So it has finally after 13 years of EVE dawned on me what makes the game so great. I had this realization while watching the newest trailer at fanfest.
When you play a game such as WoW or just about any other MMO or even any other game for that matter you do so usually while playing through a narrative of some kind. For example in WoW new players and old alike go through the same quest givers run the same quests and achieve the same status as the millions who previously did the same exact things.
In EVE the PVE content is pretty much standard among all players as well aka shoot this rock get this mineral, shoot this rat get this bounty, run this mission save the damsel for the billionth time.
However what makes EVE unique is that for example if you weren’t there when the first conquerable station was taken in 3BK-07 then well you weren’t there. If you missed the Territorial expansions of the original grand alliances then you don’t get to experience it and even for those who were there doing anything else will never be the same as that first trek. This unique aspect of EVE aka the ability to create a narrative all unto your self as a player is both its success and its problem.
The success of it is that people who join EVE take risks and are rewarded with encounters that are unique to their experience and thus they stick around.
The problem is that when many people join EVE this is not what they are expecting as this is not a game like any other. They run the tutorial which now provides the standard narrative like any other mmo in order to teach the basics and then they are gently pushed into various content of the game by career agents. However this content is static, finite and ultimately not unique.
This is why people complain about saving the damsel for the billionth time and why they complain that mining is too boring. It is because they are nested in the idea that the game’s content itself is what is supposed to be fun and to a limited extent it is but once they achieve their goals related to the NPC content they’ve engaged with they hit a wall.
Any experienced player knows this and many will say that is why its important to do a variety of things. However that is an uncommon trait in people and is why most people when they go to say a restaurant they order the same things every time and love it until they go there to eat every single day for weeks or months on end.
To this end I believe that part of the solution to player retention and the NPE is to remove NPC corps. Not because they shelter haulers or the logistics networks of anyone with half a brain to have a 3rd party alt to move things but because by forcing a new player to join a player corp upon completion of the basic intro tutorial or career agents it puts them into the position of determining a unique story for themselves that will be unlike what others who are starting out experience.
Will the corp they join be friendly? Will they be a group that is not so friendly? There are literally hundreds of ways this could turn out for the new player but that is the point. Good bad whatever it doesn’t matter as long as the player is required to make a decision that could determine their future and thus start their own narrative within EVE.
Update the Career Agents so that they play out like the intro tutorial and can be ran in any system. This would allow new players to run them with their new corp members if they choose so that more experienced players can help them without traveling all the way to rookie systems. Thus allowing new players to get into null, low or wh space right out of the box where others who are willing to help can do so without living in rookie systems where there is no isk to be had.
Refine the corp recruitment tool and make it the final part of the character creation process. Give the new player the option to either join -
A: Rookie Friendly Corp
B: Create a New Corp
Option A :
With option A the rookie would see a selection of Rookie Friendly corps only aka those who are willing to help them with their first weeks in EVE. Corps that are shown should be limited to those with less than 100 members. The reason for this is that it would be a great way to help new corps who would like to grow their communities. Larger corps/alliance could always create new rookie friendly corps to get in on helping rookies as well but it would mainly help the new corps who really do want to grow. This tool would help to prevent what we see now with hundreds if not thousands of 20-40 man corps that started out with people who really wanted to accomplish something only to slowly die out because not enough people are ever on to work towards what they want to achieve.
With B the new player could create a corp right out of the box and even set it up as a rookie friendly corp allowing them to recruit other new players like themselves and work together to learn the game. With corp management lvl 1 they would be limited to only taking in 10 new people and this would prevent them from taking on too many potential new players should the corp fail and everyone decide to leave the game. It would also allow the player to play solo should they choose to do so. The only issue here is for those who are already in NPC corps due to wanting purely to avoid war decs. However I would argue that given it is considered an exploit to disband a corp and reform a new one simply to avoid wars that the behavior of remaining in a NPC corp should be viewed in the same light. Those who are in npc corps purely for logistics work can always form individual corps to haul with and while this could lead to thousands of 1 man hauler corps that should be ok as it would make it extremely difficult for high sec war dec groups to war dec them all. Meaning that while a hauler corp might get war dec’d the odds are it wont be or at least not too often due to the sheer number of them. Not to mention that with the ability to have more than one if one alt corp is at war a player can simply use another.
What I’ve posted here is by no means a completed idea but hopefully it should provide a bit of direction. What needs to happen to EVE is more intercorp / alliance conflict and the only way to stimulate this is to make it much much much much more easy for new and existing players to create and grow new corps.