2013 Workgroup Topic Proposals

Old vs. New: How to acquire new players with a largely veteran community

I have a specific problem I’m trying to solve. I have a game that’s been running since the 90s and most of the player base has been playing for at least a few years. I’m in the process of redoing the game to make it more accessible, and my primary obstacle hasn’t been anything technical, but rather the community itself.

It’s a competitive game that relies a lot on teamwork and veteran players tend to be very impatient with newer players, which results in the classic poor experience (getting removed from games, yelled at, etc.). ┬áSome ideas I’ve had to fix this problem:

  • segregating players based on experience
  • reducing exposure of new players to the community (disabling chat by default, etc)

However I’m not sure if this going to help or harm. I know that “making online MP a better place” has been a topic in the past and touched on this issue, but I would like to focus in on this specific problem in depth.

One thought on “Old vs. New: How to acquire new players with a largely veteran community

  1. Oh, HELL yes. Really hope a group picks this up and runs with it. I’ve faced similar challenges with online TCGs that I’ve worked on.

    We tried having expert players in the community who would earn status (badge, recognition, etc.) for being new-player welcome wagon types. It helped, but there was a high degree of burnout (most people can only answer the same dumb questions for so long before they’re sick of it) and a medium degree of false applications (players who weren’t really interested in our mission, but just wanted the status). And also general community rules about not harassing opponents, and not being afraid to give partial or total bans for players who are rude to n00bs.

    Some players would make new-player websites to introduce newer players to game strategies and etiquette, and we could link to those from the official website. Great for new players who like to read and study a lot before playing, which is a minority.

    Really, I think the best way to approach this would have been a really strong single-player campaign mode, the kind of tutorial that gently guides you through the mechanics and then the basic strategies of the game and some of the advanced stuff, so that by the time a player goes through that they are at least reasonably competent with the game’s UI and rules (even if they’re not uber-competitive yet). After that, segregating by experience (assuming a sufficiently large player pool) would help to give new players a decent challenge without throwing them to the proverbial wolves, and would also make playing with them a bit more palatable (for expert players) since at least they wouldn’t have to answer “stupid” questions all the time. [Hint: ask your expert players what annoying n00b questions they always keep seeing in chat. Make sure those things are in your tutorial.]

    Difficulty: if the game environment changes regularly, it may obsolete elements of the tutorial, so you have to change that too. Consider it part of the cost of a gameplay change and plan accordingly.

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