Friday, February 24, 2012

BB33 -- Eve Online: Top Gun

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."


Being a rookie in Eve ain't easy. In fact, its down right hard. I still remember on my first day, I couldn't figure out for the life of me how to get to the next system over. I didn't know what a stargate was, let alone how to get to it or even use it. Its been a while since I've rolled a new character, but the experience is distinctly different for a brand new player versus one who is just making a new character. Legitimately learning the ropes can be tough. I personally had a great time. I was so impressed by the scale of the universe, all of the ships available, and how much you could do in space. I must admit though, I had some friends who were already playing the game, and that softened the learning curve quite a bit.  The tutorials are good, but they still aren't where they need to be. From my perspective, they're missing the heart of the game: player versus player combat.

When a new pilot goes through the tutorials, he sees all kinds of things. PVE content is a big focus. There are a ton of missions to run, and they introduce you to the various professions of Eve. This is all well and good, but what about the personality analysis on the homepage?  Where's the pirate tutorial? How about fleet commander? I've been thinking for a while about how to correctly implement this, and I still haven't reached a perfect conclusion. This is what I came up with though. First, Aura can take players through a little crash course on how fighting capsuleers is different. Call this course Advanced Tactics, or even Top Gun. If that doesn't sound appealing to a rookie, I don't know what would. Top Gun works like this:

  • A quick fitting primer  
    • Armor or Shield, not both. Buffer or active, not both. These aren't absolutes, but general rules of thumb. Show a couple example fittings, link to other races.
    • Fit the same size & type of weapons. No one wants to see a killmail of some noob running around with a blaster and two different sized railguns on his first Incursus.
    • Propulsion - Break down both Afterburners and MWD's.
    • Warp Scramblers/Disruptors - Necessity for solo or small gang. Webs don't hurt either.
  • Trials against more advanced AI computers -- Lesson Oriented
    • If the noob doesn't fit a scram, have the NPC warp off if it is about to explode. Explain both how and why it happened.
    • Gradually introduce electronic warfare into computer based AI. If a rookie gets fried by the NPC's energy neutralizer, explain it to them and how to combat it by either Nosferatu's, capacitor boosters, or other capacitor mods. Same goes for jamming, tracking disrupting, all of it. 
After graduation, the new capsuleer could read about the various routes they could go down, and what the implications would be. This should all directly tie into the personality analysis on the main site. If you get all excited about becoming a freedom fighter on the front page, you should be pointed in the right direction towards Faction Warfare after graduation. It only makes sense.

This is all technology CCP has right now, except for perhaps the responsive feedback part (Neuts really killed you, here's why). This could be so much more immersive. One would actually feel ties to the Federal Navy Academy or Republic Military School. They would also feel like they really got something out of it, as opposed to a bunch of random mods, some isk, and a couple T1 ships.  Lastly, the new pilots would also be much more prepared, more interested and less frustrated. Sounds like subscriber retention to me, CCP.

Now here's where people may want to burn me at the stake. I'm kind of partial to a little 1v1 arena setup within each of the respective training academy schools. Restrict it to pilots with SP below an Alpha clone (900k SP) to keep it relatively fair. This gives pilots the ability to test out skills in a fairly innocuous environment, but they get kicked out and have to get their combat fix elsewhere pretty darn quick. Again, getting the boot from the training league would bring up the references to the various professions, and the pilot would have to find their own way. This would require a significantly larger investment from CCP developers, but what better way to learn PvP than to actually take part (in a semi-controlled environment)? It lets the rookies duke it out without being blobbed to death by a Tengu fleet when they can barely avoid the Rifter they have. There will surely be the sharks that have 899,999 skill points, all as maxed out as a rookie pilot can be and looking for easy prey. Oh well. Let's be honest, everyone sucks when they have little enough SP to keep an Alpha clone, and the new pilots have to learn how to lose ships some time anyway.

I know the latter part will almost certainly never happen, but I like the idea. In the military, everyone does training exercises to gear up for the real event. Hell, even the Harry Potter kids had duels with real spells (If Jester can make HP references, I can too). It's the perfect level of training before the newest class of capsuleers hits new Eden.

Regardless, I think a PvP crash course is essential for the New Player Experience. The current experience is largely very good. It teaches the player about many aspects of the game and even begins to provide them with ships, modules and skillbooks necessary to get on their way. They're redesigning the Rookie Ships too! That's also a huge step up. At the end of the day though, it comes down to getting people involved in the part of Eve that keeps people around, and that is player versus player combat. That is what will take the new player experience to the next level. Its time to start sending New Eden's newest pilots to Top Gun.

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