Opportunities… in… SPAAAAACE!!!

Recurring opportunities… the New Eden version of a daily quest, with a 10K skill point reward… went into the game earlier this week.  The plan to introduce them was announced some time back though, and I had considered writing about them at the time, but pushed it off.

In part I pushed it off because my gut reaction contained more than a bit of the bitter vet in the form of, “Back in my day nobody handed you skill points, you logged off and played something else until that skill you really needed finished!  And then you logged the fuck back in as soon as it finished, because there was no skill queue either!  Kid theses days!” and there was more than enough of that to go around.

Instead I decided to see how much 10,000 skill points might matter to a new player.

It has been a long time since I was a new player in New Eden, almost ten years at this point.  I still sort of remember how things were… kind of.  I have a post about running through the 2006 version of the tutorial and still have nightmares about trying to run “Worlds Collide” in a stock fit Ibis because that was what my first agent gave me.

Scratch one frigate!

A Cormorant solved that problem eventually

It was a harsh environment, back then.  Everything was a hazard.

Dammit!

Dammit!

But a lot has changed since then.

Not everything has changed though...

Bait cans though, still a thing I hear…

Of course, one of the things that has changed over that time was me.  The last alt I made for anything but running a cyno in a noob ship I let skill up for almost two months before I bothered undocking.  But even that was back in 2007, and new characters get a lot more skill points to start with these days.  Surely it couldn’t be that bad still, right?

So I logged in with a character I rolled up just before EVE Vegas last year (a female character for my wife, in case CCP wanted a character names on badges, though that turned out to not be an issue) with the intent of seeing if I couldn’t just use all those skills you get now to fit something besides the noob frigate to run a few level 1 missions.

Since the character was Gallente, I decided to go with the Incursus, a frigate with hybrid weapon bonuses that could also carry a light drone and which ought to be armor tanked, as being somewhat representative of the Gallente ship design strengths.

Of course, herein lay part of the problem of me trying to recreate the noob experience; I wasn’t going to be content fitting just anything to the ship and flying off.  While I am in no way a ship fitting grognard, nearly a decade of flying ships fit by other people has at least given me a sense of what I ought to be carrying.

I decided I wanted to put out as much damage as possible… quick kill, best kill… so I fit three small blasters.  Those are short range, so I had to have an afterburner to close with things.  And, just in case a target tried to run away I figured I had better fit a web.  Of course, with an armor tank on missions I needed an armor repper in the lows, along with a Damage Control module, because one low slot ALWAYS has to have a Damage Control module according to chapter 17, paragraph 43, subsection f or the bible on this sort of thing.  Then I probably needed something to help me keep cap, and I couldn’t been seen in public without rigs…

Pretty soon I had a nice little ship, mostly fit, that I totally couldn’t use because I needed one skill or another to use almost everything.  And this was all tech I modules.

I could fire the guns and, if I recall right, I could also run the afterburner, but doing both together would run down my capacitor in about 30 seconds. I couldn’t launch the drone, I couldn’t web anything, and I couldn’t run the armor repper.  They were all in their slots but offline as I lacked the right skill.  And, of course, I couldn’t fit the rigs because I didn’t have any skills in the area.

So I jotted down a list of skills I had to have, then some support skills that I probably should have… things that helped with cap usage being high on the list… and flew off to the nearest school station to buy skill.

It was at about this point that I figured it I had been serious about this I would have just bought a skill injector and made all these problems go away.  But, while I was fine sending this character some cash for skills and to buy a ship, I wasn’t going to go that far.  So I bought and injected the skills I thought I needed and queued them all up.

Then I bought my proposed fit into EFT and checked to see how it looked if Wilhelm was flying it.  With his skills it was a mission running killing machine, fast, hard hitting for its modest fit, and cap stable with everything running.

Then I made an API for the new character, put that into EFT, and checked how things looked, only to realize that I needed a couple more skills just to put everything online and that capacitor was still a possible issue.  A ship doesn’t HAVE to be cap stable, but it is nice for it to be so if you’re going to run missions.

I add in a few more skills, put all that into EVE Mon, and let the queue run for a couple days until I had at least the bare minimum skills to put everything online and at least run it for a bit.  Then I went out and ran a mission, which was “op success.”

Shooting things in my wee frigate

Shooting things in my wee frigate

I was actually running a mission for Quafe, which I was surprised to find had agents that gave out security (kill things) missions.  The cola wars are real.  I was also reminded as to how dull mission running can be.  Some of that is the residuals of having run enough missions to get 8+ standing with a range of Caldari and Amarr corporations, which you used to need back in the day to make jump clones in their stations… until CCP broke that and decided to leave it that way.  But there was also a feeling of being overpowered and just shooting sitting ducks because the missions have to be doable by players who have even less fitting sense that I have.

So maybe my fitting plan and skill was overblown.  Or maybe not.  It is hard to tell.

And yet I was still feeling the pinch of not having enough skills.  I could only target two hostiles because I hadn’t trained Target Management yet.  I was close, but not quite, cap stable.  I had a long enough run time to not worry about it.  And I actually had to swap a named tech I web and a named tech I battery to get there and be within the CPU constraints of the hull.

So I was a few days of training into the ship, mostly knowing what I was doing and how to figure out what I needed to train (I had EFT and EVE Mon handy) and I was still looking for skills.  And I hadn’t yet looked into any of the additional skills that improve gunnery or drones.

That was all last week.  I ran a few missions and let the training queue carry on.

The Tuesday hit and the patch to add in Recurring Opportunities hit.

I logged in with my wee frigate pilot to give it a try.  There it was, up on my screen.

The offer...

The offer…

I immediately undocked and warped to an asteroid belt… well, the asteroid belt… in the system where I had last docked up.  I was in luck.  There were a few wrecks in the belt already, but a new NPC had spawned and nobody was about, so I sped in for the kill.

More frigate shooting...

More frigate shooting…

On the kill, it was mission accomplished.

Checked that box

Checked that box

I had my 10K skill points and a 22 hour timer until I could do that again.

I kind of wonder at the choice of time.  20 hours seemed to be the better choice for such things.  For me there tend to be about a four hour window in the evening when I might play, and I hate to have a late session one evening, then an early session the next, only to find I have another hour or so before my opportunity will recur.  I am sure there was some debate about this at CCP, and if it is every 20 hours, that would allow the obsessive amongst us to gain just that many more free skill points over the course of a year.

Perhaps it should CCP should just reset opportunities every down time, though they would then have to account for unscheduled down time as well I suppose.

Anyway, I immediately applied my skill points to a skill I had injected.

Apply skill points now

Apply skill points now

That got me to cap stability.

Notifications

Notifications

I was happy to see that apply skill points was easy and that you didn’t have to stop your skill queue to do it… unless, of course, you wanted to apply skill points to the skill you were currently training.  Then you have to open up the queue window and pause your skill queue.

10K skill points seems to be about enough to get you two levels of a low multiplier skill.  The next day I got another 10K skill points and applied it to the injected, but untrained skill Target Management, and it got me two levels and a fair bite into the third.  I think the estimate was that this would boost you by about 5 hours of training, depending on your attributes and implants and what not.

So, from that perspective, it does look to be something that would be meaningful to a new player.

The objections are, of course, that any player can do this, newbie or bitter vet, and gain nearly 4 million skill points over the course of a year.  Give that skill injectors are a thing now though, I am not sure that this is really all that worrisome.  I certainly haven’t started undocking my main to shoot a belt rat a day, and not just because PL is camping all the belts in Saranen to catch people doing that.  At nearly 160 million skill points, I just don’t feel the compulsion.

Of course, compulsion is the other argument against.  This is a daily quest, something that generates strong feelings in the MMO community.  I know that pain.  You don’t HAVE to do daily quests, but it can feel like you’re leaving money on the table if you don’t.  I don’t mind dailies when I am working towards a goal.  I ran through a whole range of dailies for the factions during the Mists of Pandaria expansion in WoW and enjoyed myself.  But I didn’t run them after I had hit my goal.

But if dailies don’t have a specific end goal, yet provide a good reward, they can lead to compulsion and burn out.  This is what happened with me and garrisons in WoW during Warlords of Draenor.  The follow missions were simply too lucrative to NOT do every day, on every character, so I ended up spending most of my play time servicing the garrison, which wasn’t all that much fun.

Yes, I could have NOT done that.  But then, as noted, you feel like you are missing an opportunity.  As that quote from Edward Castronova, which I trot out whenever we speak of such things, goes,

Being an elf doesn’t make you turn off the rational economic calculator part of your brain.

We will tend to do things in order to maximize our progress.  There are always exceptions, but that tends to be the way of things.  Think of Warhammer Online.  Open world PvP and keep battles were where the best fun was in the game, but people overwhelming favored battlegrounds because that was the better choice for player progress.  And you see it in New Eden as well.  People run anomalies for ISK for a reason, it is efficient.

So I suppose the question will have to be whether or not 10K SP is enough for people to feel compulsive about collecting it daily or not.  If I were a new player I would undock every day for this.  But where from where I stand now, I am not sure it is enough to tempt me, though I bet there will now be a race to shoot rats on gates to get the killing blow, which gets you the 10K SP, when we are out on fleet ops now.

I’ll also be interested to see if CCP Quant can come up with some data comparing the number of skill points lost to the game through skill injectors and the number of skill points added to the game through recurring opportunities.

Anyway, I am not wed to the idea, but it feels harmless enough and seems to benefit new players more proportionately than most such plans.  We shall see.

12 thoughts on “Opportunities… in… SPAAAAACE!!!

  1. Maineiac

    This makes me sad. I’ve been playing almost as long as you but I have a few long breaks in between so I only have 74 million sp compared to your 160!

    Like

  2. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Maineiac – I know the feeling. Battle Clinic used tell me that, based on my character creation date, I should have about 200 million skill points or some such. I took a sizeable break somewhere between Apocrypha and Crucible.

    Of course, you might not be as sad if you saw how many skill points I have invested in mining and station trading skills, which I never use any more.

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  3. bhagpuss

    That Edward Castronova quote has always annoyed me. I would hardly call it “rational” for anyone to spend their leisure time engaging in an entirely voluntary activity that they did not enjoy because it provided a notional “economic” advantage. I know people do that sort of thing all the time but “rational” is the last thing they are being.

    If you have some part of your brain that calculates the “economic” value of in-game activities and that knowledge causes you to rank said activities in that “economic” order and engage in them accordingly, disregarding the pleasure those activities give you, either while doing them or as a result of having done them, then I would contend that either there is an issue with the “economic” values your calculator is employing or that your use of the data it provides is irrational. Probably both..

    No daily, no matter what reward it gives, is worth doing if, having done it you value the time you spent doing it at a lower rating than you would value that time had you spent it doing something else. If you value it more highly then, ergo, you did enjoy it. Not doing dailies when doing them would make you less happy or satisfied than you would be had you not done them is rational. So is doing them when doing them does make you happier and/or more satisfied than not doing them would. Pick one of those or settle for irrationality.

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  4. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @bhagpuss – I think you are putting too much emphasis on the word “rational” by itself, as opposed to the grouping “rational economic calculation,” which conveys a different meaning to me. The latter is the ability to weigh various activities that will advance one towards a desired goal within the game and assumes, to my mind, that goal achievement is a result that the person believes, at the time, will make them happy. It is a tendency to choose destination over journey in games where the destination, in the form of levels, skill points, gold, epic loot, or whatever, are highlighted early and often.

    I would like to see an experiment with a game like WoW where a goal like levels was removed. If there were no levels, if all the content was the same level, your level, and you would never level up, would people enjoy WoW as much? Would people play differently, or not play at all?

    We saw what happened with the Dungeon Maker in EQII when SOE removed exp from it. It went from popular destination to another form of housing that maybe a friend might visit once.

    As somebody who has complained about leveling too fast, out-leveling content, and that sort of thing in the past, I still have to say that efficiency in activity, getting the best bang for your buck, like when you get two quests and they both have you killing the same ten rats, so each kill is a two-fer, that tickles the pleasure center in my brain and makes me feel good at that time, regardless of whether or not I end up happy when level cap is reached or not.

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  5. Jacob

    I played Eve for a few months back 5 or 6 years ago. Reading your newbie experience, it didn’t sound anything similar to what I recall.

    Meaning, I never was targetting any specific build or ship or whatever. It was more just a game of seeing what I could afford (almost nothing) and this vast sea of skills/ships/weapons that were out of my reach and trying to make something fun to do out of all that. Turned out I couldn’t or at least couldn’t be bothered to invest in the research and reading necessary. So, in the end I just quit.

    I don’t know if I would have eventually enjoyed it or not, but I can say that getting started was fun for about a couple of days (just being a new game and all), then became harder and harder to find fun as the immensity of what I didn’t know and understand – as well as how long it was clearly going to take to get there – started to overwhelm any fun.

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  6. Gevlon

    It’s not really a daily quest, as it doesn’t require a specific activity (to actually do a quest). Most players get it every day during normal play since it includes killing NPCs. The only ones who have to go out of their way to get it are full time industrialists and traders – which activities aren’t skillpoint intensive, so have no reason to bother.

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  7. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Gevlon – True enough, but if you read some of the comments in the forum or over on Reddit, you’d think CCP was putting a gun to people’s heads to force them to undock and do something.

    I suppose the corollary to rule about there being no feature so bad in a game that it isn’t somebody’s favorite feature is that there is no feature that can be introduced that somebody won’t hate.

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  8. TurAmarth

    Long time reader, first time commenter… (LOL) I actually think your lack of real excitement about chasing down 10K SP daily is exactly the point. As a 5 year vet I’m somewhere north of 80M SP and while I do pick up a 10K SP ‘last blow’ almost daily running Sleepers (so we can spawn then oh so slowly mine our way through each Drifter [we have a highly effective small gang “Kobayashi Maru” comp {“0” losses to the Drifty ones as of yet}], as we are a small but scrappy C4 group with normally only like 4 of 5 of us OL at any one time clusterwedgie’ing said Drifters while we slowly Holy Geko them to deth… [so yeah, it takes a WHILE…. a mining is LESS boring kinda a while…])(only the payoff keeps us at it… ohhhhh that phat payoff!!) but I overparenthetically digress…

    My point is, I think CCP chose 10K just so the vets won’t get a hard on for it… but for noobs and our young ones, it’s manna from the black baby.

    We have some newbros incorp, guys still under 10 or 20M SP… and they love it. They IMMEDIATELY go into deep and detailed discussions on the what and where to apply the free SP while the rest of us vets are like, “Huh, cool, I’ll just let that build up till it’s worth applying to something.”

    IE, working as intended. =]

    Like

  9. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @TurAmarth – “IE, working as intended”

    You sound like Microsoft, only you are probably correct. CCP seems to have found a way around Malcanis’ Law by giving new players something vets don’t see as all that valuable.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Altrue (@Altrue19)

    “And, of course, I couldn’t fit the rigs because I didn’t have any skills in the area.”

    Rigs don’t require skills to be fitted. In fact, the prerequisite tab in rigs show info is utterly useless.

    This change is a side effect of the change many years ago that enabled people to fit modules without skills (for alliance contract makers and the like not being required to skill T2 guns ‘n stuff). It literally made rigs require no skills, sure you can’t online modules if you don’t have the skills, but rigs are passive anyway.

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  11. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Altrue – Good point. I knew that at one point, then forgot it, so when I was looking at the requirements for the rigs, I just assumed CCP was telling me the truth in the requirements window.

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