Devblog #9 - Skill Tree : First Draft

Last part of our third part series about the skill tree.

I urge you to read the previous chapters to understand our goals with it.

Done ? Right, so let's begin.


We talked about the type of experience we want with the skill tree and we mentioned the 4 design pillars.

As I said the the first chapter, there's one thing lacking in RPG nowadays (that's not a bad thing tho), it's discovery.

In almost every games that contains a skill tree, you'll never be surprised by nodes as you already have the entirety of the skill tree visible.

This is useful for a planning experience so the player knows where he want to go next but as we previously stated, that's not the way we want to go.

We want to player to decide with each point spent, not in the bigger picture.

The 'bigger picture' is in the player's head, he'll choose nodes that is right for his current build.

As for the discovery part, it's not only concerning the planning part of the experience, are you even surprised with skill tree nodes nowadays ?

Our ultimate goal is to avoid (at least we'll try) having a dull skill tree with uninteresting nodes.

I won't be naming any games but I recently stumbled upon some games where at first glance, I was interested by roughly 10% of it (spoiler: not very engaging).

In our case, it's an daunting task as our skill tree will be partially random.


What does it looks like in reality ? Here's a first look :

Full skill tree exemple

The skill tree will expand itself as you unlock new nodes.

Each node will be linked in the tree to form a branch and each of these branch will form the tree.

From left to right, here's the minor, empty and major nodes :

Minor node Empty node Major node

The empty nodde is a starting point for a new branch of the tree.

If you select this node, you'll be able to choose between 3 'branch' that starts with one major nodes, continues with minor nodes and finish with multiple branch starting points :

Skill tree branch choice

You'll be able to see the effects of the starting major node as well as the minor nodes of each branch.

Once you choose the branch, you'll immediately obtain the first major node (that replace the previous empty node) and the tree will adapt it's size by pushing other branches.

Then, you can choose the next minor node that grants you the best outcome for your character to finally get a new major node to expand your tree even further.

Here's the current skill tree in action :


We mentioned in the past a 'semi-random' (we need to find a better term) skill tree but how does that translate here ?

When you select an empty node, each branch is generated with 3 simple rules :

  • First branch : Nodes related to the previous branch generated (if you took a fire branch, you'll see fire nodes).
  • Second branch : Nodes kinda related to the previous branch (if you took a fire branch, maybe you'll see some ice nodes).
  • Third branch : Something unrelated to the previous branch (if you took fire branch, maybe you'll get a shooting pattern node).

  • By generating 3 branch possibilities, each player will be able to focus on his current abilities, create combos (fire & ice) or expand with something completely new.

    With this system, we expect the player to try several combinations and combos.

    Of course, this is just a starting point, we'll improve the system with the feedbacks we'll gather in future playtests.

    There's still a lot of parts to improve the system like : adjusting branch generation probabilities along with the player's playstyle, creating asymmetrical branches, ...

    We'll have a lot more to say on this topic when we'll finish testing this system.

    That conclude this series of devblog about the skill tree, I hope you found something interesting in it.

    Unfortunately we'll need to pause the devblogs for some time to focus on the game's development (we're only three after all) but we'll be back in a few with a lot more to show you !

    -- GoatApe Team

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