Skills are long overdue as a topic of discussion. Not that this is new, everything is overdue for discussion, but Skills came up this morning ’cause I got bored while working on Deception and decided to watch a video walkthrough of Ratchet & Clank, then got the idea to define its encounters.

Basically a more in-depth version of “Anatomy of Novalis.”

While I was jotting notes, creating my nomenclature, I started to think about how my Skill system might be used to define the encounters, and realized that Athletics could cover virtually every challenge in Novalis. Not all of them, just most of them. Since I use Athletics for most environmental challenges and Combat, it’s all that’s needed.

When faced with a platforming section, Ratchet would fall back on running, jumping, swimming, climbing, springing, and balancing, which are subdivisions of the Athletics skill. There are a few NPC interactions, but nothing earth-shattering. I mean, they’re relevant to the plot, since they hand out world coordinates, but still…

So, the first little cavern area includes a series of piston platforms and timed jumps, some baddies to beat, and some boxes to bash for bolts. Initiative and Discipline might work their way in for timed jumps, as suggested by the ability to execute any precision actions/reactions, and underwater sections are a test of fortitude.

I collected the three Skills together for good reason — they all have something to do with Combat and maneuverability in an environment. Athletics is your main Skill for that, of course, but each of the others serves an important purpose. I suppose the same could be said for each of the other Skill bundles as per the Suits.

Thinking about the applications of the Athletics skill also got me thinking about what it would be like to build a game completely around one or more Skills. Athletics adds a lot of nuance in the form of Combat and platforming, and can generally be used for action/adventure games. Add another couple Skills for a well-rounded game.

You could use Academics as the basis for logic and problem-solving games. The Half-Life and Portal series are a combination of physics and puzzle-solving challenges, for example. They require some out-of-the-box thinking … at least until you figure out the dimensions of the box. Even then you have a fair amount of variation, and story!

More skills and examples of their implementation are coming, just wait!