The Effect of Player Tutorials on Returning Players

As with any game, we have a large number of players that take us out for a very brief test ride, knew immediately it wasn’t for them, and will never be seen ’round these parts again. We’d like to make everyone happy, but that’s not going to happen; we’re a niche and we know it.

What is really frustrating as a game designer are those players that come on, play for a few days THEN leave. There are all sorts of reasons that can happen, but the one we can most control is the balance of playing fun vs. education about game options. As a game designer it’s a very hard thing to do well. And to be honest, when we launched we didn’t do it at all — or rather the admins were on all the time just answering questions in the ingame shoutbox, hoping that the community would gain the knowledge to answer the next generation of players.

We recently sent out our first formal Newsletter for StarPirates. We’re aiming for 6 per year for each game. It mainly listed things we’ve done that they might find interesting; and we had a great response. A few hundred players are back in the game, and loving it, due to the newsletter. Cool.

One of those posted this, and it’s pretty interesting feedback:

According to my join date I have been playing for 1 year. In actuality, I have been playing about 1 week now. The first time I tried this game I logged in, attacked targets from the space area and kept getting killed. This made me think the game was ***ed and I never played again. Then about a week ago I got an email about the game, checked it out following the tutorial and have become hooked.

It is a shame they didn’t have that tutorial when I first started! Now I have so much catching up to do!

But happy 1 year for me!

So while we are not totally satisfied with the balance of fun vs. education for new players, we do know we’re definitely doing better. And great player feedback like that helps us specifically understand what we’re doing better.