Tuesday 3 March 2015

Time for a Remap pt.II: A Child, Awakened

Verwandelt ist Zarathustra, zum Kind ward Zarathustra, ein Erwachter ist Zarathustra: was willst du nun bei den Schlafenden? - Friedrich Nietzsche
The newly cloned capsuleer faces a universe of opportunity. They have been transformed, remade, reborn by the cloning process, and enjoy new capabilities as yet untested and unknown. As time goes by, they will come to know and play to their natural strengths, and of course augment their talents by learning and honing new capsuleer skills.

However, the human mind is ill-adapted to the Jovian technology of the hydrostatic capsule, and cloning also takes its toll. Capsuleer skill training is unnatural and ultimately damaging to the mind itself; as they acquire skills no natural human can learn, the capsuleer's native talents are gradually blunted. Over time, they will increasingly rely on implants to sustain their abilities, while offsetting any loss of mental acuity with their increasingly perfect skills.

This post is the second in a series; in part one I argued against attributes (and implants) affecting learning speed, and highlighted the appeal of attributes as a way of making a character feel distinctive in actual gameplay. In this follow up, I propose a redesign of attributes in EVE.

Edit: corrected the examples, where I confused Navigation with Evasive Maneuvering. I don't always derp, but when I do...

Design principles
  • Every attribute should provide meaningful bonuses that affect gameplay.
  • Every attribute should be useful and desirable for every type of activity; if there's an obvious attribute mapping for, say, industry, then industrial characters will use those attributes, and there are no interesting choices to make.
  • The attributes should be roughly equally useful - again, this is what makes the choices interesting. If one of the attributes is clearly superior for a particular profession, it ceases to be a meaningful choice.
  • No attribute should be critical enough to affect the viability of fleet doctrines. If corporations start issuing mandatory "doctrine remaps" to their members, these choices become uninteresting for individual players. This tends to imply that attributes should not directly affect fitting.
  • If power creep is a concern, the maximum value for attribute bonuses can be set as equal to the current values, making this a nerf rather than a buff to current power levels.
  • Bonuses currently provided by skills can be transferred in part to attributes, making the skills proportionally slightly less valuable and allowing attributes to make up the difference.
  • Attributes and implants should not increase the advantages enjoyed by veteran players over new players.
Making the last of these work with an attribute bonus system was bugging me for ages, which is why I didn't publish this follow-up sooner. But at last, I think I may have found a solution. Read on, my little ones, rub your hands together and cackle with glee, as we contemplate the wielding of the nerfbat...

Attribute mappings, implants and decay

Most players will prefer a "flat" mapping where all attributes are equal, but in accordance with their playstyle and preferences, they can vary each attribute by up to +/- 2 points. The sum of all attributes remains unchanged, so every +1 attribute increase is balanced by a -1 reduction elsewhere, as at present. Players will have the same opportunities to remap their attributes as they do now, but new players will be advised not to change their attributes at first.

Attributes are further modified by the attribute implants which already exist, and which remain unchanged in this system. The maximum value of an attribute after applying implant bonuses is +5; implants taking the value beyond +5 have no further effect. With no implants, the theoretical minimum value for an attribute is -2.

A starting character is offered a flat mapping of +4 in all attributes, allowing the maximum +5 bonus in all areas with a full set of +1 implants. As the character learns skills, these attributes gradually decay, until at 40m skill points, the character needs +5 implants on a flat attribute mapping in order to receive the maximum bonus in all areas.

Total SPBase attribute bonusImplants needed for
max. bonus (flat mapping)

The effect of this is to give a "free" advantage to low-SP characters, which decays with increasing SP, requiring attribute implants in order to keep the maximum bonuses. Players who prefer the advantages of some attributes over others can remap accordingly, making it cheaper and easier to maximise their bonuses in these areas. High-end attribute implants become important only for high-SP characters, while less-skilled characters have no need of them. All characters will still require implants in order to receive the maximum bonuses in all areas, and many will choose to do so if the bonuses are sufficiently attractive.

Attribute effects

Each attribute gives bonuses in multiple areas, nearly all of which correspond to an existing skill. The bonus is generally 2%, which is subtracted from the effect of the skill. For example, the 5% per level structure HP provided by the Mechanics skill becomes 3% per level, offset by a 2% per level bonus for the Charisma attribute. With the maximum +5 Charisma and Mechanics V, structure HP remains unchanged.

Intelligence: quick thinking, the ability to rapidly analyse and adapt to changing situations, and inventiveness in finding solutions to unpredictable problems. Intelligence affects targeting speed, ship agility, data analyser coherence, invention and research time, and escrow management.

Memory: not only the ability to remember, but also to swiftly and reliably recall information, which helps the capsuleer quickly apply technical data to maximise system performance, and reference their knowledge to apply solutions to previously-solved problems. Memory affects capacitor capacity and recharge rate, warp capacitor cost, relic analyser coherence, blueprint copy time, and the number of market orders.

Perception: includes pattern recognition, and the ability to spot the optimal configuration for ship systems, inventory or finances. Perception affects targeting range, ship speed, the capacity of haulers and the ore bays of mining ships, accuracy of scan results, industry job costs, and sales taxes.

Willpower: the determination, daring and ruthlessness required to push ship systems - and lesser humans - to their limits. Affects warp speed, rate of fire for all weapon systems, drone damage, mining yield, manufacturing time and broker fees.

Charisma: the charm required to win the loyalty and devotion of a ship's crew can also be effective in building a network and persuading distant subcontractors to cooperate. Charisma affects heat, structure HP and scan speed, because a motivated crew will take greater risks and exercise more ingenuity in the service of a charismatic pilot. Networking skills affecting job control ranges are also modified by Charisma, the "number of jumps" range provided by each level of skill is reduced by 1, and the difference transferred to Charisma. With skill level V and Charisma +5, order range remains unchanged.

Effects in bold do not correspond to bonuses offered by an existing skill; all other bonuses can be introduced without power creep by reducing the bonuses provided by the skills indicated below.

Combatship agilitytargeting speedcap capacity, cap recharge rate, warp cap costbase speed & Speed boosttargeting range-warp speedrate of fire (1%) & drone damageheat & structure HP
Miningore hold capacity of mining shipsyield of mining lasers and mining drones
Hauling--cargo capacity of haulers-
Explorationdata analyser coherencerelic analyser coherenceaccuracy of scan results - not scan strength!-scan speed
Manufacturing & Inventioninvention & research timecopy timejob costsmanufacturing timejob control ranges
Tradeescrowno.of orderssales taxesbroker feesorder ranges
Skills affectedEvasive Maneuvering, Signature Analysis, Hacking, Research, Metallurgy, Margin TradingCapacitor Management, Capacitor Systems Operation, Warp Drive Operation, Archaeology, Science, Trade, Retail, Wholesale, TycoonNavigation, Acceleration Control, various Spaceship Command skill bonuses, Astrometric Pinpointing, Industry, AccountingRapid Firing, Rapid Launch, Drone Interfacing, Astrogeology, Ice Harvesting, Broker RelationsThermodynamics, Mechanics, Astrometric Acquisition, Supply Chain Management & Scientific Networking, Daytrading, Marketing, Procurement, Visibility


Bravely Bimblebud has 700k SP, bless him. He hasn't started training Evasive Maneuvering yet, but having followed the recommended flat attribute mapping to start out, his Int is +4, giving him a ship agility bonus of 8% (under the current system this would be zero). Less than a day's training will get him to Evasive Maneuvering III, providing a 17% agility bonus (still better than 15% under the current system). With a very cheap +1 implant and a couple of days' extra training, he can reach 22% (still better than 20% in the present system). 2 weeks' training for Evasive Maneuvering V would then bring him to the full 25% bonus, as at present.

Bluesie Donutfrog is a hauler, with 39m SP. She often makes risky runs through lowsec, so align time is key; with Evasive Maneuvering V and no implants, her agility bonus is only 17%. She needs +4 implants to gain the full 25% bonus; once she passes 40m SP, she will lose another attribute point, and need +5 implants for the same effect. At this point she decides that safety is more important than speed; she remaps attributes, dropping a point from Wil and putting it into Int, losing an additional 2% warp speed but keeping her maximum agility without the need for a +5 Int implant. She invests in a jump clone with a +5 Wil implant for piloting her freighter across high-sec, but she will still be 2% slower in warp than the maximum possible speed.

Legionary Plagueboy specialises in subcap PvP; he has well above 40m SP, so he needs several jump clones. Some have +5 implants of course, as attribute bonuses are quite valuable in combat, but he keeps clones with +4 implants for use in nullsec fleet battles, and a +3 clone for flying Dictors. His Supercarrier alt has a head full of +5 implants - a sound investment when piloting expensive hardware.


  1. This stinks to high heaven. Got rid of expensive clones now you want to reintroduce them via expensive implants just to be able to keep up with a noob!!!? If SPs are going to start to cost you, then watch high SP accounts roll cheap alt's all the time.

    I would like skill points to mean something. Long time players have spent time, effort and money to get their characters going. Why the heck does everybody always want to nix that? As it is the benefit of SP is limited - you cannot utilise the SP in missiles whilst flying a drone boat. Or SP in spaceship command while manufacturing something. BS V means nothing when you're rocking a thrasher... You get the drift.

    Why don't you just suggest we do away with skill points altogether? All chars start out with all lvl 5 stats? The SP version of nerfing every ship and module until everything is the same?

    The differences and strengths and weaknesses of ships, modules, and yes my various alts is part of what makes the game interesting.

  2. Hi Dog,

    Thanks for your comment! Your response, while vehement, is constructive and seems heartfelt, clearly deserving a proper answer. Also, congratulations on becoming my very first commenter! Can I offer you a biscuit?

    Unlike expensive medical clones, high-SP characters would always have the choice of whether to insert expensive implants. The implants are supposed to be desirable, but not *actually necessary* under any circumstances.

    I agree that this would probably create some interest in a wider variety of specialist alts, and perhaps even a new meta of skill budgets: the 9mSP frigate pvp toon, the 19mSP Dictor pilot, the 39mSP hauler or invention alt. Would that be a bad thing? High SP characters wouldn't become less useful, just potentially/optionally more expensive to use for risky jobs; they could still very happily fly e.g. frigates or dictors in nullsec, they would just have to choose between optimal effectiveness and cost/risk. That sounds to me like a meaningful and interesting gameplay choice, far more so than the current system of using implants for learning; can you explain why it would be a bad thing?

    I of course agree that SP should mean something; you'll notice that all the skills affected by this design remain very valuable, even essential for characters using them, and that maximum skills remain very greatly superior to low skills with maximum attributes. You're also right that above a certain point (roughly 30-50mSP for pvp), more skill points simply offer increased versatility rather than greater effectiveness; as such I've tried to set the gradient in the territory where SP still matters for effectiveness.

    Of course I don't want to do away with skills altogether, for all the reasons you mention. The aim of this design is to make attributes interesting and meaningful, and make implants of all values desirable to at least some active characters, while doing away with the current system for reasons outlined in the earlier post. Veterans are and should be superior to new players/characters, and I don't think anyone wants to nix that; instead, I'm looking for ways to make attributes meaningful without *further increasing* the advantages veteran players (or high-SP characters) already enjoy. Balance is key!

    I've no idea whether you'll be satisfied by these answers, but you are warmly invited to continue the discussion.

  3. At first I was going to say I'd tweak it so that base bonus gets reduced to +0 around 100m SP instead of at 40m already but that means there is no incentive to start using higher grade implants until someone is already playing for for years so scrap that. What if we allowed newbies to fit all implants from the start?

    I'd probably vote just to remove remappings at all and give everyone the same base stats that can be improved with implants or the 'newbie bonus'.
    I do not like your suggestions for attribute effects as they would still result in alliances dictating doctrine mappings. (max willpower!) and pilots flying a 30m interceptor with +5 implants just to get that edge.

    The suggestion of giving newbies a decaying bonus to attributes doesn't sound bad though.

  4. Hi Raziel, thanks for the comment! Sorry not to reply for a couple of days.

    I was trying to avoid giving any advantage to newbies that wasn't also available to higher-SP characters; otherwise it could easily be gamed using alts. Hence the idea of making high-end implants unnecessary at first; instead of requiring implants to progress faster, let's require them for those who have already progressed far.

    Under this system, most people would prefer a flat attribute mapping, which is fair enough, but it seems a pity to take away the customisation option. Remember, part of the appeal of having attributes in the first place is to create a way for a character to feel distinctive.

    Certainly the suggested effects would need to be carefully looked at to ensure they were going to be desirable rather than doctrine. But do you think alliances would dictate doctrines to squeeze out an extra 1-2% dps? At the expense of targeting range, or warp speed? That strikes me as a tough call to make. And if we're talking implants, is an extra 100m ISK (to go from +4 to +5 Wil) worth it for 2% dps? High-meta modules would often achieve the same more cheaply.

    About the +5 implants in interceptors, why would that be a bad thing? If they want the edge, they have to risk the isk, the same as with deadspace mods and so forth. Of course, in low-sec the risk to a pod is not that high, but even there, half a billion in implants is a lot to put on the line when you only have 3k EHP.

  5. Well any alliance that thinks it could get away with it would make demands about implants/attributes of their members, I am sure about that. And people would obey because they want to be part of the 'elite'.

    Well the discussion about attributes usually focuses on their removal or not. The issue is that optimizing your training speed means you have to make skill plan and use remaps.
    Using a skill plan and optimize attributes means that you will spend a year training a certain set of skills instead of having the ability to adapt. This takes away freedom of choice resulting in a more boring game.

    When I started the game we still had learing skills. So I spent the first month of the game logged out while I trained learning skills, it would mean not playing for a month but the increased training speed would pay for itself within a year.
    Had I spent the first year locked in a remap to train mining/industry skills then when I changed my mind I would have been unable to remap to train combat/spaceship skills without losing even more training time.

  6. I imagine that under this system an alliance would demand "max bonuses in Int and Wil" or something like that, leaving people a choice about how to meet those requirements with implants vs. setting their base attributes accordingly. I wonder whether PL would insist on half a billion in implants per pod for nullsec fleets; that would have quite an impact on their killboard! "Elite" pilots might instead choose to spin off multiple lower-skilled alts for different doctrines in order to stay below certain SP caps, as mentioned above - but I don't see that this would be a bad thing.

    Of course, most of the discussion has been about simply removing them from the game, and I do agree that the current system is pernicious, as mentioned in my earlier post. I too remember the learning skills, though I unsubscribed for a long while, and got the SP refund when I came back. :-) My intention here, though, is to explore the possibility of how they could work differently, as an alternative to removing them altogether.


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