Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Skill Training Online Versus Offline

Syncaine from Hardcore Casual had this post contrasting Darkfall and Eve Online's skill progression system:
If you have a skill based (as opposed to XP/level based) character development system, is there any reason NOT to use EVE’s real-time progression? How many of DarkFall’s “it’s a huge grind” problems would be resolved if you gained skills in real-time like in EVE, rather than through playing/macroing them up? Aventurine made some good changes by not allowing players to gain skill by firing magic or arrows into thin air, and by not allowing players to skill up using the unbreakable starter weapons, but if DF had launched with EVE’s skill system, those issues would not have been present to begin with.
I've always loved Eve's offline skill advancedment system. I like how it allows a fellow like me with limited playing time to progress when real life takes me away so that when I do play I can actually, you know, play instead of working on artifical skill development.

Had Eve a skill advancement system that required you to be in game to advance, I would be at a disadvantage. I play about 20 hours a month, let's say. I've been playing 35 months incidently. So I've clocked roughly 700 hours give or take a century.

Now let's say there is a college student who is playing 40 hours a week of Eve. In one year he could amass over 2080 hours of time ingame and in a progression system that requires ingame presence to advance, he would be 3 times as skilled as I would be. Now you might take the position that he invested more time hence he should reap greater rewards, but under the current system that is already true: by ratting, missions, mining, exploration, market manipulation, etc he is earning ISK and combat experience I cannot due to my lack of time. Under the current system, the more advanced skills I have is a balance to his increased playtime. Under a system requiring ingame effort, I would be disadvantaged in wealth and skill.

In other words, it acts like an incentive for more casual players to continue to play the game. To me, that is a good thing.

Your mileage may vary.


  1. hell i love the skill gain method just fine and im one of those college students with uber amounts of time :) it means less grinding beyond for isk which isnt too bad as theres several ways to gain isk in this game without much grind.

  2. I made a comment on Syncaine's post, and I might as well make it here. Artificially restricting access to areas of the game, when the most significant portion of character progression is actually implicit player-skill, is very frustrating.

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  4. Anonymous7:37 pm

    During this busy summer, I find myself being one of those casual players, so I agree with you. It is very nice to log in and spend just a few minutes on skill training and then go off to do something more entertaining in the game for the time I've got.

    There is one downside - my character's skills are getting too far ahead of my player skills.

  5. While EVE's system does not befit all mmo's out there I do think developers should make sure the grind is bearable for all types of players and their play styles.

    Just like grinding, the skill training system is a double edged sword, in the way an active player may find his skills advancing too slow for the amount of ISK he or she has. Then again, with the fantastic community EVE has, there are plenty of projects to direct your efforts to. If you are not into that kind of thing a grind mmo might be more of your thing though.

  6. The offline skill system totally suits me as well. I have limited time to play and with multiple accounts, I can be training my industrialist in industry and science skills while I take my combat-oriented character through missions, ratting, and whatever since he has better combat skills.

    I played WOW for a short stint and just didn't have the time or energy for it. I really enjoyed the look and feel of it, and I was pretty excited about it, but it just didn't hook me the way EVE did. And the training offline was the kicker. (But thank God for the queuing they added!)

  7. I played WoW and moved over to EVE after some years. I like the EVE skilling system. One has more time to do interesting stuff instead of working out something mindlessly. Though I feel how it is keeping me back with what I want to do and I can do little to improve that.

  8. I think both types of advancement systems have their place, I wouldn't say either one is better, they just fit different design niches.

    I totally agree that Eve's skill progression system allows for more casual play. Since my son was born Eve has been one of the few MMOs I've been able to continue playing, I don't have to commit hours a day to reach advancement goals.