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New player experience: does CCP play pranks?

Initially I wanted the post for today to be a “business report”, but real life comes first: i.e. like most of the planet, I have to get drunk tonight. I hope you’ll do it too. Anyway, I already made two walls of text on the official Eve forum. So let’s not let them go to waste. Below is a shameful copy-paste of them.

I’m a relatively new player myself. I made my first account five months ago. I want to thank you for this topic. I find it to be more helpful to the new Eve players, and not only, than almost all the other topics in the EVE New Citizens Q&A combined. Why is that? On one hand, it is an insightful presentation on what Eve really is and on the other hand, it begs CCP to do the right thing for new players.

The most valuable lessons are the ones labeled with “you shouldn’t do this”. What is it?

EVE-Online-Dominion

[Edit: Personal attacks removed, CCP Phantom] The lesson that the new players can learn is that Eve is Eve (I know how it sounds, you don’t need to comment on it), not another game they previously played and mastered in more or less a week.

I know most of you think Eve is harder than other games. I don’t know if that is true or not. I don’t have either the time, either the will, to try out all the games one can invent, but I don’t find Eve to be hard at all. It is harsh, I can agree on that. You do something dumb and you will be punished in most cases. Anyway, once a player joins a decent corporation, Eve actually becomes almost a trivial game. What still holds true, even for a player in a top corporation, is this: don’t do stupid things because you’ll have to pay for them.

Therefore, Eve being Eve is the most valuable lesson of all. You can’t come to Eve with the mindset you played other games and expect to work. It will not. The problem of the new players is that they don’t know this. These other days, various Eve player run blogs discussed the topic of the new players for the “put a high number here” time. They suggested ways for CCP that could make Eve more accessible to new players. To my knowledge, they all followed the Eve is complex, and as such, it has a high learning curve, and … the usual “everybody knows that” line of thought.

I think that, with the exception of the five percent of psychopaths, all the others gamers are nerds deep inside them. The Eve is complex and, hence, this is the main reason why most people don’t make it, sounds somewhat insulting. The main reason new players don’t stick with Eve is that the new players experience is not, in most cases, Eve like.

On top of that, or maybe better said – part of that, are the tutorials. We all like pranks, well most of us anyway, but none of us likes to be the subject of a prank or do we? The new player’s experience, for so many of them, feels exactly like this: a CCP prank. You have a WOW like tutorial: go there, do that, come back etc. and then the insertion happens to be in Eve. You fly your shiny battleship, you worked your ass for it for only you know how long and then “boom”: Armageddon happens. Shortly after, once again – in most cases, the rage follows “What the hell was that? Hmm, is that possible? There was nothing like that in the tutorials! **** this ****! I’m out!” Replace the example above with anything you want that is unique to Eve. The essence of it remains. It feels like CCP made a prank on you. If CCP does want more players, it can start but not playing pranks: “CCP: Are you a new player? Great, take a WOW tutorial! Did you take it? Yes! Wonderful, go and play Eve now! You’re ready! “

Nevertheless, there may be a good side to all this, at least for CCP. When one is willing to suck it up something like that, it is because he sees the other side as a friend and no harsh feelings persist. In Eve case, it may mean few, but long-term, loyal customers. It crossed my mind, that what I call the CCP prank is their way of choosing loyal customers over just customers. However, this doesn’t change the fact: new player experience feels like a CCP prank.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t ask for a different Eve. I’m just making a case for an honest introduction of the new players to Eve because it is what I think new player’s experience lacks. By the way, this should be CCP’s job, not EveUni’s job, i.e. Eve like tutorials.

Quotes from people who unfortunately didn’t get the spirit and/or the message of my initial post:

Major Xadi wrote:

the OP contends the tutorials are a joke which don’t fully prepare new players for the harshness of EvE.

Ioci wrote:

The game is ten years old. You really thought there was going to be some innovative bullshit to make it new person friendly?

Dead Shade wrote:

 You can’t have EVE’s enormous amount of content and expect a comprehensive tutorial. This is a huge sandbox game, not a cell phone game you learn in 2 seconds.

Quotes from people making assumptions, assumptions that I don’t find to be correct:

J’Poll wrote: 

Explain to me HOW CCP should make a tutorial (which ALWAYS will be PvE, as you are fighting a NON player) that mimics player vs player interaction…

Quotes from people who fortunately did get, even if only in part, the spirit and/or the message of my initial post:

Arduemont wrote:

Telling them how to avoid scams, ganks, gate camps, dying in general etc is not the point. The point is, that they know it can happen so they will be less pissed when it does.

Haedonism Bot wrote:

It is true that the tutorials give one a false impression that this is a PVE game, and when taken alone that is bad.

stoicfaux wrote:

The problem is that the NPE doesn’t help most new users make the extreme paradigm shift that EVE represents. …, the NPE tends to instead promote a PvE paradigm, …

Yosef Brinalle wrote:

Last night I had a paradigm shift – this is a game of hunter and prey. If you are playing prey at the moment you must outsmart the hunters. If you are playing hunter at the moment you must outsmart the prey. The game is more enjoyable and makes a lot more sense once I saw it that way. Where CCP fails? They DO NOT state this core game philosophy in a clear and unmistakable way that penetrates to the core of people used to PVE games. …, If there had not been a special on subscription rates I would have abandoned the game at the end of the 3 week trial.

The initial post is not about preparing the new players for the Eve harshness, is not about making Eve a new person friendly place or about making Eve tutorials fully comprehensive. The post was about why in a game that offers you a PvP centric universe you have a PvE oriented set of tutorials! I’m glad that at least some of the posters here got it exactly right.

Imagine you are about to buy your 24th car. You go the car dealer and he’s selling you a jet airplane while acting as if he was selling you a car. Wouldn’t you feel to be the subject of prank in that case? How’s Eve tutorials case any different?

I wouldn’t expect the tutorials in a massive multiplayer online game to teach players how to play the damn game. However, I would expect an honest introduction to what is the game about. Eve is not only PvE, to which part the tutorials introduce you. In fact, with the exception of the Eve Economy, where PvE plays the essential role of generating the ISK (with the exception of the insurance generated ISK, the PvE activities are, to my present knowledge, the only activities in Eve generating ISK), all the fuzz around Eve is PvP related.

New player experience obviously is much more than doing the tutorials. However, I mentioned only the tutorials because they are the standard method of introducing a new player to a game. Moreover, in Eve case they are the instrument that CCP could touch at will without breaking the sandbox paradigm.

As I see it, once introduced to Eve, there are two ways to follow: you hate it or you love it. This is great! What I’m arguing here is that many new players come to hate Eve without having any introduction to it. Learning to play a game is every player responsibility, teaching the game to new players is an optional activity done by the community if there is a community to begin with. In Eve there is. EveUni and the likes are doing a wonderful job at it. Making an honest introduction (read it as presentation) to a game is not the community job at all. You don’t pay the subscription to EveUni.

(In response to J’Poll) I fail to comprehend why you are making the assumption: tutorials need to be always PvE oriented, especially for a mmo. You asked for examples and examples you’ll get. These are from the top of my head. Give the new player an npc fleet to follow and ask him to go to low.sec, or to null.sec, or both. Ask him to go and kill some random real player. Ask him to make his own corporation and declare war to some random small corporation. Ask him to make a fleet with other real players and go roaming. etc. The point of all these tasks is not for him to be successful but to get a taste of what Eve is: a never-ending PvP universe, a hunter and prey game, exactly as a poster above nicely put it.

A new player doesn’t necessarily need a tutorial to do all that. For example, I didn’t need one. Many others didn’t need one either. After all, tutorial in all games (mmo’s or not) should be optional. Then you may ask (like a previous poster did), why should CCP help the new players making the paradigm shift to Eve, the transition from the “quick gratification” type of games (WOW like) to the “delayed reward” (Eve like) type (borrowing terms here from an inspiring previous post)?

Well, duh …, I don’t know. Could it be because of the fact that Eve players are their spoiled children, and what a parent wouldn’t do for them? I’m not saying it. I’m just asking it. (Remark addressed to Sofia Tsero: Oh dear, some people on this planet! I edited this remark to make it clear.)

Signed out, Ritual Union.

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