The Most Destructive Misconception in EVE Online

2020-12-26

Header art by Cryo Huren

As the impact of the latest major conflict in New Eden ripples out into the wider gaming community, many new players will inevitably be inspired to get involved in the great space opera that is EVE Online. The last time interstellar war reached these awesome heights was the Bloodbath of B-R5RB in early 2014.

The Overwhelmed Newbie

I remember it clearly; it was at that very moment that I finally made up my indecisive mind and took the plunge into an MMO I had kept on my periphery for some time. While, of course, I was overwhelmed by the notorious learning curve and lost in the somewhat directionless void, it was something else – something far more damaging – that ended my brief career. A misconception that had, at that time, already existed for many years and still exists today: the idea that due to how skill points are gained in EVE Online you will never catch up to the hardy release-day veterans and hence never be able to truly compete. That feeling that you have missed the ship and there is no way to make up the ground, the galaxy will forever be ruled by the elite few with the dedication and perception to ride the wave to its heights two decades later.

I realize now how wrong I was, but more importantly, just how truly damaging this misconception is to EVE Online’s continued player growth and retention. It is understandable that many new players come to this conclusion when looking at the mechanics of the game. This problematic misconception has been talked about many times before in forums and on social media, but I hope I can do my part to help resolve any confusion surrounding it.

The Skillpoint System

The skillpoint system is the closest thing EVE Online has to a typical MMO “level.” Upon finishing the tutorial, you are told to place skills in your skill queue and these will progress at a steady rate even while you are not online. A default Omega (subscription) character gains roughly 30 skillpoints per minute (1800 per hour) while an Alpha (free to play) character gains half that amount.

All skills can be leveled from 1-5 and the higher the skill you train, the longer it takes. For example, a simple skill like “Navigation” (influencing the velocity of your ship) requires 250 skill points to level from 0 to 1 but 210,745 skill points from level 4 to 5. 

Furthermore, all skills in EVE have a training time multiplier which determines the length of time it takes for training to be completed. Skills with a training time multiplier of x1, like Navigation, take roughly four (actual real-world) days to complete while x3 skill takes 12 days and so on. These skills are fundamental to your participation and enjoyment of the game; they allow you to fly more ships, fly them faster, tank more damage and much more. Due to these mechanics, it doesn’t take one long to come to the misguided conclusion that if you must train these skills at the same pace as everybody else, including the veterans of the early 2000s. “How could I ever reach their level?”

Level 5 Cap Means All Pilots Are Equal

To the unfamiliar and uneducated, the misconception that a new player could never catch up to a veteran makes perfect sense; it made enough sense to me that, when combined with my utter confusion and frustration with the game itself, I gave up entirely after a mere number of days.

This is not an uncommon story when speaking with people who have tried to get into EVE several times and failed to pass the first hurdle. Having finally done so myself I want to provide the insight I have gained from sticking it out regardless of overwhelming doubt.  

I have referred to this idea as a misconception because that is exactly what it is; it is wholly incorrect and I want to make it clear why. That veteran player may have 50x the amount of skill points than you, but when put on a level playing field, you are equal. Different ships provide the standard roles of the MMO genre such as DPS and healer and each of these roles have skills associated with them which, in turn, have a level cap of 5. There are no skills that go beyond this hard cap.  

Let’s take the logistics cruiser for an example. This is your classic MMO healer with a Sci-Fi spin; you provide shields and armor to other players’ ships as they take damage in an effort to keep them from exploding. As a new player, if you decide this is the role you wish to fill, you can dedicate your training to this and over the course of a few months you can maximize your effectiveness with this particular class of vessel. The general piloting skills and experience gained by flying your preferred role are even more important than the raw statistical boosts to your chosen ship. This means that the first time your capsule merges with a massive Force Auxiliary capital logistics ship, you will have already gained the critical experience and knowledge necessary to fly it effectively.

By training the required skills that provide bonuses to the desired ship all the way to level 5, you have now hit the level cap and are as effective as possible. More importantly, you are as effective as any veteran flying the same ship. When you know what you want to do and put your cybernetically enhanced mind to it, you can be just as effective in fleets or solo as the veteran player.

Veterans Fly Bigger, Not Better

The only difference between you and veterans now is variety. They may be able to fly a titan or a dreadnought, but when they hop down into their logistics cruiser, you are equal. They pay the same price, they have the same statistical bonuses and they activate their modules just like the you. Give it time (maybe a lot of time) and you too will have access to the wide array of ships which fill common and niche roles, from the advanced electronic warfare class frigates to the recently revised supercarrier class vessels. (If you are interested in more detailed information on how to optimize the path to your chosen role check out EVE University’s fantastic newly released Pyramid Skill Plan.

I believe that if you are going to present a problem, you should also do your best to present a solution. I am not a game developer and can only speak from my personal experience as to what might have helped me come to these realizations earlier and helped to ease my early days in New Eden. Over the years CCP has created many fantastic tutorial style videos; this one, in particular, does a fantastic job of explaining exactly how a new pilot can be just as effective as a veteran. However, it would be extremely beneficial for new players to have these videos and others like them (such as the Flight Academy series) accessible via an in-game system rather than having to be found independently outside of the game. Ideally they could be found by accessing The Agency window.

Coming to better understand this misconception has allowed me to foster a healthier outlook and attitude towards my goals and progress. Understanding that strength does not come from owning the biggest nor the most expensive ship, but from the knowledge and the ability to identify which ship is best for the job at hand; that is the true path to success and prosperity in New Eden. With this knowledge, even the newest players can specialize and expand their skillset as they take on the elite at their own game.

Gaining that knowledge on your own can be a long and draining journey, but with the right people and organization, the journey itself is fun and rewarding. New players can start their career in EVE Online with the confidence and the understanding that just because they are a new pilot that does not inherently make them the underdog.

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Comments

  • Moomin Amatin

    Nothing makes me happier than seeing a newbee with a few hours in the game shitting on a player in a 10 bill ship with 100 mill plus skillpoints.

    I would also add that Eve is a marathon and not a sprint. The very best stories in Eve are the ones we write by the actions we take.

    December 26, 2020 at 8:26 AM
  • kwnyupstate .

    They can’t easily catch up since it would be extremely expensive to either use skill injectors bought from in game activity or to spend real money on plex to sell for isk for injectors. No real substitute to getting a high sp character than one which has been training since like 2003.
    They can however get multiple characters who combined could do all the same things HOWEVER will still take a long time to train into some ships like titans.
    But just to get into the game you don’t need lots of sp.

    December 26, 2020 at 5:07 PM
    • Romulus Loches kwnyupstate .

      Just because you can have a single character train to do everything doesn’t mean you should. Many other games have classes or professions hardwired into the system that limit what you can accomplish with a single character, Eve doesn’t make it impossible but it is discouraged by making you choose what to train.

      December 27, 2020 at 1:41 AM
  • Guilford Australis

    I joined the 100M skillpoint club sometime earlier this year, and I’m having exactly as much fun now as I did when I was a month into the game with 3M skillpoints. Sure, I can fly a ton of stuff now that I couldn’t then, and my skills are optimized for what I like to do, but you don’t need to be a hardened veteran to enjoy flying something fun.

    When I talk to newer players about the skill system, I recommend they focus first on one or two things they really enjoy, such as EWAR frigates (welcome in virtually every alliance fleet), logi, or fast tackle. Those don’t take long to skill up, and they enable someone to have an important role while skilling into more advanced ships and modules.

    I also always recommend that newer players not be in such a hurry to skill into capital and supercapital ships. It takes a lot of experience with many different game mechanics to be able to fly them responsibly, and there’s no faster way to ruin your EVE experience than skill-injecting yourself into a big ship that you lose to gankers who understand the game better than you do. You’ll have a lot more fun flying small stuff well than flying big stuff badly.

    December 26, 2020 at 6:18 PM
  • X Y

    The keyword is variety.
    Especially as a new player you don’t know exactly what you want to try in this game, or rather, you want to try out everything and that’s exactly what happens.

    Many skills build on each other, so that you have to specifically skill a direction. Many ship fittings are only usable from V5 skills. Therefore, the Vets are clearly at an advantage, they can do different things depending on their mood.

    The example with the Logi-Pilot is also funny. Which doctrine then? Armor or Schield? Small/Large scale with cap chain? And so it is with many decisions that require completely different ships and skills depending on the corp/alliance and location (hello trig skills in WH).

    If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my time, it’s that if you only do one thing, you quickly become bored.
    Many have simply forgotten how hard it was to earn your first millions, or to wait a few days for skills so you can just try something new. Sure if you already have a large variety of skills you can wait a month for a skill, but for a newbie just a few days are half an eternity.
    What Eve is missing in addition, is proper explanation, among other things that you can try out a lot on the test server. And the test server should offer more functions and opportunities to try out, unfortunately, many things are not active there.

    December 27, 2020 at 2:37 AM
  • Alaric Faelen

    SP lets you fly more variety of things but you can never fly better than V in your skills. Size also doesn’t equal fun. Large ships tend to have very specific roles and very specific engagement envelopes. Despite being able to fly several capital ships, by far the most common ship I fly is an Interdictor. Something I have been able to fly for the majority of my 10 years in Eve. They are just a ton of fun and there is nary a fleet in null sec that undocks without Dictors, so there is always a spot in fleet for another bubbler. Not even much concern for chasing doctrines, as long as they bubble, MWD and maybe cloak– no one cares how your bubble machine is fit. A buff to the class a few years ago made them a touch more survivable so they are less suicide machines than in the past. Fast paced manual piloting and quick thinking make them my favorite class of ship, regardless of what other, larger ships I can fly.

    December 27, 2020 at 6:13 AM
  • Marco Duradoni

    what a BS article LoL
    2000DPS vs my 138DPS
    im an alpha vs a possible 4 multy-character omega
    ill just mine some ore then change game
    EVE is a good game
    but tryhard pay to win

    June 7, 2021 at 3:14 PM