Wednesday, May 13, 2009

I Wanna Hold Your Hand...

The comments from yesterday's discussion post "I Call Bullshit" eventually seemed to go to the position of "yes there are many different and interesting ways to grind your ISK in Eve besides mining" but the question becomes how well does the game guide you to these alternate professions?

Since I have not run the New Player Experience (aka NPE) in over 2 years I cannot say how the current iteration does in terms of taking a new player without existing contacts to experienced players in game and who choose not to data-mine the forums and fan sites.

As Andrew last said:
@Mashashige:
"[T]rying to guide players to niches is problematic at best, due to curbing of imagination and creativity."

I completely disagree. Guiding players without forcing them into niches is exactly what a good tutorial system does. The two concepts are NOT mutually exclusive.
The problem in Eve is that since a player can do ALL careers and professions from the start (with some skill training of course) and switch at any time, can a tutorial system be created with enough depth to introduce all careers in the game? I believe the answer the Eve game designers decided upon was no and hence why most (all?) new players end up mining, missioning (aka questing for fantasy MMO players), or belt ratting. Again, I have not done the NPE recently so perhaps more effort has gone into showing players simple manufacturing and trading than I am aware of.


So, how much "hand-holding" by the game and in-game documentation (*snicker*) is needed to allow new players to choose from the wide variety of careers in Eve without going too far and taking away Eve's "hard edge" and "uncaring galaxy" attitude?

Warning to Rabid Eve Fanboys and Fangirls: try to be more objective and remember the frustrations from when we first started and perhaps didn't have mentors to guide us to the promised land. If you don't I'll be forced to become grumpy.

16 comments:

  1. My turn to call bullshit...this time on your options list:

    Standard Careers: New players are only able to do 4 of 6 of these. Nobody hire mercs noobs with T1 frigates, and noobs can't do anything with exploration.

    "Builder" Careers - New players can only do 1 of 6 of these. We can't even tech 1 manufacture effectively, because it simply cannot make as much money for the time as mining does..

    Market Careers - 0 of 2. See above.

    Meta-game Careers - Yeah, PLEX is not a career. And I don't know what a Character Farmer is. But of the remaining 8 listed, 4 require skill new pilots dont have and can't afford, and the other 4 require meta-game sklls to go with them.

    So here's the bullshit - you listed 24 options, and new pilots can only do 5 of them effectively or at all. So no, we cannot do ALL from the start or even shortly thereafter.

    EVE is what it is, and I love it as a new pilot, but there's alot that its not too.

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  2. character farmers are people who train characters for the specific task of selling them for isk(not real money) and using the option to move a character from account to account to transfer the character. this is a very profitable carreer but it does take real money to facilitate the transfer. these characters are generally super focused for mining missioning etc. you can check eve forums buy/sell area for prices etc. this option would not be available for those new to the game either as they most likely dont have a clue what skills are needed for the super focusing as well and from starting the char to when you see the isk is about 2 months so not a viable option for new players.

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  3. hzero: the original post was in regards to all eve players, not limited to new players. The discussion in the comments turned to new players as we discussed the subject.

    Regarding Market Careers: a new player with minimal training can excel at these roles. I use an alt with lkess than a 1.5 million skillpoints to do mine.

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  4. Actually Kirith, the initial post uncovered rather quickly that the bad rep EVE gets for being a little too mining-centric was probably due to the NPE.

    Now Hzero seems to be suggesting that even if the NPE is flawless (an unknown at this point) there are relatively few options for a newbie to get into without a crap load of learning and/or time (which a newbie will often be unwilling to invest during the trial period).

    Which leaves us staring at the so-called "learning cliff" that I've read about..... there are 5 relatively boring/unprofitable money-makers at the top, and after that you need to either really love something about the game/theme/players/ideals that makes you want to scale that cliff, or else you give up and assert that the game goes something like:

    mine mine mine mine mine mine fight mine mine mine mine mine

    (And for some people - yourself and hzero seem to be two - that urge to scale the cliff exists....)

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  5. Rabid Fanboy Mode --> Off

    Thinking back a few months ago when I first started, I felt that the game guided me to mining and ratting, by virtue of the tutorial. Mining laser and blaster... have at it.

    Even though the game prompted you to visit agents, I didn't understand or get the missioning aspects of the game. It was only after getting recruited into a corp while mining, and doing missions with come corp members that missioning fell into place. Having only touched briefly on the new player experience, my impression is that they do a better job of guiding a new player, but I don't know if it's sufficient.

    Somehow, I stumbled upon BattleClinic and their new player guide. That helped a lot more than any in-game tutorial.

    I believe it was a small section on trading in the BattleClinic guide that prompted me to create a trading alt. I started out shuttling Quafe and cigarettes from system to system, which can actually produce enough ISK for starting characters to expand their trading and start figuring out what all those skills are good for. So I think the market careers are pretty easy to get into for new players, but the guidance to start was really only there out-of-game. Can't say if this has changed.

    As for my research and manufacturing alt, I still struggle with figuring that one out and how to generate ISK from it. But at the same time, the bar to entry in that 'profession' brings its own relative value. But if it weren't for bloggers and some recent articles in EON, it would still be a complete mystery. Still puzzling as hell and I probably suck at it, but the ISK from the trading alt supports 'exploring' the manufacturing and research efforts.

    Rabid Fanboy Mode --> On

    Any game that lets me fly spaceships, tweak the fittings, and blow crap up... I'll put in the time to learn how to do it better.

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  6. Read my initial post from yesterday. I never reference New Player Experience, NPE, or noob at all in that post. Yes we quickly moved that direction in the comments, but my initial post was not bent that direction.

    Furthermore, what do you mean by "crap load of learning and/or time"? I contend that there are far more than "relatively few options" open to a new pilot on the trial, definitely more than 5. I completely disagree with hzero on Market careers being out of reach. I'd argue there are 7-8 options open to a new player, the question for me is if the game provides enough guidance for a solo player to realize these options are available.

    Finally, I never said any career available was boring. Mining is boring in my point of view but a lot of people like it. People are divided on missions, ratting, exploration, production, etc etc etc.

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  7. @Kirith:
    "Read my initial post from yesterday. I never reference New Player Experience, NPE, or noob at all in that post."

    Fair enough - I'm confusing the initial MSN discussion, the blog post, the comments, and the other in-person discussions all into one big clump that generally focuses on the NPE.

    "Furthermore, what do you mean by "crap load of learning and/or time"?"

    Hzero seems to suggest these are out of reach; you disagree. There's a learning curve in there somewhere - I'm ASSUMING it's non-trivial. If nothing else it's less-than-obvious since it took an offsite guide for JEM to figure it out.

    "Finally, I never said any career available was boring. Mining is boring in my point of view but a lot of people like it."

    "Like" it, or "tolerate" it as a necessary evil? Huge difference. And I never said every career was boring - just that from all I've read thus far the player is funneled into low-fun activities like mining unless they are otherwise educated by an outside force aside from the game/NPE.

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  8. @Andrew:
    "Like" it, or "tolerate" it as a necessary evil? Huge difference. And I never said every career was boring - just that from all I've read thus far the player is funneled into low-fun activities like mining unless they are otherwise educated by an outside force aside from the game/NPE."

    That's the question you are going to answer when you do the trial (and I keep my mouth shut from saying "go do this!" and "you can do that now!" ;)

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  9. Quoting myself to clarify (as a co-worker came in and started blabbering mid-thought):

    "Hzero seems to suggest these are out of reach; you disagree. There's a learning curve in there somewhere - I'm ASSUMING it's non-trivial. If nothing else it's less-than-obvious since it took an offsite guide for JEM to figure it out."

    First part of that refers to the discrepancy between a veteran's point of view and that of a relatively new player. What's second nature to a veteran was not always such.

    Second part refers to the mining debate.

    Why I clumped 'em in the same paragraph is beyond me.

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  10. And by mining debate I mean Market

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  11. " the player is funneled into low-fun activities like mining unless they are otherwise educated by an outside force aside from the game/NPE"

    This is the key. The tutorial explains the game mechanics, but not the game PLAY. Because EVE is a sandbox, there IS no one way to play, unlike other MMOs who rely on linear progression. EVE has no mechanical goal. It's up to each player to define his or her own.

    There's a reason why people are funneled into "low fun" activities to start, and that's the cash. Left alone, a new player has a daunting task ahead of them: getting a better ship. They have no effect (overall) on the learning, since it's real time. Cash, however, is what they are able to affect, so they're pointed at the nearest belt and told to "go mine". For a new player, mining, refining and selling the results seems to bring in a windfall of ISK. As they begin to feel more comfortable, they hook up with veteran player corporations, and the community continues their education.

    It's the gap between the end of the tutorial and the finding of a group of players willing to help out that pushes people to not pick up a subscription, I believe.

    http://www.cedarstreet.net/2009/05/eve-14-days-is-not-enough.html

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  12. When I started out in EVE (fourteen or so months ago now I guess) I didn't have a clue what I was doing. But, especially in those first few weeks, a very great part of the fun was working stuff out. Hell, it still is. There is still tons of stuff I don't know about EVE, I learn something new all the time, and it is still a great joy to do so. More hand-holding at the beginning, that would have possibly wrecked my own new player experience back in the day.

    Now, perhaps some might argue that is making a virtue out of a fault, but I really don't think so. The game developers have no business during the NPE of suggesting how or what a particular player should do. That is part of the fun of EVE, to work that kind of stuff out of oneself. If one is unwilling - or even unable - to do that, well, perhaps EVE is not the right game.

    And actually, the really basic stuff (finding agents for example), honestly, how difficult is it to work out? Unsympathetically, I have to say it is not actually very difficult.

    The only computer games I know that offer anthing like the same freedom, experience, and fun as EVE are the historical strategy games of Paradox Interactive. And the same arguments are sometimes made against them by players of games such as Total War that players of games such as WoW make against EVE.

    Sure, from the perspective of some games EVE's tutorial is lacking. But it is only lacking if your idea of a game is a prison. If you want to play a game that idealises player freedom, then EVE's lack of an 'effective' tutorial is one of its greatest strengths.

    And to hzero, anyone who determines before the fact they will be a failure at a particular activity has made a self-fulfilling prophecy. And if one cannot achieve everything straight off the bat, when it is something one wants to do, then that is what we like to call an aim. Something to strive for. An ingame ambition. What would be the fun if everything was achievable from the get-go?

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  13. It occurs to me that one of the ways that CCP and EVE Online address the learning curve is simply by recognizing that it is an online game and providing forums and other useful information on their website. They recognize that just as player corporations and alliances will fulfill a certain teaching role (and game play roles as well) ingame, that players will also help educate other players out-of-game through the various websites, guides, and blogs. Maybe they could do a better job of pointing players to those sources. Or maybe that's where all those handy chat windows come in. I've met more than one pirate willing to tell me how I screwed up. And more than one miner to sympathize with me.

    Is it an indication of poor game design/implementation that external sources provide the best information? Or is it a sign that the game has such tremendous popularity that it drives people to share their experiences and even some of their 'trade secrets'?

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  14. another point to make in this "sandbox" discussion is you can even try to make a new carreer that people havent thought up yet. theres the salvager and the aggressive salvager which are two comepletely different play styles and appeal to different people theres the miners and the missioners theres people who sell standings for factions by rujnning missions with people in fleet. there are so many ways in eve to make isk that they may not all be found yet.

    now when i started almost 2 years ago now(damn its been that long...) the game sorta funneled me towards missions and with a couple pointed questions figured out how agents work for the most part. this is my prefered way to make isk and it has been since eve day 1 for me. along the mission route you make enough isk to buy and fit new ships at your skill level as frigs are all you need for lvl 1 missions and lvl2s will pay for t1 cruisers and so on with lvl4s being one of the best(and safest) isk gathering methods in eve(in my oppinion ofc). I tried mining and found it boring as all hell though i have since figured out that the fun in mining comes from the people you mine with not the actual act of mining. well hopefully this info will help.

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  15. Well I cranked something up didn't I? Geez I don't get this much response on my blog...

    First off an apology: Kirith, I for whatever reason understood your list to be referring to new players, hence my checkdown on it. I'm sorry, and you are right, those are valid careers for experienced players, all of them.

    I will continue to disagree about trading and buying/selling careers for new players. This is one of the first things I looked into as a player. I say this is not a career for a new player because mining is infinitely more profitable. With a basic cruiser bought with tutorial money and miners from mission drops, a starting player can earn around 1 million ISK *per hour* of mining. Or I can use the money to buy out trade goods, jump them a ways away, and gain a few hundred ISK per item. Perhaps your region had more variation in prices than my region did. I guess I could have flown a region or two over and checked it out, but again, I'm losing 1 million ISK per hour I waste searching. Can a new player afford to do that?

    And to stnylan, who says:

    "And to hzero, anyone who determines before the fact they will be a failure at a particular activity has made a self-fulfilling prophecy. And if one cannot achieve everything straight off the bat, when it is something one wants to do, then that is what we like to call an aim. Something to strive for. An ingame ambition. What would be the fun if everything was achievable from the get-go?"

    This ties into my apology above. I thought Kirith was making the argument that new players had more options than they thought they did. *I contend only that new players do not have those options at start.* Later in the game, with sufficient start up funds from mining, yes trading careers, exploration, and everything else Kirith listed are perfectly viable. I too have aims in the game, as you can see from some of my blog posts, and I think that is the joy of a sandbox game. Interceptor pilot - 26 days and counting. (-:

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  16. I'm a bit late to this discussion, but as a new player (only 2 months in space) I would like to add my $0.02.

    Some background. I'm a new player, but not a noob (or so I like to think). I played WoW for 4 years, FFXI for 1+ and gave WAR and Vanguard a good try (played for 2-3 months each). After reading in Massively the BoB story in Feb 09 a google search took me to CK's blog where he posted videos from CCP explaining the NPE coming out in Apocrypha. And now here I am.

    As I see it this discussion is basically about 3 things. Grinding, NPE and game options.

    Grinding. If it is an MMO there is going to be grinding. You are kidding yourself if you think there isn't. Grinding is a vital part of any MMO. The important thing is to find out what "job" you enjoy so it doesn't look like a grind. Example, in WoW there were instances I loved to run, but there were people in my groups that were there just to get some purplez or some particular rep. They couldn't wait to be done and never return there again. In EVE the same. I mined once I wanted to choke myself with the power cord, but a RL friend (who I got recently into the game) mines all day/night. He loves it. The important thing is for a game to have enough things to do so you can choose what you like.

    NPE. The NPE I think was great. It doesn't cover EVERYTHING in the game, but it expose me to the basics. I ran combat missions, courier (fedex) missions, mined, built stuff with blue prints. Did some hacking, analyzing and I think even some salvaging. This combined with the excellent EVE Careers Guide.pdf that came with the box gave me a really good idea of what is out there. Is it everything? Of course not. The "sandbox" style doesn't allow CCP to do that. It is easy on a "Theme Park" mmo since the game limits your options. You can't compare the two.

    Game options. This is EVE's best feature. It has PLENTY of options. The impression I got from the Rookie Channel is that players were looking for a big ! in top of an agent to guide to "the next step". This is not WoW or a WoW-clone.
    It is also true that a new player doesn't have the same variety or number of options as an experienced player, but this is true in every MMO.

    @Andrew. Is EVE for you? Like with anything in this world the answer is maybe. If you enjoy grinding for rep or for that elusive purple OR if enjoy perfecting your performance thru a very intricate, scripted encounter OR if you have fun completing achievements, then the answer is no. The good news is that a more WoW-like sci-fi game is coming soon. From what I understand Black Prophecy is going to be an instance-base MMO with quests and all the cool things that made WoW a good fantasy MMO.

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