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City novicehood

SarapisSarapis Member, Administrator Posts: 3,404 Achaean staff
As we're looking at at how new players are ramped up into Achaea (a difficult process, as you know - it's not like jumping into Angry Birds or even WoW), one of the things we're pondering is making a change so that newbies join a City initially, but not a House. Our reasoning thus far is that it's overwhelming to suddenly be part of two organizations when you don't understand the significance of either or the difference between them. Further, as I think most people agree, divided cities are bad for Achaea. By giving newbies a chance to understand the city a bit first (through a series of city novice tasks) and THEN pick a House, we think life would be a little easier to understand for newbies, and we help drive home that cities are important and the umbrellas under which (generally) Houses exist. 

This came up initially as we were discussing trying it out for Targossas, but it's fairly problematic to have two different newbie systems existing side-by-side, as we'll probably move class selection and city selection into character creation. So, we're proposing to make this change for all cities, and wanted to hear thoughts (pro or con, as long as you explain why) on it.


  • KenwayKenway San FranciscoMember Posts: 1,130 @@ - Legendary Achaean
    Always thought these should be separate. Too much to decide in the Trial only to potentially find a house was not what what was advertised or just isn't the right fit and for true newbies that's a game over or at least it was for me my first few times making a character. Went through a couple characters because of this before Kenway, whom I left houseless and cityless to start. Actually classless too now that I think about it. 

    Wandered into Cyrene, ran into Nellaundra who explained some classes to me, went Runie, went Warden, didn't like it, went Sentinel, went Eleusian, went houseless, went Shallamese, went Ashtani, Cyrene again, Wardens again, this time I liked it. A lot more interesting just letting the game take you places than deciding it all at the start imo. I also started something like two days before the Bal'met event began so that sealed my pale, reclusive, carpal tunnel afflicted coffin pretty tight. 

    - Limb Counter - Fracture Relapsing -
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  • JacenJacen Member Posts: 2,309 @@ - Legendary Achaean
    I like the general idea. Its much easier to look at 6 cities, read about the overarching philosophy, and decide if you want to play Good/Evil/Chaos/Nature/Dark/Cyrene (forgive my ignorance). Things aren't nearly as clear when you read about the Houses. Santar's point is very valid though.
  • KyrraKyrra AustraliaMember Posts: 4,928 @@ - Legendary Achaean
    It would give the Ambassador ministry more of a purpose, and most aides usually come from most of the Houses, as well as a couple houseless folk.

    One of the things that I missed in Cyrene after a five year dormancy, was that there was less focus on helping citizens in general. People are gently nudged to join a house, ask the house, stick to the house, and there was a lot more importance on being involved with houses and less importance on getting involved with the city.

    I'm really in favour of the idea. Not only to increase an aspect of community within a city, but also because there are times where the newer generations of players aren't really interested in Ministries or being involved, because there's no knowledge or incentive, or desire to contribute back because it's never been something of importance in the first place.

    I think it would be a lot more beneficial toward those that aren't inclined toward houses to still feel involved and a part of things. Houses are also a part of a city, the two shouldn't really be mutually exclusive for novices.
    (D.M.A.): Cooper says, "Kyrra is either the most innocent person in the world, or the girl who uses the most innuendo seemingly unintentionally but really on purpose."

  • LeyliahLeyliah Member Posts: 11 ✭✭ - Stalwart
    I think Kyrra is on to something here. Unless you make it very clear who is in charge of new players (via a ministry or otherwise), chances are new players will receive less attention because they're (hypothetically) 1) not of my class, 2) not of my house's classes, and 3) someone else will see to their needs so no need for me to do it. It's my experience that the more people you have in charge of something, the fewer people actually takes responsibility for seeing it done. Apart from that, I wholeheartedly support the idea that cities should be in charge of new people. The benefits by far outweight potential drawbacks. Personally, as a European player, there are times when I'm logged in and there's almost no people around in my house, and this must be even more frustrating to actual newbies.

    There's two things I would like to see if this is implemented:
    • A clearly defined position that is responsibly for the well-being of novices, possibly with some sort of incentive attached. If novices feel like people are looking out for them, chances are they'll stick around for longer.
    • A fairly natural transition from joining a city to joining a house. Perhaps I'm a bit cynical, but I keep thinking that houses might lose out on players with this change (you'll be in a city as a novice but that's no guarantee that you'll feel inclined to join the house that accepts your class).
  • RispokRispok Member Posts: 721 ✭✭✭✭✭ - Grand Achaean
    As long as house class restrictions are also looked at and altered, this sounds fine. Would draw the citizens together more closely.
  • OrklanishkalOrklanishkal Member Posts: 120 ✭✭✭ - Distinguished
    so CIJ getting deleted, or...?  >:)
  • EldEld Member Posts: 3,946 @@ - Legendary Achaean
    @Tael covered most of my thoughts on the idea: once you've chosen a city and a class, you've chosen a house (or no house) and it's members of that house who are generally going to be best able to help you learn about your class.

    It might help to home in on exactly what problem you're trying to fix. It seems to me like the idea that you're a member of a House that accepts certain classes, and resides within some city, is one of the easiest concepts with which new players presented. If the problem is divided cities, that needs to be addressed by the house and city leadership (or just presented to newbies as they come across it: I doubt that the idea of competing political factions within a state is new to very many people).

    I know @Mannimar has suggested some changes to raise the visibility of newbies in cities so that people know they're there and maybe in need of help, such as announcements when a character joins your city out of the Trial (which currently only houses get). I suspect that things like that would be better places to look for improving the newbie experience.
  • XithXith Member Posts: 2,602 @@ - Legendary Achaean
    1) If houses had to deal with true-newbies less often, I think as organisations they might achieve more with their time. House intro should come separately as part of the pledge to that house's ideals and teachings, similar to Orders or (now) High Clans.

    2) FIRST, I think the Trial and basic mechanical intro etc. should be modified (if that wasn't implied in the OP) before making this change. If that happens, I think it will be very beneficial to have them focus on their city before getting involved in the complicated tasks and politics of a House. Given that Achaea stands alone for its depth, it's not a stretch to say it's overwhelming for new players or new mudders.
    I like my steak like I like my Magic cards: mythic rare.
  • LukanLukan Member Posts: 170 ✭✭✭✭ - Eminent
    The BEST integration, honestly, would be something similar to the way Lusternia's cities and it's guilds are sort of a "cohesive unit". Achaea already has that, just in a less formal way. Citizens help different guild members regardless of their class, and that's just the way things -are-. Those who choose to go houseless could benefit from a "city novicehood", but as is, that's a -very- small percentage of the population. Most houseless are either mudsexers or experienced players who don't want to have to adhere to any rules.
  • NimNim Member Posts: 2,015 @@ - Legendary Achaean

    I love this idea and everything said about it so far.

    People will argue against it because people hate change, but forcing houses (which can often have small populations, and if you play during off-hours, it's entirely possible that you'll almost never meet any of your higher ranking house-mates at all!) to bear the burden of teaching new players always felt like a horrible design decision to me.

    @Sarapis stop trying to make Achaea better. how can I be tsundere toward Achaea if you make it into a good game. also, I won't be able to justify not throwing large amounts of cash at Achaea for pet bunnies and dice bags if you do that :(

    side notes: @Lukan: I could be mistaken, but it feels like there are a ton of house-less people, and given that houses often have very specific ideologies that can be very different from the city they're in, while retaining monopoly on certain classes within that city, it's very valid to have citizens of certain cities stay out of the houses they'd otherwise fit into. (except in Mhaldor, but Mhaldorian houses seem to vary in possible purposes or utilities, while retaining Mhaldor's general ideology)

    Also, Nim started out the same way @Kenway did, and Nim has been my favorite character so far. Whenever I make a new character, I kick myself for just starting in a house because houses always seem so boring to start in. I won't blame anyone for that (although, if you're the head of novices or whatnot in your house, my personal suggestion is to get your novices interacting with people both in and out of your house; as long as you're in charge of players' first experiences in the game, it's your job to make sure ice gets broken!)

  • SeftinSeftin Member Posts: 923 @ - Epic Achaean
    What about making it so that under 5 hours gameplay or till level 20 or 30 you don't unlock any skills other than survival, class skills, fitness, vision and philosophy? Would stop newboes putting lessons in to things like riding etc before talking to people.

    Im very in favour of this change, and think making people more vested into a city first then a house allows them to grow more as a person and will strengthen their ties to the house as they will have done potentially more research into it rather than hopping 6 houses, feeling awkward about rejoining one and so either make a new character or just grow dispondent and quit.

    A good idea may be to have quests in the city that require you to do something for each house (sort of like the history quest but city specific) so they can learn a bit more about each. Ie the sentinel house needs a batch of handaxea and spears, newbie has to go to the eleusia forge then take items to a mobile in eleusis who then explains a bit about the house and can recommend helpfilest/people to contact etc
  • XliXli Member Posts: 354 ✭✭✭ - Distinguished
    edited April 2013
    Having re-read @Sarapis second post, I like the idea, especially being able to try out class skills and respec, although how much of a true flavour of a class do you get from the early skills in a set?
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  • AchillesAchilles Los AngelesMember Posts: 2,625 @@ - Legendary Achaean
    I like the idea.  There will be some resistance from old players (especially ones with functional houses) but the majority of the houses seem to be both underpopulated and where the older players have formed some kind of unbreakable social hierarchy that is deters the fresh blood from moving up.

    Speaking as someone who was in charge of a house (that I think was pretty functional overall) it was weird to lose it.  But at the same time it simplified Achaea quite a bit, less backroom politics, less administrative work (never fun in a "game") and liberating in the direction you could take your character.  Initially I wondered if we would just get Templars 2.0, Sentaari 2.0 and so forth but it is now obvious that the houses should be more about ideologies than existing solely due to classes (though I'd like to see Knights still exist in some fashion, even if as a High Clan as it is an interesting avenue of RP).

    Cities should be more important than houses, the ideology of the city should be the main catalyst of your character's growth and direction.  
  • SkyeSkye The Duchess BellatereMember, Seafaring Liason Posts: 3,170 @@ - Legendary Achaean
    you know, I started typing up an objection to this, but the more I thought about it, the more it seemed like a good idea, I'm particularly partial to the idea of emphasising the role of City over House.

    The latest two classes of Blademaster and Alchemist are notoriously newbie unfriendly (the former in particular). They're not a class that a complete newbie wants to start with if they play offpeak hours with nobody to help them out.

  • EldEld Member Posts: 3,946 @@ - Legendary Achaean
    I do like the suggestion of something like Lusternia's city novice system. Unsure how I feel about @Achilles' and @Skye's comments about emphasising city over house in general, but in case you do keep the choice of both House and City in the Trial, it would be nice to have a more clear acknowledgement that most Houses only accept members from a single city, just to save us some work and them some disappointment when we get Ashtani novices in a Hashani house, for example.

    I'm still pretty uneasy about the suggestion of putting off joining a house until after this proposed city novicehood, though, especially if they've already chosen a class. A couple quick, not-really-thought-out ideas:
       1) If you really want to put off choosing a House until they've had a bit of a chance to settle into the city, maybe just don't have them choose a class right away, either? Have the city novicehood do some basic orientation to Achaea, then some introduction to the classes and houses available to a novice of that city, and then have them choose a class and house at the end of it. I don't really like this, as I think most people are probably going to want to have a class in less time than it would take to get through a novicehood program, but maybe the choice could be pushed a little closer to the beginning, while still giving some introduction beforehand.
        2) If you want to let people pick a class in the Trial, but are concerned about confusion regarding a choice of House and City and the relation between the two, why not just have them choose a City and autoinduct them to the House in that City that accepts their class? Then drop them into a City novicehood program, during which they're allowed to completely respec (I very much like that, by the way), but make the house-class restrictions clear.

    I do really like the idea of some kind of citywide novice program, but I still think it would be better to integrate it more with House introduction, rather than completely supplanting it. Definitely move the common introduction to Achaea stuff there, and have some city-oriented stuff. Make it easier to get going if there's no one around in your House to give you an introduction. But don't completely put off joining a House.
  • SkyeSkye The Duchess BellatereMember, Seafaring Liason Posts: 3,170 @@ - Legendary Achaean
    I'd suggest the possibility of an 'onion knight' type deal, where the novice has no class, but frankly the thought of running around having to newbiekick everything when one of the highlights of the game is the promise of a variety of unique classes is pretty off putting.

  • TaelTael Member Posts: 1,197 @ - Epic Achaean
    edited April 2013
    Sarapis said:

    Tael wrote:
    The most immediate, though one that would be overcome over time, is that houses are, at present, where the whole system of introduction happens. We have experience setting that up. The period of adjustment is going to be really ugly.

    That doesn't concern me too much. Change happens, and the current system is not working well. Way too often, newbies are unable to get help in their Houses by virtue of there just being too few people on in the Houses. That's particularly a problem for non-North American newbies. Cities, by their nature, have far more people active in them than Houses do.

    A problem that is more significant and that I don't see a way around is that of classes. The present system of each city only having one house for each class means that there's some uniformity in experience that helps bring players together. More crucially, the idea of setting up a system to deal with newbies of every class in the city is very, very ugly, particularly in light of the fact that the proposal is to have this stage of education happen when they're just getting to know the basic abilities of their class (when teaching about basic skills is most important).

    Yeah, that's definitely an issue, as using skills are the #1 thing newbies are going to want to do. However, this can also be handled by better documentation on our part. We're not going to be able to teach someone to be a great combatant, but we can teach players how to use their basic abilities better than we do now, at least.

    We're also going to let newbies just respec completely (including general skills), so they'd be able to change class easily if they like the city but don't like the class.

    The proposed solution reminds me too much of autoclass - a few guilds had problems in the way they gated access to class so, instead of dealing with them, the entire system was thrown out and we got autoclass. 

    You're barking up the wrong tree there I'm afraid. Autoclass was one of the best decisions I ever made in regards to Achaea, and the numbers are unequivocal. More people converted from newbies to regular players, those regular players played longer on average, and players in general spent more in general post-autoclass. 
    I still haven't figured out how to make the new forums quote parts of a post, but here are my thoughts:
    I think autoclass was ultimately a good decision. But I doubt anyone would suggest that it didn't have some really ugly consequences for quite a while and it's been pretty generally recognised that a lot of houses lost identity and cohesion that they never really got back. I don't think it was a bad decision - but I do think it could have been implemented much more smoothly. Then again, the very fact that there's a forum thread about this and people are talking means that this is probably destined to go a lot better regardless of the outcome.

    The too-few-people thing is decidedly true (the Naga are doing pretty well, but this is still a problem I see regularly) and trying to solve that is a noble goal. I think there are more graceful ways to solve it though. One idea might be to create a city equivalent of HNT - newbies are generally discouraged from cluttering CT with questions and such, but if there were an alternate channel (such that players who didn't want to deal with it could turn it off), I think that would go a long way to solving the problem without having to put in a separate city-based progression (and add to the already endless series of progression checklists). It would also make it much easier for city officials that theoretically exist to help novices to actually help them. Actually, such a channel should probably be added if the houseless intro period is added too, for all the same reasons that we have an HNT channel.

    I really, really like the idea of making respecs completely free and flexible for newbies. That's a tremendous idea.

    Having thought some more about it, I think a lot of my resistance to the larger idea is about how houses are likely to respond. I have been yelling for a long time that I don't think the current progression systems are good for the game or for retention: they lead to extremely formulaic, mechanical interaction, they're far, far too long for the most part (and they keep getting longer), and they train people to play in a reactionary way (always just doing what someone told them to do) such that many players flounder when they suddenly lack people telling them what to do - they have no idea how to initiative things or even that they can or should intiaite things. People who have finished novicehood and just stand around waiting for someone to tell them something to do are an alarmingly common sight.

    In short, tacking yet more such progression onto the system doesn't strike me as a positive thing unless the houses scale back their own progressions accordingly. Historically, that hasn't happened. It might work, however, if admin not-so-gently nudged HLs to do that. As before, I really think there is a profound underestimation of what can be achieved by just telling player leadership what the problems are and trying to fix them without or in tandem with hard mechanics (again, we all want the same things here). It would be very nice indeed if basic instruction (actually basic instruction - not two months of requirements with essays and sparring requirements, and what have you) could happen in the city and then houses and their progressions could be more about house-specific goals, identity, and themes rather than endless mechanical checklists and formulaic novice-teacher interaction. Concentrating instruction within cities actually means that admin-player cooperation is even easier, since you're dealing with a handful of cities rather than all of the houses.
  • SarapisSarapis Member, Administrator Posts: 3,404 Achaean staff
    I think offloading general stuff onto a city novice system is definitely the way to go vs. having Houses do it. Cities should definitely have a "help" channel available for anyone, especially novices. Beyond that, no decisions yet, but we'll continue to ponder! This is really part of a larger discussion that sees us completely revamping the general introduction to Achaea for new players.
  • SantarSantar Member, Secret Squirrel Posts: 2,424 @@ - Legendary Achaean
    edited April 2013

    I've decided that I favour this idea. There will be some immediate backlash from people resistant to the change, but overall I think it would be a good change.


    From the perspective of a novice, I think it will definitely ease the process of learning the game if they only join a city and learn basic tasks about how to play the game, rather than being bombarded with house tasks and ideals along with all the other game mechanics. When a new player first starts playing the game, what they really care about is learning the basic mechanics of the game like getting around and killing things, which is what their focus should be.  Then after they've got a grip on these things, then they can join a House to deepen their experience.


    It actually makes more sense for cities to teach novices basic tasks. Right now, every house is having to teach their own novices basic features about the game that apply to everyone who plays the game, or at least everyone who is a member of that city.  It would make things a lot more uniform and efficient if the city had a system for teaching all novices, then once they're competent with the basics they can be shipped off to Houses where they can focus their interests and start learning about House specific ventures.


    People like Amunet are resistant to this idea at the moment, but I think people like her would quickly realize that this is a good thing. Think about how great it would be for the Occultist house not to have to hold hands with novices on subjects like killing pixies. Instead, every novice would already have the basics down when joining the House, and the focus would be specifically on teaching them Occultist ideals and etc. It makes a lot more sense to ease the novice in that way than just trying to cram complex information into someone that has no idea what they're doing.


    Also, a question I have:

    In your personal vision for this city novicehood system, do you see the process and the advancement of the novice being through an automated task completion system, or through competency tests given by city officials? I was leaning towards the latter. Let a player give the novice a short test to prove their competency and awareness of basic concepts, and then stamp them with approval to join a House to take their studies to the next level.


  • VeldrinVeldrin DenmarkMember Posts: 488 ✭✭✭✭ - Eminent
    I don't like it, the houses are what holds up a city, the city is merely a place where your house belongs that gives it a general direction of the house ideology (good, evil etc) where the house is what defines your entire playing experience/style. 

    In general I think there's way too little focus on the houses, if the houses are good, the city is good, if the city is crap the houses just ignore it and do their own thing.

    You'll also run into the problem where the city just can't help with your class where as houses are tailored to deal with the classes it allows.
  • AveriAveri Member Posts: 555 ✭✭✭✭✭ - Grand Achaean
    edited April 2013
    Although a city-wide backup newbie welcoming system as a backup when house people aren't around would be awesome, I don't like the idea that newbies cannot join a house until they stay in the city for some period of time.  I feel like houses, a lot of time, are where friends are made.  In cities, there are way too many people for a newbie to be able to form a closer relationship with any other person until they got a few years of playtime in their belt.  I feel like this is especially true in Cyrene, where the population is sometimes equal to half the awake population in Achaea.  My house, for example, actually hosts activities/parties/goes and searches for newbies to see if they're ok and to get to know them. In addition, in many houses, when there is a newcomer, they say things like "Hey! Welcome <blah blah blah>! How are you doing? Do you need help with anything?"  In a city with 50 people, I can't even tell who's the newcomer and who has been there forever.   

    And besides, when it comes to unifying cities, I don't see how this will help with cities such as Hashan, Ashtan, Cyrene.  As some people have brought up before this post, we don't really have a set ideal.  Sometimes, I feel like the four Cyrenian houses are all in their own separate worlds.  We are all so different that I don't think having a mage orientate a newbie bard, or having a bard orientate a newbie mage will actually unite the city or help with newbie retention.  At least when the house member, who was usually of the same class, did the orientation, there was already one point of common ground between the two. They both had the same class.  

    Therefore, I think, it might be better to implement some kind of citywide novice introduction thing but still allow newbies to join houses even if it's for the reason "I joined bard house cause that's where I heard all the bards go.." (which is the most common reason I hear among true newbies). I also have orientated numerous people who actually picked the house before joining Cyrene (which I had to tell them to go do so). 

    I guess, I understand how this would be helpful in cities like Mhaldor, Eleusis, Shallam. But I don't think it would work as well for the other three.

    Edit: I think a part of my opinion comes from the fact that my first was a complete rogue who then joined Hashan because I was confused.  I met about 3 people by the time she was 56 who I would hang out with. Then I suicided and quit for 4 years without keeping contact with any achaeans because all of my friends went dormant.  As Averi, my second main, I came in, joined a house and now I know about half of the sapience.  It was a lot easier to get integrated into the community this time around even though I didn't know anyone and completely forgot how this game worked. People who knew me when I was younger would be able to testify that I didn't know how to go from cyrene to north of new thera, or how to navigate any of the cities. This is mainly attributed to my house who was wonderful in helping me get off my feet.  After meeting my housemates, I branched out to meeting citymates.  It didn't work the other way around.
    Commission List: Aesi, Kenway, Shimi, Kythra, Trey, Sholen .... 5/5 CLOSED
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