Character progression

Skills, ISK, and Killmails. What are the metrics by which our characters are measured? In EVE, I am my own hero and embark on a journey. My character grows in power…

A few days ago I picked up an idea in a conversation that I’d like to expand on a bit here. As always, with this type of blog post: You’re welcome to wander with my thoughts, or just don’t and use the “To Read More” selection on the right.
The conversation wasn’t actually about EVE Online at all but about another MMORPG.
“You can play on our server! Leveling is super fast anyway if you have the EP bonus.” This statement got me thinking a bit. I compared the whole thing to EVE and was startled to realize that we’ve long since reached that point in New Eden, too. That I have arrived at this point – against all my beliefs.

For me, character development has always been a part of the journey. Back in the days of Learning Skills, I’m sure things weren’t better than they used to be – but they were slower. You had enough time to not only get to know your character and their slowly growing skills. Along the way, you got to know other players and could try out how the different ship sizes, weapons and utilities worked.
I had adventures with my character, most of which are thankfully recorded in this blog. I’ve experienced wars and roams, and every now and then I’ve redecorated my character a bit. But all my memories in EVE are tied to this one character. With Jezaja. With him I “grew up” and spent more than 10 years of my life.
There was a feeling of progress when you not only had enough standing for the next higher missions, but also could take a seat in the next higher ship class. I almost want to say there is an emotional attachment to this char. I get endlessly upset when I get taken out of the pod (again), or I get insulted in the local: Me! A mayor general of the Federation Navy!
But all of that is honestly only relevant to me. Sure, there are people out there in the who ask me for my opinion and whose respect and reputation I have gained over the years as a player. For me it’s all linked through my character, many people know me simply as ‘Jezaja’ and address me that way in teamspeak or public events. My main character has grown with me and I with him.

Today, it’s not like that anymore. With free skill points and skill injectors now being thrown at us, this character progression has broken down. Far too quickly, players have access to a class of ships that are almost “overpowered” for the missions they fly – that just don’t make those missions interesting anymore. And far too arbitrary have the new characters become, which are just lifted out of the baptism, because the goal is reached there quite quickly. A ganking character for a fun Sunday afternoon? A farming char for faction warfare? A trader in Hek? All of this can now be accomplished with so little effort that you almost have to worry about who is actually playing whom. Are we still playing the game? Or is New Eden, with its myriad options, now a no-brainer in which we are only needed as puppeteers to maintain the grand simulation of a universe?

At the moment I am writing this blog post, I have a trading char sitting in each of the four trading ports. I’m startled to realize, however, that I can only come up with two names off the top of my head. That’s how foreign these characters are to me, whose buy and sell orders I adjust once every 14 days and who generate a nice side income. They are tools, nothing more or less. My only interest in these chars is the amount of ISK they generate so that Jezaja has enough ISK in her account to have the adventures I report on in this blog.

Fly safe
Jezaja

2 thoughts on “Character progression”

  1. Pingback: Die Qual der Wahl – keep the star

  2. I know what you speak of.
    But we have created this “problem” ourselves by trying to optimize ourselves.

    The easiest way to “fix” this, is to just not do it. Don’t go the “most optimal way”. Just start walking towards the direction one wants to go and see what unforeseen turns the path might take.
    Deoptimization.
    Put the uncertain, the potential for surprise, and unexpected outcomes back in the bag.

    This feeling may be why the “DIY” project of erstschlag is so popular among some people – I included.

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