On the test server today, a redditor discovered 30% lower clone upgrade costs than usual. Shortly after his find, he started a thread on Reddit. CCP Rise acknowledged that the changes were indeed correct, but was unaware that they were already on the test server. So, with the cat out of the bag, he made the official announcement on the feedback section on the EVE forum.
Basically, for Odyssey we are lowering the cost of clone upgrades across the board by 30%. This is meant as the first increment on a more thorough iteration on the clone system. Our hope is that through this first step we will be able to establish what (if any) effect clone prices have on player behavior. If you have any feedback related to the clone system (especially in terms of how it affects your play-style) we would love to hear from you.
Another interesting bit to notice in the Reddit thread is Rise's responding to a concern about compensating the removal of the ISK sink to somewhere else in the game. Rise responded with, “This was something that was a concern in the past. However, recent skill book price adjustments more than made up for any damage we could do here in terms of ISK sink, so we can do whatever we want!” With no need for the ISK sink from clones anymore, why have any clone costs at all? One of the largest road blocks to clone changes was the removal of the sink. With that no longer an issue, why keep it, even if it has been reduced by 30%?
It seems that CCP has a much grander plan for clones. Rise confirmed that this reduction is the first step towards changing the years-old system into something that holds more compelling gameplay, which is why they opted not to strip it out completely just yet. I can't help but wonder what they have in mind. Player-made clones? Body harvesting? The possibilities are endless.
The very first article I wrote for TMC went into great detail on how the current clone system is bad for the playerbase, and how it does nothing but promote risk-averse gameplay while keeping a vast number of players from participating in PvP. While the mention of removing insurance as a way to offset the loss of an ISK sink was not well thought out, it was more of an example.
Aside my suggested removal of clone costs, there were several other ideas for how to improve clone mechanics. The first was a clone subscription. This subscription would allow players to pay a one-time fee every few months and lose any number of pods during that time without consequence to their clones. Not a bad idea, but I feel like it is just another band-aid to the issue, and will still discourage players. Still, the idea has merit.
The second option some people brought up was the training of alts on the same account to mitigate clone costs. This comes with its own host of problems; now you have to keep up with multiple names, wallets, assets, and retrain core skills all over again. That does not sound like much of a healthy choice to me. While those who have already gone down this road might try hard to convince you it is the best thing ever, just remember the saying: “misery loves company.”
Additionally, there were a few players in this discussion who made the grave mistake in thinking that wealth comes naturally through skill points. While there is evidence that older players can perform some tasks faster - like missioning - the connection between income and character skills quickly flatlines. Even a newbie can pilot a nice frigate within a month if they skill correctly.
While the reduction of clone costs is officially a first step, it is yet another very exciting change coming in the Odyssey expansion. CCP wants your feedback, which you can provide in his thread. Whether you are an old bitter vet whose clone costs 45-times more than a T1 fit Rifter, or a psychotic Interdictor pilot who always seems to be primary, make sure your voice is heard.