A skill cap refers to a maximum number of skill points you can use making it necessary to carefully plan your character’s development. In a skill based game like Darkfall, this would emulate a class system. Players are forced to focus on becoming an archer, a crafter, a mage, a warrior etc. because there are not enough skill points to go around. Darkfall doesn’t have a skill cap and the reason why is one of our most frequently asked questions. We spoke with Claus Grovdal, Darkfall’s lead designer, who answered the community’s question and explained what Darkfall is doing instead.
Claus explained that Darkfall is designed for PvP and that it should be more about the player behind the character than the character itself. Class-based games tend to make you good at PvP through PvE and being good at PvP is all about class, level and gear. It gives players the illusion of diversity when in reality classes are never balanced. There’s always an overpowered flavor of the month class configuration. Adding levels to the equation compounds these imbalances and individual player skill becomes less and less important.
Many Darkfall community members argue that characters with developed skills have a strong advantage over newer characters. Claus pointed out that having an advantage is normal and has nothing to do with the complete domination that we encounter in class/level systems. People tend to forget that a relatively new Darkfall player with some work and individual player skill is very viable and competitive. You definitely can’t have that in a class/level system where even small level differences make it impossible to be competitive. This is why in most games PvP is usually restricted to the higher or even the highest levels: it simply doesn’t work before then.
Another argument against Darkfall’s open model is that competitive players need to work too hard at improving their characters and a skill cap would magically fix this. According to Claus, adding a skill cap would be taking away from the game and forcing players to give up their freedom. He explained that Darkfall’s philosophy is adding options rather than restrictions. Specialization options are already in the game, and many more are on their way. He offered three quick examples from October’s upcoming free expansion:
An option called Jumpshot allows you to jump and fire a bow at a 10 percent penalty on max mana. Aquatic Shot allows you to use a bow under water at a 5 percent penalty on max mana. Finally Mage-Killer will give you bonus damage against users wielding a staff but completely blocks your ability to use elemental, arcane, and necromancy magic. You could select to use all three of these options to get a real edge as an archer vs. magic at a 15 percent max mana penalty plus the magic use penalty. This is a choice you make, you’re not forced to do this, and if you don’t like it you can reverse it easily and get something else that suits your play-style better. There are many high-end specialization options available and more will be added with every update. Claus explained to us that this is the just first step in adding even more diversity to Darkfall.
From what we’ve seen, the changes look very exciting and we’re looking forward to seeing them in action in Darkfall’s upcoming free expansion. We’ll spotlight more features and updates that the new expansion brings in the next days and weeks leading up to it.