Your skills define what you can do, and how good you are at it. Items have skill requirements for using and or equipping them, nano programs have requirements for uploading and executing them.
At each level, your character is awarded a certain amount of Improvement Points. These allow you to raise the skills that in turn allow you to use better weapons, armour, nano-programs and other general equipment.
It is not possible to maximise all the skills, as you are not awarded enough IPs to do so; therefore you have to concentrate on the areas of most use to your character...
How do I see my Improvement Points?
To start using your IP, press the U button on your keyboard or click the Character and then Skill button on your control panel
You will find this on the bottom left of your screen
You can only raise your skills by a certain amount, depending on your level. Which means its even more so important to get as much out of your IP as you can and to not waste it in the wrong areas.
With regards to the colouring, you will see that some skills are dark blue, some light blue and some green. Dark Blue is the most expensive skill to raise, whereas green is the cheapest end of the scale.
When you make a new character, you have IP to get you started. Then, with each level you gain, you will receive more Improvement Points (IP) depending on your level. These points can be used to improve your character, make you stronger and more skillful .. assuming of course you distribute them sensibly!!
You may notice if you open the Skills interface ingame that it mentions that you can use a "Suggested IP distribution" option up until you are level 20. However, this guide should hopefully make the distribution of IP a little easier... and make you feel a little more informed as to WHY you are allocating them as you are.
As a reference, and if you are interested - all screenshots I have made for this guide have been using a Level 1 Solitus Bureaucrat. Different Professions and Breeds will have different "colouring" for each skill.
With suggested IP distribution at level 1, for the Solitus Bureaucrat this was the suggestion:
Suggested IP Distribution Panel
On the whole, this was not a bad distribution - however I know I have saved IP early on by not investing into evades on characters that do not seem to be able to use them to their advantage. We can look into this further on though.
When you first start out with any profession, raising all your abilities is not a bad idea up to around level 10 to 15. Your abilities are your primary attributes, this means that other skills are dependant on these basic abilities, which in turn makes these abilities quite important. After level 10 to 15, IP will start feeling like its getting a bit short.. especially when you *really* want to raise something!
It is vital to assess what is most important for your profession - for example, which abilities do you need for the best or most suitable armour for your profession.. or which of your nano skills require which basic abilities to ensure you have them at their maximum level? You will not always be able to max skills at every level, more often than not you are likely to run out of IP. This can make things quite tricky, so it's a really good idea to think about what you really need before you save your distribution!
As a general guide with your base abilities, if you have a skill in your other tabs that you want to raise to its maximum then you need to consider raising its primary attribute to roughly 2/3 of its maximum if not higher. The more you raise the primary attributes, the better your much needed skills will be.
This tab holds potentially two of the most important skills for most players - Body Development (which decides your Hit Points (HP)) and Nano Pool which determines how much Nano Energy you have.
If you are usually in the line of fire and need good amounts of HP, then as mentioned before - this skill as with others has a primary attribute that effects it. In the case of Body Development, it's exclusively dependant on Stamina.
Nano Pool has many more dependencies than Body Development. It is structured with 70% Psychic, 10% Sense, 10% Intellegence and 10% Stamina. This means that to get the maximum you can out of your Nano Pool, you must at least have Psychic as high as you can make it.
If you are a Martial Artists, your attacks are all in this tab. Make sure to raise your Martial Arts and Brawl skills (and later on Dimach!).
The Adventuring skill is also in this tab, although Adventurers may want to raise this skill for their Spirit Tech Source THING -- for adventurers and everyone else this skill is used to equip Shadowlands playfield items. More often than not, by the time you will be using a your playfield items, you will be able to get the adventuring skill you need with a combination of trickle down from your primary attributes and symbiants and equipment. So, not an area to "waste" IP into.
Swimming.. well. Always fun to have races, although at the moment nothing really requires you to raise it!!
This tab will only be used if your character will be using a weapon that is included in this rather long listing.
Remember, before you choose your melee weapon, it is a great idea to consider how much IP it will cost to raise a skill and whether it is an optimum choice of weapon for your profession.
Within the Melee tab is Mult. Melee. This skill is used when you are equipping weapons in your right and left hand. You will only ever need to have the Multi. Melee skill which is the lower skill stated on whichever of the two weapons you want to equip.
This tab contains Sharp Objects, Grenade and Heavy Weapons.
Misc. Weapons Tab.
Unless you have chosen a weapon for your character that uses these skills, you won't need to invest any IP into them.
Again, this tab will only be used if your character will be using a weapon that is included in this rather long listing.
Remember, before you choose your ranged weapon, it is a great idea to consider how much IP it will cost to raise a skill and whether it is an optimum choice of weapon for your profession.
Which skill people invest IP into is something quite a lot of people will think about and "stick with" from the birth of their character to the end. It is your choice, however "wrong choices" can make things quite difficult further down the road.
Within the ranged tab is Mult. Ranged. This skill is used when you are equipping weapons in your right and left hand. You will only ever need to have the Multi. Ranged skill which is the lower skill stated on whichever of the two weapons you want to equip.
Another aspect of using weapons and casting nanos in AO, is your speed with the relevant skills. Bring up the skill system again and click on the speed tab.
There are three skills here that deal with the speed of your attack, you only need to raise the one that effects your weapon.
If you use a ranged weapon raise Ranged Initiative.
If you use melee weapons, raise Melee Initiative.
If you use Martial Arts, increase your Physical Initiative.
If you cast Nano Programs frequently in battle, increase your Nano Initiative
Generally, for a low level character, raising speeds is more or less a black hole in IP that doesnt do much unless the weapon that you are using is so slow that it becomes faster at full aggressive. The minimal gain of speed at low levels doesn't allow you to put your agg/def bar far enough to defensive to make a difference.
From title level 3 to 4, things can become interesting with these skills and it will be up to you whether you invest in these skills.
If you are dependant on nano init the obvious thing to do first is get a 6 slot belt and a recompiler -- then assess how much skill you want to invest. A good tool for looking at initiatives and the agg/def bar is :: http://www.unityoftherose.com/tools/aggdefcalc.htm
With regards to evades, well this is likely to depend on your characters profession and the style of play you wish to adopt. Some professions are able to buff their evades and it is a major part of their tool set. It really is an area that is personal preference.
Run speed, in the earlier levels, doesn't make a huge amount of difference. It is however something that is always nice to have when you have spare IP.
Trade and Repair
The trade and repair tab, although by its name may appear to be solely for tradeskillers, is infact a tab that everyone should go into and if not maximise.. then invest quite a lot of IP into Computer Literacy.
Trade and Repair Tab.
Computer Literacy is a really very important skill and will allow you to access grid terminals as well as help you be able to equip more NCU. For information on NCU, please check these guides :
Otherwise, the skills in here are important for being able to complete tradeskills. Whether you raise them or not as a tradeskiller will be down to your own personal choice. It may be worthwhile checking the profession guides we have here in the AO Universe knowledge section or taking a look at the profession forums over at the Official AO Forum for some guidance.
Nano and Aiding
The nano and aiding tab actually contains exactly what you think it might, which is all your nano skills as well as Treatment and First Aid.
Nano and Aiding Tab.
Most professions, at most levels need to make sure that their treatment skill is maxed out or as high as you can afford to make it. Treatment is used for equipping implants and also for using nano and health kits. First aid on the other hand is primarily used with stims and some people avoid putting IP into this skill.
With regards to the nano skills available in this tab, whether you invest a lot, a little or no IP into them will heavily depend on your profession. The nano listing (See profession specific nanos on the left under the Nanoformulas navigation menu) at www.auno.org is probably one of the most helpful places you can look at an overview of nanos you will use for your profession.
This tab contains Concealment, Break & Entry, Trap Disarm and Perception.
Concealment is a skill used to hide from being observed. This is a favourite with people who like to use Aimed Shot when their target is least expecting it. Perception on the other hand is a skill used in detecting things. Both have only marginal PvM uses for anyone that's not an Agent, however should you be leaning towards a PvP setup, they could be a good investment for you in the long term.
With regards to Trap Disarm, well.. I once had it raised on my Fixer, then decided I could use the IP elsewhere. It really isn't overly needed.
Break and Entry is good for unlocking things in missions and for a few tradeskill applications. When you are new to AO, this may not be a skill to invest in immediately, but overtime if you have IP spare and like soloing missions or if you are a Fixer and need to hack things then it is a "nice to have" IP investment.
For Fixers only, the amount of break and Entry skill required starts at 5% on top of the mission's level for container loot and progresses with the B&E IP cost. So, if your next point of B&E would cost 200 IP, you get a 6% modifier. At 400 IP, a 7%. (( To be clarified, Froobs can get upto a 9% modifier and SL Fixers a 10% one if they max B&E at 216 or so.))
This tab can, with some work on your part, can be avoided completely!
For the 3 vehicle skills, the most used skill is vehicle air for people who want to use a yalmaha. However the lowest QL yalmaha only requires 81 vehicle air so many people instead customise their implants to allow this amount to be reached.
With regards to Map Navigation please note that while you can reset this skill, doing so removes ALL your installed map upgrades and area maps! Yes, it is helpful to have maps for areas and upgrades, but I would recommend "twinking" this skill via temporary implants and/or items that buff it. It is possible to have all maps and upgrades without spending a single IP in this skill.
If you find that you have incorrectly allocated your improvement points and now you don't have enough improvement points and you're character is irreparably broken, or if you have decided to switch from one type of weapon to a completely different type of weapon (eg. from 1-handed-edged to pistols, for instance) fear not. AO provides the ability to reset some or all of your skills. You must use reset points to reset your skills.
In order to use a reset point, you must unequip everything. By, everything, we mean everything. You cannot have anything equipped, not even in the social tab to use a reset point.
To access or use your reset points, right click on the little 'i' in the upper left corner of the skills window. The menu will provide options to reset one skill or all skills. Resetting skills requires reset points. There are two types of reset points: full and individual.
Every character in AO is provided with one full reset. This is provided for players who wish to make big changes to their setups or for inexperienced players to correct IP allocation mistakes. You only ever get one of these, so use it with great care.
Very rarely, AO developers make a change to the game that is so significant that players would be handicapped by the change if they were not allowed to reset their skills, the developers may give all players their full reset. If a character has not used their full reset, the will not get a second full reset. There is only ever one full reset available to any character.
Individual Skill Reset
Reset an individual skill by selecting the skill in the skills window and then choosing "reset skill" from the window menu. This uses up an individual skill reset point.