The latest dev-blog from the ship re-balancing team is simultaneously surprising and routine.

Let’s start with the routine bit.  In terms of the information presented, there’s actually almost nothing new here that we didn’t know from CCP Ytterbium‘s dev-blog of November 2012.  In that one, in the section titled “I love it when a plan comes together”, we see the skeleton of the plan to break the Battlecruisers and Destroyers skills into racial variants, and the intent to reshape what is needed to fly the upper echelon ships such as battleships and capital ships.  The only thing this new dev-blog does is put some flesh on the bones written about in November.  In actual fact, there’s very little that’s actually new here.

When I read about these changes in November, it struck me as likely that the changes would be implemented in Retribution 1.1 this month and so I recommended that players get busy training as many racial frigate and cruiser skills as they could to level III before this change was implemented.  I redouble that recommendation today: this is quite frankly another “EVE IQ test”.  If you have Battlecruisers V trained and you do not train all four racial cruiser skills to level III, you flunk it.  If you have Destroyers V and you do not train all four racial frigate skills to level III, you flunk it.

Don’t make excuses.  Get busy.  Get it done.  If you don’t do it, you’re leaving up to six million skill points on the table.  Sooner or later, I guarantee you will wish you had those skill points.  Even if for no other reason than to make the character you’re selling more valuable to its next owner.

All that said, let’s look at the surprising bits, and there are three major ones.  The first hits more generalist characters.  The second hits more specialized characters.  The third is just interesting, at least to me.

If you have Battlecruisers V and/or Destroyers V and you follow my advice above, you are going to gain as much as six million additional skill points.  If you’ve been busily training your Sensor Compensation skills, the Micro Jump Drive skill, and some of the other new skills that have been added to the game, that’s going to add even more SP.  Granted, this makes the character more broadly skilled, more valuable, and more nerf-proof.

But it also makes those characters more expensive to lose pods for.

If you are training a generalist sort of character like Ripard, we’re quickly going to reach the point where such a character could easily have 100 million SP, never train any too-specialized skill to level V (Medium Autocannon Specialization V, anyone?), and yet not have a single skill point devoted to capital ships.  That’s where Ripard’s going to be this summer and it’s going to cost me 30 million ISK or more every time Ripard gets podded as a result.  Fortunately for me, I don’t get podded very often but part of that is because I take deliberate steps not to be: I tend to fly faster, skirmishy ships that don’t spend a lot of time in bubbles; the ships I fly tend to be tankier and harder to kill, and I rarely fly ships that can be popped in a single volley like T1 frigs.

This change is going to subtly create an incentive for other experienced pilots to fly in the same way and perhaps in the process to become even more risk-averse and less likely to fly throw-away ships, something the game hardly needs.  Even generalist pilots with lower SP will start to feel the pinch when every podding costs 10 or 15 million ISK.  That amount starts adding up!  It’s a perhaps unintended side effect of all of these new skills that CCP is adding.

But players are always richer than you expect, amirite?  😉  We’ll see how this plays out.

The second bit that surprises me is how CCP is subtly encouraging EVE players not to be generalists.  Quite the opposite, in fact: we’re being subtly incentivized to be specialists instead.

This one occurs to me because one of my PvP characters is a “big ship” specialist, and in fact until recently was a “big Amarr ship” specialist: battleships and the Revelation, with a side business in Amarr HACs and the Devoter Heavy Interdictor.  His skills in smaller platforms and non-Amarr platforms were more limited or non-existent.  Yet he was still forced to train Assault Ships (which he never flies) to train Heavy Assault Ships (which he does).  For newer players coming up, these requirements are being relaxed or removed entirely, but replaced with other skills.  More on that in a moment.

A similar thing hits for heavy ship specialists.  As I learned how poor a dread the Revelation is when compared with the mighty Moros, suddenly I had to train my Amarr heavy ship specialist to be a Gallente heavy ship specialist as well.  That necessitated training him into Gallente Battleship V over a 40-day period even though the character has literally never sat in a Gallente Battleship of any type and may never do so.  This requirement is also being relaxed or removed, and character specializing in heavier platforms will no longer be forced to train high levels of skills in ships they may not want or need.

The real question that goes unanswered in the dev-blog: will CCP be putting their money where their mouth is where this policy is concerned?  I also had to train Large Hybrid Turret V even though this character has never fired a large hybrid gun.  But he needed it for capital hybrid turrets.  Will the minimum requirement for these largest guns also be reduced to Level III?  The dev-blog doesn’t say.

Net result: a lot more pilots that are capable of flying capital ships much earlier in their careers.  This may result in inflation in capital ship costs due to more frequent purchases and losses.  We’ll see about that one, too.

Most surprising at all on this front (at least to me), the elitism of the highest end industrial ships (notably the Iteron Mark V) is also being removed and as far as I can see, anyone with Gallente Industrial skill at Level I will immediately be able to sit in and use the best hauler in the game.  Granted, a good bit of the “Itty V” mystique comes from the bonuses gained from a high skill level, but certainly not all!  All those low slots play their part.  All of us are going to have to reshuffle our expectations about which haulers are going to be best to use and the Amarr and Caldari ones in particular won’t be coming out on top when that’s over!

According to my back-of-the-envelope calculations, in fact, the Itty V with Gallente Industrial I skill will be superior in capacity to any other racial hauler flown with racial industrial skill at Level V…

Most amusing of all, a few hours after these changes drop, Ripard will be able to fly an Orca even though he has no mining skills whatsoever.  Shut up.  It’s a useful ship.  😉

Finally, the bit that may be interesting only to me.  A lot of weight is put in this dev-blog to the relationship between a brand new player with no skills at all and the time it will take to get into each class of ship.  In fact, look at all those little graphics closely and you’ll find that the number of days into each ship class has either not changed at all or has changed by only a few percent.(1)  Much like ship balancing being far too focused on the total number of slots each ship has, I think the team here is too focused on this arbitrary number of days needed to get into each ship class.

This has resulted in a lot of rather hysterical changes to the skill requirements for certain classes of ships.  The thought process seems to have been “When we take away the need for Logistics IV to fly some types of Command Ships, we need to throw other skills in to make up that time difference before new players can sit in them.  Which skills should we throw in?”  This results in the rather hysterical requirement that one must train Siege Warfare V in order to fly the Damnation or Armored Warfare V to fly the Vulture.

I’ll grant you, I jumped straight to the edge case on this one, but other higher-end ships show similar clever little adjustments with a similar lack of logic.  For instance, to adjust for the loss of the 40 days needed to train racial battleship V, one must now train Jump Fuel Conservation IV and Jump Drive Calibration III to even sit in a carrier.  These were considered pre-reqs for a serious carrier pilot, of course, but one gets the impression that these skills and these levels were chosen because of the number of days they take to train rather than any logic underlying the needs of capital ship pilots.  Else why aren’t the same or similar requirements put on dread or titan pilots?  Don’t they need JFC and JDC too?

It does make me wonder if a few years down the line, another ship balancing team might come along and say “Guys, we decided that having all these weird skills and requirements to sit in the ship were a little strange, so we’ve decided to change them…”  Guess we’ll see.  😉

In the aggregate, though?  The changes in this dev-blog are, overall, good changes.  They make the various skill trees more logical and easier for new players to understand.  And reducing the complexity of the game — particularly the early game — is always to be desired.  But I still can’t help but think about the plight of brand new players to the game that join medium or large null-sec alliances.  Nothing in this dev-blog is going to make FOTMs disappear, which means that a lot of new players out there are going to be sentenced to training four racial BC skills to high levels…

Ripard Teg

If you would like to read more we invite you to visit his blog here.

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  1. Gumpn

    If they change the skills needed, but then add more skills, yes there is no time, but there is also an isk sink.

    Buy more books to train something. Not much to a rich player, significant to a poor player, over all ccp takes isk out.

    February 8, 2013 at 10:29 pm Reply
    1. -A- bitter vet

      CCP took the brains out. You had to spend about 24 days on BC lvl 5, now you have to spend.. how long to have all racial BC to lvl 5?? 24*5? Where they say it won't be so?

      February 12, 2013 at 3:09 am Reply
      1. -A- bitter vet

        meant to write 24*4
        w/e you get me.

        February 12, 2013 at 3:10 am Reply
  2. Sameyaa

    "to adjust for the loss of the 40 days needed to train racial battleship V, one must now train Jump Fuel Conservation IV and Jump Drive Calibration III to even sit in a carrier. These were considered pre-reqs for a serious carrier pilot, of course, but one gets the impression that these skills and these levels were chosen because of the number of days they take to train rather than any logic underlying the needs of capital ship pilots."

    Not sure if you are trolling or never flown a cap before… So having jump cal III is for "serious" cap pilots now? If you are in a cap and dont have atleast Cal IV you shouldnt even be flying it..

    February 8, 2013 at 10:57 pm Reply
    1. Ashesofempires

      You are missing his point. It's not that requiring them for carrier pilots is absurd, it's that requiring them for carrier pilots and NOT dreadnought or titan pilots is absurd. The logic is, to fly a capital ship, you should have JFC 4 and JDC 3, but CCP only extended that logic to carriers (and supercarriers).

      I've never flown a capital, but I do have critical thinking skills.

      February 9, 2013 at 12:25 am Reply
      1. Sameyaa

        Yes because CCP is clearly capable of rebalancing skill reqs for all the ships in the game in one patch. Its hard enough for them to do it in iterations.

        February 9, 2013 at 3:49 am Reply
        1. Ashesofempires

          They may not be capable, but it looks like they are going to do it anyway. They clearly spent some time (maybe not) deciding what prerequisite skills were necessary for ships, but didn't bother to follow that logical train of thought all the way through to "All capitals require JFC 4 and JDC 3, better make it a pre-req for carriers, super-carriers, dreadnoughts, and titans."

          February 9, 2013 at 4:02 am Reply
          1. Dracko

            You're missing the fact that "Advanced Weapon Upgrades 5" is now required for Dreads (Tactical Weapons Configuration). For a module you could also argue a Dread Pilot doesn't have to use.
            I'm already very happy they didn't set Logi5 (Tactical Logistics Configuration) as a Carrier requirement.

            It's simple, these skills were added to prevent the tears over "BUT NOW THEY CAN GET IN A CAPITAL FASTER!!!"
            And all they added were skills any selfrespecting capital pilot should have anyway.
            Wormholes set aside, but I'd say that is quite a niche usage, and still only applies if the capital was built inside the WH. From start to sitting it it, the time it takes is the same. But now you just don't have to add 40days if you want to switch races, which I think is a very good change.

            February 11, 2013 at 11:21 am
    2. anon

      So have you flown a cap before? There's absolutely no reason to require Fuel Conservation anything *for* anything, which (I believe) was his primary point.

      February 9, 2013 at 3:36 pm Reply
      1. ranon

        Agreed, why should we be obligated to conservate fuel.

        February 9, 2013 at 11:44 pm Reply
    3. Wh'er

      Eh I use caps in wormholes, primarily, where those skills go largely unused. That being said, this is more of a fringe devil's advocate position and generally it's true that you need JFC and JDC.

      February 10, 2013 at 8:27 pm Reply
  3. Daniel

    Has an EVE player, I’d like to say that I don’t care the pod price, I don’t know if I have all cruisers to III and I won’t even bother to check.

    February 8, 2013 at 11:35 pm Reply
    1. Dracko

      Wait, we have people posting here that are not eve players?

      February 11, 2013 at 11:25 am Reply
  4. Daz

    This is another move by CCP to make it easier for newer players to fly the shiny big ships. Like all the other stuff they've done – improved safety in highsec, walking in stations (admittedly dead for now) these changes are designed to make the game attractive to the newer players without the attention spans (read: the WoW players) to wait 200 days to fly something big.

    Bittervets – another signal that your loyal $15 a month for the past six years is outweighed by the influx of new players who want to RP in stations and be a titan pilot in 3 months.

    In the interim, I'll stock up on carriers and wait for the inevitable market spike 😉

    February 8, 2013 at 11:52 pm Reply
    1. ...

      Yes, CCP adding more skills to the game is certainly part of their master plan to let new players immediately jump into ships…

      February 9, 2013 at 12:15 am Reply
    2. dude

      dude it takes nrly a whole day longer to sit in a carrier affter the changes , this is easier how?

      February 9, 2013 at 1:42 am Reply
    3. MisterNick

      Therefore, more new guys will be flying around in expensive boats and be available to be blown up. Every cloud and all that – quit your pitiable whining.

      February 9, 2013 at 12:02 pm Reply
    4. Horak

      Yes bittervets when no new players join because it takes 6 months before they can play the game, we have won o/ our game will be ours finally,
      now who can we shoot………….

      February 9, 2013 at 8:11 pm Reply
      1. -A- bitter vet

        Been said a lot of times – you DO NOT need perfect character with perfect skills to be good at this game. In fact look at many people who trained for years and are still n00bs

        February 12, 2013 at 3:05 am Reply
    5. yawn

      You are entitled to your asshat conservative opinion. I can also tell you to go choke on a fat one.

      February 10, 2013 at 2:02 pm Reply
  5. I am more concerned about my game time. I've spent 40 days of training for EACH Battleship 5 to fly capitals that I want. So I spent ~15$ for that. Now CCP reduced required skills so people will need only BS 3 (4 days of training?). No I feel like I spent my time and money for nothing. Wasting 40 days on something that in future will require only 4 days? I want my money back!!!!!! Or at least some sort of compensation.

    February 9, 2013 at 8:41 am Reply
    1. ~90$ in total for 5.5 month of time training every racial BS 5

      February 9, 2013 at 8:42 am Reply
      1. WAAAAHHHmbulance

        whoop de doo, welcome to eve where they change things.

        February 10, 2013 at 4:55 pm Reply
    2. yawn

      As far as i'm concerned, you can have armor compensation.

      February 10, 2013 at 2:04 pm Reply
    3. Dracko

      However, you've still not lost the benefit the BS skills at 5 actually give to BS's.

      So yeah, I agree its sour.. and possibly a refund of BS 4-5 would be in order. But I guess I'd be spending the points the same way.

      February 11, 2013 at 11:24 am Reply
  6. 2manno

    More skills and more branches on the tree. Seems to make for more racial specialization.

    The solution for most new players will be multiple accounts that work in different races. I'm believe ccp hopes for and this.

    February 9, 2013 at 1:45 pm Reply
  7. Frickin Rhino

    I noticed the same thing. Better start making a shit load of Ity Vs. Why would anyone use anything else?

    February 9, 2013 at 5:33 pm Reply
  8. subtle

    The thing I see about this update is that while it somewhat lowers the bar to SIT in a ship, it in no way lowers the bar to fly it. That is, a new toon can train to sit in a racial BS in a week now, but will have no more ability to fly it. On my main, with his 70 million or so SP, I consider training the T1 ship skill required for a ship trained to 5 a minimal prereq to flying it, as I feel I have enough time and options to be picky. The bonuses gained by having those skills at 5 define how you fly a ship, and how you fit it.
    Not to mention the tanking and weapon training required.
    So, this update could very well lead to massive new LOL-mails from new players who train right up to that tasty BS with no support skills.

    February 9, 2013 at 8:18 pm Reply
  9. all this new things .. skill nerf, blue 0.0, pl doing as ccp wishes to manipulate the game, rmt of shadoo mittens and a few others, fake wars and thunderdome pvp without any sense and without sov warefare (to save the rmt source technetium) leads to less players of eve online.

    ccp and their puppets screwing the game, thats the sad fact.

    February 9, 2013 at 10:01 pm Reply
  10. Rellin Kajer

    I train what I want to train and fly what I want to fly. I do not care about my pod costs. I have 108M SP atm and have all of the BC/Cruiser/Destroyer skills at 5. I will soon have something like 120M. Who cares? I own goon noobs.

    February 11, 2013 at 5:36 pm Reply

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