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This is a first in a series where I explore potential good ideas that other games have introduced into the MMO gaming world.  I will try to make this a regular column.. but ya know.. there are only SO many truly new things that come out any more, and I really don’t want to muscle in posts like Rixx Javix’s “Gooder Eve” ideas either.

In the Beginning

So, back to this post.  One of the oldest additions to the gaming world was the concept of a “pet” class.  Essentially this class was inheritly weak and had another NPC character who assisted them.  In the meantime they were given abilities to help improve the NPC character.  These archtypes tended to be a lot of fun but often were built to the extremes.  Either they were way overpowered or they were way underpowered.  In addition, since by their needs and nature they were highly independent, this usually meant that they didn’t balance well in groups.

The developers at Bioware decided to change that paradigm by essentially making everyone a “pet” class with “companions”.  In SWTOR, you can have multiple companions and each usually have some skills and you can send them off to do minor missions or craft stuff for you or they can hunt with you.  However, the bonus is that no matter who comes with you, you all level about the same time and by in large are pretty autonomous and know what skills they want to train, etc., etc.

All in all, SWTOR’s companions are about as non-Eve as you can get.  In fact, the very mentality of their existance is something counter to many players in Eve (well, except for Drones).  You don’t control what they learn, you control little of their tactics, and yet you could not get very far without them.

So.. even thinking about having a “pet” like that in Eve is unthinkable.. right?

Re-thinking the Unthinkable

Not unless it was a veteran reward.. and before you scream about how it would be “overpowered”, let me tell you about the other half of this issue.. player “alts”:

When you first log into Eve Online as a new player, you see that you have the option of making a total of three characters for your account.  Initially, as a new player, you are going to think that hey, I can level up three different players.  It doesn’t take long however to show that really, there is almost no true benefit to those other two characters.  Sure, some might spare the time to use them as neutral spies, or as cyno alts.  But with the timed skill system, any skill you need usually is best applied to your first character.. the one that already has plenty of support skills to help maximize any additional benefit.

Suppose you are still new and you think, “Ya know, I’ll train up a new character as soon as I get done training this one to where I want it.”  Pretty typical thinking.. but to learn all the skills in Eve would take about.. 10 years from what I understand.  Do you really want to wait 10 years to go focus on another character?

Another example is one that I am currently facing.  I can fly all four racial Tech 2 cruisers and Battlecruisers, I have tons of Level 5 skills, and am pushing 80mil SP.  But, with ship configurations changing rapidly, challenges to my game time, and differences in procuring isk, I find I don’t need all those skillpoints in one character now, like I did a year ago.

So, stealing a bit of the idea of having companions, why not let your other characters on your account earn some skill training time too?  Here is what I propose:

Minions – Or Changing Training Times to Better Everyone

Basically, what would happen is that after one year, your training speed would be increased by 50%, AND divided into three percentage parts of 33% training speed each.  You can arrange the parts to whoever you want, but you cannot go over two parts (or 66%) on any one character.  So, you could either train one character at the current level of training and one additional character at half speed, or you could train all of them at effectively half speed.. but each one could be focusing on a particular area of expertise. 

For Example, suppose you are currently training at say 1000 SP per hour and you have three characters, this is what your arrangement would look like:

Old (and Current) System:

Bob (PVP Pilot) – 1000 SP/hr
Daryl (Industrial alt attempt) – 0 SP/hr – Never gets used or used only sporatically and makes no isk.  No benefit to the player.
Daryl #2 (Cyno Alt) – 0 SP/hr – Used only sporatically, makes no isk.  Only minor benefit to the player.

New Veterans System:

Pre-One Year:

Bob (PVP Pilot) – 1000 SP/hr
Daryl (Industrial alt attempt) – 0 SP/hr – Never gets used or used only sporatically and makes no isk.  No benefit to the player.
Daryl #2 (Cyno Alt) – 0 SP/hr – Used only sporatically, makes no isk.  Only minor benefit to the player.

After One Year:

Bob (PVP Pilot) – 1000 SP/hr training up yet another Level 5 skill.
Daryl (Industrial alt attempt) – 500 SP/hr – Slowly training up Mining (or Trading, PI, etc), something he can do either solo or with a small group while he’s at home watching the kids.
Daryl #2 (Cyno Alt) – 0 SP/hr – Used only sporatically, makes no isk.  Only minor benefit to the player.

– or –

Bob (PVP Pilot) – 500 SP/hr – Already has a ton of SP, but just would like to round out a couple level 5s
Daryl (Industrial alt attempt) – 500 SP/hr – Training up Mining because he wants to try to be an industrail.
Daryl #2 (Cyno Alt) – 500 SP/hr – Originally a Cyno alt, now he is training this guy up for Black Ops operations.

The big bonus here is that this change would reward older pilots without giving a skillpoint advantage over newer pilots, thus no one can say anyone is getting a distinct character to character advantage over others.  In addition, this is a nice way to retain players who are perhaps bored of doing a particular task.. but would have to spend six months to a year learning something new, while at the same time getting pressured to train other skills for their corp or alliance.

Your new “minion” alt could be essentially training himself in skills that would be beneficial to your main, without getting in the way of the training your heavy hitter needs to do.  Wouldn’t everyone like a minion like that?

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