Tuesday, April 21, 2015

A Different View Of New Players

One of the more interesting features of EVE Online is the time-based skill learning system. But in terms of attracting new players, the system does have some drawbacks. Some players believe they can never become competitive with experienced players because they can never obtain the same number of skill points.

The usual counter-argument that EVE players use is that not all the skill points are relevant in any PvP encounter. In my case, Wandering Rose's 17.9 million skill points in resource management, 16.2 million SP in science, 4.8 million SP in gunnery, and 3.3 million SP in missiles will do no good if a new player jumps her while she's mining in a Procurer in lowsec. Then again, with my actual experience of mining in lowsec combined with the skill points I've devoted to escapability, I have an excellent chance of warping off before the new player can tackle the mining barge. But the key, for coming out of the encounter with my ship intact, is my experience behind the keyboard. Mining while aligned really doesn't require a lot of skill points, especially since the introduction of the Higgs Anchor rig.

But reading the latest Gentlemen's Club Alliance update on TMC struck home the idea that the view of new players in EVE is different that in other games. One of GClub's basic strategies and principles is to "Remain new bro friendly, and a place where a new bro can learn and thrive." For people looking from the outside of EVE, that has to look weird. GClub is engaged in "end game" null sec conflict. Why would they want the equivalent of a level 1 character in their space guild? After all, they cannot fly space coffins, er, I mean, titans and super carriers. Gentlemen's Club is an aberration, right?

Not really. EVE Online's most successful null sec alliance, Goonswarm Federation, has always recruited and nurtured new players. But, some may argue, the Goons come from the Something Awful forums, so they have a natural incentive to help the people from their community learn EVE. True. But then explain the creation of Karmafleet and opening up membership to all new players in EVE. Markonius Porkbutte, co-founder of Karmafleet, in the TMC interview touched upon the subject of new players in null sec:
"I think on the grand scheme of things, Brave [Collective] awakened a lot of the null blocs and has forced them to realize the power of newbies in their fleets, so I feel much of this is Brave's fault. GSF is merely 'catching up' to the new meta that is slowly unfolding in null."
"In fact, the entire 'pseudo-war' brave had with PL [Pandemic Legion] was really proving that newbies are essential and can serve a well deserved place in nullsec sov warfare."
The aforementioned Pandemic Legion, another of the top powers in EVE, looked to harness the power of "weaponized newbros" by creating their own new player alliance, Pandemic Horde, earlier this month.

What makes the new player so powerful? Electronic warfare. As the Brave Collective and HERO Coalition showed for months against Pandemic Legion, players with fewer than 2 million skill points can neutralize players with over 100 million. But the effective use of electronic warfare doesn't require massed fleets of Mauluses like Brave deployed in Catch. In my own alliance, EvE-Scout Enclave, we employ the "Hugs" doctrine: Griffins equipped with electronic counter-measure modules and festival launchers against the highsec wardeccers who see the alliance as easy prey due to the 1% ISK efficiency listed on our killboard. Our doctrine Griffin is not only fun to fly, but very new player friendly, requiring only minutes to skill into. While we don't want to hurt anyone, if someone wants to pay CONCORD so we have an excuse to shoot snowballs and fireworks, we won't say no.

The same mechanics that make the Griffin ideal in EvE-Scout Enclave's Hugs fleets should make the Griffin, and thus new players, valuable once FozzieSov is released on 2 June. In FozzieSov, sovereignty turns into a game of capture the node, much like the battlegrounds in World of Warcraft. But in WoW, does anyone imagine that a level 11 character, even twinked out, could defend a node from a level 100 character? The idea is so preposterous that Blizzard does not even allow for the situation to occur, gating battlegrounds based on level.

In EVE, with the new sovereignty mechanics however, a two-day old player with less than 1 million skill points in a ship that costs less than 1 million ISK has a good chance of frustrating a five-year veteran with 100 million skill points flying a ship which, when fitted with an Entosis mod, will probably cost close to 100 million ISK, if not more. The new player's chances of success go up based on the index levels in the system. And new players can also contribute to raising these indexes, although from my vantage point outside of null sec, the only method appears to consist of mining. Ugh!

Hopefully, when CCP is revamping the index system, they consider ways that new players can contribute to raising and maintaining the index levels. I also hope that new players will have other ways of making ISK than mining or following older players and salvaging the wrecks. They shouldn't make tons of ISK, but they should have the ability to make a little extra cash to keep them in ships so they don't have to depend on the availability of other corp/alliance members to provide them with content either.

I don't really expect EVE's skill point system to appeal to everyone. Some people just have to have the top "end game" gear, and have to have it fairly quickly. EVE is not that type of game. But for those who want to participate in some of the null sec warfare that hits the media, CCP is making the game more new player friendly. More importantly, important players in the game are taking note.


  1. I just realised that you're right - EWAR would totally wreck T2 entosis mods, forcing the enemy to move closer to the command node. God bless you if they have jammers.

  2. Don't forget the change to clones. I'm willing to actually fly those ships with newbies now that it's not a value losing proposition on the pod loss. And that's huge from a new player perspective, 100+ million SP characters are flying the same ship in more or less the exact same configuration as they are, regularly. It might not seem like much, but it highlights something we've been saying for years in a way they can appreciate. That every ship is always useful, you don't need to fly the biggest or the best to be effective and have fun; look, that guy's doing exactly what we are.

  3. the newbie jammer fleet was a staple of eve university long before brave

  4. I remember them from my days in Eve University back in 2009. But when I was at Fanfest, I heard that the Uni was getting away from that in order to find good fights.

  5. To emphasize your point, we actually trained a corpmate inflight on the last Hugs Fleet op

  6. idk... new players often seem to be mostly there to add noise and clutter.

    Without all of the core skills maxed out, they can't lock as fast, don't have the range, and can't easily get in range of pilots with a lot more SP. More than a few times, I've seen a single 50M+ SP player take out 10 noobs in just under a minute - pop, pop, pop.