Tuesday, November 16, 2010

5 Things to improve the new player experience

Looking at the recent Quarterly Economic Report I am really stunned at the lousy performance of new players in PVP. Basically players with between 1 million and 5 million SP (about 4 months of play) have what seems to be a 30 to one death to final blow ratio. This is completely disheartening and remedying this should be the #1 priority for CCP on the next expansion. Here are 5 things that I can think of that they should do. Some should be easy for CCP to implement, some require some additional game design, but all of them are doable and would help new players get over the initial start in EVE.

1. Every Race Needs a 'Rifter' and also a 'Thrasher'

The Rifter and the Thrasher are pretty much the perfect T1 frigate and destroyer. As a result these are the perfect ship for a new player in the first couple of weeks of play. Fast, easy to fly, easy to fit, decent DPS, decent tank, not too expensive, what is not to like? None of the other races has a Tier-3 frigate or destroyer comes even close. Let look at them and figure out what could be changed to give players who are not Matari something to play with in the first month.

Amarr Punisher
The simple problem with the Punisher is that it lacks the midslots to actually tackle anything. I get it that Amarr ships are supposed to be armour tanked and slow, but combining that with having to choose between fitting either a propulsion mod or a webifier is not going to work. Move a low slot to a mid slot.

Amarr Coercer
If a Punisher is bad with two midslots, the Coercer is useless with only one. Again move one low-slot to a mid to give it at least a chance.

Caldari Merlin/Gallente Tristan
Split weapon layouts = bad. This is doubly true for new players as it is for experienced player. A new player climbing into one of these ships is going to quickly realize that they need to train a whole lot more to be proficient at both hybrids and missiles. This should be fixed. Give both ships a 3/3 turret/launcher hard-point configuration which ups the DPS and give more fitting options for low SP characters.

Gallente Catalyst
Is this ship is designed to get up nice and close to an enemy and pound on them with unholy DPS? Not really, it is too slow to get in range to take advantage of its tracking bonus, has a useless falloff bonus, and no damage bonus. What exactly is this ship supposed to do? Swapping the falloff bonus for a 5% per level damage bonus would be a start.

Caldari Cormorant
This ship really can fill one role, long range sniper with negligible DPS. In a pack of 30 this is useful, otherwise it is just pointless. I say return this ship to it's Caldari roots and give it 7 missile slots and the appropriate bonuses. With the up-coming rocket buff this might actually work as a awesome platform.

2. Areas that encourage small ship vs small ship PvP

A 50 million SP character flying a BS has about 10x the DPS and 20x the tank of a 1 million SP character flying a Rifter. However a 50 million SP character flying a T2 Frigate has about 2x the DPS and 2x tank of a 1 million SP character flying a T1 frigate. We need parts of space that restrict ship size to smaller ships. I know we already have a bit of that with wormholes and missions, but I am talking about whole constellations of NPC 0.0, low-sec and high-sec that have ship size restrictions.

I think areas like this would be very popular for both new and old players. It does not create artificial boundaries as to what players can do, nor does it create carebear safe-zones where PvP is impossible. Rather it would provide an environment where new players could PvP and actually have a chance against all of the ships they come up against, rather then be restricted to the role of tackler.

3. Injectable skill complete with training

You remember when you started playing EVE. Everything seemed to have soooooo much potential. And then you realized you would have to wait before getting to the next level. I understood that the skill-training by time thing made sense, however it sure was frustrating that no matter how many missions I did in the first few hours, it mattered not to my characters experience level. I was not going to get into a destroyer for another day and there was nothing I could do about it.

Wouldn't it have been nice if there was some experience point like reward for that first 12-hour marathon of playing. That there was something I could do to get over the initial bump and start flying ships with funky new things like afterburners and maybe even get into a Tier-3 frigate or a destroyer. Instead I was frustrated and considered quitting (many do at this point).

So what I suggest is that as a reward for some of the early missions have special skill-books that inject fully trained skills to Level 3 into the pod-pilots head. Just have enough of the core skills injectable this way. I am not talking about advanced skills, nor skill to a high level, but enough to shave off a few hours to the training time for the handful of skills that new players need to feel like they are getting somewhere in the game. Making isk and grinding faction standings are not enough.... they need to feel like they are getting something similar to exp as well.

4. Discount packs of skills

Another problem new characters have is isk. Asking them to spend a million or so on skillbooks is quite a stretch. There should be some sort of steep discount for buying a pack of skillbooks that are common for new characters. Say 200k isk for all of the skillbooks needed for basic level certificates for each race. This would go a long way to making it easier for new players to not get frustrated on the first couple of days.

5. NPC 0.0 needs a boost

For many pilots the search for where to PvP is a challenge. High-sec and low-sec have complicated rules of engagement that typically leave a bad taste in the mouth, and favour higher SP characters. After all, a Rifter tackling a Brutix on a low-sec gate gets insta-popped by gate guns, while a Brutix tacking a rifter has little trouble tanking the guns.

Instead players need a free-for all area where anything goes, and has station to dock in, get repairs, upgrade clone, etc. That is where NPC 0.0 comes in. Unfortunately with the Dominion patch these areas are mostly devoid of life. Since there is no sovereignty, there are no system upgrades. Without system upgrades their profitability relative to SOV 0.0 is greatly diminished. I say these systems should be upgradable. They are controlled by Pirates, I can't think of a better magnet than that. Anomalies of all types should abound providing players with equal isk opportunities as upgraded SOV space and lots of opportunities to Pew-Pew without interference.


  1. As a newer player I appreciate the info, maybe you can help me understand: Why in your opinion the split layout is bad?

    I understand in comparison to a 3/1 layout with damage boost on the rifter (plus some other factors), the rifter really shines. But are the passive tank boosts on the Merlin and the lackluster 2 slot damage boost to the Tristan really that outshone, or is it more the need to have to monitor one more thing during fast combat that is the issue (releads, separate optimals, etc)

    Thanks in advance -


  2. The problem with the split layout is that it means that any damage mods you fit will only affect half the weapons. This is particularly an issue for new players because not only does the player have to deal with mods, but also skills. Having to train up both hybrids and missiles to do reasonable damage means that new players can not take full advantage of these ships.