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The story of skill nodes in Neverwinter is as interesting as sad. You could make a valid point in saying that skill nodes are no longer. I mean, they are still in the game, but nowadays they hardly matter. Nature nodes are rotting, nobody prays at religious sites, and the joy of lock-picking chests is gone. This hasn’t always been the case though. In the early stages of the game, skill nodes were an integral part of the progression. They used to drop plenty refining points for example, and often were a legitimate farm object. Over the years that changed however and this article will look back at what exactly happened to skill nodes. Why did they become irrelevant?
The Answer Is Not Only Bots
There’s a long and a short answer to the titular question. The short one? Bots! Scripts usually feast on the most lucrative thing to do, and since skill nodes back in the day dropped significant loot, bots swarmed certain instances and farmed them. Especially solo lairs like those in Sharandar, that reset nodes on each and every run, were heavily exploited. The devs tried different things, removing nodes, adding internal loot cooldowns, but eventually had to remove significant loot from nodes alltogether.
It’s certainly easy to blame bots. It’s why we can’t have nice things right? The story of skill nodes however is as much one of devs unable to come up with a sufficient solution. Over the years, instead of trying to work towards a robust system that shields skill nodes from bots without making them useless for players, the game just fought symptom after symptom after symptom. The first wave of “fixes” simply removed skill nodes from the instances that the bots were farming. This however just led to the script armies moving on to the next best option. Then the devs tried to implement internal cooldowns so that characters could only get meaningful loot from skill nodes so often within a certain time frame. The result? Bots just switched between different characters and accounts. So ultimately the whole system got shut down in 2016.
Granted, they did enhance drop rates for refining stones from the world as compensation, but that didn’t change the fact that the only purpose skill nodes filled in the game (refining points) was completely gone. After that, they hardly mattered.
Skill Nodes Are Not Relevant Because Professions Aren’t Either
Botting isn’t the only cause of the skill nodes’s demise however. The whole system is closely attached to professions as the nodes deliver materials for recipes. Since most professions are irrelevant, resources from skill nodes are as well. It would be beautiful if players swarmed instances to farm the mats they need for their next whatever, but that’s not what the system offers. Except Masterwork Professions, which use a different kind of nodes of course, the best recipes do not need any resources at all. And even if, the temporary guild structures have long introduced a more convenient way to acquire basic resources.
Although Lead Designer Thomas Foss said they are looking into some sort of “mini captcha game” for skill nodes (Star Trek Online uses a similar system to secure their nodes), nothing has happened on that front to date. Probably because, quite frankly, it’s a pretty minor issue compared to other stuff. Skill nodes as system however are still dead weight and illustrate how something that could be used in a cool and meaningful way has completely diminished over time due to the lack of willingness of the devs to come up with a proper solution.
WTF Is This Stuff Even Good For?
And make no mistake, those seemingly little things can contribute a whole lot to a game’s feel and coherence. It won’t make players choose Neverwinter over other titles, but having an “ok, so this is cool” moment while farming or leveling up is surely a heck lot better than “wtf is this stuff even good for?” So let’s hope that somebody eventually will find a place for the skill nodes, because right now, they have none.
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