Thursday, 31 October 2013

A Skill Tree From Space!

Hello, faithful hermeticians!

What I have been working on today is quite interesting to me. Hence, I spent the day on it and am now blogging about it.

It's for my currently-unnamed Martian Manhunter-inspired Stealth Tactics Metroidvania (henceforth, MMSTM).

What is it, you ask? Oh, I see you are shivering in anticipation. Maybe I should keep the suspense rising a bit. Is it a game-changing open world? Is it a shiny new algorithm? Or is it just tightening up the graphics on level 3?

No, but it is a Diablo II style skill system. Diablo 2 is awesome and if you haven't played it, then - good news - you're not an awful person and I completely respect your decision not / lack of opportunity to play it.

In the second Diablo game, there were a bunch of characters, each with 3 skill trees. A skill tree looks something [exactly] like this:
The Assassin skill trees in Lord of Destruction
Each of little boxes is a Skill. Each Skill does some things - damage to enemies, heal you, buff allies, find treasure... any number of things the designers felt were cool on an Amazon or a Sorceress or whatever.

The UI here is pretty genius. There's a picture for each skill, so any expert will know instantly what it is without needing to read anything. The name and all statistics are shown when you hover the mouse over the square. The mouse-over box of information (henceforth: tooltip) is a simple, transparent grey. A little number on the corner shows you how many points you've put into any given skill. An arrow points from any skill that is a prerequisite to another skill. White = can put points into, greyed out = cannot. Simple and effective. Elegant. Orgasm-inducing.

MMSTM is going to have three such skill trees (in the same way the Assassin has 3). The first draft looks a little like this:

It's clearly not pretty yet, and is almost nothing but words, but I think it has some promise. I also have a detailed list of what they all do. It was far too cumbersome filling that info out in a small box in Google Docs Spreadsheets. F That!

But it does feel good. A lot of the prerequisites are from other trees, because I more or less necessitate you to take Knowledge skills in order to improve your combat & telepathy skills. I also take the skill requirements a step further, since skills don't necessarily get "bigger and better". For example, you will need points in Human Psychology to use Read Thoughts to understand their Subconscious processes, and points in Sociology to use Read Thoughts to understand their Social Standing to use Disguise to take advantage of that.

It's going to be complex, but intuitive.

Diablo Deux's skill trees are very balanced, and are self-contained. Mine isn't, yet.

This is all.

I am also testing out a site called IFTTT (If this then that) which takes triggers from one of a number of sites and performs an action on another one of those sites when that trigger happens. So if you got here from Facebook, I'll know it succeeded!

Thanks for reading.

Stay real, fictional character.

-mysteriosum (the deranged hermit)

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