Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Improving new player integration

Ali Aras posted her thoughts on new player experience. They are pretty good and similar to my suggested changes of the tutorial. However her idea to create more newbie-friendly ratting places isn't something I like, because it doesn't help new player integration. Give them good enough newbie missions and you get awful lot of solo missioners who play the game for a few months until they manage to "progress" their missioning ship to the point where it's worthy of suicide ganking.

In this post instead I suggest various features that help players without out-of-game connections to integrate into the world. It's not that hard as the current missioning and ratting system isn't hostile to low SP players. I mean an established player + a newbie playing together could earn more than separately. However newbies are usually not flying together with experienced players - unless they are out of game friends - because of the management overhead and trust issues. While the experienced player would benefit from having a sidekick, it's not large enough to make him spam channels to find one or to risk grouping up with a mission ninja who steals the objective and ransoms him for it.

I suggest the following systems to be introduced:
  • Looter/salvager cooperation: the experienced player needs to click just a few buttons to make himself available for such cooperation, he just have to set the reward % and the home station. The newbie can accept with one click, it instantly places him into a fleet with the experienced player (with that being the boss). His job is to loot and salvage for the missioner/ratter. Whatever he loots/salvages in mission deadspace areas while in such fleet goes into a plastic wrap in his ship cargohold, similar to the courier contract packages. When he is done looting, all he has to do is docking on the pre-set "home station" and press "complete". He has 6 hours to do so after accepting the cooperation. Failing to do so (which is needed to steal the contents) will become available on his public cooperation history and the missioner can set up criteria to exclude players with fails. When he completes the cooperation, he gets the automatically calculated value of the package * reward %. So if he collects 20M worth of loot and the missioner offered him 20%, he gets 4M instantly from the missioner.
  • Frigshooter cooperation: the missioner/ratter also needs just a few clicks to seek such cooperator, providing a bounty multiplier. The newbie who accepts this cannot loot or even salvage the mission (unless he is also in a looter/salvager cooperation). His job is to fly his destroyer or frigate and shoot mission frigs and destroyers. After the ones he kills he gets the normal bounty and the multiplied value from the missioner, who will gladly pay for those pesky jamming/webbing/scramming frigrats to be handled.
  • Minilogi cooperation: the missioner/ratter sets if he wants armor or shield and how much does he pay for 1000 units. He can also pay for uptime minutes of remote sensor booster or tracking link. The accepting newbie must be in a T1 or T2 logistics ship. He joins the fleet, he can't loot/salvage, his job is to keep the missioner up, so he can trade tank for DPS on his ship.
  • Miner escort cooperation: same as the Frigshooter. The miner sets up a bounty multiplier that he is ready to pay to the newbie after every belt rat he kills within 50km of the miner. These rats of course can be looted or salvaged. This way the miner can have mining drones instead of self-defense ones. A bit of upgrade to the belt rats could "encourage" having escort.
  • Dustminer cooperation: the miner sets up a reward/rock. The accepting newbie must have a Venture fitted with survey scanner. His job is to mine within 50km of the miner, eating up asteroids that have less minerals than one cycle of strip miner. He gets reward if the rock disappears when he cycles or manually switches off his miner. He can keep the minerals he mines and he gets reward for destroying tiny rocks, saving the pro miner the time wasted on a cycle that nets only partial results, or the risk of fitting a rock scanner himself, compromising tank.
  • Canminer cooperation: the miner anchors a special container and starts mining, moving his minerals into the can. The newbie accepting the cooperation sees only plastic wraps in the can, his job is to haul them to the home station of the miner and press complete. This way the miner can use a low ore hold Hulk for better yield and save the dockup times.
  • Orca boost cooperation: the Orca holder sets up a reward/m3 request. Accepting miners can see what links the Orca offers and his booster skills. They must pay the reward after every m3 they mine while in the cooperation. Obviously the reward should be smaller than the yield increase they receive from the Orca. This way even a Venture miner can have Orca boost.
You can invent similar cooperations, the point is simple: let experienced and low-SP players play together with as little management overhead as possible. Player cooperation is the only way to circumvent the Malcanis law, as any method where NPCs provide income to new players would be abused by veterans.

One more idea: move every Cosmos mission and complex loot to the marketplace from contracts. Experienced players gladly pay premium for the loot they need to complete an L1-L3 Cosmos mission to save time doing them. Farming Cosmos items could be a good income source for newbies, but they don't know about it as the items have no liquid market.


Alkarasu said...

Actually, I think, there will be a market for contracts of this kind among many of seasoned players, even more, then among newbies. Current contract system is too limited and can use some new services.

Anonymous said...

oh... my... god....
you have had an idea, for once, that isn't completely retarded. i cogratulate you. This should be implemented asap. Stick to add-ons and non game-breaking chnages like this in the future. I agree that the contract system should have much more made of it. It shouldnt be too tough for CCP to offer criteria/service based contracts much like the item trade/courier contracts we have now.

Oska Rus said...

This surely would cause a lot of mayhem and abuse when itroducing but...

I would like much to see such features which would faciliate player interaction over mind numbing solo PvE grind which is now most profitable.

Not to mention that it would open the eyes of new players. (i too dreamt about lvl 4 missions when starting in eve :D )

Tego said...

Part of me is really curious what random pile of bs someone will come up with to put this idea down. You have enough haters that someone will try, though probably poorly.

The only issue i see with this isn't necessarily mechanic, or even want based, but lore. These are things that make player interaction safer. or at the very least add regulation. Kinda goes against the persona the game is trying to provide.

Thinking about it more it would complicate what happens during a gank though. especially for the can mining one. who looses if the newbie gets popped? and how does the ganker recover the goods from the ganked ship?

monolithDigital said...

Been talking about it a bit on Jesters blog. the idea of having a CEO be an actual trade, with progression.

Turning all those l4 missioners and miners into a part of the game basically, similar to what you proposed.

Have to be a CEO with certain standing to get missions from agents, you put out requests to have them finish, offer a percentage of bounty, bonus for returning salvage etc. CEO's get bonuses for using employees instead of freelancers, employees get steadier work than freelancer etc.

then a corp is actually the only way to funnel money and items through the game. Only corps can anchor POS, offer them for industry, along with the salvage from missions, request X amount of goods, with payout of Y. Indy corp takes the contract, builds it locally. CEO's would have to pay for manufactuing slots in NPC stations, more expensive, but less capital investment than POS

Maybe manufacture in house, avoid broker fees.

We already have hauler corps, add them to the food chain, corp now has need to move goods to market.

basically everything has to be impossible to do as a solo player. NPC interaction is always through the company, and the company hires players.

Imagine instead of mission agents, you have to look for CEO offices to find jobs. Better organized ones will have better missions, better income, etc.

Would be a reason to actually care about HIsec companies, a reason to fight to keep stuff in hisec, an incentive too.

And as far as nul goes, just fix sov, since you are trading concord for more isk, tweak that till it's as balanced as a starcraft game.

Anonymous said...

playing devils advocate:

missionser - make sure you blow up the web scram frigs first.
frigshooter - sure.
missioner - shoot the web scram frigs NOW!
frigshooter - 50m or your BS goes boom.

Grimmash said...

The only big problem I can see here is people abusing all the fleet invites you propose to get warp-ins to plan attacks/ganks.

Outside that, I wonder about how profitable most of these activities would actually be compared to the current game mechanics.

Anonymous said...

So LFD for EVE?
or am i reading wrong?

Gevlon said...

LFD is a good catchphrase, and LFD is a huge success in WoW. Of course it can't be adopted as the WoW LFD is based on the idea that you can't kick even an AFK/autofollow player.

Here you'd be rewarded directly after performance and not just for presence.

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