Daily Archives: May 10, 2023

How Many Skill Points are Enough in EVE Online?

The skill system in EVE Online, one of its most obvious form of character progression in the game, has always been a bit controversial.  Skill points accrue in real time, whether you are logged into the game or not, making EVE a game where you can make progress while not playing.

This passive advancement sets it apart from the DikuMUD model, which most modern MMORPGs have adopted, where you can only advance in levels via experience points which require your active participation to earn.  Nobody gets levels by not logging in… unless they change the xp table while you’re away.  That happens once in a while.  But for the most part you have to get out and do things to move forward.

EVE‘s skill point system has led to a situation where people often complained that to play the game you had to subscribe and train for a few months to be able to play and that you could never “catch up” to players who started before you, there being effectively no level cap to reach for any but the most extreme users.

This guy had all the skill points you could get until he was banned back in 2016

IronBank, pictured above, was a beneficiary of skill injectors, which were introduced to the game, along with skill extractors, back in February 2016.  That led to a frenzy of activity including IronBank going to the top of the list when it came to total skill points.

This was said to be in response to my previous statement about never being able to catch up or feeling like one needed to train for months.  Anybody could now get ahead, and the fact that this change also made CCP a lot of money was accidental I’m sure.

Well, maybe not enough money as CCP eventually broke their promise that all skill points on the market would be from players and started straight up selling skill point bundles.  This remains one of my go to points that promises from corporations have no value. (Hint: Microsoft promises around buying Activision Blizzard are equally worthless.)

All of which just changed very little of the equation.  The rich, who happened to coincide with those who had the most skill points in New Eden, simply got richer.  Yes, you could now buy your way into skill points, but any system that claims to be egalitarian based on your access to a storefront is kidding itself.

There is another tale to be told about how this all unlocked the keys to super capital proliferation, which CCP freaked out about a couple of years back and then spent 2021 wrecking the in-game economy in an attempt to put that toothpaste back in the tube, something that, once again, punished the poor and made the rich even richer.

Blimey, this redistribution of wealth is trickier than I thought!

Dennis Moore, making an always relevant observation

But I’ve covered that ground elsewhere.  Back to a new player and skill points.

Now instead of feeling like they have to train for months to be useful and do what they want, new players now feel like they have to pay to be useful and do what they want.  That is an improvement, as there is least the option, but maybe not a huge improvement.

And people like me are not being all that helpful when we talk about the old days and how we skilled up slowly, learning the game as we went, or how you can do any number of useful things within a couple of days if you choose your skill plan wisely.

I am also undermined by the fact that my main has 261 million skill points, which means I can log in and do just about anything I want in sub-capital ships I want.  All the key skills have been trained up for years and there are a scant few hulls or fits I cannot fly.  And my main combat alt on a second account has 190 million skill points.  There are a few more recent hulls he cannot fly, but he is mostly there.

Given that, what could I possibly know of the pain of a new player?

Well, those are not my only alts.  I have a range of them and I often forget what luxury it is to simply have all the skill points I need for any given mission, only to be reminded when I try to use one of those alts to do the same mission only to find them thwarted by missing skills.

The skill point distribution of characters I am likely to log in, including my mains, is:

  • 261 million
  • 190 million
  • 67 million
  • 44 million
  • 40 million
  • 12 million
  • 9 million
  • 5.5 million
  • 4.7 million

Those are not all my character, but all the ones I have at some point actively logged on and used for some purpose.

And, if we’re just talking about combat, you can shave 4 million points off of the top six accounts, because they all have that much invested in planetary management in order to earn some ISK.

So where is the line for usefulness?  Below which threshold are there so few skill points that I feel thwarted when I try to do something?

That depends.

At around 40 million skill points the characters I have are pretty well rounded for tech I hulls up to battle cruisers with meta modules, going to tech II modules at key points.  I feel like I could comfortably go to a large null sec alliance and be able to fly, or train quickly into, ships of the line for key doctrines. (Large null sec alliances that actively recruit have to have achievable doctrines to accommodate newer players.  Some smaller, elite groups will require a lot more skill points.)

My 9 million and 12 million skill point characters could both easily jump into Faction Warfare flying frigates.  They cannot fly all possible combos, and would need meta modules rather than tech II for many things, but they would be totally viable and just a couple days away from any additional weapons or modules they might find they needed.

The 5.5 million and 4.7 million characters were both built up for very specific fits.  The former is for suicide gank destroyers used in past Burn Jita events, and the latter was fit up for an Alpha clone Drake doctrine that was a Reavers experiment.  They are both builds tailored to be good for one thing.  But even with those low SP counts… low to me at least… they were both built up to be effective at a single type of mission.

Conclusions and Caveats

So what am I saying?  That you need 40 million SP to go to null sec or 10 million to go to Faction Warfare?

No.  I think there is a lot you can do with the initial skill points you get, plus the million or so you can get from using a referral link, which you can do even after the fact.  Go get those skill points.

Those first days, weeks, months in the New Eden are like the early days in any online game.  You are there in a new world with a lot of aspirational goals laid out around you… and EVE Online has more such goals than you think if you know where to look… and the urge to hurry up, progress, and get to some ideal state of skills and money is going to be strong.

But it is like so many things in life.  The journey is the point.

And believe me, I am very much a goals oriented, destination focused person… and often impatient to boot.  But so many times over the years I have driven myself to get to a goal, finish a zone, fly a given ship, or whatever in an MMO, only to find that, on arriving the fun is over.  It was the striving to get there that I found engaging.

You can, if you want, buy a bunch of PLEX and grab skill injectors off the market to bulk up your skill points right away.  Or you can create a character and start a year long training queue and come back when it is done.  But you’re missing out on the journey.

All of which doesn’t really answer the question in the title.  Another one of those posts where I thought I had a destination.  So how many skill points do you need?  It probably feels like you need more than you have now, but not that many more I bet if you really want to undock.