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...

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Double jeopardy

So, before I get into a list of the features in Odyssey that I like (and I assure you, it's a pretty long list), I thought I'd cover my least favorite feature.  And that is dual training.

Now before you get ready to yell at me, let me assure you that I understand the reason for dual training.  We all have alts that need just a few more skill points here and there and stopping the training of our mains is not anything any of us has a desire to do... for any reason, really.  So yes, I understand why some players are going to be big fans of this feature.  And I certainly understand what CCP gets out of the feature as well.  Companies like money and every PLEX that you pump into dual training enriches CCP to the tune of about $20 U.S. whether you bought them on the market or not.  Sooner or later, every PLEX can be traced back to someone putting money in CCP's pocket.  And I ought to be a fan of that, too, right?

Well yeah, I am.  I want CCP to be successful financially.  But dual training strikes me as a feature that identifies a problem and presents just the wrong solution to that problem.  And not only is this solution bad for players, it's bad for CCP.

As I've covered before, when you pay for your subscription using a PLEX, you are paying for the game using the most expensive option and choosing the option that puts the most money into CCP's pocket.  When you dual train using a PLEX, you're doing the same thing only doubly so because not only are you putting the most money into CCP's pocket, you're paying full price for a character that you can't use at the same time as your main.  A PLEX is just as good for keeping a second main -- whose account you can log into concurrently with your first main -- as it is for dual training, where you can't.  As a result, by dual training you are accepting less value for your PLEX, whether you purchased that PLEX with real currency or virtual currency.  So I think dual training is bad for players.

But I think it's bad for CCP, too.  Dual training exists because -- let's face it -- training skills is addictive.  I recently reduced my own number of mains from four to three.  And that was a really hard thing to do.  Training skills is addictive and it was hard to accept that that fourth main wouldn't be picking up any new skills.  Once CCP has you in the habit of paying -- whether with real or virtual currency -- for "another" account, whatever "another" means for you, it's very tough to stop.

And of course, the longer you keep doing it, the more money that is in CCP's pocket.

In my opinion, there was a better solution to the same problem that would have required little to no programming on CCP's part and would have resulted in a better deal for both players and for CCP: greatly reduce or completely eliminate the cost for transferring characters between accounts.  Right now, doing this costs either $20 U.S. or two PLEXes, which for the "value" you're getting is crazy expensive.  But had CCP eliminated this cost instead of adding the dual training feature, it would have given players the option to freely transfer an alt to a new account and then start paying to train that character.
  • That's better for players, because they can actually log into all the characters they're training at the same time if they want to.  And,
  • It's better for CCP because it's one fewer set of potential bugs from the dual training feature... and it potentially sets the hook for that player to get used to training an additional character for months on end, instead of just a month or two with dual-training.
So... yeah.  Not a fan of dual training.  I think it will be a popular feature, but I also think it was the wrong solution to this particular problem.  Just my opinion, though.

23 comments:

  1. what about the character bazaar? how do you think greatly reducing or eliminating the cost of a character transfer would affect that market? would it affect that market at all? I always thought the 2 PLEX fee was something of a deterrent or a way to add significance to having that second account with an "pre-trained" character as far as the buyer is concerned.

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  2. They can't reduce the character transfer cost.

    If they did people would be constantly transferring characters to new buddy invite accounts. Activate the account with a plex and that's 51 days game time for one plex plus you get a plex back on the character you sent the buddy invite from.

    The only thing keeping people from doing that now is that it costs 2 plex to transfer.

    http://merchantmonarchy.blogspot.ca/2012/11/character-transfer-costs.html

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    1. The only thing keeping people from doing it is the 2 plex cost and the stupidity of CCP simply locking any account activated by a buddy invite for 90 days instead of jacking up the cost. The 2 plex cost is there to make CCP money and prevent giving away free time rather than just being coded to solve the problem. As consequence -- Yes, we can't have a reduced cost transfer option.

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  3. As I really like the concept of double training, I had to reply.
    I agree with some of your points, but not at all on your solution.

    First, let me explain my situation ;
    I pay only with PLEXes, and didn't used real money on EVE since at least 3 years. If they removed this way of paying I would stop playing forever, I'm too bittervet to give real money to "this shitty game" again :P
    But at the same time, paying with IG currency allow me to have multiples accounts, what I would never do with real money, considering it would not be worth it. One account is okay, but not more, but being a big solo player, I can't play with only one account(or more don't want to - if I had to I could easily do it, but that's not how I like this sandbox).

    On the last years, each time I got bored I opened a new account, as a way to try something else (I always had a shitload of alts on any MMO, but on EVE you can't really use that outside of more accounts, as one character can do anything), and sometimes cause I need more manpower to do new things. Probleme being some months ago I saw myself with 7 accounts, but as I don't have any multiboxing device, I can't manage more than 3-4 accounts at the same time on PvE and 2 on PvP... so I had too much.
    But as you said, it's hard to close some account, due to the main you have on it, and the skill training.
    But after months of thinking about it, I realized there were no other choice. So I reduced to 4, then 3, then 2 - sending lots of PLEXes on character transfer, as I didn't want to lose my lovely characters, as even if half of them were not mine at first, I still liked them.

    So now I have 2 accounts, using 6 "mains", with 2 having more SPs than the others, being capital pilots, but nothing having a crazy load of SPs, not my style, I wouldn't have an use for that.
    But it means I have a need for cyno guys outiside these 2 accounts. So I use power of two for that ; one char I train for selling, that will allow me to create a new char for the fun at the same time, and 2 slots used for cyno guys.

    But you may wondering how you link that to dual training? well it's simple ; with dual training I can skill any of my main at the same time, without issues, and I don't need to open new accounts for that.

    You said paying with PLEX was costly, but it makes no sense ; you can't compare to another way of paying, as it's the only way using ingame money. Lots of people using PLEXes don't care the price of it, and how much it means in real money, as they don't intend to switch. The only way to say it's costly would be if there were another way to pay without using real money, and so compare this way with PLEX.
    If the price is a real issue, than ask CCP to offer us more with a PLEX ; 2 months of dual training, or 2 bonus characters training and not one.

    You also say dual training is a bad thing because you can't use the character at the same time. But you said yourself it was hard to close your 4th account, but was it only because of the training queue? Maybe it was also cause you could log him with his "brothers"? Dual training allow people to close accounts more easily (or not open them at the first time). From a customers point of view it seems better to me. Sure I would like free transfers, but if you're looking at how wrong his this, you should go to the end of the reasoning and talk about how alts are bad for the game. After all, what does mean dual training for the socialization? Well you can prepare more than 1 character for use, so you have more freedom on your tactics, but you can use only 1 at a time, so you have more reason to play for other with this solution than by using multiple accounts.

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  4. I am a large fan of dual training, but its mostly due to the hardware specs on my computer. I can longer dual box without the computer completely locking up on one account or the other. So at least with dual training, I can keep my indy alt training while my combat alt does the same. So for some of us, its a nice boon.

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  5. I am not sure that I agree. Dual training allows me to quickly add PI or hauling skills to an alt that I hardly use. That one PLEX will very quickly amortize itself - 1 month is plenty for some decent PI skills.

    Moving characters from one account to another is more of a pain in the rear and also is not ideal - you don't want to do this with characters you intend to dual box.

    So, overall, I think CCP's approach is pretty sound, actually.

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  6. Call me old fashioned, but I dislike alts massively. Partly it's because I semi-roleplay the game, and partly because it's the rich boys advantage. If you can afford plex, you're just far better equipped - maybe with Incursion or FW alts, or being able to have a Jita day trader. It's a flat advantage. Not to mention multiboxing your salvager while missioning, or bringing along two ships to scan/run sites, etc etc.

    The main killer between having the same character on your account or on another one is obviously you can't multi-box, and somewhat more relevantly, you only get one vote for your characters. I appreciate that we might be getting "less" for our plex, but I'd far rather keep my account personal than have 3 separate votes/lives.

    I'm sure if one wanted to there would be points about alts removing jobs for other characters, making the universe even less outgoing socially, but I couldn't say for sure.

    "That's better for players, because they can actually log into all the characters they're training at the same time if they want to."
    TL;DR Not convinced that's a good thing.

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  7. The fact they limit the time right now to only a theoretical max of 37 days of time means they dont intend for people to constantly pay to train 2 characters per account.

    I feel the dual training is an excellent idea. For the reason above, I see the dual training deal as an idea to train cyno or PI alts on the same account; or even a character to sell on the forums or something.

    From my viewpoint, dual training is not meant to allow you to train a 2nd or 3rd main character, its meant to train an alt that will have limited skill points and focused specialization, like I said, cyno or PI alts that do nothing else.

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  8. Forgot to add, yes, you are correct if what you want to do is add another main character to multi box with. The way you are approaching this idea though is incorrect; which is to train another main character it seems.

    But thats not the goal or reason for dual training.

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  9. Couldn't disagree more. First given the current character transfer cost, the Dual training option can be more cost effective for that alt that needs just a month or so of training, and is one that I do not need to log in simultaneously. (trade alt, hauling alt etc).
    Second, CCP has stated that the transfer costs are what they are because they specifically want there to be a cost associated with a character transfer, mainly in the cases of selling on the market. Their reasoning for the cost is "As your character is your identity in EVE the transfer of such an identity needs to be limited. Identity hopping and alternate character abuse are immersion breakers in any virtual world; this is why CCP has chosen to limit this as much as possible"

    So I don't forsee a reason CCP would want to reduce or remove the cost of character transfers.

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  10. And I disagree, but for reason's you may not get. You see while a helluvalotta players, including you, have multiple accounts, what about those of us who don't have, or even want, multiple accounts? I don't and I know a good number of others who don't. What option do we have?

    I have no idea, statistically speaking, any comparison figures for players w/ 'single account vs multiple accounts'... but it is the majority, at least in W-space and in the groups I have flown with but I'm a dedicated wormholer, so mebbe it's different in other 'spaces' but....

    I personally play only one account. Why? Well, I play EvE as if it was a 'reality' my virtuality and hence "I" am only one person here, and I prefer to be only one person there. And TBH honest I have enough trubble just being just Tur... It's weird, it's not so much RP as it is actually living out a virtual 'life'... what "I" experience as Tur is important to me... really hard to explain.

    I do have my mains alts, and I have set them up but both are still, after almost 3 years, under 1mSP... because I detest having to pause Tur's skills for one of them... "So get a second account." everyone says... uh, no, not my playstyle remember? So what are my options? None that I would accept... until now.

    DCT is, for me a huge win... and as far as I am concerned, well worth the price as for 'me' to use your alternative still forces me to open a second account and a 2nd account is not 'one' toon, it's 3 meaning I would now have (be) 6 people instead of 1 (3)... and I don't play that way.

    So you have one dissenting opinion... on this issue, one small voice in the wilderness so to speak. Just one man's opinion... =]

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  11. hey jester
    I am with you on this. I have four main character and there are no ALT'S on the accounts. I found it like you said hard to stop one character to trian another on the same account, so I just went ahead and transfered all ALT's to main accounts.
    After training them in seperate accounts it is better with the option to train all in same skill or just train one in a differant roll for what ship they will pilot.
    My PLEX I use to purchase ISK so to use it to pay for training, yes it would be wasteful.
    Thanks for the Blog it was right on for the new dual training CCP set up for unwary pilots

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  12. Not everyone has 2 computers to double box with or wants to maintain two accounts. I like dual training because I can train my FW alt for only a month or two, and switch over to it when I get bored w/ my main. If it was on a second account...I'd be paying a lot more plex or would lose access when the sub runs out. Its not a bad deal for players at all.

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  13. I completely agree with your opinion on dual training. I think it appeals to very few people and was a programming waste of time. A band-aid for a situation that not many people really cared about. Not anyone that I know or interact with, for certain. On a separate note, you started off with saying you were going to list the features of Odyssey you /did/ like, but never got to that in this post. I'm assuming it'll be a separate blog post? :-P Love the blog by the way, I've been reading it for quite some time, and I am a big fan. I also want to congratulate you for a seat on the CSM8 :) It's nice to know my vote mattered :) Have a good day Jester!

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  14. I think it's odd that I have heard very little about the in game economic effects of this. I would expect PI and trade alt numbers to *explode*. Maybe this will kill PI profits do to supply glut?

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  15. "That's better for players, because they can actually log into all the characters they're training at the same time if they want to"

    and this costs them server time and traffic. Many people simply let their chars run and logged in costing a lot of money ...

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  16. "... you're paying full price for a character that you can't use at the same time as your main."

    Wrong.

    I use my alts for market buy/sell orders, contracts, BPO research, and PI - all activities which can be done concurrently, along with those of my main.

    Dual training is ideal for this use, since these activities require a limited amount of additional training and do not benefit from the ongoing cost of maintaining multiple accounts, nor the cost of transferring an alt to/from another account.

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    1. This 100%

      Jester, I don't believe they would remove the cost of transferring a character between accounts. As it is right now, its a nice little CCP tax when dealing in the character bazar which is a very active market. Why would they lose that money when they can simply open up dual training?

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  17. Mr Teg. Another great post, but you failed to remember a lot of players have production alts. I train my main 100% combat, and have a production/mining alt I use to make the passive iskies or mine when there is nothing corp/alliance/coalition going on. This allows players the option to truly spec their accounts. I can train my producer for tech 2 stuff now, and only log him to check and mess with jobs, which I can do while.... waiting for a fleet to form, sit on a titan (if the FC will let me) stand in line at walmart... well maybe not that, but you get the picture. There is a lot of dwell time in eve that could be used for other purposes, and I think that was a side effect of this decision. Just another perspective from a player that used to run 6 accounts and scratch my eyeballs out mining in null.

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    1. I don't know why so many people don't get the point being made here (and what I immediately saw/thought when I heard about this "new feature").

      Both of these systems cost exactly the same amount of cash, but you get:

      Dual training system:
      - 1x playable character
      - 2x trainable characters
      - 3x character slots

      Dual account system:
      - 2x playable character
      - 2x trainable characters
      - 6x character slots


      Why, oh why, would anyone pay the same amount of money, and get less for it? Pay the same amount of money, and lose the ability to have a scout/ice miner logged in at the same time? Yay... Not.

      To quote the famous Chewbacca Defense - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chewbacca_defense - "It does not, make, sense!"

      Anyone who takes up this option is a fool... Much like anyone who purchases PLEX for more than the price of a regular months sub... It's pretty obvious how to do this..:

      1) Refer-a-friend (yourself).
      2) Subscribe that friend (yourself) for the price of a months subscription (cheaper than a PLEX - £10 here).
      3) On the main account, pick PLEX as the reward (worth £15 here).
      4) Enjoy your discount priced PLEX (£10 instead of £15.
      5) Repeat as many times as you want.

      Not only that, but you get 51 days of playtime for a character... Coupled with a well thought out training plan and the character Bazaar, for the price of £30, you can get 2.5 billion ISK (which is about the same price as RMTers sell ISK). The equivalent to about five months game time (£50 value).


      I really dislike the way CCP pick on the less intelligent players by pilfering their hard earned, real world cash.


      PS: Ripard, I'd really like to know your thoughts about this loophole(?), and know if you were aware of its existence?

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  18. secondary slots have a couple of industrial uses.

    - additional R&D slots
    especially if you dont have a pos, high sec slots have a 50d wait period in most places
    - additional R&D datacores
    devalued since FW patching, still passable
    - additional PI
    just PI skilling plus some hauling skills can be done within a month. for semi-decent planet count and Cmd Cntr power upgrading.

    possible additional slots for contract selling.

    any of these only need once a week look in away from the main. and any of them provide passive isk which anybody would use.

    MT

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  19. I'd actually like to see CCP do all this completely differently.

    Rather than having a multiple accounts with up to 3 characters per account. Why not a single account with multiple subscriptions.

    For each active subscription I can have three extra characters, a character in training, and a connection to the cluster.

    So for example with 2 active subs, I can have up to 6 characters on my account of which any two can be trained. I can make 2 connections to the cluster, and use any of the 6 characters in those sessions. I can reorder all the active characters so that should one of my subs lapse the bottom 3 become inactive, adding that sub back in makes those 3 characters active again.

    Having said that, with a single account, CCP could radically change the way they do subscriptions. Charge a base amount for having an account - say $15 a month. For that you get 3 characters, 1 training slot and 1 connection to the cluster. Want to add another character to your account - that's $3 per month. Training slots - $2 per month. Cluster connections - $1 per month. That way you can mould an account setup that matches your playstyle.

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  20. Dual training is the best feature of Odyssey.

    I had two accounts last year, but found that it took too much of my RL time to manage more than 1 main and 2 alts. So, I appreciate the fact that I can now train an alt for a month or two on my one account, without having to take away training time from my main.

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