I’ve been pondering how skill advancement works recently, and I’m starting to get dissatisfied with tallying up performing actions to measure practice of skills, particularly combat skills.
This isn’t how it works in reality, you pile a huge amount of time into practicing a skill so that you can perform it proficiently when needed. Sometimes this fits (notably crafting, you do just craft stuff over and over to get better in reality), but for shooting, melee, dodging, or most other active skills, you do tend to learn things in more “real” scenarios, but you’re looking for insight not skills. To hone your skills, you again perform the same actions over and over again, you PRACTICE.
It also makes it into a grind, you end up using an interface that isn’t necessarally suited for performing the same action over and over again. Once again, crafting works ok, partially because each invocation of the command takes a significant amount of in-game time, and therefore your progress per command is fairly high. Also it turns into a minigame of accumulating the tools, components needed to practice, more engagement = more fun!
What am I getting at? Here’s an outline of what I think is a better way.
The fundamental skilling action is practicing, you’re investing time and the associated externalities (fatigue, hunger, thirst, attention/morale, and any consumed resources) and getting higher skills in return.
Actually doing the activity also practices, but it doesn’t get special treatment as far as actually gaining skill (caveat later), it’s mostly good for fighting off rust.
Speaking of, rust would follow the planned system we have where it assesses penalties to using the skill, but never degrades your progress in absolute skill, at worst it shows down further skill increases by diverting some practice from skilling to removing rust.
Some skills, like crafting, will probably still be dominated by actually performing the action, but will likely also have a “practice” activity to avoid micromanagement of crafting/uncrafting things just for practice.
The UI for practice would be -> practice actions menu (similar to crafting menu), then probably pick a duration.
Also like recipes, practice actions would have json definitions, with durations, inputs, and outputs. For example they might consume components like sewing practice does, shooting practice would consume ammunition
Some practice actions would practice several skills simultaneously, and would divide progress between them, some might expend different resources in order to practice the same skills, we might have a system where effectiveness of different practice actions falls off and recovers over time, so cycling between actions would be encouraged.
Also also like recipes, practice actions would need to be LEARNED.
Here’s where that caveat from above comes in, what you get from using a skill “in anger” is insight, we represent this by e.g. combat actions having a chance to unlock practice actions of various kinds, which you can then use later for more efficient or targeted practice. You’d get a decent selection of practice actions that you learn just from using the default brawling style, or melee with weapons.
You can also gain insight->practice actions from reading books, from NPC teachers, and possibly just from skill levelling.
I’m thinking martial arts would supply a lot of this, because martial arts are not only a way of fighting, but a way of learning. You might train a lot with capoeira for the dodge boost, but not use it that much in combat.
I keep coming back to the adage that it takes 10,000 hours to master a skill. That’s a damned imposing number, and it SHOULD be. “This is a GAME man! I don’t want to spend 10 simulated years practicing a skill!” is a valid argument. How about this though, that’s the baseline, and we “gameify” it to the extent necessary for the purposes of fun, but the basic concept is “X hours of practice to master a skill”. Also, that’s the amount of practice time to reach world-class skill level, the top of our skill scale. Past that point, you only have to practice to keep rust off (which will accumulate relatively rapidly at the upper end, but also gets practiced away rapidly, probably with a bonus if the skill is capped). Finally, progression falls off exponentially yes? So it’s of course very front-loaded.
Breaking the 10,000 hour number down, with 10 levels, and remembering both of these numbers can change:
(I’m alternating 2x and 5x between each level, mostly to keep the base-10 numbers nice and round, in reality we’d probably have the same multiplier for each level)
lvl 0: no practice time
lvl 1: 12 minutes
lvl 2: 1 hour
lvl 3: 2 hours
lvl 4: 10 hours
lvl 5: 20 hours
lvl 6: 100 hours
lvl 7: 200 hours
lvl 8: 1,000 hours
lvl 9: 2,000 hours
lvl 10: 10,000 hours
I don’t know about you, but the early part of that curve makes a hell of a lot of sense to me.
12 minutes to not tripping over yourself? ok
An hour to work out the kinks and start feeling a little proficiency? sure
Another hour to figure out some more subtleties? reasonable
A solid day of practice (8 hours) to really solidify the skill? yea
With even progression, it seems the progression is roughtly 2.5/level (10th root of 10,000)
lvl 0: none
lvl 1: 2 1/2 hrs
lvl 2: 6 1/2 hrs (4 hours past 1)
lvl 3: 15 1/2 hrs (9 past 2)
lvl 4: 39 hrs (23 hours past 3)
lvl 5: 97 1/2 hrs (58 hours past 4)
lvl 6: 244 hrs (148 hours past 5)
lvl 7: 610 hrs (366 hours past 6)
lvl 8: 1525 hrs (915 hours past 7)
lvl 9: 3814 hrs (2280 hours past 8)
lvl 10: 10000 hrs (6200 hours past 9)
With more agressive rounding:
lvl 0: none
lvl 1: 2 hrs
lvl 2: 6 hrs
lvl 3: 15 hrs
lvl 4: 40 hrs
lvl 5: 100 hrs
lvl 6: 250 hrs
lvl 7: 600 hrs
lvl 8: 1500 hrs
lvl 9: 4000 hrs
lvl 10: 10000 hrs
Anyway, that’s what I’ve been thinking about (often when I’m supposed to be listening to my t’ai chi instructor, bad Kevin!)