Friday, 28 January 2011

My Sister the Rookie: Trial Period, Part Two

This ongoing series of articles aims to chart the progress of a new player in EVE, with a view to discovering the pitfalls and roadhumps that might deter the newer player. You might like to read part one first.

My chosen guinea-pig was my younger sister who, as well as having some previous gaming experience, has the added advantage of being someone who I can be that little more candid with (read: shout at and later apologise to).

In the first part of this series, Lozyjoe had created her character and had attempted to do battle with EVE Online's bewildering user interface. She'd managed to grasp some basic camera orientation and ship control but had found it quite a daunting process. We left her having just docked for the first time. Just when she'd started to get used to the UI in space, we'd upped the ante on her and now she was in station with a whole new panel of buttons and options having appeared. I could sense her trepidation as she thought  'one step forward, two steps back'.

Fortunately Aura, the 'ship computer' tutorial character, was keeping up her end of the deal by providing written instructions and making the appropriate buttons flash. Lozyjoe's insistence on reading everything out loud felt unnecessary and slow, but if it helped her understand then so be it. The problem was it tempted me to embellish and add my own advice which wasn't always helpful and often confused. I realised that I ought to take a step back and allow Lozyjoe to work with Aura at her own pace.

Once I was sure she'd grappled some of the basic concepts regarding skill learning and module fitting, I directed her toward the career agents found via the 'help' window. I had dabbled with these agents in the past and thought they would be perfect to give Lozyjoe a grasp of the gameplay options available to her. Each agent essentially provides a storyline arc of missions that gently introduces a particular gameplay mechanic to the new player. That should keep her busy, which was fortunate as, at this point real life summoned me back and I left Lozyjoe to her own devices.

However, a day or so later when I next spoke to Lozyjoe, she was in a bit of a negative mood. She had been frustrated by her failure to grasp something in one of the career tutorials, but from her explanation it was difficult to divulge exactly what the problem was. I logged on and flew over to see if I could help get to the bottom of the mystery.

Despite initially expressing an interest in manufacturing, she had opted to do the 'exploration' career tutorial first which, although arguably having one of the more involved and interesting mechanics, is also one of the most complex. I started the arc myself in order to understand where the confusion had arisen and I learned something for myself: I discovered you could use the onboard scanner without probes in order to scan down combat sites (no longer needing to compromise a combat loadout to make room for a scan probe launcher, I subsequently spent several days tearing around in an assault frigate in pursuit of these sites).

Loz's confusion had arisen from the disorienting use of acceleration gates and her misreading of the overview. Still not in possession of the required EVE-fluent instinct, she had become lost and mistaken a stargate for an acceleration gate, ending up in an entirely different system. Veterans may laugh, but her confusion was understandable given the amount of new information her rookie brain was trying to make sense of. I set her straight and helped her out with some other points of confusion (mainly arising from obscure or vague mission instructions) and some advice on scanning (four probes in a cross formation, overlapping the focal point, gradually down-sizing and repositioning).

As she soldiered on with her brain-bleeding training schedule, I dabbled with a couple of the career arcs myself. They seemed quite good and, it turns out, very generous, rewarding the successful missioner with skill books, implants and new ships. Aside from the risk of confusion and the unfriendly interface, I could imagine this being quite fun.

Over the following days, I didn't get the opportunity to get back to New Eden much and I hoped that Lozyjoe was doing alright without me. When I finally caught up with her, I was pleased and impressed to find that she had worked her way through all of the career arcs and collected a nice little stockpile of ships and equipment. She had also skilled herself up to enable an assortment of module fittings and proceeded to bolt any old junk she'd looted onto her shiny new Punisher. She was flying around in a combat/mining/salvaging/armoured/shield tanking slug of a ship. Oh dear.

However (and more importantly) she seemed fairly content and pleased with her progress. It also made it clear to me what we needed to go through next...

Ship fitting. Next time.

2 comments:

  1. Yes, I completely understand how your sister feels, having only started myself two months ago. The user interface felt like someone had thrown me into a swimming pool, and while I was drowning, they explained how I should move my arms to make swimming motions. Not the most effective way of selling a MMO to a new user. From comments in the rookie help chat, I see that many people get frustrated fast and leave the trial during this experience. Good luck for your sister, as it is a great experience once you get past the first few meters of the cliff. What saved my EVE experience was that I met someone on the first day who suggested I should join the EVE University, and I have been happy ever since.

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  2. Great post man! I feel for your sister. In my early days of the game I spent at least twice as much time reading on evelopedia and other sites as I did actually playing the game. I think it would be almost impossible for someone to learn this game on their own without going to such outside sources (or having a friend or corp to help them out).

    I laughed at the part where you describe her new ship. Sounds a lot like my earliest ship.

    I just started an alt not to long ago, and even though I'm more experienced now, I did the same thing. AT the end of the career tutorials I fitted my punisher with whatever mods I had. I had some armor mods, some shield mods, all kinds of stuff. It worked great for me. That early in your career the missions are really easy so your fit doesn't matter much. I found it better to not spend any money and just use what I had lying around until the missions became more challenging. Then when I did upgrade to a true armor tank fit, it was a real power up!

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Lay it on me.