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, January 10, 2014

Core implosion

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.

103 comments:

  1. Dammit, Jester, read more of Syncaine's posts. He answered your question before you asked it.

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  2. What you are proposing with core skills is basically the same thing Blizzard has done to WoW with instant X-level advancement. They took away the path to the goal; a path which might be fun (don't know myself, didn't try wow). Training those skills in Eve might take a long time in which the player may be feeling worthless (been there myself), but with each skill trained, there's a sense of achievement. There's an indication that you just became a little more meaningful. Some may like it, some not.

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    1. Skill training in Wow and EVE is different. Training skills in EVE involves literally around ten clicks, and you're set for a long amount of time.

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  3. I kind as preferred that period of training core skills, where every day I could feel my character getting more capable in an appreciable way - much better than these days where I'm training skills I'll rarely use

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  4. >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.

    I've found that attitude prevalent in several MMOs. Though it's more along the line of the people who think the grind should stay calling the players who don't like grind lazy, therefore they should be denied the fun parts until they put in the required work.
    Players who defend parts of game design that they admit aren't fun.

    Giving everyone the core skills is probably going to be good for Eve for a few reasons:
    - Eliminate the grind that is only there to punish newbies.
    - Simply balance, because CCP no longer has to account for people who have those skills at different levels.
    - Simplify looking at ship/module stats. For example, they can put the actual max velocity of a ship in its stats. Instead of putting the number before it's boosted by skills that everyone should have at 5.


    Frankly these skills, and several other things I dislike about Eve, feel like someone implemented them before Eve was launched because every other MMO was also doing something similar. So nobody ever questioned if they were a good idea.

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  5. One of the coolest and most frustrating things in EVE is the skillpoints system. It is IMO the best form of progression long term, WAY better than gear-based progression in most other MMO's. However, doing away with some of the core skills that are required to be viable at anything at all would not be damaging. Waiting months before you can do anything useful is not necessary in EVE. There are so many skills to learn and so much to do, that clipping off a few months at the beginning to allow new players to do fun things much more quickly.

    The only issue I see here is that trial accounts in eve would have to be limited. And alt accounts need that tax that prevents them from ramping up in power too quickly. Otherwise, it would be very inexpensive to create a brand new fleet of alts, for power of two pricepoint or whatever, and demolish for 4-6 months, laughing all the way to the bank.

    Best way to balance would be to give it a quick try, see how it goes.

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  6. What I think you are seeing is an (unexpected?) consequence of CCP's increased balancing effort, causing the meta to change faster. Before, you could skill into a Rifter+support skills in a month then a Drake+support skills in a few months and be solidly useful while you were training for the next doctrine, improving the support, or branching out. Now the meta shifts quickly enough that if you aren't lucky you will have to wait another month or so to get the required core skills for whatever the required doctrines are. And by that time, the meta will have shifted again.

    Of course, once this happens 4 or 5 times you will have enough of the core skills that you may actually be able to train into the next doctrine quickly enough (and thank goodness for the T2 gun learning changes). Any alliance that takes noobs has noob doctrines, which helps. But it seems to be a frustrating way of spending the first year.

    I'm not sure that just assigning the skills at 5 at the start would be a good idea, I have this sense that it probably run afoul of Malcanis' Law. Spitballing a bit: Maybe give them at level 4? Maybe a longer duration or higher multiple version of the noob learning implants? Maybe a designed in ship path that gives noobs something solid to fly without being too attractive to vets? (Skill maximums for a ship or declining ship stats for increased skill?) Maybe standardize a 25m sp or so toon to commoditize the character bazaar? (I dunno, trying to engineer your way out of Malcanis' Law is hard.)

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  7. I have a nastier idea: what if CCP would sell a 15M, all-4 core pack for the price of 10 PLEXes?

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  8. If you're not having enough fun as to not notice that you're not having more fun because you miss a lot of 3, 4, 5%, then you're not going to have any fun even if you get those 3, 4, 5% for free.

    All in all, the EVE conundrum is: you will only have fun if you spoil somebody's fun, and you will spend a lot of time being somebody's fun (that is, nor having any effin' fun) until you can obtain your own fun, which is not assured, and you may just give up in the way there.

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  9. I wonder how closely this parallels the arguments over learning skills? (I was on hiaitus at the time, and wasn't following the metagame at all.)

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  10. Jester, I think your viewpoint is a little narrow on this one, I think you're thinking from a 'lol' "leet" perspective.

    There are quite a few corps that target new players and create sensible fits that don't require V in every other skill. Therefore your premise that all characters need to be level V in all the core skills is order to, in essence, play eve is invalid.

    But to your point, what benefit do the core skills have? I on the one hand its leveling ling in every other game, it's what is expected in RPG type games. So what benefit then other than that relatively bad reason to have it? I think its tradeoffs in time, this is part of what makes eve fun, the planning aspect of your character. Another dimension of planning in the great chess game of EVE.





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  11. Interesting and no yelling from me. I'd not like to see those skills vanish as they provide an element of immersion. What I would like to see is these skills used to overcome the most recent subject of the Blog Banters. I've attempted to write this up but life and logistics got in the way. So as a short summary and to answer a thought experiment with a thought experiment:

    What if x1 and x2 skills with no prerequisites were "grindable". What if for those skills there was some "experience" mechanism for these skills similar to that in theme park MMOs. Would new players stay longer after the tutorial if they could be engaged in this kind of activity? What activities would you reward experience for and how would you prevent this from being gamed by hordes of alts?

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    1. Actually thats not a bad idea. What if completing tutorial missions granted you a kind of free SP that was able to be spent only in the area related to that tutorial chain? A way to "grind out" some skill points while also learning to play EVE.

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  12. As a semi new player, who has spent those 6 months training basicly "not fun" skills... I say chuck em all or at least give new players 3 or 4 in all the basic skills. That alone would seriously increase new player retention. I started the game with two friends, they arent playing any more bacause they got tired of waiting weeks between any new major upgrades (ships, fittings ect). There is a lot of bloat in the skill system and while i do appreciate that older chars are getting to the point of having nothing new to train. You really cant expect CCP to keep adding new skills if they dont also get to add new players.

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  13. Make skills matter less, make isk matter more, suddenly people have a reason to play the game?

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  14. Conventia UnderkingJanuary 11, 2014 at 4:06 AM

    I'm not sure about many people but a few of my (RL) friends and I have talked about this at various points in time, though not quite from this angle. The angle for us is that ultimately, playing Eve isn't very fun. It's not the game that we play because we want instant gratification or to experience tons of joy. We don't play it so we get that feeling you get when watching a two year old spell their own name.

    We play it because it's hard, it takes planning and in the end, it has a sense of accomplishment. Some of my characters are in a wormhole with those friends and after years or training and months of learning how to live in a wormhole, we are finally making isk and getting more friends to join us and having ops where we make lots of isk.

    If I really wanted to play a game where it was as simple as logging in and 'having fun' with friends, I'd play counter strike or starcraft or some other game where the only persistence is what's in my head, rather than what's stored on some server somewhere about characters I play.

    I trained learning skills and I was glad when they were removed. I spent hours trading off each of my character's attribute layout so they would be optimal at learning the skills I wanted to train on them and I was even more glad when neural remaps were added. I think there are lots of things that have improved over the years about Eve and making it more accessible.

    At the same time, however, I think there is a balance that needs to be maintained. Removing 'core' skills from the game may make it easier on new players, but it would also make me want to quit. And it's not as simple as, "I paid my dues, new players should as well", but it's more that I play Eve because it benefits those who can play ahead and are prepared and removing core skills would suggest to me that the game design is moving away from that sense of long term accomplishment and providing less benefits for those able to plan ahead and persevere.

    I remember when I first realized how tight fittings are when one is truly well skilled and how much better frigates and destroyers were, even comparing the difference between AWU4 and 5. I thought that was an impressive feat of game design to have that happen across so many ship classes and weapon systems. It's not perfect, but I don't think the game should lose that either.

    In the end, if people want instant gratification, Eve Online isn't the game for them. There is a balance and I don't know where that balance is, but pretending that getting rid of every seemingly useless time sink will make the game better is delusional. They serve a purpose and they ultimately make Eve unique in a way that at least, my friends and I, enjoy.

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  15. Actually, when I think back, for me, the worst about core skills wasn't the time until I got good in them. When I finished the tutorials and bought the next ship, my natural reaction was to look up a pre-made fit so that I could start flying and optimize later.

    But the lack of core skill invalidates almost any fits (like the ones you post). For a veteran, it may be quickly adjusted. But for a newbie... it makes getting into Eve sooo much harder.

    It's quite ironic that here's a game mechanic, which is hardest when you start and easiest when you play for years (because you have maxxed most skills and you can use almost any fit out there) or buy an old character.

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  16. go home, jester. you're drunk.

    you're steeped in nullsec fleet fits, where metanamed stuff, just because you don't have the skills/isk is frowned upon.
    n00bs can be just as useful if you tailor your fits...oh wait, that's just supposed to be the canny spies being chameleons. *rollseyes*

    you do realize there are folks in this game who actually enjoy mentoring, right? who see nothing wrong with showing how n00bs can fly decent ships, dare i say pvp fits, that are cap stable yet not to the exacting standards of your peers.

    it's really not that hard you know. n00bs have muddled through without our infinite wisdom. hell, every one of us we taken aback by m0o's take on the game. EFT wasn't around back then was it? We still enjoyed the game...

    ...i think your pessimism comes not from anything objective, but from habit.

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  17. I'm not sure about giving everyone level 5's across the board in the core skills, but I certainly think level 4's across the board is a great start. The difference would allow some variety between new players and veterans, as well as still requiring some fitting choices be made by newer players while giving them the ability to be more useful out of the box.

    My first six or so months in the game were spent messing around with crap in E-Uni while waiting for my core skills to become good enough so that I could adequately fit and fly my hurricane. Boring!

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  18. I agree and disagree at the same time.

    On one hand, bittervets need to shut the fuck up about new players being bad. Oh, a person new to the game with less than 2 million skillpoints can't pilot a carrier to help with corp logistics and can't get into a stealth bomber for structure shoots? Color me surprised.

    On the other hand, the skillpoint system is the foundation of the game. Proposed changes to that foundation need to be carefully studied before being implemented. Using your numbers, you are talking about giving away 25 million skillpoints for free. That would change the game drastically, and in ways that can't be anticipated without a massive amount of testing. Quite frankly, there are much better uses of CCP's development time than this.

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  19. I would says that the one thing those first few months do for the new player is to teach him how to play the game. That's important, I think.

    However, it gets redundant in the training of alts. What if the player who has already made that three-month slog once could buy out of it--say, for the real-money cost of 2.3 PLEXes, create a character on the same account with those first hard 25 million SP? I think the concept has merit.

    Perhaps CCP tags the character for the next three months as having been built this way, so that anyone's "show info" will reveal that no, this isn't a n00b but an alt.

    Require real money, maybe, as the carrot for CC, and limit each paying acount to one or two such fast-track characters. I don't see this as breaking anything.

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  20. Interesting thought of the day:

    If you give newbies level 5 core skills and I already have them compensate me with free SP, bitching ended.

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  21. "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 that is a sign of trouble on the subscriptions front - the reason that those alliances are pressing (and able to press) stricter doctrines is that their average player age is getting higher all the time

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  22. Here's a question for ya: Why do you, as a new player, care? When I was young in eve, I didn't feel the need to compete with the older players, moreso that I was in awe of what they could do or fly and that awe inspired my characters training focus. All your proposal would do would be to feed the entitlement mentality, not help players out any.

    There's also a couple of slippery slopes here. What's to say that CCP won't take it a step further and say "Hey, since they liked that so much, why don't we offer all the gunnery skills for Aurum? WE COULD BE RICH!!" We'd then be on the road to a FTP/PTW business model. I'm sure CCP would absolutely love that, but I don't think it would be good for EvE.

    The second slippery slope would be that if they started along that road, it would be very tempting to just go with a class based skill system. "Hey, you think our skill system is too complex? Here, just start your character as a "Blaster Master". Oh, and hey, if you don't want to wait for Blaster Master lvl2, you can insta-level with Aurum, *snicker* sucker *snicker*. Hey, we'll even give you SP for killing stuff above your level!" And before you know it, EvE will be like every other MMO out there with all the same problems.

    You think the NGE or Incarna caused a shitstorm....

    I know, I know, tin-foil and all that.
    -Baljos Arnjak

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  23. They can train level 4 skills and be 90% as effective as a veteran.

    Some people just want an arcade style dogfight in their first week of EVE, and some of us enjoy the long term strategy and analysis that comes with skill training. Spending hours looking at long lists of bonuses and working out which to prioritize is what's fun about EVE for us, it's the same thing as looking at ship fittings for hours.

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    1. The problem is the fits.

      If they just reduce the fitting requirements for T2 stuff then this wouldn't be as big of a deal. New players can get to lvl 4 quickly and can then fit everything they need (maybe need an implant to make it work)

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  24. I like your idea, but it doesn't go far enough. Here is a simple iteration. Time in eve could generate remappable sp rather than generate additional sp. This could work if all characters were limited to a flat amount of sp (say 75M, following your example of what it takes to train core skills and one specialization), and subscription time simply enables the ability to remap that sp to other skills. So that older characters do not quit, if you have more than 75M sp, you could simply transfer that excess sp to an alt up to the sp cap. This should only be unpopular among a small number of rich vets with multiple alt accounts over the sp cap that are forced to pay for yet another alt account to retain their capabilities (if you have a titan pilot that also manufactures T3 subsystems you deserve this imho). This change would also force a somewhat radical change in how EVE players view subscription fees; subscription fees would pay for the amount of sp that a player wants to control, while subscription-time (or isk) simply generates opportunity.

    Player capability should be defined by sweat-generated assets (i.e. isk, skill, social connections) rather than by subscription duration.

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  25. "Suppose the core skills went away?"
    Scotch that.

    New players facing an upward path, working their way against the upside-down pyramid (tetrahedron) of Eve is part of what makes Eve great. It's an unsurpassed, built-in Artificial Intelligence (other people).

    The problem is that it's too pointy on the bottom. When Eve is fully integrated with Dust and Valkyrie the new player experience will be broad enough to attract and maintain all sorts of newbie players.

    I'm very optimistic, in fact ecstatic, for Eve's future.

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  26. I'm just going to throw this on your fire and run away:

    PLEX for skill points: Spend 2 PLEX for the core set of skills to lvl 4, 5 PLEX to lvl 5.

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  27. I would agree if everyone ended up training the same skills to the same level, but that isn't the case. Some people choose to only train shield or armor. Others don't finish all the core skills, only going to level IV or sometimes only level III on some. If these people aren't going to put in the time for the extra few % now then they shouldn't get them for free just because the other 8/10 players did.

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  28. With your last question, i would go even deep into the rabbit hole and ask, should we remove all skills? its a sandbox, its up to players to seek what they want....

    In reality though, since this is a MMO, i would say my preference leans towards decreasing skill requirements in in the core group.

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  29. The core skills would be much less of an issue if fewer tech 2 mods were tied to having a skill at 5.

    Hull upgrades 5 is a good example, its not so much the 5% hp its that not having it means no tech 2 hardeners and no tech 2 energized plates.

    Probably a controversial point of view but I feel the same way about frigate sized weapons. Dropping the requirement to 4 so that new players can sample tech 2 weapons without such a large commitment, and yes 3-4 days is a big commitment in a players first month or two.

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  30. My early days in EVE (2006), I remember a seemingly never-ending stream of new things I could fly, and modules I could use. I remember starting out mission running in a group of RL friends, and those incremental skills eventually allowing my to solo the same missions that has previously taken four of us hours, with lots of warping out.

    I'm generally in favour of removing boring prerequisite skills (so long as the SP is reimbursed as unallocated), but it is important not to lose the early sense of accomplishment at gaining new abilities - a difficult balance to strike.

    Part of the problem is that the most fun activities in the game tend to *require* lots of SP, rather than merely benefit from it, locking out new players from interesting content. I can't really recommend that my friends pick up EVE again, because they would have to invest months of training in order to be useful in anything other than a support role, and whilst there are things low-SP characters can do well (salvage noctis, hauling, scout), they often are amongst the most boring gameplay. With the aggro changes, I can't even invite them to come along and "help out" in higher level (less boring) PvE without them getting blown up.

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  31. I think that the recent ship balance has accomplished (to a lesser degree) what you propose with the all 5 skill gift. Before, a new player was really ineffective for 6-12 months because not only were they unskilled but there were almost zero effective pvp t1 ships until you got into BC's. Now I get surprised by 3-4 month old players regularly because they can get into effective t1 ewar ships or a complimentary pair of t1 frigs and tear things up.

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  32. I don't recall being bored or depressed by the time training core. (And indeed, I am still not done. 25m skillpoints? I have 38m total.) I recall being happy when I skilled up each new skill, unlocking this and that, or making some new fit possible. That was as true of core skills as any other skill.

    I dispute the idea that one "needs" 25m skillpoints. I am a counterexample. I did not train a single level V skill for months. (And my first level V was not core.) I probably would have trained core, had I known what I know now... but learning is another part of the fun. At least for some people, which includes me. And I did just fine with a core of... whatever it was. 2m skillpoints or something. Level IV in everything (once I discovered it).

    The big difference between advanced characters and me back then was not that they were 4.1% better at lots of little things. It was that level Vs unlock further skills, giving access to far superior hulls and some parts.

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  33. A quick Evemon session shows my 2m estimate for a sort of minimal newbie core is about right. Level IVs in most core skills, level III in a few less important and/or harder ones, and level V in Power Grid Management and CPU Management. This comes in at just under 2m skillpoints.

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  34. Level 5s in certain skills? Or level 4s or something? Yes, Yes, YES!

    I recently started a new alt, and the idea of training all of those core skills makes me want to unsub that account (which will probably happen sooner than later, unfortunately).

    While I understand the idea of skills being a time sink, there is something about having "the money shot" happening within the first few hours of the free trial, within two weeks before the free trial expires, and then before the first three months are up. Not sure how that would work in a sandbox, but at least some core skills leveled up would help.

    I heard there was something like this with the bloodlines once upon a time. A corpmate said when he started when they had bloodlines, his day old toon had gunnery at 5, drones at 5, and a few other things at 5. I didn't start playing until long after that was gone. Couldn't tell you how well it was implemented, but seeing how they got rid of it, I'm guessing not so well. Y'know...:ccp:

    -Amari

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  35. Would it be so bad if all skills didn't take as long to train? What would happen if all skills took some fraction of time to train that they do now? Many level 5 skills take 20-30 days to train. What if that number went to 10-15 days? Then the core level 5 skills maybe only take 3 days or so. To me the biggest pain of Eve is the skill training. I enjoy the game but just hate waiting weeks for 1 skill to train.

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  36. Does that mean us vets get an SP reimbursement?

    Or how about plex for SP = pay to win. But what if the SP you could buy with plex where limited to certain skills?

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  37. As a "newish" player (18 months old) with two main accounts and three characters, I have read this series of post with interest, waiting for the big controversial idea. Not found it so far. I basically agree with everything you said, and I don't see why anyone would feel that what you said is controversial.

    I don't fly in doctrine fleets, and I'm not part of a corp where we fly doctrine, so I can't really comment on that. Seems a bit difficult when you start in game to go and fit in a rigidly defined ship specification, especially since those specs tend to change faster than I can train for them. So we fly in fleets where the "doctrine" is "armor, cruiser size and below, brawling range, and let's try to have some points, maybe a bit of ewar and some logi". It may not be perfect, I could certainly see that we could be better, but this is definitively more beginner friendly.

    Finally, regarding the possibility of doing away with the "core skills", I agree that it would help make the game friendlier. It would also make the difference between the easy to fit and the hard to fit ships that much thinner. I'm not sure if I'm typical, but I started my main as an Amarr pilot, and I really enjoyed trying to figure a way to fit my first Maller. I remember flying for a couple weeks with small lasers: I could simply not fit mediums.

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  38. Games are about making interesting choices. Deciding to focus core fitting skills vs. module fitting skills vs. tank skills vs. attack skills vs. ship skills are all complex and interesting choices. Sure it would be nice to have everything up front and long trains are kind of depressing, but that is part of the complexity and LONG TERM planning that makes EVE such an interesting game.

    Having said that, I would be VERY supportive of brand new characters start out with a few more skills trained to III or IV. It was more frustrating to find out you couldn't fit a fairly basic module for another hour (or 10 hours). In same cases you have to stop playing or do something so sub-optimal that you just get frustrated with the lack of results.

    On the flip side, I think your chart of skills highlights something very positive that should be shown to prospective players. The positive fact is that you can attain near complete "mastery" in an area in 2-3 years. One of the things that initially concerned me when I started this game less than 2 years ago was that other players had been training for so many more years that I would never catch up and could never compete. That is patently untrue and your chart illustrates that nicely.

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  39. As a player still in the middle of core skills and being pulled every direction by corp doctrines and the need to make isk for doctrine ships and omg now they want shield ships, fuck yes. I've spent the last week not signing in other than playing skill que online, and I have no desire to play. I'm not unlocking any new modules or improving a visible part of my play, but by god I need navigation skills or I'm not wanted on fleets. (personal feelings in sure they'd still have me) I've been using the T2 ships I want to get into as guidelines of core skills I need to train, but I can't get into the ships I want to fly, because I need to train something else.

    Ive been training actively for about 18 months and don't have the full set of core skills yet because they are simply not fun skills to train. At minimum they should all be made into 1x skills.

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  40. the question i would pose to you, jester, is this: Are core skills the new learning skills? where do you stop with cutting more skills out or removing the need to train them? what do you nerf after core skills are nerfed? theres always going to be a bit of a bottleneck, and I don't necessarily think that this is a bad idea so long as it is not too severe.

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  41. Drones, Mechanics, Gunnery, Missile Operation, maybe Spaceship Command and Shield Op too. Yeah, I can see a few things that could go the way of learning skills.

    "I paid my dues..." is a logical fallacy and no one should be allowed to use this as an argument.

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  42. I've noticed that our newbies feel *completely* useless for the first two weeks or so, and then merely like they're locked out of the stuff that it's "supposed to" take time to get to before you're allowed to fly. Getting rid of that two-week period at the beginning would be great. Come to think of it, some of the old-style skill packages (generally Soldier or Special Forces) used to pretty much achieve this, but they seem to have gotten rid of it in favor of a reduced skill set and a training speed bonus. Do you think it would be a good idea to lobby CCP to bring those back, just with less stupid cruft? Now that there aren't the weird learning skill breakpoints, I think the dramatic advantage in long-term training that the more useless skill sets provided would be reduced as well.

    Being in an alliance that prides itself on bringing people in young and then hanging onto them, this question is of significant value to me: we want our newbies to be useful, but we don't have enough people to be able to just paper over their deficiencies by having lots of other people. Meanwhile, we also have a large contingent of older players who were recruited awhile back and have since grown out of their newbie phase to the point where they have those core skills filled out, and they want to fly something more demanding.

    So, I'm interested. I also think this deserves a second longer post. I had a bunch of questions about where you'd draw the line, but I think the above stuff is the important part.

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  43. Ripard, put down the Nerf bat and step back a minute...

    ”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...”

    Don't know about you but I did… I really did enjoy my noobhood. There is SO much more to ‘playing’ this game than having SP. Ripard I ‘wonder’ if you have lost yours… your sense of wonder that is… the amazing feeling of LEARNING that the truly new player goes though in those first months, the sense of awe and NEWNESS… and you forget, most if not all real noobs don’t know how much they don’t know and therefore don’t spend their first months ‘bored & depressed’ about not being an Uber Player.

    The only players I know who MUST start right off at Level 90 are teens and preteens… children who’s need to immediate gratification outweighs ALL other gameplay considerations. You often propose ways to nerf the game because YOU are bored… but it aint about YOU, of even ME it is about getting New Players IN and them keeping those that are mature enough to play this game.

    I spent a few months with a fem friend of mine, introducing her to the game and I took it as a chance to ‘see’ the game through a noobs eyes agiain… and her foremost desire was not to get into t BS at all L5… it was to get into THAT COOL looking ship (Rifter) and… “Not die all the damned time cause I’m stoopid!” game SP was NOT what she needed, she needed TIME and human skills and knowledge of the mechanics and players of EvE… things that ONLY time and experience (and mebbe a mentor, IE EVE Uni, Agony, etc.) can teach.

    EvE is a game for mature minds. Adults and young adults who have grown past the need for the 5 second mindgasm… players who have matured enough to realize the long term has longer lasting payoffs and that those long term payoffs take TIME.

    EvE is not about loggin in and pwning everything in site… It is not about Living Fast and Dying Young like 99% of all games, virtual or real, it is about Living Long and Prospering in a very dark, harsh and deadly virtual verse.

    Once again you really seem to be arguing for nerfing EvE… dumbing it down until it’s just WoWinSpace…. Please Ripard, please… don’t run to the nerf bat cause it’s easy… think about ways to make EvE better, not easier.

    And yea, though I doubt you read my blog I have offered multiple proposals other than the nerf bat… revamp the tutorials (add virtualPvP content), add new content and playstyles (WiS WITH Stations and site exploration)… give us and new players MORE to DO not make the existing game into World of Spaceships… nerfing the game is not a fix, it's just lowering the bar.

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    1. Ask yourself the question: Did long learning times on core skills help at all with your new player experience? Did it help with the sense of wonder when you first explored new eden? I don´t think so, it would still be there if instead of 25 million sp the basic skills would be just 2.5 million sp. The new player experience stays nearly the same.

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  44. I wonder if they make more money off of vets paying for alt accounts through those skill grinds, or if they make more off of actual new players joining? What's the average length of time a new player subscribes for, before quiting? Has that info ever been released?

    Are new player subs <= total unsubs?

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  45. My 2-cents.

    It's been 10 years since EVE was launched. The old-school players already have a massive built-in advantage by nature of having been playing for 5 or 10 years is space rich if not wallet rich. At this point, anyone who is anyone should have those core skills trained to at LEAST level four.

    My proposal:

    Take every single core skill that does not have a prerequisite, and automatically make that skill level 5. Take every single core skill that DOES have a prerequisite, and make that skill at level 4. This gives the hardcore purists a little bit of love (they trained everything to perfect, newbies start out at proficient but not perfect) it gives no advantage to newer players over the older players (everyone has these skills now.) and it gives the new players a leg up in terms of just starting out, and would seriously increase new pilot retention rates.

    Take this even farther: To appease the Older Bitter Vet Players, give each player who has had more than two aggregate years of subscription(PLEX) time a one time bonus of 250,000 skill points to be applied however they desire. Most Vets will be happy with the skill points that they can put into skills that are a PITA to train.

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  46. I like the idea. It would remove many skills which use a lot of time, and while they sometimes are part of prerequisites for ships or modules, either those could be reviewed or done away with so people can use them a lot sooner.

    Mind you, this would also make training up alts a lot easier.

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  47. Getting rid of learning skills was one of the single best improvements to the new player experience CCP ever made.

    There should be a set of core skills for shields, engineering, armour etc and they should be granted at level III across the board at setup... that way, if you want to use T2, you typically have to put a bit of training time into them, but you're not picking up an immediate 25% HP penalty, for example.

    The fact is people want to get in, experience things, then make decisions as to directions... and EVE does not allow that.

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  48. I am all in favor of getting rid of them. I paid my dues for learning skills, and I was happy to see them go. There are certain skills which are so intrinsic to Eve, so universal, that you HAVE to train them. The only ones who don't are station trader alts who never undock. But if you actually want to play the game, you need the core. You need a level or two of Infomorph Psychology. Which has it's own barrier to entry for a new player to actually use. When I started in late 2006 it was a nice skill to have, but today having jump clones is pretty much mandatory. I've long since decided that the fiction that a new player can specialize to be competitive is just that, fiction. There are too many edges we have on them now days. So I'm pro anything that erodes the skill gap a bit.

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  49. I love this idea. As a relatively new player myself, I've spent a good portion of my first four months getting the skills I need to fly the ships I want to fly, and constantly having to balance the training for those ships with the core skills needed to fly them with any degree of success. All the while being shot at, griefed and ganked by characters much older than me, all in the name of 'emergent gameplay'. And do you know what? Unlike carebears who cry about this, I actually WANT to fight back, to take the fight to these asshats. However, all the tactics and flying styles in the world don't help me when I am so heavily outmatched in the character skills department. So yeah, I love this idea, and got excited when Ripard suggested it... then I realised it was Ripard who suggested it, and my excitement vanished like a yield-fit retriever in a 0.5 system. Why? Because Ripard is CSM, and if CCP were thinking along these lines, then he'd know about it and be NDA'd from talking about it. So, since he's talking about it, it can't be on the table. Bugger. Still, I can hope for the little mentions of skill re-working that were in the CSM minutes,,, Who knows? CCP might make it so new players can actually join in the 'emergent gameplay' rather than being the victim of it.

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  50. This is not a problem that will be resolved by eliminating core skills. You still have the same problem with the fact that vets have the advantage of years more SP than new players in things like advanced gunnery, T2 ships, and super caps - a situation which cannot be changed, without risking the loss of the vets who make up a substantial percentage of CCP's revenue.

    The real problem has always been CCP's focus adding more shiny toys and features, which are biased towards players with more SP. T2 ships and modules are obviously biased. Caps and super caps are also biased. T3 cruisers were a much better development, since low SP players can get into them easily. T3 frigates were also on the development board, but got dropped in favor of more emphasis on the super cap end of the game (again, part of the game which can only be played by high SP players).

    CCP spent a lot of time on the NPE, but mostly on converting trial account to subs. They didn't take it far enough and examine what needs to be done to keep players engaged and not frustrated during the key period from the first month to the first year.

    Will simply eliminating core skills fix this problem? No, just like removing learning skills didn't solve this problem. It is a bit more complicated than that, encompassing a wider view of the game.

    Look beyond just PVP and into industry. Same sort of problem. Is there any way for new manufacturing players to compete, during the first year? Is T1 or T2 manufacturing even viable for a new player? Absolutely not. Is this just about skills? No. It is about poor game design, which has allowed for a highly distorted game economy, biased towards high SP players.

    Say, that I'm a new player and want to haul expensive (for me) stuff around. Do I have the skills and ISK to fly a freighter? No. How about a covert ops ship? No. Sure, it is stupid to haul anything expensive like a PLEX in a T1 ship, but what alternative do I have, if I have only been playing for 3 months? Trust someone else to do it? Yeah, right - let's not forget that scams and betrayals are a big part of the game, too. Again, this part of the game favors high SP players and can't be fixed by eliminating core skills.

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  51. And, you end up reimbursing all of those core skill points to the vets, which they then use to get those non-core skills up to L5?

    So, how exactly does this change things? You'll end up needing to have some new high SP set of skills, in order to compete or to join the elite corps.

    This is what happened when the learning skills were removed. The game lost an interesting level of complexity, and yet it had very little effect on closing the gap between low SP and high SP players.

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  52. I held that learning skills were a detriment to the game and was glad to see them go. As a small gang PvPer, I hold that ANYTHING that draws in more players is a good thing. More players, more chance of a target in some out of the way spot, ripe for the plunder.

    And here I find myself...not agreeing, but willing to put aside the 'I paid my dues' grudge. I don't think removing the core skills or gifting them right away is the whole answer. There IS a point for investing in your character. I'm proud of the fact my guy has perfect core skills. But do we need five levels? Always? Could we get away with 2 levels of some skills, with reduced (not removed) training time and an eventual benefit equal to what five levels gets you?

    I'm not for 'go away' to the core skills, but some lightening of the burden of training them I'd welcome.

    The other thing I thought is that Eve has a 'reputation'. Non-players have heard of it, and it's 'spreadsheets online', 'big blob battles', 'dev-certified scamming and griefing OK!'

    Eve is a niche game for a lot more than its onerous character progression system.

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  53. Jester,

    That's quite a sweeping assumption that you always need the full 25m SP. For example; My industrial alt cannot fit anything except cargo expanders and a cloak. Her skills are focused purely on building, invention,transports & freighters. She has no need to be able to target anything or tank ships that have no slots!

    In addition, is that 25m all those skills at level 5? With a few notable exceptions (hull/shield upgrades to name 2) most of the skills would be ample at level 3 or 4 in order to be "useful". The shield compensation skills are basically useless and the armour comps to 4 is ample for most situations when your sub 25m SP character.

    Cyno alts can be created with less than 1m SP (and in fact should as it saves clone costs).

    Whilst I would agree that having to train a skill to target a second ship is tedious at best the ability to target "more than the ship" allows by default does allow an element of differentiation. If you could always target the ships minimum that would have huge balance implications (or result in all ships being the same except where there would be advantages from a balance standpoint - say frigs have 1 less, BS 1 more and EW platforms have 2 more for the sake of "realism" or whatever you want to call it).

    There is certainly a case for looking at some of the initial skills and removing some of them. The more advanced skills should probably stay.

    To look at it slightly differently, if all those "core" skills are removed, what would become the new "core" and how long would it take for this question to be asked of them?

    Serena

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    1. Personally, I think this is actually kinda the problem: new character development, as implemented currently, is optimized for being useful to start alts, rather than for being useful to new players. In the name of "flexibility", we made new characters completely useless for the first day or two, especially if you don't start with a plan. For example, the only characters I have that don't have CPU Management and PG Management are cyno alts. (That said, a Cyno IV alt can be done with 500k SP, these days, so there's plenty of room to jam some extra starting SP in.)

      I don't think people should start with 25M SP, but not having to decide whether to train basic 5% global fitting space or something to fit in that space would be good. (Similarly your target management example; it wouldn't kill anyone to start it at 3 or 4.) The *really* basic fitting skills make me think of the observations that it's more expensive to be poor than to be middle-class.

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  54. I think far too much emphasis is placed on listening to the EFT warriors and the bitter vets, in order to find the "best" solution to everything. If you aim to market PvP in jita in high volume markets, sure, you'll need to be very good, but there's a bunch of other trade hubs out there where you can make a living well enough; pve similarly doesn't /have/ to be run at absolutely optimal speeds. Telling other players how they should play their game is something of a tradition I feel, and it's not always called out as it should be.

    As far as the core skills, it's hard to say. At 2 years of play, I still haven't finished them, and likely won't for a while, as I have made tradeoffs in what I fly and how I fly. One of the key points that makes this viable however is my EFT skills, and I remember what it was like flying early missions in badly fit ships with bad skills. As far as being in space, ship choice and fitting for the job at hand help as much as having many of the core skills at 5, but isn't something that is currently taught at all by EVE. ( Although I haven't seen the new player experience recently, I don't believe it's in there to any real degree; feel free to correct me).

    Core skills to 3 and 4 are often enough, provided you chose your ship and fittings for the job at hand, and it's these tradeoffs that kinda make EVE. Still, given all my t2 fitting options are available, I might just be past the barrier for talking about the game as a newbie might.

    TL;DR the core skills let you make tradeoffs, but only if you know the game well enough to pick hulls/races/fittings etc.

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  55. it looks like you have shown us a table where we can have an interesting meal but you have yet to bring out the meat and potatoes. no food no food fight.

    i get your point of the grind being long and hard to get through. i have 5 subbed accounts. 3 in empire and 2 in 0.0. as most would figure the three in empire would be in their first year or so and the other two should be a bit older. but when i decided to head out to big boys lands i took my first account and my newest account. this split has lead me some hard choices. oldest can fly most heavy sub-caps and weapon systems. the newest account is finally in a dictor and flailing about at times. the 3 empire toons can do a lot of stuff but with no focus at all it seems. two are able to fly shield Nightmare's in incursions and not be an embarrassment, do heavy indy work building cool stuff like a orca a month while building parts for the three carrier bpo's i have, should i ever get the nerve to set up my pos in low sec i will start that business full on having a head start, but like most players that have been in the game a while i have been stung by nice players doing the things nice players do when there are little to no rebound for their actions. i have had the usual corp theft of bpo's or graft on mining ops causing me to go it solo in hisec as it is much easier to control it all.

    i have been stumbling like all players through those 2%, 4%, 5% steps. i don't resent the process but i do think it could be changed so the long climb up the infamous eve curve isn't a game killer. don't get me wrong on that thought as i do not ever want eve to be another wow that will spoon feed it's 10 year olds so they can play with the adults.

    the game has depth and complexity other games can only make the grind a way to compete. i gladly take the long curve with a depth of character over every patch being a gift of the last patch grind.

    well my oldest account is just over a year and a half old. done on my own with no help other than what i can find on line. i am just beginning to feel like i have some clue and can access the bigger parts of the game. a year and a half to get to this point. hmmm. still not in a cap, no chance for about 4 months and then maybe another 2-3 to be competent with the components and then i have to learn tactical use with or without having the lessons of pain. everyone knows the answer to that. "With".

    well i am about done. i need alts to get stuff done. i will not pay for training of an account that can not be logged in when i need it. if it is a side alt to an account and only one can be logged at a time i will sub a new account and to hell with side alts. but, like all of us professional noobs i find i need more than one toon to play on.

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  56. Removing the core skills sounds an awful lot like the common "lets' accelerate XP so they get to end game sooner" mantra that many MMO's try to sustain subs, and I have yet to see a game where it was a positive change. This just moves you along the slippery slope of "start all chars with max skills across the board so they can join corps and fly capital ships today". Doesn't even point in the right direction to where CCP needs to be looking for more subscribers.

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  57. I'll just run missions in hisec while I train my core skills then go pvp said the newbie.
    And before he knows it he is sitting in a Navy Raven, still without decent core skills, stuck into hulls he think not suitable for PVP, then get bored of firing missiles at red cross and leave the game.

    I think this huge wall of core skills is terrible for new player retention.

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    1. With the removal of core skills, that pilot would still be flying missions, "I need to focus on producing ISK before I go burning it in PvP."

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  58. I'll just run missions in hisec while I train my core skills then go pvp said the newbie.
    And before he knows it he is sitting in a Navy Raven, still without decent core skills, stuck into hulls he think not suitable for PVP, then get bored of firing missiles at red cross and leave the game.

    I think this huge wall of core skills is terrible for new player retention.

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  59. Let's get rid of level 1 skills, maybe even level 2 also. Navigation? Drones? Missile launcher operation. I think we can do without those.

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  60. Maybe. But maybe not. There is always two sides to an argument like this and a different perspective. On the other hand, I looked at every new ship, every new skill set, as something that I had EARNED. And that no one could take away from me. The training leading up to my first stealth bomber, my first AF, my first BS, all of those moments were important. And they stick with you.

    Handing those out doesn't make them earned, it makes them gifted. Yes that first six months of flying nothing but fast tackle in fleets was annoying, but you know what? It made me really freaking good at fast tackle. It also gave me a chance to observe, to learn and to experience Eve in ways that remain vitally important to me even today.

    I'm not convinced that skip gifts are the answer frankly. As you mentioned we already got rid of learning skills, so I'm not convinced the idea works.

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  61. I say: Give everyone all the core skills that are needed to fill the gap mentioned in the article and add that freed time and bonuses up to the rest of the skills. Specialization!

    To give you an example: Weapon systems and defense systems

    Once you filled the gap, add time and bonuses to each of the five weapon systems and skills for armor and shield modules. Then add up another ~12 months of training time and place a decent bonus on top of it. A bonus that will be given as soon as one has maxed out all the skills of a certain weapon system/ defense system.

    Regarding the levels:
    More time investment would mean more and bigger bonuses, so that it makes it worth the time bringing up a specialization skill to L5. (2% is just ridiculous)

    This would make the skill system a lot more interesting, meaningful because of the difference between a specialized and generalized player and it finally would make it a system with real consequences. Because ,in my opinion, right now the skill system really isn't representing the actual idea behind the game (choices that matter, real consequences) at all.

    That said I think that the skill system has to be drastically revamped in order to match the needs of a New Eden that has been evolving over the years. The skill system is a ancient and static construct that was made way before the players transformed EVE to what it is right now and in order to match the current state of it and in order to support the idea of real consequences and the risk vs. reward principle I really think that it's time to replace the skill system with something more suitable.

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  62. The core skills don't bother me. What bothers me is how CCP has been adding new skills, which I now need to train up, in addition to the core skills. Like the sensor compensation skill and the mjd skill. The vets in our corp don't care about the new skills, 'cause they don't have anything else to train - so they just go ahead and train up the new skill to level 5. But, I keep falling further behind the vets, since my corp insists that I have to train up these new skills to level 4, which means I have to stop training my core skills.

    Also, unlike the core skills, which benefit you across many ships and modules, these new skills only help for one specific thing. Worse yet, there are things like scanning, which require you to train up not one skill, but a bunch of skills.

    So, core skills are ok. Adding more new skills is not ok. And skills which only have one use, or one of several skills for only one use, suck big time.

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  63. holy crap, never thought of this before. this idea may be good enough to introduce noobs to pvp fairly quickly. Maybe another buff to noob ships, and alittle more tutorial tweaking here and there and BAM! noobs being sent into FW space. the mechanics are already in place, the noobs get there first pvp player interaction early on.

    thank God your on CSM Jester, tell ccp about this immediately it will probably solve alot of problem, and i could get more of my friends to get into eve. It is the three to six month training in core skills that turn alot of people off to the game. One should be able to enjoy the full fun of eve in the first few days, rather than missioning and "grinding" in high sec.

    P.S. if you don't tell ccp this wonderful idea i will personally come to your home system and lock it down with 300 archons blaping you and your alts till you tell them.

    P.S.S. tell them overheating should be included in this also either that or NO PREREQUISITES its annoying and you need it for solo pvp badly

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  64. Jester CSM forever

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  65. Actually, when I was a new player, getting those +2 or + 4 or +5% increases made the skill queue fun. Every day or two I'd get a new shiny (or several!) and feel like I was progressing. As I played longer, I needed less of the treats to keep me involved. But that constantly getting core skills, and the order that I chose to improve, that kept the learning process interesting. Also, as a result I am thoroughly addicted to EveMon and the skill queue creation game.

    I'm also reminded of Malcanis' Law when reading your post: "Whenever a mechanics change is proposed on behalf of 'new players', that change is always to the overwhelming advantage of richer, older players."

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  66. Hmm you do have a point on the 5% and 2% thing, it can be stressful, especially for new players, to try and learn all the core skills. But without the skills how would one determine ones ability to fit T1 or T2 modules?

    I personally would not mind having the core skills reduced somewhat and having all the benefits rolled into different skills. Even though I am well passed the core skill training phase, I train and fly with other newbies that have yet to train them. Trying to get them into these AND into the ships that need to be flown is extremely difficult and sometimes downright impossible.

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  67. There are a heap of skills that virtually anyone flying anything simply _has_ to get in the first year. They serve absolutely no purpose in dividing up pilots who choose to specialize. All of these skills should be removed, with the status baked into the hulls: CPU Management, Powergrid Management, Capacitor Management, Capacitor Systems Operation, Navigation and Drones. These skills only take a few days, but they hit you with a boring skill, right as you're starting out.

    It _will_ make noobie alts (such as suicide ganking alts) much more powerful, which is something to consider.

    I'd also look carefully at most of the raw "have enough PG/CPU to fit" skills, such as Weapon Upgrades/Adv Weapon Upgrades and Shield Upgrades. The main idea should be... "if the skill doesn't immediately allow me to use some new piece of gear AND isn't specialized enough that at least half of your ~20million SP combat pilots don't have it, it should probably be eliminated".

    I would combine Energy Grid Upgrades and Electronics Upgrades to "Engineering Upgrades", remove their stat adjustment and bake it into the items that they enable. Shield Operation and Shield Management should probably either be combined or be removed. Silly skills like Warp Drive Operation could go away, as well as unnecessary percentage builders like Social and Negotiation.

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  68. "Drudgery" - except for the thousands of players who created alts in an attempt to re-create the original experience of starting a character from scratch that they originally fell in love with.

    Bad changes to Eve:
    Increasing starting skill points
    Removing learning skills

    Minutes show you are proposing the removal of original attributes.
    and now you want to ruin the new player experience even further by giving them lvl 5 base skills?

    Next you will be trying to protect newer players from experiencing awoxing and suicide ganking and all of the other sandbox experiences that make Eve a game worth playing long term. Instead you will turn it into every other MMO where new players who don't experience the sandbox only end up playing for a few months.

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    1. Awoxing destroys FAR more subscriptions than it generates (although perhaps not as many as wardecs). CCP will never get rid of them due to how in love with them some vets are, but they are net drags on the game for the sake of very few players.

      Frankly, anyone who is retarded enough to think that "I can awox... that means it's a sandbox" increases the playerbase IQ when they leave.

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  69. Sure, give me those 25 Million skills as refunded skill points, will be a happy ... uhm ... while we are at it, can we get something different to spend those 25 million skills than please? No problem with reducing the core skills to 2.5 instead of 25 million skill points to speed up the character specialization. And for the vets, just imagine how much more useful your alts will be once you got on each of them all or nearly all core skills back to spend into other areas of the game.

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  70. Eve would be better served by lowering the training times of higher level skills. Not the shorter, lower levels. Maybe the longer you sub to Eve you could get a skill training bonus that speeds it all up, maybe implemented as an extra implant that works for the amount of time you sub'd your account(s). Yes that would be nice! Maybe a way to say thanks to the people paying cold hard cash.... or the people that got the second decade collector’s edition “Mystery Code” :)

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  71. I normally think you're pretty cluey, but in this case I think your bittervet thinking is taking over. Those core skills add a feeling of progress and achievement. Yes, they are a PITA if you're raising a 3rd or 4th alt, but for a new pilot / player getting to Engineering (sorry, Power Management) V feels like a real achievement.

    I think they play an important psychological role.

    They also act as a check on the power of alts, but this is less significant.

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  72. I can't say I was depressed or bored through that core skills. It was providing nice and fast achievable rewards. You log off and the next day you log in your skill has finished and your ship now has 5% more shield. The level 1 mission you've been flying yesterday is now easy and you can try to bite the level 2.

    This skill progression is a useful tool to teach the players how to use ships, what they rely on and how you can improve it. Do I increase my speed for better tank or do I work on the hardeners?

    If there is a problem, it lies with the Vets who have to come down from there high horse and recognize that there are lower skills and you can build ships with lower skill requirements.
    It isn't that long ago that a group calling them self "brave newbee inc" or something and I think they pretty much proofed that you don't need to be the "all V" dude to be useful. It is the Community of Vets who have to agree to that and see that.

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  73. I'd ignore this, but you're a respected CSM member, and there is a chance that this isnt just filler post.

    Here is the deal:

    Arguably solo PvP is where min-maxing all relevant skills pays off most, right?
    I happen to spend a big chunk of my time in eve doing 0.0 soloing. I have a good chunk of SP too (86mil, all sub-cap).

    Now i go through all my solo engagements throughout the last year and question myself "would the fight go any different if i had 80% of the stats?" - in 95% the answer is "no" and in the 5% where it would go any different i'd just handle the whole encounter differently, just the same as i would do if i had links or a stronger ship etc.

    In my opinion "time to viable" (lets say all IVs with a lvl V enabler skill here and there) in eve is really not a problem for the new player after CCP removed learning skills; certainly not half a year.

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  74. Random thoughts on this:

    1) Perhaps your question should be:

    if we setup all new players with the equivalent of 25M skill points and let them pick how those skill points are used, can they form useful alts ?

    For example, someone who wants a pure market toon, won't give too squirrels for core engineering skills, but will dump as much into trade.

    2) You make the point early on that there is a core of skills all pilots need to be effective, But immediately to include "...and Shields (or Armor)..". A choice. For most pilots we make this choice over time, as we learn, to suit our desires, needs (and right or wrong) and our best guess as to what we might need down the line.

    I don't want someone choosing all my core skills for me, they may not pick what I want. Originally (and I don't know if this is still done) we chose a race, bloodline, and basic occupation, and from that a base skill set was assigned for us. I believe what you are proposing would be the equivalent of handing over a larger base skill set in a preset basket.

    3) I would suggest that if we are to let players get more comfortable with their toon, and to take ownership of that toon, they need to work their way to shaping that toon in their own image. An apartment that comes fully furnished doesn't feel like home, it feels like a hotel. An apartment furnished over time is a home. If we make our EVE characters too easy to put on, they will be discarded just as easily.

    4) A 25M sp toon has a certain usefulness, not necessarily because he has 25M sp in core skills, but because he has 25M skill points earned over 450 days blowing ships up.

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  75. Forcing players to make choices between specialize, or to choose between 5% medium gun damage or a new ship class, added a lot to game play. At EVE's launch, this mechanic was fantastic. A year after launch, it will still pretty good. When I started playing in 2005, I think it still made sense.

    But now? It's awful. Between the lack of new players and the skill point inflation of the bitter vets, level 5 skills are essentially baseline. What other game would look to it's new players and effectively tell them that they'll take a -40% penalty to all stats for their first year playing and a -15% penalty to all stats for their second, and expect them to stick around? It's insane. And that's heaped on top of their lack of options for flying other ship classes, participating in other types of game play (salvaging skills, hacking skills, mining, industry, etc).

    I love EVE. It's my favorite game of all time. And I'm as bitter as any vet. But I want EVE to survive, and spitting in the face of new players with a two year handicap they can do nothing but wait out is absurd. Yes, we paid our dues - but we paid them when the Earth was young and EVE was a completely different world. If we expect new players to do the same, well, we've all seen the concurrent user graphs.

    My suggestions (pick one):
    a) Pick a 25 million sp set of 'core' skills, and give them to characters. Maybe let them choose a race/class like in the old days and start with a relevant skill set.
    b) Start a brand new, pristine, EVE server. Let the bitter vets fight over Tranquility and the new players and those interested have a fresh universe.
    c) Reset Tranquility.

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  76. What you are referring to, I actually call it "back in my day"-syndrome.

    But it also has a psychological aspect of it: once an individual has spent some (i.e. considerable) time learning the tricks and perks of any social structure or infrastructure (just think about schools, workplace hierarchies; or operating systems, major version upgrades), they will become interested in its upkeep, in its status quo.

    When change comes people will moan about it, because they perceive it as a loss. A loss or their hard-earned status. A status that they have worked for, sweat, bled and cried about.

    The more time I am spending off the game the more I realise that this game does teach you a lot about life. Also that it resembles life in more way than first thought of.



    Eve is real, but Real is EVE

    Think about it:
    I can really call it an equation of X million skill points = x years of real life.
    The first 20-odd years you'll spend in a 'must' institution (school), learning the basic skills and then the not so basic ones too.

    Then you go out at the age of 25 years or so (or 25m skill points), eager to change and to rule the world but you lack funding.

    Then you get a little bit older (35 years = 35m skill points), you'll get your first car, your fist GF (Capital ship), field it, possibly use it, once... twice... thrice... :-)

    After some years (around 50-60 years into = 50-60m skill points), you'll have paid the full mortgage back on your house (Supercapital), Field it, use it, but you'll be more cautious and you will probably not lose it.

    Around the 80-90 years mark (80-90m skill points) - IF you survive for that long - you will have accumulated enough wealth to really just not care about anything any more. You'll settle in for some quiet life, away from the 'noisy' CTAs and wars.

    And eventually ... quit.

    Then after 100m skill points a character is pretty sound in any direction, at 200m, there are no new things to crave for.

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  77. I assume vets would expect an sp refund (like the learning skills). How much would this be? Is that too much?
    Personally I'm OK with this. I think lowering the barrier for new players to enjoy the game is a positive for all players.

    -Rahmiro

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  78. I'd take it a different path - suppose you could spend 12 plex and get all the core skills added to a character of your choosing...

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  79. I think you're applying your bitter vet perspective to the new player. When I was actually new, it was great to get new skills and new abilities. It was exciting, something to aspire to. Sure, now, as someone with 12 characters across 6 accounts, training a new alt's core skills is a beating. But it wasn't when I was new.

    TONS of games have some level of training system to them, and its not a drag, its progression. Given the choice between killing boars over and over, and a time based system, I prefer time, though subscription numbers may suggest the general populace prefers boars.

    But saying 'core skills are such a drag' is a bitter vet's view, not a new player's, at least imho.

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    1. Don't really agree.

      "But saying 'core skills are such a drag' is a bitter vet's view, not a new player's, at least imho."

      I think that 'imho' is the key part of that sentence. It's not so much about being a vet or being new, a lot of people, and I'd be tempted to say the vast majority of MMO gamers, would much rather just jump into some real action when they start playing a game. Especially a game that's going to charge you each and every month, whilst they wait 20 days for a single skill to go up a single level, with very little you can really do about it... At least with boars if you spend more time killing them, you progress faster.

      People feel ripped off when they have to pay £30 to sit around waiting to get a vaguely effective starting character to use, by which point they've realised the game isn't for them anyway, and so leave.

      I've convinced six of my RL friends (and five members of my guild in WoW) to download and play the trial of EVE. I spent time talking them through the basics, providing them with financial support and helping them run missions, wet their feet in PvP, giving them rough guides in manufacturing/researching, etc...

      How many stuck around, even to the end of the trial?
      None.

      Reasons?
      ALL OF THEM (without exception) said, "it just takes too damn long to get going.".
      MOST complained, "why am I going to pay a subscription fee, just so I can wait 100 days to fly and do something. Then, when I finally get there, find it's not what I expected, and so don't ever actually do it?"

      Although, personally I love EVE, and I agree with you in the fact that I consider it progression, I can totally see where they're coming from. These are genuinely understandable concerns. More to the point, these are concerns that can be avoided (see my suggestion a few comments down, but aren't.

      Again, I'd be very interested to see what CCP's retention percentage of trial accounts is. ESPECIALLY from those who use the "try it for free" 14-day trial, and NOT the 21-day refer a friend (which are normally used for free 51-day character). I'm willing to bet it's ~VERY~ low, probably worse than ~3%. But I guess we'll never know that.

      Delete
    2. Here's the thing: progression is subjective. When EVE was young, it was progression. Now? It's having artificial feeling handicaps removed; "becoming viable".

      Delete
  80. I currently have 2 characters. One is my main with ~21 mil SP who is approaching mastery of the core skills. My other is my FW pvp alt I created 2 months ago.

    With my main character, I didn't pvp for the first 7-8 months of its existence because I was convinced "I didn't have the SP for it". With my alt, I took the approach that I was going to attack everything that came into my FW plex from day 1. I discovered that a much older condor pilot isn't going to survive to a 1 week old merlin sitting 2 km from the button waiting for him with the holy trinity of pvp (web/scram/ab). I was able to find good, winnable fights days into my character because I understood the game mechanics and learned which fights I could win and which fights I could not.

    Most of the knowledge I used to start my new character came from my main. Not having the core skills when starting to pvp gave me a far better understanding of the way ships move in eve than I ever had with my main. Thats why I'm of the opinion that giving everyone level 5 core skills will only aid veterans starting new characters that already understand these mechanics. I believe the problem is in the introduction of pvp to new pilots and the common belief that the only thing they can do is put a warp scram on their frigate and get blown up after holding down a target for the 20 seconds it takes for everyone else to get on grid. The FW plex mechanics are very good for setting up controlled engagements and anyone who is considering a life of pvp should be pushed into understanding and using the FW plex system. Not to mention the isk benefits of the current FW system and how easily it can fund a pvp account.

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  81. Eve online, to me, has become my facebook game. Log in, refresh PI, make sure skill in training is in training, make sure market sell/buy arr competitive, log out. Next alt, rinse repeat. Exit eve online. Log into war thunder and have fun.

    I've gotten to the point where I seriously wonder why I'm still subscribed to eve at all..

    My friend I got into eve quit after he realised how long it was gonna take to enjoy eve. He was just not interested in a "it gets fun later, I promise" game, and sadly I now agree with him.

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  82. +1 from this pilot.

    I can see how CCP could be worried about canabilizing revenue since I would not need to start a second account or multi-train to create that Gallente FW toon that I want to have, there is truth in that, but how many more trial accounts would convert if new users were actually able to fly decent ships reasonably well and not get whelped by level 4 missions the first time they scraped their way into a battleship.

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  83. Also, code skills are the fundamental opposite of learning skills.

    When I started, I read up all about the learning skills. I deliberately sacrificed short-term pilot advancement so I could train meta-skills to let me advance faster. I liked it, but I also understand why it's an odd thing for a game to encourage.

    Core skills are different. When you train core skills, you're training useful skills. Each level unlocked, and remember that even level 4 / rank 2 takes just over 1 day, makes your character "better". And EvE gives enough content to give you something to do in that first two weeks from being minimally capable to being at least somewhat capable - the problem is mechanisms to keep that momentum going.

    Core skills aren't the problem.

    Now, if we wanted to talk about learning implants (might be worthwhile) or reducing the pre-reqs for some T2 items to IV (worried that this would play into Malcanis' Law re alts), that would be a more interesting conversation.

    (And no, I don't think making alts slower to train is a bad thing, either for gameplay or the EvE business model)

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  84. My science & trade characters don't need shield compensation V to fly their blockade runners around the place collecting data cores. My exploration character doesn't need armour layering 5 to explore in a covert ops ship.

    Invest those 25M SP differently and you have a kick-arse T1 manufacturing, POS managing, corp-holding, alliance-running character.

    One thing I might be interested in is a monthly/yearly pool of "bonus SP" given away as, say, Christmas presents or billing anniversary presents or "come back and play" inducements. These would be based on the "slippage" that the lowest-advancing characters have behind the fastest-advancing characters, in the same way that ship insurance is based on market price, along with an adjustment based on character SP versus maximum SP in the game. Thus the new character with no implants and no clue about how to use neural implants will get a decent bonus equivalent to about a third of the difference between the worst remap with no implants and the optimal remapped toon with +5s. The 10 year vetran with optimal remap and +5s will get a "pinch of salt" worth of SP.

    Then you give starting players a small pool of, say, 2M SP to start with. Give them advice on what skills to invest in given their "Personality Analysis" quiz or some other game-provided feedback, along with advice from NPC corps, forums, etc.

    Basically, something vaguely like but not like the DUST passive SP, which benefits the younger characters more than the older ones.

    But simply removing the so-called "core skills" is misguided. That would be ignoring the basic fact that you can pilot a ship and be effective in combat with all-4 skills, using meta4 gear, or be insanely ISK-rich and pimp your faction battleship with officer mods to make up for your lack of SP.

    If you want more guidance on the so-called "core skills" check out Tippia's newbie skill training plan: http://blog.beyondreality.se/Newbie-skill-plan-2. Worth noting is that Tippia's plan totally ignores the possibility of a character entirely focussed on not flying in space.

    Sure, you'll want Electronics, Engineering and a few other skills to 5 to be a T2 inventor. But you can choose to specialise there as well, making a trade of specialising in a niche versus being equally bad at everything.

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  85. Either my cache never updated, or Jester was a bit slow on approving comments this time. :) In my first post I tried to give some example skills, because I have a sneaking suspicion several of the commentators here are talking about different sets of skills.

    Most of the comments opposing removing the core skills are making one of two points:
    1) You can PvP effectively without most of the core skills
    2) Core skills DO make your character better or some nonsense about a sense of accomplishment

    Regarding the first point.... uhm... sure. I do have a 2-month trained frigate brawler who wins plenty of fights against much older characters. But that's quite orthogonal to the discussion we're having here. The topic is "Do these core skills add enough to the game that it's worth throwing PERCEIVED barriers in front of new players?" Whether or not they're real barriers is quite irrelevant, virtually everyone tells the new player to skill up fitting skills first. (as opposed to skilling into battleships, which virtually everyone does anyways)

    On the second point. I think entirely too few of you have tried to get a real-life friend to play Eve. People are pretty ready to accept that a more skilled player's ship is bigger, meaner, tankier and faster than their starting ship. But you usually hear the "spreadsheets" line when you bring out the same rifter they're flying, but they can't fit all of the gear you can.

    Perhaps the discussion would be much more clear if those advocating for the core skills could explain what, exactly, would be wrong with removing exactly these 5 skills: PowerGrid Management, CPU Management, Weapon Upgrades, Adv Weapon Upgrades, Shield Upgrades.

    Let's think about this from the other side. How about we bump up the PG requirements for plates and add an "Armor Upgrades" skill... would that _improve_ the game? Let's be consistent here. "Because we've always had these skills" is not a real defense.

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  86. I'd be more inclined to implement a kind of sliding scale on the "core" skills.

    So you start with level 5 in each of your core skills. Then when you hit 10,000,000 SP, it drops down to level 4 in each of those skills, and then again at 20,000,000 SP down to level 3. It would then stick at level 3 until trained back up.

    Each level you train back would take exactly half of the difference between the level IV & V SP requirements for that skill.

    So, if it was for a (1x) skill, it would cost:

    Level IV: 45,255
    Level V: 256,000

    256,000 - 45,255 = 210,745
    210,745 / 2 = 105,372.5 SP

    This way everybody wins...

    - Newbies don't need to spend six-months training up these core skills, and can instead concentrate on mining/manufacturing/pve-ing/pvp-ing from the get-go (or near enough).
    - But, as they're character increases in SP, they then have to start investing back into these skills (for nearly the full amount), if they want to keep those skills at a high level.
    - Vets can be satisfied that sooner or later, newbies are still going to have to invest in these skills if they want to remain competitive in their chosen field, so vets haven't wasted SP on skills that newbies no longer have to.

    This strategy negates a lot of the barrier to entry (that we all know is probably EVE's biggest "failing", at least in terms of retaining new players beyond a trial account), without penalising any of the existing playerbase.

    It allows all newbies to finish the tutorial, and immediately get started getting their feet wet in any of the "professions" the tutorials walk you through. It also saves you having to endlessly Google things like; "EVE more ship CPU skill", "EVE faster capacitor regeneration skill", "EVE increased maneuverability skill", etc.

    Even starting at level IV, and working it's way back down to II would be a pretty huge bonus.

    I'd relate it to one of those games where you start off with a really powerful, "end game" character for the first hour or so of gameplay, and then something goes wrong and you start all over again, back at level 1.

    Maybe some of my real life buddies would've stuck around for longer if every time they asked me something like:

    - "Oh cruisers look cool! Should I buy one of those!?".
    - To which my response would have to be, "Well, yeah, you can buy one. You won't be able to fit it with much for two weeks though, and then you won't be able to fly it well for another month after that".

    It's incredibly off-putting, and probably EVE's biggest problem. The fact you can't make a new character, run through the tutorials, and then immediately start doing all the stuff being shown to you is pretty frustrating.

    That's just my idea/thoughts on the matter though.

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  87. I agree that dropping all the Core skills into one 25M SP pool obscures a lot of the choices you make as a new player. Minmatar combat characters don't need to focus on capacitor skills as intently as Amarr combat characters, for example. Industry characters don't need Gunnery V or Drones V. Tippia's newbie skill guide has plenty of "good enough" skills at IV, III or even II, at least to get going.

    It seems to me that the real issues surround the core skills:

    1) the exact time when you have to make a lot of critical choices as far as what to train how far is the time when you have the least amount of knowledge or experience to make the choice, aka my first few months with this toon. For this reason, something almost like a starting profession /might/ be a good idea: here's a 1M SP logistics alt; here's a 1M SP laserboat pilot; and so forth. (I'm capping it beyond 900,000SP because if you're a capital pilot training a cyno alt, you know exactly what you need to do--suck it up and train the character.)

    2) L1 and L2 missions, and low-end mining, pay absolute crap. On the other hand, this has led to the habit of older players throwing money at newer players, which is the beginning of an introduction to the social game of EVE, so I'm not necessarily arguing that the answer there is to buff L1 and L2 mission income, or T1 mining laser output. It's just that it's hard to feel like you're able to do much when you're broke and your earning potential sucks. Only a small, highly motivated percentage of players sidestep that, or fall under the aegis of corps and alliances that have tutorials and tools to show new players where the real money-making opportunities are (trading, scamming, etc.), and how to exploit them.

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  88. Jester,

    If you’ll forgive a little paraphrasing, I have a point I wish to get at:

    ‘Veterans have come to take core skills for granted and therefore feel that any worthwhile character must have them.’

    ‘New players grow discouraged because they lack the core skills required in order to feel useful around the vets.’

    Note how both statements are veteran centered. Both the vet characters and the noob characters measure their game by what vets are doing and presume if you’re not engaged in vet level play you’re misusing your time. Given this starting point, the solution proffered is to eliminate noob characters by “insta-veting” everybody with, in effect, a 25 million skill point gift.

    I suppose one could do this but it leaves the initial presumption (only veteran level play is worthwhile) unquestioned. I think we really ought to be calling that presumption into question.

    1) Is it true? In my experience at least, no. I had a great deal of fun as a young player honing up my noob core skills and discovering the progressively improving results in game. If you skill point gift characters past this type of progression you deprive players the pleasure of getting better and better at the same thing.

    2) Should it be true? Absolutely not! A good sandbox should provide the space to enjoy all levels of play. If noob level play is no fun, a good sandbox shouldn’t eliminate noob level play but rather look into improving noob level play.

    DireNecessity

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  89. I have another question to go along with this that I haven't seen asked. And it's one CCP could give a metric on. How much time does a new account spend on core skills in its first 6 months. With learning skills back in the day it was counter intuitive to do anything but learning skills for the first few months of a characters life. So a lot of players, me included, trained them first while only leaving them for minimal quick hits in other skills. They destroyed players trying to enter the game because every guide said train them first.

    How does the Core Skill problem stack up against it, in time spent by a new player?

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  90. The problem I have with fast-tracking the core skills is exactly that new players are no longer spending six to twelve months on them. I've only been playing a few years, so keep that in mind here, but if I spent my first six to twelve months training for shinier, sexier ships, I'd only be losing much, much more expensive toys. Maybe I'm just thick, or lucky, or unlucky, but it probably took me a good few months to learn that nowhere in New Eden is safe, and never to fly anything I couldn't afford to lose. Sure everyone loses ships early on. Hell, there's even a tutorial mission designed to introduce you to the idea, but it takes a certain duration to fully appreciate EVE's wicked sense of humour, and to fully appreciate that there are consequences. All of this is completely aside from the argument that might be made for acquiring some of the simpler piloting skills.

    I think doing away with those first few, slower months is probably not beneficial. Even to player retention; I know how I'd have felt if my first expensive loss amounted to three months of grinding missions.

    It is an interesting point, though, and there might be alternatives. For example, adding skill training boosters (much like those found in some of the promotional/trial account/starter pack deals- only usable by characters under a certain age, or simply not tradeable) or even unassigned SP as rewards for completing tutorial chains, SoE arc, COSMOS (or some other non-repeatable chain/mission/event). You could even expand upon the tutorial missions a bit, say by being referred onto some kind of "mentor agent", one for each given area. You like the idea of pvp? Go see this guy and he'll get you set up with a faction warfare group. Kill enough of his enemies and he'll show you how to get more out of your shields. Industry your thing? I know a guy looking for a factory hand. He has a great training program in energy efficiency.

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  91. Hmm, hope this is not repetiton...

    I do strongly believe that it does not matter if "core skills" are granted or not. In fact we're speaking about approximately 4% of skilling time (1 year from 25 years - just to have easy math). As soon as those 4% are granted there will be another 4% identified as "new core" and the situation will be exactly the same as today - especially if the already spent training time will be reimbursed.

    The only solution here is to have proper game mechanic and enough game content for each category.

    cheers
    Janule T.

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    Replies
    1. Nope. You simply need those core skills for your fittings. Its not about 14% damage more here and there, getting a little faster, etc
      Its about making those 'standard' fittings working out for you, fittings that won´t work without your core skills, fittings that you are supposed to be able to use when you are in fleet. Those are indeed core skills, skills that are not dependent either on your ability to fly those ships, skills that you simply have to have. Its not about having the logistics or recon skills, its about the ability to fit those ships. You can have logistics V, battleships V, recons V and still be rejected in fleets because you are do not have to core skills needed.

      Delete
  92. The more work you put into your character the more you value it afterwards. I like my characters with all their shortcomings, and I like making year long plans for them even if I ditch them afterwards. :)
    The more casual alliances have the so called newbro fits in their arsenal as well, really anyone can start pretty much right away (make that a couple of weeks) with tackler frigs then t1 logis that are really OP by the way, then interceptors and bombers are really not that far away and then you go whichever path you like first - dictors, hacs, t2 logis, or do t1 bc and bs.

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