NOTE: Learning skills have been removed from the game. This page is outdated.
Training your skills in EVE follows a different system than most MMORPGs. Instead of collecting experience points and exchanging them for skills or level, your pilot constantly studies skillbooks, even when you're not online. This article describes how to decrease the time needed to learn skills, what the payoff is on the "Learning" skills and how to get implants that improve learning speed.
What attributes do
Every skill lists a primary and secondary attributes. This means that the higher the value for your primary attribute, the less time it will take you to learn the skill. Same for the secondary attribute, but the difference is less. Even less of an impact has the Learning
skill, but that also helps your learning, regardless of which attributes are required.
The Learning Skill actually adds fractional amounts to your attributes. Note that EVE will always use your exact attributes, not the truncated ones it shows you. So, a Perception of 16 on your character sheet could be anywhere >=16.00 and <17. The actual formula to determine your attributes is as follows:
(Base Attribute + Basic skill lvl + Advanced skill lvl + Implant bonus) * (1 + (0.02 * Learning skill))
Your base attribute is the total you started with at character creation. The Basic and Advanced skills are the appropriate skills for that attribute (ie - Analytical Mind and Logic for Intelligence). Note that the Learning skill actually affects your bonuses from the attribute skills and your implants.
If you don't remember your base attributes any more, you can calculate the exact attributes from the truncated ones on your character sheet as follows:
ROUNDUP(Truncated Attribute / (1 + (0.02 * Learning skill))) * (1 + (0.02 * Learning skill))
Another way to obtain your base attributes is it to look at the XML file eve-online.com provides you trought EVE Insider, My Characters page. The attributes you see on the charinfo page are instead the actual.
The time it takes to train a particular skill depends on how many skill points you need and the primary and secondary attributes for that skill. It can be calculated as follows:
(Needed skill points - current skill points) / (Primary attribute + (Secondary attribute / 2))
The actual number of skillpoints needed to get a specific level of a skill is:
((2 ^ ((2.5 * Level) - 2.5) * 250 * Rank of the skill)
If all this makes your head swim, consider using a skill planning application such as EVEMon
which will do all this math for you.
Learning to improve attributes
The skills in the learning category all directly improve some attribute, except for the Learning
skill. Since having higher attribute values improves your learning speed, you'll realize that investing some time in improving attributes, will pay off in the long run if you learn a lot of skills that need those attributes.
Since most players end up needing skills that require all attributes (some people ignore skills that need Charisma, apart from a few Social skills), most new players should get all learning skills up before learning anything else. This is good, if boring, advice. If you plan to stay in EVE for more than a month though, it will pay off.
If you want to learn the learning skills, given the formulae, you should follow the ideal learning schedule
So, how far do you need to take these learning skills? To what level have you to study skills for example? Well, it depends on how long you expect to be in EVE.
In the end, the entire point is to get as many skillpoints as you can, into useful skills. The formula above gives the number of skillpoints you get per minute, based on primary attribute, secondary attribute and learning. So what exactly is the impact of these on your skillpoint total over time?
Ofcourse, you shouldn't count the skillpoints in learning itself, since they have absolutely no other use than improving the learning time of skills. In fact, they're counterproductive. All the time you spend training them isn't spent on skillpoints in other skills that have some use.
How far to take the learning skills strongly depends on what you have planned for your character. If it is supposed to be a very focused expert pilot, you're likely to need only Eidetic Memory and Logic to level III and Learning to level IV and then the skills relating to the attributes you need most to level IV or V, depending on how long you intend to stay in the game. It takes years for level V on any advanced learning skill to pay off.
If you're training a generalist character, it may actually pay off to learn all advanced learning skills to level III or IV, with the possible exception of the Charisma related one, since it has a relatively low impact. If you plan on training for Trade and Leadership however, you will need that one too.