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’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.
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.