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To Stand in Line

MoxNix wrote about how irritating he finds his 24 hour queue to be and how much he'd like a longer one. This is a common complaint. Why is it so short? Why can't I just set my skills?

In the comments, someone mentions the time before there was a skill queue.

This dev blog by CCP Eris was written on February 4th, 2009. He opens with the simple line, "We're developing a skill queue." The dev blog continues:
While it´s cool that you can advance your character when you are offline, we did worry that if we introduced a skill queue some players might just set a queue for a year and become less active in EVE. That´s not what a massively multiplayer ONLINE game is about. EVE is a social game and we want you exposed to other players so you can start making legends out of you or corporation and strive for domination. A long abstinence from EVE would ruin this for us.
 This caused CCP to introduce the 24 hour skill queue six years into Eve's existence. Now, another five years forward we ask, "Is it time for a longer queue?"

The first request that I often see is an ability to change skills out of game. I will stand up now and say that I will not support skills outside of the game. I know that many people play Eve outside of Eve but I'm old fashioned. I believe that game play should happen inside of the game. That means changing skills and changing market orders. I will not support them outside of the game.

That said, I found myself wondering if a longer skill queue would be bad. It means people could plug in skills and forget. I can also see people spending their time building in their EveMon plans into the game and letting that ride. Right now they are built out of game or people just add what they think they should add whenever they do.

Unless they are like me. I've recently come to love long skills. It is one less thing to worry about as I do other things. It made me wonder if maybe a set up and forget about it queue wouldn't be a bad idea. I've also plugged in a lot of skills that I needed to learn that were not fun to learn. Without the expectation of that twenty four hour cycle I wonder if longer skills would become easier for people to learn.

It becomes a question of skill queue on line. The twenty four hour timer does not stop them. They log in, switch skills and log back out. And, to a certain extent I am not worried about the veterans. What I am worried about is the new players who already play skill queue online. I am not sure if they can be enticed into playing actively before their skills trained by forcing them to change them daily.

And, there is the baby sitting topic. If someone could set their queue for the foreseeable future, such as the summer or next six months, many baby sitting account needs would vanish. That is good. But, would the longer queue promote bitterness and lack of playing? That would be bad.

I have no answer as to what I want yet. Only some thoughts and a touch of history to finish off the topic. Eve is changing in many ways. We have multiple character training which we did not have a year ago. Time is one of those things that we do not get back, in Eve.

Comments

  1. The way I see it is that some people are going to play Skill Queue Online no matter what. At least with a 24 hour queue it's not encouraging people to do even less than they are now. Take me for example: I didn't have anything to log in for over the last few months, and nothing could really force me to stay logged in for longer than it took to update. And now that I'm ready to log in, interact, and have fun? The skill queue didn't effect that decision either.

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  2. I have some skills in reserve that are a month long. So that with knowledge that should I be away for an extended time, I can set one of these. (Wing Command V springs to mind). One of the key points I like in Eve is having a Plan B - don't undock with out it.

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  3. I haven't played skill queue online yet, but I found it managing the 24 hour queue to be a bigger burden when I would travel early in my toon's life. I simply had no skills that took longer than a few days to train and had to train a skill especially to have a long skill to place in the queue for a trip. It seems like a long queue could be handled like remaps (rare but usable) as a compromise for those who deploy or travel.

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    1. I'm having that problem right now as well. I will probably leave on a several week vacation later this year, but to make sure my skill queue finishes I will have to spend time away from training more important skills to taking the skill to IV (which can take several days for the longer skill) just so I can have that skill start training at V during the trip. It would be nice to be able to set the IV-V train at the same time, so I could make a shorter skill fit the length of the trip, or not have to wait 4-7 days for the IV train so I can plug in V before I leave.

      -Sjaandi

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  4. I think there may be a technical solution to character farming that would allow a longer skill queue, but impose speed bumps for folks who have no interest in playing EVE.

    CCP could introduce a random pause in the skill queue that would have to be manually reset. The chance of the pause increases as the time between log-in increases. Pause frequency could also increase based on the number of pauses that have occurred. That would infuriate some folks who are just incubating characters for the market.

    Also, I don't think that extending the skill queue to a week would have a huge impact on the game. Most of the skills that vets plug in are longer than a week and new players probably log on more frequently because the game is still new and exciting.

    - Crash

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    1. That sounds awful unless logging makes it so it can't happen again for a while, and at least for a month then. Otherwise imagine, you set your queue, a minute after you log off and shut down your computer it pauses and you loose all that training time (even with a low chance it will happen sometime). Newbies would definitely leave the game when your skills take only hours to train, but somehow might never finish until you log in again. And sometimes a vacation of > 2 weeks is normal; would you want random pauses then either?

      -Sjaandi

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    2. No thank you on random pauses. That would be going back to needless complexity. It is something we should have or not have.

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  5. If you force people to log on daily, you force them to make a choice about unsubbing when they can't reliably log in every 24hrs. It's just one more barrier to the casual crowd. If the casuals are cool with subbing with real money, occasionally selling a PLEX for ISK, and never logging in, I've got no problem with that. That income stream supports CCP and keeps the servers on. If that player can't log in every 24hrs or doesn't want to be chained to a game, he just doesn't play. Which would you rather have, offline paying customers or no customers?

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    1. Well, they don't have to log in every 24 hours currently. Maybe the first few weeks you are constantly setting skills but every few days I can see vs every few hours.

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  6. When I first started playing, I bought in to the "must always have skills training" crowd. Within the last 6 months, I've woken up to the fact that, just as I unchained myself from having my TV schedule dictate my life, it's OK if I let my skill queue lapse. The world won't end. Yes, my character(s) goes without training a skill for a few days. Oh no.

    I don't have a problem with the 24-hr queue. The reasons CCP gave when they originally introduced the queue are still valid. I can't think of another game out there that allows character advancement when not logged in. EvE used to be that way, before the queue. Now it's not.

    I don't think it's too much to ask for players to log in to the game at least once a day for 5-10 minutes to update skills.

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    1. I think that the relaxation with your skill queue comes with time. I have spent months with no learning implants due to deployments into null focused areas. There was a time whent hat would upset me. It does not now. Like many parts of Eve comfort and casualness come with familiarity.

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  7. Perhaps it would be possible to allow a minimum number of skills (e.g. 3). Three long skills could cover a longer time of absence, but three skills are not enough to play skill qeue online.

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  8. I don't think that "one size fits all". A younger pilot should not set up a month long queue and forget about the game - forever. A veteran on the other hand is less likely to do so. So my suggestion would be: the skill queue length depends on current SP: 1 day below 10M SP and after that you get an extra day for every 10M. So a 100M veteran has a 10 days queue.

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    1. ^ This right here seems a proper way to do it, but could be at pivotal moments in a career. Second day unlocks at 5m sp, third at 15m. Fourth at 30m, fifth at 50m, six at 75m and the last day added at 100m.

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    2. I'm not sure one day per "level" is enough. Since the common specialization skills are Rank 5 - 8, I would suggest making it so that you could put another skill in the queue after starting a level V train for one of these.
      -Sjaandi

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    3. Continuing this idea, maybe at each "level" increase the skill queue by skill rank, ie: a skill can be put in after a level V train is started for a Rank 1 skill, at the next "level" a skill can be put in the queue after a Rank 2 level V train, etc.
      -Sjaandi

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  9. Well, I'm at Eve for a bit over 3 months. In the first month I was hugely active, read blogs, logged on for hours each day. Then I hit a wall of not having enough skills to try out the next things and became inactive for nearly 2 months. I put in the longer skills thus only logging on twice a week to plug in the next skills. At the end of the 3 month subsciption I asked myself "do I want to pay again?". To find out I logged in with my new skills and found new enjoyment in the game.

    That means you cannot chain ANYONE to the game. Don't think you can chain newbies better than vets. It comes down to what people enjoy. If someone has no reason to log in until certain skills are trained, you can't do anything about it. I don't know about reasons for vets not to login for an extended period of time, but newbies have several reasons in my opinion. And the skill barrier certainly can be one.

    Do I want an extended skill queue? No. Because I didn't need it, I don't need it and I won't need it. But does the skill queue help to achieve it's goal (keep more players actively playing)? I doubt it. But since it doesn't harm because you can always plug in longer skills, I don't see any reason for an extended skill queue. Leave it as it is, I doubt it does anything bad to player activity or subscriptions.

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  10. Personally, I found nothing more disappointing to see a corp member only when he logged in for those brief few minutes to 'just do his queue' and log out.

    Also, being able to change skills on eve-gate or some other method would remove the need for illegal account 'baby-sitting' Perhaps it should cost Aurum or something so people only use it if needed, and only allowed putting a skill at the end of the queue, not modifying it directly. I am curious why you are against such things to be honest. CCP already suggested they wanted to put out an app that could watch and modify your market orders from outside the game at one of the Fanfests...

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    1. I think modifying market orders would be horrible if allowed outside the game. I don't want to post a sale with mission loot and have it instantly beat by some bot of someone who's not even logged in. I think bots would be harder to enforce against if they could control everything using the API instead of having to go through client controls. How would you prove human vs bot behavior, as long as the bot is following the 5 minute modification rule and not modifying more than one every few seconds?
      -Sjaandi

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    2. I think that gameplay should be in the game. I do not support editing the game from outside of the game browser. I think that the info they give us to allow us to plan our game is great. I do not think that should be the game play.

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    3. Is the skill queue really game play though? Or planning for game-play?

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  11. Nice work with the kittens - enjoyed that.

    About this piece, I am diagonally opposed to your view. "I believe that game play should happen inside of the game".

    Logging in from a lightweight client like a browser to change skills in a queue vs logging in with the heavyweight EVE client is really no different in terms of game play. Why should you place a distinction on the "game client" in this instance?

    So what if someone plays skill queue on-line? His/Her money is good with either client? His/her interaction with other players is non existing either way?

    Ditto the station trader that never undocks. What exactly would be the difference if this "player" traded from the heavyweight EVE client vs a lightweight browser client? What does it matter in this instance what the player interfaces with?

    In short, why can the web browser NOT be an extension of the normal client? Why can web trading NOT be legitimate play? Ditto creating contracts... *

    Being "principled" or "old fashioned" is all well and good, but on a practical level forcing all interaction to happen through a heavyweight client may place needless restrictions on some. **

    Now I can see possible downsides here. Web interface development is not free - nor cheap - and may be more cost for CCP with little financial (or other gain) gain. From CCP's side, I get that they want to get people to log in as this somehow helps retain subscriptions. This too may be legitimate. We get that. We really do.

    But on the flip side there are legitimate cases in favour of the lightweight interface. The skill queue updates when on vacation is one - this is very common - why not have this? **

    As a personal anecdote - right now I am still struggling to download the 1GB patch from Crius (I live out in the sticks). I've been "updating" since yesterday (live out in the sticks). Now as a responsible citizen I did try to lengthen my skill queues, but I am training skills that I would not have trained at this time. As a paying customer (3 accounts), why should I be inconvenienced in this way? I am aware that it is not part of the current service offering (not unreasonable here!), but I do think it is a legitimate item for the wish list.

    * Just for the record, I am not a station trader so this would not help me personally.

    ** Apologies for harping on about this. I am trying hard to get my point across without making this come across as a personal attack.

    I respect your (and everybody else's) right to be "old fashioned". I just do not recognise an appointed member of the CSM offering being "old fashioned" as a legitimate reason for supporting or denying support for certain initiatives. The reason I am rather sensitive about this is the attitude of many EVE players that insist that THEIR way of playing is the ONE and ONLY way. Everybody else is wrong. Every other play style is not legitimate.

    Now in fairness, I don't think that that is your attitude, but unfortunately the I don't support alternative clients because I don't like it (despite legitimate use cases) draws you towards that bin.

    I'm not denying you your right to dislike the idea. Nor to speak out against it. I just want a better reasons. Also note that I accept that an idea will not (and should not) necessarily be implemented just because little old me happen to like it. Or merely because it suits my play style. But this duality - empathy for those on the other side of the argument is something I think we need to encourage in the game.

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    1. THIS! Several times! Very well thought out sir!

      And if we are already discussing this, what are your opinions Sugar on CCP's plans to move PI to a tablet interface, as a separate EVE minigame? There were plans to do this a few years ago.

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    2. I know that I am a target for said words because of the CSM thing. I do not take your words personally.

      I am amused that you consider me old fashioned. I said above, I said in my campaign and I will do tinue to say that I do not support modifying the game outside of the game.

      Someone else asked is the skill queue the game? That's s good question. Maybe it is not.

      You are inconvenienced by your bad connection. I'm sorry? My thought that I asked was should we extend the queue which would directly help you with your bad connection. Is it just that it does not help in the direction that you want? I almost think you are looking for a light weight way to play Eve and that would be another question. Do we want an Eve without the spaceship part? Would that be good?

      CCP has been opposed to any tools that minipukate the game itselfm we don't have third party tools that customize Eve as other games have. Whatever comes will come from CCP.

      I think I am most puzzled that.you call me old fashioned and say I am leaning towards narrow view points when I am opening up a discussion.

      As for the response CCP gas had many ideas and many more not implemented. Do you mean a better pi interface or the ability to do your PI outside of the game and you can just play Eve Online: PI?

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    3. Erm... uh... I'm going to have to work on my writing skills. Seems I came across different in some aspects than intended.

      Old fashioned: "I know that many people play Eve outside of Eve but I'm old fashioned. I believe that game play should happen inside of the game." - Sugar Kyle in the original post, amuse away... ;-)

      "You are inconvenienced by your bad connection. I'm sorry?" Like I said - clearly came across different than intended. I'm not butt hurt or bitter because of this. Not your fault or that of CCP. Do you get a lot of whiney email or did I really sound that whiney on the issue? (Genuinely interested here - as your focus on that draws attention away form the central argument)

      Longer skill queue would help lots of folks, so continue the good work.

      To sum it all up, the actual queue or my bandwidth is not the point here. The point I was trying to make is that we should not automatically discard/support options or features (not even limited to light clients) just "because". This to me is a close minded philosophy - (as per the "the only way to play EVE is my way example"). This philosophy is something I think we need to be careful of.

      Peace.

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    4. I don't remember the exact details about PI, but in the 2012 winter summit minutes CCP Unifex said this about it:
      "Unifex: If I had it my way, I'd take Planetary Interaction out of EVE, the game, and put it on that [gesturing
      at Seleene's iPad] as a fully-fledged game in the EVE Universe. If I want to land on a planet and pull out a
      gun and shoot someone, I have to ask, does it make sense for me to do that in EVE Online the game? Or
      in the EVE Universe but through a different interface point?"
      Page 14: http://web.ccpgamescdn.com/csm/CSM_CCP_Meeting_2012_12_12.pdf

      So it was just an idea from CCP Unifex.
      And yes i was thinking along the lines of a separate PI game out of the EVE client.
      But i would be happy with a better PI interface too!:)

      But let's get back to the main point here. Short/long skills, queues, and long vacations.:)

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    5. Ah. I made a joke with old fashioned. Some how that got caught up and movedninto being immobile and unwilling to change.

      I do not think that I am discarding options or features just because. However, I think the fame should be played in the game. You are interacting n with other players. Every time you want to move something out of the game you have to make sure it does not cause undue issues. In another comment I then ask what is the skill queue because its personal unlike market orders.

      But I am.going to be cautious any time you want to open up access to the game from outside ofnit. Sometimes convince has unforseen downfalls.

      I also have not asked you to defend your argument on why the game should be open to access outside of the game browser to playing and modifying your in game characters. I do not think this is a simple or small ides even if it seems so. That also does not mean it is a bad one.

      Your point was perhaps a bit obscured by the references to the things you did not like. As an elected player I receive a lot of the feedback directed towards CCP. I have learned to take a step back because I do not want to discount an argument just because the delivery.

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    6. "However, I think the game should be played in the game."

      Except that in this game we have a significant portion of it being played outside the game via Skypes, instant messaging, third party apps, voice coms, forums, blogs, dotlan, eve-gate, coffee shops, and phone calls between players. That is what the meta-game is, everything that happens outside the actual client. And a lot of big things™ happen there between the various powers that exist in Eve. Even at the smaller scale, things happen because people meet in real life and discuss things about the game. Fanfest for instance sometimes creates odd rivalries and partnerships.

      All logging in to change your queue does is create a false expectation amongst your corpmates/friends that you are logged in to do stuff. That expectation is then dashed against the reality that you're only there to do something that could have easily been done from the character select screen or eve-gate (Provided ccp could figure that part out. While they do show us our skill queue on eve-gate, you can't edit it yet) You are on and offline so quickly that it doesn't even register on the player count, so what content do you actually generate in that 60 seconds or so you're around? Other than that ping of 'Someone's here to interact with! Oh wait... nope, alone again... Maybe I should find a new corp...'

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    7. Aye and we have the meta game. I'm talking about... You know... the video game part of Eve? Or is that to be tossed from the window and discarded while people drown in the meta and social community?

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    8. How many parts of the game are already exposed outside of the game? The whole idea behind CREST was to give us the ability to change things in game wasn't it? Love it or hate it, being able to change your queue or add a skill at the end from eve-gate would be one step towards ending account sharing and other difficulties. While also removing the 'no one logs in to do anything but change their queues' feeling I've experienced a few times over the years.

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  12. So there are some pretty good alternatives suggested here.

    Why can't my skill queue be as log as my remaining subscription period? Whether I play or not, i have paid.

    And a wrinkle to the skill queue, i wish i could add skills to the queue if the prerequisite was in the queue ahead of it.

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    1. The prerequisite request has been s common request.

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  13. After reading all the comments here and some forum threads, it seems like the general consensus is that we pay for skill points with our money. Now, is that accurate? Or do we pay for access to a game, and skill points are something CCP gives to mark progression? Just a thought.
    --Sjaandi

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    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    2. Hmmm maybe it is a good idea to think about what skill points really are. This can solve some of the conflicts with the queue.

      @Sugar: what are skill points for you?

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  14. I don't think it will ruin the game or the logged in user count if you extend the queue even to infinite lenght, or if you let players interact with the market and the skills out of the game. These are needed quality of life improvements! (market bots are another question)

    If someone doesn't have an incentive to play(undock from station) the game, then he won't play the game, when you make him log in to change skills, or market orders either.

    A hypothetical question: Would it matter if players logged in to change skills, queue lenght and market orders in the case when EVE had so much content and fun gameplay that it is hard for anyone playing the game to stop and log off?
    If the answer is NO, then the problem lies in EVE's gameplay rather then the debated out of game market order/skills modification option.

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    1. I worry more about the start of the queue and not the end. The start where people convince new players not to play until their skills are at X point.

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    2. But they still pay for the game. No matter the queue lenght, they don't provide content for others, if they just log in to change skills. What would be the difference with longer queue lenght in that regard? I still feel that you have a problem with the players, and in a sense with EVE gameplay not catchy enough.

      So where is this fear of the queue start of yours coming from? I heard null players give this kind of advice, or did, but i haven't heard this coming from low or high sec corps. Also if someone finds enough things to do in the game, or a good social group, then the advice to not log in until X amount of SP won't take root. Also most of the playerbase if the statistics are right are solo high sec players. Where could they get an advice like that?

      If your concerns lie with some of the playerbase, don't punish others for it, please!

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    3. I'm not punishing anyone considering the topic is about more skill queue?

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  15. I think that you've essentially entered into a completely defeatist mentality when you believe that you have to force people to log into your game. You're essentially admitting that you can't entice them to. I log in when I want to, or more precisely when I want to and when I have time to; if I only have to switch queues, I just do that. I generally only have time to do that.

    The attitude that you can let your skill queue lapse becomes truer as you get older, and if you screw up and let your skill queue go idle because you forget to train your fourth freighter skill to V even though you've only ever owned a Charon, no big deal, right? But it really hurts if you're new, or new-ish. I've let mine go for a few days here and there. It's not the end of the world, but it's annoying. It moves beyond annoying when you're in the service and you go on deployment, of course.

    This is really a question that requires data. How common is the phenomenon where someone "just logs in to train skills" and winds up riding some butterfly effect into being a single, slightly darker pixel in a screenshot full of bubbles and titans published on IGN? How often do people intend to just update their skill queues and then do just that?

    If you want to limit it somehow, you could expand the ISIS concept to industry and resource extraction, complete with mastery levels, and then let people put mastery levels on queues. This doesn't give you the full freedom of choice that an app or a website would, but it does mean that if you're a biology grad student who's about to spend a semester in the rainforest, you can put something huge on your skill queue and go do your thing.

    The root problem with requiring people to log in is that nobody is ever required to log in to anything, or to be subscribed, so all you're doing when you try to coerce your players this way is flirting with the possibility that they'll say "screw this" and go play some other game.

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    1. Speaking as a former CEO, I assure you that many times my just-changing-skills login has turned into "we want to wardec someone" or "should we join this null sec alliance?" or "shit we got dropped grab the hype and come boat violence".

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    2. I imagine it's different for CEOs and directors, yes. That's a very good point.

      For me, if I have five minutes to update a skill queue, then I have five minutes, and then I'm off to do something else. If I have more time than that, and I'm logging in, then I probably want to do more than change skills.

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    3. Or hey! We found a wormhole to empire! Quick, we need our stuff hauled through! Or various other things....

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  16. Before the Q, could only start new skills while playing because they wouldn't take long enough. Plus the JOY of prioritising learning skills so a Civilian Shield Booster was the only mid mod I could fit on my Gallente frigate. Used with discretion it was better than the empty slots.

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