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EVE Online: Illogical progression

Edited By  Jelana     06/07/2010

Players coming from other MMOs are at risk of bringing some fundamental preconceptions about MMO design with them that don't really apply to EVE. These basic misunderstandings in how the game works can be a source of frustration or confusion for people who genuinely want to get into EVE.

Something which is almost fundamental to modern MMO design is the idea of a level progression mechanic. Players expect to progress as they play, which can cause new players to despair when confronted with EVE's passive skill system. Skills train whether you're online or not, and you don't gain skill points from combat or any other activity. The skills required for basic ships and equipment will train quickly, but you'll soon find the skills you want can take days or weeks to train to a decent level. With effort decoupled from skill progression, players who are used to traditional MMO game design can feel demotivated, as if they aren't being rewarded for playing.

With its notoriously steep learning curve, EVE's progression isn't in the skill system itself but in a player's real experience with the game mechanics. What makes a player truly effective in EVE isn't the skills he trains while logged off but the real experience and skill he acquires while logged in and playing. No amount of waiting for skills to train can teach you how to fit out a battleship to tank level 4 missions, manipulate the market for a profit, get past gate camps or chain battleship spawns in nullsec. The outcome of PvP rarely hinges on the difference in trained skills of the individual players involved. Instead, it depends more on the size and composition of the fleets involved, the tactics employed and how well each side executed its chosen strategy.

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