Friday, December 26, 2014

New Player Experience and the Skill Queue

Several months ago, I wrote about my issues with the skill queue system in Eve.  I really like the time-based skill queue, mainly because it removes any incentive to grind in order to progress your character's skills (which generally leads to un-fun gameplay being optimal).  Furthermore, there are always more skills to train, no matter how long you've been playing, so I always feel like I am unlocking new abilities as I continue to play.

However, I think the skill system needs to be refined in order to improve the new player experience.  A brand-new pilot will less than 1M SP can be useful to any fleet as a scout or in a tackle frigate.  In order to branch out to other roles, with T2 modules and decent support skills, it will take about 10M SP of focused training into combat skills.  This is enough to get into Interceptors/Assault frigates for a couple races, plus a basic T1 cruiser hull to V with T2 weapons.  The 0-10M SP range is where people either get hooked on Eve, or quit in frustration, and one of the biggest complaints I hear about is with the skill training system.  I think some of the issues can be resolved by helping newbies bridge this 0 to 10M SP gap faster.  This can be done in a few simple ways:

1. Get rid of attributes already!

Ok, maybe not completely.  What should be done is to make every skill train at 2250 SP/Hr, which is then modified by learning implants.  The result is that the rate of skill training is the same as it would be today (with an optimal remap), but one will no longer have to worry about optimally using remaps in order to train the skills that they want. Many of the key support skills that new players need early on have vastly different attribute requirements.

Attributes and remaps might add interesting game-play choices for veteran players, but I think they are overly restrictive to new players, and give too much of an opportunity to make a mistake that you cannot easily recover from.  When I first started, I wasted two of my remaps stupidly, which ended up greatly adding to my frustration later on when I realized what I had done.

2. Condense or remove "required" skills

There are a LOT of support skills which are basically required for any serious PVP character.  These include:

Basic Fitting Skills (1.295M SP total):
Power Grid Management V (1x)
CPU Management V (1x)
Weapon Upgrades V (2x)
Advanced Weapon Upgrades IV (6x)

T2 Tank Skills (1.476M SP total):
Mechanics V (1x)
Hull Upgrades V (2x)
Repair Systems V (1x)
Shield Operation IV (1x)
Shield Upgrades IV (2x)
Tactical Shield Manipulation IV (4x)
Shield Management IV (3x)

Capacitor Skills (1.024M SP total):
Capacitor Management V (3x)
Capacitor Systems Operation V (1x)

Drone Skills (1.5M SP total):
Drones V (1x)
Drone Avionics V (1x)
Light Drone Operation V (1x)
Medium Drone Operation V (2x)
Drone Interfacing IV (5x)

Navigation Skills (1.1M SP total):
Navigation V (1x)
Spaceship Command V (1x)
Acceleration Control IV (4x)
Evasive Maneuvering IV (2x)
Afterburner IV (1x)
High Speed Maneuvering IV (5x)
Fuel Conservation IV (2x)
Warp Drive Operation IV (1x)

Total: about 6.4M SP, or 118 days of training at 2250 SP/Hr.

This does not include other skills that I'd consider mandatory, such as Gunnery or Missile support skills to at least IV, secondary drone support skills, targeting skills, rigging skills, e-war skills, cybernetics, and spaceship command skills for your ships of choice.

This is four months of training, and almost none of it allows you to unlock new ships, weapons, or other fun things.  That is a big problem.  CCP really should try to condense, or eliminate many of these skills in order to reduce the skill training time, especially the fitting skills.  It's pretty ridiculous that the most accessible ship class (frigates) is the class with the tightest fitting requirements and has the greatest need for good fitting skills.

3. Free SP giveaways for new accounts

When a new trial account is first subbed, I would give away 1M SP that can be freely spent however the player chooses.  I would give away another 1M SP when the account is 2 months old, and another when the account is 3 months old (for a total of 3M SP).  I think this would do a lot to help newbies get established, and give them something to look forward to each month while they are trying to find their place in Eve.


  1. Your post is a rant, a collection of nonsense, EvE is a very complex and well developed game, the best in the world at the moment for its category. 118 days of training are well balanced and advanced improvements of your fleet such those skills in your list must be well weigh. The overall equilibrium regarding the skills queue management is very good at the moment also looking at this immense game as an extreme long term project that prolly will evolve easily for another decade at least, it will be then correct and fair (for old players and people that spent months and months of game time) that those 118 days will increase progressively with new patch and new skills in the future and absolutely not decreased.

  2. Interesting post Iddo. One solution to the new account bottleneck would be to award Skillpoints instead of ISK for some of the Tutorial missions... esp. the Storyline missions.