With the release of 5.3.X to many of the testers, a new testing excitement has swept the community. New artwork, new VFX efforts ( the Guinecean attacking a tree without an ax is damn good) and a whole new batch of Discipline Stones have created new combat videos, new data for the Crowfall data project Malekai.org , and some fun and crazy theorycrafting. One portion that has not gotten much visibility since it was shown in a past live stream is the new Skills Training UI and Time Bank mechanism.
If you are not yet able to test, this might be ‘new info’ and if you are testing 5.3.X you may or may not have been digging around the current skill paths. I (as many of you know) am a Crafting/Gathering focused player. When I first dove into the skill trees, I was excited that there were paths for me to spend my training time on creating a better character (focused on my passion) across multiple skill trees, just like a Combat player has many options to improve their primary focus across many trees. We were both told we could play our style as a primary option.
Time Bank – this is a great compromise to allow players to manage their passive skills training and a mechanism to not make the shepherding of skill selection feel like a job. The early dialog in the community had some P2W concerns but I feel (imho) that Jtodd’s post below really squelched any of that for me. The fact that players will be able in the future to treat their skill training as a commodity adds a lot of fun possible Econ PvP .. could tomes be Crowfall‘s Stone of Jordan Rings?
The Three Paths – Splitting away from General and Archetype had to happen with the Class/Race changes, but there were many ways it could have ended up. I find the Profession (with three options), Race, and Class a solid starting point to build character permanence within the game. A profession is just that: will you mainly be a Combat player, a Crafter or a Gatherer? Will you try and hybrid your profession? It’s your account, make the choices that you want to see. Adding in the VIP to this format has raised some concerns among players, but until we can see how the skill training is implemented I think that is too nebulous to state that.
General to Specific Training – In both the Race and Class trees, ACE has leveraged a General to Specific training model. It’s a common format in many games, but in my opinion, their use of it here has added something very interesting to the mix. In Crowfall we do not create 4-5 Characters to play as we wish. Rather our Crow customization is carried into every class/race combo we select for our campaigns. We are running just the single Crow per account at a time, which to some might feel limiting but the training path has given us some extra lift.
In the Skill Tree above (Class), let’s say Anhrez loves combat … no really say it out loud because when I do it makes me laugh a little. Not only does Anhrez love combat (heheh) but he loves to melee. So, of course, he is spending his training skill time in the path of Class Basics, which opens Fighter, which open Chivalry because who the hell doesn’t want to be an epic Knight changing the tide of battle [Ed. Note: Likely many people].
Crowfall‘s decision to design the skill trees from left to right, general to specific, allows the Class Basics and the Fighters skills I picked up to be inherited by my Knight. If for some reason I decided I would like to try out a Champion I can spin up one and still have the skills I have earned in the Class Basics and the Fighter skill trees to help my overall efforts. In many cases, the training I have spent many many hours on is not wasted. Now not all are relevant to my choices, but many of the base attributes and statistics I have trained do help.
If I decide that I love the Champion more than the Knight, I can shift my training. Do I waste that training I spent in the Knight? Some of it, sure, but the ability to pull through training from the prerequisite trees will allow players to ‘play’ a lot with their choices. Add in VIP and I think most players will be able to spin up many useful and playable classes as needed.
Not Yet Right
Gathering and Crafting do not get the same General Training Benefits – As I stated above, the current Crowfall training model has the training time spent generically up-stream having real benefits to the character choices to the far right. Training the ‘Fighter’ section of the Class area brings those benefits to the Champion or the Knight even though they are not in the same specific training area for classes. In the current format, this is still seen for Crafters and Gatherers within the Profession tree. Below we can see the same logic seen within the Class tree, where the more generic choices help the player later on to specialize.
This General to Specific seems to hit a snag in the races training tree. In the current layout, both the Gathering and Crafting choices made at the middle tier are completely useless to the specialized skills in the more specific race. Below we see the current training paths for the races. Let’s look at the Monster path:
So when we open up the Racial training within the Monster tier we see very specific training options. We see that Monsters get Stone training as a Gathering path and Stone Masonry as the Crafting path. Unlike the other training options in the skill tree we see only a specific option here for the Gatherer or Crafter, but we still see many general options for the Combat player. What if you want to be a Ore mining Stoneborn? You either spend a point on gathering stone or you spend a point on Combat.
If we look down one layer to the more specific Racial training areas, the Hybrids (we assume Centaurs and Minotaurs) seem to have a built-in proclivity to gather Leather and making Leather Armor. This disconnect between the more general options to the specific is a huge disadvantage to the Crafting and Gathering player. So if I want my Centaur to be a Leather Worker I can train Leather Working in the Profession tab, and some eventual training in the Racial tab. But if I am a Combat player I can be training Combat for my Centaur in the Profession tab and the Racial tab? This gap in General to Specific training only seems to hit Crafting and Gathering, and it’s a significant hit.
It’s still early in the 5.3.X testing efforts; the players have a lot to test. The new classes and races, the new discipline stones, etc., and the testers have only had the new skill trees for just under a week (in some cases). So far my overall testing of 5.3.X has gone great, with so much to learn and re-learn about the game of Crowfall. As we all get more time to test the new Crowfall Skills UI I am sure more feedback and suggestions will flow to ArtCraft. I am very excited by the choices the current skill tree UI gives to both generally and specifically train my Crow. I am sure the community will have a lot of input on the paths and on the values earned in each of the skills trained.