Friday, October 24, 2014

Let Them Choose a Way

Let's talk about options.

CCP Rise discussed an idea he has been kicking around in his spare time of permanent death. He pointed out that it is an idea as old as Eve it is just one that has never been achieved. He also said that how it would be implemented is still a series of ideas or guesses. It, like many things that have been said and will be said, is an idea.

I like the idea of permanent death and I say that as someone who will never, ever use the option. The thing is that I like options. I have also pushed for players that start to have more options in how they start the game. To move back and use another game as an example, I shall use Skyrim. I love Skyrim with all of my heart and soul and when I finally started to use mods for Skyrim I picked mods that did not give me special bonuses but instead gave me more options to live in the game world.

I picked a mod that gave me an alternate start. It threw me out somewhere to the west. I was immediately chased by wolves and dragons. Did I mention that I added a 'more' dragon mod? It made them appear everywhere and try to kill me constantly. Then, I ran through a bandit camp and they chased me to. Off into a snow storm I ran, heading roughly towards my icon with nothing but a stick, a pack of wolves chasing me, and bandits shooting me with arrows.

I loved it. I eventually worked my way to the start of the normal game but it took a while for that to happen. During that time I tripped over all sorts of things in the game environment, I died a few times, and in general I had refreshed a game that I had already put hundreds of hours into.

The idea of things like permanent death or alternate starts in Eve are very much for the people who want to pick them as options. No one has suggested that they will be the only way to play Eve. They would just be another way to play. With new ways to play will come new cultures. What spurred me to write this was a comment that permanent death would make people more risk adverse. I don't agree. In fact, I think that if we opened up more and different pathways for people to enter the game on their own terms we might shed some of unwritten rules that we have now.

Perhaps we have to many bottlenecks for new players. My theory is that if people had more options in how they started the game they'd therefore enter the game with a different mindset. If someone chose to enter with a permanent death mode, they'd behave in a different manner from someone who entered and followed a tutorial string. If another decided to take a 'just start' mode where they were randomly dropped into space and had to figure things out for themselves, they'd develop their knowledge of the game based off of the fact that they started knowing they'd need to go out and learn.

Our current tutorial simply funnels too many people into one mindset. If Eve were a game like many others where there were directions and pathways that a player went on until they reached endgame, that would be fine. But Eve is a game where we need people to decide on their personal destiny rather quickly. Even if they don't know what that is, the fact that they are looking for one is a good start.

While I think the new player start that they are working on will give people a less structured box to learn in, I still believe that including other random methods to start with no goal of assisting the player is good. If someone selects these options they have already made a series of personal decisions. They are also prepared to seek knowledge because they just told the game, "naw, I don't want your starter stuff."

I'm a great believer in options.

13 comments:

  1. I would love the ability to start off in NPC null instead of the empires. Instead of one of the 4 factions you could start off as a pirate or ORE or any of the other factions.

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  2. Options are good for bored veterans who already figured the game. But they are terrible for actual new players who need to learn the game before being forced to make decissions when they don't even know that they're decissions.

    I think that you don't recall how it is to be new in a game. FAI, as you played Skyrim for hundreds of hours, it was nice to start on the West and be chased by bandits right from the start... but would not be so nice when you don't even know where the map is or how to use your weapons, or know that most of the map is safer than that.

    Can you figure a noob with any of the permadeath proposals? "Here, have 10 million SP, use them as you see fit". They die a horrible death before learning to play the game, try again, die again, then they give up. Congratulations!

    Options kill more potential players than the tutorial. Options lead to pick the wrong guys, to be scammed, to be awoxed, to learn "wrong" things, to never try what they could like...

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    Replies
    1. And maybe they do.

      But my thoughts first started bubbling up not from CCP Rise's presentation but from listening to complaints and questions in rookie chat. That mixed in with the question of why do some people stick and why do some not? Mixed in with the fact that the current system isn't retaining as one would wish, I'm deeply curious about what happens if new options are added.

      I've never suggested taking anything away. If someone choose permanent death from the start, found out they didn't understand it well enough, you don't think they might try an alternate starting point when it didn't work out?

      Currently the game leads towards people being awoxed, scamed, learning the wrong things, never trying what they might have or might not have and quitting the game because something terrible and confusing happens. That is what led to my thought that people who chose a more confusing and chaotic entry from the start may simply adapt to that entry better because they made that choice. Those who did not think it would suit their personalities, such as myself, would have a lesser chance of making that start.

      I'm working under the thought that people consciously, or unconsciously, know their own tastes.

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    2. Can you figure a noob with any of the permadeath proposals?
      Uh really? So you don't make permadeath the Primary etry screen for basic New Accounts, you make it an 'option' they have to dig for a little bit (which vets will know to look for) with an 'accept' screen that says;

      "This feature requires a good working understanding of the games mechanics and gameplay. The Permadeath option is strongly not recommended for new players to EVE."

      There, done. If a noob chooses it after that, well, buyer beware.

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    3. "If someone choose permanent death from the start, found out they didn't understand it well enough, you don't think they might try an alternate starting point when it didn't work out?"

      In my experience, in a time where there are so many other games out there vying for a player's time, I find that frustration like this is usually met with moving on to something else, rather than trying over and over again. It may not exactly be the best mindset for an EVE player, but sometimes you have to ease people into this stuff.

      In the case of friends who I have invited into EVE, their complaints have never been about a lack of options, but rather about not understanding how things work or knowing what they were supposed to be doing.

      I love options; options are a very good thing, but an option like this is more geared towards the experienced player looking for something new rather than for a brand new player who has no idea what he is doing. I don't think these permadeath characters really add anything worthwhile to the NPE, and if you are supporting this option for that purpose, then I think you're off track. What new players need is better information and more clear direction on how to pursue a chosen path. Basics first, then options later.

      Just a side thought: if the permadeath characters are to come preloaded with X skill points, perhaps they should be something unlocked only after a player has trained another character to X skill points. That could even open up a possibility for creating permadeath characters of different SP levels, based on what you've already trained. I'm sure there are reasons to limit this, but it's an idea.

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  3. I think that if we opened up more and different pathways for people to enter the game on their own terms we might shed some of unwritten rules that we have now.

    I agree... and had Incarna rolled out with CONTENT, IE places for us to GO and things to DO in the new FP Avatars, I believe we would have (1) not had as ragey a summer and (2) grown the playerbase due to OPTIONS in gameplay.

    I wanna explore a Sleeper Station, meet new and interesting Aliens, and Kill them and take they stuff!!

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  4. I think the internet ate my comment.

    I would love this idea. Eve on hard mode? Yes please! I'd love to see leaderboards associated with this. Who cares if I have 200 kills, but if I have 200 kills with permadeath then its really an achievement!

    Also it adds content for everyone else. People get joy out of podding a pilot with expensive implants. Imagine podding a pilot who had permadeath? They would squeal.

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  5. I agree with the statement that the current NPE funnels new players into a certain mindset of expectations, which then leaves them lost once they get out of the tutorial. It's why there are so many new high-sec miners that only do that. You get spit out by the tutorial and then try to make your own way, but you have no grounding in how to go about a lot of activities on your own, even if you learned the basics of the mechanics in the tutorial. The first two times I tried playing the game, that was my experience. I didn't have any grounding in what I could do or how to go about it, so I lost interest because my expectations had been geared by the tutorial to "go do this, get a reward" in the classic mmo themepark model.

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  6. That sounds great to me. I need to watch this presentation. Is it up on YouTube yet?

    I also liked the direction CCP Rise was taking in his Fanfest presentation, where he was talking about having the tutorial react to what the player was doing. Did you just undock for the first time? This is how to get around. Did you just land on grid with some interesting object? This is what it is, and why it's interesting. Are you warping to a lowsec gate? This is what lowsec is. All in purely mechanical terms, of course; the game can't really teach the metagame, beyond the most rudimentary and longstanding ways, but it could do a much, much better job of teaching the game.

    Being able to choose the level of handholding you want, and even whether you spawn in high sec or in pirate nullsec or even in an Empire station in lowsec would be amazing. Thukker and the pirate factions (less, perhaps, Sansha) as playable character options? Awesome.

    Also, n.b.: it's risk averse, not risk adverse. Exposure to risk may cause an adverse reaction in some players; that's risk aversion. ;-)

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  7. I think what the NPE could do a better job of is showing more of the options available to the player. It only really covers missions, exploration and mining. There are a lot of mechanics that are never even mentioned much less explained what they're for. PI come to mind as one of the hidden mechanics in the game. The personalty quiz on the website does a better job of showing possible avenues of play than the tutorial/NPE does.

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  8. From a lore perspective, permadeath characters don't make sense as capsuleers. They should be the non-pod pilots of New Eden.

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