CZ Minutes: Lowering the Bar

 

Recently, CCP Fozzie announced that CCP are strongly considering lowering the Weapon Upgrades V skill requirement of Advanced Weapon Upgrades to IV. It is a pivotal fitting skill and considered a must-train for most pilots. As such, it brings up an interesting point: should vital fitting skills, and indeed other “must-train” skills be easier to train?

The majority of players responding so far argue that these are skills that everyone “has” to train anyway and they don’t really represent an interesting choice. Some even suggest that fitting skills should be removed altogether. Indeed, most of the people responding to the thread are positive to it, with a minority strongly opposed, suggesting that this just lowers the bar and waters down the commitment of players to achieve things.

Where do you stand on not only this specific change, but also the idea behind it? Should it be easier to attain these skills that most players will need to be competitive?

Niden: Making things easier to get into seems to be the new black in EVE lately. I’m not a fan. I think this type of watering down takes away from the achievements of players who are in it for the long run. If we were to follow this method to its natural conclusion, why don’t we just give new players Legions and Machariels when they come in through the door?

It should mean something dammit! No, I don’t think a new player that’s spent less time and thought than someone who’s stuck with it should be able to do the same things – especially not fitting.

Call me a bittervet and elitist prick all you want, but just devaluing the achievements of long time players without regard seems a dangerous thing to me.

Players that can fly viable ships remain in the game

Dunk Dinkle:  Niden is a bittervet and elitist. Long trains serve the purpose of guiding pilots to train core skills that are done easily before heading down a specific path. This gives them the time to try a few playstyles and not become a one trick pony.  I’m not against long trains, but in the case of Weapon Upgrades/Advanced Weapon Upgrades, it’s pretty damn brutal for new pilots to run up against. Weapon Upgrades reduces CPU need and Advanced Weapon Upgrades reduces power grid needs.  These are core skills, not speciality skills like Logistics V. They really should be able to be run in parallel, but somewhere in EVE pre-history it was decided that one followed each other.  Advanced Weapons Upgrades V remains a rite of passage, but let new pilots get the help they need to fit their ships in a reasonable time. Players that can fly viable ships remain in the game, and players in the game remains critical to EVE’s future.  

Dysphonia “12 centimetres” Fera: In EVE we talk about achievement a lot. The achievement of evicting a coalition. The achievement of a solo PvP kill against the odds. We never talk about training a skill as a real achievement; because it isn’t. You clicked a button, or dragged a bar into a box, and didn’t unsub for a period of time. Someone else having an easier path to train a skill I have trained doesn’t affect me at all. If anything, it means they’re going to feel they can fly more expensive ships quicker, which is perfectly fine with me; easier  expensive kills, great. I am going to have a bias on this due to my involvement with Horde; I also know that historically the player retention of EVE is frankly lower than my standards. This might help?

As far as fitting skills go, the gating of AWU behind Weapon Upgrades 5 always felt slightly off. The majority of other fitting skills, even less impactful ones have a much lower barrier to entry than AWU. For me this isn’t so much a step in the casualification of EVE, but bringing parity to fitting skills. There’s a few more skills I feel could use a similar treatment, but that’s another story. AWU is still a level 5 skill. It’s still going to take a month roughly to train to 5, in stark contrast to other fitting skills, the majority of which are 2 weeks at the absolute maximum.

fitting skills being the result of archaic design

I also think there is a case to be made for fitting skills being the result of archaic design that introduce an artificial additional time limit on flying certain things, with no good reason. It’s not necessarily one I’d agree with, but I can totally see how that would be the case.

For those of us with tens of millions of SP, this realistically changes very little at all, shit, probably nothing at all. For the new player, it isn’t groundbreaking either; I can imagine it making people want to die a bit less when they look at their skill queues & plans. And if you’re out there thinking “great, I dont need to train this to 5 anymore, and I can get AWU to 4 as well and be done” you’re wrong. AWU5 is one of the best skills in game – now WU5 is no longer a prerequisite, I think WU5 might be just as good. Train it. You’ll thank me later.

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Dectoris: This is a great change. As someone who flies both tiny hulls and capitals alike, I know how ridiculous it is to be unable to fit a ship a certain way because of 2 or 3 powergrid simply because I didn’t train a x6 skill to 5. This fact alone gives the owners of this skill (to 5) a very distinct edge over the players who have yet to achieve it. Therefore, the playing field is not even for newer players. Even if the newer player is more talented than the older pilot he will lose simply because of fitting requirements. That’s a pretty quick way to get people discouraged to stay in a game. I want to win a fight because I am BETTER than my opponent, not because I can fit a better shield extender or armor plate.

Also, it is the prerequisite for Dreads and Marauders. So lowering the barrier to entry for both of those ship classes means more Dreads and Marauders to kill. I’m for that.

Twyndyllng: Honestly, I think this is a great change. I always wondered why we had to train CPU upgrades before power grid upgrades anyways, making one dependant on the other didn’t make any sense with the naming convention either. Surely Advanced Weapon upgrades would do the same thing as regular weapon upgrades but at a slower rate? Nope. I understand that bittervets will cry slippery slope at any opportunity, but these are the same people that complain about free SP for logging in, or anything that threatens to actually improve the game. Mistaking inaccessibility for difficulty is a common theme in this game, and if this gets new pilots into exciting ships and fights faster, then bring them on.

a quick fix for an age old design implementation

Cosmo/Eustise:  This seems like just a quick fix for an age old design implementation. Nowadays new players that are engaged in almost any kind of PVP, which is advertised as the main draw of Eve Online, are expected to fit at least competently and often times efficiently. Given how fitting works, i’d rather see a rework of bonuses across the board, but that’s tiericide level of work which we won’t see anytime soon and there are other more pressing issues anyway that require that level of intense scrutiny.

In any case, as a quick fix, this works. You don’t /really/ need WU5 from a stat perspective but you do need the AWU stat boost at least trained to 4.
Any players that pull the ‘going uphill through a blizzard both ways’ card are wrong. I’m not saying they’re shouldn’t feel ‘hurt’ but the way forward doesn’t always have to be pleasant. This is the better way for the game.

I think within the first month of the game all the players should be able to meta-fit all the T1 combat modules, all the T1 ships up to battlecruiser and in the end be able to at least pose a threat to players ‘older’ than them. ‘Old’ players already have a huge boost of ingame experience, experience which more than often translates in more value to winning fights than ingame SP, so if we can close that gap SP-wise, maybe, just maybe, new people won’t think they need years of training to be even slightly competitive.

Something that can happen when they’re hit face-first with the training time of WU5, as i’ve seen in my days of Dojo-ing people in Brave.

Danikov: AWU is a really bizarre skill. Apart from the powergrid bonus, it’s just a skillpoint sinkhole between you and Marauders and/or essential capital utility skills that garner no direct benefit from the bonus. Level 5 prerequisites make sense in a few places where there is a direct progression, but powergrid and CPU are parallel stats. On top of this, it also highlights a split-brain issue with missile launchers getting full benefit from a skill that derives from Gunnery and requiring Gunnery skills at the capital level.

Obviously one can’t be demanding a total overhaul over a quick fix, but I don’t think the prerequisite level drop is the right quick fix for these skills. Instead, rename the skills what they are: Weapon CPU Upgrades and Weapon Powergrid Upgrades. Then make them both accessible from Gunnery II, and then bump AWU’s current downsteam skills to require both. This gives full volition to newer pilots to make potentially ill-advised fitting and skill choices that occur in those early days, while also preserving the overall SP requirement to access Marauders, etc. that the current approach doesn’t even do.

All the fuss about the cost of making the game easier or more accessible is hot air. The full potential of the skills hasn’t changed or been subtracted from players that have them already. Even if the current approach reduces the SP train to certain other skills a little, it’s a fraction of a long, long train into ships renowned for performing badly in the hands of the poorly skilled. The biggest benefit is to Alex Newbie, who maybe chose to fly Amarr in their early days, found powergrid demand of lasers to be a bottleneck, and isn’t forced to maximise their CPU first to do something about it.

SignsOfFaith

Ashley Traynor: To me this change is mostly a positive one that opens up new options to younger players. That level 5 Weapon Upgrades train was always a painful one at first and I can remember thinking back when I had about 10m SP that I’d never get around to it! I was trying to train up ships for doctrines and didn’t really have that time to dump to reach the powergrid bonus I needed. Eventually I go around to it and, as with so many of the other fitting skills, it just felt so hollow. I’d just spent a week and a half for a measly 2% bonus to then be greeted with a 35 day train for AWU 5, which so many say is essential (It is!).

It’s just not gratifying whatsoever and is much akin to the days of learning skills that were essential to train before doing anything else. I know I certainly would rather spend that time training into something new and then having the excitement of flying a new ship at the end of it. Reducing the AWU requisite to level 4 will let newbros grab that oh-so-important powergrid fitting and get back to more interesting skills sooner. That’s a step that will help keep them engaged in the game in those precious early days where many would be inclined to jump ship if they’re slapped in the face with two weeks of boredom that us veterans insist they trawl through.

Oh and for those who are particularly worried about this wasting their time spent, surely you would have gone back and trained weapon upgrades to 5 anyway right?

We have to hold the line somewhere

Rixx Javix: I’m all for giving new players the ability to “get into” Eve and enjoy the game we all love, but I have to to also disagree with this change. We have to hold the line somewhere, a line that represents commitment, time, and experience. That may often come off as being a ‘bitter vet’, but that doesn’t invalidate the knowledgeable opinion behind it. AWU-V is a high-water mark, it was for me, and it has been for every other player for over a decade now. Lowering the bar on that achievement accomplishes nothing more than lip-service to young players in my opinion. A bar that will be replaced by something else. This kind of change is missing the point, it is seeing the tree instead of the forest. There are significant issues with the New Player Experience that need to be addressed and lowering the bar on AWU-V is not one of them. Let’s focus on the important issues, immersion, lore, and knowledge before we go hacking down more trees.

Tags: cz minutes, skills

About the author

Niden

12 year EVE veteran, Snuffed Out scumbag, writer, graphic artist, producer, Editor-in-Chief of Crossing Zebras and the second most influential player in EVE, according to EVE Onion.