[Suggestion] Skill Tree Rebalancing


#1

While playing Generation Zero, something that quickly stuck out to me was the skill tree system, with which I quickly noticed some oddities. The following are some notes about the failings of the skill tree system, and my suggestions on how to rebalance the skill trees. Additionally, I have given you a little program you can play with that is a mockup of the skill tree changes that I am advocating. Hopefully this is in the correct area of the forums - if not, feel free to move it.

Failures of the current skill system:

-Trees are unbalanced, point-wise. This makes some trees more expensive than others.

-Some trees lack direction. It feels like a lot of skills were created, a few trees got their skills logically placed, and then the left over skills were randomly distributed amongst the other trees. This is confusing because the trees end up lacking cohesion, and players have more difficulty planning their skill trees out because the skills that are compatible with their playstyle end up being spread out through multiple trees, which require skills that they don’t need being a requirement to take.

-Solo players are at a disadvantage because the entire tree currently has 88 points, and a player only has 30 points to assign. A full team of players has 120 points, more than enough to get every skill (and still have points left over).

-Some skills are not actual choices, like inventory expansion. Skills that are always going to be chosen should be simply given to players so that they can make actual choices in the skill system. Other skills are acquired very early in their trees and are only useful in multiplay, which makes them required (but useless in solo play) to unlock later skills.

-Some skills are negated by later skills, such as the 3 levels of Weapon Sway skill being completely negated by the later Specialization Marksman. This means there is no point to even putting more than 1 point into Weapon Sway, effectively making it a single-point skill but ultimately useless once Marksman is acquired. Also, XP skills become useless once the end-game is reached, and thus become wasted points.

-Utility skills that unlock abilities rather than simply affect existing abilities are found randomly throughout the trees, sometimes in later skill tiers. This makes basic changes to how the gameplay is experienced for a player expensive in terms of skills.

In order to do a rebalance, several changes were made, but of extra note:

-Level cap goes from 30 to 40, giving players 40 points.
-Players have all inventory slots unlocked at start, and the skill Carry Capacity has been removed.
-Players are now able to always heal each other, and the skill Healer is removed.

The Fixes:

-Skill trees are now balanced in terms of points, and each tree is very predictable and follows the pattern of 2, 1, 2, 2, 2, 1 points in each tier. This makes it very easy to mentally and visually plan out trees.

-While each tree still has two branches, the branch on the left of each tree now tends to be skills that are “long range” skills, which benefit combat or gameplay at a distance, versus the branch on the right of each tree which tends to be skills that are “close range” skills, which benefit combat or gameplay up close. This setup also allows players a “hint” at which skills might be better for their particular playstyle and keeps them from wasting skill points.

-In the old system, a four player team has effectively 120 skill points to use. Single player has 30. This means that, in order to stay competitive, early skills should be “worth more” than later skills. Therefore, the first skill point gives more value than second one. This allows solo players to benefit by only taking the first point if they want to, while letting players in teams (or solo players that want to min/max) take both points and still remain stronger in that skill. Solo players now get a little more benefit to taking a skill they might not want, and still have the freedom to maximize a particular skill.

-Inventory space is “illusion of choice” because players will almost always put skill points into it, even if they have to take at least one point in skills they won’t want to use (which essentially increases the cost of the inventory space beyond only two skill points). Giving all players inventory space unlocked by default means players will be able to create more varied skill trees. Additionally, the ability to heal other players is given to players by default for two reasons - first, in a cooperative game, players should be able to heal each other because it encourages team dynamics without skill point investments, and secondly, it is a skill which is useless in solo play, but still costs a point in order to unlock skills later on in the tree which makes it a wasted point for solo players - skills like this should be avoided as much as possible (and in the changed trees, only found very late in a tier, if found at all).

-Weapon Sway skill has been removed, in order to make Marksman Specialization more interesting to achieve, and to not waste points. Additionally, skills relating to increased XP gain have been removed because they serve no function at end-game.

-“Utility skills” that unlock abilities, rather than simply make existing abilities stronger, are placed lower in the tree to allow solo players the chance to take most if not all of them, which keeps sections of the game or gameplay accessible to them.

The Windows program that allows you to play around with these changes can be found here: http://www.aemaps.com/genzero_indev/GZSkillTreeMockup.exe

It should be fairly self-explanatory. In the interest of speed, there is no functionality to remove skill points except by clearing the appropriate tree. This has been tested on Windows 10, but it should work on other versions of Windows. As always, run at your own risk, etc, etc. I may update this file later with more functionality, depending on feedback I get from this post.

It has been tested to be virus free by Kaspersky VirusDesk:

Scan result no threats detected
File size 83.50 KB
File type PE32/EXE_MANAGED_ASSEMBLY
Scan date May 16 2019 21:36:34
Databases release date May 17 2019 00:49:00 UTC
MD5 02076e744154402d2eeda9f16b53b295
SHA1 6c36abe4c5da425d56104571e2e80fee3e69c8a7
SHA256 44f4bed08accf371e0453ebf3f8df57f913fb13f8ab71dc4ebc9a12c16e7d9e2

Hopefully this is interesting to you, and may provoke discussion about the current skill system in the game. Developers, if you like this, feel free to contact me, or freely use this stuff in the game.


Enable skill respec
Regarding the skill trees
Level Caps Are Not Welcome & Here's Why
Skills Respec please
Skill Tree Overhaul
#2

A really nice post! Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this. After hitting level 31 on my first character, I’m right now playing with my second one, currently at level 27 I think.

Here are some loose thoughts based on what you wrote:

  • I agree with you that are forced to “sacrifice” (i.e. spend points) on some skills in order to reach your desired skill further down the tree

  • yes the carry capacity skill doesn’t feel like a skill and should be available to all when starting up the game. Alternatively, it could open up as a bonus skill at a certain point in the game. For example when reaching level 5 you get one row in addition to the skill point, and at level 10 you get the second and final row. Just an idea, but in essence I agree with you that it seems pointless to block two rows that everyone needs.

  • you didn’t mention lockpicking. I feel lockpicking should also be available to all at the start, but at a certain % rate of success. “Everyone” (almost) enables lockpicking since important mission items and loot are behind locks. You could use a skill to up your % rate of success at lockpicking, rather than having it at either 0 or 100 % as it is today.

  • I like the duality-idea: having two branches in the same tree focused on two different things. But it shouldn’t be limited to closed vs. ranged combat. There are tons of dualities you can play with, such as damage resistance vs. healing capacity, single-fire vs. auto fire, damage-by-combat vs. damage-by-sabotage, deployable vs. throwable, stealth vs. assault, to name but a few.

  • SP and MP. This is a tough one since it mixes in with what the intention of the game is. Designers of the game were for sure intending on making a co-op game first and a single player game second. I’ve played both styles immensely and dare say that co-op MP is just so much more fun. This is just my personal opinion, but having SP abilities and MP evenly mixed out in the trees seems like a compromise to try to engage all players when levelling up.

  • I totally agree that each tree should be better defined in terms of playstyle. With my first character, I went full-on with tech, having both hacker and engineer specializations. With my second character, I wanted to change things up and specialized vanguard instead, in my mind making it more combat focused. Here’s the thing: it’s very hard to manifest the changes with your playstyle. The similarities are just too obvious, and the changes between the characters are quite minimal. For example, wanting to do engineer I need to get good at explosives, increasing damage output and radius of effect. But wait, these skills are highly relevant for my combat focused character as well! It would have been better with a tree that makes you have to choose between which type of damage output you wish to have, instead of having both. Same thing goes with damage resistance vs. healing. These two, in essence, do the same thing: making it easier for you to survive. But they do point at two different ways of handling damage in the game. To avoid being able to maximise both, creating a possibly OP character, you should have to choose between one or the other.

I didn’t download your file yet, but these were just some loose thoughts on the matter.

AND HERE COMES THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM

When you hit level 30 - you should be able to respec your character ONCE. I definitely regret all the points I spend at my hacker specialization since it turned out to be useless for the way I play the game. But right now it’s like “haha too bad, all your skill points are gone now boohoo for you”, and that just isn’t too nice.

I know that @Avalanche_Graham likes Fallout very much. Well, what do you have after the opening scenes when you make it out of the vault in both Fallout 3 and 4? A RESPEC OF YOUR CHARACTER.

mic drop


#3

I honestly believe you should be able to respec pretty much whenever you want to. It’s difficult to encourage experimentation with different abilities and skills when the “cost” to experiment is leveling up another character from scratch (or even only being able to respec once) - that discourages experimentation and only encourages cookie cutter “optimal skill tree point assignments” because players don’t want to “make the wrong choice”. But then again, I feel like locking skill points in is needlessly punishing for players.

To clarify, I agree if someone was to suggest that there should be some limiting factor, like a cooldown, only at certain locations, or a currency required, but I’m against the idea that we have either a hard-code limit to number of respecs, or make it so difficult to respec that we might as well not have the ability.

Additionally, you end up creating a problem when a skill you took has been changed, or does not work as expected (like the redesign of the Hacker skill you mentioned) - wasted skill points.

The rest of your comments, I think are generally correct. As far as lockpicking goes, I do agree that it’s almost a required skill, but at that point, why have locked doors? So I do think that lockpicking ultimately has a place as an acquired ability, as long as mission items aren’t locked behind them (I’m looking at you, “The Spotter” mission).


#4

totally agree on all of this, i hope the devs take this into account


#5

Me too, I quite agree with this thread. Thanks for your analysis. I support the @Bawson82 idea of more than once skill tree respec limitated by some cooldown mechanism. I hope, when the major bugs will be fixed, the devs will look into this feature. Or maybe if modding support is added we will have a skill tree mod.


#6

These suggestions look really interesting. Thanks @Bawson82 for this!


#7

Before I begin, I like you man.
Nice LONG post (I do that too, they say, do not believe them, I do not either :stuck_out_tongue: )
Well written!!!
Now, let me read on…
I’ll answer in a few.


#8

Well, logical, some have a deeper point based incremental system.
Inventory is one of these I’ll use as example: 1 point being 8 (I think?) slots, 2 giving 16.
This is used in many a game…

Yes and no.
Imagine you go for hacker.
You have X points over, which you put in combat, as this would help you in the times you do not hack.
Oddly, I am now max, with a few skill points over, not used, as I see no reason to even spend these.
None of the skills -TO ME- have meaning.
Might as well pick up on Survival and go for inventory…
Just to have’m spent

Yes and no: see, the game is NOT!!! MP compatible, and has NOTHING to do with skills, but the MACHINES not scaling!!!
IF they WOULD scale, that point would be obsolete.
Game virtually is meant to play solo…

I addressed this in a different topic, it is though.
You do not HAVE to go for Inventory, might as well go for something else.
Sadly, game went from survival to shoot’n’loot to even HOARDING sim.
THIS desperately needs a fix imho.
Let’s go back to BASE.

Sadly that is true, then… :frowning:

Would you be so kind to elaborate on this?

Can’t do this.
Reason: balance (which already does not exist), it would OP us even more.

I will not react to the suggested fixes yet…
Pointing this out first and wait for reaction…


#9

As a solo player I feel like the skill trees could use some re working. I don’t really like that I have to waste skill points on skills that are of no use in single player, get gain access to the skills I do want.
For exemple: I wanted “Heal amount” which makes medkits more effective. But to unlock it i need to get “Healer”, which let me use medkits on other players. Of course useless to me, as there are no other players.

How about putting all multiplayer-skills in their own tree?


#10

Sounds reasonable but how about having to spend so many skill points in total to unlock the next line of skills. Or reach a serten level to unlock the next line of skills to give players more choices and open up more build diversity. It would be emensly helpful to players especially solo players. I also play on my own so I know where you’re coming from.


#11

Same discussion topics merged.

//Mod


I, for one, would also like to see better replacement of skills since i’m also a solo player and i had to unlock MP only skill, just to get the skill i like.

For example: I had to unlock Flanking (MP only skill) to get to Enemy Marking (which is useful in SP and MP).


#12

I wanted to suggest a different approach to how we progress and grow our characters.

Honestly, all it needs is the Fluff stuff removed from the skill tree system it has now. And make the Skill Trees based on Job Paths… Right now in the game you have to grab skills from other trees, which is restrictive as hell and some very basic and odd things feel like a waste of a point that’s in the way of the building what you’re wanting to operate with.

Pick a Job Path upon Character Creation. Each one has everything you need to be effective in solo, and cuts out the chaff and allows you to focus on that specific style of play and makes you earn and progress differently.

Examples

1: SAPPER (Path should focus on explosives, sapper tasks, path denile, mechanical and electrical skills, basically all the gear-head and boomboom stuff.)

2: SERE School Medic (Path should focus on all things medical, response, rescue, combat survival and evasion.)

3: SWAT Marksman (Path should focus on all things long range, stealth, and intel Mark Targets.)

4: DF-Commando (Path should focus on being loud, gaining attention, taking punishment, and being the brick wall who can lay down a ton of hate on hostiles.)

For each Job, the Main Path nodes should unlock as you level up being allowed to fully max it out, with Unlock Branches on the bottom for maxing out on another character in a different job to unlock Perks and CrossTraining Passives. And Bonus Nodes above it for getting good as learned skills over time. Added Perks that can be unlocked could use the Prestige Points from completing Challenges

Passive Skills / Learned Skills
1: XP boost should be unlocked via story progression across all characters. So if you beat the game on one toon and get that sexy 200% Bonus XP, your other 3 chars will reap the benefits.

2: Lockpicking should be Unlocked via as a perk from either the SWAT or SAPPER paths, once that char is maxed, it’s unlocked for all your other chars as a passive bonus.

3: Loot/Ammo % increase should be tied to the progression of how often you loot. Passive Learning skill.

4: Running Speed, Health, Regen, etc should be universal unlocks that improve over time as you run, get hit, heal, etc. Once unlocked they do what the others do, they are unlocked for all characters once you max out on one char.

By doing this, a player can Max Out their specific job, and earn more by maxing out the other jobs for bonuses. On top of that, earning passive unlocks through playing adds more to the enjoyment. This way people will get a lot of game time and after maxing out all four Jobs (as separate characters), they can unlock a 5th Character Slot that can be a Universal Soldier with it’s own path and buffs. Slap in a Nightmare Difficulty or Terminator Difficulty and bam there ya go.


#13

Same discussion topics merged.

//Mod


#14

Everybody, if the Skills had no need to be in order, things would be better, even if max level is 31 or in near future 40 or something.
Various games have skills tree where you put your points wherever you want them…
That could be one of the solutions.
A reset or respec of points is also necessary.


Level Caps Are Not Welcome & Here's Why
#15

Well…
Since level caps are linked with skill:
I think, that to make the game more fun for EVERYONE, would be to fix all skills, in such fashion, they will now mean anything.
No, please, do not shoot me, let me finish.

Right now, those with somewhat deeper understanding into the game mechanics, will all say this:
Pick the Tank tree.
Yes, Vanguard is SO OP, it becomes totally ridiculous.
Many enjoy just slaying machines without having to fear anything.

But…
Let’s pick Medic.
It’s somewhat useless, up to just disappointing.
I mean… when I hear Medic, I think of… well… a MEDIC…
This then is not what it is, is it?

Or, let’s take Hacker (or any other for that matter that isn’t Vanguard), and you will see… it is not what you thought it was.

And that is something, I would like to see fixed.
For one, that brings new gameplay to the GZ universe.
A Medic will not likely get in close and whack-a-mole, right?
But he would be able to fix up a (fallen) comrade.
He would be able to support the team while they get damage, helping them to survive.

Same for a hacker, if this has been addressed, then a hacker could be quite VERY pleasing to be played.

In short, For the time being, I would personally not add more Exp or levels, but address the skill(trees).
Only then, I would begin to think about a new level cap.
Well no, I would not, unless the game’s mechanic would force me to.
The game works really well with the cap, thus it needs not be fixed.

But either way:
If it would be increased… if that is the idea…
Then please, do try to balance out the skill(trees).
Remove a bit of the OP’ness from Vanguard, and balance the other ones out, even revamp them, to become more useful.

Think about this:
Vanguard, Marksman and Hacker looking for Medic…

Hell, I could surely see that one…

Thoughts?


#16

I have only to say, that besides Vanguard, I also choose the Engineer skill and it´s useless.
I want to change that, and for now it´s not possible.


#17

Yes, sir, that is why I brought this up
It’s not just Engineer, too, sir.
And while not on topic, it is VERY on topic, as one = the other and vica versa…


#18

I have Vanguard on one of my characters, never use it. I much prefer Hacker, even in its current, next to useless implementation, because on the rare occasion it works, it’s a fun skill. Vanguard is overrated imho.

And yes I agree, a complete skill revamp is something I would much rather see before raising any caps. Skill revamp, and skill respec.


#19

Tbh I use the survivalist specialist and it does fine :joy::joy:


#20

Discussion moved to proper topic.

//Mod