Every once in a while a discussion arises about attributes in MMORPGs and whether they are really relevant any more. Derived from the same Dungeons & Dragons to computer RPGs to DikuMUD to MMORPGs, attributes were once the cornerstone of a character’s ability, the rolls you made to generate them determining the future and fate of your character.
Your fighter really, really wanted a STR of 18 99/100 or whatever the peak was for AD&D back in the day, a roll many fighters seemed to have been able to obtain somehow. The dice favored them. And well the dice might, because you probably couldn’t carry your sword, shield, armor, iron rations, torches, and whatever loot you might run across if you didn’t get that roll.
But with the coming of MMORPGs and, more critically, MMORPG expansions, base stats were quickly overshadowed by stat boosts from gear. I remember when SOE decided to discard weight as an impediment in EverQuest II. At launch if you were carrying too much stuff you would be slowed down. I remember being able to tell if somebody was carrying bank boxes through town as they would creep at a snail’s pace. But after a few expansions everybody’s gear had so many stat bonuses that you could use those boxes in place of bags and carry all your coin and still move about unencumbered. At that point measuring weight was of little value unless you simply wanted to inflict it on new players.
Anyway, whenever that discussion comes up I always enjoy injecting EVE Online into it because, like so much else in the game, attributes in New Eden are a different beast.
You might be surprised to find that characters in EVE Online even have attributes. But they do. Each character has five, the list and descriptions for which I am going to borrow from Neville Smit:
- Intelligence – the speed at which you process information
- Memory – how well you remember information
- Charisma – the degree to which you influence others
- Perception – your ability to understand the situation around you
- Willpower – the amount of stamina you have to reach a goal
EVE Online is a more cerebral game I guess, lacking the usual strength, dexterity, constitution, etc of the traditional medieval themed MMORPG.
Furthermore, these attributes do not impact your game play directly. Perception won’t make your overview easier to read, willpower won’t make your shields stronger, intelligence won’t make POS mechanics comprehensible, and charisma won’t make NPCs like you or do what you ask.
Nope. The only thing attributes influence is how quickly you train skills. Each skill in the game is linked to a primary and secondary attribute, and the higher the numbers for those attributes are the faster skill will train. There is a whole article over at the EVE University Wiki about skills and learning. Meanwhile, the usefulness/uselessness of attributes has been argued back and forth for ages, even making an appearance in Blog Banter #65, where we all went on about what should be done with them.
Their validity as a game mechanic aside, there are two approaches to dealing with attributes. The first is to spread them out evenly so all skills pretty much train at the same speed… except skills involving charisma because you’ll be one point shy and somebody has to take the hit.
I’ve been that route off and on in the past. As of that Blog Banter I linked I was in the level attributes camp.
But you get the opportunity to remap your attributes once a year. (Though if you’re a salty old vet like me you probably have/had a couple of bonus remaps in your back pocket.)
So you can swap around your attributes if you know you’re going to be focused on a particular set of skills for a long stretch. Back in the day getting all the skills to be a fleet booster, which required Fleet Commander V, was a year long investment, so you would remap and queue them up and be committed to that for quite a stretch.
Currently my attributes are optimized for training skills related to Spaceship Command and weaponry. Perception and Willpower rule the roost in those categories. At this point however, I am running out of practical skills to train. I am not interested in getting into a super capital as I barely fly the two capital ships I own, and all of the sub cap skills I have are at least to level IV. Do I really need Marauders or Black Ops or a couple others trained up to level V?
On the other hand, there are a whole bunch of skills that benefit primarily from Memory and Intelligence that I have had in my queue for a while. I want to get all the Scanning and Fighter skills up to level V, boost up some of the Planetary Management skills, and so on.
So I loaded up my in-game skill queue with all of those skills, dropping any of the remaining Perception/Willpower skills, let that sit for a bit, the loaded them up in EVE Mon.
EVE Mon, while it hasn’t seen an update in almost a year… a worrying amount of time that makes me suspect the end might be nigh at some point… has some useful features for dealing with your skills and attributes.
First I created a new skill plan from my skill queue, an option under the Plans menu, opened up the plan, and then used the Attributes Optimizer option. That told me I ought to max out Memory and throw any remaining points into Intelligence.
If I do that I chop more than 95 days off of my skill training time. Of course, if CCP introduces a new ship with a new skill that I absolutely have to have, it is going to be a slow train because of this change. And I am committed to it for a full year. I have no bonus remaps left. (My alt has two, which doesn’t help. Also, sell remaps for PLEX maybe?)
Of course, I can’t leave well enough alone, so I tinkered a bit with what EVE Mon told me and found out that it isn’t quite the min/max champion.
I’m not sure that 15 hours is a significant difference. I’m just more surprised that EVE Mon didn’t choose the most optimized path. I suspect that dropping two points off Memory and giving it to Intelligence boosts a bit because Intelligence is the primary attribute.
Anyway, I pulled the trigger on the change. CCP warned me it would be a year.
So I expect that the next two skill point milestones I hit, 190 and 200 million skill points, will feature a lot of skills outside of Spaceship Command for once.
We’ll see where I stand in a year I suppose. Maybe attributes won’t even be a thing by then.