I’ve had a bit of a love/hate relationship with EVE Online since I first played in Feburary 2009. I’ve generally played EVE anywhere between a few months to nearly a year before moving on to other games. Yet, unlike all those other games, I’ve always gone back to play EVE. While I’d be anything but honest if I said EVE didn’t have it’s issues, and had a high learning curve, it’s rich and complex enough to keep my interest after nearly 10 years. The only other game I’ve played more than EVE Online in the past decade is the World of Warcraft.
Honestly my biggest problems with EVE is that I never really found my place within it, and I’ve always found myself to be too impatient for the skill learning system. Not that I dislike the system, but every few weeks or couple months I’ve decided I wanted to do something else in EVE and changed up my skill learning plan. Consequently, I have over 66 million skill points spread out across a whole bunch of skill categories. Whereas if I had just been patient enough to remain focused I’d be able to do a lot more, really well instead of doing a lot more stuff, only middling well.
I also never fail to regret letting my account lapse between stints playing EVE. When I think of all the skill points lost from my account being inactive, it makes my heart ache. For those of you unaware, EVE Online has a skill learning system based on real time learning. Your character learns one skill at a time, in real time. Each skill requires a certain number of skill points to complete its training, and your character accumulates those skill points, hour by hour (affected by various variables) until the correct total has accumulated. Then you learn the skill and immediately move onto the next skill set in your characters skill plan.
There are hundreds of skills to choose from, and every ship you can fly, every module you can use, and every activity you can perform in the game require certain skills to fly, use, or perform. And not just one skill, but often a range of interrelated skills. Skills needed to fly and fit out lower level ships can be learned in a matter of minutes to hours, while skills needed to fly and fit out higher level ships can take hours to weeks, and even months to learn.
You can begin to see why I tend to regret the periods of inactivity where my characters aren’t training, because inevitably whenever I start playing again I’m presented once more with the required time sink to complete the training I needed to previously complete, and have to start that back up instead of filling my skill queue with the next set of skills to learn. A character as old as mine, kept learning all this time, would have virtually trained every single skill in EVE by this point, whether I really wanted those skills or not.
As I said, here I am once again, playing EVE. While I did a lot of mining, and moving items around in the game over this long holiday weekend, I think I spent more time pouring over skill plans in my favorite application EVEMon (out of game skill planning tool). I have multiple accounts, though I only re-activated three. And this time I wanted to make sure I had clear goals in mind for each of them, and a skill plan to get me to those goals.
My main character is a little bit of everything. 66 milion skill points spread across mining, reprocessing, missiles, shields, various ship classes (up to Battleships), and a lot of things inbetween. I haven’t quite maxed out all the missile skills, having largely ignored rockets and light missiles. But I have max missile skills in everyting else. At one point in the past I really wanted to fly stealth bombers, so I did max out all the skills required for that, except Cloaking 5 which I have yet to complete. But over the weekend I set down a definitive goal and skill path for him such that I will hopefully get involved with the Bombers Bar again and have much fun blowing up a lot of ships while I work my way through the skills necessary to fly Electronic Warfare ships, and Logistic ships. Eventually I want to get back into Null space and hopefully participate in fleet warfare again. But in the mean time I can be happy flying with Bombers Bar again.
I’ve been much better at focusing with my second and third characters, however. Neither is as old as my main character, both having around 35 million skill points at this point in their lives. But as with my main, if I had simply kept these characters active they also would have virtually learned every skill in the game at this point. My second character has been strictly industry (manufacture and research) and market related, and he’ll be finishing up the remaining market related skills he needs in the coming weeks before moving back onto more advanced manufacturing skills. Eventually I want him to be capable of manufacturing everything up to, and including Titans. I have industry aspirations, you see!
My third character has always been a bit of a compromise born from impatience. I’ve always wanted to fly capital ships, most specifically Carriers. But the skills necessary to do that can take a couple years to fully learn, most of which aren’t applicable to smaller classes of ships. If I had set out along this path on my main, it would have been a couple years of time which I couldn’t have used to learn more useful things I’d need for corporation life in Nullsec. Hence the compromise — I threw more money at EVE by starting a new character in a seperate account so learning on both characters could happen concurrently. Of course now you can train all three characters on a single account concurrently, but even if that had been true back when I started my capital pilot I still probably would have opted for a seperate account because you can only have one character from an account logged in at a time.
Why is that important you may ask? Because moving ships, and items around in EVE can be a bother. And most especially when you’re talking about moving ships and items from Highsec out into Nullsec space. I learned a hard lesson about that back in 2010 when I first ventured into Nullsec. While there’s still risk, the best way of moving ships and items into Nullsec is by jumping it. To do that, you either will need to contract with a hauler, trust a corporation mate to do it for you, or do it yourself. I’m not the overly trusting kind, so am unlikely to part with items that could total into the billions of ISK. And contracting with an independent hauler is problematic on multiple levels. Honestly, I’d just rather do it myself. And a Carrier is a great way to move a lot of stuff around. Carriers are capable of jumping great distances (a certain number of light years based on skill training of the pilot), all while carrying fitted ships and cargo holds full of other possessions.
But hauling is not the only reason to fly a carrier. Ultimately you want to make a lot of ISK with it, and support fleets when called upon. Eventually my main will be a capital ship pilot as well, but I won’t start any of that training until I can fly, and fit, every other class of ship in EVE first.
I’m going to take the upcoming few months to re-acclimate myself to EVE. Its been 11 months since I last played and quite a bit has changed. I’ll fly around with Bomber’s Bar, and in the Spring I’ll probably start looking for a Corporation to join out in Nullsec. This doesn’t mean I won’t be playing WoW, as I have no intention to quit. There’s time enough to do both.