Or how I learned to stop worrying and just play the game.
I'm sorry this is so long but, I've had an epiphany these past few days. I've done my best to not be a whiny pants. For as long as I've been on this game the skill ceiling has been what kills me the most. What utterly frustrated me from character to character. I don't like giving so much negative feedback. Especially because we're so early in the story! So much will change. I want to see and understand the vision. I think I'm finally starting to grasp it.
FOMO. Fear of Missing Out.
When it comes to combat skills I feel that stigma well and true. If it isn't maxed out then I won't feel the safest. I won't feel the 'most effective' because I really am not. This is more of a fear of the unknown however. I wouldn't ask that we get [spoilers] for areas and their expected skills to tackle but, what would make me feel better about taking less of it would be some form of hint as to how effective a skill is on it's own. For sake of argument, I think of enemies on a threat scale of 1-7 (hundreds of a skill)
1-2 being the most common,
2-4 being challengers,
5-6 being Major threats
7-7 being Final boss threats.
This is a very meta measure and it barely takes into consideration that a hostile creep can do anything but, only basic attack.
Not knowing the kinds of enemies we will be up against is scary. That shambler may look like a 2-4 threat but, enrages and becomes a 5-6. As the Marauders prove, their attacks are so threatening because of the ability kit they tote atop of it, this goes double for players. We inherently have far more schemes and ideas to subvert a challenge and for the undying you can always try again (supposedly). Not to mention Arcanas, items, abilities, and other future content which can help bridge that lower skill gap. To make the paranoia of hard enemies even worse, they likely have some ability unique to their design! Not only do you fear the sword, you fear the Damocles' sword of raw justice charging you down. Knocking the wind AND soul out of you.
Certain classes can maximize a skill without actually capping it, Acrobatics for instance would be cheaper to raise to 300 and have 500-600 dodge but, for specialists that's their main feature. You don't remember the legendary hero's day job feats. You remember him/her slaying the dragon. These are the specialists of combat and always remember that the Hero in every good story has talented/skilled allies that can help him with the things he 'cannot' do. I understand we have a low player count but, that we have one at all is great! Remember that not maxing out Melee/Ranged can always be alleviated or at least lessened by having even a single friend fighting at your side. (See Side-by-Side, Combat Choreography, Flip, and the many supportive glyphs of Arcanists, and words of Bards)
Having played a Ranger for awhile I can DEFINATELY also vouch that I feel like I may not be getting the most out of the 'class' but, Rangers are a diverse bunch. Tempting and pretty as they are: Druidry, Arcana, even the skinning and tracking skills are entirely up to 'you' to choose. If you think they will benefit you.
As a Ranger in the lens of identity you're probably going to pick up bushcraft at the absolute minimum to feel you're playing that class. A little tracking, maybe skinning.
There will always be more skills than you can handle but, which sets you choose defines a different 'Ranger'. You can use this class just to invest in sheer exploration skills. You're now defined as a Ranger because you can go places non-rangers couldn't. Collect herbs and materials that would otherwise send another person to a long-falling death. It can feel suffocating being given so many options but, on the opposite end? You're also given so much more freedom to "define" what your class really is and with skill-points being limited your class is literally "what you make of it." "Who is 'this' Ranger?"
The balance in the design sure feels restrictive. No matter what I will feel restricted. The most damning quote I've ever told someone is the four phrases of 'perception'.
"More is more, Less is more, More is less, Less is less."
I consider these the most dangerous words anyone could ever say because, the debate to which is more effective? Which feels more satisfying? Is more really going to 'feel' like more? How much less could we shave to make 'less' feel like more? This is an endless loop. There is never a 'perfect' balance but, we do have one thing. We have vision, and we have story.
EVERYTHING is useful for SOMETHING. This makes FOMO poisonous to people like me. A death-knell even. I've spent days re-imagining an argument in my head. The only gripe I can still keep. "But, if you do it. You should be able to know it. If I'm able to do it, I will do it." Because the hardest part of a skill ceiling is ignoring the realistic idea that I should feasibly be able to learn and maximize anything I choose to invest that time for. But, if I really did that? "You're pretty Rusty." You can't do everything at once and know it like the back of your hand. There's a reason the Blacksmith makes better tankards than you, it's because when you got blacksmith up to a certain point you chose to then spend an entire week with pottery, maybe foresting and carpentry. Would I as a person really remember every little single itty-bitty-nitty-gritty thing that I did with blacksmithing the previous week? Having a bad memory IRL my personal opinion is "heck no."
"What's the point of all this Xan? You're just rambling mad." This is true but, my madness brought new light.
I've felt much better thinking about the skills as- ironically not skills. They're "What I do." If 10,000 Skill points is our number then I need to stop thinking of them as "points" and think of them as "minutes". How many days do you spend practicing something? No matter what you will lose skill without practice. "You can always forget but, you can never unlearn." - Wizard guy.
10,000 minutes is 166.66 hours. (Dear lord that coincidence.)
166.66 hours is 6.94 days.
In this context a max level player is spending (rounded up) 7 days a week revolving entirely around their skill-set. 24 hours a day. 4 days off a month.
ALTERNATIVELY. 168 hours. For the month of December (Right now) there are 4 Sundays and 4 Saturdays. That's 23 weekdays. Rounded down that means you're working your profession 7 hours a day minimum. Class? If you look at it in my crazed convoluted way then the justification of the skill-gap is hypothetically lined up to being your "job". Think about it. You chose your job and when you play what do you do? You play your job! And I'm finding out that I happen to LOVE my job. So stop worrying.
Make suggestions, always be creative, and find a job you love. You can after all choose what you do in your job and most people want to choose a job they love, right? I no longer see a class as just everything I could be but, what everyone else can be. Define yourself, your character, and your class. Sure mechanics are satisfying but, what you do with those will create a story and sometimes being the best isn't always the most fun approach. This character has a life and you're given the opportunity to be the almighty hand which guides their decisions, ambitions, and dreams. Let them enjoy their time.
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A single bell tolls in the dead of night, as one man screams with un-bidden sight. Begging for an end to his plight. Never would his darkness rescind, blighted in his mortal senses. Wishing that he had never noticed the thing which always gazed back.