Reasoning behind this:
I am not overly familiar with the current tutorial and New Player Experience (NPE) but i have the impression that it does a great job for what it’s set up to do. I think at the moment the focus is entirely on teaching basic ship commands like warp, orbit, fire,… and then sends the new players on the way to run missions or other PVE activities and that is totally appropriate. I believe however that EVE is a hardcore PVP game with a big social aspect at its core. So in this post i will make a proposal on how to expose new players early to the real EVE without them feeling helpless or forced to fight players that have the advantage of years worth of skill points, ISK and experience.
After finishing the standard NPE with the tutorial and so on most players should have a basic understanding of the games mechanics but would be unsure where to find a PVP environment to get started. This is where the ENPE picks up. The player will be contacted by an agent offering an intense training class with no risk of personal assets or ISK but real PVP experience.
Red Pill moment:
In case the player chooses to give it a try which i hope many will it will put him/her into a matchmaking pool whenever he/she is docked in an NPC Station (not sure at this point if the locations should be limited, probably not much). When a match is found the player will have a minute to accept or decline the match. It’s important to note that i am NOT proposing a general matchmaking system for EVE as i think it would destroy the PVP culture! This is an extended but also limited new player experience only.
Player gets matched with another Player and both players will be in a very simple EHP + AB fit Ibis with a civilian railgun. There should be a very simple introduction to the fitting with explanation on what module does what exactly. cough And maybe an option to import a better overview suited for PVP cough. The influence of the players in stage 1 is very limited but it should ensure a certain success rate and will make the player familiar with the process.
Game engineering challenges:
Before we go over to the next steps i would like to bring up some challenges here and that i’m aware that some of them might even be impossible to implement. I have some experience in game engineering as i studied it for a while and i know that contrary to popular believe a matchmaking system isn’t easy to create especially when your game wasn’t originally designed to have one. Another challenge would be the arena itself but i assume the basis for it is already there from abyssal arenas. It might be necessary to explore alternative approaches to the matchmaking and maybe even the arena mechanics in this thread. One possibility would be the handing out of “keys” for a type of plex maybe.
After winning 2 matches in STAGE 1 the player will get to the next stage. This time the ship is an Ibis with a different fit. Active tanked for example. It would teach a little bit of cap management.
Ibis with active tank and named gun for different ammo types. Increases complexity a little bit.
As a reward it should be enough to just let the winner of the fight keep his/her ship. After the Ibis it should ofc have a natural progression that the player can see from the beginning to have some sort of goal and maybe it splits into the two lines of the different weapon systems. Ibis -> Merlin -> Cormorant -> Moa or Ibis -> Kestrel -> Corax -> Caracal for example. Each ship with a set of different fits and maybe an option to choose from two or three fits in the end. I don’t want to take up too much space with details like that however.
THE SOCIAL PART
After successfully making it through the final STAGE of at least one line the player would be asked again if he would like to get matched. This time however it is not 1on1 but 2on2. This part would be the most important of it all i believe. As someone from CCP mentioned in one of the presentations new players that are being shot at have a higher chance of sticking with the game. I am sure players that are being shot at together with another player have an even higher chance then. As everyone will get matched with another random player for each match the chances are good that the players will have a little bit of a bonding experience at least. This is what eve is about really. At the end one of them knows another pilot and they might start a corp together or he/she knows someone in a bigger corp somewhere and they join together or they might go separate ways but simply share their experience over time.
Any thoughtful feedback is welcome as i hope to improve this concept over time.