There are numerous areas of concern in relation to the New Player Experience (NPE) in EVE. While CCP has taken a number of highly-visible steps to improve the NPE, there are a number of low-hanging fruit opportunities that I feel would greatly enhance the NPE further and that merit the immediate direct consideration of the CSM.
The below commentary stems from my direct interactions working with hundreds of newbies, and from observing hundreds more at a distance (in-game and on forums).
NPE Doesn’t Teach Players How to Bootstrap
Players are highly hesitant to lose ships because the NPE doesn’t teach them how to procure ISK and assets should they lose everything they acquired via starter tutorial/career agents. Interestingly, many of these players don’t think of rerunning the starter tutorial or career agents, though perhaps this is because they aren’t aware of this as an option (not that I would recommend rerunning them unless they didn’t grasp the basics enough the first time). When players do lose what little ISK and assets they have, they often think they need to resort to conservatively safe but mindlessly boring (for most) activities like HS Venture mining (assuming that also didn’t get blown up) or they ragequit altogether (I’ve met quite a few players who did or were on the verge of ragequitting because they lost the Slasher, Venture, Catalyst, Badger, etc they got from the NPE).
Players always have access to their Corvette; however, most players, including newbies, don’t consider their Corvettes to be viable for anything, let alone bootstrapping. When they lose their assets and are only left with a Corvette, they might as well be left with nothing at all in their minds. Part of the problem is that the NPE does not make clear what Corvette-friendly content exists outside of tutorial content. There are also some annoyances regarding using Corvettes I’ll get to later.
I have a few simple QoL suggestions that would facilitate and improve awareness of bootstrapping opportunities while mostly preserving the status quo of the game.
Incorporate Project Discovery in NPE
Most players I’ve encountered, including long-time vets, have never heard of Project Discovery. They are surprised to find that an activity exists that can net up to 29.7m/hr + level up rewards + milestone rewards with no SP requirements and no ship requirements that can be done at anytime from anywhere (even while docked) and while multitasking other activities such as mining - all done while contributing to real world science. (While there is a theoretical limit to submissions per day, players could always continue PD on an Alpha account if they so wished and transfer the funds to their main.)
A player only needs a cheap T1-fitted T1 frigate to begin snowballing their wealth, knowledge, and experience in EVE, and few minutes of Project Discovery is all it takes to procure such a frigate when everything has been lost. This is far more profitable and safer than HS Venture mining, and for most players I’ve spoken to it’s also less boring as well. If there was an increased awareness of Project Discovery, then players would not feel so helpless when they’ve lost all their ships because they would know how quick-and-easy it would be to acquire the funds to purchase a new one, literally within minutes and with no SP/ship requirements. Unlike any other activity in the game, you don’t need money to make money with Project Discovery.
Therefore, I suggest Project Discovery be incorporated in both the Starter Tutorial AND that a Project Discovery career agent be introduced. In both instances, Aura/the Pointer Tool would indicate how Project Discovery can be accessed in the EVE Menu, the PD tutorial would run (can be skipped), and a level or so would be required to be reached in PD before the starter tutorial advances or the career agent terminates. In both instances, I also feel it should be explicitly mentioned that the yields for Project Discovery are up to 29.7m/hr + level up rewards + milestone rewards so players know the extent to which Project Discovery can bootstrap them and they can relieve themselves of fear, uncertainty, and doubt. Few things are as effective as Project Discovery for bootstrapping players, but it doesn’t do players any good if they aren’t aware of it.
There is plenty of room for buffing Corvettes without having them step on the toes of T1 frigates. I should point out that even if Corvettes were buffed significantly, the absence of rig slots and low number of slots means that they’re going to be categorically inferior to T1 frigates no matter what. Inferior, however, should not mean useless.
The Corvette should serve two functions: it should serve as an academic tool for learning the game, and it should also serve as a bootstrapping mechanism for when all is lost and wealth needs to be rebuilt from scratch. Also: The Corvette should be fun to use!!! While Project Discovery is better for bootstrapping close to markets, Corvettes better serve that function for those far from markets, and for players who enjoy the do-it-yourself experience with regards to manufacturing their own ships and armaments. Also, Corvettes serve an academic function that PD does not since it involves actually playing the core game, and playing the core game is more fun for most players than PD is anyway.
Here are some QoL suggestions that improve the Corvette’s value as an academic/bootstrapping tool and its fun factor:
- New/unpacked Corvettes have an extra Civilian Turret and Civilian Miner in cargohold
- It is annoying to have to unpackage a second Corvette in order to transplant a second turret/miner from one to the other to make it a pure combat or pure mining ship
- Corvettes are unique in that modules are autopopulated on unpack, so a precedent already exists for having the cargohold populated on unpack along with module slots
- Corvettes come with full flight (relative to drone bandwidth) of Civilian Hobgoblins and Civilian Mining Drones in cargohold (players can choose which to drag-and-drop to drone bay).
- Again, precedent exists for autopopulated cargo bay.
- Civilian Hobgoblins already do (or did?) exist in game. They’re pretty terrible compared to proper T1 drones, but they are better than nothing, are fun to use (compared to no drones at all), and serve an academic function
- To my knowledge, the status quo of Civilian Mining drones is that they are categorically garbage and that they are grossly inferior to T1 Mining Drones. They do not have lower skill requirements, and they are not usable by Alphas, but for some reason BPOs are seeded and players manufacture and buy/sell them. The only advantage they have is that they have a very minor decrease in manufacturing input requirements, but otherwise I am not aware of any good reason why these drones should exist in their current state. Having said that, they, too, are better than nothing, are fun to use, and serve as an academic function in the context of Corvettes if not elsewhere. Truthfully I think it is a disservice to players that these BPOs even exist and they probably should be removed, but that is another separate discussion I will not pursue here.
- I would like to go further and say that I believe Civilian Mining Drones should be usable by Alphas both for academic purposes (so they get a better idea of what Omega would be like) and to better entice them toward becoming Omega. (How do you get people hooked on drugs? You give them away for free .) This suggestion has nothing to do with carebearism, entitlement/empowerment, etc, it is simply a matter of exposure + enticement + fun, but one thing it does NOT accomplish is enable them to generate significantly more revenue. The fact of the matter is that the yield of these drones with Max Alpha skill caps is absolutely pathetic, so really they aren’t going to generate much revenue from this and the economy isn’t going to feel any impact from such a change. 5x Civilian Mining drones w/ Max Alpha skills only yield approx 1.48m3/s (less after travel time) on a Max Alpha Mining Rokh™, and a Max Alpha Venture will only yield an additional 0.591m3/s (less after travel time); for comparison, a Max Alpha Venture fitted with T2 Mining Lasers yields 5.76m3/s, so the increase in yield is a pathetic ~10%. (Most players would prefer lights to ward off belt rats anyway.) Not much entitlement there, but plenty of exposure/enticement/fun. (While TQ Alphas could get the full Omega experience on Sisi for free for the purposes of exposure if they wanted to try out mining drones, most players don’t know about Sisi/the ability to get free Omega there, and it’s simply not the same sandboxing on Sisi vs being in the real world surrounded by other players on TQ.)
- Corvettes should come automatically fitted with Civilian Shield Booster or Civilian Armor Repairer. This really shouldn’t be controversial given how little they yield, but it’s also worth considering what a relatively large difference they can make in low level combat sites and L1 missions. Last I checked, these are items granted along the way in the starter tutorial/career agent missions, but I think they should always be accessible from the beginning and also to players who use Corvettes outside of the tutorials.
- There is potential room for base stat/bonus buffs. Again, the absence of rig slots and low slot counts means that even significantly buffed Corvettes won’t trample on the toes of T1 frigs (namely the Executioner, Condor, Atron, and Slasher), so this should be considered. Significantly inferior should not mandate uselessness.
I do have some other ideas for Corvettes, but they aren’t as relevant to the NPE, so I will not raise them here as I want this thread to focus on the NPE and not get derailed by the other ideas.
As usual, thanks again for your time and consideration