Clickty-Clackity

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Clickty-Clackity

PostPosted: Fri Jun 09, 2017 9:13 pm

BlueFlames
Posts: 448
Joined: Wed Sep 01, 2004 3:24 am
Location: SSX Vault 12
Back in the day, I played a lot of Minecraft. In early versions, you could mine large numbers of blocks faster by releasing the left mouse button after finishing one block and clicking again to begin mining the next block, instead of continuously holding the mouse button down. This was called click-mining; it was a bug, and I frequently used it. I also killed a mouse before Notch killed that bug.

I bring up my dead mouse, because for the first time since click-mining was a thing, I may be at risk of killing another mouse. I think we can agree that requiring about one-hundred clicks to take a mech from new to mastered is a UI nightmare, so we're going to take that as read and move onto the gameplay implications of the skill tree and some associated changes.


But First, a Warning

The old, place-holder skill tree had been in place since MWO went open beta about five years ago. Players invested a lot of time, effort, and in-game resources into leveling mechs. Even the dimmest of bulbs among game developers could foresee community outcry, if the revamped skill system resulted in all of that time and all of those resources being deleted. PGI thus instituted a refund program that--in my case at least--wound up being quite generous.

Bearing in mind that mastering and optimizing a mech's skill tree will require between ninety-one and two-hundred and thirty-seven skill points, I was refunded 3,800 general skill points for use on any mech. Additionally, mechs that I played enough to elite or master received between fifty-seven and ninety-one historical skill points for use on each of those specific mechs. And some of my star-performers have an additional 50,000 to 100,000 historical XP that can be used to buy skill points on any mech of the same variant.

The upshot of all of this is that I can remaster anything that was previously mastered. Anything that was elited, I can raise to full mastery. On top of that, I can buy another thirty-five(-ish) mechs and raise them to full mastery from scratch. All of that I can do without grinding another single experience point.

There is a question about how the new skill tree affects new players or those with less generous refunds. I have an opinion, which I will express deeper in this post, but it should be taken with a substantial grain of salt, since I won't be doing any grinding at all for the foreseeable future.

Also, the refund might be construed as substantial bribe paid by PGI to veteran players to encourage positive word-of-mouth. Insofar as it can be considered a bribe, I will attempt to avoid letting it affect my judgement, but I note it here regardless, in the interest of full disclosure. Now, let's see what a good bribe can pull out of me:


Obvious and Not-So-Obvious Traps

Before we dig into my opinions of the skill tree, it helps to have a look at my approach to the tree. I might assert that the tree is awful for the game because makes every mech build into a terrible underperformer. That opinion is no good to you, if the source of my complaint is actually my inept use of the skill tree.

One of the first things I wanted to do, before investing a lot of XP and C-bills into the tree was determine what was not going to be worth the investment in the general case. Since I have been primarily piloting Clan mechs with few quirks since the skill tree went live, the general case has been the most applicable for me. Some of the assertions below may not hold for mechs with large durability quirks, like the Atlas or Roughneck or for mechs that still have significant weapon quirks, like the Hunchback. I may dig into special cases in a future post, but for now, I want to focus on (mostly) unquirked mechs.


Respec Button

When you deactivate a skill node and save your changes, you must pay a few hundred XP in order to reactivate that node, should you later decide to use it again. If you press the respec button and confirm that you really want to respec, it deactivates all of that mech's skill nodes and saves the changes. Even in cases of a significant rebuild of the mech, you're better off hand-selecting which nodes you want to deactivate, so that you only then have to pay for the new nodes you want, instead of paying full price for new nodes and reactivation cost for all the old nodes you want back.


Durability Tree

If you look at making a significant investment in the durability tree, then there's some tantalizing percentages to be seen. For example, a twenty-six node investment will give a sixty-five-ton mech a 13.6% increase to armor and a 25.6% boost to structure. That sounds like a lot, right? It's not.

Looking at the center torso of that sixty-five-ton mech, you gain an extra eleven armor (assuming you fully front-load that armor) and ten structure points for a total of twenty-one bonus hitpoints. That can be stripped away by two PPCs. Three large lasers or two Gauss rifles will strip away those bonus hitpoints and then some in a single volley.

Basically, twenty-six nodes--more than a quarter of the ninety-one you can have active at once--buys you a single hit from any really threatening build that you are likely to see in the live environment. Small investments in the durability tree don't even accomplish that, sometimes providing literally nothing, since a fractional point of armor or structure will be rounded down.

For a more comprehensive look at how many hitpoints the durability tree provides across the weight spectrum, head on over to this post on the MWO forums, where I compiled a table, while I worked out whether or not the tree was worth the investment. In short, this sixty-five ton example is fairly representative of all weight classes. Without significant structure or armor quirks to increase the effect of the tree, it's not worth your skill points.


Operations Tree

A big part of the old tree was that the two heat-related skills were cheap and available in the basic tier. Not only did that mean you could take them early but that their effect would become doubled, after you unlocked all of the elite tier skills.

Because of the outsized effect of the old Cool Run and Heat Containment skills, it's tempting to dive into the operations tree to pick up many of these nodes. An eighteen node investment will get you ten percent additional heat dissipation and twelve percent additional heat capacity.

Look at all the shit you have to go through to get that bonus, though. Speed Retention makes you walk marginally faster, after losing a leg. Is combat viability after losing a leg really a high priority, when speccing a mech? No. Improved Gyros is an entirely cosmetic effect, since the screen-shake caused by incoming fire doesn't actually affect the position of your reticle. The old Hill Climb module was always a joke, since the rate at which you scale a slope is less important than whether or not you can scale it at all.

The value of Quick Ignition is an interesting question: Is this a gate node that you have to get through to take more Cool Run and Heat Containment nodes, or is it valuable in its own right? Under the old system, where you had to take it, I quite liked it, as it let me get away with some aggressive plays, where I would overheat on a finishing shot, and be able to restart my mech quickly enough to defend myself. Without Quick Ignition, I've been playing more conservatively in those situations, figuring that restart time doesn't matter, if I don't shut down in the first place.

If Quick Ignition is a worthwhile node to you, then you might chase the Cool Run nodes at the bottom of the Ops tree, per the example above. If you feel that Quick Ignition is another low-value gate node, then a more modest, nine-node investment may still feel appropriate.

Looking at the Ops tree in isolation, I could see a defense of either of those levels of investment. In either case, though, half of your investment in that tree is pressing through useless gate nodes. There is an alternative to the heat nodes of the Ops tree, where the prerequisite nodes have some value, and the effect on your mech's heat will be nearly identical. We'll delve into detail on that option later on, but for now, it should suffice to say that if you can get the same primary effect for a similar investment, then the superior option is the one with lots of useful secondary effects, rather than the one with lots of useless secondary effects.


Jump Tree

This tree is a really obvious trap. The big prize in this tree are the lift speed nodes, and there is no way to take any amount of them without the majority of your points invested in this tree going to gate nodes.


Consumable Tree

I don't typically use consumables, so it's obvious that I won't invest in this tree, but UAVs and Cool Shots can be worthwhile, so if you use consumables, this tree may be valuable to you.

In fact, I don't consider the consumable tree to be a trap in the same way as the Ops or durability trees, which suck up your skill points in sub-optimal ways. No, the consumable tree is a trap in a way closer to that of the respec button. You can open up as many as five consumable slots for your mech, and each consumable that you use costs C-bills, typically 40,000 C-bills. That means that you can spend up to 200,000 C-bills per match (or 800,000 in a Community Warfare match!), which can easily outpace your earnings.

Take care when investing in the consumable tree, as it can make the grind that much worse, if you overuse consumables.


Ultra Autocannon Jam Chance

While the Weapon tree is not itself a trap, it contains a few traps, starting with the UAC jam chance nodes.

I've written at length about how much of a liability UACs have become, since PGI monkeyed with jam durations. You would think that I would therefore welcome a skill that could return them to usefulness. There are two problems with that, though only one relates directly to the skill tree.

That problem is that the UAC jam chance nodes don't do anything. No, they're not bugged. Their effect is just too small to notice. Taking both UAC jam chance nodes does not reduce the chance of a jam from seventeen percent to twelve percent, as you might intuitively expect. The nodes reduce the jam chance by five percent of the base seventeen percent. Five percent of seventeen percent is 0.85%, so for seeking out those two UAC jam chance nodes, you are left with a 16.15% chance of your UACs jamming on any given double-tap.


Gauss Charge

Similar to the UAC jam chance nodes, the Gauss Charge nodes do not do what you intuitively expect. Rather than reducing the time it takes to charge the Gauss rifle (which would be useful), it increases the time you can hold the Gauss charge (which is not particularly helpful).


Essentials

On the other side of the coin from the useless or overpriced skills are the essentials that nearly every mech should take.


Seismic Sensor

Taking both Seismic Sensor nodes requires a total investment of twelve nodes in the Sensor tree.

This looks suspiciously similar to hunting the Cool Run nodes in the Ops tree, doesn't it? I'd argue that it's not. Most of the gating nodes that stand between the top of the tree and the two Seismic nodes are Target Info Gathering and Sensor Range. Target Info Gathering was always been the third module that I would equip on mechs that had three mech module slots. Sensor Range has never been a priority for me, but it does make spotting distant targets easier and reduces the effectiveness of ECM.

The only two gating nodes that are particularly painful are the Target Retention (useless) and Target Decay (only helpful to particular builds) nodes blocking off the Seismic node on the right of the tree. There's really no getting around taking them, though, since the range of Seismic Sensor with only one node is too short to be functional. It won't warn you about something sneaking up on you, until you've been shot, and it won't help you locate enemies behind a wall or ridge, since few walls or ridgelines are narrow enough that the far side will be less than one-hundred meters from the center of your feet.

Seismic Sensor is a case where the added functionality is worth chasing it through most of the Sensor tree, especially since you wind up picking up some useful secondary functionality.


Agility Tree

What is more useful to survivability than a few points of armor and structure? Mobility. On most of my mechs, I invest in nearly the entire Agility tree. If you need to shave points from the Agility tree to invest elsewhere, consider the role of the mech in question: Brawlers will need to twist and turn to ensure that incoming damage hits well-armored and/or non-essential components of the mech. Snipers will need acceleration and deceleration bonuses, so that they can poke over a hill or peek around a corner and retreat to cover, immediately after taking their shot. Everything needs Speed Tweak to better enable proper positioning.

The Torso Pitch nodes are the only nodes that don't consider worthwhile in this tree. There are only a limited number of locations on a limited number of maps where you are likely to have any difficulty getting your torso weapons on-target while within engagement range. I also leave off one Torso Yaw node adjacent to the three pitch nodes in the center of the tree to free up a skill point for use elsewhere on the skill tree.


Heat Generation

I mentioned that eschewing the Ops tree is done because a superior option is available to achieve a similar effect on your mech's heat, without having to tolerate so many useless gate nodes. The Heat Generation nodes in the weapon tree are the superior option. Taking all fourteen of those nodes (such as in this example path) results in a 10.5% reduction in heat generation, roughly equivalent to the effect of pumping eighteen nodes into the Ops tree. The difference is that on the way to the Heat Generation nodes in the weapon tree, you will be picking up Cooldown and Range nodes, which will further improve your mech's damage output, as opposed to Improved Gyros and Speed Retention, which do nothing of consequence.

Some mechs will be able to shortcut around parts of the Weapon tree to hunt down those Heat Generation nodes, using weapon- or build-specific alternative paths. For example, an SRM-based mech can skip a couple of range and cooldown nodes in favor of the missile-specific nodes on the left side of the tree. This can be helpful, if you are also hunting for nodes deeper in the tree or would prefer a different distribution of Cooldown and Range nodes than the generic path might otherwise require.

It's a rare mech that does not need to worry about heat generation. Dual-Gauss builds might focus on Cooldown and Range, while minimizing the number Heat Generation nodes they acquire (example), but most other builds will have their damage output limited by heat.


Enhanced ECM (Build-Specific)

ECM has had its functionality radically reduced with the implementation of the skill tree. Where before you would not be detected, until you were within about two-hundred and seventy meters of a hostile mech, that range is now extended to five-hundred and sixty meters, plus any bonuses they have from Sensor Range nodes. While the secondary effects of ECM still function as before, such as increasing lock time for missiles, reducing the range at which you could be targeted was the reason ECM was a default piece of equipment for any mech that could carry it.

You can restore the old functionality of ECM (Sensor Range nodes notwithstanding) by taking the two Enhanced ECM nodes in the Sensor tree. Beyond the nodes taken to acquire Seismic Sensor, this will require five additional nodes. The extra Sensor Range node isn't particularly painful, but the Radar Deprivation nodes are rendered redundant by the use of ECM. Still, if you are carrying ECM, then making it fully functional is worth peeling a few nodes away from the Weapon Tree.


Laser Duration (Sort of Build-Specific)

In the same vein as the Agility tree, reducing the burn time for your lasers allows you to twist away and take cover from incoming fire sooner, while putting more damage on-target. If lasers feature as a primary or prominent secondary weapon on a mech, then you are going to want to take most or all of the laser duration nodes in the Weapon tree.


Missile Rack / Magazine Capacity (Build-Specific)

Have you ever thought of a really amazing SRM or ballistic build for a mech that you ultimately had to give up on, because you couldn't fit a sufficient ammo load? Some of those builds may be worth revisiting, since the Missile Rack and Magazine Capacity nodes increase the amount of ammo-per-ton that a mech can fit.

Just reviving the viability of a handful of builds wouldn't make these nodes essential, though. What makes them essential is that they are a mechanism in the skill tree that can free up weight on the chassis. If an SRM mech has an ammo load of five tons, then taking both Missile Rack nodes allows me to drop a ton of ammo, which can be replaced with a heat sink or a step up in engine rating or an additional laser/flamer or thirty-two points of armor (not bad in comparison to the durability tree!). That potential weight savings makes these ammo nodes some of the most interesting nodes on the tree, since they have had me revisiting a number of missile- and ballistic-based mechs to see what improvements can be made.


Sample Trees

Taking all of the above information into account, and throwing in some of my personal preferences with regards to more marginal aspects of the tree, here are some skill trees that I've built out and tested over the past few weeks:

• Long Lance - Build - Tree
This was one of the highlighted builds from last month's build thread. The build has changed slightly, dropping a ton of ammo in favor of another heat sink. Because of the ammo nodes in the skill tree, this version of the build has only twenty fewer missiles than the version that I was running, pre-patch.

• Unnamed Linebacker A - Build - Tree
Also one of last month's highlighted builds, the mech hasn't changed at all. I slightly favored cooldown nodes to range nodes in the weapon tree, since small pulse lasers are incredibly heat efficient, and I've embraced this build as working only at knife-fighting ranges.

• Harvester - Build - Tree
Like Long Lance, Harvester shed some ammo weight, since the introduction of the skill tree. It only has one Missile Rack node--owing to investing in Enhanced ECM--but that allowed it to trade half a ton of ammo for more armor.

• Splatplops - Build - Tree
The Splatplops dropped a ton-and-a-half of ammo to pick up an extra heat sink and some additional points of armor for the shield arms.

• BoomJack* - Build - Tree
BoomJack has a great, big asterisk next to it, since I have yet to actually run the thing yet (thanks to the will of the people). That said, it's the only ballistic build I've even been theorycrafting lately, so I've included it here to show where my mind is going. I've kept the five-ton ammo load for this mech, despite taking the magazine capacity nodes, since it has a huge ballistic cooldown quirk, amplified by the cooldown nodes in the weapon tree.


Counterpoint

Tarogato has written his own extensive guide to skill tree strategy. I think he falls for a lot of costly traps and deliberately misses out on some of the essentials. He would probably say the same about my own approach to the tree. In any case, it is a different approach to consider, and Tarogato has provided his reasoning for his choices, meaning that you can decide for yourself which one of us is the bigger idiot.


Finally! The <censored> Review!

Outdated

My tiny audience here does not think that I'm an idiot, with respect to MWO, so why did I really start with the strategy section?

All the trap options and gate nodes reveal an outmoded approach to game design. Putting deliberately bad options into a game was on its way out-of-style a decade ago. Why would a game designer want to put such trap options and gating content in the game anyway? It's time spent designing content that players are either going to avoid or regret. Much better to create options that are well-balanced against all alternatives and worthwhile in their own right.

The sick thing is, I'm usually left to speculate about bad design decisions on the part of PGI, but Chris Lowrey and Paul Inouye, PGI's balance duo, had a Q&A that explicitly stated that gate nodes were a deliberate design decision.

Chris Lowrey wrote:[T]he Skill Tree is still balanced around the concept of progression toward acquiring high value nodes, and the amount of nodes needed to max out high value Skills. ... In other words, Hill Climb or Improved Gyros are still a required investment if you want to reach further into the Operations tree and acquire more desirable Skills such as Heat Containment and Cool Run.

Source


That UI Nightmare

One-hundred clicks is a pain in the ass, as previously mentioned. It didn't have to be this way. Making nodes less incremental (i.e. larger bonuses) and removing the trap and gate nodes could easily halve the total number of nodes in the tree and allow a reduction in the number of nodes to mastery to thirty-ish. Thirty-ish clicks to mastery sounds a lot more reasonable from a user-experience point of view than one-hundred.

This doesn't even compromise PGI's design goal of forcing meaningful choices. The number of skill points available per-mech versus the number of nodes in the tree becomes the mechanism that forces choice. I might only need twelve nodes in the weapon tree to get a ten percent reduction in heat generation, but twelve nodes is still forty percent of a mech's total. All you're getting rid of is the frustration of a gaggle of worthless nodes and a broken mouse button.

I'd actually argue that gating nodes compromise PGI's stated goal of reducing min-maxing behavior. What was a big theme of my strategy section? Avoiding gating and trap nodes, in favor of nodes that have a worthwhile effect. I'm still min-maxing, and I'm going to wind up with a much better mech than someone who isn't giving as much conscious consideration to the value of the nodes they're selecting or the prerequisite costs to the nodes that they want.


Grind

Recall my caveat from above: I'm basically immune to the MWO grind for a good while to come. That said, I think that new and prospective players got the shaft.

Unlocking skill nodes requires C-bills. When you tally the costs of ninety-one nodes, each mech you intend to master now costs 4,095,000 C-bills, in addition to the cost of purchasing and configuring the mech. Where in the previous system, multi-million C-bill modules were treated as endgame content to be purchased, when you had a reasonable stable of mechs ready for them, now that cost is essentially mandatory to bring your mechs up to par. The big knock-on effect of this is that it will take more time to purchase a variety of mechs, since your early-match cadet bonus C-bills are going to be used to buy skill nodes instead of new chassis. That kills the game for new players, since a variety of mechs and loadouts is the only variety in the game, once you get tired of the same dozen maps and different flavors of team deathmatch.

The C-bill grind masks the fact that the XP grind is now worse as well! Ninety-one nodes cost 72,800 experience points to unlock. Mastering one variant and unlocking basic skills on two other variants of a chassis cost 85,750 experience points. The old system was only more costly in the case that you did not go on to master one of the variants that you had basic'd on the way to mastering the first variant. Mastering a second variant of a chassis costs another 72,800 XP under the new system, for a total of 145,600 XP. Mastering a second, previously basic'd variant under the old system cost another 43,000 XP for a total of 128,750 XP. Those calculations also assume that under the old system, you felt that full mastery (i.e. unlocking the extra module slot) was worth the additional grind beyond unlocking the elite tier skills.

Making matters still worse, the grind isn't necessarily done, once you've unlocked ninety-one nodes. If you want to redesign the build on a mech, you are going to need to engage in additional grind to unlock the nodes appropriate for the new build. Worse still, if you go back to your old build, there is an XP cost to reactivate the nodes that you deactivated for the new build. Experimenting with builds, one of the key features of any MechWarrior game, is actively punished with additional grind under the new skill tree.

Rebuilding mechs is something you control, though, right? Sometimes.... In my last two or three build posts, I've had to make notes regarding balance changes that rendered previously-worthwhile weapon systems useless. In addition to how that affected the mech that I was featuring in the post, it also meant rebuilds for some of my mechs, outside of the ones being highlighted, so that they could keep up in the new balance environment. As balance changes continue to happen in the future, you may find yourself forced to pay not just for new weapons and equipment for the mech, but also for unlocking new skill nodes to make that equipment fully effective. These respec costs screw new and old players alike.


Positives?

The question mark and the fact that the positives are all crammed into one section bodes well, doesn't it?

There is at least one big positive that we can start with: The skill tree update eliminated what had become known as the rule-of-three. This was the requirement to unlock all of the basic tier skills on three variants of a mech, before you could begin unlocking the elite tier skills on any variant of that mech. Though I had begun to develop a Stockholm Syndrome-like appreciation of the rule-of-three (it forced me to fiddle with variants I might not have otherwise touched), it was rightly and roundly criticized as being an arbitrary requirement designed around increasing spending and grind. Eliminating the rule-of-three is a step in the right direction, even if the grind associated with the new skill tree more than makes up for that which is eliminated with the rule-of-three.

Prima facie, the skill tree is also nonlinear, allowing for customization choices, where the old tree was completely linear. Don't scratch at that assertion too much, though, or the appealing facade will peel off, and you'll see that there is not much room for choice, after you've accounted for all of the must-have skills and all of the traps to be avoided.

What the skill tree replaces is a placeholder that had lingered for about five years. Yeah, the old tree was a placeholder, implemented in the closed beta period, with the understanding that it was one of the things that needed to be overhauled or replaced, prior to the game having its version 1.0 launch. Whatever the final assessment of the tree, then, at the very least, the new skill tree rids MWO of the black mark of having this lingering placeholder system that was meant to die ages ago.


But Wait....

The skill tree did not come at us on its own in the last patch. It came with a decoupling of mechs' mobility characteristics from engine rating. Engine rating is now determinative only of top speed and has little to no effect on turn rate, maximum acceleration/deceleration, or torso twist speed. How has that affected gameplay?

Almost everything is worse now!

After the last blanket mobility nerf, I felt that most mechs were in a pretty good spot. There were some mechs that felt a little too nimble or a little too slow, regardless of engine selection, but the quirk system allowed for adjustments to individual problem chassis. In general, though, most mechs felt mobile enough to reward skilled play and heavy enough to feel like a giant war machine.

Mobility stats for mechs now seem to be based on what they could do in the old system with a stock engine. This means that a lot of battlemechs got cut off at the knees. You put an XL340 in your Cataphract, so that you could twist your giant side torsos away from incoming fire more effectively? Too bad. Now you're going to twist like you have a 280-rated engine regardless. Enjoy getting stripped of weapons and left for dead. Inner Sphere battlemechs got it a lot worse than Clan battlemechs too, since most Clan mechs (battle or omni) come with Clan XL engines of a much higher rating than Inner Sphere mechs that come with heavy, standard engines. By contrast, most omnimechs, having fixed engines, received base mobility stats within plus or minus ten percent of their previous values.

There are a few exceptions to the above rule. Some Clan canards got stuck with the mobility stats of much heavier mechs. The Mad Cat now has an incredibly slow twist speed, rendering its squishy side torsos even more vulnerable to being shot off. The terror of a Clan heavy is now a pale shadow of what it once was. A more deserving candidate for a mobility nerf was the Kodiak, which now finally lumbers about like the rest of the 100-ton chassis. Unfortunately, just as when Clan UACs were nerfed to deal with the Kodiak rendered the Kodiak as the only worthwhile Clan ballistics platform, reducing the mobility of all 100-ton mechs has left the Kodiak as the only worthwhile 100-ton mech.

An additional, sweeping exception was supposed to be made for mechs that used to have mobility quirks. Those quirks were supposed to be integrated into each mech's base mobility stats. Either this has not happened at all, or there were some egregious oversights. Most notable is the Hunchback. Early in MWO's life, the Hunchback was the mech that taught us all to twist to shield important components against incoming fire. Ever since quirks were first implemented, that history was honored by giving all Inner Sphere Hunchback variants a big twist speed bonus. That bonus has since vanished, leaving IS Hunchbacks with the same twist speed as any other fifty-ton mech.

There's also a smattering of mechs that received mobility buffs. The one that stands out for having received the largest buff is the Arctic Cheetah. Wait.... What?! One of the best light mechs in the game--left untouched by the rescale that inflated almost all of the other light mechs--gets a thirty-five percent buff to its mobility?! Why? I can't even imagine what justification might exist for such a decision.

Backing out from this detailed examination, one of the things that impressed me about MWO early on was the fact that it made large engines valuable. In MW3 and MW4, the strategy was always to reduce or minimize engine size to free up tonnage for a lot more weapons and heat sinks. Everything was an Atlas, stomping ever forward, loaded to the gills with weapons and armor. Linking engine rating to torso twist speed in particular made the tonnage investment of a larger engine worthwhile in MWO. In high-skill play, this meant faster mechs that were harder to kill, since they could twist about to better spread damage.

Time will tell if the overarching strategy in MWO regresses to one of minimizing engine size. I expect this to be an incremental process, since immediately slamming a STD250 into everything will render many of your mechs vulnerable to the fast lights and mediums still prowling around, but I think we will see average engine ratings slowly decline, since the only sacrifice that pilots will be making is top speed.


Overall

If I were to score the skill tree on its own merits, specifically omitting the engine desync, then I would give it a four out of ten. The user interface a mouse-destroying nightmare. The grind aspects make the game worse and render me unable to recommend MWO to prospective new players. While the refund means that I don't personally have to deal with that grind, I also can't ignore it, if others are to be informed by my examination of the skill tree.

Besides the grind, the skill tree's effect on gameplay is pretty minimal. Most of my damage monsters are still damage monsters, and derpy trash builds are still derpy trash builds. I can still look at the mechs that a pick-up team is fielding and get a good sense of whether or not we can win a solo queue match, regardless of their skill status and selections.

When I factor in the engine desync, the score for the May patch in its totality drops to a two out of ten. Overall mobility has been pulled out of its sweet spot, and large engines have been robbed of a lot of the value that made them worth their weight. The desync could only have been worse, if it rendered MWO nonfunctional as a piece of software, which it fortunately did not.


A Plug

Kitlaan's skill tree planner is awesome. Use it like Smurphy's mech lab utility to plan out your skill tree builds and see their net effects, without having to drop a bunch of skill points in the MWO mech lab.


Coming Soon...

Next month, I'm taking a break. There's two major balance passes coming back-to-back (energy weapon overhaul, followed by 3060 tech introduction), and I'd like to address their net effect, rather than giving a separate post to each. If past is prologue, each of these major changes will also require additional revision, but if I skip more than one month's post, the site admins might think the MWO board is dead and ready for archiving.


Post-Script

This line is a hot mess:

Chris Lowrey wrote:Ultimately, we are not aiming to allow unrestricted a-la-carte access to the skills as we know that this will only result in min-maxing of the best skills from every individual tree, rather than promote specialization into general roles.


We want everyone to be a Bard. You too can be a specialized generalist! And a generalized specialist!

...

Okay, I'm done. Go home. Pay attention to your family. They miss you.

Re: Clickty-Clackity

PostPosted: Thu Jun 15, 2017 3:17 am

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Anubis
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:lol: :lol: :lol:

You deserve your rest, another thoroughly detailed, interesting read as usual!

The board probably deserves spotlighting more than it does archiving though given your articles here ;)
"Perhaps this is what I have always wished for since that day. The loss and destruction of all. That's right, one must destroy before creating. In that case, if my conscience becomes a hindrance to me, then I will simply erase it. I have no other choice but to move forward....therefore!" - Lelouch vi Britannia/Zero, Code Geass: Hangyaku no Lelouch

Forever an eXile and proud of it!

Re: Clickty-Clackity

PostPosted: Sun Jun 18, 2017 10:28 pm

BlueFlames
Posts: 448
Joined: Wed Sep 01, 2004 3:24 am
Location: SSX Vault 12
Good news!

I found the missing mobility quirks. They didn't get rolled into the base mobility stats of the mechs they were originally on. They got rolled into the base mobility stats of the Wolverine, where PGI figured nobody would notice them.

Re: Clickty-Clackity

PostPosted: Fri Jul 21, 2017 4:08 pm

mushi
Posts: 6
Joined: Wed Dec 28, 2016 11:17 am
excellent write-up mate.

thank you!


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