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Topic: Feedback wanted: A better introduction to new players?

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Doctacosa
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Posted on September 2, 2019 at 13:52:50 [Post link]
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As most of you have noticed, we've had a lot of new players in August. Many came, but many also went. Now, I'm wondering how to retain the new players for longer. Those who actually give a chance to the Creeper's Lab tend to stick around, but most give up before they get to that point. So, I'm asking everyone: what can we do to make the new player experience better for new faces?

Of course, there are always some who refuse to read anything and are lost causes. I'm not focused on them. It's everyone else who properly registers only to give up that I'm curious about.

Some will give up because we don't allow teleports or flight, or have a creative mode. Fair enough, our server type isn't for them. Moving forward.

I think the addition of the tutorial will help to a degree, since it's now possible to build up a starting kit of items while learning the basics on how we do things at the Creeper's Lab. This makes it a bit simpler to get the first useful tools. Is there a next logical step on what should be presented to new people?

A common request is a way to get to "wild" territory quickly. We don't allow teleports, so we tell people to grab a minecart and ride the rails. Maybe that's a bit much to ask out of players who are still trying to orient themselves? The moment one appears in Laurasia, they're placed right in front of the train station with all the main connections, yet many seem lost right away. Do you have any suggestions on how to make this better, or a way for players can get started quickly?

One thing to note, I know that the registration process itself can get in the way at times. I've got plans to improve it and make it more straightforward, without removing it entirely: it's existence is probably our biggest anti-griefing protection, and I think it's important to keep it in place. These improvements are likely a few months away at best, since they're tied to other elements that still need work.

So I'm opening the discussion to everyone. How can we make the first visit to our community better for new players? Can you think of something that'd help convince visitors to stay? What steps could be put into place to make things simpler for them?


The admin formerly known as Dr. Cossack.

I post musings, images and nonsense on Tumblr! I play games on Steam! Add me on either/both, and don't hesitate to ask if you want to play something with me!

"There are only three things certain in life: Death, taxes, and Teej's obsessions." ~ RisingDragon (still true in 2019!)

Twixxi
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Posted on September 2, 2019 at 22:01:02 [Post link]
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I think that Grand Central Station, whilst impressive, is overwhelming for new players. So is the whole of Central city, to be honest. So perhaps streamline things a bit. There's the new player kit dispenser in Central, but I didn't find that straight away. Could that be moved into the Spawn area? Also the stuff dispensed from that kit is better than the stuff given in /tutorial, so if the /tutorial stuff was upgraded then perhaps the kit dispenser wouldn't be needed.

Add a few things to the new player kit perhaps. Food was hard to come by in the first few days as everywhere is so built up, so perhaps give them some. Also an in-game guidebook containing basic things they'll want to know like the unique commands, where they can build, how to use Central Station, the fact that the community centre exists, how to use the map, etc.

Getting to Wild quickly is a problem, as the overground rail is slow and the nether rail isn't good if you don't know where you want to go. It's why I ended up so close to Central. I was on the rail for ages, and finally found some empty space so jumped off. Not allowing TP is generally good, but how about a one-off for new players? You could add a key item to the new player kit which allows them to enter a 'wild access' room with TPs to a choice of biomes. Again, they should access this room without needing to leave Spawn.

Also, the tutorial video (episode 0.1) that's on some of the server list sites is out of date. It doesn't mention /tutorial and it does mention things like /maon instead of /choptree on. Led to a tiny amount of confusion when I arrived. Could be worth an update, and to be made more prominent.

Registration seems to flumux some people. A very short video explaining the process would be easier than trying to direct people through chat.

Pteryx
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Posted on September 2, 2019 at 22:27:08 [Post link]
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EDIT: OK, was encouraged to go through the tutorial. Seems to cover a lot of things well, though I was surprised not to see coverage of things like replanting, a more extensive list of what constitutes griefing (though the room at the end does help make the point), or any direct mention of not using cheat mods. It also seems as though the auto-cart-breaker may set up expectations that auto-cart-breakers are everywhere, when people need to know they need to break the cart themselves... and people not doing that has been an issue lately.

As for things to present to newly-registered players beyond the tutorial, I did actually have a book drafted up shortly before I took my several-weeks break that I figured could serve as at least a model for something that could be put on a lectern on the spawn platform in Central. EDIT: Seems surprisingly little of the book is redundant with the tutorial!

Central is, as has been discussed in in-game chat, incredibly easy to get lost in -- and, I would add, shiny enough and large enough to give the impression that it is the server to someone who doesn't know better. Grand Central doesn't even have signs on it identifying it, let alone pointing out that it's the best starting point for finding a home.

The fact that Central's community center even exists is hard to discover. It took me a while to even memorize where it is; it would take a lot of dumb luck for new people to stumble across it, given Central's bewildering layout. It's not very clear where the farms are either. There's a lot in Central to help people prepare to set out, but it's not obvious that they ought to find it in the first place, let alone how to. As near as I can tell, people used to other servers are used to being handed a complete starting kit, not having to assemble one from resources at spawn.

One thing I noticed during the banner month is that a lot of people, if left to wander on their own, ended up in Minetropolis and other nearby protected areas. Needless to say, that doesn't really help them find a home; it may also give the impression that the server is more restrictive and more "used-up" than it actually is. I'm not sure how best to clarify that it's taken but that this is non-indicative without making people think the entire south is off limits, though.

Some of the bigger "wild" areas, like the half-continent north of Ender Station, are particularly hard to access. Perhaps add more explicit connections to those. Heck, I'd be willing to throw together portals at places I think could use them for that purpose.

The maps' existence are less than obvious, as has been stated by others. Furthermore, their importance doesn't seem to strike some players even when we tell them about them. On top of that, it's hard to tell much from Laurasia's map with its default settings; IMO, Laurasia's map should really show portals by default. It's hard to plot a reasonably short course to a destination without that, and I've found myself having to talk people through how to turn it on many times because of that.

A number of people have asked about "how to join a town". That we don't have a ready answer for that question may bewilder and discourage some of them.

Cimmeria is, quite frankly, griefer city. The registered servers being at all different is apparently not self-evident to new players, and this seems to make some of them nervous, particularly if staff seems indifferent to their fears. No idea how to address this one, alas.

EDIT: Oh, one other thing occurs to me: people seem to expect to be able to set their spawn from day 1. We tell them to use a bed, but it's not always easy to assemble a bed early on. Maybe make shears a little easier to come by early on, perhaps by adding a pair to the iron gear dispenser's set and not just the tutorial.

Edited by Pteryx on September 2, 2019 at 23:04:54

Edited by Pteryx on September 2, 2019 at 23:41:17

chef_canada
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Posted on September 2, 2019 at 23:22:30 [Post link]
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I have a few suggestions and I would like to give you a comprehensive review of my experience in hopes of helping.

Review


First off as a whole I love the server and the environment crafted by the team. The initial spawn into the pre-world is much like any other server there isn't much to say about that as it seems intuitive with little to say. However, upon going any of the survival worlds the feeling is confusion and frustration as I think you look at it through the perspective of people who know every corner of the map.
Yes, there are rails but to where? First getting into the server you don't have the live map and getting on a rail only to spend 5 minutes getting to a place you can't even build is frustrating enuff to want to quit. The moment you walk out of that first spawn square there are no signs to direct you out of the maze that is central or to the "community center" or "special transports". I didn't know what moose-mart was or that it existed for several days and finding Creeper Citidel was like trying to find a needle in a haystack as it's never explained that I'm looking for a tiny teleportation platform and not a "Citidel". As I was writing this I stopped to check out the tutorial.
That being said my favorite things about the server has to be Zero resets, science and The amazingly attentive and friendly staff.

Suggestions

(1) either a differently colored path to the "wild" or signs leading out to the "wild". Specifically Cimmeria.

(2) Laurasia: in the spawn area it would be great to have something explaining Moose-mart

(3) Laurasia: There is a couple of areas talked about on the signs "community center" but I didn't know what I was looking for.

(4) As previously mentioned minecarting to a location I can't build at is simply frustrating. So I suggest in this instance a one time teleport either north, south, west or east into the wild.

(5) On a few other servers, I have played one of the things I enjoyed the most was Heads specifically heads made to look like other foods like apples, pizza, and drinks, etc. it adds a lot to builds and i don't think this would stray too much from vanilla

(6) Lastly, I suggest some sort of /Science or /challenges to get a list of information on what's available and then something like /LostWoods to get a short introduction on what to expect and maybe how to find it. there are many areas such as the horsemen that I still have zero clue about how to get to them or there danger lvl in comparison to other science.


Tutorial Suggestions

(1) It would be nice to work in moose-mart at some point and what the teleportation platform that leads to creeper citadel looks like.

(2) The 7th room talks about /registration but I think it would be prudent to put up a sign that explains how to add your MC username and to re-log as these are the 2 things that I see staff repeat 5 times minimum a day.

:) I hope this is helpful and not too critical. :)

TheOfficial2K
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Posted on September 4, 2019 at 2:14:30 [Post link]
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The registration process could be a little more "user friendly" for new players that arent familiar with forums! I found that new players often were confused as to how to complete the registration process without assistance! Besides that great work! ❤


Jacques Ouimet

StTheo
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Posted on September 6, 2019 at 20:50:20 [Post link]
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I think the registration process is probably fine as-is. I seriously doubt the kind of people who say “registration is too hard” are the kind who would stick around.

Central is a bit crowded, but that’s a good way to show off the server’s age, so it’s not really a bad thing. I think that as long as people know where the farms are (so they can get some food for the road), they should be fine finding a place in the wilderness to build. Maybe a marked path of some kind (even if it’s just signs) to the farms might be helpful, if it isn’t already obvious.

Maybe a few pre-defined settlements could be made and linked to via nether rails? Just a few houses and farms. Then again, people can do the same along the transcontinental.

Pteryx
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Posted on September 16, 2019 at 4:47:45 [Post link]
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It belatedly occurs to me that there's a relevant piece of tabletop RPG wisdom that could be applied here: the Three Clue Rule. Its most basic formulation is, "For every conclusion that you want your players to draw, include at least three clues." It was conceived of as a means of making mystery scenarios more playable, but given how many conclusions new players are supposed to draw about how to even begin around here and how few seem to draw them all, it also seems applicable here.

Doctacosa
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Posted on November 6, 2019 at 0:58:17 [Post link]
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Following up on this. I wanted to give people a chance to voice their thoughts without me directing the discussion to see what would come up spontaneously, plus I was on vacation for a while.

Now, a common problem mentioned is getting lost in Central. To help against that, I've straightened some streets, made a new direct path to the West exit and added signposts to point toward Grand Central Station and the closest city exit. They even light up at night!

Image


I also added a whole lot of directional banners over the place to make it easier to find the nearest point of interest. I've got standard designs to point to overworld stations, Nether stations, Expressways (the horsepaths), TARDIS / timegate, and main exit. These are in place in Central and will be gradually added to other locations.

Image


As a bonus, I started adding more markers to the map. If you look at Central, you'll now see banner icons indicating where the main Expressways begin, along with Central's exits. That's all included in a new "Directions" layer that's enabled by default.


I agree that a new introduction video could be worth it. It's a significant effort on my part to get these done, I don't have the best voice to narrate explanations, and no one else that I know is inclined to make a new one. Maybe once more improvements are in place, and an update would really be justified...

One-way teleportation to the wild for new players is being considered.

I already said that I was working on improvements to the registration system to make it somewhat more straightforward; that's still ongoing. It's some times away still, because it involves a lot of upgrades while making sure that it remains intuitive. Steady work has been happening on that front.

Some protections have been added and clean-up done around Cimmeria's spawn to make it somewhat less Griefer City. We don't want to protect everything there on purpose: it gives us a chance to weed out bad players quickly by seeing what they do right away. I'm thinking of adding a custom building or two over there to give a better first impression, and to offer something else to look at besides the vanilla buildings.

Further thoughts welcomed!


The admin formerly known as Dr. Cossack.

I post musings, images and nonsense on Tumblr! I play games on Steam! Add me on either/both, and don't hesitate to ask if you want to play something with me!

"There are only three things certain in life: Death, taxes, and Teej's obsessions." ~ RisingDragon (still true in 2019!)

Pteryx
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Posted on November 6, 2019 at 16:07:19 [Post link]
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I note that an experience I had in Kenorland last night really struck me. A random visitor showed up and burrowed through the pyramid atop my base in order to enter it -- not as an attack, but as a clueless attempt to path to me. She was honestly sorry about having damaged something of mine and even attempted (ineptly) to fix it. She was very polite from beginning to end, yet thought nothing of raiding Twixxi's base just because it was there. Ultimately, she got bored of the randomizer, not really seeing the appeal, and left, ceding her stuff to me.

I could not help but think that on the one hand, she's got her heart enough in the right place that I could see enjoying her company and see her in turn theoretically enjoying the likes of Creeper's Lab, but on the other hand, the kind of retraining it would take to explain a no-griefing, no-raiding, build-oriented server to someone so unquestioningly steeped in adversarial norms and have them behave accordingly would be immense. I'm pretty sure this was an innocent person who did what she did because that's just "what's done" in Minecraft. It speaks to the extreme level of disconnect between how people perceive what Minecraft "is" and what we on Creeper's Lab do. It also makes me wonder how many griefers we've banned who were clueless instead of malicious.

On that note, as was discussed in chat recently, I feel Kenorland is far too "off-brand" to make sense to have open to visitors. We're fighting an uphill battle against widespread preconceptions of multiplayer Minecraft as a competitive, cutthroat sort of game; Kenorland does not help disabuse people of the notion that this is also the focus of Creeper's Lab! It's also ineffective as a recruiting tool, and it might not be good if it were...

In general, it seems like first-time joiners tend to make a beeline for Kenorland (which is the shortest walk and has the fewest options) or the Games section (which, well, has "game" in the name) at least as often as the Survival section, when the latter is the server's core experience. Sometimes, it seems like they haven't even noticed where the Survival section is. It thus feels like something should be done to make the Survival section "shinier". My thought is literal chaser lights that flow from the central platform to the Survival section!

Following up on the "how to join a town" recurring question, I've noticed more than a few young-seeming players seem to want to team up with someone and build from the ground up together with them. Some don't even seem to realize that they're talking to established players who don't need any help themselves! In general, it seems like many of those who don't expect multiplayer Minecraft to be about PvP and raiding, instead expect multiplayer Minecraft to involve being teamed up with one or more peers... even when they happen to be the only new player around at the time. (Admittedly, multiplayer Minecraft as lots of people spread across a single world all doing their own things, and occasionally sharing resources or showing off their builds, isn't exactly the most intuitive conception of multiplayer...)

Twixxi
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Posted on November 6, 2019 at 16:22:06 [Post link]
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Quote from post #237866:
Originally posted by Doctacosa
Now, a common problem mentioned is getting lost in Central. To help against that, I've straightened some streets, made a new direct path to the West exit and added signposts to point toward Grand Central Station and the closest city exit. They even light up at night!

I also added a whole lot of directional banners over the place to make it easier to find the nearest point of interest. I've got standard designs to point to overworld stations, Nether stations, Expressways (the horsepaths), TARDIS / timegate, and main exit. These are in place in Central and will be gradually added to other locations.

As a bonus, I started adding more markers to the map. If you look at Central, you'll now see banner icons indicating where the main Expressways begin, along with Central's exits. That's all included in a new "Directions" layer that's enabled by default.


I have to say, I absolutely love all the new directional signage in Central! I think it's a fantastic improvement.

Quote from post #237866:
Originally posted by Doctacosa
I agree that a new introduction video could be worth it. It's a significant effort on my part to get these done, I don't have the best voice to narrate explanations, and no one else that I know is inclined to make a new one. Maybe once more improvements are in place, and an update would really be justified...

Theoretically, the video could just have music playing and the information given in text format? I certainly don't like putting my voice online either, tbh.

Quote from post #237866:
Originally posted by Doctacosa
Some protections have been added and clean-up done around Cimmeria's spawn to make it somewhat less Griefer City. We don't want to protect everything there on purpose: it gives us a chance to weed out bad players quickly by seeing what they do right away. I'm thinking of adding a custom building or two over there to give a better first impression, and to offer something else to look at besides the vanilla buildings.

Would it be worth doing a little community project to get some builds up in and around Griefer City?

Twixxi
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Posted on November 6, 2019 at 16:24:11 [Post link]
Quote

Quote from post #237867:
Originally posted by Pteryx
On that note, as was discussed in chat recently, I feel Kenorland is far too "off-brand" to make sense to have open to visitors. We're fighting an uphill battle against widespread preconceptions of multiplayer Minecraft as a competitive, cutthroat sort of game; Kenorland does not help disabuse people of the notion that this is also the focus of Creeper's Lab! It's also ineffective as a recruiting tool, and it might not be good if it were...

I second this. I feel like Kenor doesn't give new players an accurate impression of what we are, and doesn't give us an accurate impression of them either. More often than not it leads to frustration - either cos they're locked out for a week after being shot by a skeleton at spawn, or cos digging up dirt gives them enchanted books.

Pteryx
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Posted on November 6, 2019 at 16:45:53 [Post link]
Quote

Quote from post #237868:
Originally posted by Twixxi
Quote from post #237866:
Originally posted by Doctacosa
I agree that a new introduction video could be worth it. It's a significant effort on my part to get these done, I don't have the best voice to narrate explanations, and no one else that I know is inclined to make a new one. Maybe once more improvements are in place, and an update would really be justified...

Theoretically, the video could just have music playing and the information given in text format? I certainly don't like putting my voice online either, tbh.


Honestly, I doubt people disinclined to read will suddenly read just because it's a video. Someone needs to speak in it... though I don't think I'm the best choice either. Speaking has never been my forte.

Pteryx
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Posted on November 7, 2019 at 2:13:42 [Post link]
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For all Central's improvements, I feel like the Community Center is still terribly innocuous -- at a glance from a distance, just another stone brick building. Maybe abuse single-letter banner designs, like putting "KIT" on top of the kit-dispensing machine and "COMMUNITY" below the creeper faces and above the windows on the Community Center itself? Also, while there are signs explaining the transportation options at the entrance to Grand Central coming from the spawn platform, no such signs exist from the Community Center direction. Also, don't forget lecterns with one-page books are a viable option! People do read the one at Cimmeria spawn, after all.

Edited by Pteryx on November 7, 2019 at 2:32:04

Doctacosa
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Posted on November 7, 2019 at 16:08:25 [Post link]
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You both make a valid point of Kenorland usually going the opposite way on how we manage our core gameplay, so people might be getting the wrong impression about it. I'll likely disable visitor access to it starting next month, on the next rotation. That still allows players to access Cimmeria, along with the games. Those aren't an issue since everyone is in Adventure mode, with no block breaking available.

Don't ask me why so many players head there first, because I made sure that, when you first login, you're actually facing the Survival section, so it's the first thing you see.

Lecterns are something I'm considering, too. I ran a test the other day to see how they'd work in the lobby if a player isn't using the latest Minecraft version. In that case, they see a plain bookshelf. Of course, it can't be read, but the book itself doesn't pop off or anything, so multi-version support isn't a problem!


The admin formerly known as Dr. Cossack.

I post musings, images and nonsense on Tumblr! I play games on Steam! Add me on either/both, and don't hesitate to ask if you want to play something with me!

"There are only three things certain in life: Death, taxes, and Teej's obsessions." ~ RisingDragon (still true in 2019!)

Twixxi
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Posted on December 2, 2019 at 19:17:20 [Post link]
Quote

Quote from post #237872:
Originally posted by DoctacosaDon't ask me why so many players head there first, because I made sure that, when you first login, you're actually facing the Survival section, so it's the first thing you see.


I just happened to be going through the lobby when someone joined, and they were facing the Challenge section when they spawned. So might be worth testing if this is still the case?

I wonder if it could be worth (if technically feasible) making them start in Cimmeria, rather than the Lobby. Consider their options when they're in the lobby:
* Affiliate section - Trusted only
* Challenge section - Registered only
* Games / TNT Tag - Under Construction
* Games / PVP - Requires 2 players, not representative of CL
* Games / World 8 - Just kills them, not a great welcome.
* Games / Parkour - A fun diversion, but not representative of CL.
* Survival / Rodinia - Registered only
* Survival / Gond - Registered only
* Survival / Laurasia - Accessible, but causes frustration cos they can't do anything and therefore often get stuck
* Survival / Cimmeria - The only realistic option for them

I've seen people join the server and leave again before they even leave the lobby. Why not skip this step completely, and pop them straight in Cimmeria with a nice greeting suggesting they /tutorial?

Doctacosa
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Posted on December 6, 2019 at 5:24:59 [Post link]
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After confirming that the player rotation wasn't set properly on spawn, I've adapted one of my plugins to manage that. Now, whenever people spawn in the lobby for the first time, they'll be facing the survival section, as we want them to.

As for where to start them, I don't know. The idea of making players appear in the lobby is so they'd realize at first glance that we're got more than a single world available. Cimmeria's spawn isn't super impressive, and I'm not sold on the first impression it offers. An alternative could be to spawn players within the survival area of the lobby, so they'd understand it's the focus yet they can walk to other locations quickly if they want. Thoughts on this?

Another thing I've done tonight is rewrite the description of the servers on the Getting started page of the website, with some tuning on the registration steps. Quite a few new players have gone straight to registering without logging in first, so I thought it'd be important to have this as straightforward as possible. I also replaced references to UHC with our monhtly challenges instead. Hopefully, having more information there will give people a better idea of what to expect! As a bonus, when visitors load the website for the first time, a banner on the front page appears to lead them to that information; it goes away after that initial visit.


The admin formerly known as Dr. Cossack.

I post musings, images and nonsense on Tumblr! I play games on Steam! Add me on either/both, and don't hesitate to ask if you want to play something with me!

"There are only three things certain in life: Death, taxes, and Teej's obsessions." ~ RisingDragon (still true in 2019!)

Twixxi
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Posted on December 9, 2019 at 17:56:49 [Post link]
Quote

Quote from post #237879:
Originally posted by Doctacosa
After confirming that the player rotation wasn't set properly on spawn, I've adapted one of my plugins to manage that. Now, whenever people spawn in the lobby for the first time, they'll be facing the survival section, as we want them to.

I think this is a great fix! People seem to be finding survival much easier now.

Quote from post #237879:
Originally posted by Doctacosa
Cimmeria's spawn isn't super impressive, and I'm not sold on the first impression it offers.

That's a very valid point. Is that something we could maybe try to fix? I wonder if we launched a community project, perhaps even contest, to get some nice builds near Cimmeria spawn and perhaps together we could build up something a little more impressive. As it stands, Cimmeria often is the first impression of our survival servers that players get, so getting that right could be really good for retention in those first few minutes.

EDIT: In fact, given we regularly get players wanting 'a city to join', would it also be worth laying out some plots there? Also, there are a *lot* of mobs spawning right outside the spawn room. Is it worth extending the mobded perimeter so players aren't immediately confronted with a horde?

I was also wondering last night if it'd be worth having a /tutorial button (or even something fancy using end gateways) at Cimmeria spawn, rather than just a sign. People are lazy XD

Quote from post #237879:
Originally posted by Doctacosa
An alternative could be to spawn players within the survival area of the lobby, so they'd understand it's the focus yet they can walk to other locations quickly if they want. Thoughts on this?

I think it might be worth trying this! As I said above, the rest of the lobby isn't hugely relevant to new players. So putting them right in the correct place seems like a good idea.

Quote:
Another thing I've done tonight is rewrite the description of the servers on the Getting started page of the website, with some tuning on the registration steps.

This page looks much better to me :)

Long shot, but I assume there's no way we can add a field to the forum registration page asking for their Minecraft username that would automatically populate the My Networks section? It's that last step that always seems to catch people out.

Edited by Twixxi on December 9, 2019 at 18:00:13

Edited by Twixxi on December 10, 2019 at 11:42:54

 

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