Saturday, July 24, 2010

"Backgrounds" - The compromise of class selection and skill tree

One of the unwritten design guides I've followed in magecrawl has been to not ask the player for choices they can't answer before the game starts. The first time I launch a game and am ambushed by something like this (care of Crawl Stone Soup):

I get overwhelmed with choices. What the difference between fighers and gladiators? What is the difference fire/ice/air/earth elementalists? These choices are ones that are difficult to make before playing (multiple) times.

The reason this came up during my initial balancing effort is that I realized balancing some options were difficult. For example, how much should the heavy armor skill be? I didn't want to start the player with equipment they couldn't use, so by default they'd have to scavenge for at least part of a set before taking the option would make sense. It'd need to be powerful enough that it'd be worth going to all that trouble, but not so broken as that'd be the only logical choice.

Letting the player choose to use armor/heavy armor before the game makes some sense, as I could start them with a set of said armor at the beginning of the game. I've decided to try to take some of the nice features of crawl's system and pair them down to something more reasonable:

Opinions? These starting backgrounds would provide the initial equipment and preselect some skills in the skill tree. However, there's nothing to prevent a Templar from selecting skills from a tree and become a ranged attacker, beyond the penalty from using heavy armor.

1 comment:

fu said...

Sounds like a good rule to adhere too, although don't cheat yourself out of some eventual discovery. Some other games manage a similar approach by unlocking new player classes after a playthrough, keeping the initial player from being overwhelmed by choice at first, but also providing incentive to keep playing and exploring.