Horizontal Progression

EVE Online is a PvP game where you can never catch up to players who started earlier. Skill points are time-based, the older characters have their attributes and learning skills maxed, and someone starting today will always be millions and millions of points behind veteran players. How do you avoid bleeding newer players under these conditions?

First, it is a big universe. Who has the time or interest to go swat newbies? The most powerful players are effectively dragons, out there in the reaches of 0.0 space, waiting for dragonslayers or fools loaded with coin. Or perhaps they are corporate managers, working safely in corporate space, more likely to exploit your labor than destroy your ship.

Second, even if you are in direct conflict, only so much force can be brought to bear. All those points in Caldari ships only matter if you are flying a Caldari ship. Those millions of points for flying your Iteron V (a hauling ship) do not do you much good in combat, nor do your trading or research skills. Furthermore, each skill has five ranks, further limiting the force available. Each rank of a skill may be worth the same bonus, even as each successive rank costs many times what the previous rank did.

You can be 100 million points behind but only 5% down in this particular combat. As long as you have the relevant skills maxed, you are on equal footing. Sure, he is equally good at flying a dozen different ships, but he can only fly one at a time. Of course, all his mining and production skills let him build ships faster than you can destroy them, but that’s his reward for having spent $500 more than you on the game.

: Zubon

12 thoughts on “Horizontal Progression”

  1. Good post Zubon.

    The one feature that I think is missing that would really shake up the game is a frigate class ship pilotable by relative newbies that can take out capital ships (probably not solo but in a fleet). A kind of torpedo boat of space.

    The announcements about the dominion expansion do mention a bomber fighter designed for killing Capital ships but it isn’t clear if this is a pilot-able frigate or just another carrier drone. If the former I think it would be great.

    1. Hmm… what about pushing that idea even further, making cheap kamikaze capital killers? Little more than riding the torpedo itself? Make them easy to get a hold of and pilot, but using them means blowing yourself up. Would newbies take that chance to contribute to the team? (Or would it be abused by the richer players with clones to spare?)

  2. @Jezebeau, that’s sort of true – all things being equal, but the flip side is that their losses should they lose are likely well over 10x yours.

    As a pirate, I fly alot of t2 ships: they’re generally faster, more maneuverable and more versatile, which is key for what I do. What they aren’t is tougher or cost effective. When I’m picking what to fly for a real fight, t1 is the way to go and not just because its much cheaper. While my 120million isk t2 cruiser is great for roaming about, not even those with brute force designs will go toe to toe with a decent, 10million isk battlecruiser; let alone a 20million isk battleship*.

    Of course, a t2 battleship will simply outclass a t1 version by a fair margin – but as you move up ship classes, cost effectiveness flies out the window. At 1.2BILLION per ship, t2 battleships aren’t too often seen for pvp – and often are brought down first (since bringing one down often means that, win or lose, you’ve done much more damage to your opponent).

    *t1 ships are insured, which makes their actual cost to lose much, much less than their apparent cost. For example, a t2 BS which costs 120million would have a payout covering 100million. t2 ships are not insured at a reasonable level, and a t2 ship costing 120million might pay out 5million.

  3. @ Dan
    Battlecruisers are a great ship class and one of my favorites but when you talk about BC vs a HAC you have to remember that a HAC has the ability to dictate range in the engagement. Snipe HACs are one of the most popular fleet types out there these days and for good reason. They can get in, lay down a serious hurt and get out with relative ease if things go south. This is a tactic that BCs simply can’t pull off with anywhere near the effectiveness. I get the feeling though that you are thinking of lowsec combat and in that case I do have to agree with you simply because a BC can tank gate guns more effectively but for 0.0 combat the HAC is a much better option.

    T1 hulls are far more efficient from an Isk sense but keep in mind that most PVP corps offer an internal insurance or ship replacement program which often balances things out at least partially. Plus T2 ships have greater survivability so you will likely lose them less often.

    @MBP The bomber fighters they mentioned in the dominion blog would be non-pilotable. They are an anti-capital weapon used by carriers and motherships similar to the fighters currently used by such capital ships.

    The mini torpedo boat you are asking for is the stealth bomber. They aren’t really usable for anti-capital deployment but they are the high DPS frigate platform you are looking for. Packs of these can take out a small POS or a battleship with relative ease. They also can warp cloaked when used with the covops cloak which gives them some great tactical use.

    @ Jez I think you have a pretty dramatic oversimplification there. +30% to what?
    +30% to range? Doesn’t matter if they are in a BC or BS and you are whipping around them in a fast frigate at point blank range.
    +30% to maximum speed? Doesn’t matter if you or one of your gang mates has them scrammed; disabling their MWD.

    In eve there are always counters. It’s just your obligation to find them and use them. T1, T2 or even T3 ships, doesn’t matter if you understand and react properly to the combat situation.

    @ Zubon Thanks for the article. I hate hearing the complaint about older players being invincible in EvE. It’s a complaint I only ever hear from people who simply don’t understand the game. The fact is that EvE does a better job of addressing this issue than the vast majority of MMOs.

  4. EVE seems very well balanced and their bonus to training times for new players is very clever. I like the way how playing EVE longer just gives your more opportunities rather than, necessarily speaking, more power.

  5. My 150K skill point alt tackled and held a Tempest class Battleship for my corp-mates to destroy on Monday. I was alone against that thing for approx ten seconds waiting for them to warp to me and got killed just as the Tempest went down.

    So I’d say there’s plenty of scope for new characters to have fun, it’s all about who you fly with anyway.

  6. Oh one other point – it is possible for new players to purchase high skill point characters with Isk. This is sanctioned by CCP and there’s a forum board for it:


    Clearly you’ll need to hit the economic game with both feet running to do this. I estimate if I’d only worried about the economic game I could have got the 4-5 billion isk necessary for a 20 million skill point character in about 6 months.

  7. “Who has the time or interest to go swat newbies?”

    Whoever it was that basically ruined the game for me. They (not sure if it was the same person or what) where the ones who sat just in range near the gates and one or two shotted me as i approached the gates. This isn’t in some risky zone either, it was right near the starter zones. Five times, in one week. As much as i want a space mmo, i will never touch or recommend what i felt and saw as a gank fest.

    1. Yes, when I tried eve I had no trouble finding people who were interested in swatting newbs. Free trial tried… and dropped.

    2. Lol.. solution is simple: stay in high security space. The fact that you kept jumping into a low security system which was frequently camped doesn’t make the game a gank fest – it means you fail.

  8. i enjoyed this read and enjoyed the posts even more. i think the one thing that was missed is not the quality of the ship or the skills one has in that area, but the experience/knowledge they have of the game and how to use them to their advantage.

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