Tag Archives: Skill Points

Friday Bullet Points Once Again from Space

It is Friday and there are a few EVE Online items I want to bring up but that don’t quite merit a full post at this time.  Not included in this is the September Monthly Economic Report, which I’ll get to on Monday.  That I can string out into 1,500 words easy.  Meanwhile, CCP it trying to outdo me with their own Community Beat post today.

  • Introducing Quasar

CCP posted a dev blog this week titled Introducing Quasar, which is a look at the changes CCP has made, and further changes that they are contemplating, to improve server performance of EVE Online by getting around Python’s Global Interpreter Lock that keeps the game running on a single thread.  Basically, if you take some housekeeping items off of the server’s to-do list, like skill plans, there is more bandwidth to track ships in space.  As put in the post the goals are to “dodge the GIL and clear the table for moar lasers.”

There is some additional insight into this over at TNG.

  • Totality Day Celebration

Come October 13th it will have been a year since the Triglavian Collective took the 27 systems they had conquered from the four empires and disconnected them from the previous gate network to for the new region of Pochven.  (Which, among other things changed the shape of travel in empire space with the removal of Niarja.)

So… time for an anniversary celebration I guess?  CCP thinks so and has some events planned according to this dev blog.

The Triglavians are still behind the other empires of New Eden as they don’t seem ready to offer login rewards for their event.  Maybe contact with the other empires will lead them to this technology at a later date.

  • Faction Warfare Report

Faction Warfare is often mentioned as one of the neglected aspects of low sec space in New Eden.  You don’t hear much about it unless somebody is complaining that it is broken… or noting CCP’s neglect.  But a group of Gallente pilots have started up a podcast, the Federation Frontline Report, to give some insight into that aspect of EVE Online.  They also have a guest post up on INN about their efforts and what Faction Warfare is.

  • SSO Endpoint Deprecation

For those who use the CCP APIs for various things, they are deprecating the old security authorization token interface, so if you are connecting to the using ESI or using the EVE SSO for user authentication, you need to update to the v2 versions of the API by November 1st.  Details are available in a third party developer blog post.

  • Mega Skill Point Packages

There was a post over in r/eve this week from a player with an account that had been dormant since 2010 who received an offer from CCP to buy 50 million skill points for the low low price of $999.99.  Another user reported an offer for 12.9 million skill points for 229.99 GBP.

I didn’t get an offer, but I dug around in an account that was last Omega maybe three years ago and found I had a special offer for 8.1 million skill points for $199.

Skill Point Offer

I am sure we could find a few other data points and figure out how many skill points you get offered based on how long your account has been dormant.

  • Monocle Offer

It has been a little over a decade since the Incarna expansion, which got the player base to explode over a variety of issues.  Often referred to as the “summer of rage,” the name that stuck for a lot of people outside of the game was “monocle-gate.”  I covered the anniversary in a post earlier this year, including the fallout, resolution, and how things went forward from there.  But monocles became the symbol due to a pricey eye piece that was added to the in-game store with the expansion.

While the monocle stuck around long after things simmered down, it remained a trigger for some, which is why it was a bit of a surprise to find CCP offering special monocles again in the in-store ten years down the road.

Monocular times are here again

I can’t tell if this is CCP just looking for some new cosmetic item to sell or if they’re just trolling us a decade after their first monocle.  And the monocles are only available until downtime on October 14th, so they’re trying to push the FOMO button as well… if anybody has any actual fear of missing out on a monocle I guess.

  • New Player Experience Explored

Shintar sent this video to me, so credit to her.  CCP apparently went out looking for streamers who had never played EVE Online to go through the recently revamped new player experience and give their response.  They were supposed to go in without reading up or getting external help and just let the game guide them.  Preach Gaming took on the challenge and put together a video about the experience.

It is kind of fun to watch as somebody who knows the answers.  There are a few places where I don’t know how he ended up with a particular idea, but otherwise it seemed to go pretty well.  Something that will come as a surprised to exactly nobody is that the problems began when he hit the now very out of date career agents, but I remain impressed that he figured out how to use probes and scan something down in under two hours with no external help.

Anyway, that is what was on my list.

EVE Online Gets Another New Player Experience and Skill Training Updates as a New Quadrant Arrives

The summer vacations are over and CCP is back with a new Quadrant.  The Foundation Quadrant is over and the Gateway Quadrant has arrived.

Didn’t we all get stuck out here after that gateway closed?

And with that CCP is focused again on its favorite obsession of the last few years, the new player experience.  This time the NPE has been rebuilt around a new NPC faction, the Association for Interdisciplinary Research which will introduce new players to EVE Online.   The highlights from the dev blog are:

  • More immersive experiences and faster iteration
  • More dynamic visuals
  • Gradual UI reveal
  • Improved UI highlighting
  • An integrated intro video
  • Beautiful visuals

To the cynic in me that works out to “pretty,” “pretty,” “working with the UI we already have,” “working with the UI we already have,” “pretty,” and “pretty.”

I mean, there is room in there for real improvements, and maybe it is a better NPE, but CCP has chosen to emphasize the superficial and that the UI is too much for new players in its own description.  What is that supposed to tell me?

The new NPE is also said to be story driven, but so was the NPE two iterations ago, which was going to be a big new thing until they quietly ditched it, because everything PvE had to go into The Agency…. and probably also because once you got done with the story the actual game is nothing like that, bait and switch not being a great idea for player retention.  I hope CCP learned something since last time and aren’t just jumping back on the same idea they previously axed.

Though the NPE has been through the wringer more than a few times, CCP has been especially adamant about new player retention being an issue since EVE North back in 2019 when they gave us this chart.

How many new players log back in as time passes

As I noted at the time, that seems pretty dismal without any context.  But the one publicly available study on the topic I found seemed to indicate that those retention numbers are pretty close to the industry average for MMORPGs with a free to play option.  Given EVE Online’s legendary difficulty, obtuse UI, and open world PvP, that CCP does so well is probably an achievement.

So while I get that CCP likes to keep reminding us that new players are the lifeblood of the game… and I hope this next revision of the NPE helps on that front… farming the installed player base, the lapsed veterans and such, is how games like EverQuest and World of Warcraft have revitalized their bottom lines.  Here is hoping that another investment in another new NPE pays off.

The NPE is also emphasized in the trailer for the new quadrant.

I feel like I saw that launch sequence in the EVE Valkyrie opening… but I guess all tube launches feel kind of the same.  I’ll have to find some time to give it a try.

So that is the first thing on the list.

Next on the update front is skill training with the introduction of skill plans and a revamp of the training system UI.  This feels like a feature that benefits both new and old players alike.  Players will be able to create plans for specific goals, with milestones to mark improvements for specific configurations, and even certified skill plans aimed at new players to help them decide what to train.

There is also a revamp of the skill training UI.  Being an old fart that has finally gotten used to the current setup, I immediately wondered how badly could they screw it up? This morning already saw calls for the old UI on r/eve, but they hate everything there.  But here is the new UI on day one.

The New Skill Window – The red arrow thing is not part of the UI

For openers, skills now have their own window, no doubt because the game UI doesn’t have enough independent windows floating around, and it defaults to the new training plan UI, which I won’t even delve into right now, but it feels too big and not all that helpful.

For those of us who just want to see our current skills and queue together, the second tab has that, with all the skill groups now in alphabetical order finally.  I know, there is outrage that Spaceship Command isn’t in the upper left, but whatever, and my brain wants to read left to right along rows first, then down columns, and the sorting is by columns, but I’ll get used to all of that.

The window seems bigger than it needs to be.  It defaults to full screen, which is obnoxiously large on my 34″ monitor, but even when I make it a window it remains too wide for my taste largely due to the black dead zone between skills and queue (marked with the red arrow in the screen show above) that cannot be sized down by itself. (The gap between skill names and their states seems pretty wide as well.)

Anyway, there is always EVE Mon still if I need a more compact view.  Oh, and your character sheet is different now, lacking all those skills… and I hope you remembered to put pants on your avatar.

A fuller body view now

All of this comes with a couple of big changes to skills queues:

  • The current limit of 50 skill entries in the queue will be increased to 150 for both Alpha and Omega clones.
  • The current restriction of the Alpha clone training queue allowing only the skills that would start training within the next 24h will also be removed.

As somebody who came from the “one skill at a time and make sure you start a long skill the night before the next patch update” era, these seem huge.  150 skills in the queue will let you build up a might skill plan… I’ve bumped into the 50 skill limit a few times since it became a thing… and the removal of the 24 hour queue limit will be huge for new players.

And old players.  I can even now see people rolling up a new alpha, sending it the ISK for skills, setting up the desired queue, then letting it run for however long it takes until that suicide gank character or whatever is on the shelf and ready to use.  There is no improvement that EVE players will fail to exploit.

There are a few other items with today’s update.  A new skill points for sale pack is in the store.  EVE Online will be available in the Epic Store come September 23rd.  And, in a nod to the promise to relax the economic starvation plan (now planned for November), there was this tidbit slipped in at the bottom of the announcement:

More ice has been brought back into New Eden with its availability having doubled, and the availability of Mercoxit has also increased.

I wonder if the ice availability got boosted due to the jump drive fuel crisis that hit the game when World War Bee ended and PAPI had to move home?  Anyway, there is alleged to be more ice now.

So that is the what has come with the launch of the new quadrant.  Here are the related dev posts for today’s update:

CCP Edges Ever Closer to Selling Ships in EVE Online

CCP announced a new Destroyer Pack for sale this week on the web store store.

Limited time availability

For $24.99 you get the following:

  • 500,000 Skill Points
  • 110 PLEX
  • Catalyst Sapphire Sungrazer SKIN
  • Cormorant Ghostbird SKIN
  • Coercer Ardishapur SKIN
  • Talwar Valklear Glory SKIN.
  • 100x Cap Booster 150
  • 6x Agency ‘Pyrolancea’ DB3 Dose I booster
  • Eifyr and Co. ‘Rogue’ Acceleration Control AC-601 implant.

New to packs, so far as I recall, are actual in-game items, including 100 cap boosters, some drugs, and an implant.

Now, they are kind of crappy items… a hundred Cap Booster 150s isn’t exactly the gold ammo we’ve been dreading since the “Greed is Good” internal article a decade back… but they do represent a baby step in that direction.  We know where we are headed, it is just a question of how soon we get there.

I suppose, for me, the amusing bit is the now complete acceptance we have for selling skill points.  That the Destroyer Pack threw in half a million SP seemed about par for the course, the culmination of a long run of pushing the monetization boundaries starting with skill injectors.  But I threw in the towel on the skill point front about a year ago, though my acceptance hasn’t stopped CCP from being dumb about skill point sales as late as this past March.  Being dumb is far the greater sin for me now.

I harbor some indifference to the whole thing at this point.  Part of it is the non-stop creep of monetization schemes across the industry makes this look pretty mild, and part of it ties back to a post I wrote earlier this year about the fact that the cost of an MMO subscription has been the same for 20 years while the price of everything else has gone up.  Fans are completely hostile to paying any more, and with subscriptions down for games like EVE Online, the only options to keep developers working on the title is to monetize elsewhere.  While we get our backs up at anything that carries even a hint of “pay to win,” that is exactly the sort of thing that people are willing to pay for.

In the end we get what we deserve.  And, as Star Citizen has proven, selling ships can be quite lucrative.

Quote of the Day – But We Did It Anyway

We definitely don’t want to sell skill points

-CCP Rattati, EVE Online Director of Product, OZ_eve interview

I don’t even have the energy to care about the actual selling of skill points now.  That ship sailed last year. I’ve accepted it as the new reality.  I just wish CCP would get their messaging in line with that reality.

On Monday CCP Rattati who, among other things, has been driving the economic starvation plan in EVE Online, did this interview on Twitch, which was then posted up on YouTube for your watching pleasure. (And now there is a transcript.)

He talks about the New Eden economy for about the first ~40 minutes, then the discussion moves to monetization.  You can find that quote at the top of the post at the 49 minute mark.

The interview happened on Monday, the video went up on YouTube on Tuesday, and then on Wednesday CCP literally started straight up selling skill points.

Personal Offer!

This is the sort of self-defeating corporate bullshit that just drives me crazy.  He is the Director of Product, did he not know that this was happening the same week he was saying that?  The usual paths are that the person is lying, stupid, or believes their audience is stupid, and I can’t really pin down which this is.

Now, you’ll want to talk about context, and you can justifiably point out that this was part of a discussion about the Expert Systems feature, the “rent a skill” plan announced last week.  As part of that he said that CCP had ruled out the idea of selling skill points to new players, preferring to rent them temporary skill increases… because new players won’t understand things like skill injectors or something.  Somehow giving them skills then taking them away will be more clear.

I remain unconvinced that this will somehow be better or make EVE Online more comprehensible to new players, but the details are still vague, so final judgement has yet to land.

But, even in that context, his statement not once but twice that they do not want to sell skill points seems pretty strong, as though it would apply outside the justification for renting skills.

He was also very firm a few minutes earlier that Pearl Abyss was in no way pushing CCP to sell skill points.  In fact, he was quite adamant that PA has taken a very hands off approach to EVE Online and that they have given no direction or advice on monetization, which seems to torpedo the idea earlier in the week that the whole Expert Systems thing was handed down by them, and based on their experience as a way to monetize the Asian market.  CCP Rattati said that this was all very much a home grown, Icelandic idea.

Then again, he also said CCP doesn’t want to sell skill points in the same week that the company did just that, so one might be tempted to point out that he has a credibility problem.

Anyway, if you want to hear how everything is totally going to plan with the economic starvation and resource redistribution plan and the rationalization of the rent a skill idea, this video will help you along.  I will say that the host does push back, gently at times, on some of the statements, so it isn’t a free run statement by the company, but CCP Rattati remained firm on his own positions.

I hope this will be my last post related to selling skill points for a while, but CCP will be CCP.

Related:

CCP Now Just Baby Steps from Selling EVE Online Skill Points Directly

I woke up this morning to find an email from CCP offering to sell me 1,620,000 skill points for the low, low price of $43.99.

Personal Offer!

The body of the email said:

Greetings Wilhelm Arcturus,

Rise like a phoenix and make a triumphant return to New Eden with the Skill Point Resurgence offer! Until 17. May, you can get 1,620,000 Skill Points for $43.99 to catch up with all the training time you have missed. Claim your offer today in the EVE Store.

And it assured me that this offer was ONLY FOR ME.

After taking a peek over at Reddit… and confirming that it appeared to be available on all of my accounts… I might be led to suggest that this offer was not that personal at all.  It seems to throw itself at you if you just log into the EVE Online web store.

Of course, this new turn will no doubt set off a fire storm in some quarters of the fan base, especially in light of the Expert Systems announcement from last week, which already has them stirred up.  Long time EVE Online fan/player Manic Velocity went so far as to make this video about milking the player base at the expense of the game’s integrity last week.

I wonder how he feels today?

I am less concerned.  Or maybe “concerned” isn’t even the right word any more.

As I wrote in a previous post, I’ve already made my peace with the idea that CCP is going to straight up sell skill points in their online store at some point.  Past statements from the company promising not to generate skill points out of thin air to sell are distant memories.  Corporations are not people, they are not… and cannot… be your friends, and their promises are meaningless.

So I am writing this just to take note of how far along they have come.  It is just another step in the journey.  We went from skill injectors to skill point give aways for compensation to alpha clone skill injectors to skill points in starter packs to skill points in packs in general and now to skill points sold directly under the guise of a special, personal offer… that is available to anybody who logs in… in just five years.

We are almost there now, just millimeters from skill point packs being a regular item in the web store.  If I were making predictions, I would guess that we’ll see these skill point packs before the end of Q2 2021.  That the “personal” offer expires on May 17th might be a tell as to when the pretense will be removed and it will be generally available.

And that will be it, case closed.  Skill points for sale in the store all the time.

Of course, there are still things about this offer that rankle or raise questions.

  • Why 1,620,000 skill points?

I suspect that if I looked I would find that specific number of skill points adds up to exactly some specific skill or set of skills in game.  I just can’t be bothered.

  • Why the alleged marked down price in the offer?

That seems dumb unless, of course, the direct sale of skill points is closer than I predicted above.  Maybe this is the “special” intro price for something that will now be in the store.  There certainly seemed to be some legal questions about how you can have a marked down price for something that is otherwise not available for sale.  Of course, if the plan was to make it generally available all along, then no problem.

  • What does this mean for Expert Systems?

I wrote about Expert Systems just yesterday, CCP’s plan to rent you skills, which seemed silly to me… even in light of Asian market practices… in a game where you can buy PLEX to buy ISK to buy skill injectors to get the skill points for keeps.  And now you can just buy skill points.  Seems odd.

  • Is there a timing aspect to this offer?

Suspicious minds will note that we’re now in the final month of Q1 2021, so seeing CCP make this final move into direct sales of skill points feels like it could be something to juice sales a bit… because we know people will buy these skill points… in order to make their quarterly sales goals.  If that were true… and we do not know that it is… it would imply that subscribers, sales, or player retention is not going as well as Hilmar’s rosy statements about 1.3 million brand new players trying the game in 2020 might lead you to suspect.

Anyway, the writing was already on the wall, we’re just finally arriving at our predetermined destination.

So it goes.

Two Hundred and Thirty Million Skill Points

Back once more for a meaningless skill point milestone, this one being more meaningless than most for reasons I will get to further down the page.  But first, a review of the story so far, my skill point trip from starting to play EVE Online back in 2006 up to today.

So here, in the back half of January 2021 I have crossed the 230 million skill point mark, with the points broken out in the following categories.

Spaceship Cmd     76,525,882 (69 of 85)*
Gunnery           25,214,747 (47 of 63)*
Drones            17,432,221 (22 of 27)*
Fleet Support     15,872,000 (14 of 15)*
Missiles          11,954,833 (22 of 26)
Navigation        11,346,275 (13 of 13)*
Engineering        8,939,855 (15 of 15)
Electronic Sys     8,159,689 (15 of 15)
Scanning           7,168,000 (7 of 7)
Armor              6,131,137 (13 of 13)
Shields            6,074,039 (12 of 13)
Science            5,714,282 (21 of 39)
Resc Processing    4,756,183 (22 of 37)
Subsystems         4,096,000 (16 of 16)
Trade              3,994,040 (11 of 14)
Neural Enhance     3,810,275 (7 of 8)
Planet Mgmt        3,298,275 (5 of 5)*
Targeting          3,207,765 (8 of 8)
Rigging            2,576,865 (10 of 10)
Structure Mgmt     1,446,824 (6 of 6)
Production         1,157,986 (5 of 12)
Social             1,130,040 (5 of 9)
Corp Mgmt             24,000 (2 of 5)

Total            ~230,031,984

As has become the norm for these posts, the categories that saw an increase in skill points are marked with an asterisk.

As usual, Spaceship Command saw some increase.  This time around it was largely due to getting a Ninazu force auxiliary from my Reaver’s secret Santa.  I had Minmatar and Amarr carrier trained up already, but now I can add Gallente carrier to the list.  I suppose I should train Caldari carrier just to round that out, but I don’t really want to spend the ISK on the skill.

Gunnery also saw a boost as I wrapped up training all of the EDENCOM zappy weapons skills.  I’ve never flown one of the EDENCOM ships, but if the opportunity arises, I am ready.

Drones got some attention as well, largely due to the introduction of tech II salvage drones.  Dunk Dinkle spent years agitating for them, I figured I could put them in the queue and train the skill.

Navigation saw a bump due to my training up Jump Fuel Conservation V.  Jump fuel prices have gone up quite a bit with the CCP economic starvation plan and the increase in consumption due to the war.  While I don’t jump capitals all that often, it seemed like a reasonable investment and I did not have anything more critical in my queue at the time.

Then there was Planetary Management, where I trained up Planetary Consolidation to V so I could have sixth colony to neglect.  Actually, with demand and prices rising, I have actually been minding my colonies a bit more regularly.  Putting them on a seven day cycle made this a bit easier.

Finally, there is fleet support.  I saved this for last because this is the big reason for why I hit this milestone a bit sooner than expected.  Generally there are intervals greater than six months between these, often as much as a year, depending on what I am training or if I hand off to an alt.  But this time the gap between posts was a mere four month.

This was because, during the fight over the armor timer at the Keepstar in M2-XFE, I opted to be a booster for one of the capital fleets.

My Damnation in the orange of another explosion

As I finally got into the fight and was able to start boosting, I noticed that I only had Fleet Command trained up to IV, so I blew more than two million of my saved up skill points to jump that up to level V.  This was an important fight and I wanted to get the maximum range out of my boosts.

I think it gave me a whole 6km extra distance on my boosts.  Not sure that was worth it.

More surprising perhaps was that I applied skill points in the middle of the fight, at 10% tidi, with commands taking 6+ minutes to respond, and it actually worked and went through.

And, while I have used save skill points on occasion, my total has generally be 99.9% skill points earned the old fashioned way.  Now that total is tainted by the free skill points that CCP gives away.  Oh well.

As for my skill totals, they now break out like this:

Level 1 -   1
Level 2 -   3
Level 3 -  34
Level 4 -  85
Level 5 - 244

That is nine more skills trained up to level V.  And, of course, I can still fly all the subcaps in the game, which is my general goal for skills.

Now, where do I go next?  I actually have a ways to go with Salvage Drones V, so I will finish that up and then do a couple levels of Salvage Drone Specialization.  We’ll see if I ever use a salvage drone, but I will be able to if the need arises.  Then it might be time to hand off training to one of my alts.  My main alt, oft neglected, could be trained up to do PI as well.  We shall see.

EVE Online Ushers in the Holidays with Winter Nexus Events Starting Today

CCP has rolled out their plans for the holidays and, sadly, the Yule Lads have been left out again this year.  But there is still plenty planned for the season with the Winter Nexus events.

The Winter Nexus event cometh

I am not quite sure what they mean by “Nexus” in all of this.  Nexus isn’t something we celebrate around these parts, but there it is.

Nexus Login Campaign

No New Eden event can happen unless there is an associated login campaign.  Starting at downtime today, which was about seven hours ago so you’re late already, and running through until downtime on January 5th 2021, there will be 13 special gifts waiting for you.  You will need to log in at least 13 days during that time frame to collect them all, as you can only claim one a day, but you have 26 days to do it.  You ought to be able to manage that.

Thirteenth night?

There is, naturally, the usual Alpha/Omega divide.  Alpha clones will get a set of gifts which include 80K skill points, while Omega clones will get 250K skill points as part of their set of gifts.  You can, as always, go Omega at any time an reap any rewards you missed.  They even include a nice button on the window for that.

Volatile Ice Storms

There will be traveling storms that will bring weather effects along with seasonally themed combat, mining, and data sites.  Sort of metaliminal storms with prized I guess.  These will appear throughout high, low, and null sec.  If you’re a wormholer and want to play I guess you’ll have to come back to normal space.

Can’t find an storm near you?  The login campaign includes Ice Storm Filaments that will whisk you off to a storm so you can savor its bounty or something.

Chilling Spree Daily Challenges

There will be holiday themed daily challenges that will have you launching snowballs and other tasks.  You can earn skill points and lore related items.

Opening Day Options

The login campaign will get you some snowballs and a festival launcher if you don’t have a pile of them from past years already… though, oddly, that isn’t the Day 1 reward.

Abyssal Proving Grounds

CCP’s attempt at arena combat will get its own events for the holidays.  The first event will be a team free-for-all where four teams of two players will do combat in Tech 1 Destroyers from 18 – 22 December. The second event will feature a 3v3 format with T1 Frigates running from 1 – 5 January

Stuff in the Store

And CCP has the Yoiul Star SKIN back in the New Eden store so you can have a holiday themed ship.  I kind of like those SKINs, but they are definitely better on bigger hulls.

Anyway, this all starts today, so you have been warned.  The December 10th Patch Notes update includes more details, as well as some information about some implants.

Also, they fixed the issue where people couldn’t set their death clone in an NPC station that otherwise did not have clone services available.  You can set Jita 4-4 as your death respawn again.  (Why didn’t Jita 4-4 get a clone bay added with the renovations?  They had budget for a freaking space elevator by not that?)

Those of us who have been around a while will remember the Yule Lads and their days in the winter sun back when CCP used to dial the holiday efforts up to 11.

Yule lads of old…

I wonder how many of the lads still work for CCP?

Addendum:  There is currently a known issue where the Nexus event sites are dropping Nightmare BPOs rather than single run BPCs.  CCP is aware of the issue and is asking players not to make a billion copies or try to sell them to other players as that will make their job of reverting all your dumb work slightly more difficult.  This will be fixed with a downtime patch.

Two Hundred and Twenty Million Skill Points

Didn’t I say I was done with these posts back at 200 million?  See how much you can trust me.

This time around the milestone sort of crept up on me by surprise.  I had diverted training on my main account to an alt for a stretch, but then a few things showed up that I wanted to train and I put the queue back on Wilhelm.  That was a ways back, but I swear that the total count was only about 218 million when I last looked.  Suddenly, yesterday, it was past 220 million and time for a post. (This does not count the ~3 million unused skill points I have waiting for some urgent need.)

My skill point history so far:

That is pretty much my career in New Eden.  This time around  a couple of the usual suspects saw most of the skill points.  My standings:

Spaceship Cmd   75,646,193 (68 of 85)*
Gunnery         21,207,181 (46 of 63)*
Drones          17,036,708 (22 of 26)
Fleet Support   13,351,107 (14 of 15)
Missiles        11,954,833 (22 of 26)*
Navigation       9,660,314 (13 of 13)
Engineering      8,939,855 (15 of 15)
Electronic Sys   8,159,689 (15 of 15)
Scanning         7,168,000 (7 of 7)
Armor            6,131,137 (13 of 13)
Shields          6,074,039 (12 of 13)
Science          5,714,282 (21 of 39)
Resc Processing  4,756,183 (22 of 37)
Subsystems       4,096,000 (16 of 16)
Trade            3,994,040 (11 of 14)*
Neural Enhance   3,810,275 (7 of 8)
Targeting        3,207,765 (8 of 8)
Planet Mgmt      2,983,941 (5 of 5)*
Rigging          2,576,865 (10 of 10)*
Structure Mgmt   1,446,824 (6 of 6)
Production       1,157,986 (5 of 12)
Social           1,130,040 (5 of 9)
Corp Mgmt           24,000 (2 of 5)

Total         ~220,227,747

Values that changed are marked with an asterisk.

As usual, Spaceship Command say the bulk of the skill point gain, going up by about 5 million, or half the total since the last checkup.  This started when the EDECOM ships showed up back in June and Asher suggested that we might try doing something with them in Reavers.  So I can fly them all now, and have most of them to level V.

EDENCOM Skybreaker

I have not, in fact, flown any of the EDENCOM ships.  I have not even SEEN one of them in space.  Asher said that sourcing them would be a pain, and that they were not very good in any case, so it fell off the Reavers plan.  But should that change, I am ready!  Maybe next week’s update will make them more viable.

That plan also explains the pop in the Gunnery number, since the Vorton Projector that goes with the EDECOM ships falls under the Gunnery category, as do the supplementary skills.  That ate up a good two million more of the points trained.

Missiles got a small jump, shy of a million, but I honestly cannot recall what I trained there.  Probably one of the advanced skills to boost Tech II damage.

Trade saw some training, this time for the Advanced Broker Relations skill that came in with the March update.  And Planetary Management went up when I decided it was time to earn some ISK and I thought maybe PI would be a plan.  But I am bad, I forget to check on it for weeks at a stretch, so it probably hasn’t even paid back what I have invested in it.

As for Rigging, I know exactly where that went.  Or I thought I did.  I remember putting some skill points into Armor Rigging V when I figured out it would give me just a little bit more speed when flying and armor rigged ship.  But I wrote about that last time.  So my guess is that Launcher Rigging got the points this time around, since that is the only other Rigging skill at level V.

And that covers my last ten million skill points.  My level distribution is currently:

Level 1 -   1
Level 2 -   3
Level 3 -  37
Level 4 -  89
Level 5 - 235

As for where to go next… it looks like Black Ops V is the current skill being trained, another one for Spaceship Command… and a lot more level Vs after that.  Maybe I should swap back over to my alt again.  I can fly all the subcaps on my main again, so until CCP adds some more I’m probably good.

CCP is Just Going to Keep Selling Skill Points for Cash

Just over a year ago there was some controversy and push back from the community over CCP introducing a Starter Pack that was effectively selling skill points to players, something that seemed very much against the grain of past statements from the company used to justify the introduction of skill injectors about the importance of skill points in the game coming only from training.

It’s very important to note here that this means all the skillpoints available to buy on the market in EVE will have originated on other characters where they were trained at the normal rate.  Player driven economies are key to EVE design and we want you to decide the value of traded skillpoints while we make sure there is one single mechanism that brings new skillpoints in to the system – training.

CCP was apologetic and promised to change that (and, many months later new packs came out), but did point out that this was aimed at new players and that the starter pack could only be applied once to any account.  But it could still be purchased and applied to any account and, doing the math, spending five dollars on a million skill points seemed like a pretty good deal, so I am sure that CCP dragging its feet on removing that starter pack was in no small part influence by the fact that it was selling pretty well.

But the story so far has always included some rationalization.

Skill injectors were rationalized because the skills were all created in the game via normal training along with the fact that you could always buy characters in the bazaar.

Alpha skill injectors, daily skill point boosts for free accounts, were rationalized as they only added as many skill points as they player would have received in a day had they been subscribed, making it a mini, daily subscription.

Starter packs were rationalized as being for new players and being once per account.  Sure, you got some cheap skill points, but it wasn’t an unlimited deal.

Which brings us to today, when CCP announced their new Training Boost Bundle.

Training Boost Bundle

You get, straight up, 1.5 million skill points and an Expert Cerebral Accelerator, which gives you a +8 stat boost to speed up your training for 12.5 days (1,080,000 seconds).

The accelerator in game

I guess the rationalization here might be… um… at least these skill points aren’t as cheap as they were in the starter pack?

But it is still a deal if you simply want to straight up pay cash for skill points, especially for older characters.

My back of the envelope, rounded numbers for easy mental math, calculations are that in Jita/Perimeter you can find PLEX for about 2.6 ISK million per and Large Skill Injectors for around 725 million ISK per.

When purchased in lots of 500 PLEX is about 4 cents per unit and you need to sell about 300 to buy a Large Skill Injector, taking into account taxes.

That makes a Large Skill Injector about $12.

To get 1.5 million skill points you need to buy three injectors, which is $36.  You have to decide if the cerebral accelerator is worth the extra four bucks, though I imagine it is.

But that is only if you have a relatively unskilled character.  You get less skill points per injector the more skill points you have.  If, like me, you have characters with more than 80 million skill points, then you only get 150K skill points per injector.

That means you need to buy 10 Large Skill Injectors, which will run you about $120 in PLEX, or three times the $40 asking price.

So, for old hands, the Training Boost Bundle might not be a bad deal… though even that assumes you aren’t earning enough ISK in game to buy your injectors without having to spend any real world cash.  I’m not going to spend the money, but somebody will.

Skill points are now well and truly available for sale in unlimited quantities.  No need to go through the PLEX to ISK to injectors rigamarole, just buy the skill points directly.  It is likely cheaper and clearly easier.

Welcome to free to play, where the inevitable result is pay to win and where whales keep the game running so the cash shop needs to cater to them.

Are you going to quit?  Are you going to give up all the effort you have invested in the game over this?  Is this the step too far, the line crossed?

Probably not.  I think most people will bitch about it… /r/eve is in an uproar as expected… and then carry on.  I am not going to quit.  Hell, there is finally a war on, the game is good for me for a bit.

So what then?

I suppose we need to mark it up as a life lesson, a reminder that what companies say in a specific moment in a given context will be ignored or forgotten the moment it no longer directly serves their interest.  A company’s promise is an empty and worthless thing.

Just remember, when CCP says something to reassure you, like that it is important that skill points in the game should be earned or that asset safety is important because otherwise nobody will keep their stuff in citadels, if they are not actively lying to you in that moment, they will go back on their word the moment it suits them.

Welcome to EVE Online.  Know the risks.

CCP Quietly Starts a New Login Campaign in EVE Online

More skill points!  I am skeptical of CCP handing them out freely, but never to such an extent that I won’t log in to get mine.

When I saw the mention of a new login campaign in the patch notes I figured there would be another news post or dev blog about it.  The point of a login in campaign is to get people to log in, right?  And to further that end one might wish to advertise that treats were being given out, to thus encourage that logging in behavior.  So I was going to wait for that to hit.

But this is CCP and sometimes logic simply does not apply.  Still, free skill points… eventually… but things have otherwise changed for this campaign.

The first sign for me was a post about the new campaign over at Evehermit.  Working from home as I was, I was able to go check on this myself immediately.  I found myself with an Omega login campaign window.

Omega rewards for me…

“Oh ho!” I thought, “Maybe CCP is keeping this on the down low because only Omegas are getting something special?”  But that didn’t make a lot of sense to me.  In past campaigns one of the key elements has been to push the fact that Omegas get better rewards in the face of Alpha clone players.  When I logged in an Alpha to check, they have their own campaign screen.

Alpha rewards for our Alpha friends… and no push to go Omega? Odd!

The reward is a random drug of some sort… in EVE Online we’re pretty pro-chemical enhancement… with a short duration which gets applied to the character you redeem it to immediately, so maybe don’t redeem it until you need it I guess. (Is this a bug? We’ll see tomorrow.)

So the real appeal has to be the skill point give away.  But this time you have to be in it for the long haul to get some.  There is a bar down at the bottom of the rewards screen that fills in some when you redeem your reward.

The tool tip

However, the bar didn’t fill up very much when I grabbed my reward.  I added just 6K points to the 150K point total I would need to reach in order to cash in.

Not very far along

That is just 4% of the total.  I hope this ramps up a bit as it goes along.  There is no mention of how long this login campaign lasts, but if it is 6K a day that implies as much as a 25 day-long trip to claim those 150K skill points.

And on the Alpha front I got 2K towards a 50K total, so again the time frame could be the same.  We’ll see tomorrow.