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Sunday, February 19, 2012

BB33: Capsuleer is the key word!

Like mana from Valhalla (yes I know I'm mixing my religious metaphors), therecent Dev Blog by CCP Legion asks questions which make for perfect Blog Bantering. To quote him,

"...we want to make the first days, weeks and months in EVE enjoyable and not just something ‘you have to plough through in order to get to the good stuff’" and the newly formed Player Experience team will focus on "...where and why people lose interest in EVE...".

"We invite you to pour your heart (or guts) out and tell us what you think is good or bad with the current new player experience and what you think could be done about the problems."

So let's get self-eviscerating. Banter on. 

The problem with the new player experience isn't the new player. It's the old player who's so bored/infantile/mean spirited he has to get his kicks griefing new players. Several other banters have hit upon this issue. I won't elaborate. My JotW posts should clarify what happens to noobs in EVE.

Instead, this banter will deal with what new players will and won't do to help themselves. It'll also outline an idea that may help them overcome their own human nature and stop the griefing. It should help new players decide to hang around longer than two weeks. So, without further adieu, here are the issues as I see them.

  • Reading how EVE is played is no good. People hate reading manuals. They won't read them. People are far more likely to ask someone how something is done than read it for themselves. This is human nature. It is amplified in EVE by the fact noobs want to play now, not read about how to play later. The manual oriented introduction has to go, even if it is spiced up with videos and interactive tutorials. The new player didn't sign up for a trial to spend even part of it not actually playing the game.
  • Telling a noob about all the bad things that will happen won't work. Humans have an unending ability to believe it won't happen to them. No noob believes they will get ganked until it happens. Then they'll be just as surprised the next time it happens. Besides, a "don't do these things" list is a real put-off. They didn't create an account to be told what they can't do.
  • Telling noobs who've been griefed that "it's a lesson, learn it" is ridiculous. We do this for fun. That is NOT fun. If I come home from a hard day at work/school/life, I don't want to repeat the day's hard lessons for entertainment. I want to play a game. Yes, some will put up with this because they really want to play the game. Most will not as is evident in the stagnant player growth these past many months.
  • Telling noobs to join a corporation ASAP to get hands on training won't work. They're human and haven't read the manual. They want to play "now." Also, they're noobs and don't even know how to find a corps that fits them; not to mention experienced players tend to talk right over noobs heads. It isn't that the old players don't like the noobs. They just don't realize they're speaking in jargon the noob hasn't learned yet. They also don't want to always take the time to explain. They're online to play the game too; not hold someones hand. They need an incentive.

Keeping the current new player experience mechanics as they are is not going to resolve these issues. The new player needs to start playing at once. They need immediate immersion in what we find so enticing about EVE - the culture. CCP cannot provide this. Only EVE players can provide this. That's the key IMO. Here's how that's done.

Allow a special type of corporation in EVE. Make EVE University and the other training corps the first of this kind. Recruit others, as many as there are currently noob corps. Assign every new player to one of these hybrid corps. These are player ran corps but with some elements of an NPC corp. Here are some of the unique attributes of these new corps.

  • CCP must approve them. There is already a mechanism for this. It is called an alliance. They will all be part of the CCP Alliance.
  • Other corps cannot war dec training corps. 
  • Create a special fleet type, a training fleet, to track those that train noobs and those who don't. It requires one experienced pilot and on noob to form. CCP can track time in training fleets and boot anyone not meeting a minimum amount of time spent training noobs.
  • Integrate these new corps in the revamped Factional Warfare. This will allow trainees to learn PVP and give the FW system a much needed boost.
  • Other players cannot attack trainees in combat ships in hi-sec unless fired on first. If that happens, normal PVP ensues. All bets are off anywhere else.
  • Other pilots cannot ever target trainee industrial and transport ships in hi-sec. These ship types can have a feature that interacts with a special noob implant. It would act as a perma-jam against other ships. This implant will only function so long as the noob is in a training corp.
  • Create special story line missions that noobs must complete. Insert the best of the old style new player experience here and create others. Some (most?) of these missions will require trainers and trainees to form training fleets. Create harder but optional missions for those who want to go further - like a mini incursion or some such. Make it challenging and they will come!
  • So long as the noob is in the training corp they are protected. This ends when they leave the corp. They must leave after playing for 180 hours. That's two hours once a day for 90 days or one hour over 180 days or any mix in between. This allows for different play styles and ensures everyone graduates with some sort of experience.
To make this work, experienced players must have an incentive to join the corps and train noobs. Here is my idea.

  • Accelerate their learning curve by doubling the SP they get while in the training corp. So long as they log in and help, they get the extra SP. 
  • While in the training corps, veteran players get the same benefits as noobs except for the perma-jam which only comes from a noob implant. They can be targeted!
  • If more trainers are needed, offer PLEX incentives to lure experienced players into the corps.
  • Trainers must meet a minimum time played criteria. It isn't enough they only have SP. They must have used it. Characters transferred to other accounts not owned by the same player are disqualified as there is no way to judge their true experience. 
  • Create special story line type missions for the trainers that require them to form training fleets with trainees. If they don't complete say six or nine in 90 days boot them from the training corps. 
  • There should be a penalty for getting booted before 90 day's membership: like loosing all the extra SP accumulated while a member and any associated skills gained. This can reset in 90 day increments. So long as a player trains noobs, they get the benefit. They can stay in the training corps as long as they fulfill their end of the bargain.
  • Now here is the tricky part, to make sure this works the training corp must be reviewed by a CCP employee. CCP Diagoras shows us there is a lot of information CCP can pull. Use it. The increased income from increased noob retention should hopefully pay for these extra man hours. Regardless, it's worthwhile overhead.
There's my idea. Go ahead, dig in and make it better!

Fly careful.


  1. While you present your argument in a way that seems very intuitive and is very emphatic, I think it has a basic flaw: EVE is a game where the majority of the gaming experience depends on player interaction. That begins with production and the market and goes up until nullsec SOV warfare. To propose that EVE could be a game where you just log in and play without involving yourself in that social structure is kinda missing the central element that sets this game apart from other MMOs.

    Mind you, I also spent my first month of game time deliberately on my own because I wanted to learn how to do things before I involved myself with others, but for me it was clear even before creating a character that I will stay for at least half a year ... because I read the manual :)

  2. Immunities are bad. No one would haul anything outside of the training corps. Ever. This would end suicide ganking of haulers.

    Players need to learn how to handle being vulnerable, not live under a shield for a time and then be thrown out into the cold. In addition if Eve-uni is actually training people what the hell is up with fits like or in a PvP fleet heading into lowsec?

    I am actually all for mentoring fleets and I'd even go so far as to suggest a LP store for mentors with time spent training new players gaining mentors LP towards neat rewards. However any kind of blanket immunity will be abused far more than it will be used properly.

  3. There's some interesting and controversial ideas here and although they may not be popular, I think some elements are too good to be dismissed out-of-hand. I find the idea of mutually beneficial rookie/veteran content intriguing.

    With regard to the social aspect of EVE, this raises an interesting question in my mind. Is EVE's gameplay *exclusively* social? Is there no place for solo play? Personally, I think it is foolishly narrow-minded to think that EVE is *only* for social players. Sometimes I don't want to interact with people when playing EVE, I just want to go about my business and soak up the ambience.

    The simple fact that there is plenty of solo content shows that EVE is aimed at that market too. Attendance to community events should never be compulsory.

    I have one question as I put the summary together:

    You said, "The manual oriented introduction has to go, even if it is spiced up with videos and interactive tutorials." What exactly is this a reference to? The text-heavy tutorial missions? How else would you propose the player masters the basics of the interface?

    1. @Stan The reference is to manual or tutorial based instruction. First some background. In RL I am an IT Manager. It's a big title for what what I really do. I fix people's computer problems. I've done it since my last career ended. The one where I fixed people's political problems with a big gun but I digress. I've worked with computer users now for 17 years. I've trained a lot of users. I also trained a lot of soldiers in my previous career. What I've learned is that people want one of two things when it comes to training: they want someone to show them how to do it (true training) or they want someone to do it for them (not training.) In the end, even soldiers won't read the manual. People hate that sort of thing. They want another human being to take enough interest in the to give them the information the need. Some people genuinely want to learn and will insist they do it while I instruct. Other's only want it done for them. I'll spend some time trying to motivate them but to learn for themselves but some never will. Those are the ones I always sent up the hill first. *wink* Anyway, that's what I mean when I say the manual oriented stuff needs to go. Personal instruction is the best form of training - period. I myself would never have learned how to properly clear a minefield by bayonet if my instructor had not been one lane over doing it with me. And in turn, I would never have been able to instruct others just as effectively.

      I feel ya when you say you just want to log in and soak up the ambiance. I am that way too. And I was savvy enough not to ever get can flipped or goaded into a jerk's kill-mail. But I am the exception. My experience tells me that most people need someone to show them the ropes before they head out on their own. If we can enact that sort of training, I thing EvE would have a higher (a lot higher?) retention rate.


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