CZ Minutes: Attributes

When Neville Smit wrote his article, A Farewell to Attributes, earlier this year, the response was loud but divided. Recently, the subject of attributes and their function in a modern EVE Online has come to the forefront within the community again. When things like clone costs were removed, people started pondering what other sacred cows may be fit to put out to pasture. Currently, the only real function attributes have are to augment skill training times. Some might call it a relic from more traditional RPGs where the attributes define the character. Is EVE done with attributes? Are they an unnecessary complication that stifles freedom, confusing newbros and annoying veterans, or an essential part of gameplay and character building? What would you do with attributes? Keep them as they are, change how they work, or remove them altogether? Oh Takashawa: Ditching attributes is fine with me, so long as the process doesn’t serve as an excuse to further flatten the skill progression and cheapen the investment that high SP represents. Nothing against newbies, but 60-day HIC alts & carrier pilots is dumb; ditching attributes could make that even easier and I’m not a fan of that. MukkBarovian: Roleplaying is a thing that happens in EVE, but not in the way that you might imagine. When the 45 year old CEO is taking orders from the 23 year old college student, because that kid is the FC, this is essentially roleplaying. People take on all kinds of roles in EVE. Some become bullies, others become strategists or industrialists. Spies take it to the next level, totally immersing themselves in the role they play as whoever they pretend to be. People take up the mantle of politicians, thieves and journalists. Many of us at Crossing Zebras have no formal training as journalists. This isn’t our “real” profession. Aren’t we taking advantage of the game to play a different role than we normally would? Attributes do not really matter to any of this. They are just numbers that go up and down making other numbers go up at various speeds. Gorski Car: Attributes provide unnecessary complexity and having the optimal way to play being to remap into maxing support skills for 6 months then move on to ships is bad game design in my opinion. While remaps and attributes and all that shit add complexity to the system I have to ask if it is really necessary. The interesting choices you have when training skills is what skill to train, not sitting there telling new guys to make a 1-year plan in Evemon and optimize attributes, trying to get max skillpoints/hour. Another problem with attributes at the moment is that they are very unintuitive. They actually don’t do anything other than to modify your sp/hr for certain skills. Especially when you come from other games where a good perception stat meant that you would hit better for example. I think the game would benefit from removing attributes all together and just setting sp/hour at 2700. I also want more starting SP. I remember being able to start with small Projectile V and a ton of other useful skills. Niden: I won’t be winning any popularity contest when I say that I think attributes are an interesting facet of EVE gameplay. Not only do I think that, I also think they’re too flat. I think attributes should affect actual gameplay, not just how long it takes to train a skill. I think this adds an up-front element of choice to attributes and allows people more space to be creative with their characters. For example: I want to be able to go crazy fast and shoot far, but as a result of that, my tank isn’t the best, for instance. Not just by choice of ship or modules, but part of the character itself. I better put on a helmet now. Brain MukkBarovian: As they are, they are not very interesting. I do not remember what the attributes are for any of my characters. If they actually had an effect on gameplay? It could make things interesting. I would not be opposed to that. CCP would need to hand a free remap out in the patch where that kind of thing was implemented. Gorski Car:  I agree with Niden that Attributes can stay in the game but I don’t agree that they should affect training times. Right now they are somewhat used as an argument that they let people skill and create their own unique characters but in the end people just max all the necessary skills for whatever they are focusing on and it’s not much choice because there are only a few viable ways to train a character to do something. Oh Takashawa: I certainly don’t mind them staying, or going. I really don’t care one way or another. If we were, hypothetically, to tie them to actual game stuff, let’s tie them to walking in stations.  Limit available options in the character creator based on how much Charisma you have. I want to see Niden forced to stay on a Charisma remap forever because he’d rather suck at EVE than have to change his precious character’s hairstyle to one available at a lower Charisma level. Also, low intelligence characters (i.e. all Brutor Males) would be really good at PvP but would be unable to type anything other than “fufufufufufufuf” in local, or any other chat channel, and would always show up in local in Wormholes, even without speaking, simply because they’re too stupid to stay unnoticed.. Niden: Told you there’d be hate. Removing clone costs and automating the process was a pretty clear cut case, something like 5% of EVE players thought it was a good idea to keep them, if that. Removing attributes however, closes the door on a substantial design space. And once that door is closed, it would likely never open again. (See what I did there Taka?) MukkBarovian: By that logic, we could have kept clones, decoupled them from skillpoint loss, and made them provide bonuses of various sorts. Choose a speedy clone or a tanky clone. I choose sexy clone. Neville Smit: Time for me to weigh in on this issue. Attributes have never been well executed in EVE Online’s game design. They were originally intended as a way to differentiate the various bloodlines, opening the potential for serious role-playing. The problem is that this direction was never fully realized, and over time, the concept of attributes became homogenized into a bland, generic idea, limited only to the speed at which a character learned skills.
“…make attributes actually mean something, other than just how many skill points you earn in an hour.”
I say: if you are going to make attributes count, as Niden has suggested, then make them count all the way, as a fully realized game mechanic. Higher perception should increase your targeting range and reduce lock times. Higher charisma should reduce your corporate management costs (office rentals, etc.), and NPC standings for your corp. Higher intelligence should make research cheaper and faster. Greater willpower should increase certain ships’ DPS or speed. In other words, make attributes actually mean something, other than just how many skill points you earn in an hour. And by limiting the number of remaps – or by introducing interesting new ways to get additional remaps – you add some interesting strategic decisions for attributes that could really affect game outcomes. CCP Games seems intent on stripping away any mechanic that adds little to giving players meaningful choices or outcomes. It’s hard to disagree with this idea. They did this for Teams – a disappointingly little-used and half-executed feature – and attributes seem likely to be next on their list. At present, the practical effects of attributes are really so inconsequential, they add nothing but needless complexity. In their current form, they are a perfect candidate for elimination or simplification. They could be replaced easily with a flat rate of skill points earned per hour, perhaps affected by certain implants that increase skill learning rates by small percentages. As for me, I’d prefer to see a very robust implementation of attribute mechanics, not to promote role-playing, but to give players more levers to pull when making choices about how their characters will operate in New Eden. I think the ability to tailor certain attribute-driven character role specializations would add a lot more choices – and more fun. Unfortunately, based on the conversations that CCP has had so far with the CSM on this issue, that appears very unlikely. Alas, this sounds like an opportunity missed, if you ask me. Apoth: Joining the game then being told to spend my first 3 months training attribute skills sucked a large and girthy bag of dicks. As for attributes in their current form, I really couldn’t be all that bothered with them, either if they stay or go. Mizhir: I don’t really have that big of an issue with the current form of attributes, but there is a room for improvement to make it more engaging rather than “Ohh shit I’m in the wrong remap”. I do however dislike the attribute implants as they do not add much to the gameplay except making newer players train slower than veterans and give an advantage to the players who aren’t in situations where they can risk their pod. I have caught myself several times in the situation where I choose to play something else rather than jumpclone to an empty clone and do some low effort roaming simply because I would rather just stay in my +5s and get some extra SP. And I seriously doubt that I am the only one who have been there. Any mechanic that makes players hesitate to pvp should be reconsidered in my opinion. Gin: I’m fine with completely getting rid of attributes, and I also like Niden’s idea. That said, if CCP created the system Niden and Neville are proposing, I’m afraid we’d end up back here in a month or two discussing how OP one attribute was, how CCP needs to rebalance them etc. creating even more work for guys/gals who should be focused on other in-game issues. Also, I’d probably be pretty unhappy if getting rid of attributes increased the time on my skill queue by anything more than a day or two. Depending on exactly how this hypothetical system worked, I can see getting rid of attributes (and more importantly remaps) really screwing over the noob population who rely on those remaps to cut down on training times.
Tags: attributes, cz minutes

About the author


Perpetrator of thuggery in low security space, artist, and known as “The Stalin of Crossing Zebras” - Niden is the Editor-in-Chief of CZ.

  • AFK

    You can already train at a flat rate by keeping them equal. No one has to touch attributes ever if they don’t want to (and many don’t). You are just taking options from those who do use them.

  • Leo2014

    I’d like to see them untied from skill training if they are to be kept; or eliminated otherwise. Give everyone the equivalent of 28 points per attribute, which is a tuned remap with +4s in. Then let people worry about about the rest of the game and implants etc..

    Another route to go would be to change the timing on remaps to a 1 month renewal down from 12 months. Allowing people change and optimize on a much more meaningful scale and not be locked in to something if they change their mind.

    A second option, especially if they get tied to capsuleer in game abilities, is to eliminate scheduled remaps and allow a remap with every clone swap. Thus every clone jump and every death allows you to choose what you will be specialized in for the next period of time.

  • Kamar Raimo

    Unfortunately I missed the boat on this one.

    Anyway, what I would like to see rather than a connection between attributes and learning would be a system where attributes give you small bonuses on skills that are related to them. This way people could remap their toons to PVP bonuses or trade bonuses or standings grinding, but they could train equally fast.

    It wouldn’t have to be much and a sliding scale could be used with a middle point that provides 0% bonus. Every attribute point above that gives 1% bonus and each one below -1%. Maybe the numbers would have to be changed as to not make it too excessive. I’d go for a max of +/- 5%

  • Insidious Sainthood

    Im a big fan of making attributes effect gameplay. Also, attribs differ by clone but still attached to training time. If you map for pvp you train pvp skills better.
    I think the +- 5% is a good baseline and maybe the bonus changes by ship/module or (gasp) race I.e. caldari can get 5% explosion velocity where amarr never can, or artys get falloff vs rails get optimal for the attribute.

    I agree removing them is a bad move, an opportunity lost.

  • GrouchyOldGamer

    They add very little to game play, I’d much rather they expanded the implants mechanic to allow to you the option of fitting your clones.

    The system is inflexible and larger useless to the majoirty of players.

  • Gorski Car mentions 2700 SP/hour.. Isn’t that excessive?
    2000-2200 SP/hour seems more in line with average progression.

  • G.

    The problem with attributes is that they lead to many more ‘feel bad’ experiences than positive ones. You get a single remap per year. One. When we are talking about something this infrequent, it is hardly about player choice. Over the course of that year, there will be many moments where you find out that you are essentially wasting SP by going for a specific skill. What choice do you have then?

    So you either forgo training that skill because of your attributes, and gameplay suffers, or you train it anyways and feel bad about loosing precious SP you can never get back. This is not rewarding gameplay. It is frustrating, and especially frustrating to those who understand it least, ie new players, ie the players we most want to encourage to keeping playing.

    Attributes create inflexibility in a game that is about freedom and player choice. Think about situations where: a) your corp disbands and you need a new doctrine; b) you discover a cool new aspect of the game like WHs or research; c) nerfs or buffs mean you need to revisit skills you thought were not needed; and etc. Not having a remap available to adapt to changing circumstances in the game plain sucks. It is not interesting or rewarding. It is merely you sitting there looking at a less than optimal attribute configuration with nothing you can do about it.

    If you could re map once a week, or perhaps even once a month, maybe there would be an argument here. But as-is attributes are not about choices as much as they are plain frustrating.

    Anyone in favor of keeping this mechanic needs to justify its existence with actual instances where it has enabled positive gameplay/content. Alluding to some hypothetical better version of a bad mechanic is not persuasive. Using a simplistic notion of freedom whereby any type of choice – substantive or not – is expanding a players’ options ignores the human psychology of decision-making which shows us that confronting too many options places a psychic burden on the decision-maker.

    This one seems like a no-brainer. Eliminate attributes. If you want to bring them back later, in a way that yields positive gameplay experiences, that is fine. But as they currently exist they detract from the enjoyment of the game for far too many players, and thus make Eve worse.