This month, a new player-created event begins with More Chaos: March of the Newbros. March of the Newbros is a multi-alliance partnership between mentors from across all of EVE Online’s newbie organizations. These experienced players are banding together to teach public classes and engage new players about all the fun and exciting things in EVE Online. This event is being hosted by Danielle en Divalone and Unstable Unit of Mercenary Coalition, with the help of mentors from Pandemic Horde, Brave Newbies Inc, Redemption Road, PFR, SLYCE, E-Uni, and KarmaFleet.
The Newbie Experience in EVE Online
“EVE Online is hard.” This statement has been re-iterated so many times and on so many websites that it has become a bit of a mantra. Players proudly pound their chests exclaiming their alpha-nerd status of playing “the hardest MMO,” and websites across the internet pop up to report on the crazy activities and antics that happen in the universe they’ve created. While all of this might seem well and good for certain parts of CCP Games’ customer base, another part of that base continually lags behind – the new player.
Of course, some of you might heartily disagree, but as the CEO of a corporation that deals with a lot of new players – KarmaFleet – I think I have some experience with this. Someone is probably already posting in the comments (“Join Pandemic Horde,”) but the reality is that most people who try out EVE Online do not make it past the mechanics of flying ships and docking in stations. They never get to understand that the game truly begins with the community of other players. If a new player joins Horde, KarmaFleet, BNI, or any of the other groups that helps newbies, we know that player will go on and most likely stick with the game. The problem is that so many new players are never exposed to new player groups or told about them unless a helpful soul in the rookie help chat points them in that direction.
This means CCP Games is depending on players to help get their new customers into the game, rather than developing in-game systems to do it. Essentially, unpaid labor is doing most of the heavy lifting when it comes to retaining CCP’s customer base. This social aspect of player retention runs contrary to what is currently being taught with the ingame “New Player Experience” mechanics. There, the monotony of the Opportunities and Career agent missions serve to frustrate new players rather than engage them with exciting gameplay. As a best case, this can cause them to ask questions and engage socially. Numerous player corporations and alliances in the game exist to help new players: Pandemic Horde, KarmaFleet, Brave Newbies Inc, Redemption Road, E-Uni, etc. The game design and in-game experience that new players are put through do not point them in these directions at all. As a result, most new players quit, and the customer base for CCP remains small.
A New Solution
Danielle en Divalone and her daughter Kristen Endivalone wanted to play EVE Online together. This is not that uncommon in EVE Online or other MMOs, as some families find engaging in this type of gameplay a great way to spend time with each other. Danielle had played EVE for a little over 3 years, mainly with E-Uni. She had become disconnected with some of the changes for new players in her current alliance, Mercenary Coalition. She also found the options for helping newcomers to be very different than when she first started. Upon reflection, Danielle and her long-time in-game friend and co-organizer Unstable Unit, put it this way:
“Since leaving for MC, we kind of missed helping the new guys and started to think of ways we could give back to the community. We realize how hard it can be for new players to find help to get started. We figured the more we could help, the more people will stay in EVE (and more people to pew-pew at down the road.)”
Most new players are thrown into the default ‘Opportunities’ system. Kristen said that system is like “trying to shoot quail with a BB gun.” That turns out to be a common reaction. The opportunities system in general is very disconnected and causes additional confusion. That confusion is often dealt with by ISD personnel. These players work like volunteer GMs for CCP, and have a neat blue portrait appearance ingame. The current system forces them to spend more and more time explaining things than ever before. As Danielle puts it:
“Hanging out with the ISD guys in the Rookie chat I can really see where the breakdowns are too. It is crazy how they have these guys set up to start. And it is now twice as much work on the ISD guys that are not even getting paid to help.”
To improve communication, Danielle and Unstable Unit got together to put on “an open house” of sorts. There, all manner of newbie-friendly corporations and alliances could get together and talk; about what they offer, teach public classes, and promote newbie-centric activities. What initially started as a weekend affair grew to an entire month’s worth of classes and events. “March of the Newbros” was born. As Danielle puts it:
“One of the biggest parts of Eve is the community. If you do not get into a good community early on, you really do lose out on one of the biggest parts of the game. Each community is completely different, so getting the chance for the new players to come see how these communities interact will help them see where they fit in best. And we all know that you are more likely to stay in the game if you have a bunch of friends to hang out with.”
After reaching out to corporation and alliance leaders to contribute to “March of the Newbros,” Danielle and Unstable Unit put together a calendar that details upcoming classes and activities throughout the rest of the month. There’s an exciting mix of fleet operations, basic PvP combat skills, ganking, and history classes available. Everything will all be happening on a public voice server, so newcomers can feel free to hop in at anytime.
Plans for the Future
The time is right for a neutral ground aimed at new players. There are more choices and options for experiencing the different aspects of the game than ever before. A group like Danielle’s and Unstable Unit’s could do a lot of good channeling new players into places that fit these many playstyles. Regardless, without more exposure to groups like this, all will be for naught. There needs to be more commitment from CCP to opening up options for newly created players to interact with, search for, and find player corps and alliances that suit them. These basic activities need to happen without having to resort to out-of-game searches and frustration. While this might seem like a minor thing on a player-request wishlist that is by now, miles long (please fix Fozzie Sov!) these little things can go a long way in helping newbies stay in New Eden.
Danielle hopes that this newbie-centric public awareness does not stop at the end of March. She plans to continue doing smaller monthly events and to keep pushing to improve in-game communication for new players and player-run corporations. It is a noble goal. Having a centralized “newbie help center” like what More Chaos is offering just might be the trick for getting players from their first hour in the game to being a happy and eager pilot months down the road.
This article originally appeared on TheMittani.com, written by Porkbutte.