Clone Upgrade Bills: A Painful Throwback

(Editor's Note:This submission comes to us from Marlona Sky, and speaks to an issue close to our hearts: the sheer silliness of escalating clone costs with character age, which unquestionably disincentivizes PvP in a PvP game. We do not agree with Marlona's argument that insurance should also be removed, but we print it anyway in the interests of promoting discussion.)

And so you were podded. Ship destroyed, modules looted by those who just crushed you and your implants are vaporized. Now it is time to pay for being a loyal customer. The longer you have played, the more you pay. This is how I view the clone upgrade cost. Perhaps this slap to the face for playing the game so long is that 'cold and dark universe' CCP was talking about. Oh, here is a check from the insurance company for taking my ship into combat. Gives a nice warm and fuzzy feeling. I wonder how The Secure Commerce Commission could still be in business if the total of the premiums is far less than what they pay out. Bizarre indeed.

Time to eliminate both.

I'm going to cover three major impacts such a change would have - economical, psychological and game play. All three affect each other.


The Economic Impact

So why the upgrade cost to begin with? Aside from the obvious ISK sink factor, the most common reason I see players proclaim is the "hardcore" factor. It reminds players they are playing game based in a cold and dark universe. That there are consequences for your actions. This is not WoW or some other, where you go “Oh I died. Let me go get my gear and everything is wonderful again. Oh look a field of daises to frolic in.” Anyone that has played past the trial period realizes this game is not for the faint of heart. Hopefully, they have come to realize that losing a ship represents real investment and real time. I hardly think adding an additional slap to the face for the sake of it is necessary to remind them this game is hardcore. Aside from the sky rocketing cost, it becomes an additional task to do after you die and before you can rejoin a fight. Mandatory extra mouse clicks. Gross.

Some argue, "With age, comes wealth." This is simply untrue. In fact one can make a fortune in their first days through scamming and other such ventures such as a lucky drop from an exploration site. Some random wreck left to the void from a recent battle, you just happened to pass by and find some expensive module. Not every player is devoting tons of time to the game becoming a second job. Many players boil down to weekend warriors, only having a few hours a week to play, even after years and years of subscribing.

Without further delay, on to the removal of ship insurance. Completely. Not only is insurance on something that is flown into combat absurd, it injects ISK into an already bloating economy. Granted, insuring a ship is an initial ISK sink, but the payout is far more. How many times have you insured a ship and near the end you feel compelled to take it out on a drunk roam so it will die gloriously, all so the insurance will not expire in vain? It's stupid and pointless, and if we get rid of it we can remove one more faucet and do that much more to combat ISK inflation.


The Psychological Impact

Players who want to fly small and fragile ships are constantly punished due to the ship's low survivability. If a fleet needs interceptors for tackle, critical interdictors, even T1 frigates and cruisers, older players shy away from such roles due to the low survivability. Players should not be dissuaded from flying a ship or filling a role all due to how long they have been playing the game. Some have argued a player can always stop training a character before they hit a clone upgrade cost they feel is out of their budget and start-up another character. So this is the choice? More alts? What kind of message does that send? So now you are training another character who will spend a vast amount of time and skill points retraining core skills your first character already has trained. That is simply poor game design and the players should not be subjected to find workarounds that at best are still terrible.

With the shackles of clone upgrades gone, players will find themselves flying a larger variety of ships and flying them more often. Even more encouraging is pilots who have shied away from combat their whole career as a capsuleer. Currently if they want to give it a go, it comes at a heavy price tag. We all know that PvP and PvE are vastly different in terms of tactics, ship selection and setups. As an older player trying to make the switch, they will suffer sever setbacks and have a higher chance to give up on PvP fast. There are so many people shouting at high sec players for avoiding combat with other players, the older they get, the more likely they will continue to avoid it more. This change will remove the ever thickening wall and open a door, a door for them to become more involved in the more explosive and adrenaline pumping part of the game some of us already enjoy.


The Gameplay Impact

By now you have noticed all three topics have overlapped a bit and hopefully you understand the butterfly effect here. This change may not introduce brand new game play, but will help highlight and promote smaller fleet action more often. There might be a few of you who will proclaim that such changes would greatly benefit older players while the younger ones would barely notice. Here is why they are wrong.

An older player, encouraged to ship down and fly a small frigate, is using only a very small portion of his skillpoints. After all, how many skill points you have in battleship or HAC related skills are completely irreverent if you are in a frigate? If you look at the younger player in a frigate, the disparity in skill points between the vet and them is much smaller than it might be if they were in larger ships, something that may shrug the frigate off or tank long enough for friends to bail out the vet. The odds have increased for the younger player to win the fight.

Some might argue here that the removal of insurance would work against the removal of clone costs and dissuade pilots, especially smaller ones, from PvPing. That before long, they'd only be able to afford an Ibis. I disagree - a central tenant of PvP in EVE is to "fly only what you can afford to lose." Conveniently, frigates, even to a young player, are very affordable.

“And what about suicide podding to go anywhere?”

One thing the current clone cost measures do is prevent (or at least limit) suicide podding to bounce all over the game. If CCP is concerned with this, they've got a bunch of creative developers, and I'm sure they could find a way to mitigate it. On the other hand, implants and hardwirings still certainly exist, so perhaps the loss of ability to use those would be penalty enough. What's important is that players would no longer be penalized for how long they've played the game, hopefully encouraging more pilots to take the plunge and get into PvP.

I have been exploding internet spaceships since 2005. While I do love me a good large scale fight, I thoroughly enjoy small scale PvP as well.