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Published August 30, 2012

Learning implants have been a fixture in EVE since the release of the game. Known in-game as “attribute enhancers,” they are purchased and plugged in by a player in order to enhance the speed of skill training. While attributes encourage specialization - a good thing - implants only discourage gameplay. They are superfluous in a game where specializing in a certain ship for a certain role takes months on its own.

Essentially, learning implants are a relic. When learning skills existed, learning implants allowed players to increase those attributes in order to train skills faster. The elimination of that skill group was long overdue - eliminating learning implants should be the logical next step. While many players would oppose such a change because they want every bit of superficial complexity in the game - perhaps due to some need for meaning which demands they pat themselves on the back for playing a spreadsheet game they deem "complex" - it only makes sense that they should be eliminated and replaced by more combat hardwirings.

Some players may have a jump clone with +5 learning implants in an NPC station where skillbooks are sold through NPC sell orders. However, jump clones are largely inaccessible to players who do not have the faction standings required for them, are not in a corporation with the necessary standings, or lack an office in a conquerable station. While it is possible to join corporations that exist for the express purpose of giving players access to jump clones, such a task is largely onerous solely for the sake of keeping an implanted clone “safe.”

One could argue that jump clones should be made more accessible, perhaps with reduced timers. However, this would open a can of worms: allowing the strategic placement of jump clones which would enable an alliance to run multiple campaigns at once while being able to respond more quickly to attacks on allies. While the jump clone timer should be slightly reduced to prevent schedule creep, it should not be reduced so much that the commitment aspect of clone jumping is removed. Making jump clones more accessible would be a step in the right direction, but it only addresses a symptom of the greater problem.

Newbies are generally encouraged to buy sets of +3 implants to speed up their skill training. Without a support network of older players, even the paltry cost of such a set is substantial to the new player who is surprised when his wallet reaches nine digits after mining or running missions for weeks on end. This “expensive” set of implants contributes to a risk-averse attitude where the new player is afraid of ever leaving the supposed safety of highsec and finds himself leaving the game when this presumption of safety turns out to be untrue. While losses should matter, learning implants are only a superficial loss that ultimately contribute nothing to gameplay.

Empire players tend to have a huge advantage in this regard - they can do virtually everything with a full +5s and hardwirings since pods can warp out almost instantly in the event that they lose a ship, and NPCs never shoot pods in any case. Players in nullsec generally find themselves with implants that speed up the skills they may be training at that time and inexpensive hardwirings, simply because losing a pod is nearly inevitable after losing a ship when bubbled.

For these reasons, learning implants should be eliminated from the game.  This would simultaneously constitute one of the most significant improvements to the new player experience, and a necessary step towards removing outdated and unnecessary cruft from the game. While it would also constitute the removal of a significant “isk sink,” as they are sourced from LP stores, that alone does not justify staying in the game. 

Andski
I write and proofread for TM.com. My focus is largely on EVE's new player experience and nullsec-related topics. If you wish to contact me, my Twitter account is @EVEAndski.