Greedy Goblin

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

EVE skill system and M&S

People always whine how the EVE skill system is punishing newbies and this or that skill should be removed or made baseline or whatever. Reading Tobold about "progression" made me realize that these whiners aren't just randomly wrong, they are as wrong as they could be. The EVE skill system is the best possible in the gaming industry.

At first we have to realize the importance of "character progression" in games. You see, they aren't needed by default. You don't progress in a Starcraft battle or an FPS game. You definitely don't have stronger pawns or smaller goalposts because you played lot of chess or Football.

The "character progression" was created to simulate the non-existent player progression for bad players. When you first play a game, you suck horribly. Then as you learn the game, you get better. Your increasing scores reflect that progression. But this is only true if you aren't a moron or a slacker. Mining or friglolling for years won't make you any more powerful. So rather sooner or later the M&S would realize that he isn't going anywhere, would blame the game and quit. But the built-in character progression allows him to see better scores without being any better. You killed 10 wolves? Here is a sword and your DPS increased. You killed 10 more wolves? Here is a new level with more DPS. The increased DPS shows you became so much better in the game and now you are now capable of ... killing 10 wolves! Here is a new magic ring providing more DPS!

The problem with this standard, WoW-like character progression is that it rewards no-life grinding, which both burns out some of the players (who quit in disgust), while those who have enough time to kill all the wolves will complete their character and leave the game because "it has no content". This cannot happen in EVE. Your character gets more powerful every day without any grinding and you'll never run out of "content". You spent the whole year with doing nothing besides lolling in frigs? You can now fly Amarr battleships with T2 guns and all support skills!

Take this away and all the M&S would notice that he isn't shaping the narrative, he isn't a butterfly that makes a storm, he is just another scrub and it won't change.

PS: this Goon minion lost his bling only because he didn't have High Speed Maneuvering 5. When he'll have it, he'll be unstoppable!


Azuriel said...

This cannot happen in EVE. Your character gets more powerful every day without any grinding and you'll never run out of "content".

It wasn't too long ago that you about quit EVE altogether for lack of "content." The amount of content did not actually change - you just arbitrarily picked another goal.

What you are doing currently is less certainly directed than getting a higher gearscore or whatever, but it's not all that different when you stand 5 ft away from the computer.

maxim said...

Would you think a game like WoW would benefit from Eve style character progression?
Also i imagine there must be significant problems with "skill creep" (a lot of people getting a lot of skills automatically)

Gevlon said...

@maxim: yes, but the game needed to be redesigned to give people things to do. Currently in WoW you do everything for the sole purpose of progressing your character. In EVE you earn ISK (gold is practically useless in WoW) and fight for land.

Anonymous said...

The "character progression" was created to simulate the non-existent player progression for bad players.
In most games it's actually there to stagger content. It's generally bad for a game to deliver all of it's content in a single hit, because people will automatically jump on the bits they like and not other bits, making huge portions of a game redundant. They'll also tend to get bored pretty quick as they've just done one thing.

I've not played starcraft, but if it follows standard strategy game formulas, it will have mini progression each match in multiplayer (so you have to build some things to be able to build others) but with the whole tree available, but in single player you will tend to start of the game with only a few things available and raise your tech tree cap as you progress. Call of Duty also has progression in the form of weapon unlocks per rank.

I think the problem with EVEs progression is that because it uses real time, it's quite obvious that it's going to take ages to get to where you want, even though in other games it would also take you ages, you'd just need to kill 8 billion things to get there. For that, people whine unreasonably. Most of the skill tree in EVE is pretty well thought out though to be honest. An argument could be made against attributes and implants, as they help older players learn faster than a newbie possibly ever could and make people considerably more risk averse, but that's about all.

Anonymous said...

I totally agree with Gevlon in regard of the skill system. The skill system is awesome.

Eve does not lack content. content in a sandbox is everywhere you look for it. The fact is that CCP is plain bad at presenting content to players.

And there is an analogy to WoW:
your progress in the game is more often than not shown in your wallet. If you can't afford to buy a decent ship with a decent fit, you are doing something wrong.

dog said...

I too like the EVE skills system. I like the notion that skill points counts for something. It represents something you have done, that somebody else have not (even if it is just time in game).

I appreciate that a random noob cannot fly an Archon right away - I think you need to pay some school fees.

What I can see though is the other side. There is no mechanism to reward you skill wise for actual experience. 50 null sec kills - maybe get some SP to apply in gunnery/missiles/spaceship command. 5trillion units of veldspar mined? Some SP towards mining. 50 exploration sites - some SP for scanning...

Something to provide an incentive to actually play the game.

Where I do come short admittedly, is the actual implementation of such a scheme and the gaming of the system that may go along with it.

Gevlon said...

@dog: for nullsec kills you get a good killboard, a ticket to a PvP corp.

For mining you get minerals that you can turn into ships.

qonf said...

I had already spent the last couple of weeks mulling this over in my head.

I agree, a game will by all probability do be better if it includes some kind of progression system, be it grind or timed SP. I think it would in most cases, for large games, be a mistake by the developers not to include such a system.

Simultaneously, I hate these systems and will continue to complain about them. Why? Because I see through the illusion of progression they provide and all they leave me with is frustration. I'm fine with loosing to a better more skilled player. However, when that player has a plus 20% to damage or whatever, it turns my losses from a learning experience to a source of frustration.

These systems may draw in allot of players but they leave some of us out in the cold, and If we don't complain developers have less of a reason to try and think of a system that takes our wishes into account as well.

Trego said...


"However, when that player has a plus 20% to damage or whatever, it turns my losses from a learning experience to a source of frustration."

If they took out skills, there would still be differences in damage from different meta level modules/ships. If they took out differing quality modules and ships too, you might as well be playing CoD. So: why are you whining here, instead of just playing CoD?

Anonymous said...

I don't understand your problem with the linked kill. T2 MWDs provide little benefit over Meta MWDs: Same thrust, less capacitor requirements, and the capacitor penalty on all MWDs is mostly ignored since they nerfed it into oblivion.

There used to be some theory that Interceptors and Vagabonds preferred Meta over T2 because they were more heat-resistant (those are vessels that almost always burn their MWDs), but CCP removed that distinction as well.

Anonymous said...

The T2 MWD costs 198GJ/10S and the Meta MWD costs 180GJ/10S. The 2% cap amount difference in favor of the T2 MWD on a Vagabond 1245 Cap with 14.9 recharge while the Meta MWD Vagabond has 1215 Cap with 14.5 Recharge.

Once the Meta MWD Vagabond hits its third MWD cycle 20 seconds into whatever its doing the Meta MWD Vagabond beats the T2 MWD Vagabond in every way.

Fitting T2 MWD's is one of the surest signs of idiocy in Eve.

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 24 September, 2014 21:46

Which just shows how bad CCP game designers are.
The skill system is great, but the fact that some tech2 modules are clearly worse than meta4 proves that CCP does not always reward skill efforts fitting-wise.
One of the biggest differences of EVE compared to other MMOs is that the price for a module on the market has absolutely nothing to do with its performance.
Office modules cost billions becuase they drop rarely, but they do not increase a ship's performance in any relation to its price. The only thing that will happen is, that the seller of a purple item will inform gankers about the buyer's name, so that he can have that item back after the gank.

This misconception leads to a lot of frustration of RL rich new players. They find out that they can equip/fit expensive purple modules iwthout the need to invest time to train/skill up to level5/tech2.
INSTANT ALOD generated!!!

While these incidents provide "the ommunity" with laughter, they garantuee CCP losing such wealthy casual players.

The catastrophic PR department, the total lack of interest for new players and the constant publication of faulty myths by CCP devs lead to a constant drain of the player base.