I am making an alt to help Marb with a bit of trading and ferrying so I have had a second opportunity to experience EVE's character creation system. When setting up Marb I choose Minmatar Brutor for no more scientific reason that the fact that I liked their style. This time I have had a chance to study character creation in more detail with the help of two detailed forum posts from Akita T (who explains how race and bloodline choices affect character attributes) and Tiberyya Za (who provides an excellent spreadsheet detailing the starter skill packs you get with each of the chosen professions).
Like many things in EVE the character creation process is far from intuitive and it is entirely possible to gimp your character from birth. Any character can learn any skill in EVE but a character with a poor set of starting attributes could take weeks or months longer to reach their desired goals.
Characters attributes (perception, intelligence, memory, willpower and charisma) do not in themselves convey any abilities but they speeed up the learning time of certain skills. The trouble is that certain attributes affect far more skills than others. So for example a character who hopes to learn a wide range of skills will benefit far more from a high perception which affects many skills than a high charisma which affects few skills.
The conclusions drawn in Akita's analysis are a bit depressing. It seems that the races are hopelessly imbalanced. It is quite hard to make a bad Caldari while it is equally difficult to make a good Amarr. Marb, a Minmatar Brutor Slave Child turns out to have been a middling choice.
Aside: Caldari players are far far numerous than Amarr. I wonder is this evidence of intelligent decision making by players or is it conincidental. Then again I could be mixing up cause and effect - the larger the number of players the larger the whine factor if there are serious problems with that race and the more likely that such problems will be addressed.
For this trader hauler alt the character choices are simplified somewhat because I have no intention of investing any more than the bare minimum of skill training time into them. They will have to survive on little more than their starting skill set. This makes attributes largely irelevant and puts the spotlight on Tiberyya Za's spreadsheet.
Every race has a business - trader profession with a genrous allotment of trading skills. The Minmatar trader actually has the most skill points invested in this line with two heavy 5 pointers followed by Gallente, Caldari and Amarr in order.
Equally important to this character is the ability to ferry stuff about and I want to be able to fly a decent sized industrial transport with minimal additional training time. The Amarr scores most highly here on several counts. Firstly only 1 level of training in Amarr industrials is required to access their heavy industrial with an impressive 4800m3 base capacity. Secondly Amarr ships all have plenty of low slots for fitting useful modules like cargo expanders and armour plates (to deter suicide gankers). Morevoer the armour trader already has level 3 in the hull upgrades skill which is required for thes modules.
For pure trade the Minmatar wins hands down. A natural 5 in daytrading allows orders to be manipulated from anywhere in the current region - a huge advantage for active traders. Unfortunately Minmatar offers no advantages in the way of quick access to industrials and or cargo expanders. In the end I plumped for the Amarr option - seduced by the thought of what can be done with all those lovely low slots.