Today CCP Rise published a Dev Blog introducing Opportunities, a new system in EVE that players starting out will interact with in order to better introduce them to the game. The new player experience (NPE) has been a buzz-phrase for those discussing EVE, especially CSM X candidates. It has been common knowledge that the current tutorial and career agent systems aren’t very good and EVE’s player growth has been low. This is something CCP has stated that they are working on and it appears Opportunities are are the fruit of that labor.
Rise noted some recent improvements made to the game have been leading up to the addition of a new system devoted to the NPE. Tooltip changes, the notification system and even the new map (currently in live beta testing) have all paved the way to this new way of teaching new players the basics of EVE Online.
For now, I have mixed feelings regarding Opportunities. I feel this is a few steps in the right direction, but what’s being presented as the initial release is about 5 steps in a 1,000 step journey. The goals are for Opportunities to be non-linear and not tied to any single NPC spawn or system. I think this is a good thing although for the extreme basics of learning the game, there is an optimal path. Obviously a new player needs to learn the basics of moving around in EVE before trying to jump into killing their first NPC. Hopefully Opportunities will do a good job of nudging players in the right order of mechanics in their first few hours of gameplay.
The initial release of Opportunities is going to be very limited and passes new players like a baton right into the career agent system that is so dry and linear it drives people away en masse. I ran the current tutorial system half a year ago on a fresh character and I almost unsubscribed my accounts (… ok not really but it wasn’t a good experience). There is also a lot of concern about no incentive or reward for completing Opportunities. It’s great to teach new players the nuts and bolts of EVE’s core game mechanics but I think it’s also critical for them to feel like they are progressing. Knowledge of game mechanics is an important progression in EVE however I am hopeful that the Opportunity system is able to give players progression in skills (in the form of skillbooks, vouchers or even raw SP) as well as progression in ISK to help them on their way.
One thing I found interesting are the New Player Landmarks that will be added to starter systems. These sites will contain rapidly spawning NPCs to kill and asteroids to mine that aren’t tied to a mission or in a scripted tutorial. They sound like the COSMOS storyline sites in that they are public locations where the NPCs drop loot that’s unimportant outside of a niche (COSMOS items for specific missions or civilian modules and blueprints for new players) and the NPCs rapidly respawn. Outside of traveling and mining, it’s rare in high sec to simply bump into someone else is space doing the same thing you are. Missions are pockets in space dedicated to the individual running them so PVE is often not only solo, but an isolated activity. These Landmarks are a good effort to get the newest players bumping into one another in space as quickly as possible.
Overall I’m cautiously optimistic about the Opportunity system. The initial version is quite limited compared to what is needed. There are promises of expanding the scope of the system to provide weeks worth of content for new players. Ideally these new players will be presented good goals while learning the game and aren’t funneled into an arbitrary New Eden bucket list (I must visit the Eve Gate, I must jump through 50 different systems, I must fire a small pulse laser I at a battleship rat in Omist with 3 people in local). I’m hopeful that this system can get new players on the path to feeling immersed and engaged in EVE without simply chasing breadcrumbs handed to them by game devs. The current Opportunities Demo up for release isn’t enough to be sure.