Design Discussion: The Skill Screen

June 26th, 2016

Design Discussion: The Skill Screen

Do not read any further if you want the human skill screen, it’s associated icons, and our first ten skills to be a surprise to you when you first start to play ToA: Exile! If you’re only interested in learning more about our progress and want a view of our vision, please continue on.


Alright! So if you’re still reading it means you’re interested in learning more about our skill screen and the ten starter skills, so I’m not going to hold back on the information!

Below is the initial pass at the skill screen as it is in-game, complete with placeholder icons. We’re aware there are a few typos in the screenshot; they have already been fixed and the screenshot is functioning as a demonstration.

Each of the ten skills on the left side bring up a new skill ring on the right side. We talked about skills before, but if you missed it, each skill has different specialization challenges players can complete to earn perks in that specialty. These perks vary across skills and specialties, but they include benefits such as increased speed and yield, improvements to crafted items, reduced durability loss to tools, and reduced stamina costs for strenuous actions. Each perk is rather small on its own, but you can continue to choose the same perk after you complete the related challenge. Or you can spread the love to all three perks, it’s a matter of preference. The green outline that partially circles the round specialization icons represents your current progress through a related challenge.

Here is the second pass of the screen, complete with the place-holder icons Levi has created for it. Most perks affect only their specialty, however, a few do benefit the entire skill. For example, the “Mining Speed” perk for the Quarrying specialty benefits mining as a whole, as does the “Stamina Control” under the Ore Extraction specialty.

There will be several more passes on this screen as it is tweaked, refined, and different alternatives are tried out. Since this screenshot was taken, we’ve changed the “Slaughtering” skill’s name to “Animal Harvesting”.

While we’re on the topic of skills, I’ll dive down into some of the nitty-gritty of how skills will come into play. As it was explained before, humans improve their skills by completing skill challenges, which are tasks related to the use of the skill specialty, then choosing a perk. The challenges for each skill can sometimes offer a passive benefit based on the number of challenges completed for that skill. This is especially true for crafting skills, because if we offered perks related to every aspect of crafting the screen would be crowded with perk selections and the specialization opportunities offered by the perks then become watered down.

Take the Blacksmithing skill for example. It has three specializations players can complete challenges for; Axecraft, Bladecraft, and Hammercraft. Each of these focus on a category of tools and weapons, but what about items that need to be forged but do not fall into one of those categories, such as horseshoes or chains? For this type of situation, the overall rank of the skill comes into play. If the blacksmith has completed 5 challenges for Axecraft and 7 for Bladecraft, they would have an overall rank of 12 in blacksmithing and this in turn would affect their success chances with blacksmith recipes in general and reduce the difficulty that comes with more challenging materials.

Do you have questions or feedback concerning the new skill screen or about the skill system? Please share with us over at