Last October, I threw a post out there where I stated the opinion that I thought EVE Online should follow Perpetuum Online's lead and delete attributes from the game. It prompted a really good discussion in the comments about the pros and cons of the idea. I still like it, myself. I got trolled here and there in the comments about dumbing down EVE, so let me be clear: I really like that EVE is a complex, deep game. That's why I play it.
But there's a difference between complexity that adds richness to a game, and complexity that adds confusion and makes things harder for new players. Attributes, in my opinion, are the latter. It's a hold-over from pen and paper role-playing games, honestly, and doesn't have much bearing on how all of us play EVE. After all, how do you think about your character? As a "PvP character that can fly HACs, Recons, BC, and Inties with maxed out Nav and fitting skills"? Or "Gallente male with high willpower and perception"?
In the meantime, I solved the problem I mentioned in my previous post on this matter using one of the holiday gift remaps. ;-) And I totally get the side of the discussion that says that the problems with attributes and how they impact skill training should be fixed with more frequent remaps. But I think that solves the symptoms of the problem, not the problem itself.
So yeah, I still think attributes should be dumped.
That said, I've started playing Reckoning, the first Kingdoms of Amalur game. One of the most interesting mechanics in the game is the ability to remap your skill-set any time you like. This comes straight out of MMOs like Rift and Global Agenda, which allow the same thing. In my experience, it's unique for a single-player RPG, since these games traditionally live and die by their replayability. Who among us didn't play the first Knights of the Old Republic twice, for instance. The Elder Scrolls games build replayability right into the structure. In Morrowind, there were three competing "great houses" in the game, and joining one of them forever precluded you from joining the other two with the same character. As a result, if you wanted to try out those quest lines, you were automatically signing up to replay the game. Skyrim has a similar mechanic: a civil war (with associated factions and quest lines) is built right into the underlying structure of the game. You can take one side, take the other, or ignore both, and no matter which choice you make, you leave a few quests, shouts, and unique items behind.
Reckoning does things quite a bit differently. Within the game itself, there are NPCs called Fate Weavers who offer a service that allows you to remap all of your skill choices.(1) Want to stop being a mage for a while and be a kick-ass up-close-and-personal melee type? Pay some gold and a Fate Weaver can make this happen. It has one risky side-effect for the game right away: a lot of the replayability value of the game immediately drops to zero if you can quickly undo the choices you've made. However, it has the positive effect that you don't have to worry too much about picking "the wrong thing" since redoing all those picks is possible, easy, and not particularly expensive.
Weirdly, Reckoning doesn't buy into its own mechanic: I've already run into some guild quests that should be difficult for a character with skills incompatible with that guild. Think of a Fighter breezing through a Mage's Guild quest line, say. In Morrowind, if you weren't a damn good mage, you simply weren't offered the high end mage quests. You were promoted in line with your skills. Later ES games dropped this mechanic, something that I thought was a mistake. With Reckoning's "rebuild at your leisure" mechanic, the designers could have taken a lot more risks and gone with the Morrowind approach, but they didn't.
Here's the big question, though: when the Amalur MMO is released will it have this remap mechanic? Smart money says yes. After all, other MMOs get away with it, and a couple of micro-transactions here and there will solve any equipment problems of rebuilding your character from scratch.
Which brings us back to EVE Online. I've been asked a few times in the past couple of weeks (usually by CSM candidates asking what I think about a series of topics) what I think of the idea of limited or full remapping of skill points in EVE. In four words: I hate this idea. I hated it when it was brought up as a way for super-carrier pilots to reclaim some of their "useless" drone SPs, and I hate it in every other way, too. As I said above, I think most of us think of our characters -- for better or worse -- in terms of what they can do and what they can fly. I got a real sense of accomplishment when I sat in a carrier for the first time, or maxed out a particular skill tree, or fired POS guns, or found myself moved up to a Fleet booster position. These are rights of passage that -- though they're somewhat Skinner box-y -- are still quite satisfying and some of the best rewards EVE has to offer.
It would be a very different -- and measurably worse -- game if that were not the case. Just my opinion, though.
(1) Why a world whose back-story has it that every person's fate is set would have people called Fate Weavers (rather than Fate Readers, say) is something that either isn't explained, or is further along in the game than I am, but never mind.
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...