The big flavour-of-the-month topic is new players and how to avoid them trying the game for a few weeks then giving up because it seems boring. This is a problem and is backed up by CCP’s own stats for the simple reason that the game is boring, EVE played alone with the slim content that the game provides is very limited and only gets interesting when you engage with other players; whether that be the traditional route of an overloaded rack of blasters or more subtle means such as markets, spying, and various collaborative efforts like mining. The stats bear this out, you are much more likely to stay on in the game if you find a corp to teach you all this stuff because quite frankly only a twisted savant could learn this game without help.
The various proposals on the table at the moment include increasing starting SP, removing attributes, and accelerated learning for newer players.
The first of those I think there is a solid case for, as a newb you are always trying to balance training those irritating core skills with getting a shiny new ship or T2 guns for it and for the first year or so you end up chasing your tail skills wise, if you haven’t made any enormous mistakes it levels out a bit after that and by 20M SP or so you should be able to fly a decent selection of ships well. This is not an insignificant period of time however and when you are new you don’t listen to the experienced guys saying “just get your frigate skills up” because you are convinced that HACs are the key to success.
Perhaps the extra SP needs to be unlocked somehow through the tutorials because I know if I were starting off now with a pile of free SP I would spam it all into something unsuitable and probably waste half of it. The old system had specialisation, you would pick a bit of history for your character and this would affect his skills, bringing back aspects of that but putting it into the tutorials so you could specialise into combat or mining or whatever might be worthwhile.
Removing attributes is a thorny one, CCP have said they are interested in this but the LP markets for implants are well established and many people depend on them for income, there is also a great deal of ISK tied up in these items so taking them out of the game would have far reaching consequences.
I don’t think that making all attributes equal is a forward step since you can do that already by allocating your points evenly amongst your stats so there would need to be a completely new system and something to go into the 1 to 5 slots in your head – perhaps some implants along the lines of the genolution sets which affect ship stats rather than learning?
Accelerated learning for new players already exists in the form of an implant which lasts (I think) one month and boosts your stats greatly for that duration, making more of these available through tutorials could be an option but another is giving more respecs to younger characters.
In the first few months your training will bounce around all over the place and the ability to respec once a month for instance would help a lot – of course this depends on grasping the concept of attributes and planning your skills a bit but this rewards those who have taken the time to learn rather than spoonfeeding the SP, this is EVE after all – we don’t want it to be too easy. The frequency of respecs could decrease over time and remain at one year for all the bittervets who don’t know what to train anyway.
Last of all and possibly most importantly, this game has always been driven by the players. Quit whining about what CCP can do to help newbs and leverage the most effective force in the game – the players.
If I come across a clueless newb in lowsec I will normally scram him and ask for a ransom, not ISK because he has none but a song, joke or haiku. This will often be the first time he has interacted with another player and it goes one of two ways. The most common response is “sod off” optionally followed by some threats of what the player will do to me, my mother, or my property. These guys get podded back to highsec and learn nothing.
Those that engage, find it cool and interesting when some dude appears out of nowhere and tackles them then demands they sing their national anthem on comms get loads of free advice, often ISK and of course fly their ship away in one piece. I have a watchlist of people that I have helped out and convo them occasionally to see how they are doing and stop doing so when they have joined a decent player corp – at that point hopefully someone else will be looking after them. Very occasionally if I meet a super keen guy, I’ll take him under my wing for a few hours and teach him slingshotting, dscan, and a few other tricks to help keep him in one piece.
Of course for every one player who is prepared to do this there are 99 who would prefer to explode or scam the poor guy but even if one percent of the active players did this once in a while we would definitely see the difference in the game.
In conclusion then, CCP have their part to play but every single player can arguably make more of a difference simply by giving a leg up to a random newbie every once in a while. Try it, you’ll make someone’s day.