So talk about RPG-like stats and skills came up on the IRC and I figured it'd be worth hashing out the least intrusive manner that we might see the feature of improving your character outside of their personal gear and their ship and how that might be laid out so the player spends almost zero time gazing at point-allocation screens and skill trees as is typical in most roleplaying games.Base Mechanic:
Each statistic or skill governs a simple variable on gameplay and increases its effect in a linear manner with few to no bells and whistles, a player with a Stat/Skill at Rank Zero can perform the same actions as one with Rank 10 just not as fast, as precise, or with the same efficiency.Rank:
acumen is measure in eleven ranks from Rank Zero, the basic jump-in-and-play effect, to Rank 10, which assists or speeds up gameplay actions, like an aim-assist, damage reduction, or repair boost.Training:
no skill points here, using a stat or skill increases the experience bar slowly and will eventually rank up until it hits the training cap. Increasing the cap on a skill, up the maximum of 10, requires little more than reading a book on quantum solenite physics for a decimal boost to attending a conference on hyper-spooled lithium reactors to unlock the next rank in totality; figure Rank 3 is the natural skill cap for a quick metric. What follows is a general sense of how fast ranks are expected to progress, each XP earned being a full use of the associated stat or skill.
- Rank 1: 100xp
- Rank 2: 200xp (300 total)
- Rank 3 [Skill Cap]: 400xp (700 total)
- Rank 4: 800xp (1500 total)
- Rank 5: 1600xp (3100 total)
(double or triple this value for Stat rank-ups)Training Decay:
rather than have everyone grind each stat/skill in succession to the penultimate of Rank 10, an incremental decay down to a minimum of Rank 2 or so, again, best guess metric, would keep characters specialized into a core set of skills that they use or train most often and a secondary pool of "cross-class" skills that are used or kept up through training but not with the zeal the core set is maintained. This isn't a punishment or zynga-like activity generator as much as preventing an overwhelming gap between hardcore and casual players from developing outside of raw experience that comes from playing rather than leveling-up; ideally decay only occurs via in-game time, rather than be tracked through global time outside of the game-world. A trained character should be good at what they do, but not invulnerable from a lucky or good untrained character's efforts, blending the static elements of most FPS games with the attempts at realism and character investment by RPGs.
Decay Rate Formula: -1xp*Current Rank per hour ingame (per day w/Stats), reset timer per use of Skill (or ten uses of any Skill(s) associated with Stat), regardless of success
If someone were to play 24 hours without pause, using a skill at least 24 times should be more than given
core attributes like strength, dexterity, intelligence, etc, they have no core effect but increase the rank of associated Skills. Stats have no rank cap and are slower to decay, but take longer to train.
"Being a Blockade Runner takes two parts fine Precision, two parts raw Intellect, and three parts sheer Tenacity; if you've got that much, you'll do alright."
- PReCision: governs Accuracy, Fray, Medicine, and Pilot
- INTellect: governs Astrogation, Engineer, Gunnery, and Hacker
- TENacity: governs Agility, Armorer, Cover, Mechanic, Melee, and Tracker
-some cocky spacer with a pet engineering dogSkills:
a non-exhaustive list of the potential mechanical benefits a character can accrue from experience. Benefits begin at Rank 1 and any effects are turned off and Stat Bonuses to Rank do not apply at Rank Zero. Combat-related Skills gain experience per hit that damages the current target, not just hits.
- Accuracy [PRC]: when targeting object with personal ranged weapons, each shot leaves a glowing mark where it hits, this mark quickly fades (tenths of a second), but higher ranks cause the effect to last longer, allowing tighter placement of shots and better aim-correction
- Agility [TEN]: running on foot, reduces loss of momentum from rapid change in direction, such as when going from the floor to up a wall with your magboots in microgravity or when jumping/landing across two platforms. Trains 1xp per minute of running.
- Armorer [TEN]: bonus to fabrication and repair of any weapon or personal suits of armor, indicates damage as glowing cracks in the material or heat-bluing along barrels. Also increases the ability of your armor, if you wear any, to absorb lethal damage without it bleeding through to your person.
- Astrogation [INT]: shows the heading and velocity of the target and your vessel, if piloting it, as an arrow or vapor trail, higher ranks display longer, more opaque indicators if desired; long-distance targets that are displayed as flares trace their path behind them instead. This is the most basic skill, and basically always levels when piloting, gaining 1xp per minute that your target is on sensors (i.e. highlighted and ECM isn't tossing the sensor lock).
- Cover [TEN]: when a visible object (see Fray) causes damage to the character or nearby visible terrain (i.e. that rock you're standing directly behind, not the one two meters in front of you), the character will hug itself closer to nearby terrain in order to reduce its exposure without limiting the ability to return fire. Lower ranks jerk further behind cover, as if affected by Fray, and higher ranks automatically maximize use of cover without being fired at, so long as there is a target selected to take cover from, as well as having a wider field of effect.
- Engineer [INT]: bonus to fabrication and repair of any complex system, electrical or mechanical, indicates damage as sparks (electrical) or smoke (mechanical)
- Fray [PRC]: when a visible object (i.e. anything inside the visual come of the character's "eyeball" camera(s), not player camera in the case of a third-person view) causes damage to the character, there is a small chance that the next time the object causes damage while visible, the character will dodge out of the way on reflex; the player suffers shaking for the attempt regardless of success. Higher Ranks have a wider field of effect. Must take damage from visible object to earn experience. Stacks with Cover.
- Gunnery [INT]: when targeting object with vehicle/ship weapons, each shot after the first increases opacity and drift, and reduces size of an aim-assist reticule to help lead the target (obviously this can't predict how a target will jink, but the reticule will adjust for the new course/velocity, more sluggish adjustment at lower ranks)
- Hacker [INT]: bonus to writing code for robots, fire control systems, missile guidance systems, etc, the AI performs better and the code is written or modified faster
- Mechanic [TEN]: any sort of structural fabrication or repair, bonus to repair/build meter per click, indicates damage as glowing cracks in the material. Engineer applies to active objects like power lines, helm pads, and thrusters, Mechanic applies to inert objects like hull plating and framework, Armorer applies to weapons and worn armor like a pistol, gunship rocket launcher, or power armor.
- Medicine [PRC]: bonus to healing items and surgery time (per click?)
- Melee [TEN]: speeds up attack animation for unarmed and melee weapons, uses Fray to block less dangerous attacks from hitting weak points instead of dodging them outright (i.e. blocking is easier to do than dodge when standing still)
- Pilot [PRC]: when operating in a vehicle, ship, or jetpack, tapping directional keys provides a finer sensitivity gradient, holding or pressing them provides the normal effect
- Tracker [TEN]: highlights footprints or wheel-marks/hover-dusting/jet-contrails of target since it was selected as your target for a set distance behind them, higher ranks increase this distance and also display where ranged weapons have been discharged or the target has jumped/landed. Training requires being a set distance away from the target for a given time per XP gain (minute(s)?), this is the in-atmosphere/on-station version of Astrogation.
The goal is a few relatively simple, or at least self-contained, mechanical effects that provide small but worthwhile bonuses or unobtrusive environmental cues and describe the core essence of the type of role a player-character takes in the game's galactic society. And more importantly that they be effects that can be implemented without much trouble around the more important elements of the game by either the management in a later build or by modders if and when the community strikes up the effort while ZANmgt is busy with larger fish in the fryer.
P.S. It'd be interesting if character could overheat in their spacesuits if engaged in strenuous activity, operating with a damaged radiator, or being tagged by microwave beamers or combusting fuels; suffering dizzyness/wobbly controls, blurred vision, extended tool use timers, or even blackouts if it gets too high... actually that's similar to what I'd expect from oxygen deprivation, aside from the fact that vacuum inhibits hearing where heat stroke would only distort it at worst.
P.P.S. On the issue of targeting, I'd imagine some fire control computers and a HUD modification or cybernetic implant would allow a character to track a cluster of secondary targets inside the character's visual field/cone of effect, enhancing the effects of the various target-based skills, but making Fray a bit more difficult to live with.