July 31, 2015

BB65 - Attribution Needed?

In most RPGs the attributes of your character are a vital part of how you're going to play the game.  I'm sure that's why Eve had them at the very beginning - because all of the other RPGs had them.  But as time has gone on it has become increasingly clear that this artifact of the first concepts of Eve does not add to the current gameplay or the vision of Eve's future.

BB65: Attributes and Skills
"Does Eve need attributes? It's been discussed a lot recently. Unlike other MMO's your characters attributes don't make a difference in day-to-day gameplay. They simply set how fast you train a skill. Is it time to remove attributes from the game or totally revamp their purpose? Do they add a level of complexity to the game that is not needed? If you really need to use a 3rd party application to get the most from it should it be in the game? Should they be repurposed with each attribute adding a modifier to your ship? Are attributes a relic from the past or are they an important part of Eve - You make your decision and deal with the consequences?"
- Sand, Cider, and Spaceships.

What do Attributes Add to the Game?
I'm the kind of guy who read a lot of websites and wikis before I made my first Eve character.  A lot of those sources were out of date (thanks Internets) and still had advice on the learning skills - which fortunately were already gone by the time I started playing.  The optimal way to set up your character was clearly to map for Int/Mem and start on your core skills, then switch to Per/Will when you couldn't stand how bad you were at your ship and weapons anymore.  Clearly that's not really a good way to get a new player into the game: start your subscription, queue up skills, then come back in a month to start playing. (Yeah, yeah, I'm exaggerating).  I downloaded EveMon, mapped out my skills and neural remaps for the first year and out there I went.  For my min-maxing my main maybe has a couple percent more skillpoints than the main of the average player of my same age.  Is that really want we want?  Is that really an "add" for gameplay?  I think the answer is pretty clearly "No."

But it lets me specialize!
Sure, you remap differently for your trading alt and your booster alt and your combat main.  Great.  That's not really much in the way of specialization.  It's not like you are specializing via remap to be a better scout, or logi, or kiting PVPer.  Those things are all in the skills you choose, which are only as a secondary effect impacted by attributes.

One of the suggestions on the Tinfoil Factory episode was for attributes to tie to actual in game activity.  Perception improves your lock range or scan res, Willpower your resistance to damage, Intelligence your cap usage, or whatever.  That would potentially lead to attributes meaning something for specialization.  It would also suggest that clones would have separable remappings.  High level players already would jump into a clone meant for a particular activity based on the fancy implants in the close.  This would just be another layer on that.  I get the appeal there, but I have a concern.

Eve already has balance problems around specialization.  If your average PVPer heads out there and faces an opponent with faction mods, links, drugs, etc that maximize one attributes we seem to quickly get into the OP space.  If you think that an Orthrus is a problem now, wait until you let the pilot also be getting another 5% out of it with the perfect remap.  I get that Eve has long had the maxim that the fight is won before the opponents land on grid, and I'm for encouraging preparation and planning, but it seems weren't more and more getting to the problem that if I know I'm facing someone maxed out then I just won't get on grid with them in the first place.  No fights is no fun, and that hurts Eve.

So Nuke 'em
The other side of the suggestion is back to the design-by-deletion.  They don't add to the game so rip them out.  I understand CCP has considered this but then wonders what to do with implants that increase attributes.  We could preserve the risk-v-reward of faster training time versus risk of losing expensive implants by making those implants simply +X% training time implants.  That's effectively what they are right now anyway.  There's no need to burden them with special new powers that need to be balanced as well.  Then that would be a straight swap made upon release downtime.  No fuss, no muss.

I'm reading some other great articles out there with people's opinions, so if you haven't read the other Blog Banters on the topic then read around.  Thanks to Drackarn for posting this one - I'm only sorry I didn't get this up earlier since I suggested the topic - but that's the way RL goes sometime.

Fly Reckless out there, everyone!

1 comment:

  1. Good post and I tend to agree. I'm a six month old character and, while I know about attributes and remaps, I never considered optimizing my training over a year to be worth the say two weeks extra training I'd get. Seriously, how was I really to predict what to train? Yes, I have and use EVEMON and EFT. My problem isn't technical it's knowing what I'd want to train and committing long enough in advance for it to make a difference. Right now I really enjoy deciding what my next month to two months of training will be and then again when the time comes figuring out the next part. I don't want to do that just once a year. So I left the attributes alone.

    I tend to think that CCP should just remove them from the game. Not to help me or any veteran players but rather to simplify the learning curve for the game for new players. This is an necessary part of the gsme, so why risk any distraction that it might pose to new adopters? Remove it. Let them focus on learning other aspects of the game that really will influence their decision to remain in space. The more of these distractions that can be removed, the more focused and directEd the new player experience can be, and the more of them will be retained over time.

    CCP's growth is not based on retaining current players and the games current complexity. Its growth is based on attracting and retaining new players. Simplifications like this are just a small part of that puzzle. (I too was really glad when I read that the learning skills were removed from the game before I started to play)

    Here is a compromise too: Remove attributes for all characters under say a year old. Treat them as if no matter what they are training as if they appear to have perfect attributes for thwt queue. After a year though, then revert back to self directed attribute setting. This offers the complexity and control to players when they are more experienced and for whom this would, at that time, just be a small incremental change.