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A detailed look at how knowledge and skills will work in Lithic and how this sets the game apart from other RTSs.

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Hello again folks, Jon again, it's time for another blog post and this week I want to talk a bit about knowledge in Lithic. It's a subject that has been briefly touched on several times in the past (to the point where I thought I'd done this blog already!) but only in passing when talking about other mechanics like perma-death.

In most RTS games progression is normally tied to a tech-tree held on a non-tangible entity which represents your faction's collected learning and technical advancement. This makes sense for most games because acquired knowledge can be written down or otherwise preserved using traditional methods and passed on quickly. This isn't the case in Lithic, in fact the tribes are only just starting to grasp the concept of speech; the invention of the written word is still many years away. So a traditional method of technological progression doesn't logically work for us which has allowed us to explore the idea of knowledge or “tech-trees” being stored on each character, representing their personal progression. An individual's knowledge can still be passed on, but it isn't an instant thing as it is in most RTS games. Knowledge spreads and advances “organically”, a concept which I'm very much in love with:

Take for example the concept of fishing which can be discovered by any tribe-member when they are near a source of fish. Once they've unlocked the knowledge of fishing they can pass it on to other tribe members by showing them, simply being observed or explaining it if they have the required language proficiency.
The first knowledge tier of fishing is currently (and ingeniously may I add) called Fishing I. With this knowledge unlocked a character can attempt to catch fish using their bare hands, pretty basic by any standard and largely ineffective. However, whilst fishing using this knowledge a character may unlock the next tier (Fishing II - Genius I tells ya) where they use sharpened sticks or spears to catch fish; much more effective.
The next tier of Fishing is a little more complex, it requires weaving, another knowledge. So, Fishing III has a chance to be unlocked when a character with Fishing II is fishing and they or another tribe member has knowledge of weaving. Unlocking a new knowledge is based around a modified difficulty roll when a character is performing the related task. So as a character gets better at a given task then the probability of them unlocking the next tier of knowledge increases.

This organic progression ties nicely in with the way knowledge spreads throughout the Tribe. Tribe members will only learn the highest available tier from members who already have it (They won't teach someone to spear fish if they have open access to far superior methods such as using nets). This may sound an obvious and irrelevant statement but this is a very important point as it's quite possible to lose knowledge in Lithic too. Going back to our previous example, lets say that for 2 generations Fishing III has seen extensive use throughout the tribe – but then the last member of the tribe who knew how to make nets dies before they could pass that knowledge on. Fishing III is now useless and since no-one has access to Fishing II... Back to catching fish with their bare hands until someone masters weaving again or someone has the idea of Fishing II again.

This may seem convoluted but it's something that is seen in the real world. Not many of us now even with the annals of history at our fingertips have taken the time to learn how to survive without modern day technology and would find ourselves in a similar situation to the one described above were we to somehow lose the knowledge we had generations ago. This process of societal regression would only become more prominent in a world with poor language articulation and no written word.

I hope that you enjoyed this blog and I'll shortly be doing another on the interaction between knowledge and skills and how they work gameplay-wise. Thanks again for reading and as always if you have any questions feel free to fire them off on our Forum or tweet us @LithicTheGame.

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