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Formula for Living Tool Use?


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Does anybody have any idea how the number of Living Tools required for locked items is calculated? It's obviously based on Mechanics, but it's not as simple as 1 point mechanics = 1 less tool. I'm guessing it's maybe something like:

 

((Mech needed for 0 Tools)/(Your Mech)) * (some constant)

 

Other Mechanics checks are pretty simple. Trap and power spiral disable seem to be straight Mech checks (either you have enough or you don't). Power Spiral repairs seem to always take 1 tool plus you need a specific Mech score.

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Your speculated formula is very close, but approaches the problem slightly backwards, because of a little quirk in how the system works.

 

Assuming that Mechanics/Living Tools work by the same rules in Mutagen as they do in the originals- and I haven't seen anything to indicate that they don't- the way it works is this:

Each locked lever has a set level. If your Mechanics skill is equal to or greater than the level of a lock, you unlock it without having to expend any Living Tools. If not:

((Lock Level) - (Your Mechanics)) / (Your Mechanics) = Living Tools required, rounded up.

Or, put another way,

((Lock Level) / (Your Mechanics)) - 1 = Living Tools required, rounded up.

That is, the quirk is that the formula isn't just resolving how many LTs it'll take to reach 0, but rather how many it'll take to get below the moving goalpost of your character's Mechanics value.

 

In the original Geneforge 1, you have to use Living Tools manually, one at a time, which makes these workings a little more obvious, I think, although not explicit- using a LT on a lock reduces its level by a value equal to your Mechanics skill, and you use Tools until the lock is weak enough that you can crack it without using any Tools. In subsequent games, including Mutagen, though, you just use the LTs automatically up-front. (NB, though: the original G1 usually tells you that a lock will take one more LT than it actually does to crack it, because it erroneously calculates how many LTs you would have to use to reduce a lock's level to 0, rather than to a value equal to or less than your Mechanics.)

Edited by googoogjoob
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I am pretty sure that the formula has changed to something more organic like " (Lock level - mechanics)/2 = living tools needed, rounded up". I.e. if you are 1-2 short, you need 1LT. If you're 3-4 short, you need 2 living tools. 

I have seen locks requiring 6 living tools. If the Lock/mech -1 = LTools rounded up and you need 6 living tools at mechanics 3, it means that the lock level is 21! There's no way you would ever get 21 mechanics, so it means you would need like 2 living tools even if you had 10 mechanics!  

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It seems a bit more complicated than that since for cases where the lock level is in the upper 20s you don't need as many living tools as just 2 times your mechanics level. I used retrain cheat code so I could put all my skill points towards mechanics to find the exact mechanics that would open doors.

 

The locks needing more than 3 living tools are extremely high to encourage getting the key.

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Thanks. I've been searching for the best way to describe lock difficulty. When I started doing annotated maps (years ago on original GF), I knew I didn't have a clue how it worked then. So, I just started recording my actual observation. For example, "Requires 3 Tools at Mech 8". 

 

Then, I thought just indicating the lock level might be cleaner. But, that's also problematic because:

  • If Lock Level is Mech 9, it's probably pretty intuitive to a player with 8 Mech that he's going to have to burn 1 tool. But, if the lock level is Mech 30, that's not a particularly informative number unless the player knows the actual formula.
  • Since noone is likely to have a Mech much above 15, how would I calculate the level of a lock that's waaaay above that in the first place? (if I didn't know the formula).

So lately, I've been thinking my first instinct was probably the most helpful to players and the most practical to record.

 

Thoughts?

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7 minutes ago, Randomizer said:

The locks needing more than 3 living tools are extremely high to encourage getting the key

 

Ah yes. Those would be the "There's a key right over there, you idiot" locks. I'm very familiar with those.  🙂

 

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3 hours ago, alhoon said:

I am pretty sure that the formula has changed to something more organic like " (Lock level - mechanics)/2 = living tools needed, rounded up". I.e. if you are 1-2 short, you need 1LT. If you're 3-4 short, you need 2 living tools.

I don't think there's any strong reason to assume the formula has been changed relative to the original games, although I think some locks have been changed to have substantially higher levels, to encourage the player to find the key, if not making it mandatory. If it has been changed, the new mechanics definitely aren't "1 Living Tool = 2 points of Mechanics," given how the number of LTs needed scales relative to your Mechanics and to high-level locks.

 

3 hours ago, alhoon said:

I have seen locks requiring 6 living tools. If the Lock/mech -1 = LTools rounded up and you need 6 living tools at mechanics 3, it means that the lock level is 21! There's no way you would ever get 21 mechanics, so it means you would need like 2 living tools even if you had 10 mechanics!  

This... isn't remarkable? Every Geneforge game so far- if not Mutagen- has used the formula I posted above, and every Geneforge game has had locks with levels of, like, 50 or higher. You aren't supposed to get a Mechanics level that high, obviously- the idea is that every character can use Living Tools to crack locks, but that raising your Mechanics skill, in addition to letting you pass other checks, makes the Living Tool economy much less restrictive. A character who doesn't invest much in Mechanics can save up 20 LTs to open a difficult lock that has something they really want behind it, or a character who does invest in Mechanics can spend 5 LTs on the same lock, and use the 15 they've saved elsewhere.

 

2 hours ago, stilltim said:

Thoughts?

This is tricky. You could find out each lock's level accurately by trying to unlock it with 1 Mechanics- but that'd be kind of a pain, and also not necessarily very informative. Just giving a totally subjective, "don't expect to get through here unless you have a high Mechanics," would maybe be better, but wouldn't necessarily be very helpful either. The "requires X LTs at Y points of Mechanics" has blind spots to it, but might be the best compromise, as I think most players can sort of intuitively work out what that means, relative to their own Mechanics score and how many LTs they have.

Edited by googoogjoob
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It occurs to me that we can test this by comparing Randomizer's published lock levels with my published "x tools at y Mech" entries:

 

  • Central Labs has a couple doors that R says are M22. I've got 1 Tool at 12 Mech for both. So, if googoogjoob is correct, it would take 1 tool at 12 Mech to reduce the lock to M10 and the remaining M10 is free because it's not more than 12. That one works.
  • The West Gate has a box that R says is M17.  I've got 1 Tool at Mech 11.  1 Tool takes the lock down to Mech 6, which is free. That one works too.
  • There's also a door in that zone that R says is 1 Tool at M26, which would mean it would theoretically have a lock level between 27 and 52. I have 3 Tools at M11, which makes it between 23 and 33. That also works, and probably means the real value is between 27 and 33.
  • The Vats have 3 doors that R says are M28 plus 1 Tool, which puts the lock level between 29 and 56. I have M12 + 3 Tools for 2 of them, which would put the lock level between 25 and 36. Which also works if the real value is between 29 and 36. I also have one of these at 2 Tools rather than 3 (which DOES NOT work, but I'm guessing that's a transcription error. It does not make sense that 1 of the 3 doors protecting the servant mind would have a lower value than the other 2).
  • Kantre's Realm has a door that R says is 1 Tool at M26, which is between 27 and 52. I have 4 tools at Mech 11 which is between 34 and 44. That also works.
  • In The Hill, I have 3 doors listed at M11 plus 1 Tool. R has them at M13, M17 and M22... all of which work.

So, assuming the one is an error on my part. It looks like  (lock level / your Mech) - 1 works in all cases.

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4 minutes ago, stilltim said:

I

The Vats have 3 doors that R says are M28 plus 1 Tool, which puts the lock level between 29 and 56. I have M12 + 3 Tools for 2 of them, which would put the lock level between 25 and 36. Which also works if the real value is between 29 and 36. I also have one of these at 2 Tools rather than 3 (which DOES NOT work, but I'm guessing that's a transcription error. It does not make sense that 1 of the 3 doors protecting the servant mind would have a lower value than the other 2).

If I remember it correctly, the lower mechanics door is on the approach from the Central Labs and the other two are from the West Gate direction. So once you get through from the harder direction either from the Central Labs or fighting your way through the poisonous vats, the easier door lever is your reward. Jeff has a door in Holding Two which is mechanics 12 on one side and none needed on the other.

 

I tried to hold off on some doors in a play through so I could retrain to find the exact number. But it just wasn't worth it since players aren't going to ever get that high.

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19 minutes ago, Randomizer said:

If I remember it correctly, the lower mechanics door is on the approach from the Central Labs and the other two are from the West Gate direction. So once you get through from the harder direction either from the Central Labs or fighting your way through the poisonous vats, the easier door lever is your reward. Jeff has a door in Holding Two which is mechanics 12 on one side and none needed on the other.

 

I get that. But, I'm guessing in this case, it really was a transcription error on my part. I remember struggling with suddenly forgetting numbers in that hallway. I could have easily gotten one wrong. And the formula seems to work very well in every case but that one.

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I think we could extrapolate a formula if we could figure out the exact lock levels and find out how many living tools are required at various mechanics levels. That may be easier than it seems: opening a lock appears to give xp at the same rate killing a monster does - in other words, opening a lock with a level equal to your character level grants 20 XP just like how a monster would. Not a safe assumption, but it logically follows observed results and it might be a good starting point.

Edited by Mechalibur
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Using experience works in the Mine Core where two adjacent levers are one mechanics level apart and the experience difference is 4 XP. In the GreatTemple with the containers in the room south of the Shaper Gloves, the difference in mechanics is much greater, but the experience difference is less.

 

It is easier if you have the patience to use the retrain cheat code to reset your skills and then incrementally increase mechanics to see how many levels it takes to decrease the living tools needed and then the final to do it without living tools.

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So, to be clear, the formula is "Lock level / mech -1 = LT " ? If that is the case, then mechanics 6 would open even level 50 doors with 8 living tools while mechanics 8 will open level 50 doors with 6 LT.

Level 19+ locks, the first that require for me 3+ LT are commonplace or rare? 


Mines go strictly by mechanics?   

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7 hours ago, Mechalibur said:

That may be easier than it seems: opening a lock appears to give xp at the same rate killing a monster does - in other words, opening a lock with a level equal to your character level grants 20 XP just like how a monster would. Not a safe assumption, but it logically follows observed results and it might be a good starting point.

The experience you get from cracking a lock does appear to scale relative to player level, but I don't think it's logical to conclude that it uses the same formula as monster XP does. You get (evidently scaled) XP for lockpicking in the original games, too, and they definitely use the lockpicking formula I posted above, and definitely have locks with levels substantially higher than the player can ever attain. The XP scaling thus has to be more complicated than for monsters, who always have player-comparable levels: it'd have to be something more like "1x XP for picking a lock of greater level than 5x your level, 0.5x XP for picking a lock with a level less than 5x but more than 4x your level," and so on (though I'm not proposing those as the actual figures, just as a general approximation of how it might work). (I imagine that the range of levels each multiplier applies to might change as the player character levels, too, at least in the later games where the player levels faster, and the level cap is much higher. It'd take a lot of testing to figure this out, though.)

 

2 hours ago, alhoon said:

So, to be clear, the formula is "Lock level / mech -1 = LT " ? If that is the case, then mechanics 6 would open even level 50 doors with 8 living tools while mechanics 8 will open level 50 doors with 6 LT.

Level 19+ locks, the first that require for me 3+ LT are commonplace or rare?

Rare in the early game, more common in the later game, generally- by the later game, players will generally be more specialized, and the design can afford to be stricter about forcing the player to specialize to be able to take certain routes. (The Geneforge games also often have locks with disproportionately high levels early in the game, as a way of signalling "you should probably try to find the key that opens this lock, or do the quest that gets someone to open it for you... but you can also come back much later and brute-force it if you don't want to do either of those things.")

 

2 hours ago, alhoon said:

Mines go strictly by mechanics?

Assuming nothing has changed relative to the original games- and I don't think there's any reason to assume anything has changed, although it's possible- all uses of Mechanics apart from lockpicking are flat pass/fail checks: You need X Mechanics to defuse this mine/deactivate this Power Spiral/disarm this trap/use this console/etc. That said, the Dante's Guile trinket added to Mutagen has an unclear, AFAIK-as-yet-untested effect on operating machinery. It might simply reduce the Mechanics necessary to use certain scripted machinery?

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11 minutes ago, googoogjoob said:

That said, the Dante's Guile trinket added to Mutagen has an unclear, AFAIK-as-yet-untested effect on operating machinery. It might simply reduce the Mechanics necessary to use certain scripted machinery?

 

From its description, I got the impression that it might be a replacement for Luck checks related to mechanical devices - which the new Stealth stat would likely not help with.

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41 minutes ago, googoogjoob said:

The experience you get from cracking a lock does appear to scale relative to player level, but I don't think it's logical to conclude that it uses the same formula as monster XP does. You get (evidently scaled) XP for lockpicking in the original games, too, and they definitely use the lockpicking formula I posted above, and definitely have locks with levels substantially higher than the player can ever attain. The XP scaling thus has to be more complicated than for monsters, who always have player-comparable levels: it'd have to be something more like "1x XP for picking a lock of greater level than 5x your level, 0.5x XP for picking a lock with a level less than 5x but more than 4x your level," and so on (though I'm not proposing those as the actual figures, just as a general approximation of how it might work). (I imagine that the range of levels each multiplier applies to might change as the player character levels, too, at least in the later games where the player levels faster, and the level cap is much higher. It'd take a lot of testing to figure this out, though.)

 

That's not matching my observations. Here are the XP values for monsters relative to player level:

0 - 20xp
-1 - 14xp
-2 - 10xp
-3 - 4xp
-4 - 2xp
-5 - 1xp
-6 - 0xp
+1 - 22xp
+2 - 24xp
+3 - 26xp
+4 - 28xp
+5 - 30xp

 

I've also seen every single one of these values from opening a lock. For example, there was a lock that gave 22XP when opened - when I reloaded and opened it after gaining a level, it gave 20XP as would be expected from a monster. I've never seen a lock give XP outside this range, and if anyone has seen that, I'd love to see a screenshot. That's why I'm pretty sure there's a connection between these 2 XP formulas, possibly even being the exact same.

 

One other thing to keep in mind is that some monsters give XP higher than their level. For example, a spectral vlish is level 9, but gives bonus XP when killed as if it were level 12 (I think, I might be slightly off on the exact amounts). Some locks may be the same way.

Edited by Mechalibur
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I think it's reasonable to believe that lock XP uses a related or derived formula to monster XP, but I'm dubious about it using the exact same formula, as it has to account for a much wider range of levels than the monster formula does. AFAIK there are no enemies in Mutagen that reach even level 30, while Randomizer's and stilltim's testing has documented locks that are in at least the 30s, and probably higher- that is, there are locks that should be giving you 30xp regardless of when you pick them, if it were using the same formula as for monsters, since you actually can't get within 5 levels of them, and there are necessarily more such locks in Mechanics-focused areas and on Mechanics-focused paths. But- and this is subjective, rather than rigorously tested- I found that lockpicking, even in Mechanics-focused areas, stopped being a reliable source of XP in the midgame. That's why I suggested a derived formula capable of accounting for a wider range of level disparity than is necessary for calculating monster XP, although I can't really work out the specifics.

Edited by googoogjoob
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9 minutes ago, googoogjoob said:

while Randomizer's and stilltim's testing has documented locks that are in at least the 30s, and probably higher

 

Randomizer tested up to about 28 or 30, after which he tends to note when you still need 1 tool. The comparisons revealed only one that was definitely higher than 30 (between 34 and 44) and that was on a lock which Jeff clearly wants you to get the key rather than pick. So, a normal max of about 30, with a handful of locks in the 31-35 range is entirely possible.

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3 hours ago, googoogjoob said:

I think it's reasonable to believe that lock XP uses a related or derived formula to monster XP, but I'm dubious about it using the exact same formula, as it has to account for a much wider range of levels than the monster formula does. AFAIK there are no enemies in Mutagen that reach even level 30, while Randomizer's and stilltim's testing has documented locks that are in at least the 30s, and probably higher- that is, there are locks that should be giving you 30xp regardless of when you pick them, if it were using the same formula as for monsters, since you actually can't get within 5 levels of them, and there are necessarily more such locks in Mechanics-focused areas and on Mechanics-focused paths. But- and this is subjective, rather than rigorously tested- I found that lockpicking, even in Mechanics-focused areas, stopped being a reliable source of XP in the midgame. That's why I suggested a derived formula capable of accounting for a wider range of level disparity than is necessary for calculating monster XP, although I can't really work out the specifics.

 

That would just mean the lock level is 5 or more higher than the player level. That doesn't seem unreasonable, especially if it's using an XP adjustment like some monsters do.

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