Wednesday, July 29, 2015

BB65: Are Attributes Worthless?

I’ve been reading a few of the blog banters regarding attributes in EVE, and the general consensus seems to be going in the direction that attributes are more or less worthless gameplay. One post I read claimed that they were left over game mechanics from back when we had learning skills. And several others rather frankly said they should be entirely removed from the game.

I have mixed feelings about the topic, to be honest. On the one hand, ‘meh.’ And on the other…maybe they’re more important and more indicative of things then we give them credit for. And maybe the problem with them isn’t just that ‘they exist.’

All skills generally have a primary and secondary attribute associated with them. The higher these attributes are, the faster that skill will train.

In addition to this, certain groupings of skills generally have similar attribute correlations. For example, many Gunnry skills will have Perception and Willpower as the primary/secondary. 

So, in many ways, attributes represent a sort of general way of encouraging people to specialization their characters.  If you commit toward a specific track of training, you can be rewarded by having those skills trained faster.

I think the first question, and perhaps the main problem with attributes, is whether they really ‘specialize’ in a way that makes sense with the current community and the current state of the game.

If all you want to do is train Gunnery for a year, then your choice of attributes is easy –Perception and Willpower. However, people won’t specialize in Gunnery alone. Guns are useless without ships. And ships need defenses, and drones, and some amount of electronics, among many other things. However, as you start factoring in all these things for how you want to train, it becomes more complex to figure out your attribute layout. Furthermore, your attributes are spread out more, in a way that would indicate that you’re actually specializing less.

So, it’s fairly counter intuitive. And I think that part of the problem is that the attributes are designed for a type of specialization that the players don’t really do. Therefore, they’ve come to be thought of as a rather arbitrary, useless mechanic.

However, what if that wasn’t the case? What if you could maximize skill training along a skill track that actually made sense to you?

For example, what if you could specialize in “Small Caldari Warfare” where you would maximum train typical things required by smaller Caldari ships. Such as light missiles, shields, Caldari Spaceships command, ECM and etc?

On the flip side, the whole topic raises the question about whether such black and white specialization is good for the game to begin with?

I’ve often wondered what EVE would be like if there was less of a line drawn in the sand. If being a ‘pvper’ vs an ‘industrialist’ was less black and white. 

Would there be less alts? Would people be less inclined to create a ‘trade’ alt and a ‘mining’ alt or a ‘leadership alt’? Would that be good or bad?

In other games, I typically don’t create different characters to do completely separate things in the same way. The character I do combat with also, typically, crafts and gathers resources and etc. And, I haven’t decided yet if EVE’s completely different mentality is a good thing, or a flaw.

However, again, on the flip side, what would no specialization look like? What if we did remove attributes and had a more even playing field where everyone trained everything at exactly the same rate? They could still specialize in things based on their skill choices, but they could flip flop as much as they wanted to without penalty.

Would that be a good thing? I don’t know. What about risk vs reward –something that is foundational in how EVE was designed? Should there be risk vs. reward in skill training? Should the willingness to commit to a specialization give some sort of reward in the form of higher efficiency?

Maybe it’s a bit more complicated a topic then people are considering it to be. Or, maybe I'm over analysing things.

For now, I think I’m going to revert to my initial opinion of ‘meh.’ And go back to my evil pirate schemes.

1 comment:

  1. There was a time when things were more open and les min-max. Remember gun mining in Drone space? Kill drones, salvage them refinables which gave you minerals ... a lot more fun that targeting a rock. Remember mining in Battleships in lowsec? Rokh was king in most situations. To a new player these are really stupid ways to play the game as the reason these things were happening has long since changed. Like so many things CCP has changed in the game: having to find anoms before scanning them down, skillpoint loss at death if your clone was not updated, insurance payouts, tags for sec status ... the list goes on. When is something obsolete and when does it provide depth ... I cant answer that question, but it does seem like we are losing depth and moving more to one-size-fits-all