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New skill minimum UE buy-in
Teaching new players to build functional characters

While the drip-fed experience system does allow for unique character builds, I do think it can be at odds with how many skills work as far as having critical breakpoints where that skill actually starts to do something appreciable for the player.

Several times now I have helped new players who have made characters with their starting UE spread across so many skills that none of their skills would do anything, versus if they had simply invested the maximum possible starting points in a primary skill and the remainder in a second, they would have had at least one functional skill to start the game with and maybe two -- instead of none.

Likewise I don't think the system always communicates well to new players that 1 UE can be a absolutely miniscule investment in most skills, and my experience is that new players will disproportionately have many stops and starts in skills and end up with many more non-functional 'vestigial' skills compared to veteran players.

My suggestions would be these:

- Set a minimum UE buy-in that players must spend to open a new skill up for development, doesn't have to be a lot (say 20 UE) but I think it would communicate that spreading UE around many skills can lead to some being not functional until focused on. This UE wouldn't be lost on the buy-in, it would be just as if they had spent X UE normally.

- By default have new players simply choose 1st and 2nd skills from the list at chargen, with the 1st skill being assigned the maximum points, and the 2nd being assigned the remainder. This would ensure that a character has at least one skill they can enter the game with and do at least something with it. The fine-tuned point assignation could be kept as an advanced option at chargen for veterans or new players who wanted to go wide.

I like the second option quite a bit honestly. The first one however would in my opinion, require the current scale to be shifted so that those 20UE spent puts you at the 1st point of 'U', while having the capability of someone who has invested 20 UE into the skill. Otherwise we have 40 'points' of empty space on the spectrum that really can't ever be reached because they are below threshold. Not to mention several letters people will never see.
Well, if char-gen were the only place it applied, then, people could still spend-up from zero outside of char-gen. Besides, people would be coming out of char-gen with "useless" if it didn't shift until after 20pts were spent.
It doesn't even need to be coded. It could just be added to the CG wiki.

"We strongly encourage you to put the maximum UE possible into the skill you intend on using most when your character first enters into the city, and distribute the remainder among no more than one or two skills. Spreading out your starting UE more than that can lead to a frustrating few weeks of play."

I cannot stress enough how informative this is.

https://www.sindome.org/archetypes/

New players have a mountain of reading to do, most veteran players even have lots of help files or wiki articles or forum posts they've never seen.

UX design can be used to guide players away from choices they may not even realize are important initially. Sindome has a steeper learning curve than pretty much any other game, so I don't know that more readying and more help files is necessarily the best way to improve the new player experience.

And Reefer I'd actually say those archetypes are incredibly misleading to new players, and that players using them would often end up with skills with no bearing on a role -- not to mention listing many jobs that don't exist. Several of them pair skills that have no cross-functionality at all, or recommend unrelated stats, or suggest defunct skills that do nothing (heavy weapons).

I dislike both options.

I have created characters who started with four skills and they did fine. I have seen some start with half a dozen and they did fine. I dislike extreme min-maxing and the second option is basically trying to train players to do this.

As beandip said, there are archetype pages (in game and on the website) that give SOME guidance. I would, however, be open to providing more. Instead of mechanics that force min-maxing, I'd rather update a few things.

One would skill descriptions so you don't have as many PCs coming in with multiples unarmed combat skills on accident or with melee and swords because they thought melee helped swords.

Another would be to add a room right before stats and skills with helpful build information. Like, explaining that unlike many popular RPGs, stats in Sindome range just as widely as skills. Like directing the players to information on stats and skills (hopefully with updated skill descriptions. Directing players to read over the archetypes. Then maybe explaining that having more than four skills at start will mean that those skills will be far less effective.

Then let players make the character they want to make.

Miscredited beandip. It was ReeferMadness who pointed out the archetypes. They both have so many good ideas I sometimes forget which come from which. My bad!
When I started I made a very suboptimal character in a type that wasn't nearly as effective code wise. I had a very good time with the character none the less

I still don't know much about the mechanics, but I will say that warnings that you often won't or can't do the things you thought you were going to right off the bat as they might require expensive equipment or be things that are prohibited where you start, might be good. That was a very discouraging revelation for me at the start of the game.

As a new player starting with skills that are... either mechanically or environmentally difficult to use was challenging. While your RP, willingness to get involved and take risks, and hustle are more a determination of your "success" than coded skills. If you are new, that can be hard to figure out and having a profession and skills which are useful out of the gate would help.

I started with skills based on my history.

Arguably some will be too spread out like that.

Not all of them might get improved or some might even eat a Disadvantage.

But they provide a nice anchor point in my characters history, for their past experiences and interests to hook into and work from, and to do so in a different way from picking up something new.

I think offering advice and guidance is the better option here. I think we've had a number of conversations about outdated descriptions or archetypes, how the Decker warning blurb compares to some other non-warned about professions (especially in Grid 3.0), and so on, and we had a good update to the files about Skill Roughsizing to help people better understand where they stand, and moving more in that direction seems desireable to me.

I'd honestly even consider not segregating Stat UE from Skill UE during chargen anymore, to allow for greater variety in archetypes, as long as proper advice is provided.

I know there are many players who prefer to view Sindome as a roleplaying MUSH where skills don't matter, but this does not take in account the various types of players that try the game -- ones that are entirely in it for roleplay and don't care about skills are not the ones who this kind of change would cater towards.

The option would still be there for a player to make any kind of character they wanted, but I think it's completely off-base to consider leaving character creation with 2 skills as 'min maxed'. That is often the bare minimum of functionality for some skills.

It's not try-hard optimization for players to expect if they choose a skill at character creation, they can do something codedly with that skill when they enter the game.

What veteran players can do and what brand new players will want to do are two entirely different things. I do think there are UX designs that can be considered that don't involve making players read another help-file novel which could help update Sindome's approach for a modern audience.

I appreciate the sentiment behind this, but one thing to keep in mind is that much like a table top rpg, none of your characters are meant to be around forever. Chances are your first character or two aren't going to live all that long depending on general luck/how risk adverse they are.

As someone who's spent a bunch of UE in places I arguably shouldn't, and someone who typically does like to min/max the hell out of games, having points in skills that aren't necessarily useful due to my own OOC mistakes initially irritated me, but it adds some interesting flavour and can actually be useful. Even if someone spread all of their chargen UE evenly, they could still specialize as they play. I intended to play my character one particular way, and then ended up doing a 180 and building them entirely differently. The result of this has been a character that's primarily smart/strong/fast/etc but is surprisingly fast/strong/smart/etc for someone following their typical build.

It also allows for more real-to-life sort of a feel. My rampant ADHD has lead to me having a whole bunch of skills that I know the basics of, but am really not good at. Though I could use what I do know as a jumping off point if I actually focused on any of them long enough to get proficient.

I guess the TL;DR is I like the way that SD lets you supposedly fuck up your character's build. It reminds me of like Diablo 2 and other older games where you got one stat re-roll or, in most cases, none. Considering too how easy it is to get a skill to a point where it's useful, you really can't ruin a character based on what you do in chargen.

What part of my suggestion do you think would prevent you from doing that Goblin?

Do you want to be able to spend 1-19 UE in skills and feel like your character wouldn't be authentic otherwise?

What part of their post do you think suggested they thought your idea would prevent it?

I think they were just saying, it's OK if this idea isn't done because it wouldn't make that much difference.

I don't necessarily agree with that, I do think that the impact of narrowing or spreading the spend should be conveyed.

To be perfectly honest, I'm completely convinced that the skill adjectives update accomplishes this. Before exiting char-gen, a newbie can see how their skill spend is described on the U-to-A scale. It's very plain that you can't get any of ten skills better than Useless[/b]. If someone does this, they start over when they see how bad that sounds. The skill-assignment part of char-gen already provides the feedback they need, and gives them a way to re-do it before committing.

Have you encountered a newbie who, since the U-A skill adjective update, has expressed regret that they spread their points too thin in char-gen? It wasn't that long ago.

I have no interest in the chargen system forcing me to start with only two skills. Or forcing me to invest XX points into a skill before I can take it. I like being able to make my characters how I want them to start. I would not want to lose this flexibility when there are reasonable alternatives.

I just mean it creates unique and realistic situations. I agree that the current U-A system lets people know reasonably well how good they'll be at a stat or skill during chargen, and though I can't remember where, I feel that some help file or tutorial mentioned that you can go all out on one or two skills but that characters with a broader range of abilities tend to be better off. Even if someone 'wastes' all of their chargen UE they're still far from screwed and it can actually end up being a bit of a good thing in some ways.

@Grey0

That's fine, because my suggestion was to still allow players to configure their skills however they wished as an advanced option. And if players feel it's their God-given right to put 1UE in every skill, then perhaps a prompt on new skill buy-ins could accommodate this minority. I think 10/20 UE is a pretty minor ask though.

But realistically, c'mon, you're a veteran player, who would not be inconvenienced by the systems being made slightly more intuitive for new players. Nothing about these changes would impact veterans in any way, unless they were dying to have tiny amounts of UE in as many skills as possible.

@Beandip

Yes, or those with non-functional builds with skills that might relate to one another in other games, but don't in Sindome's particular implementation of them.

Skill adjectives are arbitrary descriptors. They provide roleplaying guidance about a character's relative skill level but they say absolutely nothing at all about how functional those skills will be in a coded way at any given point, which varies from skill to skill.

Some skills are functional at the bottom end of the range, others require significantly more investment before characters can clear the necessary breakpoints to start doing everyday things with them. The adjectives don't communicate anything about this or the distinctions between skill level progressions.

This is rather tangential as well, but the system also doesn't communicate that some skills are adversarial and a character's skill is only relevant relative to other characters, and that other skills will be fixed progressions.

These suggestions aren't necessarily the correct ones (I've also previously suggested new characters start the game with no skills at all), or suggestions that would solve every issue with the new player experience -- but I do think the skill system is unintuitive and is something that new players will often struggle with.

I know sine veterans will die on a hill to make sure the game they learned doesn't change, but this is a highly unintuitive game that has survived because it's adapted slowly over time. We can improve the new player experience and still have all the same depth.

Could offer a little personality quiz to get people to have their skills assigned.

My character's greatest skills are is in...

1) Medicine / Science / Cyberware

2) Cars / Aeros

3) Performance / Creative Design

4) Subterfuge / Survival

5) Technical Know-how / Grid technology

6) High-risk Trading / Fixing

7) Kicking Ass

Then give them a menu from there to pick specific skills. For example, the first option would give you --

1) Bio Tech

2) Chemical

3) Forensics

4) Medical

x) Done picking main skills (or choose a different category if you've chosen none)

Then pop back to the skill category area and give them a secondary section to express interest in.

From there, divide skill UE evenly over the skills marked as 'greatest skills' and then 50% in 'interested skills'.

So if it's 100 points you get, and you pick 2 main skills and 1 interest, it divides them...

Main A: 40 points

Main B: 40 points

Interest: 20 points

This would eliminate the mentality of choosing 8 - 12 skills and raising them evenly until your points run out.

@alittlelonger

I really like the idea of the option to use something like a personality quiz to build a character. Could make things more accessable for people who aren't used to manually allocating stat and skill points. Keeping the manual way of course.

@0x1mm

That's a good point about how the U-A representation says nothing about if the skill will be codedly useful or not. Some are fairly intuitive, but a mention of it (if there isn't one already) would be good. I've had issues where I codedly couldn't do something but thought I was just doing something wrong oocly.