Skill trees

Skill trees are the narrative-oriented element of the gamification mechanics. Their function is to create a deeper emotional bond between the user and the game via a non-linear developmental in-game structure, which implies choice. Skill trees are essentially similar to levels but differ in the way users choose the path they follow.

Skill trees belong to the Narrative Layer in the model of gamification (see Model).

Strong effect

Skill trees are not a mere sequence of numbers but the implications that shape users' behavior and possible actions. Skill trees allow users to sense the overall development and become emotionally engaged in the game, as well as influence their personal in-game development.

Weak effect

Skill trees are based on choice. The choice is interesting only when each of the options is correct. It is especially hard to set up skill trees that will allow users to explore the possibilities of the game and sense their development in it—especially considering that they should reflect and represent general available in-game principles of development. Setting up a system of skill trees is just as complicated as any other element; you need to take a variety of indicators into account.

Duration of the effect

A game with one small skill tree is suitable for short-term objectives. When the game is long-term, you should implement the system of a complex skill trees with diverse development paths as well as skill trees for various goals and spheres with the possibility of updating and rotation.

What can I do with this?

You can spark users' interest by implementing interactive skill trees, for instance, by allowing users to foresee the Y-tracks on the path and their potential ultimate purpose, to assess the conquered path, and to get extra information on the current position. Interactive skill trees increase the time spent by users in the game and help to memorize significant information.
Users will be able to choose the most interesting and significant path of development when there is a variety of them.
Move through
The meaning behind the skill trees lies in the potential satisfaction and not in the goal of finishing them itself.
It’s better to make moving through the skill trees perceived as the means and not the goal, so it’s value will last longer. This way, a skill tree is valuable not for its own sake but rather to obtain new possibilities of the game.
Demonstration of the position on the skill tree is a crucial mechanic that allows players to display their achievements for others to note.