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.
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Saturday, September 8, 2012

No going back

One of the most common hypothetical chit-chat sort of questions about EVE on EVE-related forums is some variation on "If you had to start playing EVE again with zero skill points, would you?"  The answer from long-term players is usually "no."  The responder usually cites the legion of support skills that would have to be trained in order to have basic competence in all ship types.  With skill queues and no Learning skills, this is certainly better than it used to be.  But it still takes quite a while to build up the basic ship fitting skills.  Following that is the complaint that it takes years to build up enough skill points to be capable of flying ships across the four major races, and more years still to fill in the more specialized T2 ships and capital ships.

Usually -- fortunately -- by the time that you realize the long long climb up the ladder is in front of you, you've been hooked by one or another aspect of EVE's play that you really enjoy.

Once that question is out of the way, the follow-up question is usually "What if everyone else had to start over, too?  Then would you be willing to start over?"  That question usually results in a more nuanced response, and there are more variations to the question.  The most common variation is "What if CCP lost the EVE database... just lost it?  All the player character sheets, all the sov, all the markets... everything reset?"  The implication here is that good EVE players, regardless of previous total skill points, would quickly vault to powerful positions or the best ships or control of key markets.  As a result, the answer to the question tends to be a variation on "Well, maybe... I dunno."

As I've written about before, skill points and having fun in EVE tend to walk hand-in-hand.  If the game isn't a new experience, one tends to track pretty closely with the other.  As I wrote then, this can cause "the strong desire to start playing a game where it doesn't take three years to get to the end-game goals."

These days, we're going to have to add a third question to the litany: "What if you could buy skill-points with ISK and everyone had to start over?  Would you be willing to start over then?"  And it turns out that this is an easier question than the second one.  I've reached the conclusion that for myself, the answer is "no".  It sure makes me wonder -- in this alternate universe -- how long-term "been playing since beta" EVE players would feel being surpassed by newbies that happen to be rich in real life.  And actually, in EVE, this happens fairly frequently.  A player with a real-life bank buys a bunch of PLEXes, and uses those to buy a character and a ship.  The result is hysterical over-priced kill-mails because in EVE skill points does not equal player skill.

But suppose there were a lot of other EVE-like games out there where your skills translated?  Suppose you could play EVE-like games for years, build up your skills, then use a real-life bank to buy EVE skill points?  Or suppose you could play EVE until you hit ten million SP or so building up experience, then used a ton of cash to buy a 90 million SP character?  I think that would change the dynamics a little bit.

Particularly if everyone else had to start over at the same time.  It'll be interesting to see how it comes out-- er... never mind.  I forgot.  This discussion is completely hypothetical.


  1. I have been playing for about 3.5 years and am still bad at the game. =P Frankly its getting old grinding isk away to afford that next shiny ship. I have been thinking about just starting over with another account and starting from zero (with isk support from my main ;) ) . Just because its a simplier life, and having the challenges and excitement of getting that one skill, getting in that one ship and fuddling around with fittings and failing horribly.

    Lossing ship after ship with it not being that expensive or expected in fleets, or from your corp, to survive. Because all you can fit is no more than 5 - 30 mil.

    The good times, playing anyway you want because, you have very little to lose. =)

    1. You should give RvB a try. Lots of fun to be had in frigates that can cost under 2 million, fittings included.

  2. This is lacking in the Nerf Highsec blognaught I was looking for.

    I would be annoyed under any of the above circumstances. But until there is a better space game out there I would probably still play EVE. And as long as none of the above happens I'll probably still play EVE even if a better game comes out.

  3. Interesting... and perhaps not as hypothetical as you might think. Put your conspiracy hat on now and consider this.

    As should be rather obvious to everyone, who watched CCP Unifex's latest video blog, CCP's priority is squarely focused on Dust. If Dust succeeds, then CCP will continue as is, as perhaps even grow; if Dust fails, well....

    What might not be as obvious is that CCP is now banking on attracting new Eve players from the expected millions of Dust players. Dust *is* the Winter Expansion. The recent changes to the core of the game, from making the game simpler to play, to homogenizing the frigs into pew-pew oriented ships, are intended to attract the more feeble-minded, shorter-attention-span FPS gamer into the Eve MMO. Whatever it takes to make this happen, this is where CCP is now committed to go.

    Skill point training simply isn't going to fly with the FPS crowd. They will want to fly, and shoot the most powerful ships/weapons in the game as soon as possible, and not after weeks/months/years of dicking around with the skill queue. CCP needs to catch these players quickly, before they move on to the next FOTM game.

    Will FPS players be willing to pay hard cold RL cash to save years worth of SP training? Damn straight. And, you can expect CCP to want to cash in on this fact.

    And, as for the old time Eve players, who earned their SP the hard way? Who cares? CCP is quite willing to sacrifice all of the current 300,000 Eve subscribers in favor of getting 300,000 Dust players, happily willing to P2W.

    1. Ask SOE/LucasArts how well that worked out for them when they released the NGE. I think CCP is smart enough to know that giving up your current playerbase for a different one is suicidal.

    2. "Ask SOE/LucasArts how well that worked out for them when they released the NGE. I think CCP is smart enough to know that giving up your current playerbase for a different one is suicidal."

      Actually, CCP has been following in the same footsteps.

      SWG sub numbers were not improving, so SOE sought to lower the entry barrier with the radical changes in NGE - all intended to make the game easier to play, and to attract a large new pool of players. Does this sound familiar yet?

      If not, try this: Search for any article regarding SWE and NGE. Then, do a find-and-replace for SOE to CCP, SWE to Eve, and NGE to Incarna and/or DUST.

  4. Just consider that all the outposts and POS currently present in low-sec and null-sec wouldn't exist, so the "outer-rim" would be a lawless frontier again....not like the current NAP.

    But as you said yourself, most would not want to start from absolute zero, even if now they have MUCH more experience and knowledge to make that "restart" a better aimed one.

  5. None of the DUST items directly correlate to "XP for cash" though. They're all things like "double XP for a week", right? That's a lot more palatable, given many f2p games already implement such systems.

    1. "None of the DUST items directly correlate to 'XP for cash' though."

      Not yet, but perhaps soon.

      Double SP for a week won't fly in Eve - it would still take much too long to skill up to fit and fly a BS, let alone a cap or super-cap.

      CCP will have about 1-4 weeks to get the average FPS DUST player addicted to Eve, before they move on to something else. This mean that they will need to be selling SP - and at relatively cheap prices. Figure that SP to fly a cruiser might cost $1-5, with a BS running upwards around $10-20 or so. This would, ofc, need to include all of the associated weapon and support skills, as well, at least to level 4. Perhaps, they might decided to charge a premium price for level 5 skills.

  6. I've got 38.8M sp in industry+science and 3 more with PE5 and level 3 science skills. Starting over would mean getting several more accounts to build industry toons just to transfer over.

    It is a big hill to climb but...

    The elimination of T2 BPOs, removal of money made by knowing future patch mechanics and the removal of all supers could give a nice clean slate.

    That said, buying per-existing toons with SP adds no SP to the game. I can't say i'd play again though if people could use RL cash to skip ahead. (yeah, i know using multiple accounts of sort of like that but not to the same degree)

  7. If I had to start over? From scratch?
    No. I'd dedicate my gaming time to Guild Wars, World of Tanks and Mechwarrior Online and whatever other good games happen to come out over time.

    EVE is cool and I love it to bits, but having to spend another 2 years, just to be where I am again today? No. I would not do that.

    If everyone else was reset? If the database was just lost and EVE had to start again from scratch? Hell yes. Count me in for that roller-coaster ride, sounds like fun.

    Fresh start, but you can buy skill points? No, I don't think I would. That smells too much of pay-to-win to me and honestly Id rather spend my disposable income in a game like WoT or GW2 where the chances of me losing my store bought goods are as good as 0%.

    ...However I get the feeling we're not exactly talking about EVE now are we Jester.

  8. May I propose a variation of your question ?
    I ask ....Would you play eve if the server "resets" every 2-3 years ?

    Server resetting types of online games avoid the massive amassing of wealth on veteran accounts and offer something which eve lacks, that is ....you can actually "loose" or "win" such a game when the time is up.

    Some player may know, the once very popular german game "travian". Travian servers are resetting after one year and there are two types of servers (normal & speed X3) who differ in global game speed.

    The diablo II ladder system is also kind of reset-system, but its not so mean as a 100% reset game, because you stil can play your old chars and are "only" restricted from acessing certain items.

  9. The problem I see is with the existing people who bought supers and other major assets with RL money > PLEX > Isk. To wake up one day and all that be gone would be devastating. Whether CCP's protected or not through their EULA, these people might seek compensation through legal means to get back what was "stolen". If nothing else the gaming press would jump on the story and the bad rep would turn away new potential subscribers.

  10. Hmmmm....hit the reset button on TQ? I'm in!
    Then again I _only_ have 2.5 yrs vested in the game, so what do I know? ;-)

    But yeah, EVE is paralleling Murrica, I think: a shrinking "middle-class", the rich getting richer, the poor still being poor. Whodathunk that EVE would be _that_ real? ;-)

  11. I hope this is a thinly veiled comment on Dust 514 and not implying that this might actually happen in EVE.

    1. Dust *is* Eve. Didn't you listen to CCP Unifex's video blog?

  12. Resetting everyone would be a mistake. I think that CCP would just lose a bunch of existing players.

    I think it is more likely that CCP will just sell SP, in order to both make more money and allow newer players to catch up easily to older players, skill-wise.

    Of course, this will piss off many older players, but not nearly as much, I think, as resetting everyone back to zero.

    Personally, I don't care if CCP sells SP for RL cash. I've been playing for 4 years and have grinded almost 90M SP on my main toon, the old-fashioned way - a few thousand SP per hour. If some new idiot... er, player... wants to spend $100 to get to 90M SP immediately, it bothers me as much as the 6 year old toon who currently, and forever, has a 2 year advantage over me - that is to say, not at all.

    If 100,000 new players decided to do the same thing, then I'd even be happy, since this would put $10M into CCP's bank account, allow them to hire more devs, and get more & better content into the game even faster. I see this as nothing but a big win for everyone.

  13. Remember when the server went down for a few days, and CCP compensated everyone by giving them SP? It struck me as odd that CCP would be able to implement a feature like that in less than a week, and it just didn't seem possible that they could do the coding and data base changes to make it happen in such a short time. So CCP had the ability to give us SP, but were looking for an excuse to roll the feature out that wouldn't put peeps into a panic. I made two predictions back then: First CCP would remove the Learning section and give everyone back the SP that they had invested in Learning skills. The second is that they would sell SP. I think the "summer of rage" put the brakes on selling SP, but it's still going to happen. One of the founding principles of pay to play is giving people access to game content for a price. You can level your way to it (or in Eve terminology skill your way to it) or you can pay for access to that new shiny. Given the choice a lot of peeps will pay. They'll bitch about it, but at the same time they'll pony up the cash.

    I've spoken to quite a few peeps about this, and the knee jerk reaction is that selling SP would "break" the game. But if that were true then buying a character would also be game breaking, so that line of logic doesn't make sense. I honestly have not seen a valid argument for not selling SP that doesn't equate to "I had to walk two miles in the snow up hill both ways and so should you".

    The best, and I think the only, way to get the FPS Dust players into Eve is to allow them to either buy Eve SP, or to earn it somehow (or both). Once selling SP is available to anyone it has to be available to everyone, so you'll see the option in Eve as well, and it won't break the game.

    1. I agree. Selling SP is no more game breaking than letting RL rich players buy PLEX and sell it in game for ISK.

  14. After 4.5 years in the game, if someone pressed the reset button, I'd probably find other ways to soak up my time. Would I pay RL $$'s for skill points? No, I've worked to hard in game.

  15. If CCP does decide to sell SP, I think we might also expect them to expand the maximum skill level, from 5 to something like 7, or maybe even to 10.

    This would open up the "buy SP for RL cash" market to the hardcore vets, who are already maxed out in SP in the critical skills. The vets would probably complain loudly (as usual) but most of them are also too heavily vested in the game to quit. They are also the most likely to plunk down RL cash for SP, assuming that the price is reasonably cheap.

  16. As a fairly new player to eve with only 3 months invested into it I would not like to see the reset button pushed, I have a lot of fun learning from the more experienced players I play with and I like to see them being good with ship types and skills as this gives me something to aim for, I like the idea of being were they are now in a few months time as I can see the benefits of it. I also wouldn't buy sp just because I could (maybe im a tight ass) but why go for the instant success when I can grind my way there and have a sense of achievement at the end of it.

  17. I don't think CCP would do it. Selling ridiculously priced pants(remember, pants are optional ;) is one thing, selling a work-around to the game mechanics iw a whole 'nother kettle of fish.

    They've done a good job of ensuring that DUST is not pay-to-win, although I'm not entirely happy with the rmt skill point training rate boosts. In DUST CCP plans to sell these time-limited augmentations for both passive and active skilling. I don't like it but I can live with it. My main point is that CCP is going out of their way to stress that DUST will never be pay-to-win because the understand that it is the road to financial suicide.

    CCP knows it's true for DUST, and they know it's true for EVE.

    Some of the DUST players who migrate over to EVE will find the spaceship game resonates for them and get hooked. It will be easier for them than it was for us because in a sense they will have a 'soft landing' in EVE, being mentored and supported by Eve corps and alliances in a way that we older pilots could only have dreamed of.

    It is also likely that New Eden is headed for a shake-up. Partly this is DUST, but more importantly the resource mechanics that have led inexorably to the 'wild west' of nullsec existing under NAPs is now in the foreground for all parties concerned.

    For my money, the center cannot hold.


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