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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.

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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

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

  • What if they’d redesigned the skill into two separate ones and have a basic version that is kinda easy to get to V and an advanced one that furthers the skill, but in total you’d get about or slightly more %

    • JZ909

      I’ve thought of something similar: Have a basic one that benefits all ships, and then an advanced one that only benefits T2/3, then readjust base stats to compensate.

  • Mr Banden

    Core fitting skills (engineering, cpu management etc) basically means that new players start with a skillpoint deficit. Because they improve every ship, there is not really any choice to make, you either train them or your ships are more difficult to fit. The only way to overcome the deficit is time. Once you have waited a sufficient amount of time you can start to train into specialised ships and playstyles where you can actually catch up to veteran players. v0v

    It would be nice if there was a way to at least speed that up by investing effort. I am not saying that anyone gets engineering V by warping to a belt and kill a rat (talk about uninspired implementation) but it would really make the newbie experience better, get more people out into space and interacting, if there was more you could actively do to overcome this skill point deficit. Waiting for skills to finish certainly doesn’t feel like accomplishment, and I don’t get why people would argue that it is. Instead of that stupid one rat a day shit, you could implement multi step tasks which award skill points to one or more core fitting skills. Anyway, for the change in question, I like Danikov suggestion best.

    • MrFoundryguy .

      Danikov’s idea is probably the best. I was really surprised about Niden getting so pissy about the “watering down” of acheivments in EVE. Training a skill is a time and sub sink. You bought game time, have your skill train while you play the game or play Skillqueue Online, end of story.
      EVE came into being during a time where difficult progression and timesinks were the norm, and nowadays it’s the exception. Finding a middle (or quarter ground, this is EVE after all) is imperative to making sure we get another decade out of this game.

    • Yuna

      Work a shift at work and they can buy four injectors problem solved. Or mission or mine or scam for injectors. For 40dollars or less (dlc) you have a easier time blending in

      • Mr Banden

        Substituting the SP problem with ISK or IRL money doesn’t change that the deficit is still there. It’s still a pointless barrier to get your character into specialisation.

  • Messiah Complex

    The problem is that the ranks for some of the “fundamental” fitting skills are absurdly high. I’m sure there’s some design philosophy behind wasting people’s time in that particular way, but I’ve never figured it out.

    • virtualevil

      Have to agree.

      The most important thing for Eve is for it to be around in 2026.

      Competition for players is only getting higher, Eve needs to get over the accessibility barrier and modernise.

      Bittervets aren’t going to lose anything in terms of their gameplay experience, they just need to get off their high horses and get past the ego. The rise of Horde, Brave etc. has been a god-send for the game and brought a lot of players back to the game and opened the door to newbies. We need to encourage more content. What is going to happen when/if we lose large swathes of the current Bittervet population due to life, marriage, kids forcing them to go. There won’t be anyone left to pick up the mantle.

      Clicking a button and watching a clock countdown is the most pointless thing ever. Let people play the game!

  • Jan Koxsos Kopecky

    It’s cool just remove skills and refund SP so that I can get something neat instead.
    But to claim they are mandatory is an overstatement. But take high-end 1400mm incursion machariel without a power mod.
    Needs genos, 6% grid, core mwd, and rigging V.
    But let the change come, it’s just about deciding what is core and what is not.
    Does jury rigging still exist? Let’s look at useless skills first, hail defender missiles!

  • JZ909

    The issue I have with WU and AWU (and most fitting skills for that matter) is that they are required to have a competitive version of any ship, not just a Marauder or a HAC. It’s not specialization, it’s not a choice, it’s just a time sink, and do we really need a time sink before someone flies a competitive Rifter? In my opinion, we don’t, and it only serves to drive new players away from the game.

  • nVus Antollare

    Make certain skills proportionally better at each level and make the fitting skills boost them. Rather than each level adds a fixed percent, so they’re independent to the fitting requirements of an item module.

    So learning a support skill or fitting skill will for example reduce the training time of the skills that are its dependants and perhaps in some cases add to its effects.

    So gettting something to level five is worth it again but takes much longer to train for without its support skill.

  • dagger906

    The problem isn’t that fitting skills take too long to train, it’s that amount of CPU/grid without fitting skill is way too low to create any viable fits. Devs balanced ships according to all V fitting skills. That’s wrong. The current CPU/grid amount with fitting skills at V should be the default amount with fitting skills at zero.

    Restricting fitting choices, for anyone, newbies or vets, does not add content/choice, it takes it away. Aside from some obvious necessary restrictions (oversized capital mods on subcaps), fitting restrictions should be minimized. More fitting choices = more emergent content.

  • Chief Gumbo Speaker

    No thanks, I trained it up. So can the new guys. I prefer HTFU.