Blog Banter 33: The Capsuleer Experience
Like mana from Valhalla (yes I know I’m mixing my religious metaphors), the latest Dev Blog by CCP Legion asks questions which make for perfect Blog Bantering. To quote him “…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.”
Last year I embarked on a somewhat ambitious task – create a new character and go straight to piracy. The point of it was to try and get a sense of whether going -10 right off the bat is viable without the aid of alts. Unfortunately, RL cropped up and I haven’t been able to finish that particular endeavor, though it is still very much on my mind.
However, what I did get done was the NPE (New Player Experience). And what I found wasn’t that great. The first five to ten minutes of a brand new character’s experience was really refreshing. Whoever did that bit should get a raise and a high five. It was interactive, it was ‘real’ (in the sense that it didn’t make use of Civilian mods but instead gave you real Tech 1 modules right off the bat), and its conclusion was spectacular (giving a new player a glimpse of the wide range of ships that a given race can fly).
Then I embarked on the Military and Advanced Military tutorials. Even today I can find a little rage about that experience. It was, in a word, awful. Over the course of the Military tutorial I ran into several discrepancies, quoted here from The Malukker Project Part 1:
- Two missions in to the Military career agent’s string and I get a tutorial pop up referencing Civilian Gatling Autocannons. I’ve been using the real T1 shit from the very beginning.
- Soon after, the tutorial pop up begins talking about Stasis Webifiers, demanding that if I don’t have one I should go buy one. Nearest Web is 5 jumps away, not to mention I haven’t been given the appropriate skillbook. Minor gripes, I know, but is this really how you want a brand new player to be spending his time? 10 minutes to get the Web and come back, just to learn he has to wait another 10 minutes for a skill to train even to fit it? Give me a break.
- Naturally, after that mission is when I get the Propulsion Jamming skillbook. So you just made the new player waste 20 mins and ISK that otherwise he shouldn’t have.
- Another mission or two in and I’m handed a Civilian Shield Booster. Once again, I’ve been using regular T1 since the first mission. Thanks.
- After that, I get an Afterburner as a reward for a mission – but not the skillbook to use it. Kinda like giving someone a pie in a locked glass case. Lick the glass bitch, ‘cuz you ain’t touchin’ the real thang!
- Mission 5 or 6 triggers a tutorial pop up about acceleration gates, which I was told about in the first five minutes in game. Redundant shit is shit.
- Next, I am given a Small Armor Repair System. The tutorial pop up is actually relevant, but wants me to fit the repper and use it. It states that I was given the appropriate skillbook during the ‘crash course’. I wasn’t. GG.
And that was before I had even finished that small arc. I’m a fairly level headed guy – I don’t rage quit (often) and tend to take things with some equanimity. However, this experience was so bad I logged before finishing the Military arc.
The next day I picked it back up, determined to finish the Military arc and do the ‘Advanced Military’ bit. The ‘Advanced’ tutorial was relatively newer than the old one, so I figured perhaps it would jive better with the initial ‘total newb’ experience. It didn’t.
In fact it contradicted the first five minutes more than the regular Military tutorial did. At the end of this I had lost a lot of the motivation to even finish the Malukker project as a whole. If this is what a new player has to go through when they start Eve, it is no wonder there is a limited growth in the game.
Now, on to how I would fix it. First, I would make everyone on the new NPE team actually play the current NPE. There is no way to express how disjointed and confusingly redundant the NPE is without actually playing through it. I would encourage them to take notes throughout the process, as I did, and see where the whole thing can be streamlined.
Despite my disgust with the overall experience, I think several parts of it are quite good. The concept behind the ‘Advanced Military’ tutorial being something of a beginner’s course in PVP is a good one – the execution is what sucks. Rename the tutorial to PVP and focus on making it a bit more reflective of actual PVP.
The first five minutes, or ‘Total Newb’ tutorial as I have dubbed it here, should set the bar for the rest of the tutorials. Make it engaging, make it lively, and show us some cool stuff. After all, this is the first impression of a game that, if a player can take an interest in it, will have them hooked for years. Show them even more cool stuff along the lines of the racial fleet displayed at the end of the Total Newb tutorial.
Greater emphasis on the skill queue and certificates would also be great. Making characters start off with more basic skills would also be good. I don’t think a character who wants to mine would really care about having Propulsion Jamming to two if it came free at character creation. There are lots of little tweaks that could be made not only to show off the engine of Eve, but also make those first baby steps really enjoyable.
In closing – you are close to the mark with the first five minutes, CCP. Make the first five hours achieve that same level of immersion, engagement and coolness. Maybe then you won’t have so many people try Eve and quit it on the same day.