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A new journey - what are your thoughts on the beginning player experience in MMO's?

Fuppo HeadhunterFuppo Headhunter Moderator, Member, Alpha One
edited May 26 in General Discussion
What are your thoughts on a new players experience in a MMO world.. what have you seen from other games that worked out well and others that may not have?


Not a official story, just flavor story to go along with Discussion ideas!


Prologue:

Fuppo sits calmly on the broken wall beside a small box that contains what appears to be cookies. "I swear there were more of these. Did I eat one? No, there is mischief afoot." He nods his head in disapproval.
He feels something, a presence that was not there a moment before.
He swivels his head, looking to the west over towards the tops of the pine trees across the large meadow that spreads out before him. The glade has an ancient structure, with fallen and broken stone walls and towers. It sits rising on top of the ground that gently slopes up from the meadow's edge to the center where the tumbled stone blocks sit, jumbled in disarray but with enough structure to show the tower's grandeur and walls that once stood there.

Suddenly, he hears a noise in the distance, crashing branches and sees movement deep among the trees in the thick scrub brush that lays in dark patches under the spreading branches.

Quickly the small cat, for that is all that Fuppo is, is he? There are more profound mysteries about the feline than appear at first glance. One might be the glowing eyes, slitted with an iris that seems to burn with an inner fire that might consume the onlooker with a deluge of heat if released from the prison that traps it. Other hidden mysteries are not apparent at first glance hidden in the feline's body which is as black as the darkness you might find in a cave deep in the earth's bowels.

Bounding down from his perch, Fuppo leaps behind one of the large building stones toppled from the tower walls.
Looking again towards the treeline, he sees emerging from the deep shadows that cloak the forest edge a group of what appear to be travelers!

"Ah yes, finally," he thinks to himself.
"It took them long enough; I have been here after sneaking back through the Gateway from Verra for over a month waiting; what has taken them so long to arrive?" he wonders with a slight annoyance appearing on his small feline face. An old face, older than anyone could suspect.*

But that is not of import now. Fuppo leaves his hiding place and jumps to the top of a larger stone block so they will be able to see him clearly; one must be careful as one will not want to scare the travelers; they will have had run-ins with the... inhabitants in this area and might be slightly, well maybe more than a little frightened. "No use getting an arrow shot at me." he thinks, though that would be a wasted arrow.

"Good morning, or is it? The start of your adventure, travelers. Oh, they have no idea of the wonders and dangers facing them." He purrs... "oh yes, they have no idea."


Chapter 1: Through the Forest.

“Corruption and Walnuts, This forest is horrid! ” Zii exclaims, her high voice rising an octave and ascending from there as she continues to speak. “I said we should have taken the path towards the mountain, but no! No one listens to Zii! We have been wandering for days aimlessly through underbrush and trees in that valley and are probably lost forever! When one of those nasty spiderlings that were back there eats us all, you can not blame me. No! No! Not blaming Zii! Allu, you remember this! You remember my words as you get wound up in spider silk Alluring!” She looks over at the stout and muscular dwarf walking in front of her and slightly to the left.

“We are not lost! This compass works I know it!” says the dwarf, as she looks back over her shoulder, her long luxurious braided beard that hangs down to her knees flipping around her leather and chain armor, catching on the twin blade daggers that are sheathed in her scabbard she has on her right hip attached to her belt. Alluring, or Allu, as she is known to those that knew her before joining the company, glares at Zii, who is a Niküan Dwarf. Zii is a Tank; this is not common but not unheard of among the Niküan as they continue what they call the Great Hunt. She has thick iron armor plates on her greaves and breastplate and a chainmail shirt that hangs to her knees, fastened by a leather belt at her waist. A longsword sheathed beside her hand and a round shield of leather-covered wood underneath a cloak on her back.

Niküa are a sea-faring, island-dwelling race traditionally. “Close to the sea do our hearts be!” was a saying Allu had heard many times pass from the Niküa's lips. Zii is slimmer in build and taller as well by a hand span. Slightly duskier of complexion than Alluring, a mountain Dwarf, or as they and others call themselves, a Dünir. Dünir and Niküa are related far in the past before the inhabitants of Verra fled to Sanctus. Descendants of the mighty Dünzenkell Dwarves of myth and legend. However, Alluring can scare believe this, thinking to herself, “How can we be related at all!” as she begins to turn around to give Zii a piece of her mind.

A low deep voice interrupts the words that had just started to escape Allu's mouth. “Why do we not continue this conversation less harshly, friends? Is this how we treat our companions?” The voice emerged from a Massive figure, an Ork. A Ren'Kai, to be precise.

Allu and Zii both look back at the tall Orc with a giant two-handed hammer fastened on his back and become silent, though not before shooting glares at each other and making huffing noises like they are puffing air through their beards.


To Be Continued-

What are your thoughts on a new players experience in a MMO world.. what have you seen from other games that worked out well and others that may not have?

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Comments

  • George_BlackGeorge_Black Member, Intrepid Pack
    edited May 25
    I think the new player experience should not overwhelm players with tutorials for the first 2-3 lvs.
    Ideally, when players log in they can whisper their friends, meet up and check one anothers characters, pretend one of them is tank the other healer eyc etc and take down a couple of mobs together. Maybe even pvp for a bit.

    The first login is one of the most exciting parts of mmos. Let the players act like the noobs they are in an unknown game.

    Then one by one, not all together introduce them to crafts, story quests and the early systems. Dont divide friends from the get go. Dont make them split "I will check the blacksmithing", "ye but I wanna check those ruins", "where is the MQS npc?".
    This creates frustration.

    Let players and friends breethe for an hour or two (2-3 lvs).
  • NerrorNerror Member, Alpha One, Adventurer
    edited May 26
    Nice story! I like the inclusion of the mods :smile:

    I have a suggestion for Intrepid at the end about the new player experience, but I want to explain why I think it's so important first, and why it works from a psychological standpoint.

    Background
    I think a very important part of the new player experience has nothing to do with the game at all, but about where the player is coming from in terms of both life experience in general, and any previous multiplayer gaming experience, as well as any roleplaying proclivities. This is obviously outside the developers control, but something they need to consider and work with.

    My first MMORPG was Asheron's Call (AC) closed beta in the summer of '99. Before that I had played Freespace - The Great War multiplayer mode in '98, so online play wasn't completely new to me, but it didn't really prepare me for the magic I experienced running around in a 3D world with people from all over the world in AC.

    My point here is that I came in wide-eyed and without preconceptions to this magic new world, and for me the rather new concept of playing with hundreds of strangers at once over the internet was mind-blowing. It majorly shaped my new player experience in ways the developers had very little control over. I fell in love with the game and the community, and everything was magic. Bugs or bad features mattered little to me. I was just happy to be there. I remember people generally being friendly and much less toxic than now, but memory is tricky that way. I can't be sure of that last part. There are many people with stories like mine I am sure.

    I know one thing for sure though, and that is I was a lot more trusting and helpful back then. I wouldn't mind spending even a few hours just helping a stranger. Not for any real personal gain, but simply because it was the kind thing to do. I made new friends and had a good time. It helped build a better community in the game (Thistledown represent!), looking back on it, but that wasn't really at the forefront of my mind back then. But people paid the help they received forward, and started helping others too. I know, because some of them told me later on.

    Teachable moment in MMO History
    I think we had an amazing community on Thistledown back in the day (year 2000). We even had to have the developers intervene in a live event, because the community banded together to protect the Shard of the Herald, that other servers killed, but we elected to level up and save instead. I forget now if it was @Roshen or @Vaknar that experienced this as well? :)

    There is a 2-part video series that explains the significance of this event: Part 1, part 2. I think the two major factors in the outcome on Thistledown was the server community, and the fact that the developers allowed player actions to shape the story of the server, much like what Ashes is trying to do on a much larger scale.

    Psychology
    One of the most powerful and easy trust-building tools is asking for help. It shouldn't be a big ask obviously, but something small, or at least mutually beneficial. If the other person helps you, they automatically trust you a little more. It's part of our psyche as humans. Good leaders use it often. Con-artists use it as well, but for evil obviously. In RL it can be as little as asking a stranger to pass you the napkins or the salt. In a game it can be asking a passerby for help killing a monster you are struggling with. Google the concept if you doubt me :smile:

    The suggestion
    Now I'm an older, somewhat jaded guy who's been around the block in RL and in online games. :wink: The old magic of that first MMORPG is never coming back of course, and I am definitely less wide-eyed and naive about the MMORPG community at large, and harder to please. In some ways I have been "corrupted" by the selfish assholes you invariably meet on the way.

    So my main suggestion is for Intrepid to make launch events (or close to launch) that force players to help each other against a common threat. Invasions by the Ancients are an obvious example. Something that requires a massive effort by the server community to overcome. Something that kick-starts the process of not looking at the stranger next to you only as a competitor, but as a fellow human player that you can have a conversation with. Build up a little mutual trust on the server and humanize the other players, and you'll reduce a lot of toxicity out of the gate.

    People like me - experienced and more jaded players - are likely to be the majority in Ashes at launch. The game is designed around soft-friction between players, and to compete for resources. I think live events near launch (and throughout the lifespan of the game) can help kick people in the ass, and by "forcing" rivals to help each other once in a while I think Intrepid will help curb toxicity that in the end can kill the server population. The sooner in the game this happens, the better. Friendly rivalries are MUCH more fun in the long run, than having toxic, bitter enemy relationships.
  • CROW3CROW3 Member
    I think it really depends on the story. My hope for Ashes is that the story is strong. There generally two basic ways to block an introduction: outside in, and inside out.

    Outside-in is your classic fantasy epic. The opening sweeping shot that slowly focuses in and toward the starting point. This is a perfect place for contextual exposition. Game examples: WoW (all races have this same structure), LotRO, Valheim, GW2, and probably one of the best (in its time) Half-life.

    Inside-out replaces exposition with showing the story, starting right in the middle of action. It’s intentionally jarring, and relies on the player to learn to swim while swimming. Good examples of this are Witcher 3, RDR2, Gothic, and UO.

    For Ashes, I think the gates being part of the opening sequence can go either way.

    I’m not a fan of tutorials - at all - I will figure everything out just fine. But I’m a huge fan of showing me why things are what they are. I have never understood why a character in a medieval fantasy setting has a mini-map. Crysis was one of the first games that integrated the HUD UI into the story. There was a reason I had access to the info I had. A hobbit doesn’t have freakin’ sonar.

    For crafting, I’d have apprenticing to NPCs or Players be a thing. Learn by crafting, not by clicking where the tool tips tell you.

    An MMO in 2025(?) has a significantly smaller learning curve for players to understand than in 1998. Raise the expectations of the denominator and you’ll win more players via respect than frustrate total beginners.
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  • ThreatherThreather Member
    I have a couple of items that I do not like about New player experiences (coming from a person starting a new game already well established, continuation of a game through expansions, and quitting a few expansions ago and having to catch up)
    1. Beginning/Older zones always appearing dead because the games design is solely focused on "end game content/zones"
    2. Sharding: The technology that removes people from an area for the purpose of being able to always have mobs available to kill but turning the MMORPG into an RPG feel
    3. Not having the things i get/gather early game being worthless late game. Example, leveling an artisan class early, making items, getting resources to just ending up vendoring it because no one needed the resources or items. I spend 500% to get to end game, but then when I get to end game, the artisan skill i mastered is now no longer really relevant because I can't contribute to the already well established market
  • RoshenRoshen Member, Staff
    Nerror wrote: »
    I think we had an amazing community on Thistledown back in the day (year 2000). We even had to have the developers intervene in a live event, because the community banded together to protect the Shard of the Herald, that other servers killed, but we elected to level up and save instead. I forget now if it was @Roshen or @Vaknar that experienced this as well? :)

    I don't think @Vaknar is old enough to remember peak Asheron's Call 🙃

    Thistledown x Shard of the Herald event seems like such a unique moment in MMORPG history, both from the player and dev side.

    On the player side, the server community organized to create unexpected gameplay. Devs had to intervene.

    On the dev side, they recognized the community and created an in-game memento.

  • VaknarVaknar Moderator, Member, Staff
    edited May 26
    Roshen wrote: »
    Nerror wrote: »
    I think we had an amazing community on Thistledown back in the day (year 2000). We even had to have the developers intervene in a live event, because the community banded together to protect the Shard of the Herald, that other servers killed, but we elected to level up and save instead. I forget now if it was @Roshen or @Vaknar that experienced this as well? :)

    I don't think @Vaknar is old enough to remember peak Asheron's Call 🙃

    My 'old-school' MMORPG is OSRS lol. I'm old enough to remember dial-up internet but that's about it 🙃

    The future is NOW old man!!!!
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  • Fuppo HeadhunterFuppo Headhunter Moderator, Member, Alpha One
    All good insights! thank you for the replies!
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  • Fuppo HeadhunterFuppo Headhunter Moderator, Member, Alpha One
    Vaknar wrote: »
    Roshen wrote: »
    Nerror wrote: »
    I think we had an amazing community on Thistledown back in the day (year 2000). We even had to have the developers intervene in a live event, because the community banded together to protect the Shard of the Herald, that other servers killed, but we elected to level up and save instead. I forget now if it was @Roshen or @Vaknar that experienced this as well? :)

    I don't think @Vaknar is old enough to remember peak Asheron's Call 🙃

    My 'old-school' MMORPG is OSRS lol. I'm old enough to remember dial-up internet but that's about it 🙃

    The future is NOW old man!!!!

    Dial up? we used tin cans connected with sting you whippersnapper!
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  • Fuppo HeadhunterFuppo Headhunter Moderator, Member, Alpha One
    Threather wrote: »
    I have a couple of items that I do not like about New player experiences (coming from a person starting a new game already well established, continuation of a game through expansions, and quitting a few expansions ago and having to catch up)
    1. Beginning/Older zones always appearing dead because the games design is solely focused on "end game content/zones"
    2. Sharding: The technology that removes people from an area for the purpose of being able to always have mobs available to kill but turning the MMORPG into an RPG feel
    3. Not having the things i get/gather early game being worthless late game. Example, leveling an artisan class early, making items, getting resources to just ending up vendoring it because no one needed the resources or items. I spend 500% to get to end game, but then when I get to end game, the artisan skill i mastered is now no longer really relevant because I can't contribute to the already well established market

    What would you wish they would have done differently as solutions to these problems?
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  • ThreatherThreather Member
    You can fix a #1 and #3 with similar resolutions, which Ashes is already looking at doing. You can make the lower tier items always be in need for late tier items in some manner. Whether that it is a catalyst, fuel, or component. This would at least let players see some other movement in the new zones that aren't just mobs to kill.

    For #1 they could make zones not be a static level range. Example: All starting zones don't need to ONLY include level's 1-5 mobs only. Put some level 30 area's in the area too so people in mid tier have to return for some quests and explore areas that they once thought or unbeatable. Place some important cities or events there that entice foot traffic to participate in that area.

    Sharding I am both for and against.

    PRO:
    1. It really sucks when you get into an area that is highly populated by players and you have to acquire X - resource from nodes or mobs. However, you are completing for that limited resource with 70 other players, making it not an enjoyable experience...especially if you are the 70th player to get that resource. This allows you to split players up to have more exposure to the resource so people can "play the game".
    2. It can help with lag

    CONS:
    1. Shard jumping can be used to force gather the resources to expedite gather rates more than the intended purpose.
    2. It reduces the number of players you are interacting with (going from 1x70 servers to 7x10 servers reduces the players seen by 60)
    3. Resources, monsters, players, you once saw might disappear based off an unexpected shard change
    4. The outside world feels more like a large dungeon instead of an open world
  • DygzDygz Member, Braver of Worlds, Kickstarter, Alpha One
    CROW3 wrote: »
    I have never understood why a character in a medieval fantasy setting has a mini-map. Crysis was one of the first games that integrated the HUD UI into the story. There was a reason I had access to the info I had. A hobbit doesn’t have freakin’ sonar.
    We have mini-maps because in real life we have 5+ senses to help us orient and navigate.
    In a video game, we basically just have limited sight. Even in real life, some people have problems with navigation.
    So, people need tools to help with navigation in video games. Typically, I would say a mini-map is a must, but...
    I like the compass in New World much better.
  • CROW3CROW3 Member
    I’d much rather the compass UI appear after you acquire a compass. 😉
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  • DygzDygz Member, Braver of Worlds, Kickstarter, Alpha One
    edited May 27
    If the vast majority of players are going to acquire the compass, it's better to just have it integrated into the UI by default. Part of the standard kit everyone gets before leaving Sanctus.
    Individual players can toggle the compass/minimap off the UI.
  • tautautautau Member, Alpha One, Adventurer
    Perhaps when someone logs in for the first time, they can be given a choice.

    If they choose 'I am new to massive multiplayer games' then they get a basic tutorial teaching what a mob is, how to attack, guilds, what a node is and lots of beginner information.

    If they choose 'I have played games like this but don't know much about Ashes' then they get introduced to new concepts like nodes, lack of fast transport, and AoC new concepts.

    If they choose 'I'm experienced, throw me into the game' then that is what happens.
  • DygzDygz Member, Braver of Worlds, Kickstarter, Alpha One
    I don't think I've ever experienced a MMORPG which teaches what a mob is.
    I have experienced ones that include basics like WASD movement.
    Typically MMORPG tutorials focus on the basic attacks for each class - and that's because those can differ significantly with each specific setting.

    I'm not expecting an Ashes tutorial to discuss Node progression or lack of fast travel.
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