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The folks at Pirates of the Burning Sea have posted a new dev journal which looks at the inception and implementation of the new Brawling skill line.
In my original plan for avatar combat, there were two supplementary skill lines that any fighting school could take. For various reasons, we ended up having to cut one of those lines, leaving us with only the Black Powder optional skill line. Unfortunately, there was some functionality I really liked in the removed skill line; also, with only one optional line available, characters were by definition less diverse and less customizable.
Optional skill lines present a couple of significant challenges. The largest of these is, of course: how does it do damage without your weapon’s involvement? A key design goal of mine for every new skill line is that you should be able to take the whole line to its end, and with no other skills be a functional combatant in avatar combat. This caused me to immediately discard some of my ideas for a new skill line—‘Command’, for instance, doesn’t seem to have any way to do damage (or at least, not without adding some significant new code features, but that’s for a much later devlog).
Read more about Brawling in Pirates of the Burning Sea.