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Change and Preservation

Four weeks until the Winter Summit. A few more until the CSM candidates submit to CCP. My monthly talk had a split focus. Much was what is going on, thoughts, answers, and responses. Some is what will be going on and my opinion of things as a potential candidate.

One of the side effects of having an informal talk session is that I don't get to prepare for anything. So when Niden asked me about my feelings towards the investment of veterans I talked in circles for a bit and touched on a few areas of it. I thought a lot about why he asked that. A lot of my current writing and talks focus on what I do with new players. In a way he did a little check. "Sugar, do you care about veteran players? Will you care for them and their investment in the game?"

Its a fair question regarding my focus on new players. I tend to pick things up and start running with them. I don't often have high level plans and convoluted strategies. I rather dislike the meta and that probably causes me to start from scratch more often then I need to. But, this isn't about the meta it is about how enthuasem can accidentally obscure the complete picture.

Niden asked. I answered.

There are things like giving skill points to new players. This has its own movement. I'm not sure how broad this movement is. I'm not a fan of it. It makes me uncomfortable. I know that expierence packs and instant leveling are quite the fad in a lot of games. It allows people to enter into the game and cherry pick content.

But I like playing the game. I like it a lot. And, staring at this problem trying to think it over I sometimes feel we have Eve Online and Eve Online: PvP. They exist inside of the same game. The very open world where you can log in at six and a half seconds old and run off to join in a fight is also Eve's personal demon.

People want to feel successful. They don't just want to be able to do. They want to be able to do those things and feel as if they are successful at them. We don't discuss starting newbies at a higher skill point level because they cannot do things. We do it because they cannot do things successful and waht they cannot do successfully is PvP competitively.

They can PvP. They will probably die. At the start of the month I took a new account and did the tutorials and ran off to solo faction war. I died a lot. I killed one person. I fought off two. I died my other thirty or forty fights. I died knowing what to do. I died properly fit. It was not that I could not PvP, it was that I could not PvP competively against anyone who happened to warp in.

Eve has no levels and few restrictions. I love it. It also makes things hard.

"If you put two players in the same ship with the same skills one will probably own the other. Skill matters as much as skills." - Sugar Kyle answering Niden.
That is probably my biggest worry about the active skills. They still won't know how to fly their ship. If I take a five year old player who has never done combat, fleets, or low sec into low they wills till struggle. There are things that they have to learn that no amount of preset skillpoints will give them.

And people have to want to learn. Perhaps it is my age. I love the journey of playing. I used to run after the fleet in my Rupture as they all warped away and my horrifically poor skills made me the last one off the gate. I was only months old. But I was out there flying and trying. I learned during that time. I learned how to play the game and the game is more then who shoots who more successfully.

I hear suggestions to give them enough to get into a T2 fit frigate. What I don't hear is giving them enough to get into a T2 fit barge or a T2 fit mission Raven. What that says to me is that the problem that is being tackled is the accessibility to competitive and successful Player vs Player content at a very early age.

Often the focus is on solo or very small gang flying. That is some of the harder stuff to do int he game. I know pilot after pilot that scares me to death in space and when they slip by in an Atron or Incrusus I know I'll probably die. That didn't happen because of their skill points.

But some of it does happen because of their skill points. I think it is very easy to focus on that and ignore the rest of it.

And there is the fact that people do not want to feel devalued for their investment. One can roll their eyes at a PvPer but I see it elsewhere. I've talked a lot about high standings. Whenever I have these talks I have started to lay down that when we discuss repair we're currently not discussing devaluing the effort that has happened with gains. We're trying to get people back to zero not advance them to ten.

Value in Eve is stretches across unexpected things. I am very proud of my markets. I can gush about them for hours. I can discuss the ebb and flow of buying in low sec. I love discussing it. Markets. And I'll do it all flushed and talking at hyper speed because it is a success. It s something that I did.

When you have a game where people are told to go and make their own world, you have to then remember that they are going to create their own success points. It is too easy to step on those.

So things like skill points make me uncomfortable. I know that they don't everyone but they do me. Accessibility has many, many forms. But if someone is going to get bored they are going to get bored. It may be worth it to CCP to retain them for an extra month or two. That is a sub. But, I get to look at things from the eyes of a player.

I like playing the game. I may be old fashioned. I've told the story of how I was wrong to play Diablo to discover the story. Diablo was about collecting gear I was told. Not the story.

Silly Sugar.

Yes, I want Eve to thrive. I want our population to grow some. I want the community to be hear for me when I log in from work. I am willing to challenge old truths. Change is good. Some change is bad. And as much as we challenge these truths that our conceptual foundations are built upon we also have to challenge the ideas that come along.

"But, Sugar these things are stupid!"

Are they? Because it is very easy and very common in this game to drop the stupid card on those who do not play, think, or do as one does. That's part of defining a game as well but that does not make them, their ideas, or what they do in fact stupid.


  1. One of the things that sorta got brought up as a joke awhile ago was Red Light, Yellow Light,Green Light for when to fire based on optimum and traversal. A visual queue so you know when your shots have the best chance of landing, instead of gut instinct learned from many ships lost.

    Fozzie or Rise, I don't remember which, quickly batted the idea down in an interview somewhere as removing too much skill from the game. I've always thought that was short sighted. So much of combat is movement, Knowing your guns are green doesn't keep you from moving somewhere stupid and dying in a fire because of it. It just lets you know that where you're at now, relative in movement to where they are, is about where you do the best damage. Doesn't keep that from still being a stupid place to be. But it does give new players a hint about how combat should flow, instead of now where there is no real context and you just have to hold it in your mind before you've even learned the rules of the game.

  2. Interesting thought - red, yellow, green. It sounds somewhat like the targeting systems on modern combat aircraft. They take massive amounts of skill to operate but the targeting systems give them an audible/visual clue when target lock is acquired. It's one less thing to focus on when there are already so many important things going on. Perhaps that wouldn't be a bad thing for EVE.

    1. No. The Audible lock tone is just that, a target lock 'signal', NOT an "In Optimal" signal... No... Red, Yellow & Green alerts would remove learning WHY you are 'in range' for this weapon and not that, or 'in range' for this Ammo and not that... EVE is COMPLEX. Period. It has to be learned a a human level, you can give noobs all the SP you want, they will PLEX and all that will happen is that they will die in vastly more expensive ships than they do now... then unsub.

      EVE must be learned... and played enough to learn HOW to play it well. And no amount of SP can give anyone that and any change to the games mechanics to 'ease' new player's experience and personal skills that must be learned, nerfs the game as a whole for everyone, noobs and vets alike.

      EVE is massively multiplayer chess... a game anyone can learn basically how to play in a relatively short time, but a game it takes TIME to get any good at and YEARS to master. I pray it is always thus... or, as a vet now, I too would feel I had wasted my (4 years so far) time trying to get 'good' at it... and like all of us, from the newset wet behind the ears nubbins to the oldest '03 beta vet... I'm still learning.

      We need noobs.. but we also need to accept that EVE is not an instant gratification game... if yer innit, yer innit for the long game.

    2. The funny thing about complexity is that in the real world, we have many complex systems, and we devote a great deal of effort to simplifying them.

      As with Brad S's example military aircraft (which could be considered a close real-world analogue to EVE ships); these are very complex pieces of equipment, but the on board systems are designed to provide information to the pilot in as simple of a manner as possible so that it can be quickly processed in order to enable the split-second decisions necessary to win an engagement. There is absolutely no reason that EVE ships' systems should not do the same.

      I am all for a complex and challenging game, but complexity for the sake of complexity is a bad thing; the real-world equivalent to what you propose would be to have an F-22 pilot be required to do all targeting calculations and flight path projections by hand on a post-it note with a #2 pencil.

      If CCP really wants to give us an updated and improved UI, then instead of "Windows 8 in Space!" with "transparent" (Aero) windows that hide anything useful, they really should look into adding more graphical cues to objects in space. We are supposed to have a technologically advanced display and flight computer; what if the UI actually reflected that instead of being an Excel simulator? Let's make use of the same technology CCP used to make that hideous scan-sweep and overlay, and instead add some useful overlay information to ships and other targets in space. If I select a ship, or have it as a locked target, or maybe even if it's within a specified range, give me easily displayed information regarding the ship's speed and direction, whether it has me locked, is firing weapons or using EWAR. Put the same information around my locked target icons. Let's take some of the information that has only been available in spreadsheet form, and put it out in space. By all means, don't do away with the overview; just give us an option to have some of the immediate information in a more easily digestible form.

      EVE's UI could be so much better than it is; when you think of the possibilities, the recent "improvements" seem so pathetic in comparison. What the UI needs is ways to cut down on the clutter of windows blocking the view of space by making more information available in the main area of the game.

  3. How many players rush onward to get into battle they can sit in it undock it and fly it...but they don't have the skills to fight it....I tell my new guys not to be this guy... and yes this is an old kill but for some reason he thought that shooting my Talos was a good idea and yes those are medium guns..when I convoed him and asked why he told me that was all he had the skill for...what went unanswered is why he shot me in the first place.
    Just giving skill points so a toon can skill up isn't enough the knowledge of the game that is gained through playing it is a very important part of it...just knowing that he'd get Concorded should have stopped him.
    I like bombers, infact I've blown you up in Great Wildlands, but I lost a number of bombers before I learned how to bomb, where to place my bomber, how to gtfo when I drop my bomb, you just cant take a pile of skill points and hand a new player a bomber and say have fun (and I learned to bomb when a member of your own fleet could de-cloak you)

    1. I thi k the ability to attack is intoxicating for some. But it follows the problem that just because you can does not mean you should. Most games call themselves dangerous and wsrn you that your enemies can kill you. They often faik to deliver leaving it even more shocking when Eve does deliver.

    2. Sugar, I recently did a stint as a noob... back just before the This is EVE noobflood... and one thing I kept seeing in noob chat was an overall expectation that the "EVE is Hard and Harsh" etc. was all Hype... there was a fair amount of a kind of culture shock at the reality of our game as compared to all others...

      This is, IMHO, a huge hurdle for us in NPE/NPR... and one reason EVE will (as long as CCP holds true to the original vision) always be a niche game... in EVE loss is real, and I know many mainline, themepark players who will never play EVE due to that alone... but it also means that those of us who do play EVE... are very very dedicated to this great game.

  4. The reason why no one cries for an instant T2 fit mission Raven is that even a 1-day old pilot can do missions. Yes, lvl1 missions that make little ISK, but they make ISK.

    A young PvP pilot doesn't make "little victories". He is farmed. If you'd need a T2 fit mission Raven to do ANY missions and any ship before that is killed by rats, then people WOULD cry.

    Also, you can make ISK solo. In PvP having a team helps hugely. Newbies lack teams more than skillpoints.

    1. Or perhaps the fact that nobody tries out EVE because they saw an amazing EVE PvE Video has something to with it?

      Peoples (unreasonable) desires tend to be driven by their aims and dreams.

      You're also still dead wrong about young pilots not being able to do things in solo PvP, but you seem quite attached to that narrative so I'm not sure if there's any point arguing with you on it. But there's plenty of 2 and 3 month old pilots getting kills solo, I guess it depends on what you think of as 'young' in EVE terms.

    2. I purposefully pointed own newbie hood in this.

      Yes, friends help but solo PvP automatically draws many people. It is hard and the pilots that acompkish it get a huge satisfaction from their kills vs their kikk to death ratio. They will discuss particular fights. But it is a daunting task and it seems that skill points will fix it. I think they will die just the same in more expensive things.

    3. When you start to try solo pvp, it's 0% about SP and 100% about learning. Only after a couple of months (at least) you know enough to actually put some more SP to good use. But still, solo pvp remains at least 90% about player skills, not SP.

      That's why it's so cool. People should understand that making things easier just makes them less rewarding.

      I have to agree with the slimy green one on this: best way to make it easy and fun for newbros to pvp is teaming up with friends.

  5. What I don't hear is giving them enough to get into a T2 fit barge.

    Not many miners are willing to draw attention from ne'er-do-wells. A meta fit Procurer will do the job. The tech1 mining strip is omni ore (except merc).

    strip; invul, invul, med extender, EM amp; dcu, mapc (if fitting skills are lacking)

    A procurer is the cheapest, tankest and decent orehold. Has a good base speed. It can get away with ignoring rigs initially. And stands the best chance of being able to survive being flown from a prime trade hub. I would set a skill path of minimum reqs for the mining strip, standard level for fitting/cap and improved level of shield defence skills. Both fitting and defence have application elsewhere keeping the new player's options open. Also need to have some drone skills - being able to launch three or four scouts being will handle hi-sec belt rats.

    My word to a newbie wanting to mine: pretend you are cooking meth, and that everybody else you meet is potentially DEA, Vice or a Fed. the end. If you not being treated like a criminal, expect quasi-apartheid from some role player with about as much substance as a isk doubler.

    1. Our points don't line up on this topic. You are correct. I was not speaking in a technical pure question but in a comparison when people say that they need it to be competitive in the game and remain interested. The topic really only favors one discussed subject.

  6. I disagree with a T2 fit frig because its exciting to have weapons and gear to work towards. However I think everyone should start out with core skills. If not at lvl 5 then at least lvl4.

    Its such a hurdle to learn Eve, then add the fact that you can't squeeze things into your ship because you're too new. Fitting skills start out awful for newbies, and most of them dont even know about fitting skills. Let's start them off with at least lvl 4

    1. What if they where at level 1 instead of level 4? The purpose is that they are in that skill list and known to the pilot. The choice of leveling becomes their own.

    2. That takes care of some of my concern. Instead of hoping they buy a random skill book they can have it injected already. This will lead newer players to read up on these important skills

  7. Elaborating for emphasis and beginning with a quote from Sugar . . .

    “There are things like giving skill points to new players.”

    I think much depends on what you define as ‘wasted time’ and what counts as ‘wasted time’ is a decision made from a particular position with a particular aim. If a player proclaims, “No sense PvPing until I can fit a T2 frigate because I won’t be competitive” then skill queue time expended to that point is ‘wasted’ because, having declared that you absolutely won’t participate until X, you force yourself to thumb twiddle until declared conditions are met. Leaving aside whether the proclamation is actually accurate, it’s worth noting that it’s a very limiting view rendering progression and little victories unimportant aspects of game play.

    Alternately, one can embrace a goal (say a specific T2 frigate fit) and then be faced with multiple decisions: What do I need to do to get there (skill books require ISK), what’s a good order to go about getting there (pluck low hanging fruit first?), what should I do in the mean time (tackle?).

    Among other things, Eve is a very goal oriented game. Some goals can be achieved quickly (mere hours with optimal obtainable in a few weeks) while other goals proceed at a snail’s pace (multiple months to obtain and optimal very possibly a year or more).

    Seems unwise to me to simply handover the quickly achievable right from the get go (because it’s ‘wasted time’) since doing so leaves the newbs it’s supposed to help only long term goals to pluck from when 1) they have no idea what long term goals they may have and 2) no experience at how to go about goals of any sort, long term or short.

    In real life most human babies crawl before the walk and walk before they run. Seems to me a good way to go about things and just might be applicable to Eve (being a game played by humans).

    1. I agree with that to a point. You should crawl before you walk, but you shouldn't learn to crawl with weights around your neck.

      It may be hard to remember but even the act of warping your ship is a hard concept for new players.

      Skilling is a weird thing, and the fact that you need skills to activate your modules, and separate skills to make the modules fit is steep. That's why I'm suggesting having fitting skills to lvl 4 right off the bat. There is still a goal to strive towards perfect fitting skills, but its not as punishing to not understand the concept of fitting skills when you first start.

      Remember once upon a time you needed to learn skills that helped you skill faster. These were done away with since it was too rough on a new player.

    2. Endo,

      Setting aside what counts as ‘fitting skills’ (a debatable point all by itself), I see at least two ways to interpret, “Skilling is a weird thing, and the fact that you need skills to activate your modules, and separate skills to make the modules fit is steep.”

      1) ‘Fitting Skills’ add obscure complexity. Like Learning Skills of old, the game would be better without them. While I don’t believe you hold this position, I have seen it argued before.

      2) ‘Fitting Skills’ as currently implemented hamstring newbs far too much. Noob game experience would be far better if those skills mattered less (everybody starts at lvl 4).

      Rooting around underneath the second interpretation I can’t help but notice that all you’ve really done is move newb beginning point from ‘too extravagant’ full T2 frigate fit to ‘eminently reasonable’ full T1 frigate fit. If one accepts this declaration one might claim time training into a full fit is ‘wasted' because everyone knows you’re expected to thumb twiddle until full fit is reached. I do not accept the declaration.

      For most newb matters, a full fit frigate is unnecessary. The new player experience spoon feeds little bits at a time and if you follow it as presented you spend most of your toddlerhood with less than completely fit frigates and those incomplete fits work just fine. Even the archetypal six hour old hero tackler functions wonderfully with a completely empty top rack.

      Progressing to a full fit is not time wasted. It’s beginning to a wonderful universe of game play.

    3. I agree that progressing to a certain fit is a good thing. That's why I'm strongly against letting new players have instant access to a t2 frigate. They would miss out on that initial fist pump moment that comes with seeing a "shiny" tech 2 blaster on their ship.

      My concern is being able to fit simpler ships is almost impossible newbies. I created an incursus for a week old player. All t1 gear and I had 10% cpu left over. I thought surely he could fit it. Nope. He needed a rig to boost CPU.

      To me that seems a bit ridiculous. I have a 10% advantage on just fitting a ship. Dont get me wrong. No player should be a leet solo pilot without at least 6 months skill commitment. But at the same time there shouldn't be such a punishment for starting the game fresh.

      There are so many fits out there that demand perfect fitting skills. That is something to strive for. That is something to set your skill plan towards. But being unable to fit a basic incursus? I dont understand how that helps the game. I say lvl 4 CPU and power grid skills for newbies is fair.

    4. I dont know how to edit. I just read Sugars reply and I suppose having it to level 1 would take care of my main concerns of confusion.

      I really believe that personal skill is harder to learn than skill points. So we should restrain from arbitrarily punishing a player who already has to learn so much.

      But I'd be happy with lvl 1. Maybe level 3's? Am I pushing it?


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