Caster's Realm: How to Adopt a Newbie

You've played Everquest for six years. You've rebuilt your keyboard mappings into the ultimate interface between man and machine. Drawing your Blade of War and cutting down a Kyv assassin is as natural to you as drinking a can of Red Bull. You say things in real life that baffle your friends, parents, and co-workers like 'mobs' and 'pulling' and 'training' and 'OMFG'.

You have a hazy recollection of your life as a newbie. You never left Odus until that Shining Star of Light quest proved too valuable to pass up. It took you four days to cross the Karanas and you had a lioness on your arse the whole time. You had to beg for four hours before a mage finally broke down and bound you at the gates of Freeport.

Now you fight beasts that would destroy all of Odus in an hour. You and your guild cut down creatures of rumor and legend like Yar'Lir and Vishimtar. As you hear about the 'new player experience', a truth comes quickly to your lips: There are no more Newbies.

You're wrong.

New players enter Norrath every day. They fall into the cracks of our huge world but they still exist. Like you were six years ago they are often lost and in need of help. You can help them. This essay will give you the basic tools you need to help find and adopt newbies. But first, let us ask "why".

Why should I help a Newbie?

Now you know how to help a newbie, but why should you do so? Helping newbies helps you. The newbie you adopted today may be the raid leader of an assault on Overlord Mata Muram tomorrow. Adopted newbies will one day become powerful warriors or wizards during their travels. They will not forget your kindness. Helping newbies becomes contagious. The more you do it, the more those you help will help others around them. The more others see you helping people, the more they will be willing to help others as well. The benefits will become even more clear.

So with that clear understanding of the benefits, let us look at the best way to hunt down the elusive newbie.

'/Join NewPlayers'

The last Everquest patch added new autojoined system-maintained chat channels including the 'NewPlayer' channel. Any new player of the game is automatically subscribed to this channel. Nothing stops anyone from simply typing '/join NewPlayers' or '/autojoin NewPlayers' to join in the new player channel and help people out.

Many new players use this channel to ask questions about the game. Answer them. Some of their questions will seem elementary but are very difficult problems for them. These questions also help identify true new players for further adoption. Join or autojoin this channel and use it to help answer questions and meet new players. Even with the high number of people in the channel, people will appreciate your support.

The NewPlayer channel is the best and easiest option for discovering new players and helping them learn how to play this very complicated game.

Offer your assistance.

Not every new player will understand either the technical or social instructions for asking questions. They may not understand that '/1' will chat to the NewPlayer channel. They may not yet understand that it is ok for them to ask their questions. They may be intimidated by the veterans all around them who dance in combat with Kobolds while the new player can't figure out how to draw their sword from their belt.

Offer your assistance. Send out a message to the NewPlayer channel and tell them that you are able to answer questions should anyone have any. Tell people how to type '/tell Yourname' to send you a private message. Explain how the chat channel works. When people realize that you are happy to answer the most elementary questions, they will be more free to ask them. This also shows veteran players that it is acceptable and rewarding to help those around them. Others will follow in your footsteps.

How Do you Identify a Newbie?

How do you know that someone isn't just stringing you along hoping to dip their hand into your great bulging sack of platinum? The easiest way to filter out newbies from veterans is by making it clear that you cannot help them with money or items up front. This will almost always filter out players who were just seeking a hand out from those who really need good advice.

New players often have nothing but their default gear or rusty weapons. They won't often be equipped in anything beyond their means. New players aren't usually in a guild yet. They may not be speedy in combat or quick to send a tell. The more you see them, the more you begin to see the signs of a true new player.

Watch how newbies talk. What are players asking for? Are they asking questions about well-known and obvious commands? It is likely that isn't a ruse. Of course, the most elusive newbies won't even understand how to chat. Only by asking them directly will you find out if they are new or not.

So now you've located your newbie and offered your help. What sort of help should you offer?

Help show new players how to communicate in tells, groups, and channels. Show them how to target and attack a creature. Show them how to memorize spells and equip items. Teach them about hotbuttons and the hotbox. Walk them through some combat. Be patient and remember how hard it was when you were a wee lad.

Teach new players the geography of Norrath. Nowadays most new players will start in Gloomingdeep and head to Knowledge once their hunting is complete. Some, however, will get lost in the vast worlds of Everquest. The NewPlayer channel is their lifeline. Find them and show them how the Knowledge stones work. Send them to their basic newbie hunting grounds. Help them walk through some of their basic quests. Show them the new quest givers in Knowledge.

Most importantly, show adopted newbies how to add you to their friends list and how to send you a tell when they run into harder parts down the road. Adopting a newbie doesn't end after your first conversation. Offer your help to them whenever they need it.

What assistance should you avoid giving?

Don't give a new player gear or more money than they need to buy their first set of spells. Equipment progression is an important draw to a game like Everquest. If new players walk out draped in enchanted chain mail that falls to their knees and heavy runed swords that are four times bigger than they are, they will not know the great feeling of killing a dangerous beast and receiving usable loot from it. Everquest now has excellent starting equipment progression throughout Gloomingdeep and the new 11 to 20 missions in Knowledge. Do not rob a new player of the excitement of receiving new rewards for this work.

New gear will not help a player play Everquest. It isn't the power of their weapons that new players have trouble with, it is the game itself that is hard.

Giving gear to a new player also instills a sense of greed. Instead of powerful equipment, teach new players the value of grouping with other people. Teach them how to meet people and hunt in groups. Teach them that their greatest resource are the other players.

Friends are the best reward in Everquest. They are the only reward that lasts outside of the game. Help new players learn how to play and your friends list will fill with people who may one day become your closest friends in the game. Adopt a newbie today and help make Norrath a stronger world.

Loral Ciriclight
8 July 2005