got a lot of exp from repairing, removing and installing car parts

Combat skills - level 1 or 2 at most from books. Those skills need to be learned by using.

unless you have mods that add new combat skill books they are useless at all, only 101 wrestle moves is usefull just for the brawling style its far faster and easier to grind combat skills on fungaloids or blobs

Limit how many skill levels a single person can have. Something like a multiple of Int or something?

first we need to make smart npc, having limited amout of skills will be insane limit for survivor, unless we at least have npcs what can be trained in skills and they can craft what we order for now this idea will fit here

*you do not need any books at all to train mechanics, with lock pick you can go for lvl 1 and then you can learn everything in practice

You both make good points.

I am not looking to replace book reading with craft grinding. That is just annoying. Its annoying in MMOs and unforgivable in a single player game.

What I am looking to do is achieve a few things:

  1. Slow down the leap forward in power that comes with being able to easily repair and modify vehicles. Vehicles is where the game goes from Zombie Survival to Let’s Make Zombie Roadkill. That has little to do with skill as Arek_PL points out… as I mentioned elsewhere… repairing your vehicle should require additional materials, not just activating your welder, and shouldn’t really increase skills that much.

  2. Hand in hand, increase the amount of the game that is focused on holing up, battling to keep yourself fed, warm, sheltered and not eaten … but slowly improving in surivability and gaining strength (hence the limit that skills should be able to improve in a single day… so, now that I think about it, it shouldn’t just be a limit on how much you can learn from books in a 24 hour period, it should be how much you can learn from any combo of book learning and practice.

  3. I agree that the skill cap would need to balanced with having NPCs that could help, which would require a lot of work, because NPCs are pretty useless right now.

  4. Your guys’ point on combat skills in books, all make sense, so scratch that.

Overall, the game lets you leap forward in power way to quickly.

Honestly, books providing skillups is one of the weakest balanced parts of the game. I’d really like to see it entirely removed, with books just offering recipes. Players should know autolearn recipes one or two ranks higher than their current skill (and with the according abysmal chances of success) to allow for more goal oriented crafting, and there should be a pass of the items at various skill levels to make sure that using them/making things with them is something players want to do as a day to day thing to get a constant trickle of XP.

I like that idea!

repairing car parts consuming things just like repairing items? its actualy good idea this do not need to be expensive but someone with small car will have to scarifce a lot of cargo space for scrap metal or he cant make repairs in field

i battled hordes by just repairing my truck while pulse lasers killed most zombies

craftgrinding would suck major balls, i don’t think much should be done about books yet - if anything, learning from npcs should be nerfed.

If you don’t like skill books I’m sure a mod that removes them will fix that up for ya. I personally like skill books a lot because of the nature of a roguelike. If you die and have to massive grind all of those skills back up again that’d kill my motivation to play another character.

It only sucks because of how the crafting is set up - you get no skill gain for the majority of skills unless you’re making things, and there’s very few cases where you’d make anything that’s a consumable until later in the game. If you could make a few nifty (but bulky) consumable gadgets at each level (or had reason to use the skill ‘in the field’), it would eliminate grinding more than push it for all but the highest skill levels, which should be difficult to achieve.

It’s like mechanics - grinding it high with skill books is a waste of time since building your deathmobile will get you plenty of skill ups. That’s perfect. But first aid, on the other hand, pretty much has to be done with books since there’s no other way to reasonably raise it.

But for a system like that to work it would have to be set up in a way that would force people to do those tasks. Like the example you made with mechanics, I personally don’t make a death mobile I just make a simple enough motorcycle to carry stuff and get around. Basically what I am saying is that it would be hard to really perfect that kind of skill gain without making players do things that they might not want to do, ruining parts of the game for them. Well, that’s assuming that skill books are removed(at least in their current form)… if they can put that in as an option that’d be fantastic as it could pander to everyone but that’s sounds like it would tkae a lot of work to rework the system and think of feasible things to way to grind every skill up gradually.

The issue here is how all of us play this fantastic game differently, and how we therefore grow bored or displeased in different ways. Some of us justifiably want slower learning, others want less grind and tedium (and therefore faster gameflow). I myself recently wanted slower booklearning but now I want it to happen faster. I recognize in myself the phase where I’m growing bored of a good game, one with a VERY high replay value. Many aspects of the game feel like a grind to me now, which is just inevitable for any game. Recently I’ve used debugging functions quite liberally to skip and fast-forward various things that I know I’d accomplish easily anyway. Among those things is that I started to skip reading books altogether by giving myself the skill level that each book would eventually grant anyway… but I still maintained the demand that I’d have to get the proper book first. Doing so quite obviously accelerates the game. The instant rewards are great - the game isn’t a reading/eating/sleeping simulator anymore. Chore-be-gone. The flaw and the injustice in it is that I don’t know exactly how much food, water and time should be consumed. That’s all that reading takes anyway. But then again, food is NEVER a problem in Cata, and you’ll have all the time in the world. I have suggestions for three mutually exclusive mods regarding accelerated reading:

The first one should be easy to produce: Simply grant the player the book’s skill level upon reading one chapter of the book. That should accelerate things nicely for us who are tired of fiddling with books. You’d still have to meet the book’s requirements first.

The second one is more complex: It involves a special food crate (pending name), specifically made for reading sessions, which needs to be stocked with food and water by the player. The player then engages book reading, and proper amount of food (nutrition/quench) is deleted from the crate as time is skipped forward. The game would have to first check if the crate has enough food for the duration it’d take for the player to complete the book. Any temporary bonuses to stats should be ignored in regards to reading speed. Hostile creature presence should be ignored, or largely ignored, meaning that you wouldn’t be allowed to start reading if there are hostile creatures anywhere near you. The main points in this mod are that food is consumed, time is skipped forward and skills are gained, but not recipes. All other environmental simulation is skipped, or rather paused, with the possible exception of food rot outside the designated food crate. Sleep could be ignored too, or included in the calculations. Possible season changes should be considered. Positive health effects from the foods should be ignored but not the negative effects, just to discourage exploitation of auto-eating really bad food. Alternatively, disallow stocking of “bad food” altogether such as allergenic foods, or foods with “high” negative health effect, be it -2 or more for example. Post edit: The “special food crate” could be just player inventory…

The third one could be tricky to produce, but the idea is that as long as the player carries a (non-combat related) book, he enjoys the skill level the book would eventually grant. It’d be like a controlled temporary bonus. You could still have the choice to read the book normally to gain the levels permanently, but that might require some code-fu because you are carrying the book and the temporary skill level bonus might complicate actual learning… This mod would, for example, let you repair your vehicle while you carried the right book and had the right tools nearby. You would also be able to craft high-end things, possibly with penalties to crafting success chances. The main point is that you’d have to carry a proper skill book in order to do a job but surely you wouldn’t be OK with carrying all the books all the time, which should force some decisions and compromises.

Hmm… Here’s an idea.

What if books didn’t give experience directly, but instead gave large bonuses to the rate at which you earn xp while your skill level is in the book’s given range (they also still contain recipes as normal)? It doesn’t make sense for one to be able to read a book, then immediately go out and create some advanced digital electronics or something, but I do think it makes a lot of sense for reading a book to allow you to catch on to concepts much quicker and advance much quicker when actually practicing. For example, with crafting-related skills, such as electronics or fabrication, you’d read about the principles behind it, then master them when you practice. For combat skills, you’d read about the various techniques, then perfect them when you try them out on enemies. Also, you’d have to return to the book periodically after leveling up in order to grasp the finer points you couldn’t understand before.

This way, books don’t just instantly impart knowledge on the reader like they currently do, but it would also minimize skill grinding. Also, to further reduce skill grinding for book users (at least for crafting skills), I feel that progress at the higher levels should be more-or-less linear for book users, as long as they practice by crafting more and more complex items. If you think about it, it really shouldn’t take all that many successful crafting projects for someone to get better at something, as long as the projects are of an appropriate level of difficulty. If someone builds three or four electronic devices successfully, they’d probably be ready to create a more complex device. Skill leveling should benefit most from the quality of practice, not the quantity.

I like the idea of accelerated skill gain speed, but I’d still grant at least 1 additional skill level from a book after it has been read, whatever the reading duration might be. It’d still be gain-skill-by-grinding but not so much.

Passive and automatic skill gain might be worth exploring too, which is to say the skills increase passively without doing anything simply via simulated… thinking, meditation and active figuring-out, which is to present the idea that “You read something, and it stimulates further ideas, providing insight over time.” Of course that can only take you so far before hands-on tests, trials and experiments are necessary.

Hey all, first post here.

I think it’s a great idea to have books help learn faster without giving full knowledge immediately. I’ve been thinking about a system that would allow this and would also work with skill rust.

[ul][li]Basically, the game would track two values for each skill: practical knowledge and theoretical knowledge.[/li]
[li]When the two values are equals, xp would be gained for both through practice at the same rate as the current version. When practical knowledge is less than theoretical knowledge, you would get xp faster.[/li]
[li]Reading books would only increase theoretical knowledge. You would need to practice afterwards to reach your max.[/li]
[li]Skill rust would affect practical knowledge only so that you can “relearn” and get back to your past skill level faster than someone who has no prior experience.[/li]
[li]I think you could try crafting as soon as your theoretical level reaches the recipe’s requirements but the success would be dependent upon the practical knowledge. Crafting would take longer with a low practical skill level, with a chance of failure or damaged result.[/li]
[li]Some skills like computers might need a way to practice safely up to a point (maybe crafting recipes that need computers?)[/li][/ul]

With a system like this, reading would accelerate experience gain but you would need to practice afterwards. You could practice with a larger choice of recipes than someone with no books, although at first, the crafting would be less efficient than someone who has practical knowledge.

Many variations of that idea have been posted (I posted a split idea like that something like a year ago now), and I am under the impression that the devs are planning something along those lines at some point, it just hasn’t gotten high enough on the list to be worked on yet.

It’s more like the ideas aren’t offering a clear, obviously good solution. There are multiple ways to handle it and not one of them is perfect.

Just changing skill gain rate would not work with booklocked skills (first aid, electronics, computers), meaning they would have to be reworked first. And booklocked skills are the ones you want to bookgrind the most.

I personally like the way books are implemented. Are book reading rates adjusted to season length? If they are then I really like the way books work in the game currently. IRL if I had a book with a recipe for something I wanted to make, I could just read that specific recipe. Even in a subject that I had no experience in. I may make a shoddy, dangerous, or otherwise imperfect end product but it’s not like I couldn’t try making crack cocaine right now in my apartment if I had the appropriate materials and a recipe even if I’ve never cooked an egg before. In Cata, you do have to level up some skills to learn some recipes, but it takes some time and especially heading into Year 1 winter, time is of the essence. And I think the multitude of books available in Cata is about perfect. Just enough so that you can remember which ones you should be looking for if you’ve played enough, but not too many so that as a beginner you feel completely lost. I’m not opposed to a change in how books work, but I think the way they work now isn’t a huge imbalancing issue and imo there are plenty of other things that should take precedence over reworking book learning

[quote=“Coolthulhu, post:17, topic:11767”]It’s more like the ideas aren’t offering a clear, obviously good solution. There are multiple ways to handle it and not one of them is perfect.

Just changing skill gain rate would not work with booklocked skills (first aid, electronics, computers), meaning they would have to be reworked first. And booklocked skills are the ones you want to bookgrind the most.[/quote]

For first aid, a few basic crafts would do wonders to bootstrapping up the skill - a makeshift bandage at skill 0 that provides almost no healing but can reliably stop bleeding, a would irrigator at skill 2 that can clean deep wounds but nothing else, etc. I’d also like to see medical kits made into a tool and medical supplies an ‘ammo’ - a first aid kit is smaller than a doctor’s bag, but a doctor’s bag offers a significant benefit. Herbal medical supplies are far easier to make than cutting edge biotech, but nowhere near as good. Both can still be jammed into either your travel medkit or your portable surgery unit. I’ve started a rough draft json document for some of the first aid changes but the tweaks to let the heal iuse consume ammo charges would need to come from the code side to let most of those be a thing.

For most of the others, I think what they’d need would be a bunch of useful, low cost consumables that are relatively easy to make but also somewhat bulky. Supercharged tasers with 2-3 tiles of range that use the electronics skill for combat, caltrops bagged up and lobbed with a crafted water balloon launcher (bonus launcher skillups!), and gadgets like attaching a noisemaker to an explosive to attract zombies before exploding, etc. Electronics really isn’t in that bad a place because of how much stuff there is to disassemble and how many recipes there are to learn from disassembly - it would just do good with a few bootstrap tweaks (like a crude electric firestarter that uses a pile of batteries per use at skill 0, upgradeable to a more efficient tool at skill 1 or 2).

I think speech and barter really need significant work on the world to really have any value so aren’t worth worrying about ATM, and swimming/driving are both kind of doomed to remain niche beyond basic competency. Computers is the only real wildcard, because it seems to only be “hacking”, which makes it pretty pointless until/unless the world is entirely overhauled to have piles of digital gadgets to mess with. There might be a whole weird implementation of automated gadgets that require crafted code to make, but that’s a whole different sport than adding some autolearn recipes and checking the 0->10 crafting paths.

Hopefully by next week I can have a bunch of the ideas up in the lab for more substantial comment, but does any of that seem wildly off course?

Low level first aid sounds OK, but it would need something more than just being regular first aid with worse stats. Different crafting materials, huge volume (1 per charge, for example), negative side effects (heal_actor supports side effects).
Cheap items healing hp damage is not OK. For example, bandages from rags disinfected just by boiling - if they healed hp, they’d allow nearly infinite healing from just rags.

Heal_actor probably wouldn’t need too many changes to work with tools rather than comestibles. It would need a check for 0 ammo. Not sure if anything else.

Tasers using electronics for combat sound bad - being better at electronics won’t help to aim the taser. Also, tasers are too high up to allow unlocking electronics as a skill.
Caltrop launcher doesn’t sound useful, except for skill grinding. Skill grinding should only be a side effect.
Electric firestarter could just be automatically unlocked. Having 2 firestarters, neither of which is useful for anything, would be worse than having just one firestarter useful only for grinding electronics.

Speech, barter, swimming and driving can be ignored for now. Only driving really does something here.
Computers are a mess, but they should remain usable because multiple recipes depend on them and because they’re the only way a non-overpowered survivor can open lab CBM sections and finale without using rare tools.