As mentioned previously and elsewhere, new players that don’t connect with other players through a corporation or chat or trade or some other mechanism as likely to leave EVE.
What can CCP do to help connect these players?
For starters, they can help develop and support the major newbie friendly corporations already in existence. Eve University, Red vs. Blue, and Brave Newbies come to mind, but I am sure that there are others. I know this is kind of dangerous ground from a community relations standpoint, but I really think CCP should officially recognize a handful of corporations as “New Player Friendly”. There should be a set of criteria to be met and CCP should spend some time regulating the list and following up on any complaints. Once the list is in place, it should be mailed to players that complete the tutorials along with a “letter of recommendation” encouraging them to consider applying to one of those corporations.
They also need to have another look at the tutorials. They are well done and necessary, but at the end, they leave a new player very directionless – especially on the all important social aspect of the game. The only pushes that the tutorial leaves you with are missions (Sisters of Eve arc) or faction warfare. Missions is pretty much the “leveling up the Raven” problem. Faction Warfare is pretty messy for a new solo player to get into.
I think that the capstone mission in the tutorial (after all others have been completed) should be to take a version of the “EVE Personality Test” that is on the EVE website. The web version categorizes you based on how you answer a handful of questions. For me, it was Explorer (no surprise there). The other options are Loyalist, Freedom Fighter, Empire Builder, Fleet Commander, Bounty Hunter, Pirate, Planetary Industrialist, Manufacturer, Trader, Salvager, and Miner. This list doesn’t make much sense from a gameplay standpoint. Nobody (except alts) does only Planetary Industry. And Fleet Commander isn’t something that you can just jump into (and neither is Empire Builder). But I like the idea. So I propose a version of it that more closely matches the options from the “What to Do in EVE chart?”
Something where the final categories are roughly:
Trade Baron (Trading)
Exterminator (Mission Runner)
Naval Officer (Faction Warfare)
Lone Wolf (Solo Player, no corp suggested)
Depending on what you choose (should be given the option of accepting the suggestion, or choosing a different one), you are given a set of items (above and beyond what was received in the tutorial) that will get you started on that path. For example, a Trader might be given the option to buy ammunition below cost and then told the best place to sell it is the regional market hub. He flips his ammo making $10M isk or so and then has a small amount of capital to do some more trading – as well as a basic idea of where the hubs are. An explorer might be given a “tip” to scan in a certain out-of-the-way system and find some extra data sites. A pirate might be given a couple of “security tags” that could be sold or used as needed.
Finally, based on final choice the best matching newbie friendly corporation from the list could be suggested (along with basic advice for applying to a corporation and what API keys to give out).
I think the biggest hurdle for a new player looking to connect is to figure out how to do so without being taken advantage of. The current way of doing things is fine for a sophisticated player that is willing to spend several weeks researching EVE before playing, but the average player is just going to follow the game’s lead and then leave when they get bored. Therefore, I think the game needs to lead them down a connection path. Even if they decline or choose something else, at least they have a safe option early on. They can choose to take more risks later when the understand the game better and have met a few people that they can “trust”. (Not that you can ever fully trust someone in EVE).