This idea won't leave me alone and keeps running around in my head, so I thought it was worthy of some additional thoughts and discussion. Starting out in Eve is difficult and getting new players involved, engaged and ready to face the HTFU universe is an extreme challenge. One which has not been cracked to date.
My core idea is relatively simple. Turn the initial days of a Rookie's life into a "Mini-Game" that exists inside of Eve. Combine the best of the Tutorials, along with some serious updates and revisions, into a Training Program. Think Danger Room from Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters for an idea of what I'm on about.
The idea is to slowly engage the new player into the world, the concepts and the functions of Eve, while also giving them a real taste of what lies ahead. And this is the radical step that is missing from today's engagement - letting the new player have a chance to fly ships he might not get to fly for years.
It makes sense. Think about training a Capsuleer, how much effort is involved, how much technology, expense and pure resources go into a Capsuleer's training. Do you think they just drop you into a Rookie ship and say, "Fly Safe"? Let's turn the experience of the new player into an experience more akin to Capsuleer Training. For real.
This is a unique situation and a unique opportunity, to engage the new player in our universe in ways unheard of in the MMO environment. A system of training that goes beyond the Tutorial boredom into an engaging, exciting and memorable experience!
So, how does it work?
First, every Rookie system is a Sanctuary for every Rookie signed into the Training Program. No one else. So it is not an exploitable situation. There are no kill-mails in the Sanctuary Training Program (STP), no loots (other than those provided to other STP participants) and no way for anyone other than brand spanking new players to get into the STP. While in the STP the Rookie player is immune to the rest of Eve while IN the STP system. This is also important to avoid exploitation. Any Rookie that leaves the STP system can be killed just like anyone else.
The STP has a stepped and tiered program that introduces the new player to the various play styles open to them as players in Eve. A PvP program, an Industry program and so on. Completion of each program is necessary for graduation.
The PvP program would involve Arena Combat. In yet another brilliant move, this program involves introducing the player to other players, building connections on the FIRST day! Such connections as we all know are critical to keeping players engaged over the long haul. The STP is designed to foster such connections in every program step.
Aura would guide the combat, slowly revealing new systems, tactics and basic fundamentals regarding ship to ship combat. And here is the important thing, while it would start with Frigates, the program would escalate into Cruisers, BCs and perhaps even other ship classes. Perhaps the student would choose PvP as their "graduate program" and more complex tactics would be revealed. The same would hold true in the other programs, students that had no interest in combat might choose Industry as their "graduate program" and be brought into more complex industrial concepts.
The idea is to show the new player a taste of what the big picture Eve is all about. Engage them in the world, while protected from it. The entire STP would only last a few days, but it would be an amazing and unique experience for the new player. It would provide that most important of elements - desire.
Of course, the Rookie player could also choose to opt out of the STP and just undock and fly off. But I don't think many, other than those created as alts, would do so.
The ideas inherent in this system are numberless, limitless and with great possibilities. I'm extremely excited about the STP concept and I can't stop thinking about it. Once completed the STP Graduate would be uniquely qualified as a new Eve pilot and ready to face the challenges of New Eden in ways that we were not.
Imagine being a new player and asked to take over the piloting of a huge transport like the Providence? Or being able to slug it out in Drakes against another Rookie player? Imagine the bonds that could be built between players, the desire to get out there and make something or yourself, to change the sandbox.
I'm sure there are holes in this and those that will poo-poo, but given some serious development and thought I believe this could easily form the foundation for a new player experience that would set the standard for the industry and engage new players in ways unheard of, especially for Eve.
I continue thinking and look forward to your thoughts and ideas.