Buying Skill Ranks

Are we past the point of repeatedly buying the same skill as you level, to get Fire Bolt II, Fire Bolt III, …, Fire Bolt CXVI? Just scale the skills with levels. I understand that having ten versions of each skill gives the illusion of “something new every level,” but you can give rewards that do not mess with your game’s scaling. You can even use a point investment mechanic to get most of the same effect without the annoyance of re-training and adjusting the hotbar.

City of Heroes does this. The Lord of the Rings Online™ does this (except for passive skills). Warhammer Online does this. Dungeon and Dragons, the basis for all these CRPG mechanics, has been doing this for decades (fireball does 1d6 damage per caster level, capped at 10d6), although not so much in 4th Edition.

Really, we promise to pretend not to notice that our spells do 5% more damage while we are fighting goblins with 5% more hit points. MMO players are used to looking past that. Just stop pretending that Fire Bolt III was a good design decision, and especially do not start calling them Lesser Fire Bolt, Fire Bolt, Improved Fire Bolt, Greater Fire Bolt, Lesser Fire Blast, Fire Blast, …, Supreme Exalted Fire Conflagration… And double-especially do not do that while having all those fire bolts on an alphabetized skill screen with no indication of level order.

: Zubon

6 thoughts on “Buying Skill Ranks”

  1. How about buying add-ons to your fireball instead of just more damage.

    Fel-fireball does shadow and fire damage.
    Ignite does burning over time.
    Melt add an armour debuff penalty.
    Blast does additional splash damage on hit.

    Some games do this via a talent system, but I liked the idea of “going back to see my trainer” and learn “new skills”. Clicking a new talent out in the field doesn’t work for me.

    WOW finally moved away from this in Cataclysm (v4). And it took a massive effort to rebuild the skill tree to see this change go live – pretty sure they will be re-balancing for months. I’m not sure if any other existing game can afford this type of re-design.

    So it comes back to new games – hopefully we don’t see this anymore in any of the new upcoming MMOs.

    oh ya. Finally I got to get this rant off my chest: LOTRO’s passive skills were a slap in the face for me. Absolutely hated it. What the hell is evade 2. Just get rid of it – I’d rather I learn nothing at that level! Learning “active skills” I can understand. Learning Passive Evade 2?

  2. What always confused me about the whole ‘return to training, skill up the same ability’ is that in a themepark, character progression is one of the bigger carrots, yet you delay that gratification and lump it all in when someone visits a trainer, which is usually during downtime. Makes zero sense. My guy just dinged, give me my new toys to play with now, so that ding has some immediate value.

    1. I kinda like that the trainer mechanic forces me to take a little break. Go back to town, organize my bags and my thoughts, maybe participate in the player economy a little.

      I also think that the more stuff that happens automatically in the field with no narrative underpinning, the more the game world’s sense of place is sacrificed on the altar of immediate gratification.

      Whether this is a good or a bad trend depends on whether you’re Raph Koster or the average impatient MMO player, I suppose.

  3. And that’s why I was really surprised and disappointed when I saw skill tiers in Guild Wars 2, with it’s predecessor being a nice example of their absence…

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