The New Player Experience

  • Elves

    First, I want to preface this post by saying that I appreciate the DM team are continuing to put in the effort to improve the server. This chapter of Arabel is a work in progress, and what has been achieved so far is great to see. None of what I say diminishes this. With that out of the way, onto the post!

    There was a Discord discussion earlier today about the "grind" it takes to get from level 4 to 6 and onwards. Some solutions were suggested (increase spawns and spawn XP, increase end quest XP), but I think ultimately we've got a bigger problem on our hands:

    The new player experience is not particularly friendly nor fun. This is something I've experienced in the past few days as someone who's been attempting to give the server another shot. But I suspect this is an issue that's been brought up in the past, so rather than go over already exhausted dialogue I've got some suggestions below:

    1. Getting from level 4 to 6 (which is when most of the quests open up) is intended to be a slow progression so that new players get a chance to explore the server and learn the setting. This is understandable, but the current starter quests do not facilitate this and instead leave a bad first impression. They are, simply put, a slog. Even after a full day of doing quests (many of which the new player may not know exist) you're likely to be stuck at level 4. Reaching level 6 within 2 days might be doable, but this is entirely from the perspective of someone already well-versed with the server and/or had the wherewithal to check the forums to see if there was a quest list. Assuming a new player were to log in during one of the less populated time zones (especially if the existing players were already past level 6), the first impression they'd get is a mindless slew of starter quests which don't result in any meaningful progression.

    2. The starter quests ought to be arranged in a way such that players follow a logical progression and in doing so explore much of the server. One quest ought to provide directions to another, and the end result of it should be level 5, along with an NPC who suggests to the player activities such as joining a house as a Bannerman. Perhaps there can even be an OOC dialogue which advises the player to join the Discord and message a DM for access to their chosen house's channel.

    Here's an example of how that might be done:

    1. When a new player joins the server and is ready to venture into Arabel, they get the following dialogue:
      "After a long journey you've finally arrived at Arabel. The city is in considerable turmoil after King Gondegal and his rebels wrested control from the Purple Dragons and declared their independence from the kingdom of Cormyr. There is opportunity here for gold and glory, heroism and villainy alike. The caravan master notices you leaving and suggests that an aspiring adventurer such as yourself should speak with Jo Sparrow, the owner of the Faceless Inn. She's always got a job or two in mind."

    2. The player spawns in the Faceless Inn (this should be the default for now until other areas are set up with similar quest chains, in my opinion. I am aware this might stifle some RP opportunities). Hopefully they speak with Jo Sparrow, who promptly directs them to not a fetch quest, but Lana Wetton. As compensation for the quest, Lana suggests the player take any potions they find inside. After slaying the rat, Lana thanks the player for their help and says the following:
      "Thank you for dealing with that accursed rat. It was my fault, really, for leaving all those vials on the counter. He was such a sweet familiar too... Ah, well. Since you're in a helping mood, why don't you go see Enya Ighnii over there? Yes, the blonde girl right by the gates. She was complaining to me earlier about some fey mischief in her home. Bet you could take care of that in no time."

    3. Enya then leads to the Nervous Halfling Druid, who leads to Donna, to Georgina, to Lady Kraliq, and so on and so forth.

    4. By the end, the player should find themselves at the People's Palace speaking to the Steward, who provides them with enough XP to reach level 5 and has the following dialogue:
      "Thank you for coming. Word has reached my ears of your actions today, and I wanted to give you my personal thanks for helping the people of Arabel. I'm sure you've noticed, but we're in the midst of trying times, which... brings me to my next point. You've proven yourself to be quite the asset. In fact, I believe we could use someone like you getting more involved with keeping order in the city. Have you considered joining one of the houses? Each has a different goal, but they're united in their desire to safeguard Arabel and expand its influence. Take this letter of recommendation. Go to the Faceless Inn and speak with their recruiters. I hope one of them has a spiel good enough to pique your interest."

    5. There should then be an OOC note advising the player to join the CoA Discord. Should their character choose to join a faction, they can request access to the faction's channel. Otherwise, they're welcome to hang out with everyone regardless!

    This is obviously a very rough outline, but you get the gist. I'm by no means an expert, but I think it's important to remember that while Arabel is a roleplaying experience, it is also a game. A frustrating first level makes it less likely that players stick around to see the fun in the second, third, fourth, and onwards.

  • I would like to reply on the flip side.

    You have to understand that the server only lets you go to 10th level and you start out at 4th. So to start out with you can only go up 6 levels. It's definitely not a powergaming server although powergamers do have a big advantage over roleplayers in the way they build their characters.

    On most servers the admins set you to go to top level in 8 months to a year of regular playing. I know this is true for the 8 or 9 servers I worked on as a dm/admin through the years.

    the city of arabel encourages pcs interacting with other pcs being that this is a heavy faction based server. It requires the player themselves to take a step back and think about how the server works. It's very different from most other servers and in that is where it's true charm lies. I know myself. I was very confused at first and have worked on or reviewed dozen of servers over the years.

    My suggestion is to be somewhat patient. Play your character to the best of your ability and the dms will pick you up and help you have a great experience as you play.

    I personally have had such great experiences on this server overall that I'm sticking with it even though am backlogged on several reviews myself for various pws I need to get too. The dms are so generally good on this server that I'm willing to stick around and do my reviews more slowly so as to get some playtime here because it is worth it.

    thank you.
    Winterhawk 99

  • Elves

    I appreciate your comments, and I'd like to address a few of them myself.

    I'm not certain why powergaming entered the discussion as that's a separate matter so I'm going to focus on your other thoughts instead. Having said that, I'm also not sure where I suggested that "reaching the top level" is the goal here. How long it takes on Arabel to reach level 10 is largely irrelevant to this discussion, as this merely pertains to the new player experience. I'd argue that hitting level 8 is a far more pressing concern (for reasons I won't delve into here), and that progression to level 8 should be relatively speedy while reaching level 10 should take far longer. But I digress, as mentioned above I'm mostly concerned with how it feels as a new player (or in this case, a returning player) to spend their first day on the server.

    On that note, I'm glad you brought up that Arabel is a faction-heavy setting that encourages players to interact with each other. I fully agree that is part of the server's charm. However, that is unfortunately a part of every other successful roleplay-heavy Persistent World server's charm as well. It is not unique to Arabel that the DM team works to foster interactions between players (although they do a great job doing so, and are likely one of the main reasons players continue to roleplay here) and have implemented a number of in-game factions to drive conflict. The question then is not "what is Arabel's charm," but rather "how do we get players to stay long enough to experience Arabel's version of this charm?" It appears that we might be having two different conversations.

    I'm happy to hear that you've had a positive experience on this server and hope you continue to do so. It's great to see new faces around here. But it's regrettably undeniable that the server has experienced a significant drop in players and I believe some of this can be attributed to the new player experience. There is, in my opinion, nothing lost by making the new player's experience a bit more exciting and streamlined. This helps newer players find their feet and allows veteran players to get past one of the initial hurdles when creating a new character with ease. And it is especially helpful for players new and veteran alike logging on during less populated hours.

  • I completely agree with @Acemvi 's idea. Doing all the starter quests should be a milestone, and should be rewarded with level 5. (It can get slower from that on, but you get the idea) The quest giver sending them to another is also a neat idea, to have something to direct the player between quests if they are new to the server.
    I think the OOC dialog about discord & forums can come sooner, or being as a dialog option in all starter quests after turning in, like (OOC: I want to know more about the server) or something like this.

  • I agree with the comments. To level up fast you NEED to do the ants quest with players at a higher level. It is not that bad, but a lot of lowbie quests are essentially pointless. You get no loot and no xp. There needs to be better progression right the way up to level 8 or 9.

    I'd also say as someone who is something of a veteran of v6, I am beginning to get lost in terms of the setting outside of Misrim and Crimson. The setting needs to get back on track asap.

    Corvid consortium are still there but cant be interacted with?
    Vigilant Sun are not gone but cant be played?
    rabble rousers are gone and dont exist?
    tower can be interacted with but cant be played?

    If Rabble Rousers are no more and palace are silent - does that mean misrim and crimson guard call the shots? Is there a lawbook? There presumably is something of a law since if you are a Cormyr loyalist, you will die.

    I dont really know how a new player can navigate any of this since none of the text has changed. My own character's concept seems to have been made completely redudant and no longer fitting the setting after being rolled. There is even a mechanical element - I have an item I cant drop because im a member of the rabble rousers, but they no longer exist

    My big fear is that apps will become increasingly outlandish and OP (like at the end of v5) instead of flavourful and in line with the setting to compensate for these confusing disruptions in the setting, and we end up with app'd PCs from veteran players with absolutely insane stats and loot wandering around killing everything

  • The faction shakeup was ultimately necessary for the health of the server in my opinion, but I have to agree with some of the sentiments here but in a different way.

    Everything that is written down about the setting points towards these two factions having a major conflict over control of the city, but nothing in the game represents this conflict. Quests are largely independent of the narrative and rarely even reference the setting (Even less so now that certain quest givers have left factions).

    A starting quest chain should, above all else, reinforce the themes of the setting. Making it so that the xp gets you all or most of the way to 5 as an introduction and safety net is a nice bonus, but I think that using this as an opportunity to introduce the setting to new players in an interactive way is just as important.

    Existing quests should be considered for a redesign with this in mind as well, but that's a topic for another day.

  • Literally no clue what HellzYeah is referring to when he says "everthing that is written down about the setting points toward these two factions having a major conflict". Nothing in-game suggests this.

  • Elves

    I think Hellz brings up a good point that the "New Player Experience" (NPE) should also teach a player about the setting. Starter quests should have dialogue that refers to the houses and other such factions in both positive and negative lights so that when a player is given the option to join one of them at the end of the quest chain, they already have some idea as to which sound like a good fit for their character.

  • Admin [DM]

    This is a neat idea. Anyone volunteering to take this on?

  • Elves

    I'd be happy to write down some dialogue and submit it for review. Someone else would have to copy-paste it into the module, though.

  • Admin [DM]

    Perfect. If you want to string together an interesting quest progression and some IC guidance from a new player POV we can flesh out the details (if you are unsure) and add it to the module as we can.

  • Elves

    Sounds good. I'll try to write something up over the next few days and PM you on Discord.

  • Admin [DM]


  • Admin [DM]

    Went ahead and updated the dialogues since it was taking a while.

  • Elves

    Since it seems I’m back for the time being, I’d like to take a crack at this again, unless anyone has objections.

  • Admin [DM]

    Puffy said she updated stuff, granted that was in July and maybe things have changed some.
    Players still have the option of spawning in the Faceless where there is a fetch quest that gets the player to explore parts of the city.
    There are "Help Wanted" signs in the middle of the first area players encounter after leaving the Faceless for the first time. There are also "Help Wanted" signs outside the north gate.
    Several other quests say in their dialogue things like Lana (Potion Shop Quest): "Well, I can fix that up in a jiffy! Here's your reward! If you need more work, there is a nervous halfling just to the South of here needing some help."

    So I think most of your idea has been implemented already.

  • Admin [DM]

    Yep, there is a little merry go-around of hints where to go

  • Elves

    Missed that comment, lovely to see.

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