My apologies to all first and foremost as this may become longwinded due to the need for much back and forth through my personal timeline of play here on DDO and the things I have seen turn off new players.
Recent threads talking about things like ship buffs, and their advantages for old time TR junkies vs the negative impact they can have on new players and the bar set for reasonable expectations of threats as well as things like DDOs deep layers of complexity when it comes to understanding such threats and the ways to counter them and the well known dif spike for most new players when they hit the lvl 12+ range have had me alot of late pondering more so about an MMO then I frankly like, and feel the need to try to vent these thoughts before they drive me to distraction beyond all reason.
Around the time MOTU was getting ready to go live, I had managed to bring 3 new players to DDO whom I will each give a first name to and as brief as possible abit of relevant background info for each.
Wes: Wes is among my oldest of friends having known him since we where in 1st grade, and a dice chucker as long as I have though we often see alot differently when it comes to our ideal PnP adventure arch types. He being more the years of epic struggle where I favor more a fast fun weekly episodic style.
He came to DDO much like alot of us old timers nhad, attracted by the D&D connection, from years of being a wow raid tanker through and through. So he was both an avid MMO player and vet PnP player of multiple editions.
He started with a basic throw away dwarf fighter cleric build to unlock drow asap when i explained how starting build points worked, and for someone mainly interested in playing a wizard they would give some of the best starting stats until unlocking the 32 point build. He was very adept at DDO having little trouble just as I had so many years before, learning DDOs house rules so to speak and working with them. He got that character to cap, but when he found that to really be optimal for what DDO die hards view as the end game raid scene he would need to destroy this otherwise perfectly fun to play character and either redo it exactly after many lives to get max spell pen and DCs to be seen as less then gimp he saw it as a big warning sign to just walk away. to him the TR system was beyond repulsive, and so one new would recruit who had all the potential any DDO die hard could as for as a player walked away with no regrets seeing his months and money spent subbing here as a waste, as he put it why sub to this niche game when he can go back to subbing on wow and a welcoming community that his first toon ever made years ago was a valued and often in demand tank not just by his guild but by virtually all who knew him there.
Josh: I have known josh since we where teens, he also was among my first circle of table top players so many years ago. He came to DDO with that experience but never having been an MMO or even single player rpg guy, For him DDO was a new and different way to try D&D and he to took to it like a duck to water, his own unorthodox but fun elven paladin archer that he turned ino a very fun to play AA who could self heal enough and had solid saves for a first life toon felt very confident soloing normal content well into the upper teens, it was only in the lvl 18+ range he really started to feel the lack in a first life toon. When i said the best thing I could offer in advice was to try and hit 20 and TR so he could have 32 base points and a past life feat to help add a bit more oomph he too was disgusted by the idea of throwing away his first character to just remake it with abit more oomph.
Finally there was Chel: She was new to table top gaming only a few years under her belt of 3E though we gave her a crash course in dabbling with all kinds of variations and even some older ed stufff to try to expand her tastes for the various ways they could work.
She also took to DDO very rapdily, but she especially exhibited many of the traits so many of us DDO old timers get frustrated by. She was so gung ho on being a heroic warrior with her barbarian she insisted on making for her first character that she frequently suffered defeat and frustration. She was very dependant on nannybots or a fellow player willing to watch her red bar, she just had 0 interest in it at first. Eventually she moved on from that first character but with great hesitation, i think alot of us know how attached we can be to first characters in an MMO and see walking away from them as some kind of failure that warrants leaving the game entirely, and after a bit she did, she didnt like not playing her first character and didnt like how dependant it was on others. Nor am I so wealthy in game as to keep several new comers well geared and potted.
One of the biggest links between these 3 I saw was an extreme loss of interest when they felt that first character was little more then a test dummy to help them learn to play. For each though for different reasons once that first character got mothballed or hit a point where TRing was the only real way to progress them further, they walked away with no second thoughts.
It left me wondering how many others might have left for the same kind of feeling. Of not being on truly equal footing at the point of character creation as old timers.
And I started to think that might be one of the things we old timers just accepted but also had a deep impact on our flow of new blood.
So I put it to all bluntly is it worth it to make a divide at character creation like starting build points. Although the differences might be minor still there is a noteable impact on new comers when they learn its only through extremely extended play that they can start with 36 stat points, and no way for a first character to start at such even through some contribution to turbine through the DDO store.
I personally have never felt the lack, 32 point builds and first life drow have always sufficed for me, but I started before we had the option to have more and saw them as additions. For new players they are instead like a blazing sign to just stay away, that the game is already old and certainly in its twilight years, and its highly unlikely enough time in its life still exist to warrant new players trying to undergo such a lengthy persuit.
Ive tried to think of some ways to update the system, from extrmes like just removing 28 point builds altogether and starting all evenly at the new standard of 36 points now upheld by the min max old timers and therefore became the standard new comers read about and want to be on par with in a reasonable time frame
Or perhaps a more alt friendly approach like when you get a character to 20 you unlock the next higher tier of bild points for your next character so as to not force players to throw away characters who already feel well developed.
Or maybe a third option like when you get a character to 20 you can choose the classic TR, the higher starting build points for the next toon made, or an inherent +2 stat increase on top of any and all others to a single stat of their choice( that would then lock out that character from TRing or perhaps simply lose that inherent bonus if TRing was chosen at a later date.
Im not really sure if any or all would help retain more new players but I do suspect there needs to be something thought of and done as at least for me the current system has cost me every friend ive tried bringing to the game, they all reach a point where the idea of TRing feels forced upon them and makes them walk away.