It'll be interesting to see the results of the vote, but if I'm honest, I wouldn't expect to get much in the way of New Player attraction / retention solutions, or at least new ones.
The simple fact that I am beginning to realise, is that the only `new player` opinions that are really worth a damn, are the ones from actual new players, who probably wont look at these boards at all. Online gaming has changed over the years, and message boards are no longer the first place a player goes. Most expect everything they need for a game, to be easily available from in the game itself.
Historically, when I've made threads like these, Veteran players have tended to come up with the same sort of ideas, which are generally about attraction of New Players (Facebook integration, ideas for advertising campaigns, my miniatures idea etc). These ideas are very good, and we still have several that are implementable and might just bring in a host of more players to try out the game. But if we can't retain them, then it's a waste of time, effort and money. This site gets enough unique hits in order to grow, and new accounts are registered on a regular basis, our primary problem is retention.
With that being said, if you guys really want to help me understand the complexities of what's going on, there's a simple thing that can be done.
Instead of asking friends to play the game, we should instead be asking friends to provide feedback on the new player experience. Experience ought to tell us that most of our friends we try to get playing with us, try the game out, but don't stick around. So instead of saying "come play this game with me, promise me you'll play", we should be saying "come test out this game, and then post about your initial impressions and experience, promise me you'll post".
I have a couple of friends who tried the game out, got confused instantly, and then came to me for advise. Previously when this happened, I started to explain the basics of how the game works, this keeps people playing for a little while, but doesn't resolve the issue for players who don't have a veteran player to ask advice from.
However, this time instead of teaching them how to play 'manually', I asked them what they thought they were supposed to do (they were totally wrong), what they should build first (again totally wrong) and what else was confusing them. I then suggested that they stop playing until I've had a chance to make some changes.
The primary issue as I currently understand it, is that the game 'seems' very complicated. That's very different from the game 'actually' being very complicated, after all there are only 5 screens that actually get used to spend turns, and another 4 or 5 screens that make changes to your kingdom. The rest is pretty much just information.
But to a new player, there is no real way of knowing what buildings to make, how many they should make, how big a kingdom they should be aiming for, how many troops to buy, when to buy them etc etc. These start-up questions are really quite simple to answer, and once answered the new player can move on quite easily, but the game itself doesn't answer them. The new player needs to find these boards, and dig through the NPA forum hoping to find the answers, and the best they are likely to find is a building guide that shows them the 'steps' but doesn't really answer 'why' they are following this order. Essentially, if a new player can't reach a point initially where they know enough to want to return to the game to play more turns, then we've lost them.
What we need, is an integrated help system that actually helps new players understand the various game functions, rather than long and complicated 'elite' training posts on a connected message board. Ideally I need to finish the NPA Game Screen Help Files
sub-forum that I started, but I simply don't have enough time in the day to get it done along with all the other bits that need to be done. This would be another place where you guys could help out, simply by helping me write the content for those threads.
The next issue, is that even if a new player manages to work out the basics of how to build, they tend to get smashed pretty quickly. That's down to you guys largely, but then there's no way for you to tell that the kingdom you're about to feed from is a new player or not. To be honest there isn't really a game format that's a suitable place for a new player to gain enough mastery to actually survive long out of NPP. However I do have a few ideas for game formats that might work to fill this role, but they require more work before they are possible.
I know that many of you have previously asked friends to check out the game, and I'm sure that you got some kind of feedback from them, so in addition to answering Hemingway's poll about what keeps you playing, I'd love to see some posts detailing the feedback that you got from your friends, regardless of how negative it might be.
Some of you have previously asked, what'd the point of trying to improve the new player experience, when there are no new players to experience it. I just did a couple of queries against the database, and even now, with a low population of players and zero advertising, we're getting enough new players that if they could be retained, it would slowly start to snowball into a more competitive environment.
Over the last 30 days, we've had 11 new registrations, of which 7 have made kingdoms
Over the last 60 days, We've had 26 new registrations, of which 18 have made kingdoms
Over the last 90 days, We've had 33 new registrations, of which 24 have made kingdoms
We have a pretty good conversion rate of registration to kingdom creation. Our problem is the conversion from kingdom creation to returning player.