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July 31, 2015

What if Eve Online went Free To Play?

Update Oct. 2016
Free to play is happening check out the devblog on alpha and omega clones.

The idea of a free to play (F2P) Eve Online has been in the back of my mind ever since I read this comment on a EN24 article (http://evenews24.com/2013/09/12/yet-another-dev-leaves-for-riot-games/). Sadly the article isn't live but I couldn't confirm the comment even if it was.

Anonymous:

Zulu and Soundwave were both in a camp in the company that believes that F2P is inevitable and that the next few xpacs should pave the wave for a 2015 F2P release. They had collaborated on a proposal that was shot down by the rest of the design team who believe that the game will continue to grow in sub numbers and that there aren't any other viable contenders in the genre to warrant the redesign.

There's some talk that is Sony buys us out, then we'll be going F2P anyway, but these two didn't want to see CCP go F2P under SOE.
Despite the twelve other rumors in the comment that deserve articles in and of themselves, the comment does make me think what would a F2P model look like in Eve Online? With the shift to unlimited skill ques and changes to the trial account is it viable in Eve Online to have a free to play model? And lastly you might argue is the game already free to play? Lets work through the questions and see what conclusions we can find.

My idea of an Eve Online F2P model would be allowing everyone to log on for free without the ability to train skills. If you want to train skills you have to pay $15 dollars for 30 days and or use a PLEX(These are not unique ideas.) This does several things it keeps the economy of PLEX for isk intact and probably increases it. It allows players that are currently subscribed to stay paying if they choose and continue to skill train. It keeps the character trading market intact. F2P model would also allow any old players to return free of charge if they choose. It allows every ones alt accounts to be playable as well.

It allows new players to try the game out with out any commitments. Give them the 30 day trial with training. They can choose to spend a little money and train up to fly other ships they can fly around with their venture and grind enough isk to get a PLEX. It allows casuals to stay casual it doesn’t punish veterans as you can’t just automatically fly a titan or have a titan.

Is it a viable option in Eve Online to have a free to play model?

A little google searching will conjure up some scary scenarios. We find posts like these on the forums:
I also think, we will have 4~7 cloaky neutrals in every null sec system, that afk all day.

Jita will stil be limited to roughly 2000 players, but instead. The entire constellation will be nearly full. Reaching Jita would be impossible.

Suicide freighter ganks are more easily attained. As 1 guy could get 150 free to play accounts and use rifters to suicide on 1 Freighter.

The bittervets and other old carebear people will quit the game. But instead for every one of them, eve online gets 30 free to play players (who would probably never pay or barely go for microtransactions).

Time Dilation is a natural thing, as it will affect everyone, for the whole time. Fleet op Fights will probably resulting in a lot of server crashes.
These are important discussion items that would need to take place. Developers would be faced with a mountain of balance and server issues out of the gate. Do we want just any random internet Joe access to the client? With these concerns alone I don't think we would see a F2P model in Eve Onlines future.

Is the game already free to play?

This is anther important question to consider. The current model of using PLEX to pay for an account subscription may seem free to some. PLEX strikes the perfect balance between causal and hardcore allowing those with time or concentration to make in-game currency to pay their subscription dues. While others that want a boost in assets in-game can choose to purchase those through PLEX. Eve Online can be free to play depending on your valuation of time.

While I don't expect Eve to be F2P any time soon or even ever. The model of F2P will probably keep being considered as more and more F2P titles dominate player numbers.

Just my two cents.


July 24, 2015

30 Day Starting Skill Plan

Now that Eve Online is free to play. I thought it would be prudent to put together a basic starting skill plan for 30 days. As opposed to my older guide that was written for 14 day trial accounts. The same general idea of having a skill plan that provides you with the widest scope possible in training. This way you don't get pigeon holed into any specific role you don't understand. Let's get straight to the skill list and I will explain specifics after.


Skills
Navigation 4 - 5% bonus to sub-warp ship velocity per skill level.

CPU Management 4 - 5% bonus to ship CPU output per skill level. Used for fitting ships.

Power Grid Management 4 - 5% bonus to ship's powergrid output per skill level.  Used for fitting ships.

Capacitor Management 4 - 5% bonus to capacitor capacity per skill level. Used to activate your ships modules.

Mechanics 4 - 5% bonus to structure hit points per skill level.

Hull Upgrades 4 - 5% bonus to armor hit points per skill level.

Shield Management 4 - 5% bonus to shield capacity per skill level.

Science 4 - Allows use of tractor beams among other things.

Repair Systems 4 - And no higher as it burns cap faster at 5

Spaceship Command 4 - 2% improved ship agility for all ships per skill level.

Target Management 3 - Increases maximum number of targets by 1 per level.

Warp Drive Operation 3 - 10% reduction to capacitor needed to warp per level.

Evasive Maneuvering 3 - 5% bonus to ship agility per level.

Afterburner 3 - 5% reduction to Afterburner duration and 10% reduction in Afterburner capacitor use per skill level.

Racial Frigate 4

See UniWiki Core Skills for an expanded list.

Keep in mind this is a general list that keeps you training skills all under level five. If you have an idea of the play style your looking to get involved in such as pvp by all means I would specialize as quickly as possible into a niche role you character will be strong at. This list is a suggestion, though these skills effect every ship you fly and you will eventually train them all to level 5.


Alternative Skills
Cybernetics 3 - Allows use of advanced implants.

Infomorph Psychology - 1 additional jump clone per level. Allows use of jump clones.

Drones 4 or 5 - 1 additional drone may be controlled per level. Allows use of drones.

Salvaging 3 - Increase in chance of successful salvage per level. Allows use of salvage module.

Gunnery 4 - 2% bonus to turret rate of fire per level. Allows use of turrets.

Missile Launcher Operation - I would stick to guns until you have a better idea of how the missile mechanics work in game.

Trade 3 - 4 extra market orders become possible at the same time per skill level.

Racial Ship Skills 4

Eve Mon

Eve Mon is the single best tool to use for creating skill plans. It lets you test out skill plans and gives you an idea of how much time it will take. It allows you to maximize attributes and remaps.

Character Attributes and Remaps

This could be a guide all it own but I wanted to mention a few things. Your character has 5 attributes, you start out with them almost all even. Each skill has two attributes a primary one and a secondary one. The more points you have in a attribute the faster a skill trains that has that attribute. You can Remap attributes and redistribute 10 of them. When you start you can do this twice after you have used up all your remaps you only get a remap once a year(in real time 365 days). Note remaps do not stack. Each year(character creation date to character creation date) you get one chance to remap. So only remap if you know what your doing and have consulted Eve Mon.

A quick example support skills and production skills are generally Int/Mem while gun, missile and ship skills are Per/Wil so you need to strike a balance in your remaps as you get started with the game.

A note about the skill que.

You can que up as many hours or days of skill training as you want. The only limit is certain skills have prerequisites you have to train before you can que up that skill. This was not always the case the skill que used to be limited to 24 hours of skill training and long ago there was no skill que I believe.

What are implants?

Implants are worth mentioning because certain implants give you an increase to your attributes so your skills will train faster. Right now you can pick a set of +1 attribute implants for 300 or 400,000 isk.

Can you lose skills points if your pod is destroyed?
You do not lose skills points if your pod is destroyed. You do lose your implants if your pod is destroyed. The game has been changed you use to lose skills points if you didn't purchase an updated medical clone with in-game isk this isn't the case anymore.

A note on skill training to make isk

Steer clear of mining if your only thinking about it to make money to fund your other activities. Why might you ask? Mining is time consuming and time is your currency as a gamer. Your putting off other more enjoyable activities to shot lasers at rocks. Now this only holds if your mining just to get some quick cash to do something else. If that is your mind set I would suggest ratting or missioning which allow you to focus your skill training in skills that will help you cross over to pvp much better than mining level 5. Also PI(planetary interaction) is good way to earn passive isk while doing more enjoyable activities. For example you want to get into industry and manufacturing I would point you to PI as opposed to mining.

Plan, Plan, Plan

You need to start thinking about what it is you want to do in-game because you will run out of ideas of what to train real fast. I make skill plans in three month blocks, or yearly quarters to keep me focused. So think ahead what you want to do or what your going to be doing over the next three months and use Eve Mon to start coming up with a skill plan.

What level to train skill "xyz" to?

Skill things up to level 4 until you get a good idea of what a skill does before pushing the long skill ques to level 5. A good rule of thumb unless you know what it does don't train it. Read about it first then train.

How do you ever catch up to people who have been playing for so long?

Just because you can fly something doesn't mean you know what your doing. Low skilled characters can have just as much impact as older ones. Also I mentioned earlier specialize on a specific career path and within a month or two you can be flying a skilled stealth bomber and enjoying your game time just as much as the next person.


Other Resources:
Eve Mon Download
UniWiki How to Use Eve Mon
UniWiki Basic Skills
UniWiki Core Skills < excellent resource for creating your first skill plan.
UniWiki Support Skills
Neural Remapping
Eve Prospers Industrial Alt Guide
UniWiki Mining Alt Guide
UniWiki Hauler Alt Guide
UniWiki Scanner Alt Guide


July 10, 2015

Operation: Indy Alt

Before I took a long Eve break, I had started a new industry alt to fill out my last character slot on my account. I was almost done with the three months of training I had planned before I took some time off. I used Eve Prospers Indy Alt Guide which lays out the skill choices you have and when to remap. So now that I am back I recently finished up the last month of training with this character coming online I have doubled my manufacturing capacity. A second indy alt is small potatoes compared to some but three plexes worth of training is a big investment for me.

As far as what I am planning on using that characters manufacturing slots for is a whole other post entirely. The short version is I am planning on building T2 ships. Its good to be back though. I am still continuing my trend of causal industrialist and even more causal eve blogger. I have a few small guides in the works though I will post them over the next couple weeks.

July 3, 2015

When is a good time to get back into Eve Online?

With the SOV revamp(devblog1, devblog2)  dropping in mid July you will see a lot of commenters questions and forum posters asking if now is a good time to get back into Eve Online?

The development of Eve Online is a lot like maintaining a large website content changes and updates come from a small group of developers slowly over time in a constant effort of refinement. So consequently there isn’t going to be a sweet spot to get started back in game. If you want to play the game as it stands today get back in. If you don’t enjoy playing the game as it stands don’t. An important point to note it's who you play with that matters not what you play.

Development Cycle

The current release cycle of pushing out updates every six weeks allows for continued development of large features over time. As of July the second tier of the null sec revamp will get started. The total release cycle of null sec revamps will take over a year. The revamp of player owned stations will like wise take a year. So the “sweet spot” of when to get back in game is hard to define.

The Sweet Spot

A game like “World of Warcraft” tends to lend itself more to a sweet spot mentality it's really just a marketing term called an “expansion.” Eve Online has shied away from that model in favor of the constant release cycle. The “expansion” sweet spot days are over, for now, for Eve Online. I’m glad I’m not in CCP's marketing team. The sandbox nature of Eve lends itself more to a constant development life cycle allowing players time to react and absorb changes as they occur over patch cycles.

The Game as it Stands

The entertainment value you gain from playing a video game will be much the same today as it will be tomorrow. Despite any feature release or redesign. If you enjoyed playing Eve Online in the past chances are you will enjoy it today. If you stopped playing for a particular reason chances are that reason is still intact and may not change anytime soon. For example I have observed many people take breaks from Eve because life gets busy. It has nothing to do with any sort of feature released in-game.

Alright this post is starting to get way to meta for me. In conclusion:

Its who you play with not what you play that matters.

Gameplay aside I think the psychological impact of social encounters in the game is what gives MMO's their most lasting impression. If you're asking yourself if you should get back into Eve Online based on some feature change maybe a better question is are your friends, buddies, comrades still in game or planning on getting back in-game?

June 26, 2015

Eve Market Doldrums

If your a new player or new to market trading you might be asking yourself why is my market volume slowing down? Is Eve Online dying? What exactly is going on? I offer a few opinions as to why you might be seeing low market volume.

Summer Doldrums

Historically in-game populations trend down in the summer. If we take a look at Eve Offline Stats the player count will decline from June until September then it picks back up once school starts again and winter sets in, in the northern hemisphere. Lower player counts correlate often times with slow market volume. Think of it as a double edge sword less players means less items being destroyed as well as less players purchasing your goods.

SOV Revamp

The SOV revamp has players holding their cards close. It feels like everyone is holding their breath waiting for shit to hit the fan. Player numbers and market volumes will pick up some once this patch hits mid July. Although July is typically still a down trend for player counts as the summer doldrums continues, lots of people are on vacation. Did CCP plan the SOV roll out when player counts are typically low on purpose? The tinfoil hat sure doesn't breath well during the summer. 

Burn Amarr

Burn Amarr is icing on the cake. Again several factors to slow market volume. Less players logging in. People tend to just avoid logging in altogether during that weekend. So less movement on the markets. Goods and services aren't being moved around as rapidly it slows the whole market. Expect business to be back to usual next week, still the impact is felt.

Cheap Materials

Another outlier I was thinking about is cheap materials. Producers(that aren't on vacation) are easily over producing as tech 2 materials and to a lesser extent minerals prices slump. Though I am not sure this has as much effect as the previous points. You run some calculations and see how much you could be making on a few items and you have some run away over production on your hands during the summer months.

Keep a watch on the news, devblogs, and Eve Propser's Market Show to anticipate your market volume.