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Dev Discussion #33 - New Player Experience

LieutenantToastLieutenantToast Moderator, Staff
edited September 8 in General Discussion

Glorious Ashes community - it's time for another Dev Discussion! Dev Discussion topics are kind of like a "reverse Q&A" - rather than you asking us questions about Ashes of Creation, we want to ask YOU what your thoughts are.

Our design team has compiled a list of burning questions we'd love to get your feedback on regarding gameplay, your past MMO experiences, and more. Join in on the Dev Discussion and share what makes gaming special to you!

Dev Discussion #33 - New Player Experience
What are some of the key elements you think should be introduced to a new player, and how much “hand-holding” do you generally like to see in a game?

Keep an eye out for our next Dev Discussion topic regarding character creation!

UPDATE: Greetings friends - thank you all again for taking the time to join in on this discussion! After putting together a recap for our team, check out some of the top notes you shared with us below:
  • The top sentiment shared by players was the desire for a key focus on an early introduction to the lore, especially through cinematics and regarding the races (for ease of choice) and worldbuilding the lore of Verra.
  • Many players want the new player experience and tutorials to be optional or customizable depending on player experience within gaming and the MMORPG genre
  • Many players expressed the desire for a small amount of hand-holding in which they’re given guidance, but nothing mandatory
  • While many shared opposing opinions, a majority of players felt that the tutorial and/or new player experience should be done through quests with identity and purpose rather than pop-up tooltips or the UI showing you how things are done
  • While many players expressed a desire for lore early on which helps them immerse in the story, they also communicated the desire for their character to have humble beginnings. Starting in the world as a “nobody” allowing them to become whoever they want in the world of Verra
  • Quite a few players want cinematics. Lots and lots of cinematics :)

While many people shared many wonderful ideas, there was one that stood out in particular:
runestone wrote: »
Clearly you shoud be met with many fireballs to the face, by a zerg ball of spawn campers ;)
All to the cries of....'infinitus mortem!', screeched with chilling laughter


  • FrogFrog Member, Alpha One, Adventurer
    Good intro kinda like the wow races intros. As well as a tiny bit of hand holding just in the beginning for players to get started.
  • StretchStretch Member, Alpha One, Adventurer
    I think with a game like this, the new player experience should be showing the player that they are in a world that is bigger then themselves. They don't start off as a hero, trader, bounty hunter etc, they are just a player and it is up to them to choose who they want to be.

    As for hand holding...Other than the basic tutorial on movement or combat, I think people should just be left to figure things out on their own.
  • Stretch wrote: »
    I think with a game like this, the new player experience should be showing the player that they are in a world that is bigger then themselves. They don't start off as a hero, trader, bounty hunter etc, they are just a player and it is up to them to choose who they want to be.

    As for hand holding...Other than the basic tutorial on movement or combat, I think people should just be left to figure things out on their own.

    I def agree, u should start almost as a citizen in a small vilage, and threw quests u become a hero. So starting quests will be like normal village activities, but a little accelerated to show combat mechanics and all taht stuff, cuz u need to keep players in the game too.
  • I know the devs have mentionned it before, not in this context, about not wanting to give too much away regarding the lore and I think that should also apply here. Maybe a little intro to the races and maybe where they all are, but that's it regarding that aspect.

    Gameplay wise I think just a little bit in the way of abilities, light attacks, heavy attacks, movement etc but also maybe a little bit about how siegeing works, this doesn't necessarily have to be at the start of the game but ideally before you join your first siege!
  • mramazingmramazing Member, Founder
    I personally like the idea of how Tera (I think it was Tera?) showed you what was possible with character progression as an intro.

    I also like the idea of comparing how small we are now and idolising a hero we could become.

    I just don't want to encounter a long tutorial or starter/tutorial area. I want to jump in and experience the world.
  • edited August 12
    My favourite MMORPG is Guild Wars 2. Each character you make has a cut scene at the beginning right after character creation. The scene is tailored to your race and other choices. I remember when I first played, it was quite inspiring and made me feel connected to my character. You can skip this cutscene if you've seen it before.
    Then there is an instanced tutorial quest with popup instructions on basic movement, camera, and the simplest and most common of actions -- press F to talk to the NPC! The quest line was more complicated when it first came out but they simplified it as years passed so now it's super quick. Each race has its own tutorial quest. Other players are in the quest with you. When finished, you are placed in your main home city with banks and stores and other players, so you don't have to run thru the wilderness alone to find things.
    New toons are only given a few skills and you learn more as you level up. All skills have a mouseover popup description so you know what they do. I still use this popup now after 9 years of playing because there are so many skills, I can't remember them all. :smiley: It only takes a few levels to have all your basic skills learned. I find this helpful because having a full bar of skills can be overwhelming at first. As an experienced player, I can quickly level a new toon to get all the skills and it's not too boring.
    I think NPCs or clickable objects like books are useful for lore. Those who aren't interested can just ignore them.
    Also, I'm sure there will be lots of content creators making tutorial videos for the noobs. :smile:
  • CROW3CROW3 Member
    edited August 12
    I want to explore, and part of that role is to find out much of the lore, world, and its denizens on my own. So when starting, only tell me the bare minimum of I absolutely need to know that I couldn't intuit on my own, then let me go.

    I don't need UI, movement, or combat tutorials. I don't need punctuation over NPCs' heads. I don't really need to know how or why I arrived in Verra - maybe that's part of a greater mystery.

    Respect your world enough to let it be discovered instead of spoonfed.
  • I'll describe how it comes to my mind:

    Upon arriving through the portal you stumble across a small camp of newcomers and a religious NPC comes to check on you if you are okay and say "oh my! Are you okay? Thank the god of creation *name* we are blessed with this realm once again." Then some introduction could be made about major lore of the world, a bit of religion, and the cataclism that happened.

    Then, this NPC would ask you if you could help others newcomers. These newcomers would be quest givers that would show the players the basics of the game. These quests could be a supply hunting quest that would show how combat, gathering and node development work (as if the camp of newcomers was a node itself).

    By the end of those quests, there could be a link to class fantasy quests and the player should feel like he's learning about the game and acctually his character is learning new things also. Professions could be quest driven too, so the player has this feeling of progression.

    I think everything that improves de roleplaying and character identity is beneficial since the beggining of the game. It's very different, and I find personally better, when tutorials are quests with identity and story then a text window showing how you supposed to play.

    Thanks for the team, as always, for listening to us! I hope I join you guys for Alpha 2!
  • I believe the first missions should give the player an idea of what the game feels like when you reach high levels.
    The info should IMHO be kept only to what randomCasualNoob#237 NEEDS to keep going, and then you give them 'pro tips' when they reach points where it's significant.
    I would also put this info in the help parts of menus, in case a more dedicated player wants to dig in
  • OrymOrym Member
    edited August 12
    I'm kind of torn on this one tbh, on one end i don't want much hand-holding at all, it is a special feeling of arriving to a new place and just experience it as it comes. On the other end i get frustrated if there is important things the game don't tell me. But one thing is clear there should not be a long tutorial every time you create a new character if any tutorial at all.

    Sorry to say it but Crowfalls tutorial is horrible, the main attraction to the game is the pvp and you have to go through a 25 lvl, hours long tutorial to get there. I love pvp and would of loved to experience it but quit after lvl 22 ish, could not stand that boring quest/tutorial part any longer. I don't need to know how to craft a basic dagger or how to dig up things to take part in the pvp content.

    So to sum up. I want the new player experience to feel free and like I can learn the game as i please. But with the game teaching me important information that is nessecary to know. Alof of information and how to play the game is often time very self-explanatory and does not need to have a tutorial and lines of text to teach you how to move forward or how to attack etc. And I understand there should be some sort of explanation on how to do certain things but not all information at the same time, one thing after another, it's too overwhelming and you forget half of it. Better to recive pop-ups when you experience something new.
  • For me the perfect introduction to a new adventure in the mmorpg world should have:
    -A tiny bit of lore from the world and from the particular race you're using
    -Basic ability and control mechanics
    -Basic UI interaction
    -Quest to put to the test all the above
    -Everything must be in the games language (nothing like the NPC telling you to "click in the icon located in the screen)

  • AdonexAdonex Member
    With a game this big, I think it is important to make new players aware of what gameplay potential their characters have in terms of core features and systems (Node Progression, PVE, PVP, Professions, Politics, Sailing, Caravanning, ..etc) . I think it would be best to pace those introduction over the course of a suggestive scenario that is relatively "Hands-off". This way players know exactly what they CAN do and are left to their own devices to figure out HOW to go about doing it. This way the player doesn't experience an information over-load and feels they are guided into discovering these potentials on their own.

    From here I'm straying from your question a little:
    I think it would be neat and novel to introduce players through a scenario that has a risk/reward implication for the entire world/server. Something that serves as a guided introduction to core features and avoids the classic "boring tutorial island grind" by attaching player investment to world-wide implications (Potentially in the form of varying conditional experiences and/or outcomes?). If my lore is correct, an example of this can be tied into a story preceding each of the race's return to Vera. One in which decisions made by player groups can influence which node a portal appears for them to enter the game world of Vera. Perhaps these decisions alter the conditions of said portals and how they interact with surrounding nodes for a given time period? I think this would be a cool way for existing players to have some sort of connection and invested interest in the new player base.

    Cheers to the Intrepid Team!
  • AeriusAerius Member
    edited August 12
    Firstly, I would entirely support the idea of having an optional tutorial that experienced players can easily skip without losing out on anything beneficial.

    There must be some type of tutorial system, lest we have a growing stew of new players unfamiliar with how MMOs typically work, and they will be dissatisfied and confused. Perhaps throughout this tutorial, new players could skip specific parts to reach subjects they are unfamiliar with. One player could skip standard MMO controls and immediately move to Ashes-specific systems, while others can take the whole tutorial experience. The entire experience could include using in-game chat properly, emotes, the class system, basic housing and citizenship, etc.

    Tangentially, I hope that experienced players would be able to send in-game links to a help menu or the established Wiki. Easy linking encourages more player to play support since it would be easy.

    On the matter of "hand-holding", I would hope that it is only significantly present at the very beginning, when players are having their first encounters with specific systems and mechanics in the tutorial. On the first quest, flashes or arrows can point to parts of the interface they need to use or pay attention to, such as the map or quest log. It can inform them how to check for more information, how to fight, how to move, etc., while noting that this potentially obnoxious flashing and pointing will no longer be present after the tutorial and that complexity will increase over time.

    I do not want to see quest pointer arrows or trackers that entirely eliminate the need to read quest text and pay attention outside of the tutorial (think Morrowind vs Skyrim). Finally, there should be new player chat channels where questions can be asked and experienced players can give answers (think WoW's Newcomer chat).
  • But for example in lost ark there is a cool contept that before u choose ur class u can try it on a small arena so u know what ua re picking and i think thats pretty nice
  • Chezshire wrote: »
    For me the perfect introduction to a new adventure in the mmorpg world should have:
    -A tiny bit of lore from the world and from the particular race you're using
    -Basic ability and control mechanics
    -Basic UI interaction
    -Quest to put to the test all the above
    -Everything must be in the games language (nothing like the NPC telling you to "click in the icon located in the screen)


    Cinematics are cool
  • FrissFriss Member, Alpha One, Adventurer
    Hand just a term for having no interaction.
    aka, let me just mindlessly afk run places.

    Let me just say this, as much as I like being able to find the next quest and just skip through the dialogue.
    There is only ONE game that actually got me interested in doing some quests. It was Runescape.
    Most of them are horrible, and it's annoying to have to do them to unlock content, DON'T DO THIS PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF GOD....but maybe do it may be healthy for the game, idk..... So, do it? LOL

    What I'm getting at is, don't listen to people crying about having to do something.

    Hide some stuff, let them explore, It's an open world. Let them randomly interact with someone, and oh hey, can you help me out, I'll give you this for it.

    Less...... kill 20 mobs and quest complete crap, that's low-effort stuff.
    go here, kill x mobs, go there, kill x mobs, pick up x of this resource.

    you can have all the story in the world, but when it still revolves about killing x mobs....boring.

    so, a solution would be, make up something random..... complete this jumping puzzle in less than whatever, here's your boots that make you run faster to quests....or something RANDOM. If you really do your research, we don't care. Have some story, have something original, and don't make it mob-killing quests, ez pz. I don't care if I have to bake a pie! just don't make me kill 20 mobs to get said pie. have me walk through the process of making it!

    Any other hand-holding. Give everyone the SAME experience of everything being completely new.
    Alpha one is great, but if this is a starting zone, rip anyone who is completely new.

    Find a way to have complete noobs and the best players interact. IN a POSITIVE Way.
    socially.....and you've cracked the code to start/hand holding.........
    and most importantly of all, MAKING FRIENDS, the only "hand-holding" should be by players you've met.

    If you log in and everything is empty, and no one is interacting then who cares.
    let people figure out the basics make alpha one.....the tutorial island(RuneScape reference)...... and then send them to the actual map, into a populated area where people respawn or trade or whatever. Where they can then talk to each other to find the way of living, or find their own best way.

    You could save money, time and not think about the process at all......and just let us run from yellow exclamation mark to yellow question mark. :wink:
  • +1 to make your character feel small and not the hero from the start.

    Although a big world at the start could also feel complicated. I would prefer a smaller starting zone and perhaps see in the distance how big the world is.

    After some time, you get familiar with the starting zone. It feels like a home to you, and you're now ready to venture the world. Like the hobits going on an adventure 😁

    I know it sounds very much like the start of vanilla WoW. But to me personally, I feel like that game handles the beginning experience still the best.

    I remember back in vanilla, I would visit my starting area back because I was starting to miss it. Already feeling nostalgic at lvl60 towards my starting zone 🙂

    One thing I dislike are popups from the start. A so called 'tutorial' that forced you to click around your screen. The same goes for overly explained mechanics which makes you feel like playing a mobile game.

    I like to explore the UI and mechanics myself, it's part of the journey / exploration.
  • George BlackGeorge Black Member, Intrepid Pack
    No handholding at all.
    Players want to log in and explore with their friends.

    If you introduce new players to 2 MSQ lines, 6 crafting quests, 6 gathering quests, a bunch of node, class, homestead, lifeskill, system this system that quests, you immidietly ISOLATE players from one another, making the new player experience a solo rpg.

    Let there be a website and let each player comeback and start his crafting path any time.
    Move away from the singleplayer themepark for AoC.
  • George BlackGeorge Black Member, Intrepid Pack
    Also, 2 years after release, consider new servers. Its the only way to maintain the depth of the game and make it accessible to new players.

    Catch up mechanics (season servers, handouts, xp boosts) ruin mmorpgs and fast track players through content to the high end lv gameplay.
  • chaoko954chaoko954 Member, Alpha One
    edited August 12
    Intro to the game lore wise!
    FFXIV does a great job of letting your character feel important to the story without jamming you being the hero down your throat(till later.). I'd love to see my character interacting and emoting with the important NPCs throughout the game via in engine cutscenes, but the intro is important to set the stage!

    And as far as tutorials go, if my wife can learn the game by reading and clicking through the first part then I can teach her the advanced stuff. So that's the bar.
    Make it so my wife can play. XD
  • Arthus DawnbreakerArthus Dawnbreaker Member, Alpha One, Adventurer
    edited August 12
    #1. Intro to lore and something about the race I chose with a cinematic to get me interested maybe have me Questioning and wondering to help push my character out into the world to find out more.

    #2. Easy tutorial for movement and combat, skills , but give us the ability to skip tutorials and or cinematics if we want.

    #3. Give us a reasons to care about the story, give us a reason to go out into the world and explore our surroundings, Give us the connection that is required for a story to stick with us and to help develop our own characters as well as Characters / NPCs in the world. If we don't care then there isn't any point.

    #4.The story is what grabs the viewer, Its what pulls us through the world. I want us to be excited to see what comes next

    #5. I want important NPC's that become Well known in game that help us through our journey every once in a while. Famous characters like Sylvannas, Arthus, King Arthur, Anduin, Tyrande, Zues, Odysseus, Hercules all have memorable stories and interesting characters that help you as a character in that world to keep us interested. I know MMO's are about Us the players, but having those mentors, Heroins, and gods help us stay interested in that world. It also helps us to want to dive deeper and a good opportunity to fight alongside them or fight against them or be taught by them like famous class trainers or famous towns people or interesting encounters along the road.

    Give us a world of Verra we can be proud to call home ;)
    Join our Ranks at our Knights of Ember Guilded Server
  • AeleanaelAeleanael Member
    edited August 12
    What are some of the key elements you think should be introduced to a new player, and how much “hand-holding” do you generally like to see in a game?

    About functionnalities, I'd like to have 3 tutorial possibilities :
    - Going through a "basic" tutorial (mostly adressed to newcomers to MMORPGs, like "press W to move forward" and so on).
    - Going to an "Advanced mechanics" tutorial, that would cover specifics AoC mechanisms that are uncommon for MMO veterans.
    - Going through both of them through a "Full" tutorial.

    So that any type of player would be able chose whatever they want.

    I'd be especially interested in the "advanced mechanics" part as for myself :)

    Being able to skip all these "functionnality tutorials" would indeed also be nice for those who just want to jump straight to the game!

    I'm also a big fan of having a specific intro cinematic about the world, and/or the picked-up race/class!
    From what I've seen the game has amazing landscapes, that'd be a shame to not use it in order to bring the player into Verra in a very hyping way !

    First impressions about a game are really important, and cinematics do an incredible job when it comes to bringing good ones.

    Blizzard indeed usually do a very great job with their cinematics for example, might be a source of inspiration in their construction.
  • I think small skippable tutorials that are tied into the story are the best. I would do something like make the portal toxic and the players need a potion to step through. So they have to fight someone for the materials and craft the potion. Then the tutorial ends with a cinematic of the players walking into one end of the portal and then stepping out into Verra.

    Just a quick 10-15 minute tutorial to introduce them to movement, attacking, and some menus. Then just throw them into the wild.

    You could also make the tutorial at level 15 but make the Portal toxicity not completely nullified and take away levels so that players know what to expect on their classes at a later level, but that might just annoy people going backwards.
  • AzheraeAzherae Member, Alpha One, Adventurer
    1. A minor introduction to the different types of NPCs around, maybe some indicators of NPCs who are the 'same Archetype as you', perhaps talking about their exploits.
    2. Some indicator of settlements you could go to, nearby, explanations of the trip being somewhat dangerous, suggestion that you might want to find a group just to make the trip safer. Maybe a hint that 'if you get a big enough group you can do some fighting or gathering on the way'.
    3. A clear set of directions to the settlements or points of interest that will become settlements, in Ashes' case, with minimal quests that can be completed by just hanging around the starting area.
    4. Some hints at why the lore is that way, connected to why you'd want to make it to a settlement as soon as possible. An explanation that once you reach a settlement, you might be able to find someone to help you develop your skills/understanding of the world, if you don't manage to figure it out yourself by then.
    5. Basic weapon vendors that will let you trade in any weapon you bought for another one from them (special functionality unlike regular shopping) so you could try out lots of things.
    6. Stick the main tutorials at the settlements and focus entirely on getting people to be willing to group up and understand that 'it's dangerous to go alone' so that they get less frustrated if they try that and die. Maybe with an option for the occasional unlucky player who has no one around ("No one is around/They all seem busy.") which is the thing that leads to there being a few level-up quests in the main area with minimal rewards, to pass the time, usually each one sending the player a little further toward the settlement, so that they feel rewarded for making the same trip over and over, and then feel good when some other new player spawns and they can help that player get to the settlement themselves.
    Sorry, my native language is Erlang.
  • AylokAylok Member
    edited August 13
    I am a fan of sandbox games so I probably have a slightly different opinion that most people.

    I think that players should have all the tools necessary to learn the things they want to learn without it being forced on them.

    A lot of games force new players through a bunch of tutorials for all of their game systems right in the beginning of the game. I think one of the funnest parts of a game is learning about these systems on my own and discovering how they work, the forced tutorials definitely detract from that experience. Forced tutorials also often burn me out of games very quickly, I like having the freedom to choose what I want to do even in the beginning of a game.

    The most enjoyable new player experiences for me are ones that teach the essentials (controls, inventory, chat) but leave most of the other tutorials as optional content. If I want to learn how to do something more complicated, I should be able to find an NPC or quest or some other tutorial that will teach me about the system.

    The introduction to quests and the world's lore should be the same in my opinion, optional. (This is controversial but I think players should always been given the choice on how they play in an mmo)

    Every player has a different opinion on how the new player experience should work so allowing the player to choose how much hand-holding they experience is important.
  • A varied approach would be nice, where you would get asked what you would like to do in this new world and if you wish for some introduction. So you could choos for diffrent tutorials regarding diffrent game systems. maybe even a third option where you just get a short reminder / intro to them.

    How to explain it lore wise:
    After all you just stept throu a portal in to a new world, what better time to start a new chapter in your life as a blank slate? Some would remain doing what they have always done, other would start in a totaly new occupation.
    There are two reasons why the government would help with those aspireing endevours. Firstly, they know that they can't force people to do what they (the gorvnment) want, so in order to maximize profit / taxes, they provide basic training. This would also increas the friendship / loyalty of the People taking set program toward the government, as it was provided free of charg. Secondly, This whay they can more easily keep lists and spreadsheets about what kind of proffesions are currently occupied / retrained amoung their subjects. So they could react, if lets say, all the warriors suddenly wanted to become bakers. XD
  • VertasVertas Member, Braver of Worlds, Alpha One
    The most important thing for me is to let players do what they want but still introduce the games systems gradually so that new players aren't overwhelmed and decides that it's to much for them and quits the game.

    "Warframe" has a great smooth start but players are left all of a sudden with a lot of systems that aren't explained which lead to that only 40% of players keep playing the game after the 2 hour mark.
  • I think Warframe does new player experience well. It has a great cinematic intro, a storyline, you play through it and it's a hidden tutorial. Until you get to the 2nd mission/planet it's well done.
    Another thing I like personally, or think it would be the best, is throwing in small tutorials/screen splashes as they go.
    For example, don't talk about dungeons at level 5 when you can't do dungeons. Or only talk about open dungeons. Or you are recently spawned, mention the UI and how it can be edited. I don't need to know about powers, key presses, or anything else. This does tie into how the game is designed however, imo. For example, if there is something you need to be doing whilst leveling, to reach "end game" and be able to, say, socket in stones for the weapon, but there is no mention for that, it's kind of a drag doing that late even if you could. I think the "systems" tutorial/explanations are fine; considering AoC aims to be sandbox, I feel like saying something like "at level 10 you can do this!" - you're level 8. Ok, as a player, find a way yourself to level up to 10.
    Hand holding is completely fine to me AS LONG as the encounters during the hand holding progressively get harder or are challenging from the get go. Some sort of "oh I died here without a risk, but I still died. Clearly I need to be careful".
  • OrbificatorOrbificator Member, Pioneer
    I think something important to really hook and give an understanding of the game would be to showcase the scale of the world this game has; the incredible view distance. From what I saw in alpha videos, the skybox goes up forever and you can see things so far away.

    This game feels enormous and really triggers a feeling of awe upon standing on top of a high place. It feels real and pulls you in; it makes you want to explore. Knowing in all the different parts of the world you are looking at there is civilization growing that you could take part in with the node system. Or try to tear it all down with your guild! It makes the world feel so much more than just a game.

    Compared to other games where the world feels contrived and where it's a series of confining valleys or very obviously designed worldspaces, this game felt like coming out of a narrow tube I didn't know I had been living in for years. I feel this is important to showcase.

    As for hand-holding, I enjoy sandbox games that let you roam free but do acknowledge there needs to be at least some kind of tutorial. My only "advice" here would just make sure you don't strip the player of their autonomy.
  • botbot Member
    I think just in general the leveling experience should be straight forward with arrows and map tracing. The leveling experience should just exist to get you familiar with the map, mechanics, and the classes. Nothing more annoying than being day 3 in a game lost because you missed a random quest that stops a main storyline so you just end up quitting because you weren't invested in the game in the first place.
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