Author Topic: HOWTO: How to Help a New Player!  (Read 370 times)

nauta

  • Posts: 2333
HOWTO: How to Help a New Player!
« on: March 02, 2018, 12:23:48 PM »
ArmageddonMUD prides itself on the mantra FOIC (find out in-character), and this is a very important thing indeed.  However, sometimes we have to break into OOC in order to help a new player.  What follows are some thoughts I had, a guide of sorts, on how I prefer to handle this.  Mileage may vary, and I invite comments or other ideas to improve this guide.  What follows are: (I) how to help a new player with commands and syntax and (II) how to hook a new player.

I. How to help a new player with commands and syntax

First things first, we have the helper chat on the main website and #help on discord --- point new players there!  We also have other resources for new players in the documentation which I list here for convenience:
What You Know
Walkthrough
Mansa's Guide for New Players
help newbie
help beginner
help FAQ

However, sometimes it is a good thing to help them out inside the game.  One important thing to stress here: our preference for limited OOC (see help ooc) is there so that we can maintain a high-quality RP environment and immersion: it is good for both experienced players and new players, because that is, after all, what they came here for!

What I do is follow three basic steps -- I call this the SEO method:

1. Show them by doing.  For instance, if you can tell they aren't quite grokking how to sheathe a sword, then simply sheathe your sword.  In my experience, 90% of the time the output from the command clues them in on what the command is (sheath).

2. Emphasize the command via emote or say.  If showing fails, I will emphasize the command in either the wording of my says/emotes or even allcaps it or emphasize it with -.  For instance, say (to ~newplayer) Let's -sheathe- our swords now before we attack the castle!  Or: em SHEATHes ^me sword.  Try not to go overboard with the emphasis because this can be almost as distracting as the use of the ooc command itself.

3. OOC.  The last resort is to go to OOC.  Here are some guidelines I put to myself when going to ooc:

(a) Be concise.  Keep the ooc minimal and informative: point them to the help file or helper chat if it is too complicated.  Avoid speculation or really any controversial claim.  I will try to never say anything in ooc that isn't in the help file, for instance.

(b) Be friendly.  Since you are being concise, what you say might come off as snippy.  So I almost invariably will tack on "Welcome to Armageddon!" to the ooc, e.g., "Welcome to Armageddon!  In order to sheath your sword, check out HELP SHEATH."  It's amazing what a single smiley face will do to change the tone of the text.

(c) Be private.  Try to strip their character away from the action and ooc somewhere without a lot of people.  Related to this: if a new player asks over ooc for help, and someone gives a sufficient answer, don't add on to the discussion.

Probably the most important thing with dealing with a new player is to simply be patient and show them a good time: hook their characters into your plots and the action!  Do a quick ooc if you have to, but move on to the actual meat of ArmageddonMUD: the roleplay!

II. Which leads us to Part II: How to hook a new player into the action

(this is a bit more sketchy)

The best way to hook a new player is to interact with their character: draw them into your plots.  How? 

1. Talk to them. Obviously, the easiest thing to do is to strike up a conversation with their character at the bar or on the street.  Ask them about themselves --- but remember, a new player is often overwhelmed at the documentation and unsure of how their character fits in, so they might not be comfortable talking about their character's background and personality until they get their bearings a bit as a player.  So why not tell their character about your character? Bring out a personality quirk in your character.  A new player is a nice chance to develop your own character's personality more deeply. In general, be outward-oriented in how you interact with them.  Forego elaborate thinks, stop waying for a bit --- the plot will continue without it! --- and try to show them what a living person in Zalanthas is like.

2. Go fetch me this! Remember, new players do not know the lay of the land, and so even the simplest of quests (e.g., fetch me some mushrooms like this; find me a scarf; find me an elf from the rinth, etc.) will likely be more entertaining to the new player.  Try to design these quests with the goal of showing the new player the world.  Hence, avoid fetchme quests that are rote and boring, e.g., dig dung, forage salt, and so on, or that would necessitate that they not interact with other players.

3. Stories. Tell a story about some epic adventure, real or imaginary, that shows them what they could do in the world one day, or at least shows them what the world is like.

4. Hire them into your clan.  This is kind of obvious.  The most enjoyable times I've had are with new players in my clan.  Yes, you won't be as efficient at the tasks you as a clan do, and your clients might get upset, but that just generates more fun conflict and interesting plotlines.  Consider: the Byn that gets the rantarri claw with no hitches in 1 IG day vs. the Byn that gets lost in the desert, loses two Runners to the shield wall, has to camp in the forest because some asshat runner forgot to rest their mount, etc. etc.  Which is the more fun Byn?

5. Ask them to spy for you.  Like a fetchme quest above, ask them to investigate people and make contacts for your character, even if you, the player, don't need them.

But, you might say, that's not what my character would do, and I don't want to break character!  There's a lot of truth to this worry.  We pride ourselves on the quality of our RP here and on the fact that we try to stay in character no matter what the consequences of this might be.  Not only do we like this, but new players also want this: they came here for the immersive RP environment.  So let's not water things down.

But do not fear, friend, there's cotton in those fields still.  There are still ways to interact with a new player that don't involve being nice to their characters, and won't involve breaking your character.  Here are some ideas:

6. Hurt them!  Now, let's be careful here about negative interaction with new players --- there is a fine line between showing them and reinforcing the harshness of Zalanthas, which is a turn on, and being a turd to them, which is a turn off.  The big warning I would put out here is this: make your negative interaction (be it a mugging, a blackmail, or even a murder) entertaining to them as a player.  Our goal here is to show new players what an outstanding RP environment ArmageddonMUD has to offer, and while you could just sap their character and take their boots, why not aim for a little more sophisticated of a plot?  I've found that scaring their characters is often a more effective way for them to learn about the dangers of the world than killing them, since a backstab teaches them very little.

7. Hurt yourself! Another thing you can do is make your character vulnerable to their character.  Accidentally drop a pack with coins in it.  What will they do?  Accidentally 'misway' them with plot information, or mutter something secret out loud.  What will they do?  The truly ambitious can even set it up so that the new player's character is the one murdering, corrupting, and betraying you!

8. Hurt other people instead! Instead of targeting the new player's character directly, you can show how harsh the world is by targeting a vNPC or an NPC in front of them.  Instead of ripping into their character for being a filthy breed, rip into that virtual breed at the bar.  Reinforce the world around them without making them feel picked on directly.  I would say this is especially the case if their character makes a mistake that is clearly because of OOC ignorance on the side of the player of the documented lore.  While appropriate, it still feels crummy to receive IC consequences (even as simple as being made to look stupid) because of OOC ignorance.  So if they make a slip up --- are friendly to a gick, say --- it might be better to underline the documentation in a way that doesn't directly attack them, but still shows them that what they did was abnormal.


« Last Edit: March 03, 2018, 11:23:50 AM by nauta »
as IF you didn't just have them unconscious, naked, and helpless in the street 4 minutes ago

deskoft

  • Posts: 262
Re: HOWTO: How to Help a New Player!
« Reply #1 on: March 02, 2018, 01:42:43 PM »
This is a really cool guide, Nauta. Thanks.

Veselka

  • Posts: 601
Re: HOWTO: How to Help a New Player!
« Reply #2 on: March 02, 2018, 06:49:04 PM »
I feel like #3 and 4 should before flirting and wanna fuk methods of hooking a new player into the action.

Delirium

  • Helper
  • Posts: 11688
Re: HOWTO: How to Help a New Player!
« Reply #3 on: March 02, 2018, 09:09:32 PM »
I feel like #3 and 4 should before flirting and wanna fuk methods of hooking a new player into the action.

Yeah, I'm really not sure about that one entirely tbh. You could ask about their interests, their past, get them talking about themselves. Tell them a story, or about a plot that's going on or happened recently. Lots of ways to engage with them without going for the 'heyyy boiii' option straightaway.
Will they tell your story in the end?
Who lives, who dies, who tells your story?

Grapes

  • Posts: 398
Re: HOWTO: How to Help a New Player!
« Reply #4 on: March 02, 2018, 09:36:17 PM »
I feel like #3 and 4 should before flirting and wanna fuk methods of hooking a new player into the action.

Yeah, I'm really not sure about that one entirely tbh. You could ask about their interests, their past, get them talking about themselves. Tell them a story, or about a plot that's going on or happened recently. Lots of ways to engage with them without going for the 'heyyy boiii' option straightaway.

Although, if they seem receptive to that RP, and it wouldn't be annoying to you, as a player, then there's little wrong with drawing them into that sot of plotline. It's a thing real people do (well, except for monks and nuns) and a biological compulsion for many, it opens up avenues of trust (for future betrayal) and displaying weakness (setting a good example).
Quote from: Is Friday
If you ever hassle me IC for not playing much that means that I'm going to play even less or I'll forever write you off as a neckbeard chained to his computer. So don't be a dick.

Delirium

  • Helper
  • Posts: 11688
Re: HOWTO: How to Help a New Player!
« Reply #5 on: March 02, 2018, 10:55:53 PM »
The above points are all well and good, and I agree, but I don't think it should be specifically included in a "HOW TO" doc. It sort of sets a tone that I'm not convinced we really need more of.
Will they tell your story in the end?
Who lives, who dies, who tells your story?

nauta

  • Posts: 2333
Re: HOWTO: How to Help a New Player!
« Reply #6 on: March 03, 2018, 07:56:17 AM »
Yeah.  I don't want to open that can of worms, so I've removed #2 (it was about developing an emotional connection/romance with them).  I've also included stories and more stuff on talking topics.

Thanks for the feedback.  If you'all have concrete examples of ways you've hooked a new player, those are always helpful.
« Last Edit: March 03, 2018, 10:32:19 AM by nauta »
as IF you didn't just have them unconscious, naked, and helpless in the street 4 minutes ago