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Author Topic: Character aptitude points why I don't like them and how I would change them.  (Read 17559 times)

Alphascrub

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So this is a really foot in mouth moment for me. The moment that I realize that I play such a modded version of starsector that my entire perspective of the previous character/skill system is basically kind of skewed. So without wasting a bunch time sighting past systems Ill just kind jump into what I don't like about the current and hope it doesn't make me look like an ass. Basically I like the new character/skill system but I dislike the aptitude/empty points in it. Here is why. In the new character/skill system you have a total of 99 "skills" you can invest in. You of course gain one character/skill point per level with a level cap of 40. That means you cannot pick up every skill, which I'm completely ok with. However, what I don't like the existence of the empty aptitude points. Meaning points gateway you into a certain skill tree but actually provide you with nothing directly. It just seems silly or wasteful to me that these aptitude points exist in an empty state. What I wouldn't mind seeing is either their remove or integration with existent skills. Here's in example.

In the combat skill tree there is called "Combat Endurance". Its arguable one of those skills that is nice and representative of the skill tree. Its pretty much directly effects the player's staying power. Its not the most powerful skill but its decent. Instead of it being a standalone skill why not combine it with the aptitude skill? This way you waste skill points, while still requiring the player to kind of specialize and kind of setting an overall tone for skill tree that makes sense. Each tree has things you could do this with, Leadership and the "Command & Control" skill would be another great example of a skill that could do this.

TL:DR empty aptitude skills suck, why not combine them with one of the skills within the tree to allow players more choice and not waste skill points.
« Last Edit: June 14, 2017, 04:22:47 PM by Alphascrub »
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Dri

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Yeah, they are kinda a hard sell as they are. Sure, you can view them as spending a point to "unlock" access to a higher tier of goodies but that is still pretty darn weak. Even if it was just something real minor like 1/2/4% increase to all damage done for Combat and 3/6/10% faster Command Point recover for Leadership, that'd be nice.

I wanna say I heard Alex mention he was gonna look into giving them something more awhile back, but I dunno what his stance is these days.
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Alphascrub

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Yeah, they are kinda a hard sell as they are. Sure, you can view them as spending a point to "unlock" access to a higher tier of goodies but that is still pretty darn weak. Even if it was just something real minor like 1/2/4% increase to all damage done for Combat and 3/6/10% faster Command Point recover for Leadership, that'd be nice.

I wanna say I heard Alex mention he was gonna look into giving them something more awhile back, but I dunno what his stance is these days.

Exactly,  something is better than nothing. I just want them to feel less empty.
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CapnHector

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Disagree. System as is is both realistic and more strategic wrt gameplay. Realism: In real life, before you can learn engineering or medicine, you need to study "useless" mathematics and biology. Strategic: in-game this system means that you can't just pick and choose skills from any tree. A generalist will have less points to spend than a specialist, but can choose from more skills. Which creates an interesting trade-off.

Although I guess maybe there could be a consolation prize since it seems like a recurring complaint.

What I would argue is the issue is, some skills are basically mandatory  (tech, some leadership) and others are not worth the aptitude investment  (industry skills) so you will always end up wasting some points to get the mandatory skills, which feels bad, and you can't get the few interesting industry skills because they are never worth 6 points investment. Even though they might be worth 3. There's barely any upside to being generalist when only 2 skill trees are good. That should be fixed, then this isn't an issue either.
« Last Edit: June 14, 2017, 10:05:09 PM by CapnHector »
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Verrius

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I can understand why they exist, although I never really felt good about them since the minor bonuses were removed. When you level up in games, generally you're supposed to feel good about that level, like you achieved something. When you only get one point per level, every level you need to pump that point into aptitude and get nothing for your level up feels "dead." Don't really get that feeling of achieving anything, since you won't actually be able to make use of that aptitude point until at least your next level.

If the skill system was designed in a way to offer more than one point per level, putting it towards aptitude wouldn't feel as bad since you'd still have a point left to spend on an actual skill that does something and makes you feel more powerful. Alternatively, if there was a small bonus like before, you'd also feel that gain in power despite not spending it on an actual skill.

Since the earlier levels tend to come pretty quick though, it's not a big deal. But if the game was re-balanced to increase the amount of time between levels, then having to spend an entire level doing nothing would just be awful.

Jay2Jay

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Perhaps bringing back the old system to an extent where you have separate 'aptitude' and 'trait' points would feel better?

But then again that takes out the strategy and such...

In reality I would have preferred a revamp of the old system as apposed to this new system. I consider Starsector an RPG and in RPG's part of the fun (for me at least) is grinding up until I am a godlike being that can crush all npcs beneath the heal of my cosmic sized boot

Me as a mad god:"KNEEL BEFORE JAY TINY MORTAL. KNEEEEEL!"

Of course I like it to take time and effort. If it just takes five minutes then it feels worthless and empty.

Me as a bored god: "Kneel before me tiny- eh, you know what? Just go home I'm not really feeling it today..."

Gotta find that balance right? Anyway, I wonder if Alex will eventually put in the assault of space stations and slaughter of families? Then I can get the whole Cronan package. You know: "Crush your enemies, to see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentations of their women"

Edit: Changing signature to reflect badassness of that quote.
« Last Edit: June 15, 2017, 05:23:59 AM by Jay2Jay »
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"The greatest pleasure is to vanquish your enemies and chase them before you, to rob them of their wealth and see those dear to them bathed in tears, to ride their horses and clasp to your bosom their wives and daughters." ~Ghengis Khan

Megas

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I do not like aptitude points because there are far more skills than points and there are not enough skill points.  Removing aptitudes would free up some skill points.  It does not help that many skills have good perks locked behind junk perks.  For example, Loadout Design 1.  I also never max capacitors, let alone exceed them.  However, Loadout Design 3 enables or enhances so many configurations that it is always worth taking for everyone.
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Gothars

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I see it the other way round. As Jay2Jay said, Sector is part RPG, and in my opinion the right way to handle character skills in RPGs is to force them to specialize. To play a god-character is nice once in a while, but when you end up in that state every time and any other approach is just transitory, the game becomes boring much quicker.

If the current number of skills were final, I'd argue for higher aptitude costs. It's still quite easy to get all the "must-have" skills, and most of the very good ones. From what I read people usually max out three of the four aptitudes, and then get all the best skills these aptitudes. So the system is clearly not harsh enough to force real specialization.

But as the skill tree will be filled out more skill points will become more precious, and that issue should fix itself.

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FooF

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I think there's a substantive difference between "the system is broken" and "empty points don't feel right." I absolutely disagree with the former while absolutely agree with the latter. I don't care how you slice it, placing points in aptitudes never feels "good."

@ Gothars

Specialization only works when every branch of the tree has very high end-level power. At the extremes, every branch is essentially "must-have" but they're mutually exclusive. The skills we have, I'd argue, are not designed with that in mind. There are some good level 3 skills but none I would consider "good enough" to forego getting other level 3 skills in other aptitudes, if specialization forced that issue. You'd have to bump up the max-level skills in order for me to get behind raising aptitude levels and spending even more of my precious points on an empty progression mechanic.

If there were a bunch of mutually-exclusive level 4 skills, all essentially "must-haves", I would be on-board with you but as it is, specialization doesn't net you much right now (unless you go heavy Industry which is its own unique play style).

Out of curiosity, what would the general consensus be on being able to earn a few Aptitude Points (i.e. can only be spent on aptitude) through missions or some kind of story-arc? Would it become mandatory in every play-through or would you say "eh, not worth it" after awhile? Just thinking outside the box for a moment.
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Alex_P

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I like the idea of aptitudes a lot. They add an extra cost to cherrypicking all the best abilities from every tree, without punishing you so hard that you're forced to min/max every character into a single chain. I actually prefer them "empty," I think, for the reasons CapnHector outlined — it feels more like an investment in baseline learning rather than just another ability that happens to unlock five others as a bonus.
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Alphascrub

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Disagree. System as is is both realistic and more strategic wrt gameplay. Realism: In real life, before you can learn engineering or medicine, you need to study "useless" mathematics and biology. Strategic: in-game this system means that you can't just pick and choose skills from any tree. A generalist will have less points to spend than a specialist, but can choose from more skills. Which creates an interesting trade-off.

As a different side of the coin I would argue that the for example the "useless" mathematics learned before engineering is not useless at all. In some case you will use that math directly in what you do pending on what type of engineer you are or indirectly by improving your problem solving skills/ability to do basic math to speed certain things along. What I'm getting at is that useless math is still making you a better engineer to a degree, one might even say a noticeable one. What I'm trying to say is no matter how indirect they may seem precursory skills always effect your skills on a whole on some level. I just feel like aptitude points should reflect that.  

But as the skill tree will be filled out more skill points will become more precious, and that issue should fix itself.

Its funny you mention skill "tree" because I've actually been thinking a true branching skill tree (instead of skill groups) might be a interesting. It would prevent cherry picking to a degree pending on how the tree was balanced while making sure that we were always getting something out of the points we are spending. This obviously would limit the total variation skills used, unless you have extremely bloated trees like those found in Path of Exiles. Which I'm not sure I recommend. In  the end though true skill "trees" might just over complicate things and I don't want that.  


Out of curiosity, what would the general consensus be on being able to earn a few Aptitude Points (i.e. can only be spent on aptitude) through missions or some kind of story-arc? Would it become mandatory in every play-through or would you say "eh, not worth it" after awhile? Just thinking outside the box for a moment.


This isn't a bad idea. I think it would be hard to implement as you  say. If its required it will eventually get boring and people won't like it. If there was a system in place to earn them outside of normal xp it would probably end up being abused. I guess in the end it would depend on the missions/task/requirement and the variations of said missions. Also they would kind of maybe need to available to different style of play. While I don't personally I have to think there are a decent amount of people who  do  trading. I think in the end this would be hard to implement in a meaningful fashion. Missions to earn ships, weapons/wings/mods, or credits would be fine. But ones to earn direct skills would  be hard to add without making them required for the player to  do.
« Last Edit: June 15, 2017, 10:18:42 AM by Alphascrub »
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Megas

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Current aptitudes are ill-suited for specialization for their sake.

Currently, Technology is probably the most obligatory for everyone.  If you do not have Electronic Warfare 1 and you do not use pure carrier fleet, you get burned frequently late in the game when a significant number of fleets have Electronic Warfare and you do not, and you lose 10% or more to your shot range right off the bat.  Also, Loadout Design 3 is great for everyone.

Similarly, if you even want to dabble in fighters, Fighter Doctrine 3 is very useful.  Leadership has very useful skills.

Combat 1 is great for Combat Endurance 1, but beyond that varies widely with what you want to do and if plan to be married to a particular ship late in the game or not.

Industry is divided into two sections - cheaper combat (first three) or crutch free one-off money skills (last two).

Even if you want to specialize, you need to cherry pick from various trees.  For example, carrier fleet, your probably want Combat 3 for Helmsmanship (zero-flux speed while fighters Engage lets carriers flee much more easily), Leadership 3 for various skills, and Technology 3 for Electronic Warfare 1 (if you have non-carrier escorts) and Loadout Design if you want to stuff your carriers with high-end fighters and still have enough OP left to afford hullmods you need and some vents.
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FooF

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@ Megas

Yeah, that's what I was getting at in my previous post. There's simply too much "left out" if you limit yourself to one aptitude. Combat would have a really nice flagship but your fleet would be at baseline for everything else. Leadership would have a bunch of fast carriers with officers. Tech would have superior range, vents, and OP to spend with some sensor perks and would be the fastest fleet around. Industry would be similar to what we already have but you'd have to dabble around because there's not enough points to spend in that aptitude.

But as you can get 50% of all of that with judicious spending, you just make do with what you can fit in and you become more than a sum of your parts.
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DatonKallandor

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I see it the other way round. As Jay2Jay said, Sector is part RPG, and in my opinion the right way to handle character skills in RPGs is to force them to specialize. To play a god-character is nice once in a while, but when you end up in that state every time and any other approach is just transitory, the game becomes boring much quicker.

If the current number of skills were final, I'd argue for higher aptitude costs. It's still quite easy to get all the "must-have" skills, and most of the very good ones. From what I read people usually max out three of the four aptitudes, and then get all the best skills these aptitudes. So the system is clearly not harsh enough to force real specialization.

But as the skill tree will be filled out more skill points will become more precious, and that issue should fix itself.



Aptitudes are good. The fact they do nothing is bad. It's a strange problem too, because it was solved in previous versions, when Aptitudes had small but worthwhile effects in themselves. Having them be dead points feels awful and there's simply no reason for it.
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TJJ

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I'd rather a traditional 'tree' with dependencies, and depth.
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