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Published April 16, 2013

Master Tang - "Pay no attention to Wimp Lo, we purposely trained him wrong... as a joke."

This line is from a terrible movie which I will not bother naming here, but it applies to how I feel about highsec players. It is not intended in a vicious and hateful way, though. It is how I feel about uninformed players when they try to combat other pilots who are aware of game mechanics and how to use them to their advantage. Simply put, such engagements are jokes and quickly dismissed as such.

Why the vast difference? One thing EVE Online teaches is that while accumulated skill points and wealth do grant distinct advantages, they do not always guarantee victory. The differences start off very subtle, but rapidly becomes more and more obvious. Both players in the aforementioned engagement were grabbed by the hand and shown what to do. One is prepared to omni-tank their ship, while the other tanks against a specific faction. We may think of Aura as a loving and caring hologram, but the truth is she trained you wrong... as a joke.

Well, not as a joke, but because the programmers of the game could not predict the future and see how two different players end up wedged further and further apart the longer they play the game. The tutorial is infinitely better than what the old-time vets endured. I started playing EVE a few months before Red Moon Rising, and when I started the tutorial a friend told me I was wasting my time and quickly showed me the basics of how to pilot my Osprey into war targets outside Jita 4-4. She was a brave vessel, and lasted a few minutes, much like most of my ships these days. The point of this tale is that a player had given me my first bit of good advice: closing the tutorial. All of my knowledge of game mechanics and tactics have come from another players since. Not Aura. I consider myself one of the lucky few; I already had a friend before starting the game.

Most new players do not have the luxury of knowing someone who knows the game mechanics. There was players who did not know what warping was in EVE's early days, much less how to do it. So they spent the first few days slow boating around the station and off grid, not knowing where they were. The lucky few established friends ranging from forum communities to real life friends looking for a trusted wing man to help them take over the universe. Or mine asteroid belts the whole day,

The new tutorial, although better, does not gear the average starting player with the right mindset for EVE and the excitement that goes along with it. Sure, being forced to lose a ship implying that losing ships is part of the game, but that's nowhere near what it should be. The tutorial is extremely slow and lacking the excitement needed to bathe the player in the chaotic scenes of space battles we love to talk about.

WAY OF THE GUN

Introducing players to basic game mechanics such as approaching an object is boring.

Players should start the tutorial with pressing the F1 key to fire the gun of a Megathron while heayv fire explodes against the hull and ships fly around. While they admire the carnage, Aura screams at them to press that F1 key to fire rounds into the hull of a Scorpion that is jamming fleetmates. As the fight progresses, they are introduced to other aspects of button pressing, like activating an armor repair module or micro-warp drive. Most of the core mechanics should initially be handled by Aura, such as approaching objects. The point is that the player should learn the exciting parts of the game first. Not how to approach a mission gate and scoop a book from a cargo container.

In this dream tutorial, players feel important right from the start. They are satisfied from pulling the trigger on a big gun and blowing another ship to hell and back. They saved the day. During the tutorial they are taught highly likely scenarios they will potentially meet in real PvP. Just from this different take on the tutorial the player is more excited to fly new spaceships. They are playing and heading down a path towards understanding how engagements work. New players in the current tutorial are thinking spreadsheets and wondering whose starter ship they hijacked and why the local channel won't stop scrolling.

WATERING THE FLOWER

We want flowers with teeth.

The reason why most players avoid and/or hate PvP is due to a lack of knowledge brought about via missioning. Or specifically, as in Wimp Lo's case, learning the wrong way to fight. Players do fine in the beginning missions and, before long, they ask for help with the difficult missions. What is linked? A third-party website that has every possible mission mapped out, from ships to fly, ammo to load, what to tank, what to shoot, and when to shoot. Wrapped up with a nice bow on top.

Gone are the lessons learned from another player inside the mission. Trying different things to see which works is completely unnecessary now. It is all right there; so much detail and information. The new player quickly does the math, and they realize if they follow the guide no harm will befall them. As long as they follow this road map, it will take them around the dark forest, bypass the troll, grab the stack of money hidden over yonder, and guide them to the fastest way out of all danger and risk. Congratulations, you just created another carebear for life who will only mission, avoid PvP, and most likely be a loner who does the occasional "I don't know you, but I'm waving to be polite anyways" high sec dweller.

There needs to be a total and complete revamp of how missions operate. They need to incorporate as much of what combat is like playing against another player as possible. There are plenty of missions that are industrial and science related, but that is something else entirely and deserves its own spotlight. From the very first level one mission, players need to be taught to fit their ship according to the most common ways they would in PVP. For example, activating warp disruptors, omni-tanking, focusing fire, and maintaining proper distance.

Also, try to avoid having players fly missions alone. Force them to meet up with another player at the mission gate. If you must, introduce NPC ships as part of the new player's fleet. I'm not saying toss them into some mission with hundreds of NPC ships blasting away, but you get the idea. The player needs to be continually prepared for situations they will find out of highsec. Missions where they are not in a battleship blasting away, but in a logistics ship trying to keep NPC ships alive. Missions where they are a scout or tackle for a fleet, and if they don't learn how to come in at an angle instead of hitting the approach button they die and the friendly fleet is not able to get a warp in.

Perhaps by far the most important aspect of this new take on missions is the addition of completely random factors. I am not talking about if the Damsel in Distress is in can number three instead of can number one. What we need to see is a cyno going up and hostile ships jumping in. Perhaps another new player's mission asks them come into your mission with the intent to carry out a different or contradicting goal. The creators of mission guide website did an amazing job, but these new missions should be impossible to document. There should be a hundred different options on fifty different aspects of the mission.

Sure, keep themes going on depending on the agent assigning the mission, but don't be predictable. Zombie pilots blitzing missions without a care in the world should never be possible. This new style should apply to all variety of mission types, from the first mission all the way up to the extremely dangerous level five missions. Going into the unknown is critical to being prepared for player interaction and adds excitement back into an otherwise boring profession.

Right now, there is a huge difference in player mindset and interaction between the Daisy player and our new Venus Flytrap player. One is singing "Over the Rainbow" while the other has scary teeth. Ignorance of game mechanics is a huge issue for players new and old. I used to prey on mission runners for a while, and while it was rewarding in ISK and humor, it only was successful because I was shown by other players how to fit and fly a ship for PVP. My unfortunate targets only knew how to shoot red crosses and assumed the same tactics would apply against me.

Most of the time these mission runners would ask me how I managed to kill them after they had died. If they weren't screaming children I would spend a good deal of time trying to teach them about PvP. About half the time - if the ship I blew up was not expensive - I fully replaced their ship with mods, ammo, and rigs. To top it off, I did my best to introduce them to player organizations that I felt they would learn from and fit in with. As for the players who made a spectacle in the local channel or on the forums, I would simply wish them better luck next time and be on my way to the next victim.

Marlona Sky
I have been exploding internet spaceships since 2005. While I do love me a good large scale fight, I thoroughly enjoy small scale PvP as well.