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Rework skills soft proposal
Ported from another thread in GP&C

Ported from https://www.sindome.org/bgbb/game-discussion/game-problems/skillsofts-invalidate-technical-skills-528/

Rather than a skill soft chip. Have a skill socket that can be boosted with skill checks from a cybertechnician, or a machine that you can pay more than a player to do this if no player is around. These boosts to skills falloff over time but crucially max out at an equivalent of a Gold level of soft. There is no longer an instant ability to swap in technical skills as needed, there is a target ability to the action that is equivalent to hiring someone and a cost to using them.

And programmatically it could potentially be fairly easy to implement. As assets are already in place.

This is something that I believe will be HIGHLY healthy for the game if it is addressed, as one of the biggest problems that technical characters have early on in their carreer is that literally no one will every hire them unless they are god tier networkers, which 90% of newbies are not.

Honestly, I kinda like this idea. There could be many interesting aspects to this as well.
This is something that I believe will be HIGHLY healthy for the game if it is addressed, as one of the biggest problems that technical characters have early on in their carreer is that literally no one will every hire them unless they are god tier networkers, which 90% of newbies are not.

This doesn't resolve the perceived issue with skillsofts.

Also skillsofts are pretty much totally fine the way they are right now.

A non-permanent buff(Note I said that it winds down) that requires you to leave your apartment and or use a specialist that comes into your appartment, to access skills doesn't address the problem of skillsofts being a be all end all for solos to not have to hire out or risk anything to do low to mid level tasks?
Why a cybertechnician as opposed to a different archetype which could conceivably perform this but would be healthier and more balanced for the game economy?
Because of IC reasons related to the professions responsibilities for handling the -soft-ware side of chrome.
the problem of skillsofts being a be all end all for solos to not have to hire out or risk anything to do low to mid level tasks?

If you want to pay 50K for someone to stick a TV to your wall instead of paying a technician 2K to do it, who's winning here, and who's losing?

Bobby Baddazz the supersolo can't slap a skillsoft in and be good at all the technical skills. That's fundamentally not how skills work in this game.

If you want to be a halfass solo slash part-time carpet installer, then that's your character's identity. You're not a god solo. You're not a good carpet installer.

The skillsoft itself, as well as the chips don't contribute to the perceived problem, because there isn't a perceived problem to be had. If you want to have a vast collection of extremely expensive chips and sit in your apartment and not contribute to RP of the game writ large, then you're going to find yourself not getting a hell of a lot of RP. It's a self-correcting issue.

Specialists always trump generalists when it comes to these kinds of things. If the complaint is that you have to tread water for 6-12 months or more before you're useful at a skill, well, then yes, I totally agree with you. I think that's a core mechanic of SD that needs to be reviewed. That's not a shortcoming of a very flawed piece of cyberware.

Technicians handle the software side, but how would they know to implement the knowledge into a new and distinct skillsocket? Your proposal is taking out hard skillsofts for this specific piece, but there has to be a reason why skillchecks are being increased..

Wouldn't it be a good chance for deckers, who from the gameplay side we could handwave as uploading basic knowledge from the grid, to have some use outside of current limitations as well as a source of more consistent income? Cyberneticists and cybertechnicians aren't hurting there and I think it'd make more sense for a third party to update this kind of knowledge.

Talon... I'm going to be polite and say you are VASTLY underestimating the value of a skillsoft.

Which is that, installing a TV is the least of your abilities with that skill soft, and all of those other abilities, a security tech could do instead of you.

To use your analogue It's 32k to install unlimited Hubs, cameras, televisions, secure containers, scan your tech for leaks, and so on... And all of this is something that you could be using that 32k to sponsor a novice in actually learning their craft and providing them RP.

It's 32k that you risk losing every time.
Technicians handle the software side, but how would they know to implement the knowledge into a new and distinct skillsocket? Your proposal is taking out hard skillsofts for this specific piece, but there has to be a reason why skillchecks are being increased..

Wouldn't it be a good chance for deckers, who from the gameplay side we could handwave as uploading basic knowledge from the grid, to have some use outside of current limitations as well as a source of more consistent income? Cyberneticists and cybertechnicians aren't hurting there and I think it'd make more sense for a third party to update this kind of knowledge.

To elaborate more on a potential specific implementation,

You take the currently existing skill soft, you slot it into the device, then you get blasted with knowledge from your skill socket, and this knowledge fades over the course of the next 30 minutes-5 hours depending on the quality of the check.

This is just one of many many possible implementations. I am trying to avoid specifying expect implementations in my ideas because that tends to result in Mirage looking at me like I'm insane.

Also, by definition, Cybertechnicians are computer scientists and syncretize with decking very well...

It's 32k that you risk losing every time.

Yes, in your locked appartment, installing your 10-15th hub and security monitors, and then storing it in your footlocker.

Bobby Baddazz the supersolo can't slap a skillsoft in and be good at all the technical skills. That's fundamentally not how skills work in this game.

We're talking about people who already have substantial assigned experience in stats, even stats which aren't core to the solo archetype. These people also tend to have substantial money for the highest level skillsofts.

So, no, maybe they can't be the best but it's really not right to say they can't even be good.

What I really question is whether the perception that, since these individuals do their own work, nobody else can do work for anyone else, is accurate.

Rhea, I mean the best, and I think you know that when we debate these things, but you're again, fundamentally ignoring how skills work.

Per HELP SKILLS: "Stats and skills work together. Each skill check which the game rolls for you involves at least one specific stat or sub-stat."

Putting in a plat soft for any skill in the game doesn't make you good at that skill. It doesn't mean you'll successfully pass skill checks, and it doesn't mean that it'll work for your character. Most 'combat' characters can't effectively take advantage of the skillsoft for this reason, it is, in fact, best utilized -by- technical characters.

But that's not the point.

Using your example, yes, a solo can install unlimited hubs, cams, tv's etc. with the appropriate soft and cyberware. However there is a MARKED difference between someone using a skillsoft and someone who actually has the skill. Can the solo get a cam network up and running by themselves using a skillsoft? Yes. Are those cams, hubs, TV's and everything else going to stay put for any length of time? No. And THAT is the balancing factor. Yes, you can potentially do anything... POORLY as a combat character.

Talon, you're talking around my point here, and attempting to dodge it all together.

That camnet won't stay there for long, but you're missing the forest for the trees with that reference. I never mentioned setting up camnets, and taking this outside of it's intended environment is not taking away from the point. Which I mentioned in the other thread.

If you are not able to hire the best for security tech in specific, there is no point in NOT using a skill soft to setup that network, because a lowmid to even high mid end tech, will not have the ability to match you.

But how about for ripper docs?

How about any other flat non-competitive checked skill in the game that is technical?

Yes, and cybertechnicians are already an archetype which do and will continue to see a great deal of business. Adding an (in my opinion) unneeded alternative to skillsofts which primarily land in the business of cybertechnicians adds onto the economic boon those characters receive. It's a chance to spread the love to others within reason, boosting and bolstering an archetype which fits into the mold and could dip their feet into this proposed area.

Making it an option which requires the full bread and butter of the decker archetype would be better for the game, I believe. Spread the love.

And a high mid end tech would using that same soft would outmatch you. There is nothing preventing you from using the skillsoft, it isn't a solo only thing,
Ragingcunt: are you actually reading the posts, or are you just citing rhetoric you think counters what I'm saying?

Crashdown: Oh ab sofucking lutely if I had full control over designing this, I'm make it a composite systems and programming check to essentially design a training sim for the brain that the OS on the Socket ran. And then I'd also let you do a cracking check to make people THINK they had the bonus, but actually have a much lesser bonus.

Because potential sabotage and betrayal are excellent openings for RP and conflict.

Where Skillsofts are not as they are implemented now.

It's my understanding that almost all the skill checks in the game, sans a really big example we've discussed before are competitively checked against one another.

And that simply 'more UE good' is pretty much the guiding principle for most of these technical skills and that it's not at all cooperative competition friendly.

My point was simply this: the game is designed from a low level with a lot of these technical skills that it's a simple matter of more = better in X way. The game, essentially tells you to go fuck yourself and grind UE for most of the technical skills because you're competing 1:1 against someone else's UE in a very simplistic manner (as opposed to a competing skill check system that's robust and nuanced, such as combat.) The game design pushes you to use better techs and more skilled players in almost every area (not all- which you've pointed out).

That's a problem with the way these skills work and their very non-interactive way they work when competing with others. Not a problem with the skillsoft itself. I've used skillsofts extensively, for extended periods of time. I've been the person with hundreds of thousands of chyen in chips just sitting around on the off chance that they're needed randomly. Unless you're doing really, really basic stuff such as moving a painting or blanking a node or something, you always want a proper tech for the job. And yes, people can, and do die (somewhat often in the right circles) with hundreds of thousands of chyen slotted in their head. Don't discount that.

I once hit someone with a slot socketed, and they fled, and in the process, my character made something like 100K in 30 seconds. That's pretty balanced, IMHO.

TL;DR, Skill check game design problem, not cyberware problem.

I once hit someone with a slot socketed, and they fled, and in the process, my character made something like 100K in 30 seconds. That's pretty balanced, IMHO.

Could a pure technical character do this?

Sure, slot a combat soft and punch them.

After all, all that UE expenditure doesn't matter as long as you have a skillsoft and money. /s

After all, all that UE expenditure doesn't matter as long as you have a skillsoft and money. /s

Combat isn't a static check, like installing, like ripping, like examining security networks for intrusions, like forensics, like medicine.

It's an inherently competitive check, there is no threshhold of stats at which you can AUTOMATICALLY succeed at combat.

You can invest VERY modest amounts of UE into the requisite stats and be able to do all of that with a skillsoft.

Do you not think that's just a smidge unbalanced?

It isn't a static check, like installing, like ripping...

We agree 100% on this. I don't like the way most technical skills work. I've been kinda vocal on this point in XOOC, and to an extent, on the boards as well. I think there's a lot of room for improvement, but sadly, they don't get quite the time and attention that other things get because 'timmy twoscalpels installed my brain chip today' isn't exactly riveting plot for anyone involved. I kinda see technical skills as a minigame/hobby thing as they are implemented today in SD. To that extent, I think outside very select career paths, playing PURELY TECHNICAL characters is a huge mistake and you're isolating yourself from a lot of potential RP in doing so. That's just my personal opinion.

You can invest VERY modest amounts of UE into the requisite stats and be able to do all of that with a skillsoft.

I think that's the biggest thing that we're disagreeing on. You can't slap 2-300 UE into a stat that's used for skill X and slot a skillsoft and be good at it. You need a seriously large UE investment into the supporting stats and substats to really squeeze the juice out of a skillsoft. And even in those circumstances, again, you're spending a very large amount of money to solve an issue that you could solve much cheaper, and in ways that would probably generate more RP. That, like most things in the game is a weighted risk:reward calculation everyone has to do when deciding if they want to try and branch out via a skillsoft.

I'd just like to say also, you know, as a general guiding principle for most things in this game, at least the way that I play it, is that there's always bigger fish. If someone is squashing your XXYYZZ biz, deal with it ICly. That's not always a simple or easy task to surmount, but it'll lead to a lot of RP and character development along the way. I get that it's kind of a cop-out answer, but I think we all have our own set of biases here and they're not really shifting based on the conversation so far.

There are a lot of shortcuts you can take in Sindome. Some have obvious impacts and some are more subtle buried in the code itself.

As an experienced player, I find the challenge to be in avoiding these shortcuts - if others want to take advantage of them I'm all for it.

In that same spirit, I find the best and most capable in most skillsets to be the veteran players with very predictable motivations/behavior. Consistency is great but Sindome is better when it's chaotic and there are typically a plethora of reasons to support your local underdog.

Personally, I don't mind people using skillsofts or hiding in their apartment with their piles of junk. Sindome is a game best played with other people - if you're keeping everything close to your chest because you think this will allow you to win: you have already lost.

Skillsofts are themely, expensive, risky to use, and exchange hands frequently. They also allow players to dip their toes into different skills to see if they like them. Most of all, I think they're really fun. I think a lot of players probably think they're fun.

There were a lot of points made here, so I'm not going to go over all of them. If someone is this obviously using a lot of skillsofts like this, why not plot to steal them all for yourself and make use of them? Seduce or RP your way into their "super secret base" and kill them with some friends.

Skillsofts can even be used to give fledgling techie characters a taste of what they'll be like at mid-level. This is a really fun plot and a way to hook up a low level technical character.

I kind of get where Rhea's coming from, but Rhea is only focusing on all the negative aspects. There are TONS of positives coming out of skillsofts.

I've never found the value in doing things alone with SkillSofts when you could instead spend that time RPing with other characters that have those skills.

I'm sure that's a playstyle issue and not a SkillSoft issue, but I figured I'd share my own experience.

Maybe we could give them randomized life spans to reduce their long term investment potential?
They do have a randomized lifespan, and that is how long you are able to hold onto it before someone rips you off.
Maybe they could degrade over time/use, or have a limited number of uses to encourage you to purchase a new one when it runs out?
I still personally believe that trying to fix the skillsoft system should not occur until skills themselves are made so that there is a real beneficial reason to invest in every one of them as much as one might invest in a combat skill like long blades or dodge. Sadly, I do not feel this is the case currently.

Further, we keep talking about how characters that rely more on INT are disadvantaged. Well, perhaps the skillsoft system, as designed, is a good way to help empower characters who do more than hyper-focus on combat.

I am not saying it's perfect but I'm not a fan of potentially nerfing less combat oriented characters and I feel that nerfing skillsofts in the way described very well might do that.

Getting a skill to the level of a upper-end skillsoft is relatively easy, UE wise, but having the stats to use it is not. Characters who are already invested in non-combat statistics get the most benefit from skillsofts, and it's a way to broaden the value of otherwise niche archetypes. Combat characters who want to invest in skillsofts, by contrast, are a noticeable step behind those who do not, because they have to split their focus.
I'm going to say this again, far more bluntly.

This system is abusable, and is abused, and has been abused as long as I have been playing at least into the past.

The people who claim to have not seen it be abused, are either lying, or don't consider the abuses that I have personally to be abuses.

There are people rejecting competent specialists right now in favor of skillsoft users, for reasons of laziness and denying themselves and their potential tech RP.

Yes there are people who will go out of -their- way to give other players RP. But this is by choice and not by systematic design.

Impose a cost on skillsofts, and impose a social element to them, or you -will- -continue- see 90% of techs to burn out because their services are not needed outside of maybe 10% of jobs in the economy, and thus they spend 100% of the time feeling pointless until being handed breadcrumbs by someone.

Change the skillsofts as they are now into something less exploitable, or change them to be a vastly less efficient or abusable instant system, and this will make the game better and not worse.

Skill softs are not balanced, and never will be balanced as they are now. As the ability to instantly add 100s of UE to your character instantly and to hotswap these things around, is a not even borderline broken ability. It's just plain broken from a balance standpoint. And the cost's of good softs put them only in the hands of people who have reached a point where paranoia is a necessity. Making them even more likely to exploit this feature to it's fullest extent.

If a character's value to others is less than a mid-tier skillsoft, then then issue is not with the skillsoft system.
It is the role of the designer of a system to enforce values and provide gratification and -challenge- within a system.

Skill softs do not allow for low and mid tier techs to have value. Because they encourage a degree of independence from interdependence that should not exist in the system as it is stated to be intended.

Skill softs are over valued.

And skill softs remove challenge from the system.

To wit: The system is bunk because it's exploitation removes value, and does not add sufficient value to make up for it.

could call the process tuning.

Specialist Technician characters do not have a place in a world where skillsofts provide easy access to 90% of the features that a tech provides with a simple slot skill.

If you cannot fight.

You hang out in a bar and socially RP and hope someone includes you into their clique eventually so you can have a shield to grow to eventually compete.

And generally speaking. They won't. Because they don't really need you, because you provide no value to them that a skill soft wouldn't provide.

As an example, Tech's secure tech and electrotech specifically, but Autotech and Aerotech as well for most of these points.

There is no UMC for Techs.

There is no Fuller Med, or CGH for techs. Providing protection and a safe space to work.

There are no organizations in the mix dedicated to raising tech's up.

There is no dedicated corporate role for techs outside of vehicle techs.

There's barely any jobs for Tech's.

There is nothing, but going to X bar, and hanging out, because no one will use your services. And you are left to feel worthless for it.

honestly, I'd like to see a system implemented where techs can get a jack in their heads to actually dive into shit. For how you would implement it just make it a randomly generated dungeon with varying difficultes.Make it like any other room in Sindome but only those with jacks can access them. You fail the dungeon your jack gets shorted and you take some damage to your int and cha till you get it repaired. Dungeons could be fights against NPC "firewall"s you would fight with your digital construct if you wanted to go combat root,like shadow run.
I think Rhea brings up a LOT of good points. Once you have a slot, most of the low to mid tier stuff you would do, can just be easily done by paying a small fee to get the soft. Since they are SO easy to swap in and out, there is no need to carry them around and risk your investment. You leave them in a closet until something prompts you to need it.

I would also agree that tech based characters who do not have a defined combat role suffer in general. There are few jobs that are centered around tech skills and when you try to branch out into them you are often told that it's not your lane... even though there really is no lane for people to go into them.

I would love to see these looked at and revamped.

A character with skillsoft-level investments is unlikely to be any kind of specialist at all, and it is normal for a low-UE character to have limited specialist utility.

Skillsofts are a necessary function of a small pool of active and available characters, most of whom come and go, in a game that has a huge variety of (often very niche) skills.

Characters whose entire skillset only functions in service to other characters are always going to have issues, regardless if skillsofts existed or not.

There isn't the player base to support high-activity engagement amongst a huge variety of niche skills, and this means players have to make decisions about building characters that are realistic approaches to a world that emulates a bustling population, but does not actually have one. Outside a small minority of roles it's largely going to be up to the players to be the drivers of their roleplay and their engagement with other characters, rather than relying the coded mechanics underlying those characters.

While I am totally unfamiliar with skillsofts and their capabilities... lifespans or some other mitigating factor that turns it into a mana pool requiring a separate set of skills to repair or replenish would only add to player interaction, I think - while having little to no negative impact if these are really items for use at high levels of play. I'm all for that trickle down.
I think the biggest issue is that they are so easy to swap out. Given time, I will eventually be able to easily get most Gold/Plat level softs and just only use them on the few times that they are needed.

I think one of the OPs ideas was that they degrade over time and you can't swap them. That seems to be a pretty nice balance between helping out a small world population and allowing people to dabble as a midbee while still leaving spaces for people who actually spend UE in those areas to have a chance to ply their skills.

More interaction is good. Skill softs reduce interaction in nearly every case.

Skillsofts can also increase interaction. Players who are familiar with existing systems can install chrome in other new players and introduce them to systems. These can be fun scenes. This is a cool reason to get chrome in someone, and allows newer players to get an idea of what might be holding them back. for technical characters, getting them into a Gold soft can be super fun.

Characters can try out a new skill, and offer services in an under-represented area of the game. Stop-gapping shortages.

A character using a soft to rep a certain skill doesn't seem to be inherently "worth less" to me than someone who has "hard UE" in the skill. They can still make cool scenes. They can still do work. And when they get blasted inevitably they'll have to get a new set of chrome to get their shit going again.

Long ago one of my characters got their start with the money they vultured off of a skillsoft that flew out of someone in a big fight. It was a cool scene and an introduction to chrome. I've seen it happen many times, and leaving with something in your head even if you're "mr. 100% no risk lockdown fort-skillsofts" happens a lot. Besides, isn't that cache in that room a great target for a plot?

I get some of the criticisms leveled here, but there doesn't seem to be any appreciation for the positives of skillsofts. Which also includes that they're themely as fuck, and fun as hell. They're also one of the first reasons to get hard chrome when you're a newer player.

"There is nothing, but going to X bar, and hanging out, because no one will use your services. And you are left to feel worthless for it. "

While I think it would be interesting to consider potential tweaks to skillsofts, Rhea, I respectfully disagree with the assessment that there is nothing to do but hang around and bar RP for non-combat, technical specialists. One does not have to wait for plot to find them, or for others to engage them. Any and all PCs can generate plots at any time. If there are things you wish to see in the world then that can be an opportunity of something to pursue. It likely won't happen overnight, but it's about the journey, not the end goal.

Speaking as someone who has played both heavy combat and non-combat characters, I heavily disagree with the characterisation of the latter as having nothing to do but sit around in bars. Across my time in Sindome, most of my best RP has come from using non-combat skills and in non-combat situations. Be a go-getter, socialise and get clients, and it isn't a problem.

Having said that, I don't believe that there is an issue with the current skillsoft system that requires amendment. The reality is that there is very slim need for some IC skills; and when there are, accessing trained people who can get something done for you is extremely difficult.

Our characters live in a reality where chyen buys nearly everything; it's a key that opens doorways as automatically and easily as social contacts, combat proficiency or pure grit. I don't understand why anyone would want to hobble it as a legitimate means of progression by unnecessarily complicating a pretty niche corner of the game.

Please let me know if I should make a new thread for this, or if I'm completely off-base here.

I suppose the aspect of skillsofts that feels most "unbalanced" to me is the fact that combat characters can easily slot in a non-combat skillsoft and can attempt to do work with that skill, albeit not having the best @stats. As for non-combat characters? It's nigh impossible to even attempt to engage in combat with a combat skillsoft without the 'soft popping out of its socket. I know that this popping-out behavior allows chars to have a chance to steal skillsofts from other characters by engaging them in a fight. However, tech skillsofts don't seem to "pop out" of the socket when its owner is engaging in a technical task. Maybe the combat skillsofts could be "stickier", as they are designed to be used in an actual fight.

It sounds like the root issue here is that inexperienced cybertechs aren't being given enough opportunities to do sensitive work for a small niche of high UE solos who are able to do their own work because they choose to diversify instead of min-max.

Fortunately, that's a small percentage of the population and there are still a lot of other characters out there. Nobody ever gets rich by sitting in their apartment, especially not any solos. The very nature of the job of a solo requires they go out and interact with others to make money to spend on tools and equipment.

There is the opportunity for tech characters to be patient (like everyone else) and invest the time and UE to have better skill so you can take down their network.

Another option is that young cybertechs can invest in RP to become trusted and make it feel less risky to mentor them.

Very few people are going to give someone else sensitive jobs if they can't be trusted, no matter how skilled they are.

Another thing is that this is also assuming that other characters have work that needs doing, and they don't have other players who can do the work.

People only get cams setup once in a while, furniture installed, or bodies ripped for chrome once in a while.

I totally get the frustration with wanting more action but in that case, skillsofts help solve your problem because they'll enable you to do more money making activities too.

I have pretty extensive use of skillsofts in my portfolio, and in my experience, a midbie character that "specializes in combat" and uses a skillsoft socket extensively, will have to sidetrack months of UE into non combat essential stats just to reach a midbie-ish ability with even two or three softs.

At this point, you no longer specialize in combat. You're just a jack of a few trades.

While even a mid tier combat character might seem frightening to a non combat character, this brings into mind something I read in another thread: you learn, really learn, how to play the game with non combat characters. Combat itself is kind of a get out of jail card when it comes to some rp conflict. Without it you rely on your own machinations and plotting to solve problems.

This feels like that to me. If the issue is you can't get work because a few semi focused combat characters are self sufficient (which doesn't imply they're stealing your work necessarily), I can think of 4-5 ways to resolve that with rp.

There's people out there that can find you things for a price. Network. Cut people like that in on your earnings if they can get you clients. Find mentors (noting some native tech skills are in the hands of relatively few players) or get a skillsoft yourself. If you can't muster the skill to outdo a solo's shoddy security, that's ok. There's probably someone who can. Find them. Work with them. Work FOR them. Maybe they'll help you get one over on those pesky solos. There's people who can go places they aren't supposed to be - yet another angle of attack. And if all else fails? We love the phrase, "kill that baka til their shit is yours". You can hire people for that too.

The point is you can rp their advantages away. Maybe bring it into core character rp. Your character feels slighted by skillsoft users - even if they aren't competing in the same market. Vendetta much? Sounds like good rp.

I like to think lowbie and midling is the time to learn how to use the elites around you to your benefit. To use anyone really. You're statswise too weak to be a badass, but the six p's can be applied at any level to great effect. Prudent Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance.

Outplay your rivals in the biz, and win the day.