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Over a Quattuorvigintillion Problems and the Skill Tree Ain’t One of Em’

Let’s start by asking a question. Do you believe the skill trees are going to be the downfall of this game? No? Awesome, you get to skip ahead. I like you.

If you do believe its troubling Crowfall why don’t you go on ahead and read along.

Lord almighty, I rarely (lol) dive into the ongoing mire that happens on the Crowfall Forums lately, but man is there a topic that keeps rising to the top. The Skill Tree. Now before we go into why this is quite possibly the dumbest conversational topic in Crowfall right now, I’ll grab a few of the juicier and more relevant contents of these posts. Why? Because I want to save you the horrible migraine that might come out of it. Needless to say, none of these people are qualified to complain, mostly because they don’t understand things like “The Bigger Picture”.

Here’s a few quotes, names withheld;

“We have to remember, the skill trees is the only persistent customization in the game (besides EK) it needs to be robust and have a lot of depth.”

“Skill trees are the only permanent customization. It may be that within the context of a campaign the vessels and disciplines and whatnot feel relatively persistent.”

“As a principle though, It still is a pretty lame way of adding customization (making passive % increases that is).”

“Its things like this I would like to see build into, or offered within each Archtype’s build options. Rather than a flat % increase to things, offer nodes that give both a positive upside but a downside as well. “

That later one made me chuckle. It’s a common thread among all of the people bored by the skill tree and raising holy hell to make it more meaningful to their characters’ customization.

One problem…

Archetype Skills Are Not There As A Means To Customize”

Yea, in a surprising reply to a complaint that just wouldn’t die, Blair jumped in finally to clear the air. Except, apparently everyone ignored him despite people pointing back to that post. The simple fact is, logic doesn’t work on them. Facts don’t convince them. The developer telling them something doesn’t make it true. The peasants demand blood. We’ve seen this sort of nonsense before. I’m certainly becoming that bitter grizzled veteran I used to point and laugh at the more I read these people’s comments.

Is the skill tree boring in its current form? Perhaps. Is it tedious? Sure. Could one ignore it and still be successful? Absolutely. The gains involved with the skill tree are minimal. Unlike in Crowfall’s cousin, EVE Online, only a few of the skills seem to directly correlate with a player’s ability to equip better “gear”. EVE Online drove skill progression and item-progression hand in hand. As you progressed down your skill trees, you gained the ability to equip better “Tier 2” quality gear in your ships. Progression in one led to progression in the other. I’d imagine Crowfall doing much the same eventually, and that alone would make the skill tree more “interesting”.

My point is this:  the mistake you need to stop repeating is “Crowfall skill trees are about customizing your character.” They can’t be. Why? Because after a period of time, in theory, everyone would end up the same. Is that likely to occur anytime soon? No, but that doesn’t make the point less valid. Skills are not customization. In Blair’s words;

“they [skills] are there to provide stats one would typically see via leveling up a character by delivering bear butts to some guy who really wants 6 bear butts for some reason.”

Skills are progression in Crowfall. Can we move on now? Yup.

What Can Be Customized?

Okay, so now to the real meat of the theorycrafting. Just exactly how many customizable ways are there right now for you to create a character that fits your specific playstyle? Yea, I’m gonna do the math for you. Please note, if you skipped ahead, skills don’t count as customization. I won’t be using them (even though Vessels potentially are impacted by your skills). So let’s set up some basic numbers we’re going to use later on.

Types of Materials
Ore -> 5 Types (Tin, Iron, Gold, Silver, Bronze)
Wood -> 5 Types
Stone -> 5 Types
Skins -> 5 Types
Body Parts? -> 5 Types (???)

6 Quality Levels of those Materials: Poor, Common, Uncommon, Rare, Epic, Legendary

Based on these two numbers, for ore there are 30 variations of a single material. You can then alloy the metals when you turn them into bars. This gives (3 sets of 3 ore to convert to a bar) a base variation count of 30 x 30 x 30 = 27,000 potential variations of just the Metal Bar recipe. I bring this up, despite not using a recipe with Metal Bar’s in them, just to show how even a base material component can have wildly differing construction options. It’s also very important to note that the quality and types of materials used in construction of an item directly impact the stats on that item. In Crowfall, the customization of your equipment is down to microscopic levels of detail.

Lets bring back my favorite graphic (which will very shortly get updated with vessels now that Necromancy is showing up)… 

We are going to calculate the variations on a single item, the Leather Helmet. Assuming that a player wanted to make a maxed-out version of that helmet (meaning he is including all optionals in the builds), we get the following nutty calculation.

Recipe and Variation Counts:

Leather Helmet

  • 4x Ore -> 30 Variations
  • 15x Hide -> 30 Variations
  • Hardened Leather
    • 2x Hide -> 30 Variations
    • 2x Hide -> 30 Variations
    • 2x Hide -> 30 Variations
    • Lacing Sinew
      • 2x Meat -> 30 Variations (questionable I know)
    • Leather Armor Layer
      • 2x Ore -> 30 Variations
      • 2x Ore -> 30 Variations
      • 5x Hide -> 30 Variations
    • Leather Armor Layer
      • 2x Ore -> 30 Variations
      • 2x Ore -> 30 Variations
      • 5x Hide -> 30 Variations
    • Leather Armor Layer
      • 2x Ore -> 30 Variations
      • 2x Ore -> 30 Variations
      • 5x Hide -> 30 Variations
    • Specialty Seal
      • 1x Stone -> 30 Variations
      • 1x Ore -> 30 Variations
  • Hardened Leather
    • 2x Hide -> 30 Variations
    • 2x Hide -> 30 Variations
    • 2x Hide -> 30 Variations
    • Lacing Sinew
      • 2x Meat -> 30 Variations (questionable I know)
    • Leather Armor Layer
      • 2x Ore -> 30 Variations
      • 2x Ore -> 30 Variations
      • 5x Hide -> 30 Variations
    • Leather Armor Layer
      • 2x Ore -> 30 Variations
      • 2x Ore -> 30 Variations
      • 5x Hide -> 30 Variations
    • Leather Armor Layer
      • 2x Ore -> 30 Variations
      • 2x Ore -> 30 Variations
      • 5x Hide -> 30 Variations
    • Specialty Seal
      • 1x Stone -> 30 Variations
      • 1x Ore -> 30 Variations
  • Hardened Leather
    • 2x Hide -> 30 Variations
    • 2x Hide -> 30 Variations
    • 2x Hide -> 30 Variations
    • Lacing Sinew
      • 2x Meat -> 30 Variations (questionable I know)
    • Leather Armor Layer
      • 2x Ore -> 30 Variations
      • 2x Ore -> 30 Variations
      • 5x Hide -> 30 Variations
    • Leather Armor Layer
      • 2x Ore -> 30 Variations
      • 2x Ore -> 30 Variations
      • 5x Hide -> 30 Variations
    • Leather Armor Layer
      • 2x Ore -> 30 Variations
      • 2x Ore -> 30 Variations
      • 5x Hide -> 30 Variations
    • Specialty Seal
      • 1x Stone -> 30 Variations
      • 1x Ore -> 30 Variations
  • Reinforced Padding
    • 1 x Ore -> 30 Variations
    • 3x Hide -> 30 Variations
    • 3x Hide -> 30 Variations
    • 3x Hide -> 30 Variations
    • Specialty Seal
      • 1x Stone -> 30 Variations
      • 1x Ore -> 30 Variations

That was exhausting. What does this all mean? The variations in a SINGLE PIECE of Crowfall gear can be calculated by multiplying…

30^53rd power (or 30*30*30*30*30*30*30*30*30*30*30*30*30*30*30*30*30*30*30*30*30*30*30*30*30*30*30*30*30*30*30*30*30*30*30*30*30*30*30*30*30*30*30*30*30*30*30*30*30*30*30*30*30) = 1,938,324,566,768,001,989,679,672,300,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 or ~1.9 Quattuorvigintillion give or take a few (LOL). So seriously, you thought this was impressive somehow?

Customizing equipment pieces is admittedly a tricky subject. Will you notice if some of your materials used to construct an item are “common” versus “uncommon” qualities? Perhaps, but it would be a small difference. The point is, no two characters are likely to be geared out in exactly the same way. You can min-max your characters gear, just like you can its powers. Which brings us to …

 

Even More Customization to Customize your Customization

Keep in mind, that number of variable choices is for a single piece of gear. In the previous flowchart, we list at least the 6 pieces you’d need to be successful as a Duelist… and we haven’t covered the Vessel itself yet. This is where things get really interesting. Some people might write off “gear” variations as having little if any implications to how effective a player is. The real potential for customizing your character, however, comes with the Discipline system. Yet, let’s take one quick step back to go over what this all might look like.

In Crowfall, a player’s “powers”, a.k.a. what occupies the 1-10 keys on a bar in a normal MMO, are derived from its Archetype (which is in turn derived from the vessel a player has equipped). All Archetypes also have promotions which potentially change how the base archetype is played, and can even alter its “role” in the grand scope of combat.  Further augmenting this customization is a system called Disciplines, which can be best thought of as mini-archetypes you can drag and drop into your vessels to extend their abilities. The number of Discipline slots you have access to is still being played with by the devs, but they did drop “three” as the number they are likely to settle on (though recently it inched up to four…).  Let’s assume that you can pick 3 Disciplines.

Based on some dated material (several months old), they were looking to have roughly 3 types of slots, each with about a hundred options. Whether these numbers hold true… that’s a question best left for 2017. What it implies, however is the following math:

13 archetypes
2.5 promotion classes (some have 3, some have 2, work with me)
100 combat disciplines
100 exploration disciplines
100 crafting disciplines

Assuming you can only equip one of each discipline (not a guarantee) that gives you: 32.5 million combinations (13*2.5*100*100*100)

Assuming you can equip any number of the same type of disciplines, yields a larger:  868,744,500 million choices (13*2.5*300*299*298)

I’d just add that if we apply this math to every slot your character has that can be itemized, plus the archetype, vessel (and vessel components! DEAR LORD THE CHOICES!) and come up with a number that has over 10100 power variations, probably more when they finally lock down some systems still in development. The number of meaningful customization choices you can choose from is likely to be incalculable (we are still going to try once some of the development choices have settled down).

When people complain about the options given to them in one aspect of Crowfall (i.e: the skill tree … cue /eyeroll), this article should serve to sate their need for fine-tuning their character with “customization” choices. I for one am happy the skill tree doesn’t overwhelm us with even more choices to the extent that itemization and character customization options likely will. Good luck planning a build people. This is going to be nucking futs.

Seriously, I had to look up Quattuorvigintillion. I’d imagine this is the first gaming-related article that’s used the word. Kudos to me for that groundbreaking milestone.

Till next time…

Scree

Started playing MMORPGs back on AOL in Neverwinter Nights Online around 1996 and has been a passionate advocate for the genre ever since. Currently an admitted Crowfall obsessed-fan; leading a Crowfall-exclusive stealth-first guild Obsidian, managing a web-magazine Stealthed (@stealthedBlog). He is also the project manager of the Malekai Project; a community-driven open-sourced API for sharing Crowfall related content.

Show 2 comments

January 8, 2017
0

Indeed. The sheer overload of options … its just not imaginable right now. Most people are still befuddled by the skill system, but its not even the real potential of the whole system.

December 24, 2016
0

And then there are advantages/disadvantages, which we haven’t seen yet.

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