Last year at EVE Fanfest, CCP introduced a new member of their team who would fulfill the role of revolutionizing and revamping what was known as the “New Player Experience”, a colloquial name for the tutorial. All in attendance were in awe of CCP Ghost, including myself, and fascinated by his backstory and introduction on stage. For weeks and months, the community eagerly anticipated any details on his project. Podcasts and blog articles circled the EVE-osphere talking about what they thought and many in the media has attempted to gain access to an interview to try and decipher what we could expect from the NPE. Some podcasts were able to snatch him up for a few evasively answered questions, dodgy explanations of his intent of future iterations, and confusing replies to his thoughts on the current success of the first iteration, “Inception”. In his latest interview with the crew of the High Drag Podcast, the same non-answers and ambiguously vague replies were no different than anything else that he has given, including the answer to what his favorite ship in EVE Online was. Simply “the titan”. Not one in particular, just the titan.
CCP Ghost was not an EVE player prior to becoming the producer for the NPE but he does report that he has played a bit since joining the team, however he admits that he tries not to play it very much as he feels it would taint his ability to properly create and develop the NPE. That’s right, the best way to develop or build an engaging storyline to help players stay interested in a game is by NOT playing it yourself. For some fans of the developer, this doesn’t seem to ring any alarm bells to them, nor does the fact that after nearly a year on board he does not have a Twitter handle like every one of his peers do. Countless tweets can be found asking how to get in touch with him and a few posts on the EVE-O forums and Reddit were dug up asking where he was and what he was doing, yet he proclaims the best way to engage with him is via Reddit. Certainly if all of your co-workers engage with its customers on Twitter (or insert any other medium), and you are the lone ranger standing your ground by not following suit, this raises another red flag. Still he is being hailed as the greatest contribution to EVE Online since the invention of, well of EVE. I’m still not buying it.
The closest comparison I have of CCP Ghost is the latest version of Harrison Wells on the TV Series “The Flash”, whom chooses to be called H.G. by the team. H.G. admits that he is not the great thinker like his Earth 1 counterpart but instead is somewhat of a conceptualist who provides the spark of an idea to the people who can complete the plan. Those familiar with this concept might call him a con artist, a person who has tricked or deceived others in believing something that simply isn’t true. CCP Ghost, like H.G., has promised and convinced the developers and community that he was going to change the way we see the NPE and build it in a way that grabs the audience and makes them feel completely engaged in the story with the end result being higher retention rates of new players. Delivered to us with the release of the Ascension update, players were introduced to their capsuleer right smack in the middle of a battle with Circadian Seekers and the Drifter menace. Through this voice guided tour with visuals that pulled the players eyes towards icons they should be clicking, we learn how to do the basics of combat and are handsomely rewarded at the end of this 30 minute to 2 hour adventure.
Why it may have taken some players more time than others is because some of the hiccups in the logic behind the code. If for instance a player moved beyond a step in the progression before the AI caught up, the action would not count and the entire mission would have to be restarted, or the player would have to warp away and back to the beacon. One player that I spoke to in the “rookie help” channel was having one hell of a time trying to figure out why he couldn’t warp back to the beacon when he clicked on the “warp to location” in the Operations Info Panel over and over again once he logged back in after a disconnect on his end. After nearly 15 minutes of dialogue between us and much head scratching on my end we finally determined that before he could warp to that location, he had to undock. That’s right, undock. Nothing in the tutorial dialogue or visual stimuli made it obvious to this Day 1 character that in order to warp to something you had to be out in space. Perhaps a little common sense could come in to play, but if this first set of missions has been designed to be a procedural step by step guide then it is natural to assume that EVERY step would be included in the logic. Finally wrapping up the NPE with the destruction of your little Corvette and an assurance that you have helped your faction push back the Drifter invasion, you are then thrown into the universe of New Eden as us older players remember it with the starter agents and level one missions with no clue on what to do next.
After the NPE, new players are still flooding the help channels with questions like; “How do I mine something”, “as an Alpha can I build a Jove Stargate or go to Jove space”, and “how can I win a system in Faction warfare as an Alpha”. These have all been real questions that I have seen in rookie help. At the end of the day, what has CCP Ghost actually accomplished with this jazzy new NPE? Although it is voice acted, visually appealing, and agreeably stimulating/engaging as far as a story goes, all it has done has increased that two hour play and quit window up to maybe four once the player has been injected into the game that has almost nothing to do with the fun tutorial they just went through. Boys and girls, you’ve just been had. Nothing has changed. CCP was looking for a solution to the abortion that was the tutorial system but all they did was took a turd, gave it a voice, polished it up a little bit, and gave us a nice looking and talking turd as a reward for our patience.
So I ask you dear reader, do you actually believe that CCP Ghost is the savior he has been hailed as and that EVE is that much better because of his contribution? Or have we all been duped into the greatest scam in the history of EVE Online? I for one feel like I have just been awoxed by our developers and the entirety of the community is simply drinking the Quafe.