Much like Dwarf Fortress, space MMO EVE Online can be an absolute treat to hear tales from, but an absolute pig to get into yourself. As part of its renewed commitment to its community after the ill-fated 'Incarna' update, developer CCP has formed an internal team to try to make EVE less intimidating to new players.
The four-person 'Player Experience team' is to "focus on making EVE more accessible to players without dumbing down the game."
"The main area for us is naturally the tutorial and everything around it," one of its members explains in a blog post. "But we will also be focusing on what happens before a player logs in and after the player completes the tutorials and wishes to explore the universe during their first few months in New Eden."
First on the schedule for the Player Experience team is looking at why new players drop EVE, poring over statistics, surveys and focus groups, as well as soliciting the community for ideas.
Right now, the game's tutorial and opening missions give a brief and dry overview of controlling your ship and various types of missions, but side-steps arguably the real meat and potatoes of EVE--player vs. player corporate warfare and shenanigans.
We aim to teach new players how to play EVE in a way which is gripping, exciting, clear and most importantly FUN. We want players to have increased social interaction with the community and corporations in the beginning. We wish to give new players more direction and the understanding of what they can become, and guide them towards that goal. We want to give the players a chance to experience the coolness of EVE even in the beginning and make them understand all the potential within the game.
CCP has also relaunched the EVE website with a snazzy new look that's more welcoming to new players, replacing an old text-heavy affair plastered with talk baffling to non-players. There's also a spiffy new trailer featuring a sexy space-lady, which presumably will lure people in too:
Given the possible influx of more casually-oriented gamers from Dust 514, a PS3 spin-off action game, CCP has a lot to gain from making EVE a more accessible experience.