Let's keep going with my little series of posts on alts by throwing some grenades at them. Get ready to yell at me. ;-)
Remember, I'm starting from the premise that all EVE characters start as one of four things: a sub-cap pilot, a resources/logistics pilot, a science/trade character, or a capital ship pilot. How the characters advance from that point is what defines them and usually what encourages an individual player to acquire an alt or two.
But really, that's not how characters start at all, is it? Because I've spent two posts now dancing around that "Core" at the center: that 25 million skill points that any alt in EVE needs to have to be at all useful. That's Engineering and Shields (or Armor) and Navigation and Targeting and Rigging and Scanning and Neural Enhancement... all of those skills that make it possible to actually fly the ships. It used to be in EVE you started a new character and then you ignored him for three months while that character trained the basic Learning skills. It's not quite that bad...
...but if you think about it, I think you'll agree it's still pretty bad.
That 25 million SP or some subset of it consumes anywhere from six months to a year of training... six months to a year in which your sensors are getting 4% stronger or your ship is getting 5% faster or your ability to fit a shield upgrade module is being improved by 5% or your kinetic armor resistance is going up by 5%. They represent a lot of little incremental increases that the bulk of us EVE veterans have come to take for granted and just assume that any character worth anything is already going to have.
But in the process, those core skills are making the game a little bit less fun for newer players. That's because they're having to pick up all of those 4%s and 5%s and 2%s in order to feel useful around the vets. But while they're doing it, they're probably not picking up any of the toys that the vets insist that they have in order to be useful.
I'll have a bit more to say about this soon, but EVE has always been quite focused on exact skill-sets and exact ship fittings and exact doctrines. Even those alliances that used to eschew that sort of thing or at the very least tended to be a bit more free-form are pressing doctrine-style flying into service.
And it's these exacting fits and exacting skill requirements and exacting character profiles that are driving more and more players into having to use alts or at least dual character training in order to be competitive. Is that how the game should be? I'm no longer sure.
Here's an interesting thought experiment (get ready to yell at me). Suppose the core skills went away? Or more to the point, suppose all characters were immediately gifted level 5 skills in all the key ones. Would the game actually be hurt by such a thing? Would the game be made better or worse through just giving players the opportunity to skip that six months or a year of drudgery? I know what some of you are going to say: I paid my dues, I took my licks, now it's everybody else's turn to do so. But is EVE actually being served that way? Are those new players actually getting any benefit out of that six months to a year? Or are they just being bored or depressed by it? I certainly remember how I felt about that period in my character's training period when I was in the midst of it...
Anyway, just a little Friday night geek philosophy for you to think about.