Greedy Goblin

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Please don't talk about NPE or newbies!

The newbies are a very common discussion topic. It's quite easy to "love" them and then suggest something that helps them - along with the suggesting person of course. The problem here isn't that the guy is usually just using newbies as an excuse to ask something for himself.

The problem is that veterans cannot have valid opinions about new players and how to retain them, simply because they are neither newbies, nor they ever were newbies who weren't retained. I mean, no matter how many problems we saw with the New Player Experience (tutorials, or their lack of), we are still here. Do I think that the career agents are awesome? No. But I still completed them, multiple times for their rewards (10M is a lot for a 1 day old and faction standings are great). Could I design tutorials that I would have liked more? Sure. Could I design tutorials that increase new player retention rates? Unlikely.

The same applies to devs, even if they (should) have a better knowledge about NPE implementation of the industry. The only true way is what they do now: two versions of NPE provided to new players, and the one with higher conversion rate is implemented. Then again a change is designed, offered to half of the players, kept or rejected based on numbers.

The fundamental problem is that we can't ask quitters why, as they will not answer to a letter coming from CCP. They may give feedback if they rage-unsubscribe, but if they just got bored and stopped logged in, they won't provide any feedback, or just provide the trivial and useless "I got bored with the game". The only useful information is retention rate and it must be used, not opinions, especially not opinions of people who aren't even in the target audience (newbies).

Please note that "I'm a newbie since I only play X time" is dumb. If you are aware of the EVE community and consider it important to communicate your opinion to a blogger, you are already a veteran. Newbies get bored exactly for missing the "community" and seeing EVE as "just my ship and these rocks and red crosses and assholes who kill me for no reason".

PS: For example if he was a detached new player, he'd think that he was killed by bullies while he traveled harmlessly. If he is an involved veteran, he realized that serving Evil lead him to the way of suffering. Hopefully his decision will be abandoning Evil instead of replacing his ship and hoping that he'll survive next time.


Sugar Kyle said...

This is one of those areas where being social has a side effect of gaining information and perspectives. That's what communication is about.

Anonymous said...

This is something that I think about a lot. Not in Eve... in my own game work.

I think the tutorials are about as good as they could possibly get in Eve as far as the NPE goes. Sure, the overview is tough, but that's not the tutorial's fault.

What new players need is insertion into the community without the absurd mechanics of war decs stopping them.

Good lord. You're on a 2 WEEK TRIAL. You can't rationally be expected to "dock up" for a week because some other people decided your group were easy targets.

At the same time, you can't rationally be expected to help "fight them off" because you have no combat skills, and you're currently training "industry" so you can move up from a Venture.

And, also at the same time, seeing as you're flying a Venture... it's hard to see how you'll be skinning off hundreds of millions of isk for "mercenaries." ... probably the same "mercenaries" who are currently paying to attack you.

So you have a game where there is not only no LINEAR PATH from NPE to "veteran", but there are PvP obstacles as well... .4 gate camps at choke points for example. You must have mentors to help you.

At the very least, the only way that works is to have social corps that can't be war decced.

New players NEED to be able to safely join player corps. Or they will quit in far higher percentages. It's not rocket science.

Ryanis said...

While I agree with the introduction, I disagree at some points.

First, if you actually talk to newbies and help them, you will understand what makes them quit.

Second, even if you stayed and are a so-called "veteran", you can still see gameplay problems for newbies if you are observative. Of course, you'll probably end up with a bias, but it's not a reason not to do it.

Anonymous said...

Nothing stops the devs to have a higher log level for X hours played accounts. to really see the activity of a player that never login anymore. The data is still up for interpretation and without the input of the player it will be hard to guess. still it's better than nothing.

veterans on fresh accounts are easily filtered out. UI activity and game activity give them away fast.

all the surveys, forum posts and player interaction can't beat good "debuging tools".
Also if done correctly you will have something similar to a demo file (does someone remember FPS demo file?) .. that could be something for players too. to record and share their play .. or have the last minute of the kill recorded in a small dm file and viewable/downloadable on zkb.

Zaxin said...

"You can no longer understand the problems new employees have because you are not one"

"you can no longer understand the problems children have because you are not one".

As Sugar said, people are capable of speaking to others, and getting information about how they are experiencing things. They are also capable of making new accounts and trying out the NPE.

Gevlon said...

@Zaxin: it's not "no longer". It's "never".

I was a 1 day old newbie. I never was a 1 day old newbie who has problem reading 100+ pages of Wiki about the game he just started.

Anonymous said...


I believe that nobody, veteran or otherwise, can make useable suggestions about how to turn EVE’s trial-players into subscribers.

There’s no magic formula. If there were, I’m sure the Game Designers would have tweaked it into existence by now.

This doesn’t mean that you can’t improve the new-player experience; you can, and CCP should, as they do other aspects of the game.

If the incoming new player doesn’t approach the game with the right attitude, he or she won’t even reach the point at which you can decide on an informed basis that this game is not for you.

The right attitude being: This is hard, but I’m going to get it if it kills me!

But you can’t legislate for Attitude, certainly not code for it. You can only reward it, where it presents itself. I think EVE does that pretty well with regard to our new players.

daniel said...

eve is a game for those that are willing to work themselfs through a huge amount of documentation.
it also is a game for those who are willing to join a group and do as they are told to do.

for everyone else there's a tone of other games.
not only ccp, but the playerbase as well, should understand that there indeed are people who just do not want to play this game.
i mean think of it, would i play cs if it had better tut's, or if it's mechanics were altered in a way that i could compete more easily? no, cause it's not my thing.

Anonymous said...

Wonder if there is a way to make recruiting and training truly new users/accounts profitable for corporations to invest their time, effort and ISK? Not just profitable because you have one more corporate members, but because they've been flagged by CCP say as less than 3 months old before picking their player corp. Then, after say a year, if they are still active and on the same user corporation they were in when they turned 3 months then CCP reimburses/pays that Corp with say a PLEX.

It then becomes a competion among corporations to recruit, train and retain new players. In a game run (made fun) by the community whose better hands to deliver this problem to?

Anonymous said...

Insightful post. And, even though I am one of those "got bored and quit after 3 months" newbies you are talking about - I still read your blog because you bring such different perspectives.

The post made me think again about why I quit after scaling the vertical learning curve. The short answer is "I wasn't enjoying EVE".

But that doesn't provide any useful info. I think it boils down to the game starting to feel like a job and when I took time off the "job" bit to learn to play/have fun I got killed. Which probably means I was stupid (which I'm not holding an engineering degree).

The bottom line is - the game feels like a closed club. A club that is for those members who've been there forever and don't want any new ones.

I did join a little player corp but bailed because they got wardecced because I expressed an opinion in chat.

That and not being enough of an XML whizz to work out how to get trading data into spreadsheets seemed to trample any fun into non-existence.

But anyway TY for such a lateral, interesting blog.

Anonymous said...