[Feedback] Current Skill System does not promote co-operation

  • So, I have been playing this game for a few days now. While I think this game has some serious potential, one of the largest drawbacks in the current Alpha is the lack of players. One of the selling points of the game is to promote and establish co-operation between players on a small world with limited resources. The problem currently, IMHO, is that there are certain systems in place that dont promote the active playing of the game over the passive waiting of the game. The problem, so far, is the Skill system. There are two fundamental problems with the Skill system.

    The skill system really doesnt encourage players to actually be playing the game but managing a simple eating mechanic and logging out. Balance Diet, Maximize Daily Skill gain, log out and wait for skill points. Being logged out means no active playing. Its much more difficult to co-operate and co-ordinate with players not playing the game. In a game that is supposed to be about co-operation, this strangles gameplay immensely. A good point to reference is that it seems most servers have 50-60 "citizens" but always between 0-3 actual players at any given point. If you want to encourage players to be online, you need ways in which they can gain skills at the same pace that you wish skills to advance, but within the game. You want to encourage people to be actively, not passively playing the game. That gives greater chances for people to start talking and co-ordinating.

    The second problem is "Jack-Of-All-Trades". On one server I have been playing on, within 18-20 hours I was a Carpenter, Farmer and slowly working toward early Smithing. The problem with being able to go very route is that it doesnt encourage me to find someone who woodworks and ask them to make me a door or find someone who farms for food. It doesnt encourage economy. Its a safety system designed so inactive servers can sort of thrive. I am not sure if there are mechanics that make it harder to go multi-routes but you need ways to stop people from becoming, well, skill gods. Possibly a system where Skill costs increase in other paths as you invest down one. Ive been reading the forums and these small group, jack of all trades situations pop up in a few conversations.

  • Good points, and your suggestion is something I've thought about. Skills do go up at the same rate online or offline, and it is challenging having to wait for skill gain. The goal is to let brand new players try a little bit of each kind of profession, but as the server advances to make a real contribution you'll have to pick a branch and stay with it.

    As for actively vs passively playing the game, we have a lot of features oriented towards asynchronous play (stores, chat logs, contracts forthcoming) and I'd like to expand this. With a well organized economy in the game, you should be able to do quite a lot of interaction even with offline players.

    I'd also like to leave the door open for multiple kinds of play. You can really get a lot of time in the game and build roads between cities, huge buildings, things that are needed for the game. Or, you can take a less time-intensive but still important route like research, where you're the organizer for the project, setting up stores and contracts, trades, transports, etc in order to manage the production and logistics of a large research project. Less time intensive but still valuable. It's a very tricky challenge to design a game that lasts 30 days but avoids 'grind', and this is our experimental approach.

    Lots of new stuff we're trying in this game so it will definitely take some iteration time to get it solid. Feedback like this is super valuable. Thanks a ton Diosys and keep it coming.

  • the earning skill points over time been talked about a lot.

    some people like fact that they can log off and get them some do not, I personally rather see people be able to do everything just like you can in real life but skills being passive so you get better over time.

    as for coop game play a lot of us play coop also but not on large server for example I personal am never going to play on large public server with more then 2 or 6 people at one time period I do not want to deal with people, also on our public server we turn off meteor stuff.

    • for a lot of us we just like building and crafting and then seeing how far we can push the planet with out messing it out that in it self should be the challenge.

    so if they removed the ability for people to do everything it would really hamper way a lot of people play the game which is locally or with small groups of friends no more then 2 3 or 5 people.

    also just because server says there 50 or 60 people in world does not mean there really that many people in world, server counts every single person that logs in and makes a dude then logs off and never plays again and a lot of the servers have players who log in do couple things then log off and never play again.

    on me and girl friends server it currently says there 50 players I can tell you there is only 5 real players even thought its open to public people come in do little bit and then leave never to be seen again.

    "a skill system idea", If we want to bring people to gather as a coop thing best way to do that is like in real life with education, for example if every one can do everything but you only get better at something with time by doing it, then could create a situation where people could pass on those improved skills to other people with experience boost so.

    so you have a baker for example with a skill of level of 80% and someone else has a skill level of 1% but that person wants to be better quicker with out all trail and error that person with 80% could write books and put them in a school, then the person with 1% could go to school and read that book to get a experience bounce towards that skill.

    a system like that would at least bring people to gather to help each other even if there not online at same time, it would also help people not fall to far behind every one else.

    the only way to tackle jack of all trade issues is to add so many diff types of passive skills and ability that it is impossible to get 100% in them all before x goal in game happens, but that would also allow people who turn that event off to play game with smaller amount of people.

    so it would force people to come to gather little more for meteor event and allow people who want to solo and just world build that ability also.

    also add on option for server, me and my friends for are smaller games would also love to see a pause feature for server so if there is no one on the world it pauses the game - that could be turned on and off.

  • Youve identified one of the central design challenges of Eco, which is having trade and thus economies be a key part of the game (which requires specialized skills) and allowing smaller groups of players, or single player (which requires you to do everything yourself). The solution as I've imagined it is to let single player and small groups 'fast forward' the server, so they can get more skill points to become experts in all fields, but to leave the default, non-fast forwarded game as the primary focus, which requires using the government and economy features of it.

    The problems you face in the game are social challenges (climate change, pollution) and require social tools (economy, government), I think the game will still be interesting and fun without multiplayer but there should definitely be a lot added from it, and 'dealing with people' is meant to be a big challenge of the game that we give you tools for.

    I like the school idea, its similar to something we've been talking about as well, make teaching a career path in the game

    Thanks for the feedback!

  • @JohnK
    hitting on the government stuff - it be little more realistic if the government aspects where multiple cum-minty designed on same server, in real life diff community have diff laws, if there was away to form zones into diff towns and then towns each could have there own gov mayor

    it would allow you to hit those challenges of trade - laws and working to gather on large scale between communities and with in each town but also it a may allow game to be tailed towards smaller communities also.

    at latter date in research there could be a UN style building where community leaders come to gather and for community to communities trade could setup world trade guild each town could create a guild where that town comes to gather to trade on open global market place.

    I have feeling thought that skill system, research tree may get changed and added to a lot as road progresses.

    on our server we tend to slow down the time simulation so that skill points are handed out at around half the speed they are at now to encourage trade and building and it has for most part worked due to less skill points are handed out people have to specialize more so and that is even on a smaller server, then we just in cress meteor time from 30 days to 120 days to allow our smaller community change to get tech level needed to stop meteor.

    the number of players currently on our server is 10 and this time management setup has worked well so far for every one for most part.

    other thing that is kind of weird is land markers - I like idea of research for there progressing but could be tied to a new skill tree like categorical which would be really neat skill have in this game to allow exploration and maybe maps and zoning. - which creating more skills like that would require people to not be able to specialize as quickly.

    on side note is it really cool how the developers respond back to the forms and highly appreciated.

    specially after the no man sky thing.

  • As someone already mentioned, different skill gaining ratios can probably solve this problem.

    A more detailed analysis: Change ratios based on the time that has pass (on the server) in relation with the amount of players/active players in it.

    First, mark players based on their online activity. Example, let's say:
    Tier 1: Active = 1 hour/day
    Tier 2: Semi-Active = 1 hour / 2 days
    Tier 3: not Active = 1 hour / 3 days
    Tier 4: Inactive = Less than 1 hour / 3 days

    So, based on the above variable, you'll create a formula which Tier and Time its variables.

    So, let's say:

    On the start of day 8: If T1 =< X1 (where X1 is the number of active players per server, on average), then change Skill ratio by Y%.

    On the start of day 15: If T1 =< X1 and T2 =< X2 and T3 =< X3 etc, then change Skill ratio, etc.

    You get the concept. After the end of each week, the players would be informed of any difference in the skill gaining ratio.

    This will also help players to not abandon relatively empty servers that they feel invested into them, since the skill gaining balancing will make it viable for them to be able to reach the late phase of the game.

  • This post expresses my concerns about this game perfectly. There is currently little to no incentive to play this game actively. I actually feel like I am hurting the world given that I am going to need 100x more food than everyone else that is just logging in for a few moments at a time.

    I just wish I could positively influence the game world or other players somehow, but when no one is ever online, except for the couple of seconds they are online to allocate their skills and eat, the game world feels awfully empty.

  • This is spot on! Been finding this myself and, as a part of server with only Content Creators, we're all very interested in the cooperation aspect of the game, only to find that the game doesn't lend itself to that as much as we'd hope...

    One thing would be to fix the cart/collision bugs, which would allow easier movement of materials, hence empowering stores/trades. That is a BIG limitation right now. The collision bugs are annoying (i.e. player to wall/ground/etc) but the cart bugs are actually very limiting to trade and effective movement of resources. I would suggest rails+rail carts: much more effective mining/distribution solution.

    Second thing, and I have mentioned this in another post, is the ability to send work orders to a player even if they are offline. This requires the currency system to be fully implemented: RFP sent, offer received, work order submitted.

    Along with the work order and train/rail system, I think that skill books shouldn't be transferable. This promotes cross-pollination of skill trees, which diminishes the value of "working for them" and selling your services (vs your skills).

    I'm going "long" on this game. There's a lot of potential and the developers seem to be eager and willing to work with the feedback they have received. Fingers crossed for a speed up in the development (especially bug fixing)... ;) I do believe that this game is being marketed as a "multiplayer experience" and I think that is its strength. Trying to cater for "small servers" (3-4 players) or "single-player" should be dismissed and all efforts should be placed on that multi-player aspect that had us all excited about this game (vs all the other crafting/survival/building games out there). ;)

    Cheers! o/

  • I know this is an older threat but the issues are still there and i have a suggestion that actually might be pretty easy to implement, and would encourage more active players, or at least reward the more active players.

    I suggest that while online you gain the sp/day at the normal rate, but when offline that it is reduced to half.

    Personally I am getting tired of being one of the few on the server doing things while others log in eat and log off till the next day. This is frustrating, they are gaining way more skill points per day than me because i cant afford to eat the better food as I am spending calories. After a week someone who logs in each day for a few minutes, grabs their beans, huckleberries and beets, starts 8 wild stew, eats two and logs off gains 108 skill points a day and has that to spend each day. I am working at mining and getting ores and such and burn through calories way too fast to support a wild stew diet so I usually just eat corn while i'm mining and stay at about 20 skill points per day. I eat wild stew before logging off but after I have been on for 8 hours i have lost a considerable amount of skill points compared to the people that just log in long enough to eat. after a week or so the people who only logged in to eat have way higher efficiency than me because they weren't even playing or contributing.

    I don't think the people that aren't on contributing should be rewarded more than the ones actually playing and contributing. I think lowering the sp/day gain while offline by 50% or even by 75% would encourage more people to be on more. This would also have the effect that they will be spending more calories and not always eating the better foods so they would need to focus more where they spent the skill points and would help to encourage a more co-op play style without having a large impact on smaller population servers where players tend to be on a lot already.

    I mean the other thing that could be done but would not be as easy is to actually change the way skill points are gained.... I mean come on eating healthy doesn't make me better at carpentry, actually doing carpentry and getting practice does. I like the skill points for learning a new skill, but for the efficiency i believe that should come from doing. if i am a carpenter and i eat good food but never made a board i can still max the efficiency..... i mean in real life you learn how to make a better board and use less materials by actually doing, trial and error. But like I said that would need to be a complete overhaul, that while maybe would be more realistic would take a long time to make those changes and we are still in alpha so I would not expect it to have developed this far yet.

    Also shout out to the devs love the game its great especially at this stage, and i know its a challenge to balance it but would love to see more co-op encouragement in the play style....even if you lock people to certain skills until they put 75% of the available skill points for that skill tree into it, but then again that would require removing the requirements such as lvl 4 masonry to learn smithing, but you could make them need to get 10 of each ore instead of needing ore and stone.... more focused in the career path, but allow the server admin to determine if they would use a locked skill tree setup or not as some smaller population servers this would be a hindrance and the traditional model may work better.... or allow the admins to set the percentage you must spend in each skill tree before being able to learn a new one...this would allow smaller population servers to set it to 0% and larger ones to set it at say 50% or 75%...

  • I totally agree with this!
    The game has great mechanics for co op, a good economy system, but in most cases they are of no use because everyone can do everything and the skill gain mechanics of favors this.
    I understand that developers do not want to add jobs so they do not limit players development but as it is, it's very easy to learn and do everything.

    An elegant way of getting around the situation without limiting the player development Is to separate skills by trees/categories and add a focus or study system.

    Why are you learning anything and gaining skills just by having a full belly?? It makes no sense
    If you want to be something, you need to study and/or focus on it like in real life.

    With separate skill point for each tree or category we can choose what we want to learn in the next hours, days and the skill points can only be spent in the corresponding tree (That we are studying, focusing on)

    Each skill tree has a CAP, we can study this tree until it reach the skill cap.
    At any moment we can change the focus/study just by clicking the button on the corresponding tree and the skill gain (online and offline) will be for this new tree.
    In this way we will have to learn specific things plan the focus/study if we want to be or do something.

    A system like that does not limit the player development, everyone will continue to be able to be everything, but it will be a little more realistic.
    While one studies butchering, the other studies something else.

    I can study agriculture while a friend studies cooking, I can also focus on or study and learn cooking, but my focus/study in agriculture will stop (pause).

    So the calorie will used to feed the brain that is focused on learning something ;)

    Just a visual mockup with buttons

  • @dreatern that is a nice concept, but that doesn't address the issue really, so they change their focus to carpentry long enough to get woodworking to level 4, they can still make everything themselves just at a higher resource cost.... most them are only putting the bare minimum into those trees already to do what they need...like make doors and windows.....these are very early in the tree and would not take much of focusing on the tree to be able to make it themselves and not use the carpenters that have the efficiency.... they would still do everything themselves rather than relying on others and using commerce and trade.

    In you example there are points in carpentry points, in smithing.... but it looks like this player is a cook, why would they need carpentry and smithing, if others are doing those professions you trade with them for the items you need from that profession. for smaller servers with very few people on them i can understand but honestly you need a way to make the person want to focus on one skill tree and not be using the others or maybe make it less desirable.

    How about you can still gain points as normal, but you have to select a focus, points spent in that focused skill are normal anything outside of that focus other than survival would cost 5 times the points to learn....but you get locked to that focus until that tree is either completely full or say 75% full then you can change focus. Your idea has merits but still makes it easy for someone to switch focus and put points anywhere they want.

    If you don't find a way to allow the admins to actually decide to limit or not limit what the players have access too they will continue to just learn everything the same way, the only thing you do with this is say ah you need to look ahead and know what you want to do next.... most of them already do that.

  • @toxxikz This is another game problem.
    As a masonry, you need to learn cooking to be able to craft a oven.... Why? Oven should be a masonry skill and a mason does not need to know how to cook.
    If they make a mason need to use something made by bakers to craft a oven, ok.
    A baker can "draw" the blueprint of the oven and the mason can use that blueprint item to learn how to build a oven so it will works for bakers.
    Window, door and basic things should be crafted at workbench, [basic craft] 1, 2 or 3 the same way it has board and chest, carpentry should make better and multiple versions of doors and windows.

    A focus system can work if they rearrange the tech tree here and there (With a slower skill gain as this is another problem, with super basic raw and campfire food you can gain a lot/day).

    I believe they don't want to add a job system(the best option.), then it is a bit useless to have so many interesting systems like economy because this is just for roleplay, there is no real use since it's easy to do everything.

    Another interesting way is the Ultima Online or Life Is Feudal Your Own skill system.
    Your skill gain is limited to X (for example 750) and you decide what to do with your points. You can master a skill tree and learn the basics of other skills.
    In the server configuration the skill CAP can be set.
    In game the Town Hall could be used as respec system.
    Paying X(definer by the leader/server admin), you get your points back and can redistribute.

  • @dreatern to your comment:

    "As a masonry, you need to learn cooking to be able to craft a oven.... Why?"

    I had stated "but then again that would require removing the requirements such as lvl 4 masonry to learn smithing"

    This is another case of that, a mason doesn't need to learn how to bake to make an oven...... in real life the people that make an oven may not have any skill in using it, but they understand the concept behind it and can make one.... those type of restrictions need to be removed, but still have it so masons make the oven, you now have created a need for cooks to buy from a mason..... hence creating commerce and trade.

    also still not addressing the key of the game that is missing, in order to encourage commerce and trade people have to play, not log in eat and log off while waiting on skill gain..... only way to really fix that is make it more profitable to be online and reward the players that are online and contributing and not the people who log in eat and gain max skill points they can per day to increase efficiency to be able to actually play in two weeks while others are building the infrastructure and setting them up for success so they can pop in with max efficiency and then do what ever they want without the need of the other players who have been contributing the whole time.

  • @toxxikz said:

    @dreatern to your comment:

    also still not addressing the key of the game that is missing, in order to encourage commerce and trade people have to play, not log in eat and log off while waiting on skill gain..... only way to really fix that is make it more profitable to be online and reward the players that are online and contributing and not the people who log in eat and gain max skill points they can per day to increase efficiency to be able to actually play in two weeks while others are building the infrastructure and setting them up for success so they can pop in with max efficiency and then do what ever they want without the need of the other players who have been contributing the whole time.

    Complete remove offline skill gain and change it to skill booster (increase the rate).
    To gain skill you need to be online, doing things, executing actions.

  • I don't know if i would completely remove it, some people work a lot of hours and still would like to enjoy the get away of the game but cant really be online that much, in the same sense we shouldn't punish them by removing it completely just reduce it to half or 25% gain when offline, that way they still gain enough to contribute while online but they wouldn't be as far along as those who have been online. Right now it seems to reward people for not being online more than it does for those online playing i just think there needs to be a better balance and make the ones that are on more feel less like they are getting cheated and more like they are being rewarded for contributing.

  • oh one other thing with that is if you do reduce the offline gain of skill points you would have to have an activity tracker, so if they are afk for 20 mins it kicks them, right now they can just stay logged in unless the server restarts they will still be there online when they come back.

  • I think reducing offline gain of skill points would be a mistake. At least at this point in the game and if there is no activity that increases skill points. People are not going to want to sit online just to gain skill points and right now, unless you have maxed out learning or your skills there are often many many hours where there is nothing to do but wait while you gain skill points. If people can't log off and do other things they will get frustrated.

    Also if you can't get skill points while offline you have the problem of the more casual player not having the time to get enough skill points to really do anything in 30 days before a meteor come

  • I'll be honest, most servers have the meteor turned off anyways. I wouldn't turn off skill point gains completely while offline, just reduce them, why should the people not playing be rewarded with higher skill points than the active players. Also at the start i can see where it can be a bit tough you don't have many skill points and there isn't much you can do, but unfortunately when people say that to me i have an answer, there is always something you could be doing. Expand your house, redesign your house, gather plants for farmers to gain seeds, check out the world walk around, in a few hours you could have engineering and you could be building roads, or carpentry is pretty easy at the start. If you can't find things to do early on in the game ask other players what they are doing, help them out join in, be a cooperative player. start farming some ore or stone for when you do get those efficiencies up.

    Plus I believe the key is to let the admin of the server decide if they want to decrease skill point gain while offline and by how much.... that makes much more sense to me.

  • I don't think you really can say that most servers have the meteor turned off. Right now not all servers are displayed in the browser and you can't tell there unless it says they are off. Just looking at the number of servers my company hosts - the majority have meteors turned on. Besides the meteor is part of the game. You can't put that and in and then be silly enough to code against "no on will turn the meteor on".

  • i have played on a multitude of servers from time to time and most i have played on the meteor is turned off, but you are correct that does not mean all......hence make the percentage of skill points gained while offline configurable by the server admin, they can chose anywhere from 100% to 0% , that allows the server admin to control it and use it appropriately for how they have their server setup and configured.

    I wouldn't want to set this at a set percentage but an adjustable percentage by the admins as you are correct lower population servers or servers that are using the meteor may not want to lower the offline points, while some of the larger servers with many active players may want to use this to reward the active players so they do not feel disappointed when a player comes on buys food from an active player eats it and logs off, comes back each day does the same thing and in 2 weeks decides to become more active and has 3 times the skill points the active players have.

    Also if it is configurable the admin can have it at 100% gain while offline for say the first week then change it to 75% gain for the second and 50% for the third, they could adjust it to the needs of their specific server.

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