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New Level Cap = Delayed access to Keystone skills

STAR WARS: The Old Republic > English > General Discussion
New Level Cap = Delayed access to Keystone skills
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Radzkie's Avatar

06.08.2013 , 06:16 AM | #21
Quote: Originally Posted by DamionSchubert View Post
This is due to the nature of how skill trees work with level expansions.

When you give more skill points to spend to a player, you also make it possible for them to buy more combinations of the lowest level branches of multiple skill trees. They can, for example, buy the lowest level keystone abilities for both a strong DPS character AND a tank, and make characters that are virtually impossible to balance correctly (the classic 'magetank').

We're not thrilled with this, of course. We'd really like for tank classes to be able to tank as quickly as possible. However, some things would need to be rethought before this can be a reality. It's definitely something that will get more thought before we ever raise the level cap again.
Well this may sound like a really simple idea...but why not make it so you stop earning skill points at a certain level? If that is a no-go then maybe you get a skill point every other level after you hit 50. Then after you hit 55 (and pretending that the level cap is higher) you earn one skill point every three levels, and so on.

Your character will continue to get stronger as he levels, he just wont be able to earn enough points to get key skills in another tree to make him OP.
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Elear's Avatar

06.08.2013 , 07:48 AM | #22
Making some skills exclusive with each other would also be some solution, and it would also allow to make trees more interesting. By that I mean that taking one skill would block one or two other, regardless of how many points in tree they need. So you still have to go fully into one spec to take skill from top, but with rebalancing of skill trees, it would be possible to put skills defining spec much much lower, while also making them exclusive with defining skills from other trees.

In some cases overpowered combination is result of mixing lvl40 skill from tree A with lvl20 skill from tree B. If those skils would be moved low enough to make them both obtainable(in theory) at max lvl, then one of 3 solutions have to be used: either make lvl20 skill(assuming exclusiveness would only tie down skills on smae tiers) in tree A better choice, but that might create balance issues. Making many other skills on tree A linked to lvl20 skill, thus making it impossible to reach 30 points in that tree wiothout taking that skill. Or simply, making that one lvl40 skill and that one lvl20 skill exclusive with each other, regardless of how deep into any tree you hve ot go to get them.

Such mechanism, aside from locking out troublesome hybrids, also allows to give players minor choices within single tree, for example, either improve some proc by making it proc more often, or by increasing damage it deals. Right now most specs wouldn't have reason not to go for both, because points allow that and skills from other trees might not be worth enough.
Make it "one or another" deal, and behold, you can have actual choices witin spec.

Depending how far BW would go with it and how (not) confusing thye want to make it, it can be (relatively) simple fix, or really really ahrd one. But nothing says it cn't be done step by step, and I think such solution has potential.

Avicii's Avatar

06.08.2013 , 08:24 AM | #23
Quote: Originally Posted by Jeweledleah View Post
the way wow does it right now?

I won't claim about others, but please god, no. it would make the game less fun for me.

there's still a bit of wiggle room here and there in talents trees and you can customize your experience a fair bit, you can even chose to sacrifice certain keystone abilities for more points spent in another tree.

what you are proposing removes any possibility of hybrid builds, removes any possibility of having fun with your playstyle and just.. blah.
Exactly do this and I am gone. I hate what WoW did to their talent trees it removes choices, no thanks. I hope they never do this.

AshlaBoga's Avatar

06.08.2013 , 08:42 AM | #24
Quote: Originally Posted by DamionSchubert View Post
(the classic 'magetank').
Ooooh! SorcTank

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Jeweledleah's Avatar

06.08.2013 , 10:37 AM | #25
Quote: Originally Posted by Turshek View Post
The problem is not difficulty but how some classes/trees mature earlier or later than others.

I'm currently leveling a Vengeance Juggernaut, 2 of the key skills of that tree are available only at 45+, Shatter comes from the tree at 45 and Vicious Throw from the trainer at 46. You get Impale at 30 but that's the only thing you got for 15 levels to proc what gives this specialization its feel, the (almost) auto-crit on Force Scream and the cooldown reset on Ravage. You even spend points on improving Vicious Throw BEFORE you can train it.

That's one example of a tree that got all its pieces assembled quite late compared to some others. I noticed on 2 occasions people on general chat complaining about DPS Juggernauts, because of their relatively lower DPS caused by missing key skills for too long. One of the guys was even saying to remove DPS trees until 50+ for Juggernauts as he was annoyed with how slow they kill things in low level flashpoints.
this pretty much shows it.

to me it's especially apparent with healing classes (though that could be because I tend to favor them and play them more than any other specialization). my main is a sorc and I've been leveling sage recently - both as healers, and my experience is drastically different. its not just the top keystone skill that's been moved. its all of them. everything takes 5 extra levels to mature, and while I can compensate - it just feels awkward and less fun.

can't really change it at this point, but if/when we get another level increase I would honestly prefer it if you guys added to the top of the tree, adding another fun ability we could use, instead of making existing abilities even longer to reach. sure it doesn't affect people at max level all THAT much, but it sure makes being an altoholic more awkward.

Ominovin's Avatar

06.08.2013 , 12:37 PM | #26
The WoW developers have gone through quite a few variations of this system over the years, so let's look at the upsides and downsides:
  1. Expansion #1 - Add a new 'capstone' talent. This option would require creating (5 trees x 8 ACs =) 40 new abilities that all need to be 'more valuable' than the 'baseline' ability from the other available trees. Beyond that difficulty, this option still makes the class feel 'incomplete' until you cap, and you will still cap later than you would have pre-expansion. On the plus side, it means your tank in that level 40 instance is has all the tools he did before the expansion dropped, which helps leveling a bit. Note: For those that might have played, this was the era of the 'Succubus-Sacrifice / Shadow-Destruction' Warlock hybrid spec that topped the charts while making Arsenal Mercs look extremely overcomplicated. Probably the epitome of 'successful bad design' (as opposed to 'unplayable bad design').
  2. Expansion #2 - Cut the tree size in half and award a skill point every other level. All this really does is keep the tree size a little more manageable, so it doesn't really mean much. Still, 31 point trees are a lot easier to build and handle than 61 point trees, so something like this is very likely as expansion continue (though focusing on 5-level expansions will delay the need for this option for a while).
  3. ]Expansion #3 - Require players to pick a single tree and lock them into it until they have spent enough points to 'cap' it. This is actually a much better option that it sounds, as it allows the game to give you your 'baseiine' abilities at level 10, making you 'feel' like a specific spec right away, rather than forcing you to wait until at least level 20+ to keep players from 'double-dipping' and the only options it takes off the table are 'hybrid' specs and 'out-of-order' specs (dipping into another tree early in your progression rather than at the end, but still picking up the 'capstone' ability eventually). Of course, once you make this decision and officially remove hybrid specs, the next step is fairly inevitable:
  4. Expansion #4 - Ah, Screw it: You pick a tree, and we'll choose your spec for you! Again, not nearly as bad as folks make it sound, because when all is said and done, there really aren't many options when assigning points. In SWTOR, you often have exactly 5 options to spend 5 points per tier, and most of the 'other options' you do have are not particularly good (the first two tiers usually have skills specifically aimed at the other two trees). While this option seems like it is taking away 'choice', what it is usually doing is taking away the 'illusion of choice'. Of course, sometimes the illusion is more important than the reality...

So, there's the evolution of this system in that 'other' game. Generally speaking:
  1. You can't just keep adding new tiers to the trees, as the trees eventually become too big and unwieldy
  2. You can't keep adding new 'active' skills, as there is only so much room in rotations (not to mention keybindings).
  3. You could add more 'Passive' skills, but they generally feel 'underwhelming' to the players.
  4. You could 'halt' tree progression at a fixed level (rather than the level cap), but that could lead to confusion (i thought I had 10 more skill points coming!) and a bit of dissatisfaction (I don't 'feel' like I'm progressing anymore / why am I paying for an expansion without new skills?). I'm not in favor of this option, but mostly because it seems awkward...

Jeweledleah's Avatar

06.08.2013 , 01:18 PM | #27
as someone who has played that game through all the expansions, Cata was begining of an end to me.

because you see, the only time you really need optimal talents is when you plan on raiding/ops hardcore.

I used to play around with a lot of hybrid specs back in WoW when it was still possible. in fact, I still play around with hybrid specs in TOR. for pvp especially they are pretty fun, but they are also great for soloing.

locking people into a single tree meant, hybrids and experimentation was effectively dead. this is where choice became an illusion of choice. and yes, with the last expansion they took away even illusion.

right now, in TOR we still have choice. even min maxing is a choice. its not nearly as illusionary as you say it is, even if you max out the trees, there's some wiggle room as to how, unless you are very specifically min maxing for a specific purpose. (incidentally - picking advanced class, does award players with extra abilities unique to that advanced class)

but even mere moving back keystone abilities, removes some of that choice. sadly.
again, I cannot claim preferences of others, and I'm sure there are plenty of people who prefer a system where you are just given abilities instead of having to spec into them as you level. but for me personally? that system is not fun , and I'd rather we didn't move on to that.

Pernicia's Avatar

06.08.2013 , 03:07 PM | #28
Part of the problem is the way certain specs were designed in the first place. Take Assassin tanks, Carnage Marauders, Immortal Juggernauts, and Rage warriors. As others have said, the capstone talent is really required for those specs to function correctly. The best solution, IMO, is to restructure those trees such that their current top tier talents are moved into the level 25-30 range while moving "nice to haves" into the top of the tree. If they would just swap Crushing Blow with Backhand and Sweeping Fury (increased rage when being hit) with Force Grip (non-channeled Force Choke) they'd give level 30 Juggs the resources and tools to effectively tank still keeping those abilities out of reach of other specs.
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Turshek's Avatar

06.08.2013 , 03:31 PM | #29
While trees in SWTOR and back then in WoW are somehow about choices, imo it's not their principal goal and that's why I think Blizzard chose a wrong direction.

Why are they not that much about choices ? Just look at the structure and how they works, They are vertical trees with 2-4 boxes per tier, you have to spend a fixed amount of point in the lower tiers to unlock higher ones, some boxes are interconnected either with links between boxes or because different boxes work together to enhance the same skills.

A structure build for freedom and choices wouldn't be so rigid, with so many limitations/interconnections, it would be mainly horizontal to let players choose what they want when they want.

So what are they for ? It's simple, progression and specialization.
Specialization is kinda obvious, the more points you spend in a tree the more you are led to a specific playstyle. It's here though that many people make a mistake, 2-4 "choices" each tier is not freeedom because the boxes have been designed to work together.
Progression should be obvious too but I don't really understand why Blizzard missed it. In SWTOR and back then in WoW, each time you add a point in a tree, you make progress your character with a new skill, a stat increase, new procs, new relations between skills... Sure some boxes seem more "fun" than others but for some people it's better to get something every 1-3 levels than once every 15 levels.

Anyway, to get back on topic, reusing the Vengeance Juggernaut example, it doesn't seem really that complicated. Give Vicious throw at a lower level, maybe even with a few ranks (like an upgrade at 46)
Move Shatter in a lower tier, like at 35 or 40 and as you don't want to make Shatter useable in some hybrid builds, give it low damage if untalented (which enable procs without making it a good choice for hybrid) and then put a box that multiply its damage in higher tiers.