Monday, February 10, 2014

Starting Again

Player retention has been on the air. I'm as interested in it as anyone who is interested in it. As part of my CSM prep (since retention is an area I'm interested in and half of my not to terrible ideas are about improving life for newer players) I finally sat down to do the tutorials. I've been meaning to for ages but it is very easy to just forget to do them. After all, these days I log in and alt, autopilot her to where I need her and start pumping skill books and ISK into her. This time I decided to go and do the missions and make my ISK that way and then go to Faction Warfare and finally try some entry level frigate stuff as well as trying to make it in Eve as a newbie again.

I've been writing an on going list of thoughts about the tutorial process that I will sum up later. I don't dislike the Tutorials but it is bad when I find myself confused doing basic things. However, along the way other things happened. Such as Rookie Chat. I adore rookie chat. I still do after two years. I spend about 70% of the time answering questions instead of doing the missions. I even adopted a week old player and dumped him to the mercies of my chatroom. He is past all the basics and just needs some footing so as long as he is willing to tolerate me I'll be available to answer questions. But that burns through my ISK because everyone has CSPA fees and I have like 400k ISK right now. Oh well.

Interesting things happen in Rookie Chat. Such as ideas:
Cortes D'Arc > i totally thought i could send out probes and find arkonor roids then jsut warp to them haha
This came after we explained how probes and finding things with probes worked compared to survey scanners and finding out how much ore is in them. Still, I found his idea interesting. Go to a system, launch a probe, have it report back if a particular asteroid type was available and where it was. It just seemed as if it had some potential to be interesting and searching for things.

I missed who suggested this one but saw it flicker across the screen.
If you could mine particular minerals out of the asteroid instead of getting a mix of what it has.
He was looking for Pyerite if I am correct.  And he thought it would make more sense if you could selectively mine minerals out of mixed asteroids instead of the general rock crusher approach that we currently have. I thought that would be interesting. Instead of finding a field stripped of rocks you'd find it stripped of particular minerals. Again, I'm not sure if it is practical but it seemed interesting and a different approach.

It also told me that there is a lot of different opinions as to what mining would be or should be. The change mining to be more interesting debate is a large one and an old one. Seeing it through new players eyes is interesting.

The newbie that I picked up and adopted was telling me about the current scams to get rookies into areas to die. Knowing that they cannot do it in rookie chat they are doing mass invites. Once in the chatroom the recruiters are giving them ISK to pack up all of their stuff and fly to a system where they then AWOX them.

I rarely speak out against the things people do to each other in game. I will limit my association based off of how people treat each other but I don't insist the people approach the game the same way that I do. Even if I can't understand a play-style I accept it. Except for the people who truly prey upon absolute newbies. I cannot wrap my head around it and it drives me to a red eyed insanity. They crouch outside of the rooke stations suspect. They rename cans and mobile depots to say, "free stuff" or some mix to try to lure them out. Like my story above they invite from rookie chat and lure them away from the systems and then kill them and take or destroy all of their stuff.

Yes, Eve is a cruel game. We live, we die, we fight, we lose, we win. But, there is a line to me and that line is when fun comes in finding day old players and killing them. "They have to learn sometime" is really a completely ridiculous excuse. They are going to learn. They are going to take a distribution mission into low sec or be like the one who I gave a bunch of links to about wormholes and how to judge what they are and where they go because he keeps hopping into them. I don't feel guilty if I kill a newbie in low sec. I may send them a mail to try to help them not make the same mistake but guilt? No. Because it is a cruel game where ignorance can be your biggest challenge. But none of that lines up with those that stalk them in rookie chat and in the rookie systems. It is game play that I disgusting.

Fixing it isn't as easy as condemning it. I guess it is similar to those that camp spawn points in other games. It is not like the conversations about challenge and cowardice that I often here. All of that is game play but none of it is on the level of what people who stalk day old players do. I don't want to have an Eve with instances and 'safe' zones for newbies. That is why fixing the problem is so hard. And it is a problem.

Outside of that, I do have one pet point that is driving me crazy about the tutorials and I must campaign to have added: In the very first missions Aura teaches you how to warp to gates and use acceleration gates and jump through gates and open cans and approach things and orbit things. But what Aura does not teach you is to double click in space to manually pilot your ship. That needs to go in there. It won't fix all the people who want joysticks and Valkyrie but I fully believe it will help with the immersion and depth of the 3D environment that is in current game play.

21 comments:

  1. Yes, that doubleclick thing needs to be done, I learned after a YEAR of playing, until then I made my insta-undocks by flying zig-zag aligning to celestials. Ouch!

    But actually it's easy to fix the newbie-hunting, you just don't like the fix, being that social butterfly. It's a big, red pop-up box that Aura reads up laud and can't be canceled:

    "Most players out there want to kill you. Don't trust ANYONE who is giving you anything but information. If someone wants you to join his corp or his fleet, wants you to go somewhere or do something is probably plotting against you. Until you learn the game, which can take about a month or two, play totally solo, do not join any kind of groups because they are your enemies! If you change your safety settings to anything but green or leave highsec, your ship will die in a few minutes or even seconds. Be prepared!"

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    1. CCP has already said that players who interact stay. I cannot see anything positive by pushing them to solo gameplay through fear mongering.

      Nor will scaring them away from three fourths of the game help anything.

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  2. Whenever I start a new character I spend way more time speaking in rookie chat than I should as well. Over the years though I've come to hate certain parts about the rookie chat system of answering questions. This might sound cold hearted, silly, and to defeat the purpose of the channel. Buuuut.... I think people answer too many questions in rookie chat. At some point I've always felt there are answers we shouldn't give. Instead we should be telling them to google it. Every time I see someone go into some 10-15 minute conversation about some esoteric facet of the game I feel we're doing the newbie a dis-service by answering their question. It may not help immediate player retention, but at some point they have to come to terms with how much of Eve isn't in Eve, and is instead outside resources.

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    1. I can see your point but I disagree.

      Eve is pretty over whelming. People don't know those resources are out there. I give s lot of links. People ask about the grades of asteroids and I give a kink to the ore guides. They ask about one thing I give a link. A lot of questions are yes and no answers that are not easy to find.

      The room has over six thousand people in it right now. Its throwing a handful of food into a starving crowd. But you have to read beyond the basics. The people who say "I don't think I'd have stayed if not for this chat" and the ones who comment that the community is amazing. That expierenced players are invested enough to spend time doing Q&A work amazes them.

      It is a way to bring them in early without a corp and the time commitment to mentor. Positive interaction will hook new players on the game. Were not going to teach them anything but thenfsct that its doable and learnable and worth it.

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    2. I'm a newish player, but I read a lot about Eve and try to answer questions when I know I do. I also point out links to guides and blogs that explain something better or in more detail, when appropriate. This isn't the same as telling them to google something, but it does introduce them to several of the great resources available on the web. Though personally, I always hate the "google it" response. If you don't want to answer, don't answer. People are allowed to ask questions.

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    3. Some of my rant there is part of a larger issue I have with outside resources and how Eve interacts with them in relation to new players. In that it doesn't. Which I feel is wrong, since beyond a certain point CCP relies on them to make Eve work.

      That being said, there are certain parts of Eve, even core parts of Eve, that I feel "google it" teaches better than hours of conversation. For instance, ship fitting. I can toss a link to a fit, and I can even toss a link to a fitting guide. The first page of google results on "eve online fitting guide" will do them more good than either of those or an hour of talking to me on voice comms.

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    4. Please don't tell people to "google it". Some of us have a hard time asking questions, mainly because of people who say that, or worse.
      If you are saying it because you wrote an "eve online fitting guide" and want them to find it, just give them the link.
      Have you written any guides or answered forum questions or created a site like eve-survival? I have not but I love to answer rookie questions when I can, even if I have to look them up.

      Here are some things I learned recently, can you please tell me how long it takes you to confirm them via google?
      - Side effects to boosters are shown under the character sheet in the augmentations tab. ( I read that the main effect was, but I wasn't sure if the side effect was also. )
      - You can get more than one side effect from a booster.
      - Warp canceling a dread to a C5 sleeper site does not escalate the site (on Sisi, not sure if it is live or bug ), the dread must be on grid.

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    5. We are dealing with many types of players. Google can be just as confusing when someone starts because Eve is full of technical language that new players do not understand.

      To draw a non-Eve comparason: Minecraft. It took me almost a month to figure out how to shrink the protected spawn area on our server simply because I did not know that it was called 'spawn'. I picked that up reading other posts and seeing it referenced and putting two and two together. My random googling for the wrong words did not help me because the bulk of people interested in posting/writing use technical language because they play regularly and understand things.

      I just do not feel that we are hand feeding newbies when you are throwing a handful of knowledge out and, if lucky, five out of the six thousand in chat will catch it. Also, once they get their feet under them they surge forward full speed ahead.

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    6. We're talking about two different types of teaching.

      There is the large overall thing you're trying to learn. "How do I run a Minecraft Server.", that is very large and complex, and I wouldn't try to teach it inside Rookie Chat. I see it as out of scope. It'd take me an hour to explain it, So "Google It".

      There is then a specific thing you don't understand about running a Minecraft Server. "How do I resize spawn?". That's a quick command and explaining variables inside that command. I'd absolutely see that as something to answer in Rookie Chat. It's something you can do inside 2-3 posts very quickly.

      My problem, very specifically with Rookie Chat, is I've seen people try to explain the entire process of running a Minecraft Server. Starting with "Download the .jar file.".

      I think this is a generational thing with Eve. The longer you've been with the game the more likely "Google it" is the correct answer. Because starting out that was the only answer way back when. To call the tutorial when I started inadequate would be an insult to things that are merely inadequate.

      All of that being said though, for a whole lot of questions Google It is the best answer. Unless you want to setup a video chat with a white board behind you and start explaining POS reactions to a newbie who's interested in manufacturing T2 because he was told, correctly, that the margins on T1 are horrible. Or an economics lesson on why mined minerals are not free, because even after being told that no one seems to believe it. Or a top down overview of ship engagement. Or, or, or.

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    7. Actually, no... If there is a good HOWTO for setting up a Minecraft server, just give me the link.

      "Google it" works, if there is a well established resource for that kind of info. For example, for WoW, it usually works well.

      For EVE, whenever I google for anything, I get some hits, browse them. And afterwards, when I complain that it didn't help me, people tell me "why are you using this instead of that" or "the fits there are bad, don't look at them" and so on.

      Google doesn't tell you how good a resource is, just how popular (and that could be from a third topic, e.g. see battleclinic).

      I completely agree that teaching newbies where to look for info is far better than an half-an-hour walk-through typed in rookie chat. But go search for it (nothing else is "google it") is not a helpful answer. I probably already tried and failed.

      Like Sugar said, in order to search for something, you need to know how it is called, especially as a non-native speaker (e.g. I didn't knew the term "loadout" existed for a very long time).

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  3. I agree with you regarding preying on newbs.

    I kill everyone mercilessly if I can find them in wspace. Usually I cannot tell whether someone is a newb or not. If I do discover I killed a newb (usually after the fact), I try to help him. Going out of my way to kill a player who I can kill only because he is ignorant of what is happening is not my kind of hunting.

    In particular I find reverse-awoxing (in highsec) to be repellent. I don't see much valid use for the ability to kill corpmates. This system dates from before there were duels. Corporate free-fire does make it easy to create large teams for intra-corp scrimmages. You can't replicate that trivially using duels (it requires N*M/2 separate duels; when N and M get large this gets difficult). If they turned off free-fire on corpmates we'd lose that. But this strikes me as a reasonable thing to give up to stop the reverse-awox.

    Of course, turning off corporate free-fire does not make the reverse-awox impossible. You can still do it outside of highsec, or you can accept being Concorded. Or you can talk the mark into a duel. And you can still steal, and more generally, you can betray trust and laugh about it. But I think it would be a step in the right direction.

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    1. What if they added a mobile structure (Small Mobile 'Thunderdome' Battlefield) that generated a field in which the people inside it would be free to fire on each other? It'd even provide a visual arena you could have a FFA in, could create a countdown before it allows combat, etc. There'd have to be rules about what happens if you fly out of the field, though. This would also allow team fights, since everyone wouldn't have to be fleeted with each other for it to work. Add that and you can remove the ability to shoot corp-members without repercussion.

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    2. I like that idea. I always found it a bit weird to be able to shoot corpmates without any repercussion or anything. Adding a 'Thunderdome' sounds pretty cool, and a neat solution for FFA firefights, if that's what you want. And something that creates interaction as well.

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    3. You should add this to Fozzie's structure idea thread on the forums DJSutton.

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    4. Rather than yet another deployable, why not have an anomaly type, say in lowsec, that's readily available and already in-game? You could have it act as a gated hull-limited FFA area, which "holding the field" for FW players results in LP accruing as well as system control. I think they could call it something cool, like "xxx novice facility" or "xxx small stronghold", and "bigger" anoms allow bigger/more varied hull types, as well as dramatic increases of LP rewards for FW players IF they can hold the field.
      Yes, that's ripping off from Susan Black almost direct, but it's a really good idea and I think would provide that "FFA" deal without all the cries of "arena PvP = WoWification of EVE", etc, which WILL torpedo your CSM run.

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  4. So about player immersion...

    From everything I've read, the idea of player immersion seams to be taking a player from undocking in their newb ship to participating in the meta game. At which point CCP figures that a subscription is guaranteed.

    I'll play along with this definition despite believing that this is the wrong mentality to have (they should be aiming for people wanting to PLAY the GAME instead of wanting to go READ about the game).

    So, what's a new players hurdle? The players attempting to scam them? The tutorials? People wanting to shoot them? Maybe in part, but the real hurdle most players have can be summed up simply as: The UI.

    Let's look at my 'immersion' into Eve real quick. I played eve close to when it first came out as I wanted to play a space MMO. I let my trial expire and walked away. Why? There was another space MMO out at the time (Beyond Earth or something from EA) that actually let me PILOT a ship (as in be in the cockpit looking out). I couldn't get past the 3rd person isometric view.

    Fast forward, I try Eve again. The other space MMO is cancelled, so Eve is now the only game in town. I try it again. Again I let my trial expire as I simply couldn't figure out the UI to a level I felt comfortable with. I was essentially stopping game play, whether things where shooting me or not, and has to say, "Okay I need to do X, how the heck do I do it?"

    Third time I try Eve I go at it KNOWING the the UI sucked. But wanted to play a space MMO I tough it out and start learning....

    I was in my late teens early twenties when I originally tried Eve and it wasn't until I was in my thirties that I actually sat down and invested the time and energy learning how to use the crappy UI that the game even now uses.

    Until the UI is readdressed and relayed out out, CCP is effectively cutting off it's own head by excluding the majority of the late teen / early twenty crowed, which makes up a large percentage of the gaming population. Don't believe me? Try to teach a teenager something complicated that he is only vaguely interested in. They quickly become uninterested...

    And saying the UI is complicated because the game is complicated is a cop out. You can make an easily understood UI for the game.

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    1. I decided to give this a full post for tomorrow.

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    2. I think Eve vs Minecraft is a good place to start. "Eve with LEGOs" has the potential to be just as brutal and complicated as Eve but I was able to play it with a 13 year old. The "was able" part was partly because of the UI, but I think Eve needs more than a better UI (yes that would help). It needs a compelling intro/tutorial to create the drive to play it. The 13 year old's drive to play Minecraft came from building things (I'm guessing after seeing what others have built), and if the UI would have been a little more difficult I don't think it would've mattered. I'm guessing Sarah's drive comes from flying spaceships. For me it's specifically the "oh crap transversal, another alarm going off" flying. I really think rookies need to feel that more even if it's on rails. My suggestion is a ride along with a Concord agent that lets you do more advanced things without needing skills or isk so they know what they are working/waiting for.

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    3. I am fine with short attention span teenagers not "getting into" Eve. It has not been, and I hope never will be, a short duration action packed ship explosion extravaganza. Planning, strategy, tactics, are far deeper elements that are one of Eve Onlined strengths.

      The other strength, and weakness, is the players. Eve is a terribly dull single player game. Yes, the UI is mediocre and riddled with some questionable design decisions, but like a lot of things with Eve and it's rough diamond-like appeal, one gets used to it and moves on to the deeper aspects of the game.

      Now, I'm a crusty bitter vet asshole, I've long since gone through the other stages of grief and (mostly) moved into the acceptance stage of Eve Online's UI.

      Is it not written that "as long as man has a why, he can endure any how"? There has to be compelling reasons to endure the badness, which I feel mostly comes from player corps.

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    4. Which is a fine mentality for an individual to have, but not for CCP looking at subscription numbers. Intentionally cutting off a large chunk of you're player base is equivalent to intentionally cutting off your own limb. Can it be done? Yes. Should it be done? Not without a damned good reason.

      Regardless of the mentality of players, More players = more things to shoot at anyway.

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    5. "Regardless of the mentality of players, More players = more things to shoot at anyway."

      No, it actually doesn't.
      What it DOES result in is more ragequits, more threadnaughts, more whining, and more demands for "totally safe hisec", which in the end leads to FAR LESS things to shoot at which aren't red crosses. It leads to even more stagnation, it leads to a more "PvE-centric" game, which in a game where the PvE is fairly terribad, will lead again to unsubs.

      Then there's the ecology aspect. Gallente hisec stations in Verge are running minimum 45-day wait times on material or time research slots. Asteroid fields are being mined almost dry, and you'd better catch an ore anom when it first spawns if you want a shot at any of the +10% ores.
      Double the playerbase and see how "playable" EVE is when its already-stretched hisec resources are pushed to the breaking point, and all "conflict" in hisec is disallowed, as per the wishes of the newfound playerbase by making EVE "kinder and gentler". See how many of those new players stick around then, with a game that's "virtually unplayable". ;-)

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