Greedy Goblin

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Stop the newbie from dying, not the killer from killing!

An MMO must have new players to continue its existence. EVE Online is no exception. However EVE isn't considered a newbie-friendly game. It's rather the game where the average MMO player tries out and then uninstall raging or crying in a week. CCP must stop this or there will be no EVE Online.

EVE is a game with losses, but losses to newbies are very different from losses to us. If I'd lose a 3B Orca to a gatecamp, I'd understand what happened and why. I'd knew that I took risk by putting so much value in a ship and could have prevented it happening. The newbie has no clue what just happened. He was just happily flying like he used to and then he was in a station. Why? How?

However the way CCP is trying to do it isn't looking either good or effective. They try to limit highsec aggression patch by patch to prevent newbies from being massacred by gankers. The next expansion will make the life of gankers harder by making them a "suspect" that anyone can kill. However EVE is a PvP game where fighting shouldn't be artificially limited. To make it worse, sacrificing the core of EVE step by step has no effect as the newbies don't only die to "evil" highsec gangers. Low/null entry systems are full of newbie corpses, because they click off the warning without even reading and there are even newbie corps in nullsec, serving no other purpose than amusement.

Danger is manageable in EVE. You can prevent losses by good playing. If you die, it's your fault. You were careless, dumb, or just took too much risk and your luck ran out. The problem with newbies is their knowledge is way too small to know how to prevent losses besides being a 100% "carebear".

The solution is not stopping PvP but stopping the newbie from being stupid. I'd suggest the following limitations to accounts that are younger than 4 months and not confirmed alts of veterans:
  • Using a bonus remap.
  • He can do his first remap, but must put at least 1 pt to every attribute and not more than 5 to any. So he can start specializing but not in a way that cripple himself.
  • Creating a corporation
  • Joining a corporation with no "PvP corp" or "PvE corp" tag.
  • Entering lowsec, nullsec or WH unless he is a member of a "PvP corp"
  • Performing a criminal action unless he is a member of a "PvP corp". This includes flipping back flipped cans or any other way baited into aggression.
  • Selling, contracting, direct trading or undocking with PLEX. He can receive PLEX and use it to add time to account
  • Undocking in anything worth more than 1/3 of his total net worth unless he is in a "PvE corp".
  • Undocking uninsured.
With these limitations the newbie simply couldn't hurt himself. He is forced to live a similar life he is used to in other games so he can learn the basics of EVE before he loses recently PLEX-ed billions to a gatecamp or scam.

The "PvP corp" and "PvE corp" in the above are important exceptions: if one has friends who can guide him in the game, he can take bigger risks. The "PvP corp" status could be earned by corporations with a minimum number of active accounts in the game (to exclude few-man scamming corps) and a minimum ISK destroyed in PvP in the last 2 months (to exclude ineffective lolcorps). The "PvE corp" status can be earned after a minimum amount of ISK is deposited at CONCORD. The deposit can be retrieved by giving up the "PvE corp" title. The titles are needed to prevent malicious or simply bad players from gathering newbies into a corp where they can't learn anything. EVE isn't WoW, it's much better to be in the starter corporation alone than with "friends" who tell you to fly a cargohold expander fit Brutix to Syndicate.


l0rd carlos said...

Or just leave it as it is and let him make his mistakes so that he can learn from that.
Worked so far.

Gevlon said...

No it didn't, most of the newbies leave, EVE subscriptions flatlined years ago.

Anonymous said...

Isn't it a man's own problem? A warning's given to a person, noone's forcing him to cross the fringe between highsec and lowsec.
It's only a matter of person's own stupidity if he doesn't learn from one's own mistakes.

On my very early days (I guess I've just finished the tutorial missions) I've probed out a wormhole and took a dive into it.
Unsurprisingly, I've found myself in a brand new body in a cloning vat 3 minutes later. The lesson was learned, I've been proceeding with more caution the next time I've taken a dive into the hole. Anyway, I've forgotten to book the exit, so once again I had to pay for my mistake with a cracked egg.

I'd say that the guys like E-Uni and EvE flight school (ang Goons, lol) are doing a great job allowing a week-old character to rush into that wonderful world of engagements and shipsplosions. En masse, a 50-man bunch of shit-fit rifters&merlins can either die horribly on a single discobattleship, or can grind down a reckless camp on the nullsec entry. And it's kind of amazing experience, providing some basic skills needed for either fleet brawls, or (way less) for solo-pewing. The large hordes are more tolerable to a single pilot's mistakes and lack of skillpoints.

So, the problem is not the evil CCP, letting the newbies die horribly, but the newbies themselves unaware of the warning signs the were given. The problem is within the re-re sitting at the keyboard. Just take a glance at Aunenen and Rancer daily kills: not only do noobs die.

Anonymous said...

An MMO must have new players to continue its existence. EVE Online is no exception. However EVE isn't considered a newbie-friendly game. It's rather the game where the average MMO player tries out and then uninstall raging or crying in a week. CCP must stop this or there will be no EVE Online.

Pretty sure its been working fine for a decade Gevlon. CCP still makes money when they don't do derpy shit, players keep signing up...sure lots leave but plenty enough stay on.

Anonymous said...

It's the comments about how the new players need to learn that's precisely why Eve's new player subscription is (supposedly) flatlined.

Eve, when you first start, is very different from most other MMOs, which are "newbie-friendly". The problem is that this means new players, by and large, expect some of this newbie friendliness. Actions which result in them losing a lot (which is relative) will cause Eve to lose potential new players.

Sure, you could argue that Eve doesn't need such players. But, if Eve wants to grow, it does need to break out of that mindset a little and allow some leeway at the start for true newbies, otherwise Eve just continues to trudge along at its current rate (not a bad thing but it could be so much more).

Put it another way: TEST/Goons are winning null-sec because of sheer weight of numbers now. No one else will be able to beat them unless there's a fundmental change in the system. If so, then Eve needs a bigger player base that can eventually grow into a large enough force to compete in null-sec. That's not saying that allowing more new players into the game will necessarily result in such growth but it becomes a possibility, rather than the current state where it is pretty much impossible.

Anonymous said...

Sure, you could argue that Eve doesn't need such players. But, if Eve wants to grow, it does need to break out of that mindset a little and allow some leeway at the start for true newbies, otherwise Eve just continues to trudge along at its current rate (not a bad thing but it could be so much more).

On very rare occasion will you find a freshman somewhere in lowsec or in null. 90% of the newcomers become highsec-dwellers seduced by the carebears, who first let them salvage mission wrecks so that they could buy and fit _just_another_shitty_raven.
All those people barely would provide target-rich environment.

Anonymous said...

I don't see why new players need to be protected from themselves - making mistakes is one of the fastest ways to learn.

In fact, my first significant loss in EVE was a cargo-expanded Brutix that made up 80% of my assets at that time (fitted with the obligatory hull repairer and small guns) and that I had set on an autopilot route through low-sec.

I lost the ship, used the insurance payout to buy a Vexor and carried on - having learned an important lesson ("don't autopilot through low-sec").

After I very nearly lost the Vexor in a lvl3 mission I started to learn about fittings by reading guides on the web (many of which gave very bad advice because they had been written before the nano-nerf, I started playing in late summer '08).

By the time I joined my first player corp (at around 3m SP) I had a fairly good grasp on most game mechanics just by having made a lot of terrible mistakes and having put in some effort to avoid making the same mistakes twice.
Of course, they told me to put away my precious 3m SP character and roll a new one with better attributes :/ (suffering from delusions of grandeur I had selected a high charisma bloodline at creation because who doesn't want to be a natural leader?).

Anyways, apart from the whole "having to walk uphill, in the snow, both ways" thing, my point is that mistakes are what gives players an impulse to learn.
You do whatever you do until it fails. Then you take a step back, learn from your mistake (by experimenting or using OOG resources) and do your improved approach until you fail again.
If you cushion players from mistakes then you have to force the learning down their throat in the form of tutorials, classes, ... because they have no real incentive to improve.

As a player I'm not sure if I *want* everyone to play EVE, the EVE community is of course prone to exaggeration when it comes to the differences between EVE and WoW players (there is considerable overlap between both communities) but there is no doubt that the learning curve has shaped the composition of the EVE community for a very long time.
I tend towards the opinion that filtering out those without a minimum of initiative, frustration tolerance, ... has made EVE a more enjoyable place.

Péter Zoltán said...

In my opinion, newbies don't need much protection from losses. All my friends who tried the game left because it's slow and dull.
Lifting stupid timesinks and adding some instant-pvp option would do much more to retain new players.

Anonymous said...

Gavlon wrote: "EVE subscriptions flatlined years ago."

Why is that bad? It means EVE is receiving as many new players as it is losing old players.

EVE is a niche game, although a rather comfortable niche with 400k subscriptions. Maybe after 8 years of existance it simply has saturated the market for this kind of video games?

Okrane S. said...

"CCP must stop this or there will be no EVE Online"

Is there a sign in the decline of the game? because the game has been doing ok for a long time with these features...

Anonymous said...

Subscriptions held fairly stable. No point, just information here.

Anonymous said...

Your change suggestion would make sure that no new players ever join EVE. Imagine:

"What, I have to pay for a game for 4 months, while being in baby sit mode? It's an outrage, I rather play game X where I can subscribe and start the full game immediately."

These carebear changes would just deter new players, not recruit them.

Also, I have started this game less than 4 months ago, and I have ticked pretty much everything off your no-go list, and enjoyed each one of them too. :)

(Okay to be honest, I haven't used my remaps yet, and haven't sold any plexes, but you get the general idea)

Actually, there is pretty much only hi-sec missioning or mining left for the first 4 months, which would lead to new players dying of boredom.

More detailed newbie missions might help. If I'd change anything, I'd provide more in-game info on how to play, as I remember spending more time reading 3rd party sites about EVE, than actually playing in my first weeks.

Anonymous said...

I'd argue most new players leave because the two main starting paths of missions or mining are pretty boring content. The first time I got blown up wasn't a let down, it was the most exciting thing to happen to my young character and sucked me in.

Anonymous said...

Why is that bad? It means EVE is receiving as many new players as it is losing old players.

It means that ad campaigns such as "The Power of Two" - where you purchase an account so you have someone (yourself) to play with are keeping those numbers from declining. A game that is not growing is dieing.

There aren't a lot of real newbies in the game. The corporation I joined early on tended to recruit newbies, but due to too many war decs, ganking and an ill-conceived move to null sec probably 2/3 of those newbies quit the game entirely.

Of the folks who quit, one was a long time (about 3 years) player who lost too many ships during this year's hulkageddon and quit the game. Before they unsubbed, they biomassed that 3 year character so they could never come back (I'm a director so I saw all their stuff end up when you get stuff released from impound). One other almost lost his job due to playing the game so much (he really got into it). Most of the others were not happy that their low-SP characters were unable to have any effect on the multiple corps wardecking us (they couldn't fly ships that could get close enough to target them before popping, nor fire weapons that could dent the other guys' shields). About half let their trial expire (saying "this is no fun at all").

Eve is a harsh game. For newbies it is too harsh. A lot of longtimers enjoy making other players get so frustrated that they quit the game entirely. CCP has been pandering to that crowd for too long.

Gevlon said...

@Anonymous: you did not pay attention to the "exceptions". The marked "PvP corps" and "PvE corps" could recruit newbies and with their guidance the newbie could do almost anything.

Anonymous said...

First off, I'm not sure who designated EVE a "PvP" game. I like to think of it more as a sandbox where PvP takes many forms and is optional at best. I really don't think adding a bunch of complicated mechanics to the game is going to attract new players. A compelling game play experience is going to attract new players. Some people like EVE some people don't and will not resubscribe. C'est la vie.

Anonymous said...

I think new players should not be expected to join corps in their first few weeks and months.

I remember in my first weeks I was busy learning how the game works, I definitely had no idea about the whole metagame of corporations and alliances.

Hell, after 3 months I still don't see which is the good corp for me.

Of course there are people who jump into their IRL friend's corp or just one with a funny name on the first week of playing, but I think the average new player is more cautious than that.

I also remember Gevlon taking about half a year at least before deciding to join TEST, and even then he found it difficult to join, he even posted a short how-to in his signature at the end of many posts.

So judging from my own experience and my assumptions on Gevlon, joining a pvp or pve corp early on does not seem like a viable route to take for most.

Nomazar said...

It is not possible to force anyone to learn anything without punishing for mistakes. Building glass walls around newbie to protect from harm will just delay learning process. Newbie should be allowed to make mistakes, they just should pay less for them.

Let's newbie lose their ships, but provide a free replacement (something better that current, newbie one). So someone who wander to lowsec and lost ship should not end up to start from mining Veldspar by Civilian miner. Smart players will learn, dumb can not be helped. Some penalties should be in place, but not as harsh as for old players.

EVE mantra - "You should not fly a ship you cannot afford to loose". Newbie just can not follow it. Ship they fly is all that they have.

Anonymous said...

Joining a corp early is precisely HOW you learn. Trying to figure out this game by yourself is sub-optimal.

Get into a newbie friendly corp and start fucking up. You'll learn far quicker then following the in game "tutorial" and then blasting away at some veldspar

Anonymous said...

Another thing to consider is that I seem to recall (a long way back) that CCP stated that "new" players do not begin positively impacting their bottom line until they have played for a couple of years. I don't remember the exact number of years but for arguments sake lets call it 2 years.

Looking at the number of new subscriptions is therefore wrong - looking at the number of new players that reach their 2 year anniversary is the trend that should be looked at. If the number of "2 year olds" in the game increases every year the game's subscription base is healthy, no matter how many thousands apon thousands of players sign up for 2 months and then rage quit over lost exhumers

Anonymous said...

The main problem with eve is not that is has a learning curve, or is tough for newbies...neither is particularly offputting for those who have read a little about the game before starting.

The problem for many is, it is a "follow your own adventure" story, and this is where many, even those of us who love the sandbox, get stuck once in a while. Not having defined goals or aims in a game is very different, and it takes a while to find your niche, and many get bored before doing that. I have been on and off playing for 6 years or so, and each time when I come back, I struggle to find my new niche, and get bored for a bit while finding it.