Character Skills

Character skills are now a thing in this game! While I’m certain that we’ll need to iterate on this first version of this system, all middle-class characters – Overseers, Artisans, and so on – now have a concept of how good they are at a number of skills. These are: resource collection, carpentry, smithing, cooking, construction & repair, science, and et cetera. (We can always add anything we forgot later). Performing tasks associated with these skills will eventually cause a character to improve their skill in that area (and the skill of those working under them), and that improvement in skill, for now, controls how quickly a given job can be completed. Maximizing a character’s rank in a particular skill will currently take a whole lot of time, but hopefully the drastic amount it improves the rate at which they can perform work is worth it. We’ll be keeping an eye on tuning these.

We shall all aspire to follow in Gilbert Goldenthomp's footsteps and one day become "not terrible" at carpentry.

We shall all aspire to one day become “not terrible” at carpentry. (And don’t mind the UI here, it’s just really easy to prototype with basic text output.)

We’ve known from the start that we wanted to include some kind of character skill progression, but there were some design hurdles to overcome before implementation. First is that we want to keep the “cast of characters” the player must pay attention to small, because it’s easier to care about the minutiae and relationships among a dozen people than it is to sort out anyone in a crowd of fifty or a hundred characters. So for now we’ve restricted the character skills exclusively to the middle class “cast”. Besides, this is the (sorta) Victorian era – overseers are not particularly interested in how the common laborers think they can do their job better. As such, lower class characters will directly reference their overseer’s skill level when determining skill modifier. (We’ll likely be secretly tracking the lower class characters’ skills  for other reasons, but they will only be able to perform a task as fast as their boss allows it.)

Furthermore, in some instances which we will likely expand on later, it’s actually often slower (dangerous, even?) for an unskilled work crew to use more sophisticated equipment than the simpler equipment. A skilled work crew, however, can complete tasks significantly faster on the higher level modules.

A busy metalworks! Except for that one guy sleeping on the floor.

A busy metalworks! Except for that one guy sleeping on the floor.

With all that in mind, assigning your overseers and artisans should be partially about their skills and their best fits with workshops, but also partially about their story and even the whims of the player. If these decisions become entirely a matter of optimizing a matrix of skill values with no bearing on the characters as individuals, then we’ll surely need to better emphasize their individuality. A few recent efforts toward this range from the character events to simply making happier characters work slightly faster, and future improvements may further emphasize characters’ relationships with one another …

If you’re interested in checking this out, swap over to the experimental branch on Steam and let us know what you think of the new system! Otherwise I suspect this will be going live on the default branch sometime next week. And as always, especially with regard to the experimental branch, everything is subject to change.



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8 Responses to “Character Skills”

  1. Arachnophobe says:

    This is cool! Might I make a suggestion? Perhaps people could think they are better at some skills than they really are, and be happier if they are assigned to a skill they are good at. Job satisfaction basically. The trade off though, would be deciding to give an overseer a job they LIKE rather than one they are GOOD at. Just a thought. Loving the updates!
    (Sorry if I’m being rude by putting this here, but am still waiting on my confirmation thingum.)

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  2. Not rude at all! That’s a great idea, and a possible way for us to take advantage of the “enthusiastic amateur” trait. Traits are not our top priority just now, but I could imagine us using that trait to make people receive happy memories for doing what they’re not good at.

    Similarly if we had skill-specific traits, it could make them enjoy a specific aspect of work a lot more.

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  3. Sapphire Crook says:

    Character Event: “I KNOW BETTER”
    Effect: Noble insists he/she TOTALLY can do that job better. Of course, they’re terrible, so until their simple noble brains find something else to do, everyone in that job cluster finds themselves limited to however terrible the Noble can do it.
    Also, drastically increased chance of ‘accidents’ involving said Noble. Not in-game, but trust me, I’d do it.

    I mean, we all had that moment where we have to hide our true talent and just wanted to choke that smug jerk.

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    • Sam B says:

      Surely that should be ‘A Lesson From One’s Betters.’ random chance to improve a useless skill (eg Cheese Plate Aesthetics) while decreasing a useful one.

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  4. Dancer says:

    I’m certainly liking the skill concept in the experimental build – it gives me extra, interesting choices to make.

    That said, when it comes time to assign a crew to a workshop, there’s no easy way to access relevant skills so as to actually make those interesting choices.

    Current model:
    * Pause game.
    * Pull up list of work crews.
    * Examine overseers skills one at a time.
    * Take notes.
    * Open workshop UI.
    * Assign work crew.

    Yes, yes. The UI for this feature is scarcely even a prototype at this stage, and I understand that, but it is never too early to have you folks knife-fight over design-decisions.

    Related: Also when assigning work crews there is similarly no way to tell how large the crew actually is (does Maybelisa Goldthorpe’s crew consist of but one member of the Loyal And Industrious Underclass or three or five?). This is potentially An Immensely Useful Thing to know whenever you look at a building panel, in that one may use it for Better Utilising Her Majesty’s Subjects For The Betterment Of The Empire.

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  5. Tiredandlazy says:

    Now if we’re talking about traits, “When led by Empire Officers” makes me want nobles that think they can lead people into battle, or lead non-human races into battle…

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  6. naze says:

    Will there be governor/player skills too?

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