Welcome to Jester's Trek.
I'm your host, Jester. I've been an EVE Online player for about six years. One of my four mains is Ripard Teg, pictured at left. Sadly, I've succumbed to "bittervet" disease, but I'm wandering the New Eden landscape (and from time to time, the MMO landscape) in search of a cure.
You can follow along, if you want...

Friday, February 24, 2012


Last October, I threw a post out there where I stated the opinion that I thought EVE Online should follow Perpetuum Online's lead and delete attributes from the game.  It prompted a really good discussion in the comments about the pros and cons of the idea.  I still like it, myself.  I got trolled here and there in the comments about dumbing down EVE, so let me be clear: I really like that EVE is a complex, deep game.  That's why I play it.

But there's a difference between complexity that adds richness to a game, and complexity that adds confusion and makes things harder for new players.  Attributes, in my opinion, are the latter.  It's a hold-over from pen and paper role-playing games, honestly, and doesn't have much bearing on how all of us play EVE.  After all, how do you think about your character?  As a "PvP character that can fly HACs, Recons, BC, and Inties with maxed out Nav and fitting skills"?  Or "Gallente male with high willpower and perception"?

In the meantime, I solved the problem I mentioned in my previous post on this matter using one of the holiday gift remaps.  ;-)  And I totally get the side of the discussion that says that the problems with attributes and how they impact skill training should be fixed with more frequent remaps.  But I think that solves the symptoms of the problem, not the problem itself.

So yeah, I still think attributes should be dumped.

That said, I've started playing Reckoning, the first Kingdoms of Amalur game.  One of the most interesting mechanics in the game is the ability to remap your skill-set any time you like.  This comes straight out of MMOs like Rift and Global Agenda, which allow the same thing.  In my experience, it's unique for a single-player RPG, since these games traditionally live and die by their replayability.  Who among us didn't play the first Knights of the Old Republic twice, for instance.  The Elder Scrolls games build replayability right into the structure.  In Morrowind, there were three competing "great houses" in the game, and joining one of them forever precluded you from joining the other two with the same character.  As a result, if you wanted to try out those quest lines, you were automatically signing up to replay the game.  Skyrim has a similar mechanic: a civil war (with associated factions and quest lines) is built right into the underlying structure of the game.  You can take one side, take the other, or ignore both, and no matter which choice you make, you leave a few quests, shouts, and unique items behind.

Reckoning does things quite a bit differently.  Within the game itself, there are NPCs called Fate Weavers who offer a service that allows you to remap all of your skill choices.(1)  Want to stop being a mage for a while and be a kick-ass up-close-and-personal melee type?  Pay some gold and a Fate Weaver can make this happen.  It has one risky side-effect for the game right away: a lot of the replayability value of the game immediately drops to zero if you can quickly undo the choices you've made.  However, it has the positive effect that you don't have to worry too much about picking "the wrong thing" since redoing all those picks is possible, easy, and not particularly expensive.

Weirdly, Reckoning doesn't buy into its own mechanic: I've already run into some guild quests that should be difficult for a character with skills incompatible with that guild.  Think of a Fighter breezing through a Mage's Guild quest line, say.  In Morrowind, if you weren't a damn good mage, you simply weren't offered the high end mage quests.  You were promoted in line with your skills.  Later ES games dropped this mechanic, something that I thought was a mistake.  With Reckoning's "rebuild at your leisure" mechanic, the designers could have taken a lot more risks and gone with the Morrowind approach, but they didn't.

Here's the big question, though: when the Amalur MMO is released will it have this remap mechanic?  Smart money says yes.  After all, other MMOs get away with it, and a couple of micro-transactions here and there will solve any equipment problems of rebuilding your character from scratch.

Which brings us back to EVE Online.  I've been asked a few times in the past couple of weeks (usually by CSM candidates asking what I think about a series of topics) what I think of the idea of limited or full remapping of skill points in EVE.  In four words: I hate this idea.  I hated it when it was brought up as a way for super-carrier pilots to reclaim some of their "useless" drone SPs, and I hate it in every other way, too.  As I said above, I think most of us think of our characters -- for better or worse -- in terms of what they can do and what they can fly.  I got a real sense of accomplishment when I sat in a carrier for the first time, or maxed out a particular skill tree, or fired POS guns, or found myself moved up to a Fleet booster position.  These are rights of passage that -- though they're somewhat Skinner box-y -- are still quite satisfying and some of the best rewards EVE has to offer.

It would be a very different -- and measurably worse -- game if that were not the case.  Just my opinion, though.

(1) Why a world whose back-story has it that every person's fate is set would have people called Fate Weavers (rather than Fate Readers, say) is something that either isn't explained, or is further along in the game than I am, but never mind.


  1. One point on the attributes and one on the SP reallocation:

    I could agree with the attribute removal, with one condition. CCP would need to make absolutely clear to all existing and future players that they will never consider or implement anything to allow players to influence how fast their skills train.

    Because if they ever need to revisit that decision, then it's best to leave it as it is now.

    On the SP reallocation, I also hate it, for three reasons:
    - Player choices must be meaningful. If you decided to train a skill, then that's the skill you trained, and that's it.

    - It doesn't make sense. If you study to be a physician, then that's the knowledge you have. If later you decide you don't like to be a physician, you cannot just relocate your knowledge. You will need to study whatever is necessary for what you decide to do.

    - It opens a precedent. I think people don't realize how bad this is. If you allow once pilots to reallocate their skills when their ships get nerfed, then you will need to allow it every time (or are you going to adopt some arbitrary criteria?). And once that's done, we won't be far from hell, i. e., providing it as a MT service.

    1. They kind of already ruined the player's choices must be meaningful, with the carrier buff and the drones they can't use anymore.

      Though I do agree with that with changing points after a nerf, they would change to what is popular and then we are overloaded with what is popular as well. That could be a problem. Just keep running into problems.

    2. Quote ^^
      - It opens a precedent. I think people don't realize how bad this is. If you allow once pilots to reallocate their skills when their ships get nerfed, then you will need to allow it every time (or are you going to adopt some arbitrary criteria?). And once that's done, we won't be far from hell, i. e., providing it as a MT service.

      --- I like the idea of getting to redistribute skill points and I think you keep it balanced by only allowing it once a year. They can give it out as an option with the Christmas gift, or give it with every other expansion. Heck, lets just put a limit on it. Say its a Christmas gift, but it only allows you to redistribute 1 million skill points. Or sell it for aurum as a 1 million skill point redistribution. I'm not talking about giving an extra one million points, that would allow 'pay to win', I'm just talking about allowing a redistribution. The reason I'm all for this is just that I'm a neat freak and I like my skills to be clean. My character was made in 2003 and back then I didn't know wtf I was doing (I hardly do now) and the game was completely different. Hell I was so bad I mined from a Megathron in the beginning. Why am I still being punished now for decisions made 9 years ago when this game was vastly different and had poor documentation to go along with it, which didn't help the decision making.

    3. " If you study to be a physician, then that's the knowledge you have. If later you decide you don't like to be a physician, you cannot just relocate your knowledge."
      No, but it is a (several times over) scientifically-proven psychological fact (also common sense and experentially-proven by EVERYONE) that skills and knowledge that you don't regularly use degrade over time and slowly fade until no longer used or remembered.

      Hence why said physicians, nurses, paramedics, etc all have to complete certain hours of annual in-service training ("continuing education" we call it) to retain our licensure. Fail to do the hours, your license is suspended until you do.
      There is no "Ok, you accomplished x now you're licensed for life!" and expect rationally to keep the same level of skill and knowledge throughout your lifespan.

      This simple fact of how the human brain works is why we have hit shows like "Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?" -- yet the contestants, even people who're obviously very intelligent and come from "educated" lines of work, still fail! Why? Because the knowledge being asked of them is stuff from 5th grade -- for most of them at least 20 years ago, if not more, and not accessed consciously for most of that 20 years.

      What you practice, or learn more of, you keep fresh in your mind. What you don't, eventually fades to make room for more "important" information.

      "Skill unlearning" makes perfect sense from an RL standpoint... however how to implement that as an "in-game mechanic" would be much trickier.

      Unless, of course, now someone is going to argue that cloning technology means you're imbued with a cyborg brain that remembers EVERYTHING it's ever seen, done, etc, perfectly...? ;-)

  2. Any player in eve can do anything he/she wants. If you haven't got the skills, start training. And that doesn't discriminate between 0sp and 100mil+ sp chars. If you haven't got the skills: start training.

    It would be another thing if you said you can remap, but only if you loose half of your sp. Or make it 60%...

  3. So we dump attributes, but still lvl the same speed. I don't see how that helps much. If you could argue attributes are boring or so, maybe a better reason to get rid of them.

    Plus your being a bit cheap. The complexity is too hard for you, but nothing is too hard after that. But you want the complexity nerfed, but you don't like to see other people get their issues nerfed as well.

    Well titan tracking still exists, so I guess you still have your work cut out for you.

  4. I also like the Hac description ( how you see yourself). I was thinking of something similiar lately. I was thinking the T2 line up is really cool. They all have built in roles or are the classes other games have. So it makes you sense you would see yourself as a HAC pilot. (like saying you see yourself as a high skilled warrior or paladin.) Though you are a bit ahead of the curve. I hope to be there at the end of this year, but you are already there. So that is a bit of a problem. I have to look at myself as a gallente male, with high intel and memory, but in a year I can finally change that view to A Hic or Hac gallente pilot. (aka still a loser and a non pvp race)

  5. I'd be for relocating skill points with a loss and/or restriction. Direct transfer would be a bit dumb and unrealistic. Taking a hit to the number of SP returned upon "forgetting" a skill or, I think better yet, restricting skill returns to their categories (removing a science skill grans you points to spend only in the science category) would be acceptable in my opinion. Or perhaps even a mix of both.

  6. Wot?!?!?!! You only played through KOTOR TWICE?!!??!???

  7. Redistributing skill points is too slippery a slope, but I think you're dead on about ditching attributes -- the only purpose it serves now is to force optimizers to train things they don't actually want to train right now, solely because that's where their attributes are strongest and they can't remap again for another 6 months. "If you haven't got the skills, start training" only works as a game mechanic if you're free to train anything at any time with no arbitrary penalties.

    Ditch attributes, set skill training time across the board to where it currently would be with, say, 28 in both attributes, change implants into global +x% training time bonuses, and for chrissake let the players train what they actually *want* to train next.

  8. I wouldn't mind if they made remaps more frequent or made ways to get them in-game. Leadership skills for example need two remaps to really train, one to remap onto and one to remap off of the attributes. Then you also have skills that require you to have level 5 prereqs/supporting skills that are the complete opposite of what the main skills are. While most basic fittings skills fall under this category it doesn't really become an issue until you get into training capital ships.

    I spent the first year of my EVE career without any t2 gun skills, because I was specced for int/mem.

  9. I don't really have a problem with removing attributes. but then I think base training times should be upped to the equivalent of being "specced" into everything with +4s, otherwise you are slowing the game done for "most" players.

    I find it funny when people complain about being punished for training something they no longer use. It's not like you lose the skills you trained, ever. But I could seeing a timed redistribution, with a large portion of the points lost. Say, every 6 months you can redistribute a portion of your points, but you loose 25% of what you forget. Or limit trading to trading down - you can only spend points on skills of a lower tier than what you are forgetting.

  10. I really wish you could pay for remaps(100mil? isk per or maybe a $$ for a bundle that are spreadable across characters) and sec increase (isk to bribe concord).

    1. When people ask this kind of features, the only thing they have in mind is their little problems on that moment.

      They don't realize that once implemented, everyone ELSE would also be able to use it, and it would change the landscape of the game.

      There will always be wealthier players than you, and then you will complain that they can dominate the gameplay because they have more means than you.

    2. I think the people with that kind of money would be far enough along SP wise that it wouldnt do that much.

      Maybe sec status but not for remapping I dont think. 1 year is too long for anybody. Even people that just train characters to sell, they start off with 3? remaps.

      or maybe the price is based on SP level like clones.

      The sec status thing was just an idea to stop the stupid raising sec system that no one likes.

  11. Totally agree with the dump of attributes, and totally agree that redistribution of skill points would be game breaking.

    I think a good replacement for the old attribute would be synergies within the skill categories. The more SP you have into spaceship command the faster you start training spaceship command skills. This makes specialization still good, while you are not getting punished with training something else.

    And as a nice gimmick t3s could operate exactly the opposite of this mechanic, as their tech is so alien that actually the more you know about conventional tech the slower you learn t3 skills. Gives vets a little slow down, and new players something they can train early on fast. (Though t3 frigs would be a good idea in this case.) Or maybe forget about that gimmick, players would feel like they are getting punished again for no reason, which is bad.

  12. IMHO removing attributes wont do much as they are are merely a symptom not the illness itself. The real issue is skill training itself which is much more limiting then enpowering players.

    This might not be the case anymore once you play long enough to have maxed out many of the skills so you can actually do things in EvE.

    But I think it still hampers you as you want to try out something new.

    That is why specialized remaps and training plans exist in the first place so you wait the least amount of time until you get to do what you actually want to do.

    EvE is supposed to be a sandbox with stories written by the players. Ships and modules are supposed to be only tools. You dont tell a new writer "hey write me a story but you may not use people relationships or emotions these can only be used by more experienced writers" do you?

  13. I first posed this on EN24, but thought I'd put it here too:

    I started playing with a friend way back in the days of race/bloodline specific attributes. He picked based on a cool backstory for his character, and making him look like a badass. I read up and picked Caldari Actura for the minimaxing. At the time, I thought it was cool that you could specialise your guy right from the start, and went on to spawn Int/Mem industrialists and Per/Wil combat pilots.

    After a few months he realised that he'd permanently fucked himself over by his choice of attributes, and quit the game. Today's remap system would probably have probably kept him playing, so remaps >> no remaps IMO. Learning skills were similarly an exercise in "who can defer gratification the longest", and I'm glad they are gone (despite having them all to 5...)

    These days when I'm helping a new pilot, the basic attributes are "good enough" that I tell them they don't need to worry about it. Just leave them as is, get a cheap set of +3s after the first couple of weeks and train whatever they want - which is far more rewarding than fiddling about with bloodlines and attributes. I've remapped back and forth a couple of times to specialise in one area or another, and if frequent remaps were available I'd probably do it more often, but I hate feeling constrained to only train a subset of skills at any given time or I "lose out". I'd be 100% in favour of dropping attributes entirely, freeing everyone up to train what they actually *want* without penalty. It does remove a little depth from the game, but in an area which is already far, far better than any other game I've played.

    If people really wanted to have an attribute-like system, there's loads of cool ideas from basing them on non-transferable "achievements" available by completing specific missions/activities (e.g. get a perception bonus as reward for 100 pod kills, or a particularly difficult storyline combat mission, or an intelligence boost when you reach 50,000 research points) to basing "attributes" off the proportion of skills you have in each area (automatically creating specialist characters based on what's trained). I think manually choosing them once every 12 months is the lamest possible system.

    I love having "spare" unallocated skillpoints in the bank in case I suddenly want to learn something (e.g. "we're going on a roam, can anyone fly this HIC?" *clickety click* "I know kung fu"). Getting points back from removed/severely altered skills is a Good Thing IMO, but I'm not a fan of the idea of manual skillpoint remapping. What would be cool is if, when you had no skill in training, your skillpoints went into the unallocated pool, but at a slower rate than when training a skill. The 24h skill queue is a godsend, but I still occasionally wake up in the middle of the night worrying if all my pilots are all training skills.


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