Saturday, June 2, 2012
A Player-Managed Skillbook Market
The simple method of doing this (I'll detail a slightly more complex method afterwards) would be to allow anyone to create skillbooks for any skill in which they are at level V. If you have Motion Prediction V, you can create Motion Prediction skillbooks for sale on the market. Simple as that.
You'd create the skillbooks in stations (or POSes), the same as you currently do with manufacturing. Request a manufacturing slot, throw in some materials and after some time, out pops a skillbook (or five skillbooks.) The larger the skillbook rank, the longer it takes to manufacture the skillbook(s). It would take longer to manufacture Gallente Battleship than it would to manufacture Gallente Cruiser.
New characters begin the game with certain skills pre-installed (as happens now). Electronics. Mechanics. Engineering. Mining. Faction Frigate. Small Weapon (depending on starting race; Small Hybrid Turret for Gallente, for instance). Cybernetics. A few other skillbooks might be offered in the tutorial missions (Salvaging, for instance), but for players deciding the skip the tutorials, there'll still be market to create and sell those.
If you want to add some additional flavour to skillbook manufacturing, then add a new skill into the game. Perhaps it is called Educational Transcription. (This skillbook would still be offered by NPCs for the first six months of the skillbook market transfer, after that it would be player controlled.) Educational Transcription I would be required to manufacture skillbooks. For every rank gained in the skill thereafter, the rank of the skillbook created is reduced by 2% (to a maximum of 8%, for the math challenged; is anyone in EVE math challenged?) For instance, a player with Educational Transcription V and Gallente Battleship V could create Gallente Battleship skillboks with a rank of 7.36. Thus players adding that skillbook to their queue would have a shorter learning time than another player using a Gallente Battleship skillbook created by someone with Educational Transcription II. This creates a more varied market, with more of a premium on skillbooks from folks who have trained Education Transcription to its highest level. To ensure that these premium skillbooks are not commonplace, Educational Transcription should be a rank 24 skill.
There should be a one month window between implementing skillbook manufacturing, and removing all NPCs skillbooks from the market. During the window, player-created skillbooks cannot be placed on the market.
To avoid hoarding -- players purchasing tens of thousands of skillbooks from NPCs before the system becomes live -- simply announce that once the switchover is made, all NPC skillbooks will be deleted from the system (this includes player inventories.) That would be the simplest solution. Or, if deleting them is an undesirable option (collectors will want one of each, I suppose), simply disallow NPC skillbooks being inserted into skill queues.
Voila. Skillbooks become the purview of the players. Let the market decide worth. Prices will likely be high initially, but over time they'll market correct. I'm not worried about skillbooks being priced out of the reach of newbies, because skillbooks that newbies will require and need, the altruistic will see that they get good value. There are many players and organizations that want to see newbies survive and stay -- charity is emergent gameplay too.
Side note: This would remove an ISK sink from the game. So, either the materials used to create the skillbooks need to become an ISK sink unto themselves (although at a lower cost than what skillbooks were costing from NPCs), or new ISK sinks need to be added into the game, or see Bel Amar's comment below.