Concepts: Character Attributes and Specializations

Lark

Epic Adventurer
MSC Developer
MSR Developer
Lead MSR Developer
Dec 30, 2009
75
59
Oregon
UPDATE: These ideas will be play-tested and refined later on, but keep posting ideas!

I've spent the day mulling over Attributes for MS:R. I'm no Gygax, but I have some ideas I'd like to run by the community. I personally like MS:C's Jack-of-all-Trades style of skill progression, but if you don't like it and/or want more specialization for MS:R,

THIS IS YOUR CHANCE TO SAY SO!

First, some ground rules for Attributes:

- They must be simple. It should not take a dozen variables to calculate jump height.
- They must be as discrete as possible. Agility, Dexterity, and Flexibility are somewhat indistinguishable Attributes depending on the context, which just causes confusion.
- (Personal Preference) They must be meaningful. I love MS:C, but its Attributes increase with seemingly-arbitrary values. If I have all my skills at the same level, why do I have twice as much Strength as Agility? Does the average Player understand what that means, or do they even care?

Secondly, here's a few Attributes I'm considering, and a few gameplay elements they drive:

- Strength: Carry weight, power/speed of heavy weapons, jump height, adds to HP and weight.
- Speed: Dodge/Evade, run/jump speed, lowers body weight.
- Agility: Block/Parry, Stealth, Martial Arts block/throw/disarm.
- Perception: Detect stealth, increases ranged accuracy and critical strike rate.
- Endurance: Status resistance, adds to HP and Stamina.
- Spirit: Magic resistance, adds to MP (and spellcasting ability).
- Wisdom/Intelligence: Not sure yet. Increases skill/spell exp gain?
- Charisma: Affects NPC interactions?

Finally, some future poll questions I'd like to pose to all of you: What level of interaction do you want with Attributes as the Player?

1.) Automatic (MS:C-style): "If Attributes auto-increase when I level up, that's great, but I don't really care as long as it helps me do more damage."
2.) Limited/Specialized: Give the player 10 points to add to attributes at Character Creation and 1 more per level-up, but rerolling can be expensive.
3.) Unlimited: Have a slider or something where the Player can change their stats to focus on spellcasting instead of tanking (outside of combat).

Let me know if you have any ideas or if I should add something here. Thanks!
 
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Lucifer Majiskus

Renowned Adventurer
Sons of Babel
Alpha Tester
Mar 9, 2009
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An igloo far up North.
I like 1) Automatic leveling ala Elder Scrolls... Granted, I also like specializing. Diablo does something similar. Maybe you can pick a starting class.. Then you can choose to specialize by simply leveling what you want to use. Dark Souls also does this (sans the automatic part). This would allow you to level anything you choose and use anything you'd like, without being stuck into class types like "Only rogues can use daggers"
 

Lucifer Majiskus

Renowned Adventurer
Sons of Babel
Alpha Tester
Mar 9, 2009
1,255
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An igloo far up North.
I think a combination of all of them is the best. Hard to explain without referencing other games

I really would like benefits to specializing in something but you should have to use that thing to level it. If it were ideal in MS:C, your two highest leveled skills should give you some sort of buff in one/both of those skills.
 

Age

Adventurer
Socialist Guild
Alpha Tester
MSR Developer
Jun 15, 2008
500
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Somewhere over the rainbow.
I have no qualms with the basic RPG attribute categories but I think more information is needed here. Mostly, you mention #1 as being automatic, MS:C style, but the MS:C automatic attribute leveling is directly tied into the JoaT weapon skill system, which personally I feel makes the attributes a set of arbitrary values as it relates to the player character, they may as well be hidden as we meaningfully interact near-to-none with them versus the weapon skills. (Re-reading your post it seems you feel the same.)

However, regardless of my feelings there, I say that to point out that without knowing how you intend for the character to level up, it is difficult to make an informed decision to how I'd prefer my stats be allocated. Do you plan to add the same weapon skills system as MS:C? Will it be straight copy-pasta or salted for flavor? Or do you plan to have these listed attributes be the governing factor for weapons and armor equip requirements? Perhaps a diluted, generalized form of weapon skills (e.g. Heavy Weapons, Light Weapons, Archery)?

Personally, I hate JoaT systems with a passion when it comes to combat, but I'm willing to concede that it likely has to do with how JoaT systems exist predominantly in the gaming landscape today, Runescape, Albion Online, and MS:C being my main exposures.

TL;DR Albion and Elder Scrolls Online have super cool "class" systems that I personally consider a potential substitute for the MS:C do-it-all-or-you're-fucked design. Skip the next two paragraphs if you don't care about my ramblings for Albion Online. Skip to the final paragraph for my response.

In Runescape 3, class 'roles' are defined by your weapon, but each melee, ranged or mage has the exact same set of abilities/spells and you can even hotswap weapons/roles should you need; that said as far as life skills or profession skills go, I enjoy and prefer Runescape's concept more than most, which is further aided by Runescape's massive world and extensive list of interactions within it. Oldschool Runescape has no global abilities for melee/ranged but similar to MS:C, certain weapons (mostly mid+ leveled) have a special attack that leads to gimmicky combat swapping to maximize DPS or KO somebody in PvP.

Albion admittedly has one of my favorite ability/spell systems and overall implementations to date, very similar to Elder Scrolls Online where there are absolutely no attributes, but each and every piece of equipment on your character influences what abilities you have access to in a wild west of mix-and-match chaos to create your perfect build, and the list of options you have access to is big. For example, armor is divided as such: plate armor sacrifices offense for defense, leather is the balanced middle, cloth for max offense. Each category has innate passives and global abilities for that type, but then further, each helmet, chest piece, and boots within those types has its own individual active skill, to specialize into protection, crowd control, utility, damage, etc. Same goes for weapons, your weapon determines your "class" (very loosely) between Warrior, Hunter and Mage. Each class has a general theme of skills, but each category of weapons will have a completely different set, e.g. warriors can wield swords, axes, maces; hunters can wield bows, spears, daggers, nature staves (for healing!!); mages have a selection of the usual elemental staves such as fire, frost, arcane, and holy. For warriors, you may go with swords and get to choose between two main sword skills, but then a 1h broadsword will give you a different active ability than a 1h clarent blade, or a 2h claymore or even dual swords. Hunters get wildly differing playstyles depending on weapon type, as daggers give you a very assassin themed ability kit, bows can control enemies or shred them, spears turn you into a battlefield brawler, and a nature staff gives you a nature-themed healing and support ability kit. This does mean that Albion doesn't have unique weapons that we tend to favor, not that they COULDN'T implement them, they just chose to use a simplified linear tier progression (think tier 1 wood sword> tier 2 stone stone> tier 3 iron sword and so on). This system allows a huge amount of personalization that honestly just turns me on pretty swell. (It's difficult to parse if you haven't played the game, but here's a spreadsheet showing off all the equipment and abilities available, tabbed by category at the bottom.) Unfortunately, Albion ties crafting and combat together and requires you to either grind through multiple crafting professions for equipment in a model that encourages you subscribe / pay real dollars, or apply to a guild and deal with that, essentially making it impossible to solo. And content is sparse and focused on open world risk-it-all PvP where you lose all items on death, which also encourages the simplified tier system. If it weren't for those factors, I may be more willing to praise its quasi-JoaT model and actually play the game..

Modern RPG's have gotten to the point where content is end-game, and end-game is content, and the leveling process may as well not exist in some cases. Both WoW and Final Fantasy 14 have implemented faster methods and/or shortened the leveling process overall to the point where most players have every class / role / set of abilities they want at max level, and all content on the way up has been reduced to filler. When it comes to this, I think this falls in line with modern RPG's being designed for the working man, and they've done all they can short of removing leveling altogether and leaving just gear progression. I 100% disagree with end-game focused content if the game uses a leveling system. Albion does not use levels, instead your tier of gear determines your strength, and world zones are broken into recommended tiers. Elder Scrolls Online uses scaled content, allowing you to choose your own path of progression and opening all main-world content through the leveling process, with gear progression kicking in at max level for the little bit of "end-game" content. Contrary to popular belief, this system seems more sensible for RPG design, as ESO is a fantastic single-player and small scale dungeon game, but I'll save that rant for another time. When it comes to level-based RPG systems with an actual grind - such as oldschool WoW, Everquest, whatever - the content you have access to needs to be varied and interesting on the way up, both for your character and the world they're in, easier said than done.

Walls of text aside, my preference in an RPG nowadays would be not only a degree of specialization, but also to have just a single character that is able to swap, out of combat or in a safe zone/town between whatever disciplines / classes / specializations / titles are available to suit group play or my own solo needs, in the vein of games that use either your weapon, armor, or an equipped object/icon to determine your class, rather than having to create multiple characters and swap between them to achieve the same effect. I simply despise the JoaT concept where you have access to every single option in your possession at all times, every character is a carbon copy and the game is subsequently designed and balanced around countering that fact. If MS:C magically had mountains more variety in armor and weapons it may actually encourage diversity in "builds", such as tanks and healers existing, or even DPS using weapons that they prefer rather than favoring what's considered good / "meta", but that may also mean that the top 1% just learn how to dance between the most efficient options and take care of everything by themselves.
 
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Lark

Epic Adventurer
MSC Developer
MSR Developer
Lead MSR Developer
Dec 30, 2009
75
59
Oregon
I have no qualms with the basic RPG attribute categories but I think more information is needed here.
Hmm, you have a point. I'll make a separate post that outlines my personal ideas for gameplay concepts, so people understand what the general aim is, and make more informed decisions in polls like these.

very similar to Elder Scrolls Online where there are absolutely no attributes, but each and every piece of equipment on your character influences what abilities you have access to in a wild west of mix-and-match chaos to create your perfect build, and the list of options you have access to is big.
I played ESO (briefly) and didn't even think about how there's no attributes until you mentioned it. That's something I haven't considered, and as hinted at previously, MS:C's Attributes might as well not even be displayed on the Character Stats screen, and most players probably wouldn't care (or even notice).

If MS:C magically had mountains more variety in armor and weapons it may actually encourage diversity in "builds", such as tanks and healers existing, or even DPS using weapons that they prefer rather than favoring what's considered good / "meta", but that may also mean that the top 1% just learn how to dance between the most efficient options and take care of everything by themselves.
This is exactly why I hesitate to dive too deep into Class and Specialization designs, at least for now. If MS:R has the same rate of new content release (specifically, Items) that MS:C has, it would be difficult to keep each class/spec balanced and feeling fresh. I hope we have lots of artists and designers hop onto the game, but you never know. That also might be the real reason why I prefer the JoaT system in MS:C

Aside from that, I agree with several of your sentiments - I'm not a big fan of focusing games on meta content. But, more to follow in another post :)
 

Lucifer Majiskus

Renowned Adventurer
Sons of Babel
Alpha Tester
Mar 9, 2009
1,255
49
23
An igloo far up North.
Terraria also goes off of an Item based stats system. You don't level anything on your character except for HP and mana, the rest is all your armor and Weapon stats... That would be a really really cool idea, and would make a unique loot system really cool. I mentioned before something like a borderlands style loot-rarity system. You have different colored tiers of rarity, which could be highlighted around the weapon when you pick it up/drop it.
 

Lark

Epic Adventurer
MSC Developer
MSR Developer
Lead MSR Developer
Dec 30, 2009
75
59
Oregon
Okay so I created/updated the MS:R manifesto where it answers enough questions for now, but more will come later (like skills, spells, and stealth mechanics)..

Check out the last blue and first purple questions and see what you think. There's a few different ways this could go:

- @Lucifer Majiskus' idea: Attributes are on the weapons/armor and only HP/MP/Stamina are leveled.
- There are no attributes, only have to worry about HP/MP/Stamina and gear (a la Elder Scrolls Online).
- Attributes are selectively increased and left off of (most) equipment.
- Attributes are on equipment and selectively leveled (a la Diablo).

I'm currently leaning toward the third approach. My only issue with attributes on gear is turning them into "stat sticks," rather than focusing on their skills/abilities, but it depends on the implementation. Either that or go with no attributes.
 

zeus9860

Adventurer
Blades of Urdual
Crusaders
The True Followers of the Lost
Alpha Tester
Feb 28, 2008
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- Strength: Carry weight, power/speed of heavy weapons, jump height, adds to HP and weight.
- Speed: Dodge/Evade, run/jump speed, lowers body weight.
- Agility: Block/Parry, Stealth, Martial Arts block/throw/disarm.
- Perception: Detect stealth, increases ranged accuracy and critical strike rate.
- Endurance: Status resistance, adds to HP and Stamina.
- Spirit: Magic resistance, adds to MP (and spellcasting ability).
- Wisdom/Intelligence: Not sure yet. Increases skill/spell exp gain?
- Charisma: Affects NPC interactions?
-Strength: Carry weight, stamina consumption, jump height, adds to HP and weight. (power and speed of heavy weapons, or any type of weapon, i would leave these things as stats for weapons and not something tied directly with attributes)

Speed and agility should technically be the same, perhaps you should consider evasion instead of speed as an attribute? Speed should also technically be the same as evasion, but evasion and agility can somewhat have a different focus from each other without creating much confusion.
-Evasion: Dodge/Evade, sideways + crouch speed, Stealth, Martial Arts disarm/throw.
-Agility: Block/Parry, run + jump speed, lowers body weight, MA block/deflect.

Since Perception uses a critical strike implementation, how are you planning on creating this system? Will it be based on a roll system similiar to ms:c, except limited to critical hits? If it's something like this, i'm okay with it, as long as it doesn't rely heavily in aiming towards critical spots, i mean, there could be exceptions like specific fights and whatnot, but yeah...

Endurance seems fine to me.

-Spirit: Magic Resistance (reduce magic damage and possibly nullify magic), adds to MP (and spellcasting ability, i assume this to be spell casting duration and/or perhaps mana consumption based on spell requirements, the lower the requirement and the higher the spirit, the less mana it requires and the longer the duration it is)

Wisdom and Intelligence should be put appart.
-Wisdom: Elemental tuning and everything magic related (spellcasting, spellcrafting and whatever ideas you might have).
-Intelligence: Should be considered neutral attribute with no way to have a focused build based on this stat. Impacts directly all other attributes with some new benefits when you focus your build with something specific (eg: agility focused build unlocks pickpocket/steal option), repeat same idea for all other attributes except for Charisma. You can increase Intelligence by playing with success or something along the lines? I was thinking it working somewhat like the old parry system except on a slower but more accessible rate. If you parry an attack successfully, you gain experience towards Intelligence. If you do a critical hit, you get xp, etc. Interacting with npcs gives xp, buying things, also gives xp.
-Charisma: Affects NPC interactions and store discounts. Should also be considered neutral, with no focused build towards Charisma, both Intelligence and Charisma should level up as if they were passive stats. Charisma "levels up", the more you interact with npcs or buy things from stores.

Additionally, i think you should create a focused build system based on the attributes.
Something like this:
Pick one of the following main attributes (you can only have 1 of these focused) - Strength, Evasion, Perception, Wisdom.
Pick one of the following secondary attributes (again, you are limited to 1 of these) - Agility, Endurance, Spirit. Probably should consider a 4th attribute to add here to make it even and also give extra combinations.

Focused attributes lets the player achieve slightly higher stats on those attributes. Something like, you put a global cap on all attributes at 40, if a player has two focused attributes, he can go beyond to 45, bypassing the global cap. Players should have the option to change playstyles as much as they want, perhaps have a monetary cost with ingame gold or some other resource, perhaps could even go as far as doing 1 change free of charge every X time, the more changes you do within a giving amount of time, the higher the cost. This gives people the option to switch around once in a while, but not too often unless they have too much of Y resource to throw away.

Focused attributes bonuses suggestions (you can't combine bonuses in 1 go, to avoid OPness, unless the 1 of the bonuses or both are passive, strength + perception seems OP but given the fact that strength can also be the cause of your death if not carefull, combining the two can go either way real fast):
-Strength: unlocks rage, your damage output increases to 150%, the more damage you suffer, the higher the damage you will do, but will also receive in return. (eg: after X amount of damage received, damage output increases to 200% but you will also receive 150% damage from enemies in return).
-Evasion (passive): unlocks shadow cloaking when evading, shadow cloaking gives temporary immunity and/or minor vanish effect.
-Agility (passive): unlocks pickpocket/steal option.
-Perception (passive, activates randomly and has a cooldown): unlocks the possibility of doing greater critical hits (critical hits but twice the critical damage and half the success rate?), if not, then something with temporarly nerfing enemies by exploiting weaknesses.
-Endurance: unlocks last man stand, consume all stamina to greatly increase your tankyness. You end up slow as hell though untill you recover some stamina.
-Spirit: unlocks stronger summons (all summons get a stat increase), you can summon more things to help you in battle, perhaps give the user the ability to charge summons when casting them to either summon stronger versions or multiple ones in 1 go.
-Wisdom (passive, if considering the if not): unlocks martial arts spellcasting, in other words, the ability to combine martial arts and spellcasting and potentially create something fun to mess around with, assuming martialarts can be used defensively and spellcasting offensively, i was picturing something along the lines of: block enemy using MA, blast the enemy back with a charged explosive punch that sets the enemy burning. If not, then perhaps something along the lines of "greater wisdom" that unlocks elemental effects stacking.

So i guess in the end this is a 4th option, more or less? This way, you level up everything equally and have the option to focus in 2 attributes to create a combination of your liking. This focus will give you the edge over other players who decide to opt a different path, i would assume this focus to also unlock specific content that is level gated, like gear. If the level cap is 40 and the highest item tier 40 aswell, focusing could let the player get specific gear slightly higher than 40 that requires 45 amount of attribute #1 and 45 amount of attribute #2 if necessary. Switching focuses would imply the player would loose access to this gear untill they refocused on those attributes again or the global cap is increased to 45.

As for items being involved... i think all items should be balanced by types and subtypes and be left alone when it comes to attributes. If items are meant to have any stats, it should be something else and unique to them that has no direct impact on attributes. Things like defense %, fire resistance %, lightning status effect rate %, etc.
For example, you can split swords into 3 subtypes at least:
Greatsword = 2-handed swords, slow attack rates, highest raw damage. Parry passive.
Shortsword = 1 handed sword, medium attack rate, medium raw damage. Block passive (assuming it is coupled with a shield, otherwise none)
Dual wield swords = 2 one handed swords, fastest attack rate, lowest raw damage. Deflect passive.
When balancing these 3 subtypes, you should consider a DPS goal that is common between all 3 of them. Lets say 1k DPS with all 3 subtypes at level 10. If you go with this approach, there will be minimum difference between weapon types as it will be mostly down to passive effects in each subcategory and personal preference for the user. Apply this to all other weapon categories with a similiar structure behind and all items could end up being more or less effective in most cases. I would assume item tuning to be a thing in this game, and when that kicks in, default gear (in other words, non elemental gear for example, ends up being crap in some occasions that might require you to use a fire imbued item).

And i think i am done writting for quite a while.
 

Lark

Epic Adventurer
MSC Developer
MSR Developer
Lead MSR Developer
Dec 30, 2009
75
59
Oregon
After some thought, you all have some good ideas. I decided the best approach is to move on with development, play-test some of these ideas later, and see which ones stick. So for now, we'll go with the "no attributes" approach and circle back during active testing.

I've updated the manifesto and title to remove an upcoming poll.
 
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