Wednesday, March 7, 2012


She passed the time quietly in a world of her own in which she was surrounded as far as the eye could see with old cabin trunks full of past memories in which she rummaged with great curiosity, and sometimes bewilderment. Or, at least, about a tenth of the cabin trunks were full of vivid, and often painful or uncomfortable memories of her past life; the other nine-tenths were full of penguins, which surprised her.
--Douglas Adams

I've been experiencing a bit of Déjà vu this past month.  I didn't really know what to say about it though, until the recent Dev Blog put it out there in the open.  "I've experienced this feeling before," I thought.  "But what is it?"  Oh yes, the feeling that CCP Hates Me.

For those of you that have been reading the blog for a while now, you may remember last year's series of posts where I started a detailed look at the Turrets of EVE and how they all compared.  You might also recall that in the middle of that series, CCP announced that they would be retooling Hybrids, making most of what I was doing somewhat inaccurate.  Well, CCP has struck again.  Today announcing that they'd be retooling the way Ship Progression in EVE worked.  I seem to have encountered a conundrum.

What happens when a blog's author writes guides to systems in a game, in which the systems are analyzed and certain inconsistencies are pointed out, and the game's developers are feeling particularly receptive to ideas to iterate on areas of their game that don't make sense?  You get the game developer changing those systems.  This is good, for the game at least, but sort of a Catch-22 for the author of this hypothetical blog.  What's that?  You see right through my thinly-veiled attempt to mask that I'm talking about this very blog?  Oh.  Well, good for you.

My solution to this problem the last time it happened was to simply shelve that little project and, guess what, that's going to be my solution again.  I like to limit the amount of inaccurate information out there concerning this game, and I wouldn't be doing anybody any favors by explaining what order you should train ships in when that information is in flux.  Looks like I'll be looking for another topic to discuss in the near future.  What's that?  No, not the thing about me pretending like I can hear your questions getting old, the other thing.  Oh, what do I think about the newly announced changes?  Glad you asked.

Simply put, I think it's a terrific idea.  The caveat to that statement is that it would have been a terrific idea had it been done from the beginning.  The backlash from changing it now...well, I don't envy CCP at the moment.  The comments thread for the Dev Blog quickly filled with much vitriol and tears before CCP Soundwave stepped in to say, "if you could fly it yesterday, you can still fly it today" and I've got to say I think that's a mistake.  The problem with that sort of reimbursement plan is that it puts a huge separation between the current players and any future players in many ways defeating the purpose of making the design better for people going forward.  Don't get me wrong here, what I think would be the best solution for the health of the game also happens to suck immensely for me personally, but I'd adapt.

Just how bad would it be for me?  Well, depending on your interpretation of this flowchart (and this isn't just me trolling CCP, but actually how I do interpret it), after the changes I will lose access to any ship I can currently fly that isn't a Frigate.  Recon V?  Pointless.  Battlecruisers V?  Not worth the paper the skill book was printed on.  Amarr Battleship IV?  I won't even be able to spin them in my hangar.  All due to the fact that I currently possess the Destroyer skill at level 1.  What can I say, I never liked the ship class.  The thing that may surprise some you though, is that I am reasonable enough to say that it would make sense if that's what happened.

What CCP seems to be promising at the moment in an attempt to assuage the hurt feelings happening in the comments thread is that they'd be willing to reimburse four times the skillpoints from the lost skills to ensure that if you could fly all four race's Battlecruisers now, then you can still fly them come the changes.  I can't emphasize enough how bad of an idea I think that is.  What it would effectively accomplish is driving a four month wedge in between anyone who currently has a single skill trained now, and anyone who would like to train those four skills at a later date.  Of course, from another perspective, the alternative is just as bad.  You'd be asking people, come patch day, to give up ships that they can currently fly for a period of at least three months to finish all the newly added skills.  There must be some compromise...

And there is.  CCP, you need to take the hard line here.  You need to say, in the nicest way possible (Remember how having the CSM review Dev Blogs before they're published is a good thing?), that people who trained Battlecruiser V and gained 4x the ships from it have benefited for a long time from that skill.  This is the same explanation that was given when Learning Skills were removed and it was decided that people who had purchased and injected the Skillbooks wouldn't get their money back because "in the huge overwhelming majority of cases you've already got more than your money's worth out of them."  Some people still complained about it, but no one seems to care any longer.  However, with that said, there's still something CCP needs to do as a compromise isn't just telling one side to HTFU and being done with it.

The simplest way I can think to explain it is "You need to seed these new Skill Books now."  Assuming the next expansion is still at least three months away, you have the opportunity to give everyone time now to train the new racial skills.  On the day that the change happens, no one loses access to any ships they can currently fly (which fulfills the letter of the promise CCP Soundwave has been making) without giving current players a large advantage over any future players.  Trust me when I say that it's already plenty difficult to interest new players in EVE due to the perceived advantage that older players have on them and the alternative would do nothing to make this perception better.

What's that?  Why yes, I do have terrific ideas, thank you for noticing.  Hopefully CCP agrees with me and is willing to make an unpopular decision today for the continued health of the game in the long term.  If they don't, well let's just say that you should stop reading this right now and change your skill training to get Battlecruisers and Destroyers V.  It will effectively represent a 4x training time increase on your SP over the next couple of months and you'll forever be able to point and laugh at the new players who have to spend half a year getting the skills you got in a month and a half.




  1. Not a bad idea actually.

    I think the headstart would have to be somewhat greater than the amount of time you need to train the skills, though. Twice that probably.

    So it might be somewhat tight timetable-wise to do this until Inferno.

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. @Vincent That's actually exactly the post I'm talking about that caused me to write this. It's not the interpretation that they'd be taking something away from current players that worries me, so much as the idea that current players are getting grandfathered in a potential 6m SP that any future subscribers will need to spend months training for. As a current player, a 6m SP gift may sound terrific, but I'm concerned for the future growth of EVE.

  4. I'm saying this in an encouraging and positive voice:
    I would read your blog fully if it were available on RSS feed 100%. The font and colors on the webby are killing me :(
    Please please with sugar ontop change the feed settings in blogger's settings panel, like all the cool kids do it! <3

  5. +1 on your proposition.

    Seed the new books immediately, let people know what they'll need (very clear skill progression flowchart), and when the "obsolete" skills go away, you get a 1:1 refund on those SPs, so plan ahead and spend wisely.

    I thought planning ahead and "spending wisely" was what EVE was all about? Or did that somehow change suddenly and I missed the memo?

  6. Awesome timeline, thanks for sharing.

    Also a heartfelt thank you for enabling full content on RSS feeds, I enjoy it already.