Jurius Doctor is a former lecturer of E-Uni, and now a lecturer at IG Academy, a new player corporation in Iron Armada. I decided to interview him due to his experience with new players, both in E-Uni, and IGA, to get a unique viewpoint on their experiences in EVE Online, and whether the community can do more to integrate new players into the game.
INN: Jurius, could you tell me a little about yourself, and how you got to where you are now in the game?
Jurius Doctor: Sure, Im Jurius Doctor, a former lecturer at E-Uni, and now at Iron Guard Academy, I also record lectures for new players, which can be found by googling my name. I also help E-Uni coordinate with other guest lecturers, along with guest lecturing for them occasionally, because they are a great place for people to learn.
Back when i joined the game in June 2015, I joined, like many people do, after a recommendation from a friend. When I first joined, I had a huge amount of questions. This game is known for having a terribly bad learning curve. One of the first things that I was told was to check the E-Uni Wiki, and I dug into the resources available, and spoke to the lecturers, and they told me I could join any corporation I wanted, but if I really wanted to just learn the mechanics of EVE, and figure out what I liked to do in the game, I should join E-Uni. I did, and while there, I learned a lot of things, however, real life forced me to take a sabbatical from the game.
When I eventually got drawn back into the game, I decided that I should sink my teeth into it, learn how to do things well, and also lecture. I studied the teaching material, learned what I could, and over the course of a year, I became a regular lecturer at E-Uni, joined the events team, and became an officer in the Solitude Campus. I created a course called EVE Careers, examining all the ways to make isk in EVE, and another course about EVE Lore.
Eventually I reached the point where if I didn’t challenge myself, I would become furniture in E-Uni. While E-Uni has lots of great people, after you have been there a while, you start to gather dust, and fall out of love with EVE. When I heard what my friend Tridgit was doing in Iron Armada, I decided to dust myself off, and set up a new challenge for myself, and joined Iron Armada.
INN: With your history, how do you feel that new players develop in this game, and how do you feel that their life, and access to knowledge help them improve, and moreover, how do you feel the resources available to them help new pilots to improve?
JD: Well, that’s really multiple questions in one. I have been giving this a lot of thought lately, and i feel it breaks down into a pyramid of learning.
On one corner, there is the ability for players to engage in meaningful self-based learning, and the new iteration of the New Player Experience (NPE) has really done a lot to help that, and addressed a lot of problems that new players have had in the past. It answers a few questions:
- How do you pull new players in with the story?
- How do you give them meaningful tutorials with good on-screen direction?
- How do you drive them into understanding this game has a lot of elements of finesse?
There are a lot of things in this game that require attention, Skill Points are easy, but the “hard skills” are the ones that require you knowing how to fly your ship, where to fly, and what, and when to shoot. The NPE has received a lot of criticism, but i feel it does most of these things right. CCP have already said they are going to expand the NPE, to make it longer, and more inclusive. It makes me wonder if there should almost be two EVE’s, so to speak, one where you have this long, cooperative engagement, where you are led by the nose through a grand story arc, and then kick them into the wild to engage in PVP. The new NPE is unrefined, and almost feels like a splash of warm water to the face, before being thrown out into the cold.
On another side of this metaphorical pyramid is player participation, something that organisations like Brave Newbies, Iron Guard Academy, and KarmaFleet excel at. There is a lot of University-type focused groups, yet E-Uni is the only organisation that truly remains neutral. A lot of people will disagree with me, but if you go to any other organisation except E-Uni, you will get taught to fly for the situation they are in. If you are in a null-sec group, you will be taught to fly what they need you to fly. EVE Uni however, will train you in everything, and not focus in on what they need from you. E-Uni gives you the learning you want, and make you successful at what you want to do.
CCP Sisyphus said that “The subscriber rate of people going through E-Uni was 90%”
Whether those numbers still hold true after the Alpha expansion, I feel it’s because E-Uni doesn’t corral you into doing what they want. It’s a very open learning atmosphere, that is big enough to provide buy-backs, mentorship programs, and other things. It is a unique place to go, and a great place to teach, but that player led focus really helps new players get involved in the community, and truly become part of the game.
The third side of this pyramid, I think the game needs to develop a body of people whose focus should be as ambassadors of role-play. Some people join this game to be assholes, and i say that in the nicest way. People who are gentle giants, can become tyrants in game. EVE sees a strange transformation in people, as the veils of society are lifted, and those of anonymity descend. There will be people who come to this game to harvest tears, and others who come here to build, and others who come here to do PI, and where they find their Zen, is what they love. We need people in the Rookie Help channel, who can ask players what they want to do, and recommend people to the corporations that suit their playstyle, they aren’t recruiters, but they would definitely act as referral agents,, pushing people in the direction that suits them for culture, playstyle, and intellec, encouraging people to go to an organisation that suits them. If someone wants to get good at Solo PVP, push them where they can get the best answers, it’s about making people stay with the game.
INN: So that leads to another question, a lot of people seem to forget that although Newbros annoy and frustrate some people, without the influx of new players, this game would eventually die. Do you feel the community is responsive enough to new players, or do you feel, at times, like new players are shunned, and left on the fringes to “learn it themselves, because we had to”?
JD: There’s certainly that attitude in this game, particularly amongst the bitter vets, and I certainly would fit myself in with that category, but I don’t think I’m jaded, and I think that’s the difference. Even in the Rookie Help channel, I have seen jaded players make dour jokes directed at new player’s expense, not thinking about the effect that has on someone who has downloaded the game and booted it for the first time.
Maybe they are someone who is coming from a toxic Free To Play community, but, maybe they aren’t. We need to welcome these players. Non-toxicity, for example is something Iron Guard Academy prides itself on. We shit-talk, sure, but if we ever feel a line has been crossed, or it becomes abusive, we shut that shit down. That’s something not a lot of people are good at, but there has to be a Code of Conduct when it comes to people interacting with new players, at least in official channels, because those people who have taken that leap of faith into downloading EVE, have heard about the big battles, and everyone being out to get you, but expectation-setting is not something recruiters do that well.
The expectation is that you will either be a victim of PVP, or participate in it. Everything in this game feeds into PVP, whether you are mining, or manufacturing, everything you do feeds into PVP. The ragequit in this game is so strong, and one of the first things I say to new players, are my personal 3 rules:
Rule 1: You will lose ships
Rule 2: You will lose more ships
Rule 3: If you want to get over that, buy 5 ships, and go lose them.
One of the best excuses for getting into Industry is when you can replace your own ships.
INN: I know everything I do feeds into PVP, but PVP can daunt new players. How does a corporation help a new player get into PVP, when they may not even understand that they are expected to die?
JD: I started playing games in CounterStrike, in those games, noone stops and tells you how to get better, or how to fix what you are doing wrong, you hear this all the time in EVE though. What people are surprised by, is the first time they take part in PVP, especially if they take a ship like an Algos up against a Nightmare, many times people will say things like “Congrats for the big balls, sorry for killing you, here’s some ISK, and here’s some advice.” That approach is what EVE has going for it. It encourages new players to keep doing what they are doing, and get better.
If corporations want to do it right, and build relationships and loyalty, you can’t be a toxic, hammer-handed FC and be abusive, because newer players, and younger players, don’t respond well to that. Millennials don’t respond to abuse as a management technique. You don’t make it about losing ships, but moreso about critique, and critical, positive reinforcement. You point the players in the right direction, and play towards their strengths. Negativity doesn’t work.
INN: You mentioned that recently we went through a huge change, and Alpha clones are restricted to their skills, and what they can do. Does it affect fleets, and how have Alphas changed things, particularly with a perspective from E-Uni?
JD: Well, what will be really interesting is if CCP Quant reveals the metrics at Fanfest this year. There is a lot of suspicion that a lot of the alpha clones were made by veterans in order to see the NPE. I know I have an Alpha toon. We don’t know how many of those players are new players. I suspect that 30% of all Alphas are players who were financially challenged in Real Life, who can now engage in a meaningful way. The influx of Alpha Clones has helped IGA, although most of them have subscribed now, because we have showed them the value in a subscription. They have gained an interest and feel like they are set up for success. I think that we are seeing more Alphas come in, and I would imagine, the chances of them subscribing is higher if they hit a corporation.
People have this belief that Alphas are hobbled, but are often surprised when I show them Alpha fits with T2 modules. Alphas are able to be quite competent. CCP have hobbled Alphas, but not hamstrung them. People who say Alphas can;t hold their own, obviously haven’t fought against a Hull-Tanked Insta-Lock Thorax, or a fleet of Alpha Griffins. They can certainly hold their own.
INN: Eve University control the best learning resource in the game, a carefully constructed Wiki that is full of information, do you think there is room for more resources, and alternative angles on training?
JD: I would say EVE-University is to EVE, what Apple is to computing. They are a big player, have a brand that is consumer friendly, easy to digest, and non-offensive. In many ways they are simple, and easy to use. Everyone seems to have, at some stage or another. E-UNI has public lectures, its help chat has become a default one in every game client, but in no way are they the only player, or the only authority. The Imperium and Brave have great resources available, but the best resources in my opinion is the Youtubers, there’s a very small amount of content creators, yet the EVE community seems to rally behind all of them. Its not hard to find instructional videos, so there is also of room for other groups to build a database like that, and I know its on the roadmap for IGA, especially for those interested in Null-Sec PVP.
INN: The Corporation Recruitment channel is full of corporations looking for people, how do people decide which corporation to go to?
JD: Well, the recruitment market on EVE is as competitive as the employment market in the real world. Here at Iron Armada, we recently recruited Meredudd, of the MindClash Podcast, formerly a member of the Imperium, along with some other former Goons. Why they joined, you would probably have to ask them, but there are some secrets there that are not so secret:
The most important one is simple: don’t be a dick. I mean, sure, some people are going to be dicks, but don’t be one. If you look at any fleet that goes out, and any event that happens, affects people. Positivity is hugely important, no matter the outcome, the important thing is that people have fun, and a positive attitude, is huge. You can’t look at your killboard, see too much red, and let that decide how you treat people.
INN: How much red is too red though, when do you say enough is enough, and cut someone loose? When do you decide is someone is no longer worth keeping around?
JD: This, i feel, is the difference between a leader and a teacher. A leader lets you know the expectations he has of you, and lives up to those expectations themselves, they talk the talk, and walk the walk, and they become exemplary at that lifestyle. They are often the first person in fleet, and the last one out of fleet. They are the person who no matter how busy they are in real life, they answer evemails, they help with problems, and Tridgit, my CEO is a great example of that.
But when you are approaching a player who has a pattern of constantly losing ships, and making the same mistakes, there is a point that you say “I would love for you to remain a part of us, but you aren’t reaching our expectations.” and where a good leader will succeed is where they recommend another corporation for the person to learn, and fulfill what they want to do, but a teacher looks at that pattern, and asks critical questions. “Why did you lose that ship?” What happened?” and you foster critical thinking in the pilot, you ask questions that gets the pilot thinking about their situation. The only way to get good at PVP is to lose ships until you start killing more than you lose. You need to be able to identify if a person is failing because you are not setting them up to succeed, or because they refuse to learn, or just don’t care, and if they don’t care, you should kick them, but if they want to learn, and you aren’t serving their method of learning, you need to adjust how you are teaching them.
INN: So you left EVE University to join Iron Guard Academy, who are they?
JD: So feel free to quote this directly,
“Iron Guard Academy presents you the opportunity to join Iron Guard as someone who is new to the alliance, or the game. Iron Armada is essentially a large corporation, the only thing that changes between these corporations is the name. Iron Guard Academy is used to make sure players fit the culture, and the ethos of Iron Armada.
The thing that I love about Iron Guard, and what drew me to it, is Tridgit, the leader, is irreplaceable as a leader, but the draw to Iron Armada, that I haven’t experienced it anywhere else, is that you will never find a group of more chill, relaxed people who are here to play the game, and get good at it. Everyone is there to help you get better, and get self sufficient. In Iron, we not only want you to be successful, but we want you to do it without a credit card. You won’t be a burden to the corporation, but you will feel you have achieved something.”
INN: Its been great talking to you. Is there a statement you would like to close with?
JD: Yes, CCP Falcon and other Devs have stated, repeatedly, and explicitly, that there are things in this game that people haven’t discovered yet, and that should fill you with a sense of awe, and astoundment. This game is huge, and there are still diamonds out there in the sands. If people take anything from this, it should be that connecting to the right people will help you be successful, but you have to engage this game with a sense of wonder to fully appreciate it.
Just after this interview, CCP Falcon responded to Jurious asking about Player Built Stargates, with the following: