I started my main character, Neville Smit, in EVE Online on July 26, 2009 - well over five years ago. On Friday, September 26, 2014, Nev will surpass 100 million skill points, when he completes training for Jump Drive Calibration IV.
I remember when I first started playing EVE Online, when 100 million skill points seemed like an eternity away. I had pondered with some envy what it must be like to be able to do just about anything in the game with proficiency. Of course, I was new and naive then, and didn't really understand that skill points aren't the sole key to success in New Eden. Now I know that all they do is give you more options for both success and failure.
So, crossing the 100 million skill point mark is less of a big deal than I expected. It feels like seeing the odometer click over 100,000 miles on my car. Nothing really changes. The next mile is just as long as the one before it. The only difference is that I have gone a little further to my next destination.
Still, it is human nature to get a little nostalgic whenever we cross some arbitrary whole number that quantifies the passage of our lives. My 30th birthday seemed like an important milestone at the time, and caused me to reflect on where I'd been and where I seemed to be going - the same thing happened when I turned 50.
In EVE Online, we measure the aging of our characters with skill points instead of birthdays. Prompted by the round 100,000,000 number, I find myself thinking about the developmental route that Neville has taken in the game, and wondering if I might have done it better.
The Twisted Path to 100M
Here is a snapshot of Nev's skills, at a summary level:
As you can see, Nev has a lot of different skills, in many different disciplines. That is because Nev's career has changed course so many times, pursuing multiple types of goals, that he is now fairly well skilled for almost anything, but not yet ultimately trained in any one particular discipline.
Neville began as a simple miner, eager to earn ISK by lasing asteroids in his Navitas, which was the Gallente mining frigate at the time. Mining wasn't glamorous, but it was an honest way to earn funds, and there was some potential for growth. He trained for barges and exhumers, and eventually piloted a Hulk to gather ore and a Mackinaw to harvest ice. But I soon realized that Nev needed to get perfect refine status to maximize earnings from mining, so he trained refining skills (now called Resource Processing). But that wasn't enough - he also needed standings with certain corps to lower refining costs. And so, Nev became a mission-runner.
That forced Nev to start training spaceship command skills, core ship fitting skills, and also navigation, gunnery and drones skills. He worked his way up from Level 1 to Level 4 missions, training from frigates to cruisers to battlecruisers to battleships. He also trained Social skills, to make the rewards for missions more lucrative.
Neville soon became proficient at knocking down Level 4 missions in a Dominix, but I had my eye on the obviously superior Rattlesnake, and so began Nev's cross-training of Ship Command skills. And once I had my 'Snake in my hangar, I quickly realized I had to train Missile and Shield skills to make the most of that ship.
And so it has gone, throughout Neville's career - bouncing from one objective to the next, opening up option after option in EVE Online. I wish I could say I had a long-term plan, but that would be a gross exaggeration. At one point, I had sixteen different skill plans stored in EVEMon, waiting for the current queue to finish. I wanted to try everything, but that meant never focusing too long on any one thing.
Today, Neville Smit is a decent miner, refiner and mission-runner, to be sure, but he is also a capable explorer, tackler, sniper, EWAR support pilot, damage dealer, scout, logistics provider, hauler, trader, inventor and manufacturer. He is fairly good at most things, but not an ultimate expert in any one role. When the ISIS feature came out in the Rubicon expansion, I was somewhat disheartened to see that Neville scored a lot of level III mastery scores, a couple of level IVs, and nary even a single level V - but that paints a pretty accurate picture of Nev: capable of many tasks, but absolute master of none.
Along the way, I also started several alts to be specialized support characters, and they are each fun in their own ways. But Nev gives me a flexibility in EVE Online that the specialists can't. Perhaps someday Nev will become a master of one particular aspect of EVE Online, but for now, I'm happy to keep things loose, and let things unfold as they come, just as they have from the beginning.
As a result, Nev will continue to be my main man in New Eden. I wonder what he'll be doing when he crosses the 200 million skill point mark?
Fly safe! o7