Otto Bismarck
Otto Bismarck

So unfortunately I couldn’t join the recording of the Tinfoil Factory Episode 5: TSPs and That Skillpoint Thingy, but I wanted to highlight or rebut some of the points made on it, and I hate posting on reddit, so I will just do it here.

Fundamentally I am against the idea.  Not that I’m not tempted – I’m extremely happy about the possibility of removing Mining Barge 5 from Otto, and some other skills that have been haunting me as a “PvPer”.  As soon as I read the blog I almost immediately went to count how many skillpoints I could remove, and then which alt to transfer them to for maximum effect.  If it goes ahead, I surely will be using the feature, but not, I feel, in the way that CCP or anyone else really imagines.  However, that is for me to know, and hopefully no one to ever find out.

Moving on to some of the points mentioned in the podcast – I apologise in advance for not referencing the speaker or the time stamp.

“…new players being able to compete…”

The ability for a new player to compete has never been on how many skillpoints you have.  I fully admit that dying, and subsequently crying about how badly you just got dunked in EVE, is nicer if you can fit all T2, in your T2 ship, or faction if you can afford it.  Having low skillpoints, however, does not preclude a new player from being competitive.  If anything, not having that competitive advantage allows you to imagine the unique, creative and dastardly ways to be an effective EVE Player.

I’ll use myself as an example.

Recently, some young alliance of go-getters decided that Pandemic Legion’s hold on R64 Moons in Delve was unacceptable, and that they would reappropriate that wealth.  So they reinforced some PL Towers.  When they came out of reinforced, I sent a young man in his shiny new triage carrier to go repair them, because I didn’t want to do it myself.  His question to me “was what happens if they fight and I get tackled?”  My response, word for word: “Fit a cyno, rage ping me on IRC and I’ll drop supers on them”.  To cut a long story short, they formed remote rep Dominixes, played around with the carrier for a bit, came in too close, got bubbled – and I dropped supers on them.  This is literally the least creative idea that I could have come up with.

It’s still cheaper than a Nyx.

Let’s talk about creative ideas: Remote Rep Atrons.

Necessity is the mother of all invention.  While in the case of this particular killmail (in celebration of Reikoku’s birthday) the Atron was needlessly expensive, the idea behind the fit is still the same.  Low skillpoints, low cost, high effectiveness.  Each Atron in the group allows the group to tank 75 more DPS.

Buying skillpoints would not further the players’ ability to think creatively.  It just teaches them to throw isk – or real-life-isk – at the problem. It doesn’t show them how to effectively use range control to pick at the edges of lazy other people.  We and CCP should be encouraging new players to be creative and skillful, not to buy their way to a solution.

“…spending ISK on it…”

Once again, this change is going to play to the elite rich and powerful of EVE, or for lack of a better term, those willing to pay to win.  I have actually estimated the minimum amount of money that would get me a 1-day-old Titan Pilot, if only for the exotic Doomsday killmail. People like me, who do absurd things like this, will dominate and set the price for these things, because there is no more finite resource in EVE than skillpoints, especially if people start using these items with diminishing returns.

“…using it to insta-skill up alts…”

Definitely.  Yes.  This will be useful for me and many others, especially when you need something.  However there is the other side of the coin. Instant HIC alts, with no history. The age of a character is definitely something that people look at, and the ability to loosely ascertain the origins, perhaps even the owner of a character, or at least their allegiance, is a valuable intel skill that would be rendered worthless.

“…it’s like when you hear people screaming on a ride you’re in line for…”

Training over time and seeing your skillpoints tick over, especially as you desperately wait for a skill to finish, is part of EVE.  The sense of achievement when you finish Amarr Titan V, or even Caldari Frigate V; you have persevered to get to that point, and that is an achievement in itself. Some people come to EVE thinking that before long they will be on the front lines with their Titans, owning n00bs.  Sure.  However, this attitude changes over time, and people either setup to train out a new character, or grind to buy one.

Recently, a friend of mine bought an Aeon Pilot. As a veteran, he recognised that he knew nothing about what skills were actually important, so he told me what he was looking for, and I gave suggestions and vetted his interests, pointing out the pros and cons of each character he was considering.  Over time he learned what to look for. Although buying a character was comparable to buying skill points, it was still a process that he had to go through, from which his EVE knowledge was enriched.

Another thought of recent times was when they made Titans freely available on Singularity (the test server) before the Pheobe expansion.  For me, with two titans and four characters capable of flying them, it wasn’t that exciting, so I took to FD- with the rest of the game, and used my superior knowledge of tactics and mechanics to kill all the Tech2-fit titans with my Deadspace-fit titans.  People both in local and on voice comms felt that they could mark off an achievement for EVE.  Tick.  Have flown a titan.

To me however, as I pointed out to them, it felt like they had skipped the queue.  Which then brings me to the inevitable example of people playing EVE through their credit cards, or their parents’ credit cards.  You see and hear of them occasionally.  Where someone had bought a Supercarrier or Titan with real money, and lost it in short order, due to a lack of understanding of the mechanics that go with them, or the confidence needed when flying them (read “My hands are shaking”).  I also still hear of people completely locking up when things go wrong in EVE; it happens to the best of us sometimes.  However, I feel that if people really get to cut the line for this ride with this proposed feature, it will ultimately hurt the game.

“…So people are complaining about remapping and attributes, and you want to make a cap on injecting skillpoints as well?…”

Recently there has been significant public debate on attributes and remapping those attributes.  People have mentioned that remapping shouldn’t be the bottleneck and you should be able to train whatever you want without penalty. But this proposition puts people who want to train extremely quickly into the exact same bottle neck that remapping does over time.  Either you can inject skillpoints and I’ll take my 1 day old titan pilot, or you cannot inject skillpoints.

“…Have it so that injecting skills gives you accelerated skill training…”

This already exists, and is so horrifically expensive that it only is really a viable option for the space-rich (5 billion ISK or more for +9 to all stats for 35 days).  This is also only available for new characters.  I don’t even know how to get these things other than through contracts.  They are called cerebral accelerators, and provide boost for a limited amount of time based upon the quality of the accelerator and the age of your character.  Make these things affordable, or hell, just give them to all new characters.  For everyone else, there are implants.

“…any final thoughts?”

I’m not convinced that Transneural Skill Packets will help new players at all – they’re likely to be far too expensive for most, and for the few who do splash out on them, they’re most likely to lead to a whole range of expensive new mistakes. Meanwhile, these changes would devalue some of the intel skills that help to make EVE fascinating for older players, and will just confer more advantages on those who farm their alts like chickens – the evil old gerontocrats, like me.

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