The New Player Experience, Past and Present

I have recently been in a position to compare the old “new player experience” (circa 2009) with the new “new player experience”. I find it to be an interesting comparison which may be of note to some.

I joined the game in 2009 originally, and played for many years. I’m trying to see the game through a more current lens and have taken some steps to assist myself in doing that.

Here is how I remember the 2009 new player experience:

I joined this game with my brother, we had both read of some of the treacherous and unusual exploits of Eve’s nefarious player-base and were intrigued. We joined together and started our new player experience in Todaki.

I remember undocking from the station and seeing ships shooting each other. I didn’t yet understand anything, and I mean anything. So, I tried to shoot one of the ships and was concorded. I had no idea why I was killed or why each undocking resulted in the same ship loss.

Then I went through a gray area where I remember struggling substantially to figure out the following two questions:

  1. How do I warp to another system (stupid, I know, but I didn’t know about jump gates and didn’t understand the overview). I then avoided doing this for quite some time because I was afraid I would be unable to get back.
  2. Why won’t my guns shoot? (I figured out the answer to this question is “because they need ammo”… which the guns on an ibis inexplicably don’t). I found it very challenging to figure out how to load them, for some reason.

I remember doing some missions that were directed by agents, so somehow I figured out I needed to do that, but I don’t recall it being very long. I remember being awarded a Merlin which I immediately lost on a tutorial mission. Then I mined until I got another and lost it. Then I tried the Kestrel because my brother recommended it, and lost it. Then someone told me to “snipe” with a Kestrel and that worked and I was able to get through the tutorial missions.

In between each loss, I was mining in an Ibis and then a Bantam. I remember seeing wrecks left in the belts and looking at the treasures they held. I lost a ship or two learning that the stuff in the yellow boxes is not available for me to take home. I remember working with other people in those early days who I chatted up because I saw them get killed and wanted to understand what happened.

When I graduated from the tutorial, I believe I was awarded a Kestrel and advised that I had a duty to use it to destroy the Gallente Federation. After which the tutorial turned off and I was ejected into the hole that is Eve Online.

At which point I decided that I wanted to captain a cruiser because that seemed like a giant space ship and everything else seemed completely unattainable. I had a quantity of isk that would now be sufficient for nothing at all, and an understanding of the game which was quite poor.

Now, this was where I learned about jet-can mining. You see (and this is from memory), I was mining in a Bantam which, if memory serves, was armed with 2 mining lasers, a nice mining bonus, and enough cargo space to hold ~50k isk worth of veldspar. (It probably took me a month to understand how the ship bonuses worked… but I remember a lot of bantam mining in between my various losses). If I was guessing, I would say the bantam took a couple minutes to fill and it took a couple minutes to fly back to station unload, refill your drink, and return to the belt. Mining in it was miserable because you were always flying back and forth to and from station.

I had noticed people with yellow cans in the belts, but it wasn’t until I saw a fight and the ensuing argument in local that I realized you could mine into the cans. Holy Smokes! I would guess it nearly doubled the isk/minute of my mining experience… and it reduced the amount of clicking I had to do by at least that margin. I was all in… until I met a flipper.

I’m pretty sure the first ship I lost to a flipper was a bantam, but I clearly remember the second was a cormorant (which was also a pretty sweet mining ride at that time). In the first instance, I felt it was pretty damn unfair that I had to fight his frigate with my bantam. In the second one, I knew I had the bastard because I was in a cormorant. Turned out, his assault frigate (what the hell is an assault frigate) was a little better.

So, here is what I had learned.

  1. Jet can mining is valuable, but dangerous. If I don’t do it, mining sucks badly and pays badly. If I do it, there is risk. This sent me in the direction of: I need help.
  2. I have to have team mates (who were busy learning the same lesson) to help haul. Two people with a cormie and a hauler were more effective than two dedicated sub-cruiser ships… so teamwork even at a small scale made tons of sense.
  3. Buying ships was tough… I think a merlin (or maybe cormie, it’s been several years) cost 800k-ish. I remember thinking my bantam would have to make like 16 turns to one. That seemed daunting. I remember thinking a mining cruiser would be amazing… but it seemed like a long term goal to me. (not only did I need skills, but 3.2 mil for an osprey was like 64 turns to the belts… eek! That’s a lot of work…

Oh, and did I ever hate those bastards who stole stuff in the belts. I swore to myself I’d one day get retribution on them.

If you asked me at that time, I’d have told you Eve was the most engaging game I’d ever played and I’d have marveled at the complexities of the interactions and teamwork that came from managing the risks this game allowed people to throw at you.

Today’s New Player Experience
Today, I tried out the new player experience and I have to say, it’s very different. Some parts are better because there is now explanation of several mechanics I struggled to figure out when I initially played years ago.

I was able to follow instructions mission to mission (and I’ve not yet completed all of the tutorial activities), but it’s smooth and quite do-able. I’ve not lost anything at all, nor have I faced any challenges that I think would challenge or kill a new player.

I have yet to talk to another player or need to talk to another player. I have seen people speaking in the new player chat and I’ve seen a few questions asked.

I was spam emailed an recruitment ad from a null entity, but as far as I can tell there aren’t noob-space corps or teams of people working together anymore (or if they are there, they aren’t talking).

I haven’t seen anyone fighting. I haven’t seen anyone trying to fight or trying to steal. I haven’t seen any arguments in local or indications of strife.

I don’t need to mine yet because I don’t really need the isk because I can’t fly anything, but I’m actually pretty flush with cash because of all the tutorial rewards.

I took the opportunity of flying the new mining frigate. With a single trip to the belts…and a single activation of the lasers, I was able to acquire 700k isk worth of ore with no real risk… I think it took about 15 minutes to fill the hull.

Overall, it’s pretty easy. Holy smokes, though is it different.

I liked it better before.

Nobody is even trying to work as a team because there aren’t any real challenges.

I think jet can mining was a great risk/reward feature that made all of us want to work together. Jackass players were also pretty good bad guys.

Overall, the feeling of the game has gone from dangerous, gritty, and chaotic to generally sanitary and civilized.

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Oh, one more observation I had from the exercise of going through the tutorial this morning. I think it was the second mission where I:

  1. Warped to the location given to me by an agent
  2. Destroyed 3 small waves of enemies
  3. Warped back to station

In this mission, I realized that this is essentially the entirety of non-mining/hacking/archaeology PVE in Eve. I’m not sure the best way to vary this format, but in the tremendous reduction of other content I think more effort is going to need to be added to this in order to retain the interest of the player base.

I do not think the low interaction level required by mining is going to be sufficient to make mining feel like a career, though it’s infinitely less painful than it used to be.

Just some feedback and thoughts…

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You forgot about the godawful learning skills grind so that you could train the skills that made the ships you had access to more usable, faster.

I hated that, I did appreciate the SP refund when they disappeared though.

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Yeah, the tutorial is better and dumping the learning skills was a step in the right direction. The game has actually improved on many points.

For me, though… the gameplay has gone backwards.

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Hisec used to be more fun, half of my gameplay was not getting caught by others, now it’s so safe I could go afk half the time and not die. I don’t because … wormhole habits …

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You pretty much describe PvE in any MMO ever… go to spot X, kill Y amount of Z, move on to the next quest giver repeat the same thing with different NPCs.

I will never understand why this is an issue for people in EvE, while it has been the same principle for decades and it is not even limited to MMOs. Pretty much every game where you fight NPCs follows that simple layout and that is also why CCP has shot themselves in their own knees trying to chase exactly the type of customer who enjoyed that kind of tedious thing, instead of staying focussed on the people who did see PvE stuff as the thing you just have to do to get materials to achiever your true goals.

That also is why we have that retarded discussion about wardacs and all that “mimimi BS”. CCP alienated their old cutomer base who were long term customers and now have no choice, other than changing the game further for the lame people, who enjoy that kind of lame braindead content. At least they enjoy it for a short while, are stupid enough to let themselves get milked out of their $$ and then just move on to the next game.

Look at the freaking wardec discussion for example… everyone is crying how unfair it is and how a few corps exploit the system. Some of these corps are wardeccing 200+ corps at once and why are they doing it? Because people allow them to do it. It´s not a fault of the mechanic, it´s not the wardeccers´ fault who put themselves at more risk with each war declaration they throw out. It´s the the fault of the 200+ corps who are unable to do anything than grind that kind of braindead grind, who enable them to declare war on such a huge scale.

If each of those corps on average only have 5 active members, those corps who declare war on them would be facing 1000 active people. And no matter how many excuses people make… you can not tell me that 1000 people working together, would be unable to force the wardec corps to stay docked all day or get totally obliterated and no matter which way it goes it would certailnly cost the wardeccers a ■■■■ ton of ISK every week for nothing and it certainly would force them to change their ways without any ccp intervention.

But the sandbox is dead, the people who remain outside of the true PvP corps are braindead monkeys who only care about personal profit and grinding braindead lame ass content with min/maxed setups and no challenge at all.

PS: I know I went totally off topic here, but I am totally drunk and don´t give a rats ass. Someone finally had to say it.

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in 2005, there was no NPE. it involved being spawned in space, given the standard 5k inheritence and trying to figure ■■■■ out on my own. when i died for the first time i was ruthlessly mocked by the voice in my head. some time between then and now, between all of the killing and skullduggery, that voice has went away. i kind of miss her.

that said, anything now is certainly better.

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Part of the issue is you’re comparing apples and oranges.

At least as far back as 2006-ish, EVE had a walkthrough tutorial that told you about a lot of the mechanics you describe struggling with (ammo, warp, etc). The tutorial has had various incarnations but they all covered that sort of stuff.

Your description sounds like you skipped the tutorial, flailed around for a bit trying to figure out the mechanics the tutorial would have told you about, did some Career Agents (which you refer to as the tutorial, or perhaps you restarted the tutorial later) and finally got a grip on some basic gameplay (jetcanning etc).

When you do the tutorial now, you aren’t undocking and randomly shooting ships in front of you and getting Concorded. People aren’t working together as much because the majority of the players in the game aren’t new, know what they are doing, and have been scammed or baited or warned enough that they probably don’t trust anyone they encounter anyway.

Jetcanning is (mostly) gone but CODE. and others are still out there hunting miners, and there are (IMO) significantly more gatecamps and gank squads than there were back then.

You say gameplay has gone backwards but I suspect that if you actually flew like you did back then, asking questions, attacking things that will kill you, etc. you wouldn’t find the experience all that different. And of course, this time you didn’t skip the tutorial. If you had played it through before you wouldn’t have gotten blown up back then either. At least, none of the tutorial versions I have played (since about 2008 iirc) have presented much in the way of actual danger.

While we’re at it, I want to talk about war decs. I see all the threads about it and the impending changes. I’ve long thought changes were needed, but the 2012 changes to wardecs (Retributaion patch) made things worse instead of better.

Back in '09, most wars came from small corps of 3 to 5 people. That size was important because if you got bigger than that, most PVEs corps wouldn’t fleet up and come after you.

Notice, I am saying that back then the aggressors were tailoring their Corp size and ship’s in order to get the attackees to fight back… which caused fun on both sides.

As a Corp, wars cost 2 mil for the first, 4 mil for the second, and 6 mil for the third. You could sustain life as a war Corp without doing PVE which was fun and casual… but for pve corps larger than about 20 members… it was exhausting because they would get war decced by small Corp after small Corp indefinitely… and if they turtled up they would lose a week of playtime while the aggressor lost 2 mil on a bad dec.

This, they complained that it hurt their playstyle… which it did.

The retribution patch made the wardec lifestyle unsustainable by increasing the cost of the first wardec to 50 mil and increasing from there… but the PvP crowd still didn’t want to do pve so they instead congregated around a few “sugardaddys” who were spending real money to get the oak for large quantities of wars.

If you joined up, they would guarantee thousands of potential targets and dozens of wars and you had to do their bidding. With that many targets, you could just hang out in the hubs or in the pipeline and kill stuff all day… hunting was almost a thing of the past.

It wasn’t as much fun as the small team tactics of yesteryear, but it was better than ganking and the only pvp game left in highsec.

But for those getting decced… now they were facing a well armed and outfitted team of 200 instead of 3… and the blanket wardecs created meaningless denial of space for an indefinite period of time across what eventually became hundreds of entities a week… far worse to face than the small corps before.

In my opinion, the previous system of war corps limiting their size in order to get fights (which most all did) was a better system. If they had reduced the maximum wardecs from 3 to 1 and left prices the same, we would have continued doing what we were doing (but with a lot more free time on our hands) and highsec pve corps would be decced 66% less… and when they did get decced it would be an entity who designed themselves to inspire a fight… leading to interactions which yield fun and interesting developments for all.

Also, can flipping was the heart of the “dark and gritty” feeling of Eve and was a prominent reason why I worked with other pve players early on.

I loved the challenge of trying to find ways to mine at the payout rate of jet-can mining without getting flipped. The current mining paradigm is just boring… I can’t imagine that’s retaining anyone. At least make us choose between risk and reward.

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Thank you.

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Dirk,
I disagree. I’m a pretty logical player and Eve is a pretty massive pile of complexity. However, I’m trying to make the point that the issue with the new player experience is that it’s sterile and boring.

Nobody is interacting with me… or anyone else.

It’s dead systems which have limited numbers of people flying around in dead silence. Whether I was stupid as a noob in 09 or not… has no bearing on the fact that:

In 2009, Eve unceremoniously dumped me in the middle of a warzone where people were scamming, baiting, flipping, warring, smacktalking, and even killing me for stealing quite legitimately because I didn’t know any better.

In 2018, Eve is holding my hand as I wade into a dead system full of people who aren’t interacting with anyone.

I think it was better the old way. Simply by not jet-can mining in noob systems or taking from yellow cans, I could opt out of the whole thing… but it was something to watch.

I think Eve was far more entertaining back then. Now all I have to do is:

  1. warp in
  2. destroy x waves of red ships
  3. Warp out for reward
  4. repeat until bored

Bring back the chaos.

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I understand the impression you are trying to convey (struggling through a chaotic, combative start-up process), and yes that sort of thing is fun for some people… assume they get through the process without quitting.

However your topic compares the ‘New NPE’ to the ‘Old NPE’. You recently did a somewhat lacklustre new tutorial process, and were disappointed that it was boring and unchallenging. I get that, although it is supposed to show you the game mechanics, not be an exciting gauntlet of death.

The “Old NPE” you are trying to compare it to simply never existed. You skipped the old tutorial, which led directly to much of your early struggles. You undocked and started shooting at players, hence the Concording. You were never ‘dumped into a warzone’, as Todaki has been a newbie/rookie/starter system since at least 2006.

The only reason you experienced chaos back then was because you skipped the tutorial, didn’t know what you were doing as a result, shot illegal targets, looted suspect cargo, and probably talked about it in local so people knew a target was out there.

If you had done the tutorial back then, the ‘Old NPE’ would have been a similar boring step by step, except that some people found it more confusing. The primary difference between then and now would have been that in 2009 when you started, there were more new and inexperienced players in the rookie zones, and more of them would have been making rookie mistakes.

The only chaos you experienced you pretty much created by yourself, by doing things because you didn’t know better at the time. Now you know better, you don’t do those things, and you don’t see the chaos. And the rookie systems are mostly filled with alts and people who’ve played in the past, so they aren’t all flying around making rookie mistakes (‘chaos’) either.

I myself am happy with a more rough-and-tumble startup experience. On the other hand, EVE mechanics are a bit complex and new to anyone who hasn’t played before, and the tutorial really is there to teach you those mechanics. Not to launch you into instant battle, ship-loss, and criminal behaviour (‘chaos’).

I’m applauding what I consider to be a much better tutorial.

And you’re correct. I was only killed by my own silliness in 09. There were no actual threats which could kill me unless I consented by stealing or shooting.

However, the warzone feel that met my expectations was real. There were people fighting, recruiting, or interacting everywhere I went.

There were fleets doing things… and I found them more fascinating than my tutorial or agents…possibly to the detriment of my consumption of information I needed concerning the loading of guns.

My argument is that the game has moved forward in many ways, but the elimination of the jet can has eliminated any reason for noobs to work together, that the current mining paradigm of 5 clicks per 15 minute cycle is essentially “not playing”, and that you’re isolating new players to a situation that discourages interaction to experience “warp in”, “destroy waves”, and “warp back for reward” until they quit.

That’s the argument.

Make a new character and try it…

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If asked for my opinion, (which I admit I was not) I would point to the oft-repeated myth that all it takes in EvE is to find a group of friendly, social people. It doesn’t matter if they’re playing the asshole in game, what apparently counts is just finding people who are willing to throw you a bone, and help you sort out what to do.

I have simply not found this to be true. But then, I have not found this to be true of literally any MMO I’ve ever played. For a game type that is supposed to be literally all about the interactions with other people, MMOs have one and all been filled with antisocial ghosts, and vocal assholes.

I don’t blame EvE for this. What confounds me is that EvE’s the one that apparently has all of the community people rooting for it, and singing its praises. And clearly it must be true on some level. There are a lot of groups of fast friends, and like-minded individuals who managed to accomplish their goals together.

I’m just saying… I’ve never seen it. And EvE… Well. It is the one that everyone says is so social. And it is the one with the notorious learning curve. If I can’t find folks that are willing to be social, the steep learning curve sure isn’t going to do it.

Kudos to those who have, of course.

I think it’s unrealistic to assume senior and junior players are going to share enough interests, goals, and capability to be able to have meaningful interactions on the large scale of a game like this.

Especially in the pve scene.

My first Corp was a pve group who did level 4 missions. I ran a couple missions with them, contributing next to nothing, before deciding that I needed to work with people more my age.

Then I joined up with some noobs who were trying to solve the same issues I was trying to solve and had a very engaging experience cracking the nut of jet can mining, doing missions where I could contribute, and trying to learn about exploration and Corp growth.

My opinion is that the goal of the new player experience should not be to drive them to the senior players of highsec or nullsec, but rather to drive them together to solve new player problems as a new player team.

That is where the meaningful interactions and friendships will be built… not in the exploitations of the pve community or the subjugation of their interests to the demands of a senior player who is in charge of their Corp.

That’s my opinion… I think that part of the game worked pretty well in 09

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