Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Blog Banter 33: The Capsuleer Experience

"...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."

Here are my thoughts on the New Player Experience, as part of Blog Banter #33.

Download vs Getting Started

The first part of the new player experience is downloading the game. You just sit there and watch the progress bar progressing until you hear that lovely "Skill Training …" oops. No, 
the other noise that means that something you were waiting for has finished.

CCP has made some noise about "progressive downloads" — this cannot happen fast enough, in my opinion. Get the new player through the intro movies ("Space … Earth … etc" and "Unbound", followed by the CDIA briefing would be excellent) while downloading the character creation assets.

Guide the player through character creation while downloading the captain's quarters. Then start downloading the local star system, constellation, etc while going through the crash course.

Dat Ass-et

The UI is arse. We know that. CCP knows that. Yet EVE Online has over 300k subscribers.

The UI is not bad enough to drive people from the game. Sure, it's a little painful, but the game isn't about the UI.

Would player-modifiable UI be awesome? Sure! Would player-modifiable UI encourage new players to stay? I'm not so sure.

Tutorial Nightmare

I'll echo the sentiment of others on this topic: the tutorials (pop up windows that Aura throws in your face) and career missions don't combine properly in most cases.

I would "optimise" the experience by having Aura provide any skill books through tutorials, while the mission agent provides any civilian modules required. Thus a mission might be flagged as "requires small hybrid weapons skill," and Aura would pop up with the books required when you start the mission, if you don't already have that skill trained. Of course, this will destroy the market for books such as Survey and Salvaging, since payers will not be getting 12 copies of those books if they run the career chains in every empire while working on standings.

There is a thread a month from new players providing feedback to CCP through the Trial Q&A forum. You can find any amount of discussion about the woeful state of tutorial missions through that forum, so I don't need to rabbit on about that aspect of the game here.

Encourage Socialisation

Poor mission design aside, the new player is guided through a whole lot of action by Aura. The entire New Player Experience can be done solo. There is never any encouragement to participate with other players. Neither the in game tutorials nor the Industrial Sized Knowledgebase discuss the chat windows other than to say that the rectangle in the bottom right of the screen is the chat window.

In my Day 0 advice for new players post on the forums, I recommend to new players that they get involved in chat.

Now to you experienced players: I recommend that you get involved in Help chat too. Answer one newbie question a day. Invite one newbie a month to join in whatever activities you are engaged in. Could they be a spy? Sure! But where's the fun with no risk? Drag that rookie in a Velator out with you on roams. At the very least their two drones will help improve your firepower, while their rookie ship provides a soft target for the other guys to be baited into shooting first.

The worst that can possibly happen is you gain an annoying fan who thinks you are the most amazing capsuleer in EVE Online, simply because you took the time to talk to the new guy and teach them to fly (or station-trade, or troll local).

I'd like to see more focus on the multiplayer aspect of EVE in the Aura and Career Agent missions. I'd like to see more focus on socialising from new players and old players alike.

How do you recruit new players? You talk to them. Go to the Career Agent systems (or Career Funnel systems, if you like) and get chatting. Don't be so focussed on your ISK/hr that you view chatting to folks in local as inefficient.

Recruitment in-Situ, in-Station

What I'd really love to see is multi-player Incarna. All I want is a shared space outside the CQ where pilots might be encouraged to go: either as part of the "emerging from first clone transfer" experience (i.e.: part of the crash course and Aura tutorial in the rookie stations), or as part of the Career funnel experience.

The basic idea would be: rookie walks out into "establishment" area, has the opportunity to socialise and chat to potential recruiters.

This would be, more or less, an Incarna equivalent to the Recruitment forum. Except that to be here recruiting, you're putting in your time and effort and the rookie gets the opportunity to use the traditional human socialising skills of talking and listening and interpreting your mood and motivations from voice (and admittedly fake posture and stance).

Being able to leave the ship and interact with other people as a person is one of the things I found most off-putting about EVE right at the beginning. It still upsets me that the CQ door is locked.

You Are The Content

Remember, this is a sandbox. You are the content, not the NPCsThere is no mechanic that CCP can add to the game that will encourage genuine social interaction. It's you that needs to encourage the new player to stay, not CCP, not the NPCs.

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