Friday, September 25, 2009

Skilling Alts

Over at Teeth and Claws Andrew has been discussing the Eve subscription model postulating that CCP is taking advantage of the skill progression model limitations to get more subscriptions.

Read the whole thing. His last comment requires a response but I felt I needed more room.


"On one hand you say non-Eve MMOs still have progression beyond max level in terms of gear, money, faction standings, acheivements etc, and then on the other hand you say they don't."


Okay - by my reckoning in EVE skill training is analogous to gaining exp/skill points in any other MMO.

I assert that YOU think that too based on your original comment which included this phrase: "Since Eve has no level cap, a character never stops progressing."

In EVE skill training happens in real time and has an end point that is unattainable due to CCP's algorithms. In other MMOs there is a cap that is generally pretty easy to reach.

Everything else - money, achievements, gear, raid progress, territory, housing, etc - is equatable in both EVE and everything else, and cannot be accomplished offline. So EVE has no advantage/difference here.

So, non-EVE MMOs stop your xp progression quickly, while EVE draws it out. CCP then slaps an arbitrary rule in place that disallows training multiple characters on the same account at the same time, which.

As discussed - psychologically most players can't handle hitting the STOP button on their main, and then capitulate and buy a second account when the decide that the need to experience OTHER aspects of the game. CCP knows this is the case, and probably loves it.

It comes back to this:

What would change in EVE if tomorrow CCP were to remove the simultaneous training rule???

I assert that NOTHING would change except that CCP would suddenly not have ~30-50% of their accounts due to people not actually needing them.
I think their are two discussion points here. On the top part of his comment about progression stopping early in most MMOs but not Eve, most if not all Eve players consider this a good thing as it allows for a player to take his character into deeper and more varied roles in the game. HOWEVER, the upshot is that players feel compelled to keep training instead of using their other character slots to progress other characters. I think we agree on this.

The second point of Andrew's comment is the meat of his contention and the assertion is what I disagree with.

I agree that some accounts would not exist as people who simply train second characters for other activities not related to their main could use only one account. I think these people are in the minority. 

Most people who have two accounts do so for the ability to dual-box because so many activities in Eve are faster/safer/more profitable to do with two or more pilots:
- mining with miner and hauler
- missions with Tank/DPS and looter/salvager
- exploration with combat and prober/hacker
- pvp with cloaky scout and combat ship
- capital logistics with capital pilot and cyno bitch
- Alliance CEO and combat main
- Super capital pilot and pilot that can actually dock
- etc

Furthermore, I think we would see an explosion of characters in the game as everyone would have two alts at the minimum. I don't know for sure if this would be a good thing or not but my intuition tells me that the potential for mindless griefing/corp theft/scamming would climb exponentially with the proliferation of skilled alts. Not to mention the bottom dropping out of the datacore market! (Ok, a little too esoteric on that last one... time to bring it home.)

The fact of the matter is that the game has been developed and balanced with the current mix of accounts to highly skilled characters and to say that "NOTHING" would change is a bold statement, and in light of other complex systems in which a small change can have numerous ripple effects, I think it is overly optimistic.

Could the game be rebalanced to support skilling on all characters of an account? Perhaps.


  1. I have a number of RL friends who play WoW and other MMOs. Many of them have actually turned down playing Eve simply because they didn't like the idea of having to pay for a second account just to have more than one skilling character. So that, in my opinion, is another aspect that should be considered. I agree there would be a small drop from some people currently wielding more than one account, but at the same time, I'm of the opinion it would bring in more people which would balance out the loss.

  2. Anonymous11:14 am

    Having a more business/engineering P.O.V, tend to look long term business survival. I like the fact that there is a trade off...and this whole 15$ a month thing...I actually pay less than that and sometimes I can just buy a PLEX....

    Now from a business perspective, I understand the cap does several things most notably the creation of alt's, that is a smart business move.

    If training was allowed on more than 1 character at a time they would soon dip into a spiral of requiring more and more skills to entertain those with 100's of millions of SP, the difference between a new player and a veteran player would grow even wider, and much faster than it currently does. That means they must spend more dev time in new things and if all ppl could train characters this would increase exponentially, that is not in their best interest. A measured pace of character improvement provides enough impetus to evolve and move the game forward if the pressure were increased i would see very bad things happening.

    lets face it with adults rather than kids or those who are way more casual players progression DOES stop in traditional MMO's which is why i left and will not player others now...once you git the top the game is no longer 'fun' EvE there is no top and no way to achieve that top no matter what you do or how fast you train. Which echo's RL, the older you get and the wider your experiences the better you become...IMO

    Those that have started EvE simply do not like to be the 'lower skilled players' many vets have attached a stigma against this such thing. In an MMO when everyone is 80 or 90 there is a 'level playing field' which i despise, nothing is ever level in EvE, which i agree with. Brutal yes, but honest!

  3. Kirith:

    This entire post is completely at odds with your original comment on my post. I'll quote you here:

    "There is nothing preventing you from stopping your progression on one character and training up an alt on the same account except the feeling that you are not progressing your main. After 10-20 million skillpoints your "main" should be combat effective (or mining expert or research expert or manufacturer expert) and after that you are merely adding options in terms of ships, items, etc.

    Most players cannot resist the urge to keep training their main. Its a compulsion to keep accumulating skill points. Its not about gimping their main past a certain, its more about ... acheivement whoring I guess is the closest analogy.

    So what happens? People get a second account to train another character in a different direction since who wants their combat main to have industrial skills? Yeck! ;)

    The above is a far departure from the "well, the majority of people do it for the dual boxing" stated here.

  4. My opinion shifted after reading a lot of other comments and thinking about it in more depth.

  5. So why do YOU own three accounts? From my reading here it's always seemed like the primary reason was more in line with the quote above than the article you wrote.

    And I can't help but wonder: how much of what has been written by (other) EVE players on the subject is about circling the wagons and defending CCP, and how much is actual honest-to-goodness reasons why they pay for their multiple accounts?

  6. The last account, as I explained a while back, was a splurge with some spare cash so I could skill an uber mining alt. The second account was my industry alt for research and invention and yes, if I could train her on my main I would not have gotten two accounts at first. But for the past year I need two accounts for capital ship jumping and scouting, both dual box activities. Most people I know in corp have two accounts for dual boxing activities.

  7. My own original reason for getting a 2nd account(after my primary, Reatu) was so I could start training an industrial character. A fun offer had just dropped in my lap (first power of 2 campaign).
    Wasn't until later I started dual boxing so I could cyno/scout with one. Which has been a great use for multiple accounts.

    But how is this different from any other MMO? Like in Wow, you can't "train" multiple characters on the same account at the same time either? Only one character can be logged in per account after all.
    Why is dualboxing less common in Wow then? I'd suppose it has to do with there not being "solo activities" that require a second body(moving a carrier in eve is not a group thing but requires 2 people for example)