Daily Duty

I am fortunate that when I'm not traveling somewhere to meet a client, I work in my home office. I love the days I work at home, because my commute time is about 30 seconds and the gourmet coffee is always excellent.

Working at home does have a downside, however. I am ashamed to admit that I rarely wash up and shave on those days, as it is just too easy to roll out of bed with hair askew, start the coffee machine, fire up the work laptop, and get productive. It's not like anyone other than my charming bride is going to see me that day - and believe me, she's seen me at my worst.

But if I have three or four such days in a row, it's not a good thing. When you start to offend yourself due to lack of personal hygiene, and the wife starts fussing at you, it's time to pull together some self respect and hop into the shower. And each time, I say to myself, "I really should do this every day."

EVE Daily Hygiene

When CCP Rise announced that 10,000 skill points (SP) will be awarded to each character that undocks and kills at least one non-player character (NPC) ship, once every 22 hours, my first reaction was: "Well, that's probably something I should take advantage of."

I'm not sure I really will, though. It's like working-at-home days - I know I need to have a regular morning grooming routine, but I always seem to be distracted by the siren song of the coffee machine and the lure of the laptop. When daily SP rewards start, I will likely tell myself that I should take a couple of minutes each day to get it, but I doubt I'll actually do it regularly.

I'm sure I'll feel guilty about it, though. Gee, thanks, CCP Games - I certainly need more guilt in my life.

Great for the Newbros

CCP Rise provided more context about the intent of this daily reward opportunity. He says, "This is not a new player targeted feature. We hope it's good for new players as well but for the feature to be successful it needs to be relevant to everyone."

I don't think CCP Rise has thought this through. As Drackarn correctly points out on his blog, 10K SP is equivalent to about four hours of training, so by pursuing this reward, you basically are getting 26 hours of training for 22 hours of elapsed time. For a new player with 5M SP, that works out to be an extra 1 percent of SP generated every five days, more or less, so it's worth the very minor extra effort. But for a character like Neville, who has over 125M SP, that only means about a 0.04 percent incremental bonus. Clearly, the math favors the newbros.

And I think that is just fine, even if CCP Rise is wrong about it. Encouraging new players to log in and undock each day is a good thing. It will help them develop engagement in EVE Online as a regular habit, and that can only help to increase the subscription rates over time.

SP Inflation vs. Longer Engagement

I am a bit concerned about the continued devaluation of skill points in EVE Online, however. First, we got skill injectors, which allow new players to instantly create highly skilled characters for real money (that is, by purchasing and then selling PLEX in game). My initial worries about this have abated somewhat, as I've also seen the positive aspects of this in practice - specifically, the opportunity to give new players more options to fly different ship doctrines faster, and thus engage in more fleet operations. The number of extreme abuses of skill injectors have been much lower than I thought they would be - this is a good thing.

But now, we will have a daily SP reward for what essentially is doing almost nothing at all. If you live in a quiet high-sec system, you really only have to undock, fly to a local anomaly, kill an NPC frigate, and dock back up. The chances of actually interacting with another player and the risks of pursuing the award are both practically nil.

And now, because of skill injectors, we have some players actively "farming" skill points to sell on the market. I've little doubt that SP farmers will set their alarms to run their characters out to kill an NPC each and every 22 hours, so they can earn their nearly free SP bonuses.

When you give something away for free, with little to no risk or cost, the value of that something always goes down.

If we are going to have daily rewards, I would rather have one that requires longer engagement and is more scalable - easy to get at the low end, but incrementally more difficult at the higher end, with a daily cap. For example, pay 1,000 SP for each NPC frigate or destroyer, 2,000 for each NPC cruiser or battlecruiser, and 3,000 for an NPC battleship, up to a maximum of 10K SP per day. Then the newbros would have to stay out a bit longer - at least in a level 2 mission or two. Meanwhile, the oldbros can pop a few ratting battleships, and get a commensurate SP reward.

Even so, such a modest daily reward probably won't make veterans undock as often as a novice player, but every little incentive helps.

Bring on the Tribute!

CCP Rise also mentioned that "This feature has no relationship with the 'Tribute' system that was described last year at EVE Vegas. That feature has actually gone down a path more focused on goal setting and long term engagement than daily activity and so the daily part was broken off."

This is good news, I think - it sounds like the Tribute system will reward players for deeper involvement in the game. Personally, I hope it means interacting with smarter and more interesting NPC characters who assign more challenging series of missions and tasks. I wrote about the value of more evolved NPC interactions recently on Crossing Zebras - perhaps the Tribute system will be a step in this direction. If so, I welcome it enthusiastically.

Some people object to daily SP bonuses, saying they are too much like similar rewards in other MMO games, like "World of Warcraft" (WoW). They say that this "isn't EVE".

CCP RIse reacted to these concerns, saying "It's pretty absurd to think that any feature that can be found in a traditional MMO appearing in EVE means we are headed down the road to battlegrounds and dragon killing. If you look at [the] Citadel feature list, you should not have any concerns about our commitment to the EVE sandbox and the hardcore nature of our game."

If we discover that the Tribute system involves NPC-dispensed special missions and tasks, I guarantee that some players will dislike it, too, because it will remind them of some quests found in other MMOs like WoW.

But if daily rewards and Tributes encourage more players to undock and engage in space for longer periods of time, that will almost certainly be good for EVE Online, as a whole.

Making Daily Duty a Habit

I honestly have not made up my mind about daily rewards in EVE Online. I think they could be a good idea, but I think they need some tweaking to have the desired effect that CCP Rise intends.

I'm hopefully optimistic about the Tribute system, though. If that means more interesting interactions with NPCs in the game, I can't wait to try it.

For now, I will just stick a yellow Post-It note on my monitor, with two reminders:

  1. Kill an NPC.
  2. Take a shower.

My wife will the thrilled, I am sure.

Fly safe! o7