James Egan's article last week on the patch to fix multi-boxing in EVE is a large part of the impetus for this week's Rogue Signal. For months, I haven't been able to play my alts the way I normally like to without playing in Classic mode, something I am simply not inclined to do after shelling out for a quality graphics card at the launch of Trinity. Now, however, the days of multi-boxing are back!
While multi-boxing is certainly a popular approach to playing alts in EVE, it is by no means the only way to go about it. So, let's start at the beginning and ask, why roll an alt? You're happy mining, NPCing, pirating, etc, so why would you shell out for a second account? The truth of the matter is that EVE's skill system makes it hard to compete with the big boys, at times. It is possible, but it takes a high amount of specialization, early on. You can't expect to be as good as a 3 year player at everything in a few months, but you can be almost as good at one or two things. With this in mind, if you want to excel at more than one area of the game without waiting a year or more, alts become necessary.
So, what kind of alt is for you? To find out, let's have a look at some of the basic types of alts that people tend to roll.
First off, there is the "carebear" alt. This is actually a somewhat broad category, so we'll break it down into mining alts, NPC/mission alts, and manufacturing alts.
Mining alts are relatively easy to train, but have little utility outside of a mining barge, and take a bit of time to train into any other role. When rolling a mining alt, the Intelligence attribute is a big help, as are Willpower and Memory.That said, mining can be incredibly lucrative, and is rather easy to do, even when you are doing something requiring more attention on another account. It's reasonably common for PvPers to use this kind of alt to fund their ISK-hungry ships. Mining barges cycle their lasers every three minutes, and ice miners start with a 10 minute cycle time. When fit with expanders, barges and exhumers can hold two full cycles of ore or ice, making it easy to pay a bit less attention to them while PvPing in another window.
Mining alts are not without their risks, though. There is always the risk, even in high security space, of someone coming along and ganking you, sometimes for no reason other than to have ganked someone. Those who have been in the game for a little while probably remember the tactics employed by Goonswarm and their copycats along this vein.
Next come NPCing and mission alts. These alts take a bit longer to blossom, but tend to be more well-rounded in many ways. It is possible to eventually take a mission alt down a PvP training path, since they will both involve training a lot of Spaceship Command and weapon skills. When rolling a character for missions, Willpower and Perception are necessary for combat skills, and some amount of Charisma is valuable for the skills that make mission running more profitable.
The advantage that mission runners have is that they do not require access to 0.0 space in order to make a great deal of money, the way that miners and NPCers do. Killing NPCs in asteroid belts in 0.0 is arguably more profitable than running missions, and is the most common means of income for 0.0 PvPers. As such, the competition for good systems is fierce, even within alliances. Mission runners do not have this problem. The drawback is that the most lucrative missions involve a faction grind not unlike the beating that World of Warcraft
Finally, we have production alts. These are potentially the most profitable type of alt, especially when paired with a trading character. They also require the most initial money to get rolling, and a rather sizable time and skill commitment to achieve maximum profitability. Spaceship Command skills can largely be neglected, since many manufacturers rarely leave the station in anything bigger than a shuttle to move from factory to factory.
While production alts can be immensely profitable, it involves a lot of legwork to find a good trading hub, and some amount of market research and knowledge to be able to supply a needed commodity. The rewards are great because the time and ISK investment to achieve success is high, compared to the other options.
All of these are viable options for someone looking to train a new character for making money, but it's nearly as common for current carebears to roll PvPers, in which case the character would be setup just like a PvP main.
One option for those not looking to open a new account is what is known as the "trade" alt. With the current character creation system, it is possible to create a new character that begins with about 800,000 skill points. This is enough to create a viable market-based alt with little to no additional training. Basically, the alt is given money for the player to play the market, usually on margin trading, but occasionally through cornering less common goods. There is a lot of knack to using a trade alt, but many long-time players employ them, especially those who do not wish to open a new account just to carebear.
Now, you know the basics for rolling an alt, either on an existing account, or by opening a new one, and, as an added bonus, you can now run both accounts with the Trinity package. players endure to achieve Exalted standing.