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Question/Advice about Skill Modding (and other stuff)


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#1 DylanRPG

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Posted 16 July 2017 - 04:22 PM

Hey everybody - I have an interest in modding KOTOR to more closely resemble the tabletop RPG upon which it is based (Star Wars SAGA Edition specifically). I've only just begun modding and am teaching myself.

Some things have come more easily - I know how to change class skills, I know how to change Saving Throw progression, Feat and Force Power progression. I know how to change recommended Attributes. I've also edited the stats of all the weapons to mirror the tabletop game, making blasters far more viable, which is actually a feature I think others would be interested in. (I know this is done with the excellent Super Enhanced Mod, but the way I do it is not as crazy powerful, and it just changes the weapons that aren't in line with SAGA Edition).

 

There's a few things on my agenda that are kind of bigger, and I'm not asking someone to unrealistically teach me everything. I just want to know, basically, what kind of work I would have to put in to make it happen. Some of it I think is a lot.

1) Starting Attribute Points. I want to change this from 30 to 25. The only work around I've been able to do so far is change the recommended Attributes to values that represent 25 points spent (this is done using the standard array from the tabletop game of 15, 14, 13, 12, 10 and 8). I discovered when I did this, the player can hit the Recommended button and then (if they wish) subtract all the points spent to get it back to a value of 8, and then there are only 25 points available to spend, rather than 30. But I'd like to have 25 points available from the start.

2) Different Skill set-up. In the tabletop game, there are many more skills. I'm not going to try to replicate them. However, also in the tabletop game, Security, Demolitions and Repair are all represented by 1 skill: Mechanics. I was able to go with Kotor Tool and search for all instances of SKILL_REPAIR, SKILL_DEMOLITIONS, and SKILL_SECURITY and replace them with SKILL_MECHANICS. I also put "SKILL_MECHANICS"  into the nwscript.nss file, edited the skills.2da file and changed the maximum number of Skills to 6 (Use Computer, Mechanics, Stealth, Awareness, Persuade and Treat Injury). But of course, I don't really fully grasp how to edit the actual menus so the only effect this had was preventing me from completing the tutorial, because the first Security Door was not openable by my character or Trask, who lacked the Security skill.

3) Is it possible to allow choice of Class to determine Attribute bonuses? This isn't really in line with the tabletop game, I'm just curious. In the game only Species gives you different attributes, and Humans just have an extra Feat and an extra Skill at 1st level.

4) I want each class to have different amounts of starting Credits. I'm GUESSING the easiest way to do this is to put the starting credits in the container in the very beginning of the game. I think that even makes the most sense. But again I can't really figure out how to edit specific modules. Maybe I don't have the right tools at my disposal.

5) In line with #2, I want to edit the Skill Feats. I want "Caution" to affect Stealth and Awareness, "Empathy" to affect Persuade and Treat Injury only, and "Gear Head" to affect Use Computer and Mechanics. ALTERNATIVELY, I'd like to use a system more in line with the tabletop game, where you choose a specific Skill Focus. I.e., Skill Focus: Use Computer is a Feat. I noticed, poking around in Kotor Tool, that on some level these Feats actually exist within the design, but were not used. Can they be implemented?

6) Change starting HP. KOTOR kept very true to the tabletop game with the characters HIT Dice, with how much they gain each level. But in the tabletop game, at Level 1 they actually start with more Hit Points. The Scoundrel gets 18 + con, Scout gets 24 + con, and the Soldier and Jedi get 30 + con. 
 

7) More Attribute improvements. In the tabletop game, every 4th level you get to improve 2 Attributes by 1 point each. In the video game adaptation, of course, you only improve 1 Attribute. Maybe this was because they gave the player more points at 1st level.

 

These next two are pie-in-the-sky crazy ...

8)A new starting class. In the tabletop game, there was a non-Jedi class that was left out of KOTOR: there was Scout, Soundrel, and Soldier and Noble. I realize this would require a lot of extra work, including new dialogue.

9)Just one Jedi class. In the tabletop game, there is one Class called "Jedi". There's a system in the game called Talents that makes each class really unique. KOTOR did not adapt this. But there are three different talent trees, each called "Consular", "Sentinel" and "Guardian". This is where Bioware got the idea for 3 Jedi classes. And instead of Talent trees, they took all the classes and made them develop Feats, Skills, and Powers at different rates. I'm NOT going to try to implement a Talent system (although maybe that's possible with the Force Power system). Instead, I just want to make the Jedi options into 1 class. Again, dialogue changes, interface editing, I feel like this is very advanced.

Thank you for reading and in advance for any thoughts/advice you might offer. I just need to know what kind of work is ahead of me, maybe which ones are the easiest to accomplish so I know where to start.



#2 Fair Strides

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Posted 16 July 2017 - 07:36 PM

The simplest way for me to respond is probably going to be a one-at-a-time method. :)

 

1. Sadly, the 30-point allotment is hard-coded. You can get around it with the Recommended button as you've discovered, though.

 

2. You can remove skills, and the game will recognize far more than the vanilla eight, but the GUI will only recognize eight skills because that's all the game's .exe was programmed for. So you could revise the skills.2da to remove the unused/combined skills' rows and just use your own.

 

Unfortunately, you could potentially run into issues where a script isn't possible to de-compile and you happen to need to change a skill check in that script to get around this.

 

3. In a round-about way, you could do so. The game has four "hidden" inventory slots that are not represented in the GUI. These slots are the CARMOUR, CWEAPON_L, CWEAPON_R, and CWEAPON_B slots in nwscript (I presume these to be "Creature hide slot", "Creature left weapon", "Creature right weapon", and "Creature bite weapon").

 

You can use scripting in the start of the tutorial level (in the script that adds equipment by level, for instance) to add the required item to the player's inventory and equip it via scripting, since the player can't access the slots in-game.

 

4. Your guess is correct in how you'd go about doing that. I can probably get a good tutorial going throughout the week and have it up either during the week or the next weekend on all the tools and where to start.

 

5. The skill focus feats are in the files, but I don't know if the game's .exe was coded to recognize them. Sadly, we cannot actually control what the "passive" feats (any feat that you can't physically use) do or make our own, as the effects of "passive" feats are hardcoded into the .exe.

 

6. Sadly, the only way to do this would be to boost the CON score, but that'd be for every level. There's no way to do this so that it only affects the first level at character generation.

 

7. Unfortunately, the attribute progression is hardcoded into the .exe as well.

 

8. New classes are definitely possible, though I believe we've always had trouble with doing the spellcaster classes and the game crashing.

 

9. There is a way to limit which spells are available to which class, which would allow a psuedo-Talent system,  but for it to actually work, you'd need to keep the three-class system Bioware implemented. So it'd be a toss-up between "Jedi character progression" and "Specialized access to powers".


(By the way, if you ever want to ask about one of the quotes, feel free to send me a PM)

 

My personal, made-up quote: "To know is good, but to act is better."

"Words are just words, thoughts thoughts, but actions...actions are progress." - Fair Strides

"Intelligence and respect are all it takes to get along fine. Not a bad trade off, huh?" - EwigD from GameFaqs

"And regarding butchering the language, I have been to the internet. The language is well butchered regularly." - Malkior

 

"You can either live with the lies or die with the truth. Who would rather lie to live than die for telling the truth?" - Fair Strides


#3 DylanRPG

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Posted 16 July 2017 - 07:53 PM

Thank you so much for that info, that is very helpful.

It occurs to me, for Talents, I could accomplish this by adding Feats. Talents in the tabletop game were not unique to the Jedi class - every class had them. So it would be about adding Feats that mirror the Talents, and then making them only available to certain classes at certain levels or with the rereqs. Jedi-specific Talents could be expressed as new Powers if they are related to the Force ... Some of them are already there, of course. 

It's especially helpful to know what's possible and what isn't, so I know where to spend my time. 

Your offer about the tutorial is extremely generous. It would be very much appreciated, but I also will understand if you don't do that. :D

When you mention the game crashing with new classes - do you mean that when a custom class becomes a Jedi class, the game crashes? Or do you mean when a standard class becomes a custom Jedi class it crashes?

With regard to the skill focus feats question (number 5 on my list). If I successfully remove Demolitions, Repair and Security and replace them all with "Mechanics" ("Mechanics" takes over the functions of those skills) but I can't change the Passive Feats of Caution, Empathy, or Gear Head, will that mean - effectively - that Caution AND Gear Head will grant a bonus to Mechanics? Or does it mean that Mechanics will not benefit from any of these feats?

Thanks again :D

 



#4 Fair Strides

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Posted 16 July 2017 - 07:59 PM

Remember though that you can't add working passive feats like what the skill focus would do. Certain kinds of passive feats are possible though, by editing the relevant scripts. If you edit the scripts that control grenades, you can add feats that affect the damage or whatever of the item by manually scripting it to be so. This isn't possible with skill checks, since the game does it as a hard-coded action.

 

As for the game crashing, it seems to really hate giving a custom jedi class. Non-jedi classes will place nice just fine.

 

As to this one, that would need some testing. For starters, do the skill focus feats even work in the first place? Another thing is that we don't know how they work. If I were to guess for myself, I'd say the game has it hard-coded so that the bonuses are given to hardcoded skill numbers. These would be 0 to 7 to represent a row in skills.2da and that's where the bonus would go. A way to test that would be to swap Persuade and Demolitions rows in skills.2da and see if the Empathy feat boosts the Demolitions skill.


(By the way, if you ever want to ask about one of the quotes, feel free to send me a PM)

 

My personal, made-up quote: "To know is good, but to act is better."

"Words are just words, thoughts thoughts, but actions...actions are progress." - Fair Strides

"Intelligence and respect are all it takes to get along fine. Not a bad trade off, huh?" - EwigD from GameFaqs

"And regarding butchering the language, I have been to the internet. The language is well butchered regularly." - Malkior

 

"You can either live with the lies or die with the truth. Who would rather lie to live than die for telling the truth?" - Fair Strides


#5 DylanRPG

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Posted 16 July 2017 - 08:32 PM

 

As to this one, that would need some testing. For starters, do the skill focus feats even work in the first place? Another thing is that we don't know how they work. If I were to guess for myself, I'd say the game has it hard-coded so that the bonuses are given to hardcoded skill numbers. These would be 0 to 7 to represent a row in skills.2da and that's where the bonus would go. A way to test that would be to swap Persuade and Demolitions rows in skills.2da and see if the Empathy feat boosts the Demolitions skill.

I tried this out and the result was fascinating.

I switched Demolitions and Persuade in the skills.2da file like you suggested.

I made a character with a Charisma of 18, and an Intelligence of 8. I put 4 points into Persuade, 0 points into Demolitions and took the Empathy Feat. 

When the game started, my Persuade skill was at 0, + my Charisma modifier, for a total of 4. It did not recognize the points I put into it. Instead ...

My Demolition skill was at 4 (0 + my Charisma modifier).

Neither skill was effected by Empathy, although Awareness and Treat Injury were working perfectly.

 



#6 Fair Strides

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Posted 16 July 2017 - 08:37 PM

Did you swap the entire rows? Because if you had done so, Demolitions would have still been affected by INT modifier and Persuade by CHA.

 

As to the Empathy feat itself, does it work even if you have no skill points in the affected skill?


(By the way, if you ever want to ask about one of the quotes, feel free to send me a PM)

 

My personal, made-up quote: "To know is good, but to act is better."

"Words are just words, thoughts thoughts, but actions...actions are progress." - Fair Strides

"Intelligence and respect are all it takes to get along fine. Not a bad trade off, huh?" - EwigD from GameFaqs

"And regarding butchering the language, I have been to the internet. The language is well butchered regularly." - Malkior

 

"You can either live with the lies or die with the truth. Who would rather lie to live than die for telling the truth?" - Fair Strides


#7 DylanRPG

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Posted 16 July 2017 - 08:58 PM

Did you swap the entire rows? Because if you had done so, Demolitions would have still been affected by INT modifier and Persuade by CHA.

 

As to the Empathy feat itself, does it work even if you have no skill points in the affected skill?

 

 

Edited: Okay, so I tried again. Your theory holds water.

When I swap Demolitions and Persuade in skills.2da, the modifiers are correct.

The Empathy Feat DOES effect the Demolitions skill in this case, so long as you put points into it (that is to say ... so long as you put points into "Persuade"). 

The thing is, at character creation the skill placements are NOT swapped, so putting points into Persuade is actually putting points into Demolitions, and vice versa. But I guess you knew that.

Double EDIT: I'm an idiot. I didn't change the Row label after switching the rows. Hold please.

Triple EDIT: Yeah, putting points into Persuade actually puts points into Demolitions after the row switch. And Empathy effects Demolitions.



#8 Fair Strides

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Posted 16 July 2017 - 09:38 PM

I've done some digging around in the GUI. Even if I swap the positions of the Demolitions and Persuade skills in the Character Generation Skills page, the skill points go to their original spots. The CharGen GUI is pretty hard-coded in that respect.

 

However, I also swapped the GUI elements around in the normal Skill Info page (in the menus, right beside the Character screen) and they showed up properly there. So it's a foible with the CharGen menus that you'd need to be aware of and tell the users.


(By the way, if you ever want to ask about one of the quotes, feel free to send me a PM)

 

My personal, made-up quote: "To know is good, but to act is better."

"Words are just words, thoughts thoughts, but actions...actions are progress." - Fair Strides

"Intelligence and respect are all it takes to get along fine. Not a bad trade off, huh?" - EwigD from GameFaqs

"And regarding butchering the language, I have been to the internet. The language is well butchered regularly." - Malkior

 

"You can either live with the lies or die with the truth. Who would rather lie to live than die for telling the truth?" - Fair Strides


#9 DylanRPG

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Posted 16 July 2017 - 10:02 PM

So I'm glad you can switch the places, but is it possible in the GUI to change the name of the Skills and their descriptions (meaning, as they show up in chargen and the character screen?). I'm not sure where to look to do that.

If I kept the instances of SKILL_REPAIR, SKILL_SECURITY and SKILL_DEMOLITIONS, but in the skills.2da file deleted those skills and added "Mechanics", then set those three constants as the constants for Mechanics, is that a good start?

I would also edit the nwscript.nss file to make those skill constants refer to the proper Row number. 

And I would make sure that Mechanics was set to a row number and placement affected by Gear Head.

Is it the row placement that's more important, or the row label number do you think?



#10 Fair Strides

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Posted 16 July 2017 - 10:19 PM

Yes, you can change the names and descriptions, through either editing the lines in the dialog.tlk file or adding new lines to the dialog.tlk (which would then involve changing the references in the skills.2da. The numbers in the "name" and "description" columns refer to entries in the dialog.tlk file.

 

In Scripting terms, that would link them all to the same skill. That wouldn't help in terms of the already-compiled scripts in the levels, but it would work for any scripts going forward.

 

The "label" column is purely for the convenience of the person messing with the file. It's the "(Row Label)" column that's important, as that's actually the index to the row itself. Granted, it can't hurt to cover your bases and both move the row and change the "(Row Label)" column's value.


(By the way, if you ever want to ask about one of the quotes, feel free to send me a PM)

 

My personal, made-up quote: "To know is good, but to act is better."

"Words are just words, thoughts thoughts, but actions...actions are progress." - Fair Strides

"Intelligence and respect are all it takes to get along fine. Not a bad trade off, huh?" - EwigD from GameFaqs

"And regarding butchering the language, I have been to the internet. The language is well butchered regularly." - Malkior

 

"You can either live with the lies or die with the truth. Who would rather lie to live than die for telling the truth?" - Fair Strides


#11 DylanRPG

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Posted 16 July 2017 - 10:56 PM

Within the nwscript I did this:

int SKILL_COMPUTER_USE    = 0;

int SKILL_DEMOLITIONS         = 5;
int SKILL_STEALTH                  = 2;
int SKILL_AWARENESS           = 3;
int SKILL_CHARM                    = 4;
int SKILL_REPAIR                    = 5;
int SKILL_SECURITY               = 5;
int SKILL_TREAT_INJURY       = 7;
int SKILL_DECEPTION             = 1;
int SKILL_MAX_SKILLS             = 7;

Within the skills.2da file I did this:
Row - Skill                 Mod                        Constant
0 ComputerUse       INT                    SKILL_COMPUTER_USE
1 Deception            CHA                    SKILL_DECEPTION
2 Stealth                   DEX                 SKILL_STEALTH
3 Awareness             WIS                  SKILL_AWARENESS
4 Charm                   CHA                             SKILL_CHARM
5 Mechanics              INT                              SKILL_REPAIR, SKILL_SECURITY, SKILL_DEMOLITIONS
[blank line]

7 TreatInjury                WIS                      SKILL_TREAT_INJURY
 

Just in terms of how these relate to each other, does this make sense?



#12 Fair Strides

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Posted 17 July 2017 - 05:08 AM

Makes sense to me, but it only matters if it makes sense to the game, and I don't know that it won't crash if you have the multiple constants for the Mechanics line.


(By the way, if you ever want to ask about one of the quotes, feel free to send me a PM)

 

My personal, made-up quote: "To know is good, but to act is better."

"Words are just words, thoughts thoughts, but actions...actions are progress." - Fair Strides

"Intelligence and respect are all it takes to get along fine. Not a bad trade off, huh?" - EwigD from GameFaqs

"And regarding butchering the language, I have been to the internet. The language is well butchered regularly." - Malkior

 

"You can either live with the lies or die with the truth. Who would rather lie to live than die for telling the truth?" - Fair Strides


#13 DylanRPG

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Posted 19 July 2017 - 03:31 AM

So one of the things I've discovered is that I don't need to mess with variables as far as placing starting Credits in that first footlocker on the Endar Spire ... Because each Class is supposed to start with the same amount credits.

This is 3d4 * 250. The maximum amount possible here is 3000 Credits, so I'm adding that to the footlocker.

But I don't know what I'm doing, apparently.

I placed the new footlocker file in the Override folder, and it changed every footlocker in the game to contain those contents (or at least - the footlocker in the Taris apartment was identical).

So do I need to place that file into the rim of the modules directory in KOTOR? Or place it into the rim and place that module in the Override? I've seen tutorials about creating your own modules, but I haven't yet tracked down helpful instructions on just changing placeables.



#14 DylanRPG

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Posted 19 July 2017 - 07:05 AM

Nevermind, I figured it out :)



#15 Kexikus

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Posted 19 July 2017 - 09:16 AM

That's good to hear. But just to make sure: DON'T place files in .rim files. Use .mod files instead so that the vanilla files are not replaced.



#16 JCarter426

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Posted 19 July 2017 - 11:23 AM

3) Is it possible to allow choice of Class to determine Attribute bonuses? This isn't really in line with the tabletop game, I'm just curious. In the game only Species gives you different attributes, and Humans just have an extra Feat and an extra Skill at 1st level.

 

3. In a round-about way, you could do so. The game has four "hidden" inventory slots that are not represented in the GUI. These slots are the CARMOUR, CWEAPON_L, CWEAPON_R, and CWEAPON_B slots in nwscript (I presume these to be "Creature hide slot", "Creature left weapon", "Creature right weapon", and "Creature bite weapon").

 

You can use scripting in the start of the tutorial level (in the script that adds equipment by level, for instance) to add the required item to the player's inventory and equip it via scripting, since the player can't access the slots in-game.

 

There was a mod that did it with this very method ages ago, and it worked. The only thing you'll have to look out for is that some party members already use these slots.

 

5) In line with #2, I want to edit the Skill Feats. I want "Caution" to affect Stealth and Awareness, "Empathy" to affect Persuade and Treat Injury only, and "Gear Head" to affect Use Computer and Mechanics. ALTERNATIVELY, I'd like to use a system more in line with the tabletop game, where you choose a specific Skill Focus. I.e., Skill Focus: Use Computer is a Feat. I noticed, poking around in Kotor Tool, that on some level these Feats actually exist within the design, but were not used. Can they be implemented?

 

If the unused skill focus feats don't work, the hidden item method would work here as well. If you edit the heartbeat script, you could have it check for those feats and then script in the appropriate item. You'd need dozens of items to account for all the possible combinations, so it would be a complete mess, but it would be possible.

 

If it were the second game you could just script in a skill bonus but you can't do that in the first game.

 

9)Just one Jedi class. In the tabletop game, there is one Class called "Jedi". There's a system in the game called Talents that makes each class really unique. KOTOR did not adapt this. But there are three different talent trees, each called "Consular", "Sentinel" and "Guardian". This is where Bioware got the idea for 3 Jedi classes. And instead of Talent trees, they took all the classes and made them develop Feats, Skills, and Powers at different rates.

You got this backwards. The Saga Edition came out a few years after KOTOR. KOTOR itself was based on the Revised Core Rulebook, which had two Jedi classes: Jedi Consular and Jedi Guardian. BioWare added Sentinel to make the game work with their three-class system, and then when Wizards of the Coast revised the tabletop version, they simplified Jedi to one class and made the talent system to reflect the customization in the previous version and KOTOR.

 

It is very possible to reduce the three to one Jedi class but anything resembling talent trees isn't feasible. The only way to limit choices is based on class, so you'd just be back to classes. It would be fine if the player could start as a Jedi and then multiclass to a specialty, as with the prestige classes in the second game, but we can't add new Jedi classes, and a character can't have more than two classes, so that's not an option either.

 

8)A new starting class. In the tabletop game, there was a non-Jedi class that was left out of KOTOR: there was Scout, Soundrel, and Soldier and Noble.

 

They left out a few other classes as well - again, three-class system, video game simplification, etc. Adding them back in is doable... but you can't make them starting classes. We're stuck with three options.

 

The only way around this I see is to offer different versions of the mod for anyone who wants a different class. This would be as simple as changing which ones appear on the first three rows of classes.2da and then editing all the relevant checks for them, and also any UTCs that use that class (so Carth and Canderous don't turn into nobles, for example).

 

Regarding the difficulty of adding a Jedi class, I did some testing on this in the past. The problem is really an amalgamation of different problems, but the one thing that absolutely cannot be fixed is that any new class is not granted Force points. Even if the character has Force powers, they have no points to use them. If it's a multiclass character and they have Force points from their previous class, they still have those, but the GUI reads them as always having 0 Force points. When I was testing, I got into a funny situation in which I could use Force powers from my old class, but I couldn't tell when I ran out of Force points. There's really nothing that can be done here. The game is hard coded to only let those classes use the Force.



#17 DylanRPG

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Posted 20 July 2017 - 10:07 AM

Hey JCarter thanks so much for the thoughtful reply. I did realize my mistake after posting this - for years I've been under the impression that KOTOR was based on SAGA Edition, and when I discovered that this isn't the case a lot of their design decisions have made more sense, particularly with regard to the Jedi classes, the Scout class (even just thematically) and Saving Throws and the like.

As a result my philosophy has shifted a bit. I'm not quite as determined to "make it more like the tabletop game" as it is based off an earlier version to the game I fell in love with, as you rightly point out.

If I go ahead with some of my plans, the goal becomes "make it more like SAGA edition".

I really enjoy the results of editing item damages and cost to mirror SAGA edition, as blasters become far more powerful and vibroblades become truly a backup weapon to switch to when enemies come close, and the whole balance between Jedi and lightsabers and blaster characters and attack bonuses for hitting ranged characters makes a lot more sense.

So that part I like, and I plan on releasing this simple mod soon. The increased costs of items will be offset by the player starting out with 3000 credits which is also a nice little boost.

So I've become less ambitious about this, partly because I've realized, as you point out in a nice way, that I'm trying to "fix" an issue that isn't present.

I thought about representing the Talent system with Feats, but without passives this becomes pretty impossible.

The reality I came to, backwards as you rightly put it, is that without Talent Trees the chief way to make each class distinct is to change the rate at which they progress in different areas (skills, Feats, Powers), which is exactly what the game does.

I tried setting the Feat progression to be the same across all classes and mirroring SAGA edition, but I dont think this was a good idea and again, it taught me why things are as they are. With so many less Feats in the game, the player picks them up too fast. And without a Talent system, the differences between Classes becomes about skill points, Hit Dice and a few exclusive feats. And this doesn't really make them different enough.

I DO have an additional question about skill modding though ... can the formula for skill point progression or skill point allocation at level up be changed, or is hard coded?

As far as Jedi talent trees go, if I did one class, I would probably not attempt "limit choices" per se. Not having Guardian/Sentinel/Consular would be about avoiding this very thing. It would be more about labeling in the description of Feats or Powers. After all in SAGA edition you're not locked into a Talent Tree - Talents Trees are just thematic groupings of Talents, some with others as prerequisites. So with one Jedi class a "Sentinel Power" or a "Consular Feat" becomes a simple guideline in the description to help the player make their decision.

"This is a Power favored by Jedi Guardians" on Force Jump, that sort of thing. That's how I would do it.

The Chronicler at the Academy would still ask you what color crystal you want and which one suits you, Guardian, Sentinel or Consular. But then Zhar would level you up to "Jedi" and you would be 1 class. And Guardian/Sentinel/Consular would become a thematic difference.

It would make things more streamlined, but I would be taking away a fun moment for the player to make a choice about their class.

And maybe that's not so good, I don't know.

#18 JCarter426

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Posted 20 July 2017 - 07:36 PM

Hey JCarter thanks so much for the thoughtful reply. I did realize my mistake after posting this - for years I've been under the impression that KOTOR was based on SAGA Edition, and when I discovered that this isn't the case a lot of their design decisions have made more sense, particularly with regard to the Jedi classes, the Scout class (even just thematically) and Saving Throws and the like.

As a result my philosophy has shifted a bit. I'm not quite as determined to "make it more like the tabletop game" as it is based off an earlier version to the game I fell in love with, as you rightly point out.

If I go ahead with some of my plans, the goal becomes "make it more like SAGA edition".

 

Well, rule systems get revised for reasons (not just to sell more rulebooks) so I'd still be interested in more Saga-like changes. There are some parts of Saga I prefer, and some I don't, but either way I do think the game in general could use an overall. If someone else is going to do it, then I look forward to it.

 

I thought about representing the Talent system with Feats, but without passives this becomes pretty impossible.

The reality I came to, backwards as you rightly put it, is that without Talent Trees the chief way to make each class distinct is to change the rate at which they progress in different areas (skills, Feats, Powers), which is exactly what the game does.

I tried setting the Feat progression to be the same across all classes and mirroring SAGA edition, but I dont think this was a good idea and again, it taught me why things are as they are. With so many less Feats in the game, the player picks them up too fast. And without a Talent system, the differences between Classes becomes about skill points, Hit Dice and a few exclusive feats. And this doesn't really make them different enough.

 

I was just talking to someone else about this today. Personally, I don't really like the idea that feat gain is the major difference in classes. It's a little unbalanced the way soldiers get lots and lots of feats to choose from, while the other classes don't get to chose as many, but get some automatically, and in general those are superior than any the soldier can choose. I don't think evening it out would necessarily work, as you say, but at the same time it irks me that such a vague thing is the major difference. It only works if there are a lot of good feats, and by the end of the game most of the ones you have left to choose from are garbage. I recall the last time I played, when I was leveling up Carth and Canderous the last few times, there wasn't anything left that would really benefit them, and I just gave them tiers of implants or something.

 

I don't know if there's a solution to this... the more customization you offer, the less distinct the class choice becomes, that's a universal rule. But it's certainly a weak point here.

 

I DO have an additional question about skill modding though ... can the formula for skill point progression or skill point allocation at level up be changed, or is hard coded?

 

I don't recall ever seeing any way to change it, so I assume it's limited as the attributes are. You can change the base amount of points each class gets per level, however.
 

On the subject of skills, though, I did some thinking and a bit of digging and I don't believe there is anything forcing you to keep computer use and repair. As far as I can recall, every game mechanic involving them is a scripted skill check that could be changed to something else. Using repair kits, repairing droids, slicing computers, all that is through scripts we can edit. The only possible issue I can imagine is that it would display the wrong values on computer terminals, and maybe there's even a way to get around that.

 

The same goes for treat injury and persuade, but I doubt you want to get rid of those. Demolitions and security have some function that is hard coded, I believe, and would present more problems. I'm not sure about stealth or awareness - these might be handled through AI scripts I've simply never researched thoroughly.

 

Depending on how the code is, and this makes me curious because I see the constants in skills.2da, it may be possible to rearrange even these functions.

 

As far as Jedi talent trees go, if I did one class, I would probably not attempt "limit choices" per se. Not having Guardian/Sentinel/Consular would be about avoiding this very thing. It would be more about labeling in the description of Feats or Powers. After all in SAGA edition you're not locked into a Talent Tree - Talents Trees are just thematic groupings of Talents, some with others as prerequisites. So with one Jedi class a "Sentinel Power" or a "Consular Feat" becomes a simple guideline in the description to help the player make their decision.

"This is a Power favored by Jedi Guardians" on Force Jump, that sort of thing. That's how I would do it.

The Chronicler at the Academy would still ask you what color crystal you want and which one suits you, Guardian, Sentinel or Consular. But then Zhar would level you up to "Jedi" and you would be 1 class. And Guardian/Sentinel/Consular would become a thematic difference.

It would make things more streamlined, but I would be taking away a fun moment for the player to make a choice about their class.

And maybe that's not so good, I don't know.

 

I'd be fine with reducing the classes that way, only thing I would worry about is that it would make them play too similarly but I would say they already do that for the most part anyway.

 

There are a couple problems with your idea, though. First, there's no way to force the player to choose one of three feats that way, unless you do make them different classes. You could make each class statistically the same for the most part, but they'd still be taking up space and you couldn't add more Jedi classes.

 

Second, with the game's level up system, the more agency you want the player to have, in general the dumber you have to make the system. You can't say, for example, a Jedi Guardian will get this feat at this level, unless the player already picked this, in which case they get the next tier of it, or a different feat, or whatever, the way the tabeltop rules can let you. You can either say a Jedi Guardian gets this feat at this level, or they don't, and they can choose it at this level, or they can't. So there's no way to work in recommendations apart from the descriptions like you described. I don't think a footnote at the end would be enough, especially if every class can pick anything anyway. I would suggest grouping them all together, changing the icons as well to make it clearer, something along those lines.

 

All this is why, I think, they dumbed it down to the level they did. Although they did have a far more complicated system in Neverwinter Nights, unfortunately none of it works here.



#19 DylanRPG

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Posted 20 July 2017 - 08:21 PM

I'm encouraged that a KOTOR Saga Edition sounds appealing to you. I have a long way to go before I have the skills to really pull that off.

I think you don't understand what I'm saying about the Jedi class idea.

I'm talking about 1 Jedi Class, not 3. The issue is not that the classes would play too similarly -- there would be only 1 class to play (as a Jedi). I don't mean sub-classes. You wouldn't choose one of three different feats. You could choose any feats you wanted. There would just be something in the description letting you know what kind of Jedi would take that Feat. It's just for flavor. There would be 1 Jedi class, and that Jedi class could take any Force Powers and any Feats available to the Jedi class.

So - i am just talking about descriptions, with regard to "differences" between Sentinel, Guardian and Consular. It's an in-story difference, the same difference between (say) a "Mercenary" and a "Trooper". Maybe Canderous is a mercenary, and Carth is a Republic trooper. They're both soldiers, there is statistically no difference. Or a Smuggler and a Gunslinger within the Scoundrel idea, and so on.

Going back to Feats. I did try it with all the Classes with the same Feat progression. At one point I had the classes with 1 extra Feat at first level (because they're Human), and getting a Feat pretty much every level. I ended up having no Feats just on the levels where you get Ability points. This felt really good, but if I kept going that way, I would probably run out of useful feats, like you said. In this version of my mod, the difference between classes came down to Skill Points, Hit Dice, Reflex Saves, and the feats you get automatically for your class. 

Another thing I did was give each Class the same number of Class Skills (but different amounts of Points). So every non Jedi class gets only 1 non-class skill. For Scoundrels the only Class they don't get is Treat Injury. For Scouts it's Security. For Soldiers it's Stealth. And then Jedi only have 2 Class skills to make up for their access to Force Powers: Awareness and Persuade. But every class can use Persuade.

It's an idea.

Maybe something to do would be to go in the other direction. Slow down everyone's Feat progression, but make it uniform. And then restrict more of the Feats to certain classes. This way what makes the class unique is still what they can do, and not how fast they learn different things. 

Some of the Talents from SAGA Edition can be adapted as active Feats too, so adding those in would go a long way.

For example, check out these two talents, "Disruptive" and "Walk the Line" Talent from SAGA Edition, they belong to the Scoundrel's:

"DISRUPTIVE: By spending two swift actions, you can use your knack for causing trouble and instigating chaos to disrupt your enemies. Until the start of your next turn, you suppress all morale and insight bonuses applied to enemies in your line of sight."

---KOTOR translation: ^This would be an active Feat only the Scoundrel can pick. I would make it a single-target Feat, and it would remove positive status effects on the enemy. The animation might be similar to a flash grenade, or maybe just some kind of aggressive character animation. The drawback of this Feat is that the Scoundrel can't move or attack this turn.

"Walk The Line: As a standard action, you can do or say something that catches your enemies off guard. Any opponents within 6 squares of you and in your line of sight take -2 penalty to their defenses until the start of your next turn. The penalty is negated if line of sight is broken. Prerequisite: DISRUPTIVE"

---KOTOR translation: ^This would be an active Feat only the Scoundrel can pick. It would require that you had already picked DISRUPTIVE. This would be a single-target Feat that would lower the enemy's Defense and all of their Saving Throws by 2. If this isn't possible to code, than it lowers the enemy's  Dexterity, Wisdom and Constitution by 2. Once again, the Scoundrel would not be able to move or attack when using this Feat. I'm thinking a good (and funny) animation for this would be one of the dance animations (definitely catches them off guard).

So, it was stuff like this that I had in mind as far as Talent adaptation.



#20 DylanRPG

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Posted 20 July 2017 - 08:50 PM

Well, rule systems get revised for reasons (not just to sell more rulebooks) so I'd still be interested in more Saga-like changes. There are some parts of Saga I prefer, and some I don't, but either way I do think the game in general could use an overall. If someone else is going to do it, then I look forward to it.

 

 

I was just talking to someone else about this today. Personally, I don't really like the idea that feat gain is the major difference in classes. It's a little unbalanced the way soldiers get lots and lots of feats to choose from, while the other classes don't get to chose as many, but get some automatically, and in general those are superior than any the soldier can choose. I don't think evening it out would necessarily work, as you say, but at the same time it irks me that such a vague thing is the major difference. It only works if there are a lot of good feats, and by the end of the game most of the ones you have left to choose from are garbage. I recall the last time I played, when I was leveling up Carth and Canderous the last few times, there wasn't anything left that would really benefit them, and I just gave them tiers of implants or something.

 

I don't know if there's a solution to this... the more customization you offer, the less distinct the class choice becomes, that's a universal rule. But it's certainly a weak point here.

 

 

I don't recall ever seeing any way to change it, so I assume it's limited as the attributes are. You can change the base amount of points each class gets per level, however.
 

On the subject of skills, though, I did some thinking and a bit of digging and I don't believe there is anything forcing you to keep computer use and repair. As far as I can recall, every game mechanic involving them is a scripted skill check that could be changed to something else. Using repair kits, repairing droids, slicing computers, all that is through scripts we can edit. The only possible issue I can imagine is that it would display the wrong values on computer terminals, and maybe there's even a way to get around that.

 

The same goes for treat injury and persuade, but I doubt you want to get rid of those. Demolitions and security have some function that is hard coded, I believe, and would present more problems. I'm not sure about stealth or awareness - these might be handled through AI scripts I've simply never researched thoroughly.

 

Depending on how the code is, and this makes me curious because I see the constants in skills.2da, it may be possible to rearrange even these functions.

 

 

I'd be fine with reducing the classes that way, only thing I would worry about is that it would make them play too similarly but I would say they already do that for the most part anyway.

 

There are a couple problems with your idea, though. First, there's no way to force the player to choose one of three feats that way, unless you do make them different classes. You could make each class statistically the same for the most part, but they'd still be taking up space and you couldn't add more Jedi classes.

 

Second, with the game's level up system, the more agency you want the player to have, in general the dumber you have to make the system. You can't say, for example, a Jedi Guardian will get this feat at this level, unless the player already picked this, in which case they get the next tier of it, or a different feat, or whatever, the way the tabeltop rules can let you. You can either say a Jedi Guardian gets this feat at this level, or they don't, and they can choose it at this level, or they can't. So there's no way to work in recommendations apart from the descriptions like you described. I don't think a footnote at the end would be enough, especially if every class can pick anything anyway. I would suggest grouping them all together, changing the icons as well to make it clearer, something along those lines.

 

All this is why, I think, they dumbed it down to the level they did. Although they did have a far more complicated system in Neverwinter Nights, unfortunately none of it works here.

I think this is what had me thinking about Attribute Bonuses tied to Classes, although this sounds like there's not an elegant way to do it. But it would make them distinct.

You could easily specify the attribute bonus difference in the text at the character creation screen.

What do you think? If Scouts, Scoundrels and Soldiers got Feats at the same rate, and the same number of Skill points (based on Intelligence), but had statistical differences, and retained their class-feats?

I.e.,

Scoundrel: +1 Dex, +1 Cha, -1 Wis. The scoundrel is an agile charmer, but prone to brash decisions.
Scout: +1 Con, +1 Int, -1 Cha. The scout is a knowledgeable survivor, but often aloof.
Soldier: +1 Str, +1 Wis, -1 Int. The soldier is a deadly tactician, but neglects intellectual pursuits.

And if we're still doing the Jedi classes:

Jedi Consular: +1 Wis, +1 Cha, -1 Str. The Consular pursues knowledge of the Force and is less adept with lightsabers.
Jedi Guardian: +1 Wis, +1 Str, -1 Wis. The Guardian focuses on lightsaber training and is less adept with the Force.
Jedi Sentinel: +1 Wis, +1 Dex, -1 Cha. The Sentinel relentlessly guards against the Dark Side and is less concerned with diplomacy.

Or if we're doing just 1 Jedi class:

Jedi: +1 Wis. The Jedi is attuned to the Force, and is part of a larger world.

[^In this version, the Jedi class doesn't have any penalties, unlike the non-Jedi classes. But this is balanced because the non-Jedi classes have 2 attribute bonuses and the Jedi only gets 1. Of course, multi-classing becomes advantageous, as the PC will end up with 3 class-based attribute bonuses. Seeing as the player character is the only one who gets to do this, this seems okay).

There could be a datapad in the player character's inventory (the first footlocker) that explains the stat differences. Basically like a crew manifest type thing of the Endar Spire and what type of crew they recruit. And then the training computer on Dantooine could still be the method that fills the character in on Jedi differences (if using different Jedi classes).

But the rate of progression for Feats and Skills (and Powers for the Jedi) would be the same.
 






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