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Andor
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I gotta disagree. The skill system is bollixed. For two reasons:

 

1) Design. The skills overlap to a hideous extent. Awareness, Preception, and Observation for example are all the same thing. There are three entire skill groups devoted to debate (and indicated as such in the lore) Grammar, Dialectic and Rhetoric. However if you actually want to debate they are all garbage as they are trumped by an actual debate skill under Law. And don't try using them to make speeches either because that's oratory under Religeon.

 

2) Implementation. I am quite, quite certain no one ever wrote up a 'bible' for the events team to reference about what skills are to be used for what challenges. Because that oratory skill I just mentioned? Half the time instead the event uses voice under music which is quite clearly supposed to be your singing voice, not speaking voice. As I mentioned before there are several events along the theme of "Ball hurtles towards face" and they all use different skills to resolve it physically. Athletics, Acrobatics, Perfect Timing (Oddly I recall none that actually use your Rimball skills.) Animal Husbandry for another example seems to often be misused as a knowledge skill instead of a practical skill. What the hell did my character take Zoology for if not to learn about animals? Even for magic the events are all over the map. In most events for example Negation (Specifically "Unseen Storm" or somesuch) is the generic 'view magic' power. I ran into an event where my 10 in botany and my 14 in negation were inadequate to spot the magic flower because some doofus decided that what I really needed was 'Magical appraisal' and therefore I was "Not good enough at picking out enchantments." Never mind that Magical Appraisal is geared towards enchanted items, not plants and is for deciphering, not detection.

 

Look, a game full of mysteries is a good thing. For example I'd love to stumble across an easter egg where having a 7 in geometry and an 8 in botany let me plant a perfect geometric garden and win some merit or glory or whatever. Having no idea how to go about building a character to do anything because every action randomly pulls in skills from groups you've never even heard of is not fun. If I want to make an explorer, then I should not randomly get clubbed over the head with skill checks in heraldry, or drama, or malice (which is appalingly named.)

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You make a persuasive (to me) case that the events could use a revamp for consistency with their own fluff. Perhaps that should be someone's mod project when the tools are released in a month. More to the point, perhaps that should be my mod project when the tools are released in a month. I've got some pretty ambitious plans for those tools and I've been looking for some idea that I could take under my wing as a 'practice project' to learn the way they function. This one looks potentially in-scope.

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Andor: a word of caution: we encourage and respect criticism on these forums, but insults such as 'doofus' will draw the ire of the moderators, even if just used to underscore a point. Some of our writers do read these forums. ;)

 

Overall, your point stands- because, with many Skills come many options, and it's not always the case that the writer (or their editor) foresaw or considered how other Skills could be used. There were indeed guidelines in place for usage, but creative writing is...creative, and not necessarily always in the most consistent ways. We are happy to consider more Exits for specific Events, if you wish to make suggestions.

 

It's unlikely we'll be able to change how Skills interact with Stories in Year 1, but in Year 2 there will be an increase in substitutions that should answer the essential complaint, if not entirely perfectly.

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I hate being argumentative on forum threads (I find it's usually self-defeating), but in the interests of hopefully providing useful feedback, I just want to make a couple of points.

 

1. I'll concede the point that it's too late to do anything about the number of skills for year 1, but in the interests of improving the game experience for year 2, I think the developers should look seriously at consolidating the number of skills, renaming some misleading skill-titles, and reorganizing the sub-skills to make them more intuitive. You don't have to replace the whole system, but all of these things would really help out the gameplay and immersion factors in my opinion.

 

2. Several people have complained that a reduction in the number of skills would make it too easy to max skills, that is strictly a balance issue, and could be resolved in any number of ways (make it more difficult to train, require more skill steps per skill level, increase the maximum level of skills (say to 20) but make the tests harder, force people to complete a skill to unlock another skill, allow for skill degradation (if you don't train a skill once in awhile, you lose a point), make abilities like question knowledge or random events actually remove skill ranks that you have previously learned (instead of just skill steps), force people to train up parent skills (instead of saying your current parent skill rank is equal to the lowest of your top 3 sub-skills, make it that your maximum rank in a parent skill is equal to the lowest of the top 3). My point is there are lots of ways to maintain the current balance of how many skills your character is able to have, and still consolidate the skills system so you don't have 2-4 skills for the same thing all over the place.

 

3. With regard to events. basically they just need better editing (with the number of typos in them, I'm sure the devs will agree). Someone needs to go over all the events, and think logically about which skills fit in which situations, and which events make sense for each character and time. There are enough events in the game that you could afford to be a little more selective with their prereqs and still have a lot of variety. I agree, you don't have to use every skill in events, but it would be nice to reward people who pursue obscure skills every now and then will a cool bonus.

 

4. I can appreciate concerns that reducing the number of skills would make the system feel less epic, but I have to disagree. I'm not talking about getting rid of the obscure, hard to find, or cool specialty skills. they are a great part of the game, and defiantly should be in there. What I am proposing is that, in the skills just about everyone learns about and trains on almost every playthough, there are a LOT of redundant, misnamed, and poorly organized skills that could easily be consolidated in order to streamline the gameplay. And it wouldn't just help players, a better organized skill system would make it much easier to write and plan events, adventures, actions, spells, and locations. It could potentially improve every aspect of the game. I realize it would take a lot of work, but the payoff down the road would be huge, especially considering that the skill system is certain to grow in later years. By fixing the core system now, you are gonna save yourself a lot of trouble later, when the system is bigger.

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2. Several people have complained that a reduction in the number of skills would make it too easy to max skills, that is strictly a balance issue,

 

I saw someone else say that and I don't quite understand it. Balance is a non-issue in a single player game. Balance only exists in reguard to another human player who has the same limitations that you have. The computer always has the option to set the difficulty to (15 or whatever you have +5 whichever is greater) for any given roll.

 

Consider the classic game Master of Magic. No one in their right mind would claim Gnolls were balanced with Halflings (Halfings would wipe the floor with Gnolls) yet both were perfectly valid starting races in a single player game because in the context of a single player game unbalnced races simply offers a way to fine tune your difficulty level against the AI.

 

Likewise the fact that in Academagia I could start a character and select only 'blacksheep' and 'prodigy: Bad Luck' and start the game with 12 useless unspent points and crap stats and skills is not 'unbalanced' because I'm not in direct competition with any other human. Heck I don't even get the privilledge of being scored against the AI until the next game comes out....

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Andor: a word of caution: we encourage and respect criticism on these forums, but insults such as 'doofus' will draw the ire of the moderators, even if just used to underscore a point. Some of our writers do read these forums. ;)

 

Point taken and I withdraw the perjorative. Although at that moment it was the mildest thing I could bring myself to type. To fail a magical flower challange with a 10 in Botany and a 14 in Negation was annoying.

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Ackron;

 

Thanks for the feedback, we appreciate it. :)

 

1) We will not be removing any Skills in Year 2, but we will be allowing some of them to stand in for one another, which will allow broader success with fewer Skills.

 

3) We dislike typos with a vengeance, but I can assure you it was in no way related to lack of trying: every Story in the game was edited and re-edited many, many, many times. Now...putting a spell checker in the Mod Tools? That we will do in Year 2. :)

 

Edit: Andor: No problem, thanks for understanding. ;)

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(make it more difficult to train, require more skill steps per skill level, increase the maximum level of skills (say to 20) but make the tests harder, force people to complete a skill to unlock another skill, allow for skill degradation (if you don't train a skill once in awhile, you lose a point), make abilities like question knowledge or random events actually remove skill ranks that you have previously learned (instead of just skill steps)
Disagree. One of the good feature of the game is letting you experiment, and by providing you reward even if you fail some at something. What you're proposing is to decrease reward you get each day and increase punishment, and I don't that's a good game design.

 

One thing that makes me confident in this game is the constant, nonstop small rewards with interval like small punishment for failing and better reward for success. Decreasing the amount of Skills and Sub-skills will have a lot of impact on this formula. If you do end up merging some stuffs, you still need to add and regain the numbers (in Year 2 if you remove Music Theory from Art, replace it with Sketching or Sculpting).

 

However not that downgrade of sub-skill is bad idea. If there's a better Spell or Abilities that costs you a sub-skill (as long as it's told in description), or options to pay sub-skills to increase your chance at succeeding a spell or adventure or quests (as long as there's precaution), it might be nice to have.

 

Balance is a non-issue in a single player game.
Disagree totally. Some single player game can be unfun due to broken balance of reward/punishment system. There are AAA games with broken balancing, where one single strategy is enough to win the whole game while other skills/upgrades/weapons are useless, and those games aren't fun. Here's one example: http://www.siliconera.com/2010/09/30/front...anzer-marathon/
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Ackron;

 

Thanks for the feedback, we appreciate it. :(

 

1) We will not be removing any Skills in Year 2, but we will be allowing some of them to stand in for one another, which will allow broader success with fewer Skills.

 

3) We dislike typos with a vengeance, but I can assure you it was in no way related to lack of trying: every Story in the game was edited and re-edited many, many, many times. Now...putting a spell checker in the Mod Tools? That we will do in Year 2. :)

 

Edit: Andor: No problem, thanks for understanding. :(

Deleting skills isn't a good thing. But, for instance, animal husbandry should be in the zoology AND in the actual parent skill (don't remember the name). Cross-subskills for the win !

If you keep the rule of "your parent skill is the lowest of the top 3) (which is in my mind a strange choice), then you would get parent skills with a lot more subskills, thus the chance to get high parent skill would be lower (and so, keeping balance)

 

I don't like the fact that if I miss a subskill I'm at 0 in the parent skill. For instance I have 9 in climb and 7 in knots. My explore elvel is still 0. The calculations may be : add the top 3, divide by 3, rounded down. If you lack a skill you're supposed to have 0. So in explore, with 9 7 and 0 I would get a level of 5 in explore. If you find it too higgh then take the 4 top, divide by 4 (and if you miss some subskills, then add 0)

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I second the idea with the cross subskills. It is pretty logical to have some subskills under more than one parent skill.

Also the choice of skills in adventures does sometimes seem... Discussable. It would really help to review the skills and if an exit is asking for awareness let observation also count, maybe with3/4 points.

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Wait, I've got a better idea for how to handle Animal Husbandry.

Rename and redescribe it to be Animal Empathy. Then it'll even make more sense as an Explore subskill.

The boringly 'technical' elements of Animal Husbandry (like dealing with livestock) can be shunted off to Agriculture and Zoology.

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I'm not sure I like the idea of 'cross filing' skills actually. That opens up wierd possibilities where can wind up with high scores in skill groups your character never looked at because you end up leveling up their sub-skills while dabbling in other groups. That happens anyway actually, but... I dunno.

 

My problem is with skill bloat. I've been playing rpgs since the red box set and 'adventure'. Skill bloat is very ... 1987. It strikes me as amatuerish in this day and age, and especially so when it lead to such an unwieldy database that my PC which can easilly handle small commercial databases or games like SC II or Dragon Age or Dominions 3 or Civ IV gets bogged down processing turns.

 

You just don't need composure and patience and endurance and willpower and dedication, etc etc, etc... Pick any two! Having seperate Hide and Move Silently skills is fine, although having them under seperate parent skills is odd. Seperate skills for Ethics and Character? I could see a defence for that with one being a philosophical understanding of the rationale for ethical behavior and the other being the strength or will to behave ethically in the face of temptation. Perception and awareness and observation and whatever I'm forgetting? Not so needed.

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It would be nice if someone wiser than I would explain the distinction between Ethics and Character, especially when I said that I want to eventually use the modding tools to revise the events for consistency. I don't understand the distinction. If one is the theory and the other is the practice... But as far as I could tell, Ethics was the skill of actually knowing what is right, whereas Character was the skill of looking like you know what is right. This is why Ethics is under Religion and Character is under Rhetoric. For someone who wants to know what is right and convince others of what is right, you need both. Politicians by this metric would usually have Character but only rarely have Ethics, whereas most philosophers pick up Ethics but fail to have the Character needed to persuade others.

 

If I don't get a better understanding by the time the mod tools come out, I'm going to be using that distinction for the event revision mod.

 

By the way, Andor. I want to thank you for making this thread. I've been mining it for ideas on game design. I'm not actually a game designer but I've always had a hobbyist/scholastic interest in the topic. This topic has been surprisingly high quality.

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Andor;

 

We definitely disagree on this point, but again I see the origin. As mentioned above, we will not remove or condense the Skills, but we will allow some substitution where relevant. That way, you can still train in the variety of Skills that suit your Character and your role-play, while being able to participate in a broader set of rolls.

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89157Z;

 

In Academagia, Ethics is a set of moral principles that determine correct behavior.

 

Character is the expression of your individual traits and personality- in short, it's the outward expression of your inward self. It's not necessarily that you appear particularly ethical, though, although I suppose that could be one result if you were deceitful. :)

 

Edit: This whole discussion amuses me to no end. All of these definitions, more or less, could be correct. :)

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Mm, my personal whining about skills is the Dating, Flirting, and Romance pack: flirting in particular seems unnecessary, being as a study of either romance or dating will include flirting. Whether you would study Dating and learn about Romance or study Romance and learn about Dating is something that could be argued (and thus I can understand the existence of both), flirting feels to me a bit like a tack on.

 

 

On the other hand, Ethics and Character are separated even in today's study. The fields do have some overlap, but it's conceivably likely for someone to only learn one (it was that way with me- a three day overview of Ethics in general, then jump in to Character study). Ethics often turns in to debate classes. A common ethics question given to middle school students here in the USA is the straight: 'Should we follow the law?' Most students will say, in general, "Yes," and then without fail the teacher will bring up issues such as the American Revolution, and Rosa Parks to the Civil War- students will agree that those causes are 'right' and 'just'. Students will then be challenged to explain why those actions are 'right' and 'just' despite breaking the law, which they had agreed was not right or just. As students get older, in high school and even to collage, they'll be given subjects that won't cause unified agreement: abortions, gay marriage, immigration, cloning, religion, imperialism. They'll be asked to study war crimes (and attacks against civilians that didn't quite meet the official 'war crime' criteria that are still horrible and incredibly depressing to study), then read reports on why such war crimes happened and why they were considered necessary at the time. Students may be asked to debate with each other, and often asked to debate using a position that they themselves do not hold (someone ethnically against the dropping of the atomic bombs in Japan may be asked to debate or write a report on why they were ethnically necessary).

 

The purpose of this is not to get everyone to hold a single belief, but rather to prod them to be able to form their own opinion on what is ethical and what is not. The only thing pushed s a strong taste of personal responsibility and being responsible for ones' own actions. A 'good' student of ethics should be able to explain what 'ethical' acts are, and what 'unethical' acts are without falling in to a "Because it just is" trap. So, for instance, you can take three students of ethics and one single subject, and each may have different feelings on whether that subject is moral, immoral, somewhere inbetween. That doesn't matter, though- what does matter is that the students are able to explain why they feel that way without twisting themselves up in hyperbole, hypocrisy, and so on.

 

On the other hand, Character doesn't involve, say, looking at the American Civil War and saying 'people should be free, because (moral reasons)': that's the job of ethics. Character instead says "Well, why do people want to be free? Why do people not want others to be free? What will people do to be free, and what will people do to stop them from being free?" Both someone studying ethics and someone studying character will read Nineteen-Eighty-Four and A Clockwork Orange and say "Oh my gosh, this is horrific!" Both students will look at the societies, deem them morally unsound and failures, and think about how they could be fixed. But ethics is directly 'why is it morally unsound and how make the society more moral?' while character is 'why did these failures happen and how can people be 'made' to make better decisions?'. Ethics is certainly not black and white, no matter how much we sometimes wish it is, but it does often touch on ''this is a good decision' and 'this is a bad decision' while character dances on 'why do we make good decisions' and 'why do we make bad decisions'. Both do overlap a bit, in which both ethics and character study directly 'what *is* a good decision and what *is* a bad decision', but both take it to different directions.

 

In short, Ethics is philosophy, while Character is psychology (although both will dip in to each others fields to have a full view). Someone going in to Business will take Ethic classes, while someone going in to Language Arts (be it drama or literature) takes Character classes. Ethics knows why you shouldn't tick, while Character knows why you tick all the same. Ethics requires trying to look at things through a consistent viewpoint (after you've done enough studying to be 'trusted' to have built your own consistant viewpoint), while character requires you to look through many viewpoints. Both agree that "stealing is wrong", but Ethics can tell you why exactly it is wrong and what harm it does, while Character can tell you why people steal anyway. Ethics is why you should or shouldn't do it, character is why you do or don't do it. If you're given something that is tempting but bad for you, ethics can tell you why it's bad for you and why you shouldn't do it, while character tells you why it's tempting despite that badness but how you'll say no to it anyway.

 

(Less on the books, but you'll also find that ethics is often a multilayered view, while character is more focused. Character, you often are focused on one person, while Ethics involves all people and full societies. That's not an 'always', thing, though, but just something you may notice in a textbook. Also sometimes it's on the you-versus-me: it's ethical when you help another person say no, it's character when you bring yourself to say no. Those two factoids are full of exception after exception, but they are somewhat places to start.)

 

Both are really, really interesting subjects and I strongly recommend taking courses on both if you can.

 

 

 

...Or you could just read Legates description, which is how it works in the game. Er. Sort of embarassed for babbling all this nonsense, now. /g

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No, it's definitely interesting. The skills system on this game seems to invite quite a bit of debate. At least some of that debate goes well beyond the strict game mechanics and into the real meaning of the words we're using and the concepts we're acting by. Not a bad accomplishment for any game.

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...we will not remove or condense the Skills, but we will allow some substitution where relevant. That way, you can still train in the variety of Skills that suit your Character and your role-play, while being able to participate in a broader set of rolls.

 

I realize that this has been the plan all along, but I hope this won't make things too easy. It's very rare to find a game where failing is fun; I'd hate to lose that here.

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sperm spell research

 

I wouldn't think we'll see sperm spell research untill at least year 3, let the poor kids get some pubic hairs first!

 

...

 

Sorry, it was a fine post and that should be the only bit I reply to but I couldn't resist. :)

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