It's been too long since I took part in a blog banter. It seems appropriate that my return should be to talk about something which I've ranted on comms so much about I was sure I'd also blogged about it. Alas, it seems I hadn't so here we go.
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?
Including attributes seems one of the most obvious mechanics in a role playing game. By allocating points to different areas of your character you can customise and influence how well or how poorly they will faire in a given set of circumstances. If we take charisma, for example, someone who allocates a lot of points to that particular attribute will do so in the knowledge that they are paving an easier life for their character. They should expect easier and more profitable tasks than some mouth-breather lacking in both charisma and deodorant (they probably rent nullsec space to mine anyway). Equally, someone with perception knows they will gain much by understanding a given environment to a better extent. They can use that knowledge to better pick targets to shoot and/or routes to sneakily take.
Seems reasonable so far? Well in EVE we get none of this. Character attributes in EVE are the forgotten ginger stepchild of gameplay in New Eden. For your farsighted minmaxer these numbers are mana from the stars. Given a 6 year list of skills you can eke out every little bonus and shave weeks off your 2191 day training plan. As for charisma affecting your interaction with NPC mission agents; nope sorry. Does perception increase your awareness of which ships in a site might be the trigger? Hell no! Well definitely Willpower will help you keep your ship together under adverse conditions (read: heavy sustained incoming fire)? Ahahahaha, you make me laugh so hard...
In EVE attributes exist solely to punish the many and reward the OCD few. Once upon a time I used to plug all my plans into EVEMon and tell it to calculate the best attributes for the first year of this plan. I've heard of people who worked the other way and would move their skills around to cluster similarly affected skills into the same year. They would then avoid training skills which didn't fit into the bonused attribute pattern. They would forgo flying certain ships because to train them would negatively impact the number of skill points they accrued in a given year(!). What game punishes people for wanting to try something new? Seriously? So for the longest time I set all my skill points to an average where they mostly have the same number. I buy +3 implants to train a bit faster. I don't punish myself for choosing to train some leadership skills when I'm set up to train missiles instead (charisma + willpower vs. perception + willpower). I'll live with few skill points per hour and I'll be a happier player for it.
As far as I see it there is no interesting choice created by attributes as they stand. The timescale we get to remapping (annual) is so long that new players will totally ignore the option for fear of overly slowing themselves down. Either that or they will go full minmaxer and avoid anything which makes them a better pilot/have more fun playing EVE because it means they have 73 less skill points than they would have had in the first place. Now don't get me wrong, I'm not necessarily calling for attributes to be removed from the game. An alternative is to increase the effect they have on the game as hinted at near the start of this post. For example would it be more interesting a choice if you can train skill x faster because of your intelligence but you'll earn less ISK from missions because you reduced charisma to do so? How about taking less incoming damage because your perception is high but this is at a speed cost to training for that Archon you always wanted?
I guess my feelings towards removing or revamping attributes are ambivalent in the true sense of the word. The only thing I can say for sure is leaving them in the game as they are is both pointless and meaningless. Hell, let me remap every month and I might reconsider. If there really is no developer time to write something new to take their place (as with clone costs) then they should simply be removed. Make New Eden a simpler place for the new player at little cost to us veterans.