Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Eve Online: Kindergarten

The Mittani has suggested a "newbie" area within Eve Online in his Traffic Control series a few weeks ago.

He points out most MMO have a newbie zone where players are heavily protected and given a shed load of help for the first few levels. I've played a few of MMO's with these zones, and they are helpful. Big yellow arrows pointing "GO HERE NUMPTY!" and lots of hand holding. However, will they help improve the the ratio of players who last more than a few weeks from the currently terribad 1:10?

On my nine days off recently (due to the public holiday here) I tried Star Trek Online and Lord of the Rings Online. Both had newbie zones with LoTRO being the most newbie friendly. It appears the starter zone was tiered into some freaky parallel dimensions! The Newbie zone was in fact like an instance with limited players. That way they could control everything for my first few levels until I was let out into the wild. Not a concept I'd like to see in Eve. I see Eve as a simulator more than a game. I'd hate to see things that are not likely to be possible with a bit of the stretch of a sci-fi imagination. However, I think we could have a newbie area without stretching the willing suspension of disbelief too far.

The easiest would be to have a small cluster of systems cut off from the rest of New Eden. There would be plenty of rats, low level missions and tutorials to get people into the game. The market could be linked to Jita allowing goods to be bought and sold. The security status could be above one resulting in a CONCORD response if you stare at another player too hard. 1.1?

There are two ways to leave the area when you are ready:-

First is a massive one-way startgate. You can leave (after a few obligitory "are you really sure you want to do this?") but never come back. All your stuffz is transfered by Interbus Shipping to one of the current starter stations and then you are on your own.

Second is a limit on time and/or skill points. When you hit a certain limit you are teleported out along with all your stuffz next time you log out after hitting the limit. Would need a way of doing this for people logged out in space too.

Now the question is, will this improve on the 10% of players who stick with the game longer than a month. To be honest I'm not sure what size of impact a newbie zone will have. I have had several characters that I rolled for various roles including mission running and mining and to be honest, I never really experienced grief play as a newer character. Is the lack of a newbie zone and the prevalence of grief play the real reason only 10% who try end up Eve quitting, or is it something else?

P.S. The winner of the ALOD Navy Raven from Monday was Thanatos Marathon for that "We don't need no stinking badgers" video link. Honourable mentions to Shahai Shintaro and Sedul Masterson. Here is the list of what is on it!


  1. Back in 2012 I ran a series of articles around the Sanctuary idea of creating safe zones within each Rookie system:

  2. I don't think a newbie zone would help much. The first time I tried Eve I had quit before 51 days. I was never griefed, I think I was bored. I wasn't in a player Corp and I was soloing it. At the time I felt I was too young to join a corp and needed to get more skill points. The second time I started I joined a corp early and that is what kept me around. I think player retention will go up if we can funnel players to good corps. How to do this, I don't know.

    And curse Thanatos. One of these days I will win one of your contests and then proceed to kill you and the rest of you frog scum with your own ship.

    "For the State!"

  3. I don't really agree with any of the answers I've read about Eve's newbie game because from my experience, the newbie problem doesn't start with the tutorial, it starts with the marketing. By the time players actually are willing to commit to installing the game, they already have a bad impression of it. They just don't know it yet. CCP seems unable to come up with a way to sell Eve without relying on the grandeur of the Sov Null as an idea, and it's killing the game.

    A week or so ago another player and myself were having a conversation with about Null. A newbie was also in the channel and he started chiming in with questions about things he didn't understand about our conversation every so often as we went along, which we happily answered. As the conversation progressed we could tell he was becoming more distressed at what he was hearing, and we both stopped our conversation to try and explain all the other things Eve has to offer and what we do for fun in the game. But it didn't work, he was so set in Sov being the End Goal he was signing up for when he'd started playing the game that before the conversation ended he'd already quit Eve.

    And all of that is not an isolated incident. I've had similar conversations many times over the last few years with new players. Maybe not ones that immediate in their finality, but similar reactions.

    Eve's largest problem is a problem with expectations. It sets them to a level the game cannot meet any more, and when players find that out they simply walk away. Why go through the hoops of the infamous learning curve if there is no payoff? Sure, we know there are other things to do, and we can explain it till we're blue in the face, but it falls on deaf ears more often than not because that wasn't the bill of goods they were sold, and they are very rightly upset about it.