How Skill Nodes Became Irrelevant in Neverwinter


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.

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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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j0Shi plays the Neverwinter MMORPG since the open BETA in 2013 and is a regular contributor to the blog and the whole UN:Project. Originally a Guardian Fighter, he has built up ALTs of all classes and plays on BIS/near-BIS level.

7 thoughts on “How Skill Nodes Became Irrelevant in Neverwinter

  • May 1, 2018 at 10:11 am

    i really really hate the captcha “minigames” in sto, and avoid anything that uses them, events included. Repetitive, annoying, and uninteresting. If this is their only solution to bots then perhaps they’ve hired the wrong people. Heck, crowd source an antibotting idea; give really nice prizes to whoever submits the best bot-proofing ideas. Or at least study how other games handle it. The minigames are just an ugly solution that makes players spend their time and attention on uninteresting code.

  • May 1, 2018 at 10:16 am

    I have never really understood how or why removing bots from the game could be so hard. But i guess in order to do that and keep a handle on it might take 1 person in cryptic to really look into players accounts. But back when bots was selling stacks of rank 4 enchantments at auctions house. I would think anyone looking at them accounts would see red flags left and right. When each day the same accounts come and post 10 + stacks of rank 4. If a dev could have just looked at auction house 3 or 4 times a day jot down the accounts and then spend a day researching those accounts . But i guess employee one person to do this vs lost revenue just must not be cost effective. Or like i have heard from so many others and that is cryptic themselves have a hand into using bots and 3rd party sellers.

  • May 1, 2018 at 12:24 pm

    I agree that it’s always been that by the time you can make decent stuff, you have already out-leveled it (except for Elemental Gemmed Exquisite underwear). It’s a shame they did not update Professions as we’d hoped, and just added more Meisterwerk stuff.

    But I still farm skill nodes when solo. Most of the stuff is rubbish because, as the article says, Professions are mostly rubbish. But I am still pleased when I get Elemental Earth, Air, Fire or Water, or an Elemental Aggregate. VERY rarely a Unified Element or Dragon Egg. And I can make Drowcraft into Elemental Drowcraft for alts without spending any AD.

    Another use of skill node drops is that you can sell them off during the event where you can make mechanical altars etc. But I hardly even do Leadership now. And I do Alchemy on one to produce stuff needed for Alts leveling Alchemy.

    As Andy said:
    “One aspect that several players have identified as needing to be addressed is that of skill nodes”

    ]Yeah. The players who wanted to sell their enchants and crafted items for more on the AH wanted to get rid of the Bots that were undercutting them.

    Because that’s how Bots do.


  • May 1, 2018 at 1:25 pm

    There are a few good uses for profession nodes at the moment. Currently the Explorer’s Guild in the guild strongholds that have chosen to build it gives a daily quest to farm various numbers of nodes for influence. Anyone with access to this guest should be opening enough nodes to earn their influence darn near daily as it is a source of easy influence and the guild marks they yield.

    • May 1, 2018 at 1:42 pm

      That’s towards the normal daily influence, not in addition to the usual 400?

      Hmm. As I always open nodes when solo, It would save the time of doing Influence quests separately.

      • May 1, 2018 at 5:42 pm

        It is in addition to the 400 influence that can be garnered from running SH HEs. All the boon structures give dailies like that. Also as the boon structure goes up in lvl the quests from it change and give higher amounts of influ at higher lvls (lvl 7 Explorer’s Guild daily gives more influ than a lvl 2 daily)

        • May 1, 2018 at 11:38 pm

          Oh, excellent, that’s even better!

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