Friday, July 18, 2008

Skill trees

I have never been a big fan of skill trees. RPGs are such huge time investments that Im terrified of spending my skill points the wrong way and messing up my character. Not having to make any decisions is comforting, then I cant screw up. Im the same way in real life, this isnt just a game thing.

But if we can get past my mental quirks and decide not to use skill trees as an analogy for any bigger problems in my life we can focus on the many benefits they can bring to role playing games. Other then letting you design your character to your liking and adding a more personal flavor to the gameplay experience they also make leveling up your character more rewarding. Let me explain this.

Grinding in RPGs isnt fun in itself. Watching your characters grow as a result of the grind is whats fun. If you know beforehand what reward you can get it will give you something to aim for. Knowing that you will be able to spend the skill points on something that actualy matters also gives the grind more of a purpose.

The reason why Im rambling on about this is again Etrian Odyssey. The excellent use of skill trees in that game is what makes the endless grinding worth it. Knowing that the one skill point you get after half an hour of killing the same thing over and over again will make a difference makes it worth it. A small increase in attack and defense just wouldnt be enough of a motivating factor.