Welcome to Jester's Trek.
I'm your host, Jester. I've been an EVE Online player for about six years. One of my four mains is Ripard Teg, pictured at left. Sadly, I've succumbed to "bittervet" disease, but I'm wandering the New Eden landscape (and from time to time, the MMO landscape) in search of a cure.
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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Pair of derps

I'll make this quick.

Later today or tomorrow, I'll be publishing my monthly "junk drawer" post, in which I list a bunch of stuff that didn't really rate full blog posts this month for one reason or another.  But two of them are related in spirit (if not in content).  From time to time, I like to link things that aren't obviously linked and these two items really felt linked to me even though they deal with completely, utterly different topics.

First is this column from The Mittani about Delve War V, so this will probably serve as my wrap-up post on that topic.  Usually, Mittens's columns over at Ten Ton are quite good and well worth reading but this one is the worst thing he's written there... pretty much ever.  Petty, vindictive, and lacking in even basic substance, it's dull as dirt.  But best of all, it opens with this laughable quote:
More than fifty thousand characters were involved on each side of this conflict, and the combined forces were roughly equal in power. Commentators anticipated a war of attrition that would last for months...
Uhhh... [citation needed].  Usually, Mittens provides a source link for this sort of claim, but it's not surprising he didn't this time.  Did anyone think that this "war" would be anything other than a two- or three-week exercise in the CFC's ability to run timers?  I know I sure didn't.  And I'm less informed about Delve than just about anyone.  Everyone that actually knows anything about that region predicted a quick, brutal stomping.

Even more amusing is that "roughly equal in power" crack.  Uh, yeah.  OK.  If you say so.

"What is surprising is not that the SoCo lost, but the fact that their mistakes were so banal and elementary," Mittens says.  Even an uninformed outside observer like myself can see it's because they didn't care.  Mittens says this himself in his own article: "[events] made it clear that -A- didn’t care if their allies lost their space."  Way to attempt to insert drama into a situation that had no drama.  As I've already said, a Great War this was not.  Mittens's attempt to try to make it one is derp #1.

Second one is this dev-blog about the upcoming changes to tutorial missions.

Now I don't want to go all negative here, but this dev-blog is again lacking in even basic substance.  My favorite bit are all the artificial boundaries that were apparently put around this effort.  I've had a lot of experience with the tutorials lately trying to walk a couple of friends through starting to play EVE.  The fact that the team working this a) only gave it a month, and b) because they only gave it a month decided not to do anything much about the missions themselves really does lend a "Er, OK, so why are we doing this then?" atmosphere to the entire affair.

Granted, some of the UI changes that are being made are nice but they don't really address any of the core issues with the tutorials that I can see.  They've got a lot of data about when people quit the tutorials but unless I missed it, they have no data about why.  Drawing conclusions on what to do with the tutorials without this is not a good idea.

CCP's looking for feedback on this.  I have some.  Give ten devs a big stack of Aurum usable in either DUST 514 or EVE.  Send them and ten computers to the nearest gaming convention.  Offer Aurum in exchange for watching people run through the EVE tutorial.  One of the devs sits behind each volunteer, taking notes and answering questions.  Where do they stall?  Where do they get confused?  What questions do they have?  And most important, what frustrates them?  Bring these notes back to Iceland.  Hell, send the devs and the computers to a mall and offer the participants $5 if you have to.

There's only one mention of play-testers in this entire dev-blog.  I get the distinct impression that these play-testers were CCP employees that were already familiar with EVE and just hadn't run the tutorials in a while.  They were guessing what might confuse new players, not knowing it.  What's needed here is a completely fresh set of eyes on this process from someone who's never played EVE seriously before and I don't think the devs involved in this effort got that.

Without it, there wasn't really much point to tweaking the tutorials yet again.  It's just polishing a sneaker.  That's derp #2.

So in honor of this pair of derps, have a Rote Kapelle "derp sheep":


That was fun.  Maybe I'll start a "Derp of the Month" post around here.  ;-)

22 comments:

  1. That isn't a Derp Sheep, that is a Bidoof!

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bidoof

    Pokemon knowledge FTW!

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    1. ::chuckles:: In Rote, it's a derp sheep. It's awarded when your piloting and ship fitting are fine, but you're using them to do something dumb. For instance, taking a battleship against an AB HAC gang would rate a derp sheep.

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  2. An article on A List Apart that you might be interested in reading, relevant to your "it's a derp" judgement on the NPE redesign: Beyond Usability Testing.

    No doubt someone will accuse me of attempting to ride your coattails even though I have no involvement with A List Apart at all. The article describes how (a) usability testing using actual end users tends to be expensive, and (b) there are options which give decent conversion rates with far lower investment.

    How do you do usability testing for your NPE? Go out and wrangle absolute strangers to try your sci-fi dystopian universe? What if they just don't care for sci-fi or sandboxes? How do you separate the "I'm only doing this for the money" disinterest from the "this stuff is hard" confusion?

    I'm not saying the new NPE is any good. It has some well thought out features, and the flow of information is nicely paced.

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  3. Mittens has been known to inflate things drastically, and building up straw men is a great way to motivate (gullible) troops.

    Your second point is much more interesting. Some of the best game developers today (read: Valve) have very extensive play testing by noobs for the game they're developing. They go to a point where, during HL2 development, they were observing where players 'looked', and how they could direct their attention to certain things.

    You really get the feeling CCP have NEVER done anything near this level of development. All they literally need to do is get 5 random people from the relevant demographic who've never played, and record they every second during their first minutes. It'd become apparent how terrible the tutorial is very quickly.

    From the one time I attempted the tutorial (granted this was in 2009), it was bland, boring, had no objectives, and frankly didn't actually teach me anything well that I couldn't learn faster on a wiki somewhere. I never actually completed them because I was bored out of my mind, and was rather close to abandoning the game. Only later on I found out about all the skillbooks you 'win', as well as all the ships. To make players stay, CCP should, from the get-go, tell players 'if you complete this tutorial you'll get ships X that are worth X isk, so this tutorial is a good way to spend your time!'. Also, having a choice of what you actually want to learn about (I couldn't give to shits about how to produce shuttles) would be a good start. I know a lot of people that start out and just want to pew pew, and asking/making them endure a terrible tutorial about industry is stupid business practice.

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    1. The tutorial is no longer organized that way. The one that they tweaked here is the most basic one that only teaches the basic ui and combat.

      Once you finish this one you are presented the career tutorials. So if you only want to pewpew you do the combat and advanced combat ones and stay clear of the business and industry ones.

      For the record, the advanced combat one made me lose two ships. In the first case it said "Here is a ship rigged with explosives. Just fly it close to the colony and it will explode. (in big red letters) You will lose your ship, but don't worry because rats never shoot capsules (other players might)". In the second case it said "(again, in big red letters) The next mission is really tough. You are not expected to get out alive. I'm giving you a frigate, but you will need to fit it yourself. The mission is completed when you kill at lease one rat. You need to learn how to mitigate your losses."

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    2. Yeah, that's the Advanced Combat tutorial. You're expected to die in that last mission, though there are various guides that help you survive it (you have to kill a battle cruiser with a frigate, so transversal is very important).

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    3. So you never actually faced the Kobyashi Maru scenario . . .

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    4. That sounds like an improvement! However, the fact that there are guides to help you survive the last mission is silly. The tutorial should explain how you can survive it, not expect you to die.

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  4. I won't ask why this team of devs decided to put only one month into this. I will ask why there is a team permanently dedicated to NPE that never delivered anything!

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  5. Same as znybar... I found way later about the free skills and ships and this is pretty important for noobs who have no money.

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  6. I think you raise valid points that they're going about the NPE revisions in a slightly bass-ackward way, but I won't argue or complain about anything that results in real and long-overdue improvements in the UI (My favorite: "Module tooltips have been substantially revised to show just useful information that isn't already clear from the module icon. (And yes, these include module and charge damage, and work with turrets, missiles and other ranged modules such as EW or remote repair.)"). If it makes them feel better to make such changes for teh noobies, more power to them.

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  7. You know, in my opinion, Mittens blog posts aren't as good as they used to be. Meh.

    In other news, the derp sheep pretty much sums up my Eve pvp abilities.

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  8. Jester, Jester, Jester...

    I'm aligned with neither Goons nor AAA. I hate both of them almost equally. But you cannot set yourself up as "leader" of a coalition and tell your allies, "If you need us, pick up the Batphone and call," and then respond to said call on the Batphone, whelp a few fleets.... and claim you don't care! You better well fucking care!

    Sure, Mittens's TTH post was dull. But otherwise it was accurate. AAA is dung. With friends like that, who needs enemies? And you can't see that? You've dropped a few notches in my estimation, Jester.

    As much as I dislike both sides in that war, if Goons/PL/TEST ran a campaign to knock AAA back into NPC stain and hellcamp them there for 6 months, I would sign on for that in a heartbeat. AAA needs to be set straight. They really are a big pile of shit.

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  9. "Usually, Mittens's columns over at Ten Ton are quite good and well worth reading but this one is the worst thing he's written there... pretty much ever. Petty, vindictive, and lacking in even basic substance..."

    Drinking problem. Getting worse. Line between role-playing and real life even more blurry. Read his early TTH articles and compare them to this latest.

    TBH, though, it's rather pathetic when a gamer gets like this, so try to be nicer.

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  10. Amen on the NPE and failure to do any proper play-testing.

    Can't believe that CCP is actually trying to use feedback on the NPE from CCP employees and experienced players - sort of counter-productive, isn't it?

    Makes me lol, though, so that's good.

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  11. I started playing this march and I found the tutorial to be quite OK and useful. I really learned a lot.

    I think most people quitting during the tutorials don't quit because the tutorial didn't hold their hands well enough.

    They quit becase they realize that this game is not for their taste. Travels take too much time, flight is performed via the overview and not manually piloted (yes, you can, but you generally shouldn't), they have no idea what is the goal of the game, they realize that this game is pretty slow paced, etc. There could be lots of reasons for quitting and I guess most of the reasons don't involve the tutorial being bad.

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  12. So is derp of the month going to be a thing now? Its a good thing, I think it should stay.
    As for NPE it needs a good scrub down, 1 month is not enough to solve this problem and as you and others have pointed out they really need to do some valve level game designing.

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  13. They actually brought in some mostly random people who have never played EVE.

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    1. Are you sure? How did they manage to learn so little from them, then? I count only two changes that a true noob might have asked for, both of them in the first mission.

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    2. No, I am not *sure*, though that is what we were told. I don't see any reason for them to lie though. It is worth noting that user testing is an iterative process, and CCP didn't spend a *ton* of time on this pass on the tutorial.

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  14. The tutorial deffinately needs an overhaul because i tried to get my wife to play and she was confused as all hell in the first 10 minutes. This proves that the tutorial is obviously not working as intended.

    -Xianax

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  15. I'm re running the tutorial missions at the momment they are so broken, for example handing out modules with no skills. Then not leading you to where to buy the skills from if that was the idea. Handing out skills more than once. Continuity- hand ing out all civilian kit for eg armour plates or shield extenders even rigs would give a better idea about fitting. Then give a better feeling about upgrading there ship once they start playing for real. I hope ccp gets it right to helps new people into our beautiful universe.

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