For as long as capsuleers have flown in New Eden, newer pilots have asked those of us with more experience where to begin. For as long as I can remember, the answer has been to point them to one or more of the nullsec newbie-friendly groups because conventional wisdom has dictated that getting them straight out of highsec was the best thing for them.
A couple of days ago, I was browsing Twitter and stumbled upon a Tweet from Ashterothi:
“Controversial opinion time: I think we should stop telling newbies to leave highsec ASAP. Life in null is boring, frustrating, and intimidating for a new player. Highsec is now the best place for new players to learn the game, gain confidence, and start their legend.”
Whilst most things tagged as ‘controversial opinions’ in this day and age are anything but, this one truly belongs in that category. The idea that new players should be essentially left to their own devices in highsec is, in my opinion, a dangerous one.
First of all, Ashterothi alleges that nullsec is ‘boring’. Whilst it’s evident to all that the current megablob metagame isn’t exactly providing content at a great rate, I can’t imagine that the answer to boredom is running level 1-2 missions or mining in a Venture in high sec.
These activities provide an incredibly low income compared to the activities available to a new player in null sec — gas huffing, exploration, salvaging, and VNI ratting. Whilst there are high ISK/hr activities in high sec (incursions and abyssal sites), these are generally gated off to people without hundreds of millions of ISK to spend.
That might not sound like much to you and me, but to someone mining 4 mil an hour and playing ten hours a week, they’re looking at months to be able to get into anything more than playing Eve to make ISK. This isn’t fun.
Secondly, Ashterothi suggests that highsec is a good place for new players to ‘learn the game’, but I’d debate this as well. New players in modern Eve need mentoring, and whilst nullsec inherently encourages cooperation (it’s very difficult to ‘go it alone’ in nullsec), highsec doesn’t encourage or require it at all.
So, if all I’m going to do is dismiss a controversial opinion that most people don’t agree with, then what’s the point in writing an article? Well, there is an element of the opinion which I agree with, which is that just throwing every new player at the megablobs really isn’t the best thing for them or for Eve.
A two-part reply to the initial tweet from Eurzadahn put it far more succinctly than I could,
“I often feel that the null groups that constantly pressure, and then scoop up newbies then rush them out to deep null ruin the future of the game. They immediately turn them into F1 line monkies and hurl them against a mountainous training queue, & take over that new player excitement and sense of wonder and pound them to death with their ideas of the game, their agenda, and their own brand of BS.”
I think Eurzadahn hits the nail on the head when he talks about “their ideas of the game, their agenda,” etc. When we send a new player to a corporation, we think we’re sending them to learn what to train, how to fly their ships and to get SRP and learn not to be risk averse.
What we’re actually doing is bolstering the ranks of three of the largest corporations, in the largest alliances, in the largest coalitions in the game; and giving those corporations the ability to fill the new players’ minds with their idea about how to play the game.
I don’t think it’s any coincidence that we now have a vast majority of new players heading to NBSI sov-holding nullsec alliances, and that every other way to play Eve is slowly dying off.
We used to have a vast range of alliances: the militaristic Band of Brothers, the industrial powerhouse of Ascendant Frontier, the nomadic force of Pandemic Legion, the numbers-oriented fun-loving Goons, the roleplay alliances, the NRDS alliances, mercenaries, pirates, the list goes on. The cultures in those alliances differed vastly, from hard roleplay to meme spammers.
What do we have now? The Imperium, a large nullsec coalition with mass industry, mass ratting, low-skilled ‘anchor & F1’ doctrines, and meme culture; Legacy, a large nullsec coalition with mass industry, mass ratting, low-skilled ‘anchor & F1’ doctrines, and meme culture; GOTG, a large nullsec coa… yeah, that’s already about three quarters of the population of the game.
Now, the natural response to that would be “what’s the problem? Go make a roleplay alliance in a wormhole if that’s what you want”, but it misses the point.
If the vast majority of Eve players recognize the aforementioned style as the way to play Eve, they’re not going to be interested in joining an outlier; nor are CCP going to allocate their dev time to supporting niche playstyles. Ask anyone who lives in j-space or low sec.
But the most harmful part of this is that all of these new players are forming this opinion about ‘how to play Eve’ without ever having tried anything else. It’s the only way they know to play, and all these experienced people around them are doing it, so it must be right.
So, what am I going to start advising people? What should you advise people? I honestly don’t know yet. If you run or know of a newbie-friendly corporation that lives in a wormhole, or roleplays, or does something else that isn’t being a part of a major political power bloc, I’d love to hear from you.