new player experience

EVE Vegas 2017: Pirate factions will hunt you down in new EVE PvE

If your experience with EVE Online‘s PvE is of grinding through waves of predictable NPC pirates firing space pea shooters at you, get ready for that to change. CCP Games has been working on advanced AI for the past few years with the aim of turning those mindless drones we fight in PvE into intelligent actors similar to players. The first stage of this was shown off with the roaming Drifter battleships and later with the Blood Raider Shipyard and NPC mining operations that will form up counter-defense fleets and try to drive you out of the star system.

The next step in this plan is landing with the Lifeblood expansion on October 24th with Pirate Forward Operating Bases (or FOBs for short) and a new Resource Wars PvE system. We learned more about these new features this weekend at EVE Vegas 2017, and they’re beginning to sound pretty epic. Read on for a breakdown of both features and details of how the Blood Raider and Guristas pirate factions may soon be actively hunting you down.

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Shroud of the Avatar is running another free trial until September 27

Curious about Shroud of the Avatar but not curious enough to drop money on the title first? Now you can try it out and save your cash, as the game is holding another free trial event through September 27th. For the developers, it provides a valuable opportunity to see what works and what doesn’t work in the current new player experience and how the servers handle stress. For you, it’s… well, it’s a chance to try out the game without buying it.

Naturally, your options are fairly limited in the free trial; you have no ability to own land, you can’t buy or sell items by player vendors, you can’t PvP, you can’t trade items, you can’t use the letter “j” in your name, and so forth. (All right, that last one isn’t true.) But if you’d like a taste for what the game is like, well, it’s still the most free option to find out that you’re likely to get. Jump on in before September 27th if you’re curious; just make an account, download the game, and get going.

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EVE Evolved: 2016 EVE Online year in review

It’s been another busy year for sci-fi MMO EVE Online, and an absolute roller coaster ride for both players and developer CCP Games. On the development side, we’ve had two major expansions with Citadel and Ascension and a significant business model change with the introduction of a free-to-play account option. Fan events EVE Fanfest 2016 and EVE Vegas 2016 brought us some fantastic insights into the future development, including a peek at some amazing work on future PvE gameplay and an all-new EVE FPS codenamed Project Nova.

Proving once again that the players in EVE are the most engaging content, this year brought us the political twists and turns of the now-infamous World War Bee, which became the largest PvP war ever to happen in an online game. We also delved into some absolutely crazy sandbox stories, including one player using $28,000 worth of skill injectors to create a max skill character as a publicity stunt, and the controversial banning of the gambling kingpins behind World War Bee.

In this edition of EVE Evolved, I look back over all the biggest EVE stories of the year, from the political shenanigans of World War Bee to the surprise free-to-play option and how expansions have changed the face of the game this year.

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EVE Online improves the new player experience further

The free-to-play option in EVE Online brought with it a revamp to the starting player experience, so new free players would be able to more easily start getting into the game. However, the experience has been updated yet again with the game’s newest patch, spending more time covering battle fittings for ships while introducing multi-targeting. It’s part of a series of rolling improvements designed to trim up the experience, so you can always be sure newer players are getting an even better guide.

The patch also overhauls the defender missile systems, allowing them to target bombs and thus cut short carpet bombing runs against slower fleets. The patch also revamps station exteriors, adds in new skins for ships, and improves non-player mining operation interactions. The whole thing will be live today after extended maintenance, so you can get ready to start flying into an even better tutorial once the maintenance wraps up today.

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EVE Evolved: Getting started with EVE’s free-to-play

Just under two weeks ago, EVE Online launched its new free to play account option with the introduction of clone states. Subscribers are now given the new Omega clone state that allows access to everything the game has to offer just as before, while free players get a new Alpha clone state with a limited set of skills available and reduced skill training speed. The people this helps the most are new players, who previously had to get a 14-day free trial to check the game out but can now just sign up and take their time with it. The Ascension expansion also delivered a brand new fully voiced tutorial that developers hope will retain more players.

Thousands of new players have poured into EVE Online over the past two weeks, so many that last week’s peak concurrent user numbers reached over 51,000 players for the first time since 2014. The Rookie Help channel is now regularly packed with 6,000 to 8,000 players every night, indicating that over 15% of the active playerbase is currently composed new players. I’ve been playing on a new alpha character this week to explore the new tutorial and see what I could do solo within the alpha clone restrictions, and it’s been an extremely interesting experience.

In this edition of EVE Evolved, I look at what new free-to-play players will experience in EVE, give my impressions of the new tutorial and alpha clone limitations, and deliver some important tips that should help all new players make the most of their time in EVE.

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EVE Vegas 2016: EVE Online is finally getting a real tutorial

One of EVE Online‘s developers once described the new player experience with the line “Welcome to EVE, here’s a Rubik’s cube, go f**k yourself,” and he wasn’t wrong. EVE has a well-earned reputation for being a difficult game with an incomprehensible user interface, and new players are just dropped into it at the deep end. CCP has tried to overhaul the new player experience several times over the years and even implemented an achievement-style Opportunities system, but 51% of new players still quit by around the two hour mark.

This was the monumental problem inherited by CCP Ghost, the weird chap who showed us all a scan of his brain at EVE Fanfest back in May. Ghost had some interesting ideas for revamping the tutorial using a story based approach, and this weekend at EVE Vegas 2016 we got to see the final result of this work in action along with details of how it was designed. Under the codename of Inception, the first stage of EVE‘s new fully voiced story tutorial will be going live with the Ascension expansion on November 15th. After seeing the Inception tutorial in action, I finally see what has been missing all this time and realise that EVE has never actually had a proper immersive tutorial before.

Read on to find out what makes EVE‘s upcoming Inception tutorial so different, how it was designed, and what the future may hold for EVE‘s new player experience.

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EVE Vegas 2016: Ascension expansion detailed, new trailer released

While the main event of the EVE Online social calendar is unmistakably the annual EVE Fanfest convention in Iceland, smaller gatherings are held throughout the year all over the world. Hundreds of players flock to Las Vegas every year for EVE Vegas, which started life as the largest player-run EVE event and is now officially endorsed and run by CCP Games. I’m on the ground at EVE Vegas this weekend to get some insight into the upcoming Ascension expansion, which is due to go live in just over two weeks on November 15th.

Ascension aims to turn EVE Online on its head by opening the doors to subscription-free users for the first time in the game’s 13-year history. To prepare for opening the flood gates on a free-to-play EVE and get all of those new players over the game’s infamous learning cliff, developers have produced a story-based tutorial system and overhauled the character sheet interface. Veterans can look forward to a dramatically improved ship fitting screen, new player-built industrial complexes, huge mining ship buffs, a new EVE mobile app for Android and iOS, and NPC mining ops using advanced AI.

Read on for a breakdown of some of the big things we learned at the EVE Vegas 2016 Keynote and to check out CCP’s new expansion trailer and feature videos.

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EVE Online previews its revamped new player experience

If you’ve tried to get into EVE Online in the past, maybe it’s time to give it another shot. Not just because the game’s business model is changing, but because the developers are making it easier for new players to get into the world and see what there is to like about the game. The latest development dispatch on the official site shows off the revamped new player experience, putting players front-and-center in a series of missions designed to introduce the main political factions and the conflicts around the galaxy.

Players will also be helped by a new onboard AI companion to help direct players and explain the various overlapping systems at play within EVE. It can’t introduce players to the metagame with ease, but it’s certainly a new chance for players who bounced off of the previous tutorials to get into the game from the ground level once more. The revamped experience will be live with the game’s next major update on November 8th.

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EVE Evolved: What else is coming to EVE Online in November?

Recently I’ve been looking at how EVE Online will be affected by the introduction of free-to-play “alpha clone” accounts in its upcoming November expansion, but there’s a lot more coming in the update than just free accounts. New players will also be met with a completely new story-driven introduction instead of a standard tutorial, and a new ghost fitting system will let players try out ship designs using virtual ships. PvE immersion is also due for a boost as NPCs will begin harvesting ore in asteroid belts and engaging in some industrial operations just like players.

The central feature of the as-yet-unnamed expansion will be the introduction of a new line of player-built citadels for us to build and fight over, this time with a specialised focus on manufacturing and research. Gang and fleet warfare throughout EVE also seems set to change for the better, with a complete redesign of the fleet boost mechanics and the removal of controversial off-grid boosters. Titans will be given new strategic superweapons that provide huge gameplay-bending effects to large areas of the battlefield, and the Rorqual capital mining ship is getting a serious buff.

In this edition of EVE Evolved, I look at a few of the features that have been announced for the November expansion and speculate on how some of them might impact EVE.

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Das Tal creates a 14-step tutorial for July alpha test

The Das Tal team has its eyes set on the next big step for the game: July 16th’s alpha test. When the alpha goes live, it will bring with it a 14-step tutorial to help acclimatize new players to the game’s mechanics and unique features.

“As you can see, this is a very classic approach to tutorial design,” the team posted. “We’ve built a very small, linear part of the game map where new players start out — one at a time. You progress along a path while trying out the core game features: combat, crafting, abilities and so on.”

Players will begin the tutorial — where else? — but a prison cell. From there they’ll escape, fight guards, craft equipment, upgrade abilities, and work their way up to tackling truly challenging mobs. The team said that it was able to create the tutorial thanks to being “confident” in Das Tal’s core gameplay.

Source: Das Tal

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EVE Evolved: Fixing EVE’s New Player Experience (again)

It’s become almost a running joke in the comments of articles that EVE Online is a great game to read about but not nearly as fun to actually play. While those of us who have been playing for years can attest to EVE‘s depth and long-term gripping power, it has always been a difficult game for new players to get into. EVE sees an unmistakable spike in new players every time a story about a massive battle or political event hits the gaming media, but most don’t stay in the long term and activity levels always return to normal within a few months. CCP has tried to revamp the new player experience more times than probably any other part of the game to combat this, but EVE‘s infamous impenetrability remains stubbornly intact.

At EVE Fanfest 2016, we learned that a whopping 1.5 million people signed up to EVE last year, but that 51% of them quit within the first two hours. They’re obviously drawn in by something but are then turned off by things like the minute-to-minute gameplay or the complicated user interface. A new developer named CCP Ghost is now tasked with solving this most intractable of problems, armed with a fresh perspective and an investigator’s eye. Now it looks as if CCP may be fundamentally changing its approach to new players and is considering some options that few people expected a hardcore sandbox game like EVE would ever embrace.

In this edition of EVE Evolved, I look into the problems with EVE‘s new player experience, some interesting ideas discussed at Fanfest’s New Player Experience roundtable, and my thoughts on what the new game introduction could look like.

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Chaos Theory: Looking over your shoulder at The Secret World’s 2015

We’ve finally left 2015 behind. And while it is perfectly natural to want to glance back in the rearview mirror over the last 12 months, in the case of The Secret World you can’t help yourself; there’s that odd sensation of something following you. While peering back, I half expect some shadowy figure to materialize in the corner of my vision and make my heart skip a beat. This is, after all, the king of creepy MMOs that we’re talking about.

Paranoia aside, the year was not a bad one for our favorite horror game. Sure, it had some downs tossed in with the ups, but that’s how life goes. And I think the year ended positive overall, with new content, new kinds of content, and the promise of even more content to come.

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EVE Evolved: Could achievements save EVE’s new player experience?

EVE Online has always been a very long-term game, with players setting goals that often take months to achieve and forming friendships over the course of years. This poses a real problem for new players, most of whom find the game slow and don’t stick with it long enough to become part of the community. People often hear about some awesome battle or read an interesting article on EVE and finally decide to give it a shot, only to discover that it plays very differently to other MMOs and doesn’t give them any direction. Even players who have been around for years will often admit that it took them two or three trial attempts to finally get into in the game and finding their place in the community. Faced with this problem, CCP has tried to revamp the new player experience several times over the years with limited success.

After the recent announcement that CCP will be letting players buy and sell skillpoints on the open market, I got into a debate with some friends on whether skillpoints represent a real barrier to new players and what CCP could potentially do about it. Practically everything you want to do in the game is locked behind a skillpoint barrier, and that’s assuming you can figure out what you want to do. There are career agents to introduce players to the various parts of the game if you know where to find them, but the majority of the new player experience occurs through an Opportunities system that guides the player through a series of achievement-like popups. I’ve begun to wonder whether these systems could be modified to produce something better: A Life Goals achievement system that rewards players with skillpoints for hitting major milestones.

In this edition of EVE Evolved, I pitch an idea for a change to the new player experience that would help players invest in their characters and encourage them to settle in the community long-term.

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