About a week ago Syncaine made a blog post countering the often heard complaint that Newbies can never catch up with older players in EVE: "Stop Bitching about Skill Points Newbtards"
I might lack Syncaine's colourful turn of phrase but I can empathise with a lot of what he says. EVE's skill based system is more generous to new players than level level based regimes such as used in World of Warcraft. I myself have just spent a very enjoyable week playing a brand new out of the box 800k skill point character. I didn't invest any time in training because no training was required for what I wanted to do.
Syncaine's post got me thinking and on reflection I think that there really is a problem here. EVE is a game that has proven itself to have longevity. It has held on to older players and it is still attracting new players 5 years after launch. Couple that to the single server model and you have a problem of top heaviness in the game.
If the game is continue to prosper and grow I believe it needs to have renewal. It needs fresh faced young players joining today who aspire to becoming the biggest and baddest X, Y, Z or W in the game. At the moment those would be tycoons and tyrants face a glass ceiling. The ever deepening skill point debt is one component of that glass ceiling. The ever accumulating wealth of long established players is another perhaps eve more significant component.
In the real world renewal is achieved through the death or retirement of those at the top. EVE characters don't die and they don't retire. Players do get bored and move on but there are still plenty of old timers around to put a glass ceiling on top of the ambitions of any fresh faced young noob.
Enforced player retirement or death is not a palatable option but I really do think that this issue needs to be addressed if EVE hopes to keep growing for another five years. I think that an ambitious new player joining the game should have a shot at reaching the very top within a finite period of time no matter how late they are coming to the game.
How to achieve this? Well the skill point system could probably be easily tweaked. Perhaps offer accelerated learning for newer players. Perhaps throttle any developments at the high end of the skill point queue. Perhaps introduce new technology innovations (tech 3 ?) which act as alternatives to existing equipment and skills. Just don't make existing skills a pre-requisite to use the new stuff as was done for tech 2.
I don't really know what can be done about the wealth gap. Inflation / Wealth Tax / Item Depreciation? None of these options would be popular.
Aside: I haven't mentioned the fact that it is possible, even today for a new player to "buy" a ready made character and even buy "ISK" on the rmt market. That is not an acceptable solution to the renewal problem. I think it needs to be possible for new player to develop their own characters up to the every highest levels through playing the game.