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Skill Tree: Before And After Comparison


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#1 MadBadger

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Posted 28 April 2017 - 12:39 PM

The skill tree is an important step for MWO, and should have a minimum of two goals:

1) It shouldn't make things harder/less interesting for existing players.
2) It shouldn't be unwelcoming/overwhelming to new players.

A number of other goals could/should be met (make the game more fun/interesting, address mech balance issues, promote voluntary spending on the players part, etc.) but if the above two aren't met then the other issues won't actually matter.

With that in mind let's compare the existing skill tree with the version on PTS2 currently (ST2), to assess the basic impact it will have on new/existing players. Observations/summary will follow the skill comparison.

Existing Tree:

Tier 1 - Basic (listed in the order they might typically be acquired, Elite/X2 values in brackets)
Spoiler


Tier 2 - Elite
Spoiler


Tier 3 - Mastery
Not covered as it isn't directly replaced in Skill Tree 2 (ST2).

Let's take a fairly typical Mech, the Hunchback 4H. We will duplicate the effects of the existing skill tree and see what that might involve for new/existing players. Given the design of ST2 we can't simply select the same effects/bonuses, we instead unlock a path of nodes which sums up into the desired bonuses.

I will unlock a minimal path, uncovering mostly 'good' bonuses along the way and avoiding useless/unneeded ones.


Tier 1 Basic: Cool Run + Heat Containment - Operations Tree
Spoiler


Tier 1 Basic: Hard Brake / Kinetic Burst - Mobility Tree
Spoiler


Tier 1 Basic: Twist Speed / Twist X / Anchor Turn- Mobility Tree
Spoiler


Tier 2 Elite: Speed Tweak (Mobility Tree) + Quick Ignition (Operations Tree)
Spoiler


Tier 2 Elite: Fast Fire - FirePower Tree, and maxing Cool Run/Heat Containment (Operations)
Spoiler


Issues Raised by Skill Tree 2 (ST2)
Spoiler



Observations

I am interested in the possibilities offered by something like the skill tree. I would be happy to customize my mech to a greater degree and choose abilities which more closely suit my playstyle.

I believe taking an already-difficult and hard to master game like MWO and adding even more complexity/time sink to it would be a backwards step. Particularly increasing the time, XP and C-Bill sinks per mech posed to new players seems unwise. On the other hand, we have the elimination of the 3-mech rule so skilling up a single mech variant will actually be faster, skilling up 2 mechs of the same type about the same, and skilling up 3 or more mechs of the same chassis will be slower and more expensive. Which just makes selling 'mech packs' that much trickier.

I was concerned that it took 61 of my 91 nodes to replicate current basic/elite skills, before counting anything for modules/consumables. Hopefully 30 nodes remaining represents a fair bit of flexibility.

Finally, I spent 57 minutes in the skill tree setting up that one mech. Granted, it was my first one, and I was taking some notes. Even so I suspect ST2 will take significant time away from actually playing matches, with a questionable return on entertainment value (since so much of it is simply replicating what is done now on a single screen with 13 choices and a few clicks).

I like the way ST2 is heading but think it could definitely use some trimming and some new-player-friendly adjustments.

#2 Insanity09

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Posted 29 April 2017 - 11:32 AM

Very well put together post, I applaud you MadBadger.

Keeping things simple, streamlined, and easy to understand has great value.
Clear and meaningful choices are helpful.

I think the numbers clearly showed that the two basic design goals you mentioned at the start are not being met.
In addition to pushing away new(er) players, I also would suggest that many more long-term players might be turned off by this.

#3 the sixth tier

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Posted 29 April 2017 - 11:51 AM

*i saw that you addressed that the 3-mech rule is gone, but i don't think you addressed how that would nullify the extra xp and c-bill cost you mentioned.* won't not having to fully basic 2 other variants more than make up for the few million c-bills and extra xp? if a new player hasn't bought more bays yet, trying to get a 'mech for each weight class mastered requires a complicated *and costly* process of buying/selling mechs multiple times to basic and later elite them just to master the one they want to use.

Edited by the sixth tier, 29 April 2017 - 11:54 AM.


#4 MadBadger

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Posted 29 April 2017 - 12:14 PM

It is true that the 3-mech rule removal will actually speed up levelling/skilling a single mech, assuming you are only skilling up one mech of that variant.

For people buying a Mastery pack, Mech Pack, various other packages, or who simply want 2 or more mechs of the same chassis because they like them, they want different loadouts, or for CW drop decks, the extra penalty is still there. And of course for 'new' players working on their first mech or two, that big difference between a 750 or 1500 XP early skill with no C-Bill cost and noticeable impact (Cool Run, Heat Containment, Kinetic Burst, Hard Brake) vs '1.5%' nodes for 800XP and 45,000 C-Bills is still there.

To put it in hours/matches terms, I looked at my long term averages. I'm no hotshot player and I don't often play fully-geared or levelled mechs (much like a new player), so my XP per battle average is 1,246. Call it 1,000 or even 1,200 XP per battle for newer players. My C-Bills per battle are 121,573. (This is with me playing on Premium about half the time, if the stats page doesn't account for that). So 100K to 120K per battle for a decent but newer player.

To 'Basic' a single mech under the new skill tree takes roughly 21 matches vs. 12 for the current Basic. To 'Elite' it takes roughly 44 matches vs 32 for current Elite. To Elite 3 mechs currently is 96 matches. If you are working on 1 mech only, that's a nice savings (half the matches to elite 1 mech vs eliting 3). If you are working 2 mech variants, you're about equal. If you for whatever reason are eliting 3 mech variants, it now takes 132 matches vs 96. So depending on how many mech variants you want you go from half the time (but more C-Bills), to similar time (but quite a few more C-Bills) to 3 variants taking almost 40% longer and costing an extra 8 million C-Bills.

These numbers aren't way out of line, but they do represent quite significant changes from the current system (both in potential saved matches and potential extra costs). For new players, or players not oozing GSP from the refund, I think the extra costs may turn out to be more significant than the savings.

#5 Kozmik

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Posted 29 April 2017 - 12:32 PM

Well done Mad Badger -- I agree with all of the points you have made here!

#6 the sixth tier

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Posted 29 April 2017 - 12:41 PM

i think it depends on the weight class, too, cost-wise. if you want a marauder you can just buy the one instead of 3 (over 17 million more c-bills). if you're down to your last bay and want to master something new you're buying all 3 twice if it's your first 'mech in that weight class. what i mean is that the 2.7 million is pretty much a light before you buy the equipment. the price of a kdk-3, stock, covers that 6 times.

i sort-of agree on the packs. it's the same in that you can get all the variants with the default equipment. really the same thing. we're just not forced to skill all of them, so there may be a perceived value loss. if people want one 'mech for mc, they can buy it, or they can get a discount on all the variants if they want them. makes sense in my brain.

i think that's like arguing that the rule of three should stay because it might discourage people from buying hundreds of bays, though.

#7 Linkin

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Posted 17 May 2017 - 06:44 PM

This is great, thank you!

#8 ClanBondsman

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Posted 19 May 2017 - 09:39 AM

I am a new player.. I started when tuka3 event started.
I am not playing this game now due to the needlessly complicated and confusing skill tree.
I loved the old master tier system but would suggest a few improvments to both help new and old players alike.. ie when you master tier a mech you then get an option to use cbills and accumulated mech specific XP to customize your mech tier nodes.. ie 750 XP - Cool Run - Increase Heat Dissipation by 7.5% (15%) that one example you could instead change to 3,000XP - Fast Fire - Weapon Cooldown rate +5% as example if you had good heat dissipation already and wanted faster weapon cooldowns.
This should have some kind of cap obviously to make for more balanced play.
However I feel this uncomplicated system would be new player friendly and still offer more experienced players customization that they are seeking.
With new skill tree I feel the mechs are far more unbalanced and the game is no longer fun to play.
There is not tutorial video to explain skill tree or what the values mean, the mech does not play as well as before the skill tree.
Skill tree makes all the mechs seem the same ie very cookie cutter although it offers more perceived options in reality it just makes the players more likely to take the same skill setup for every mech they play.
To me every mech should have a specific role or play style and players then choose the mech for the playstyle they want.. then with master tier nodes can customize to fit them.. currently I feel the game is very unbalanced and has gone backwards in terms of development.
As noted by several people this game has a High learning curve and is not so much new player friendly the new skill tree only furthers this and will most likely drive off a lot of new players.
I myself will not be playing MWO until they balance the skill tree/revert to the old system/ or do something to make it new player friendly.
I was having fun and learning until new skill tree went LIVE.. I tried it.. did not like it one bit and refuse to play MWO until something is done with skill tree.

Edited by ClanBondsman, 19 May 2017 - 09:45 AM.






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