skill level micro-management


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Post Wednesday, 20th July 2011, 21:55

skill level micro-management

I just posted this idea on c-r-d.

If we don't want players to micro-manage their skill level progress, let's just remove it. We hide it and make it irrelevant.
you.skill internally gives the desired precision, but we just display the integer. We use a discrete display for a continues scale, like we do everywhere else in the game.

You can't micro-manage your skill levels and you don't have to.

edit: if you're wondering what this cryptic message means, go read the detailed proposal on the wiki.
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Post Wednesday, 20th July 2011, 22:23

Re: skill level micro-management

I'm not sure there's enough of a problem to be worth fixing. The only real benefits come from a full integer of skill anyway, which the proposed change leaves in. You'd just turn the skill off after gaining that integer of skill you wanted, not really caring whether you were at 0% or 5% towards the next level. Reasons to put multiple skills at 50% at the same time are very few and far between.

And counting against the idea, you remove feedback from the player. Psychologically, the player gets zero sense of progress until they get the ding of leveling up, which feels good momentarily but it's already over. High skill levels take a LONG time to train to the next level. It's easier to get frustrated if you don't feel you're advancing, and there are quite a few points in the late game and post-endgame where you carve your way through endless legions. Players like getting xp, but they need to have a feel for how much they're getting or they won't have the positive feelings associated by seeing their score go up. This is the same reason the % screen has a xp-to-level entry; you don't technically need to know what that number is to play but it's more fun if you can watch it tick down.

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Post Wednesday, 20th July 2011, 22:32

Re: skill level micro-management

Do you mean the percentages?
Ok, but why?
What's so taboo about micromanaging numbers in a game that runs on numbers? I can imagine OCD types doing the silliest things to make sure not a single XP gets wasted, but, for us "sane" people it's useful to, for example, have a vague estimate of how long it may take before Spellcasting levels up and we finally have the slots to learn a new spell or things like that.
Besides, it's already pretty fuzzy as it goes in increments of 5%, and the XP formula is rocket science anyway, so it's not like you can rely too much on the numbers displayed unless you go out of your way to learn exactly how it works and resort to do the math. If you do, I'd assume you actually enjoy that sort of stuff, so there's no tedium for you there.
Overall I just can't understand why there seems to be a need to hide Crawl's internal mechanics as much as possible.
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Post Wednesday, 20th July 2011, 22:47

Re: skill level micro-management

KoboldLord wrote:The only real benefits come from a full integer of skill anyway, which the proposed change leaves in.

Sorry for being unclear, but that's exactly what I'm proposing to change. Internally you get the benefit from partial level.
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Post Wednesday, 20th July 2011, 22:52

Re: skill level micro-management

asdu wrote:it's useful to, for example, have a vague estimate of how long it may take before Spellcasting levels up and we finally have the slots to learn a new spell.

Hmm, that's a problem. We might want to keep the progress display for spellcasting, or use the occasion to change the spell slot formula.
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Post Wednesday, 20th July 2011, 23:06

Re: skill level micro-management

I like the progress display for precisely the reasons KoboldLord stated. Not only do high skill levels take a long time to raise, low ones do too with the new skill costs. Seeing if you made some progress is important feedback. I like to see that I'm getting somewhere, and I think I'm not alone in this. And while I already know how training works and would just wait for the level to finally happen, a new player might get a little confused if he sees nothing happening for a few minutes of killing things.

Also, what do you mean by micromanaging skill progress and why is it a problem? It is currently optimal to train only one skill at a time in most cases. This could be called micromanaging skill progress, but hiding training progress would not do anything about that.

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Post Wednesday, 20th July 2011, 23:16

Re: skill level micro-management

Completely agree with asdu, part of the fun for me is seeing that I'm progressing. I understand the need to 'streamline' everything, but this seems a bit over the top really and as mentioned, I don't see why numbers should be taboo in a game that runs on numbers.
It's not like anything different would happen if we took this away, it would just mean micromanaging it at a different time instead of when its convenient. Partial level changes seems far too complicated to even think about, and I feel it would make the game very vague.

I just don't know what this accomplishes really? It doesn't make it more interesting and it doesn't stop grinding, it only removes another level of control which is quite useful.
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Post Wednesday, 20th July 2011, 23:43

Re: skill level micro-management

You're not getting it. The goal is not to remove information, it is to make it irrelevant.
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Post Wednesday, 20th July 2011, 23:57

Re: skill level micro-management

Make knowing the progress between 2 skill levels irrelevant. Why would you care if you are at 7.05 or 7.95? The next 0.05 gain will provide the same benefit anyway.
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Post Thursday, 21st July 2011, 00:09

Re: skill level micro-management

So as in, you'd get very slight amounts of improvement all the way between levels instead of getting a big improvement at level gain?
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Post Thursday, 21st July 2011, 03:03

Re: skill level micro-management

Making partial levels of skill give partial bonuses is the same adding a whole lot of mini-levels between the levels. Since bonuses are usually reducible to a specific level of granularity and no farther, removing the ability to view skill levels really just makes the granularity of those bonuses the new skill level.

Take dodging for instance. Really, players don't actually care what their dodging skill level is, at least beyond the simple pleasure of getting the level-up ding. They want the EV. If dodging is re-scaled so that it gives a bonus in the middle of the level and not necessarily on the level itself, we'll just grind it until we see our EV tick up, and then shut it off immediately. Ultimately, you've just moved the stuff we're trying to directly manipulate, and you aren't actually interfering with our ability to try manipulating it.

Take weapon skills as a rather more troublesome example. It's generally considered extremely important to manipulate your weapon skill carefully. It gives huge bonuses up until you hit minimum delay, but then it gives extremely small bonuses. Right now, we let it go up until we've got minimum delay in whatever endgame weapon we want, and then we shut it off and call it good. Maybe we'll pause it and come back to it if we're on a faster, lighter weapon for a while, so we can spend xp on other things, and upgrade when we find our endgame weapon. If we interfere with the player's ability to know what their current weapon skill training is, though, the player will simply use progressively more annoying ways to determine when to stop training. Up to and including getting out a clipboard and calculator and inferring weapon speed from the displayed combat order against a durable target.

The level-up ding is a good thing. It makes most players feel a little bit happy and satisfied, and that's part of why they're playing a game in the first place.
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Post Thursday, 21st July 2011, 03:30

Re: skill level micro-management

Whoa. Galehar proposes to make skills continuous, instead of stepped. I like the idea, but I'm not sure of some implementation (like for Spellcasting and spells slots and MP, or the proposed summoning cap; both of these appear to be dependent on stepwise functions). Apart from some possibly tricky implementation, I'm all for continuity of skill progression.

I wonder if you could make XL continuous, too.


(edit)
In light of what KL said with regards to weapons skill and delay, I think that having Danr's idea of in-game Weapon Stats, akin to the Spell Stats page, would be very helpful. In lieu of that, perhaps it could be noted when min delay is reached with a wielded weapon.

With regards to other skills, like Dodging or Armour, I don't particularly care whether I have one level or another; I want my EV or AC to go up and that's it. It is worth noting, though, that leveling a skill doesn't particularly enthuse me so much as being able to use that particular bit of magic or actually being able to swing that Exc. Axe. Level dings don't give me a happy.
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Post Thursday, 21st July 2011, 08:16

Re: skill level micro-management

minmay wrote:
galehar wrote:Why would you care if you are at 7.05 or 7.95? The next 0.05 gain will provide the same benefit anyway.

Why would you care if you're at skill 1 or skill 26? The next gain of 1 will provide the same benefit anyway.

Because the difference in gameplay effect is huge? Whereas the difference between 7.05 and 7.95 is too insignificant to matter. Realistically, if the scale is continuous and the display shows some decimals, there's not a single question you would answer differently based on this added information. Knowing if you're at 7.05 or 7.95 is as useful as knowing if you're a bit above resistant to magic or a bit below very resistant to magic.

KoboldLord wrote:bonuses are usually reducible to a specific level of granularity and no farther

My proposal is to increase this level of granularity until it doesn't matter anymore.

KoboldLord wrote:Take dodging for instance. Really, players don't actually care what their dodging skill level is, at least beyond the simple pleasure of getting the level-up ding. They want the EV. If dodging is re-scaled so that it gives a bonus in the middle of the level and not necessarily on the level itself, we'll just grind it until we see our EV tick up, and then shut it off immediately.

What I'm saying is give EV a higher precision internally. You want some EV or not. You don't have to worry about micro-managing your EV more than your skill level. And before you ask, AC also have a higher precision, but HP does not. If you've got 4.56 AC, you roll random2(456) and div_rand_round the result by 100 to find out damage reduction. Those are just examples, it can be applied to all formulas, with varying levels of precision . Although using a scale of 100 per skill level would probably be good for 99% of the cases.

KoboldLord wrote:Take weapon skills as a rather more troublesome example. It's generally considered extremely important to manipulate your weapon skill carefully. It gives huge bonuses up until you hit minimum delay, but then it gives extremely small bonuses.

My proposal doesn't prevent you from disabling your skill when you hit minimum delay, I don't see what's the problem here. This is off-topic, but I thought of adding a message when you reach minimum delay and have an option to automatically disable the weapon skill in this case. I hope that such an option will not be needed in the future, but for now it would be better to have it.
Now, thinking about weapon delay, I realised the time system could use smaller steps to. If we increase BASELINE_DELAY from 10 to 100 (which means dividing the value of aut by 10 so a normal turn take 100 aut instead of 10) this could help too. The increase in attack speed could be smoother instead of bumping every 2 levels, monster speed randomisation could be improved to not be so gameable and swiftness bonus could be more easily scaled with spell power.

dolphin wrote:I like the idea, but I'm not sure of some implementation

you.skill() takes a scale parameter (default to 1). If you're at level 7, with 89% progression to 8, you.skill(sk) returns 7 (as now), you.skill(sk, 10) returns 78 and you.skill(sk, 100) returns 789. Can add you.xl() function which works similarly for XL.

dolphin wrote:for Spellcasting and spells slots

  Code:
num_slot = (you.xl(100) + 2 * you.skill(SK_SPELLCASTING, 100)) / 100.

You gain the slots one at a time and you've got a new message to warn you when you gain one if it's relevant (have spellcasting, not a Be, can learn a spell you couldn't before).

dolphin wrote: and MP

MP and HP can use the higher precision. I don't see the problem with having max HP and MP raise one point at a time as skills progress.

dolphin wrote:or the proposed summoning cap

It's just a proposal for now, so I wouldn't worry. But it could be adapted too, like capping the sum of summons' HD to you.skill(SK_SUMMONING, 10) for example.

dolphin wrote:I wonder if you could make XL continuous, too.

For spell slot calculation yes, HP maybe too. But we have to keep some of those "dings", and you can't micro-manage your XL anyway.

By fuzzing out those articial steps we remove the tedium of micro-managing them. I'll put a more detailed proposal on the wiki.
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Post Thursday, 21st July 2011, 09:43

Re: skill level micro-management

Ahh, now it gets much clearer. Very interesting proposal. I don't see it affecting balance much, so no concerns there. Compared to the status quo on average you get the benefit of half a skill level for the skills you are actually training, which is close to neglegible. Making time more continuous is also a good idea IMO. It would open up a lot of possibilities for other changes (weapon speed going up all the way to level 27 with diminishing returns for example). Both time and character progress are already fairly continuous in crawl (compared to for example D&D characters and time in turn based strategy games), so might as well take it all the way.

Some care needs to be taken to communicate this to players. If I see a level I assume I only get a benefit for full levels. It is simply the norm.

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Post Thursday, 21st July 2011, 11:52

Re: skill level micro-management

I have to agree with KoboldLord that it would just shift the micromanagement to another area, you wouldn't be looking at the 'm' screen to determine how well you were doing but at something else. Furthermore, I really dislike the idea of doing away with the 'joy' of levelling up. For me a huge part of the fun is getting to that next level so that you can learn a new spell or simply know you're better with your weapon, if it was completely fluid, I think it would just make for a MUCH more vague game in general.

However, if there was a screen that showed all of the stats a lot clearer and more transparently than the current system (Which I REALLY would like anyway) for instance, showing skill level needed for min delay and the pips for how much damage you're doing and skill needed to take away shield penalty, that'd be great.

I just don't see the point really, I don't think anyone's crying out for a different skill system (like we were to get rid of VD) and it just seems to complicate the game further by not allowing you to see 'hard' progress and instead having to guess when you're numbers are right or work it out using calculators.
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Post Thursday, 21st July 2011, 14:09

Re: skill level micro-management

Micromanagement being moved to EV breakpoints for example can be taken away by offering partial benefit for partial EV points, as galehar described. Want do dodge more? Train dodging! Want to block more? Train shields! And every bit of your exp you put into a skill actually benefits you a little. Having breakpoints in an otherwise fairly continuous system is usually not beneficial (example: Diablo 2 speed is determined by how many frames an animation takes, which leads to weird considerations when you equip your character). Weapon speed is currently an offender in this regard, you only get a speed boost for every second skill level, or every fifth for unarmed. Making time more continuous would help with that.

The more vague sense of progress may or may not be a problem. Crawl character progress is already fairly continuous because you have not only XL, but all the independently increasing skill levels. All of these are discrete, but the combination of them can be considered nearly continuous. Equipment, piety and spell options are much more discrete, finding a good randart or spellbook or getting a powerful new divine ability is usually a far bigger power boost than raising XL or any single skill level. Level up events are fairly frequent and unspectacular overall, with great item finds taking the role of infrequent but large and satisfying power boosts. I think making the already vague part of character progression (skill levels and their derived statistics like HP, MP, EV and AC) even more vague would not be a big loss.

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Post Thursday, 21st July 2011, 15:05

Re: skill level micro-management

Galefury wrote:The more vague sense of progress may or may not be a problem. Crawl character progress is already fairly continuous because you have not only XL, but all the independently increasing skill levels. All of these are discrete, but the combination of them can be considered nearly continuous. Equipment, piety and spell options are much more discrete, finding a good randart or spellbook or getting a powerful new divine ability is usually a far bigger power boost than raising XL or any single skill level. Level up events are fairly frequent and unspectacular overall, with great item finds taking the role of infrequent but large and satisfying power boosts. I think making the already vague part of character progression (skill levels and their derived statistics like HP, MP, EV and AC) even more vague would not be a big loss.


This is only true in broadest sense, though. In my experience, at various stages of a game I tend to focus on certain goals that require specific skill levels, e.g. getting rid of shield penalties, maxing out my weapon speed, getting a spell at "great", and so on; or even totally arbitrary goals that rely more on my experience of the game than actual knowledge of game mechanics, like raising traps & doors to around 8-10 in the late game for zot traps.
In certain cases, like shield penalties, skill level is the only feedback I have that tells me I've achieved my goal. This could be fixed by having the game provide more significant feedback (e.g. more levels of description of attack delay, so there's a way to tell the difference between 6 and 7, to name but one case), but, as pointed out, this would shift the focus from micromanaging skills according to their levels to micromanaging them according to the descrition of their effects. And there's nothing wrong with that, really. Being able to set goals for your character is a good thing. You point out that a randart can make more difference than several skill level ups; this is often true, but it's something you have no control over, and having strategic goals you have control over is good.

In the end I think having skills provide more gradual benefits wouldn't be a bad change (even though I imagine it would take a revision of most mechanics), but if the reason is just to hide numbers then I completely fail to see why it is seen as desirable.
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Post Thursday, 21st July 2011, 15:19

Re: skill level micro-management

asdu wrote:if the reason is just to hide numbers then I completely fail to see why it is seen as desirable.

It's not hiding numbers for the sake of hiding numbers. It's to remove the tedium of having to micro-manage those little steps. Like "oh, my weapon skill is at L9 (80%), let's disable everything else so I can get my attack speed increase quickly". With the continuous scale, you never have to worry about such petty details.
And it doesn't prevent macro-management. You can still disable shields when EV penalty has been cancelled out, or weapon speed maxed.
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Post Thursday, 21st July 2011, 15:21

Re: skill level micro-management

I completely agree with Asdu, the only real reason I can see behind this is more number hiding, like with getting rid of the xp pool and so on. I completely understand that, but it takes away a lot of direct control over skills, which as pointed out is often a good (and satisfying) way to play. I don't like the vague attack descriptions even at the moment, the same with the spell skill levels. It's far too vague in my opinion for a spoiled player, for instance 'very good' would make you think that it works pretty much all the time, but very good is actually 'not very good'.

I like the idea of more gradual skill changes, but I can't see how it can be implemented other than introducing *more* micromanagement or staring at feedback screens, without losing indications of how well you're doing and what you need to reach a 'good' level of something. It's all very well training shields because you want shields, but as stated this ONLY works if the game continually gave you better results for your training, and as it is, the rewards go down significantly by the time you reach a certain stage.
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Post Thursday, 21st July 2011, 15:54

Re: skill level micro-management

How does hiding skill progress take away control? You can still switch the skill on or off (or focus), same level of control as before. The elegant thing with partial benefit for partial skill levels is that it would take away the reason for needing to know progress towards the next level, as the next 10% would provide roughly the same benefit, whether you are at 0% or at 90%. The only real problem with not displaying skill progress (if partial skill levels provide a benefit) is still the one stated early in this thread: loss of feedback to the player.

Regarding benefit for partial levels introducing more mircomanagement: as said a few times, partial benefit for partial derived stats would fix this. If the EV stat changing from 22 to 23 is just the change from 22.99 to 23.00 there is no need to wait for that 23.00. Having 22.99 would be just fine if it let you dodge almost as good as 23.00. The situation is similar for most other skills, spell success and spell power are already fairly continuous, just the display is discrete. Weapon speed is a problem, which could be solved by moving to 100 aut per turn instead of 10. Of course testing is needed to see how this would really play out. In my opinion the problem with this system would be communicating it to the players, not the actual gameplay changes (which are negligible). Getting a benefit from every bit of exp you put somewhere might be a bit overwhelming at first, but just setting up your training how you need it (auto with focus for example, and useless skills disabled) and then letting it run its course would work far better than it currently does. And that's a lot less micromanagement than manually training skills one at a time so no exp gets wasted on partial levels.

Regarding coarseness of displayed stats, like spell success: this is fine in my opinion. It doesn't matter if your spell success is 44% or 45%, it's crap either way. Same for 93% vs 94%, both will let you cast the spell fairly reliably. Also very good success is good enough for many spells. Unless you fight battles where every miscast counts (you shouldn't, but sometimes it cant be avoided) very good success is in fact very good. The exception to that are spammy spells and emergency spells, those often need to be at excellent.
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Post Thursday, 21st July 2011, 16:03

Re: skill level micro-management

galehar wrote: Whereas the difference between 7.05 and 7.95 is too insignificant to matter. Realistically, if the scale is continuous and the display shows some decimals, there's not a single question you would answer differently based on this added information. Knowing if you're at 7.05 or 7.95 is as useful as knowing if you're a bit above resistant to magic or a bit below very resistant to magic.


I have not yet read the wiki proposal.

Will the difference between 7.05 and 7.95 be the same as the difference between
13.55 and 14.45 ?
0.10 and 1.00 ?

If your answer is yes to both, I'm all for your change.
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Post Thursday, 21st July 2011, 17:05

Re: skill level micro-management

XuaXua wrote:I have not yet read the wiki proposal.

I haven't written it yet.

XuaXua wrote:Will the difference between 7.05 and 7.95 be the same as the difference between
13.55 and 14.45 ?
0.10 and 1.00 ?

Yes.
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Post Thursday, 21st July 2011, 17:26

Re: skill level micro-management

But isn't showing decimals more confusing than not? At the moment we can go '14 axes is fine' whereas now we'd be going '13.55 is fine' or whatever?
As said, I think this would work fine if crawl was completely continuous all the way through, but at some point the gains cut off dramatically for most skills, to get around this we'd need a lot more information (which I think is good) but that certainly doesn't stop victory dancing.

Mainly though I think it'd also make players more paranoid than they already are about where all there experience was going. On the skill change thread, a lot of the problems seemed to be that people were having points going into stuff they didn't really want, and the argument was that it didn't really matter because it was only a little bit. With this, that bit matters more and so more people are going to be annoyed about stuff leaking away. If all skills got continually better equally I think this would be fine, but as they don't we've still got micromanagement, it'll just be more precise for optimal play, and more relaxed (but not done away with) for those who aren't.
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Post Thursday, 21st July 2011, 17:48

Re: skill level micro-management

Bim wrote:But isn't showing decimals more confusing than not?

err, we're not showing decimals, no. They are not relevant.

Bim wrote:As said, I think this would work fine if crawl was completely continuous all the way through, but at some point the gains cut off dramatically for most skills, to get around this we'd need a lot more information (which I think is good) but that certainly doesn't stop victory dancing.

But this is completely unrelated to the change proposed. I'm offering to remove skill level micro-management, not skill management in general. And why the heck are you bringing victory dancing into this?
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Post Thursday, 21st July 2011, 22:10

Re: skill level micro-management

galehar wrote:
Bim wrote:But isn't showing decimals more confusing than not?

err, we're not showing decimals, no. They are not relevant.


I support continuous skill increases, but I'm confused as to why it makes decimals of skill levels not relevant. If partial level increases gave partial benefits, wouldn't the decimals be more relevant than ever before? In the current system the significance of the difference between 7.05 and 7.95 is that it indicates the experience needed for the next level. In the proposed system, however, the difference between 7.05 and 7.95 takes on a completely different—and arguably much larger—significance because it actually indicates a .9 level worth of difference in the effect of the skill. It's only 10% less relevant than the difference between level 7 and level 8.

In response to Bim: Showing decimals will not be confusing at all if the decimals have an effect. Somebody mentioned that it would be difficult to communicate to new players that skill increases are continuous, because discrete levels are the norm in most games; a very clear way to indicate that fractions of skill levels are taken into account is to actually display them.

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Post Thursday, 21st July 2011, 22:20

Re: skill level micro-management

Maybe if the % is not shown, the display should show the skill at the next level when it has passed 50% of the way there, as from then on it will be closer to the higher level than the lower one.

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Post Thursday, 21st July 2011, 22:31

Re: skill level micro-management

ElectricAlbatross wrote: the difference between 7.05 and 7.95 takes on a completely different—and arguably much larger—significance because it actually indicates a .9 level worth of difference in the effect of the skill. It's only 10% less relevant than the difference between level 7 and level 8.

Which would surely lead to more micromanagement? It wouldn't lead to as much turning off and on, but It would certainly mean that I would look at the 'm' screen more AND looking at whatever screen shows my attack speed and whatever.

Maybe if the % is not shown, the display should show the skill at the next level when it has passed 50% of the way there, as from then on it will be closer to the higher level than the lower one.

Isn't that REALLY confusing?! It would have to display some sort of indicator of what it is between level, or it would be exactly the same as currently, but sometimes your attack speed would go down slightly before the actual level notification or whatever.

I can't see how this helps to be honest, as it stops giving players feedback that they enjoy and find useful. If you want to turn your skills on and off by percentage, then that's how you enjoy doing it, but I think most people are happy just to turn it off when they get to the level they like, rather than have to guess that it's high enough, or have to work out some decimals/percentages.
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Post Thursday, 21st July 2011, 22:34

Re: skill level micro-management

ElectricAlbatross wrote:
galehar wrote:
Bim wrote:But isn't showing decimals more confusing than not?

err, we're not showing decimals, no. They are not relevant.


I support continuous skill increases, but I'm confused as to why it makes decimals of skill levels not relevant.

Because a single skill level is not a big difference, so less than a skill level starts to become irrelevant. There's obviously a difference between 7.001 and 7.999, but is it important to show it? Let's say we do display a decimal. In what situation would you make a different choice with a skill at 7.1 rather than 7.9?
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Post Thursday, 21st July 2011, 22:34

Re: skill level micro-management

Ok, I've looked over this topic a couple of times and I'm still very confused on what the heck is exactly being suggested. Something about preventing micromanagement by somehow making some numbers irrelevant and then hiding them and then making partial skill levels give benefits?
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Post Thursday, 21st July 2011, 22:41

Re: skill level micro-management

Bim wrote:It would certainly mean that I would look at the 'm' screen more AND looking at whatever screen shows my attack speed and whatever.

Why? Why do you need to constantly check whether your attack delay is average (>= 95) or above average (>= 75)? Do you need this information to make informed decisions? You certainly need it when you try out weapons, but I don't understand your need to keep track of it while your skill is levelling.
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Post Thursday, 21st July 2011, 23:01

Re: skill level micro-management

TwilightPhoenix wrote:Ok, I've looked over this topic a couple of times and I'm still very confused on what the heck is exactly being suggested. Something about preventing micromanagement by somehow making some numbers irrelevant and then hiding them and then making partial skill levels give benefits?

Exactly! Seriously, sorry for being unclear, I posted this idea quickly without taking the time to explain it properly. I will make a more detailed proposal on the wiki, probably tomorrow.
The problem is that players spend a lot of time in the skill menu micro-managing skills. What I'm calling micro-managing is disabling some skills, because another one is at 80% so XP is put to better use by being used to raise this skill rather than spread across several skills. Or raising skills one at a time. Players have to manage their skill level progress to optimise XP.
The solution is to make the XP always useful. That way, you can just train several skills at once without being worried that half the XP you gain won't do anything for you for a long time. We do that by making skill progress continuous instead of discrete. This is the important part of the proposal, not the hidden numbers.
Now that we have a continuous scale, the question is how to show it? Do we give decimals to the player? How many? The crawl philosophy is to give only relevant information. There's no need to burden the player with tables of percentage if they don't help him make the good decisions. Knowing that your spell success is 95% or 96% doesn't matter, so we show excellent instead.
Regarding skills, I don't think a tenth of a skill level is a relevant information. Therefore, showing integers is just fine, and much more elegant than using decimal numbers.

I hope that's more clear. If you want to argue about the design choice of hiding numbers, please don't derail this thread and open a new one (and don't expect much out of it)
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Post Friday, 22nd July 2011, 02:45

Re: skill level micro-management

galehar wrote:
XuaXua wrote:I have not yet read the wiki proposal.

I haven't written it yet.


What's c-r-d?
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Post Friday, 22nd July 2011, 06:04

Re: skill level micro-management

XuaXua wrote:What's c-r-d?

crawl-ref-discuss. It's a low traffic mailing list for crawl's development discussion.
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Post Friday, 22nd July 2011, 06:12

Re: skill level micro-management

galehar wrote:<snip>


Ah, okay, that makes sense now. And it sounds a lot better than I had been understanding while standing confused in the middle of a mephitic cloud.

For numbers, why not move it to hundreds? Like, current skill level 1 is 100, 10 is 1000, 27 is 2700, etc. Granted, this isn't much different from doing decimals. And if decimals were used, I'd say go with no more than two since it'd very easily switch to the current percentages. For example, level 3 in a skill with 55% to the next level would be 3.55.
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Post Friday, 22nd July 2011, 07:40

Re: skill level micro-management

TwilightPhoenix wrote:
galehar wrote:<snip>


Ah, okay, that makes sense now. And it sounds a lot better than I had been understanding while standing confused in the middle of a mephitic cloud.

For numbers, why not move it to hundreds? Like, current skill level 1 is 100, 10 is 1000, 27 is 2700, etc. Granted, this isn't much different from doing decimals. And if decimals were used, I'd say go with no more than two since it'd very easily switch to the current percentages. For example, level 3 in a skill with 55% to the next level would be 3.55.

If we want to display more precision, I think it would be better to use decimals than a higher scale. But I keep thinking we don't need it. You don't need to know if you're at 7.5 or 7.6 skill level anymore than you need to known if your attack speed is 96 or 97 or if your spell success is 95% or 96%. This is irrelevant details so it should be hidden.
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Post Friday, 22nd July 2011, 12:34

Re: skill level micro-management

galehar wrote:If we want to display more precision, I think it would be better to use decimals than a higher scale. But I keep thinking we don't need it. You don't need to know if you're at 7.5 or 7.6 skill level anymore than you need to known if your attack speed is 96 or 97 or if your spell success is 95% or 96%. This is irrelevant details so it should be hidden.


Well, for one it would be an inaccurate representation of how skills work. If you want progress to be more more continuous, why at the same time display it in more discrete steps?
More importantly, it's a way to gauge how fast a skill is training. You may not care anymore about reaching a specific value, but it's still important to know if a critical skill is training as fast as you want, and whether it's necessary to put it into focus or even turn off other skills to concentrate on it. Say you find an early long blade you want to use but you have no skill for, knowing if that Ogre you killed bumped your long blades skill to 1.10 or to 1.90 would not be irrelevant.

Anyway, to point out an even worse offender than weapon skills in terms of coarseness: while training magic schools (almost?) always provide at least some small increase in casting success, it may sometimes take as many as 4 or 5 level ups to bump a spell to the next damage "level".

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Post Friday, 22nd July 2011, 12:39

Re: skill level micro-management

What you are proposing is pretty much for people to find satisfaction in the way and not the end result. Unfortunately very few people are able to enjoy the journey for what it is, instead people search for instant gratifications such as gaining a level and the rewards that come with it. That is what makes games addictive. By removing the meaning of level gain, you make the game less fun, it's as simple as that. The anticipation for the gain of a level or finding an amazing item is what makes you play just a bit more to get that feeling of a reward for the time spent. The challenge getting there just amplifies that feeling.
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Post Friday, 22nd July 2011, 12:54

Re: skill level micro-management

It may be irrelevant, but I'm sure players would like to know. I can see why it's useful not to show all of the inner workings, but I see this train of thought as being a popular one:
'All XP means something, so why can't I see where all of it is going?'

I also have to agree with both Asdu and Tazoz, that most people find it very rewarding to see advances in level, to me one of the great joys in crawl is gaining levels, as thats a big boost to my char. Where as if it's a slow and gradual continuous slope, It takes a lot of enjoyment out of it.

Please keep it as it is.
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Post Friday, 22nd July 2011, 13:15

Re: skill level micro-management

I guess I would say that there are two things to consider here. One is that specific, precise numbers are irrelevant, in that they don't help make decisions. The second is that a sense of progress is important, and numbers going up can provide that. In order to properly do away with decisionally irrelevant numbers, there needs to be a way to clearly see progress. Perhaps percent skill completion? However 27 is an important number, too, and percentages would do away with that.
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Post Friday, 22nd July 2011, 13:34

Re: skill level micro-management

asdu wrote:Well, for one it would be an inaccurate representation of how skills work. If you want progress to be more more continuous, why at the same time display it in more discrete steps?

Because this is exactly how all other scales are displayed in the game. We try to show only relevant information and hide irrelevant details. This Crawl's Design Philosphy. Period. This is a design choice I am not going to argue endlessly about.

asdu wrote:More importantly, it's a way to gauge how fast a skill is training.

I really doubt this is as important as you make it so. And even if it were, we can certainly come up with a better system than having the player to check the skill menu after every kill to see if some numbers have changed.

tazoz wrote:By removing the meaning of level gain, you make the game less fun, it's as simple as that.

I have serious doubts about that. I'm pretty sure the fun comes from killing monsters and looting their treasures, not staring at screens filled with percentages. Besides, you still gain skill levels and there's still messages to tell you about it. And I don't think that knowing that the progress was gradual would remove any of the satisfaction from levelling up. When you're finally able to cast some spell at excellent, are you thinking "Well, I was already at 94% success chance, so the fact that I'm now at 95% doesn't change anything". No you don't.
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Post Friday, 22nd July 2011, 13:40

Re: skill level micro-management

This seems to have divided opinion rather sharply...

I'm definitely in favour of making all skill gains matter, rather than just the integer levels, so I'd like to see this continuous system implemented.

As far as hiding the numbers goes - well, personally I'd rather see them than not see them, but since it is generally Crawl's policy to make game mechanics opaque to the player, I don't see it being any more of a problem here than the many other places where it occurs, so don't think it's such a big deal as some people make out.
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Post Friday, 22nd July 2011, 14:02

Re: skill level micro-management

dolphin wrote:The second is that a sense of progress is important, and numbers going up can provide that. In order to properly do away with decisionally irrelevant numbers, there needs to be a way to clearly see progress.

How about gaining skill levels? That's the whole point of it, manage your skills and manage your skill levels, but don't micro-manage. By factoring skill level, training percentage and aptitude, you have all the necessary information to figure how fast one skill is going to level up compared to others.

Jeremiah wrote:As far as hiding the numbers goes - well, personally I'd rather see them than not see them, but since it is generally Crawl's policy to make game mechanics opaque to the player, I don't see it being any more of a problem here than the many other places where it occurs, so don't think it's such a big deal as some people make out.

I understand that some players like to play the game with a spreadsheet open by the side. I can understand why one wants to see the dice rolls and the damage values. Seriously, I really do, (I played a bit of rolemaster back in the days). To them, I'm saying: play in wizmode, and you'll see all the numbers. That's what it's for. This is 100% serious, I'm not being sarcastic. Maybe it's lacking some numbers, just ask me and I'll move them from debug mode to wizmode.
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Post Friday, 22nd July 2011, 14:19

Re: skill level micro-management

At the moment you get a direct boost when you level up, although its not always directly visible you do get a meaningful jump every time you level. With a continual system, you would get the messages that you'd levelled up, but they'd be meaningless. I really think that you're underestimating how important this is in the joy of crawl. It's not just seeing numbers, it's that you know you're progressing in big steps, a little bit all the time seems weak. This isn't taking into account how confusing this would be to new players - 'you're advancing all the time, but you only know about it at completely arbitrary stages.'
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Post Friday, 22nd July 2011, 14:26

Re: skill level micro-management

galehar wrote:To them, I'm saying: play in wizmode, and you'll see all the numbers. That's what it's for. This is 100% serious, I'm not being sarcastic. Maybe it's lacking some numbers, just ask me and I'll move them from debug mode to wizmode.


These people playing with numbers open want to see the numbers so they can do their mathematically best to win, but not break rules.

Wizmode means you can't save your score; technically breaks your rules.

Don't tell people to play in Wizmode; make a Statsmode that is a neutered Wizmode - shows the numbers, but doesn't allow the alterations to the environment. I'd guess Statsmode would involve a restriction of keystrokes, allowance to save score, ability to get back to Normalmode, and ability to enter Wizmode.

For the record, I am not someone who would use Statsmode.
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Post Friday, 22nd July 2011, 14:34

Re: skill level micro-management

galehar wrote:How about gaining skill levels? That's the whole point of it, manage your skills and manage your skill levels, but don't micro-manage. By factoring skill level, training percentage and aptitude, you have all the necessary information to figure how fast one skill is going to level up compared to others.

While you may have all the necessary information to figure out training speed it would be much easier (and possible without spoilers) to just see it on the screen. Maybe this feedback to the player is unnecessary, and maybe it can be provided in a different way. But I think showing only full skill levels (a numeric quantity) would confuse players quite a bit. The norm is that you only get a benefit for full levels.

Both training speed and partial skill levels providing a benefit are things that somehow need to be communicated to the player. Just displaying skill levels with a decimal point would be an easy way to do both. Skill levels displayed as numbers are quite different from using words to describe a range of numbers, as is done for spell success. Having "Good" spell success is intentionally pretty vague, while a skill level of 17 is as specific as it gets, and this will make people think skill levels work like they do in any other game that displays them that way. 14.7 would let people know that they are getting some benefit for that extra .7 level. Just showing progress to mastery as a percentage might work, skill level 27 would be 100%, skill level 15 would be 55%, etc. Replacing skill level ranges with words might also work (stuff like novice, adept, master, grandmaster). There may not be enough space for that on the skill screen however. Also it would not let people see and compare training speed. Displaying another word for that could work (very slow, slow, medium, fast, very fast).

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Post Friday, 22nd July 2011, 14:39

Re: skill level micro-management

Galehar fun is subjective in nature, personally i enjoy seeing a skill at 95% and knowing that once I get to a 100% I'll gain a reward for it and so do many other players. Just because you don't enjoy it, it doesn't mean that others feel the same way, notice the large amount of people that object to the idea. This is a major change to the game and shouldn't be taken lightly.

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Post Friday, 22nd July 2011, 14:51

Re: skill level micro-management

I like the idea of continuous skills. More realistic that way I guess. My friends who play crawl like to go from skill to skill like you are mentioning though. It makes the whole automatic mode not very useful if that is all you are going to do. I like just leaving it in auto mode and bump skills in the right direction.

On the other hand, some players will find a way to stress out over skills anyway regardless of what is done. I never found the appeal of being super-optimal about skills anyway. 99% of the times I die in crawl it would not have mattered if one or two of my skills are one level higher, it was because I did something I shouldn't have. Often it I mostly just have the training % up now in automatic mode and make sure those are in the right place from time to time. So these proposed changes really wouldn't decrease the time I spend in the m menu now.

I am in the camp that I don't really care about how far the percentage is to the next level. So if it is removed and we only see integers fine. The level ups will just give me an idea of how good the character is.
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Post Friday, 22nd July 2011, 15:11

Re: skill level micro-management

Galefury wrote:Both training speed and partial skill levels providing a benefit are things that somehow need to be communicated to the player. Just displaying skill levels with a decimal point would be an easy way to do both. Skill levels displayed as numbers are quite different from using words to describe a range of numbers, as is done for spell success. Having "Good" spell success is intentionally pretty vague, while a skill level of 17 is as specific as it gets, and this will make people think skill levels work like they do in any other game that displays them that way. 14.7 would let people know that they are getting some benefit for that extra .7 level. Just showing progress to mastery as a percentage might work, skill level 27 would be 100%, skill level 15 would be 55%, etc. Replacing skill level ranges with words might also work (stuff like novice, adept, master, grandmaster). There may not be enough space for that on the skill screen however. Also it would not let people see and compare training speed. Displaying another word for that could work (very slow, slow, medium, fast, very fast).

How to communicate it is important, be we shouldn't design the system around that. In the end, we can just put it in manual/tutorial/hints/wiki/bots and players will know about it. And it's not a big deal either if new players aren't aware of it from turn 1. It's not actually necessary to know this to play the game. Besides, knowing it wouldn't actually change the way you manage skills if you have no information on intra-level skill progress. So it's hardly critical.

Adjectives for skill levels are not possible. There's no way you can find 27 adjectives. And I say that a precision of one skill level is enough, it's still the minimum, I really doubt we can do with less.

A percentage is misleading, because you would expect a linear progression. Which isn't the case since higher skill levels are more expensive.

I'm not completely against a showing the skill level with a single decimal. This isn't the core of my proposal. I just find it inelegant and think it's unnecessary, but if I'm proven wrong, I'll put it. It does have the advantage of conveying explicitly the effect of partial skill levels. If we need to show finer progress than skill level, this is probably the best way to do it.

About training speed, the most effective way would be to have an income/outcome toggle. Currently, the training percentage shows the proportion of XP which will be attributed to the skill. It shows how you spend. If we remove the skill progress display, we can replace it by the percentage of skill points gained relative to the total cost of the next skill level. ie: training speed, factoring skill level, training, aptitude and base cost. Example: you've got 3 skills at equal training (33%) and equal level. One of them has a -4 aptitude, training speeds are 20%, 40% and 40%.
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