Skill/Leveling rebalance feedback thread

So I merged a somewhat controversial skilling rebalance early this morning. Basically, higher levels take way longer to achieve, BUT crafting gives XP based on the time the craft takes (longer projects are more instructive) and ranged attacks give bonus XP based on shot difficulty and quality of hit (crits = more XP, not just more damage).

Obviously this is going to need some attention. Whether that attention is acclaim for the modder’s vision, nitpicks about the process, change requests based on things we didn’t adequately consider, or some combination thereof, well, that’s what this thread is for.

Have at it!

From the discussion thread, I noticed this:

What I'd like to address the issue of grinding useless items for levels is to add training/practice activities, so if there's nothing to raise your level right now, you can still make progress doing something sensical.

I’m struggling to see what meaningful difference there is to the player between sitting in a basement somewhere turning a hundred cloth into socks versus sitting in a basement somewhere using a hundred cloth to practice sewing, other than the pile of socks at the end. It’s both grind. Maybe I’m just misunderstanding what form a practice activity would take.

That said, I’d rather take a totally different look at the issue - the problem with a ‘need to grind’ comes up when a player needs to get a skill up to craft a certain thing and there really isn’t much at their current skill level that’s worth crafting. So why not let the player learn the auto-learn recipes as if their skills were 1-2 levels higher? Their chance to accomplish those crafts would be pretty miserable until they get their skills up, but it would be more like iron chef microwave toiling away at a hollandaise sauce and screwing it up until they get it right than the current system of iron chef microwave nuking enough hotdogs that they suddenly realize how to make a hollandaise sauce. On top of this, it would also have the effect of creating player choice when it comes to rare materials - you probably won’t want to throw MBR vests at survivor gear if you’re a couple levels short of the requirements. It’d also help with bizarre crafting chains like how it’s a good idea to make a digging stick to go furrow and tamp some dirt to get your construction skill to 1 such that you can make a stone shovel or ax.

One more suggestion I would pull from just reading that thread is that actually performing first aid really needs a big XP boost. I don’t think I’ve ever managed to actually raise it a level in game without a book. Maybe some of that could come from later expansion of what one could do with first aid, but it just always felt really wonky as-is.

I’ll install it and play around with it when I get home, hopefully get some more specific feedback.

To sum up problems discussed in the issue on github Skill training overhaul by facepalm · Pull Request #11695 · CleverRaven/Cataclysm-DDA · GitHub

[ol][li]Blowguns level archery too fast[/li]
[li]First aid levels too slow[/li]
[li]Mechanics skill is balanced around fast leveling, leveling it is no longer fast[/li]
[li]Shotguns level noticeably slower than pistols[/li]
[li]You can still grind, most non-crafting skills aren’t capped[/li][/ol]

I like this idea. Would make intelligence matter more and hint at some sort of experimenting.
Also, it makes sense: a survivor surrounded by acorns should try to boil them rather than subsisting on pine nuts while grinding cooking by making superglue from bough. Would also close the gaps in crafting skills that have levels without much useful stuff, like tailoring at level 4.

[quote=“Coolthulhu, post:3, topic:9237”][ul][li]Blowguns level archery too fast[/li]
[li]Shotguns level noticeably slower than pistols[/li][/ul][/quote]

It looks like a lot of the XP gain is driven by per-shot calculations. I did just test this with a straight 8’s character and while blowguns were hilariously good for getting your skill up to 2-ish, they stopped giving an appreciable amount of skill pretty quickly.

Now that I’m thinking about it, though, I haven’t given ANY thought to my focus which may have something to do with that.

New system gives ranged skill XP for two things: range and accuracy (old one only for accuracy). This range scaling is quite strong, which is why shotguns lag behind everything else.

Managed to finally get some free time to test it out and couldn’t get a guy to survive more than a few minutes outside the shelter due to insane wolves, zombie bears, or having a bio operator break through the window while I was trying to make a backpack. Said screw it and fired up the debug cheats. I’d say the change in XP gain is extremely noticeable once you’re trying to hit level 3 through the normal ‘grind out 8 of these’ methods of getting your skills up. At fabrication 6, spending five hours making a hatchet (difficulty 6) provided a bit less than a quarter of the way to the next level - a pretty massive improvement over the old system. I’m still pretty suspicious about the difficulties in getting mechanics up (without just shredding a dozen cars), but I think it’s a pretty damn good implementation. Hopefully I’ll get the time to really run it through its paces this week.

The one possible nit is that I’m not seeing any difference in skill gain from books - not sure if that’s intended or not (or if it’s been fixed already).

After getting some time to play with the new system, I can say that I like it much more than the old system. Increasing my skills feels a little more challenging, while at the same time, finishing large projects is very rewarding with it’s exp gain. I do wish for two things, I fear neither of which are easy to do:
Being able to partially start a project, do some other things, and then resume the same project later.
Having crafting give you exp while you’re working on it, not all at the end.
These would drastically help the really high level fab recipes that can take an entire day to complete.

[quote=“PropaneSoup, post:7, topic:9237”]After getting some time to play with the new system, I can say that I like it much more than the old system. Increasing my skills feels a little more challenging, while at the same time, finishing large projects is very rewarding with it’s exp gain. I do wish for two things, I fear neither of which are easy to do:
Being able to partially start a project, do some other things, and then resume the same project later.
Having crafting give you exp while you’re working on it, not all at the end.
These would drastically help the really high level fab recipes that can take an entire day to complete.[/quote]

Or get interrupted. I hate that. 10 hrs on a project and 5min from the end something interrupts you.

A prompt to ‘Continue the last crafting from where you left on. This is your only chance. (y/n)?’

reasoning is that you have all of the supplies spread out etc, and starting something new means moving all of that hence you’ll have to start over on the project.

Could you add a partilly constructed object to the reality bubble that remembers how close it is from beign completed?
This way one could do something else instead if the need arises and not lose the materials and time invested.

That’s a good idea, extending it a bit we could make crafting fully incremental, so every turn you spend moves, gain skill xp, and update the ‘in-progress’ item, and occasionally consume an item.
The items consumed so far could be added to the in progress item as well, so even if an item you intended to use were destroyed before you use it, you could leave, get a new one, come back, and finish the item.
You might even be able to start crafting before you have everything, and crafting would stop when you run out of ingredients for the item.
This might also provide a solution for the problem of automating assembly of subcomponents. Say you have a bunch of thread you want to make into a rope, but you have to turn the thread into string first. If you try and craft a rope, it could see that you don’t have any string, and try to apply the recipe to make it, it finds the thread and starts crafting string, and whenever it has string, it adds it to the rope until either the rope is done or you run out of thread. Determining whether you have enough subcomponents to make something through an arbitrary set of recipes is a very hard problem for a computer, but if we do it incrementally it’s possible.

I like that train of thought.

Sounds like a cubic ton of work though?

Yea, it would be quite a lot, but no particular piece is that hard, and it breaks down nicely into separate features, so it’s at least manageable. The payoff is really nice though, this is something I’ll work on if no one beats me to it (that’s not going to be any time soon though, a light map overhaul, hordes, and probably several other things would come first)

To keep thinking positive: z-levels seemed like a metric ton of work, too, but Coolthulhu has broken them up into little chunks :slight_smile:

I still have to play the new addition, and I was wondering, does the skill rust changes in the new skill system?

As for the partial crafting: it could probably be made much easier by having the partially constructed item be an item.

That way it could be moved around, canceled (deconstructed), restarted (just activate it), have construction progress stored and saved as item parameters etc.

Oh yea, I was assuming it would be an item instead of a new type of object.

The idea of partially crafted items also has possibilities for half-build projects found in basements, garages, etc. Maybe finding a half-built widget could give you a chance at completing it and/or learning the recipe.

I like that idea. Going into a basement and seeing a half built insert project here as if the previous occupant had a hobby he/she never got to complete.

Handguns seem to develop slower than other gun skills. Anyone else observing this?

What’s the current mechanic again? Is XP gain always based on inflicted damage for guns? Maybe base the system on range for handguns, rewarding more XP for hitting targets at the furthest ranges of a handgun? Then again, that would mean that Rivtech handguns (bullets) would need to be revamped, since their ranges are enormous. Or maybe just reward more XP for those unlikely shots, but with a cap. Should gun skills each have a different approach for XP gain?

I experienced this on version 3204 or 3218. My character had accumulated nice gun skills through an amount of experience that I found fair - rifles (10), shotguns (7), SMGs (7), but then handguns (4), which IMO is way off compared to how much I had used pistols. It should’ve been right there with rifles, I feel.

I guess I also wish the game kept a weapon usage record of some sort? Attacks performed for each weapon category, number of bullets fired, hit percentage, total damage inflicted, average damage per shot, average difficulty of fired shots, average range of fired shots, number of low damage or zero damage hits, number of critical hits… that sort of stuff, in a separate TXT file, for later gawking.

Can you explain this in more depth? I came back to Cataclysm after last playing around the release of 0.6 and I intensely dislike how gaining ranged combat skill works now, insofar as I understand it (which is not very well.)

It used to be you could pick the best weapon available to you at your stats and crafting skill, use it, and you would get better at using it. This was a good system – it worked intuitively and meant that just playing normally would eventually get you where you needed to be. Melee (as far as I can tell) still works this way, but when I try to use a bow with an average-statted character I get no skill gain at all, and the only advice I could find on my own was “just use a blowgun to train,” which worked, but means that if I want to improve my archery I have to use a separate non-optimal weapon and grind levels against weak enemies.