GDM 10: Don't hit new MMO players with five years of cruft.

If you’ve ever tried joining an MMO that’s been around for more than two years, this should sound familiar. At first, the initial experience will be clean and polished - you’ll start in a little village, there’ll be a nice UI, clear mechanics, etc. After all, an MMO that survives more than a year is a success story, so it’s clearly doing something right.

But then the tutorial ends, and you get sent to the Big Capital City. Suddenly your UI has a dozen tabs the tutorial never mentioned, and you have a stream of notifications about mechanics and currencies you’ve never heard of. Then as you explore the city, you find a dozen different quest NPCs exhorting you to start a dozen quest chains for a dozen different DLC campaigns.

Of course it’s obvious what’s happening - the game has been shipping updates for several years, and each new update brought a bunch of stuff. All that stuff was relevant and understandable - at the time! - to existing players. But to someone joining a few years later, half of it is no longer relevant, and the rest won’t become relevant unless they stick with the game for quite a while longer.

There’s no five-minute fix to this problem - you have to find ways of meaningfully gating information and mechanics. Hide UI panels and mechanics and currencies until the player can use them, and gate things behind leveling so that new players encounter them in a slow trickle, not a deluge.

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