New Developer CCP Ghost Takes the Helm of New Player Experience Innovation


Today during the Eve Keynote players were introduced to the new EVE Online Producer tasked with tackling the the New Player Experience (NPE). Introduced by CCP Seagull – who promised that the developers were “picking up the torch again” with regards to the NPE – CCP Ghost has a strong interest in understanding how people work. His previous work experience includes working in a special prosecutor’s office, security and intelligence studies, as well as interrogating persons of interest in ongoing investigations and in-depth data analysis – although no game design/development experience was mentioned.

His belief is that a modern understanding of the brain could help game companies develop games that provides people with enjoyable immersive experiences. Ghost was brought on board at CCP following a discussion with Hilmar and a chat with CCP Seagull to analyse the game and its players, with the aim of getting to the bottom of what’s going wrong with the NPE.


During his talk Ghost revealed that, in 2015, almost 1.5 million people tried Eve Online, numbers that could have a massive positive impact on the future of the game. However, the challenge remains in retaining those players due to the challenging nature of the game, with the majority of those 1.5 million quitting within the first couple of hours.

Very little detail on his plans for the future of NPE were discussed during his 13-minute presentation; instead references were made to the sheer volume of data he has analysed, as well as discussions with players and following new players in the early stages of the game. More substantive proposals for changes are yet to come.

The only conclusion we were given from his massive multiple-month long analysis into the game was simply, “Holy Shit. This game is unlike anything i’ve ever played, or ever heard about.”


A reference was made by Ghost, and again by Seagull, that the future of the NPE may involve more opportunities to have an impact in the NPC storyline at an early stage of a player’s career, using the extensive backstory of New Eden and the individual empires. The aim, they suggested, would be to allow players to create their own stories, have their own journey of mastery and purpose, to generate positive emotions, and to immerse people in the game.

The aim, they suggested, would be to allow players to create their own stories

The overall benefit would be to have new players in a position to contribute to player corps and alliances, and not have to be effectively babysat by more experienced players.

The reaction to Ghost’s presentation on social media was on the most positive. Some players were overwhelmed with his talk, with some on Twitter describing him as “a captivating speaker” and the “NPE savior this game needs”, and others saying that the NPE “has a bright future.” On Twitch chat UnderBridgeGaming said “The love he shows for Eve is real. Beautiful analysis” while H0rz0r noted that Ghost was “talking to me on many levels.”

There is no doubt that having someone with vast experience in understanding people can benefit the game in an area where understanding personal responses are so critical. This is particularly important as various iterations of the NPE, from tutorials to the opportunites system, have all failed in the past. CCP Ghost seems both fascinated by, and committed to, the challenge. Hopefully more solid information will be forthcoming at the roundtable on Saturday.


About the author


MainDrain has played EVE Online since early 2009 and flies with SMA. In his time he has FC’d mainline fleets, bomber fleets and support fleets, but always returns to being a line member and shooting red crosses/triangles.

  • Rob Kaichin

    “in 2015, almost 1.5 million people tried Eve Online”

    I’m so glad someone picked this out. I don’t know if it’s individual people or not, but still think about it.

    Just a 1% increase in retention would bring 15,000 new players to Eve. That’s a huge amount.

    Still, it gives you an idea of the mind-boggling scale CCP has to deal with.

    • Niko Lorenzio

      They stopped growing and started losing subs when they started focusing on such raw and useless numbers and new player retention. While this plan is light on details, I can pretty much sense that its going in the wrong direction and it’s going to be yet another failure.

      • ŐszinteHazug

        lol man…

        When player retention is this atrocious you MUST DO SOMETHING!

        Also: they don’t lose subs because they are focusing that much on newer players (I mean: since when are capital rebalance and citadels new player-ish areas), they are losing subs because of RL attrition and also because some mechanics are just plain not fun.

        • Niko Lorenzio

          I’m not talking about certain features. I’m talking about the general direction. Subs were growing year after year and were supposed to reach 1mil until they started fucking with their playerbase.

  • Niko Lorenzio

    More data analysis from people who don’t even play or understand Eve. Jeeez what kind of cool aid do they put into those Fanfest beers?

  • Vartan

    The best people that will help eve devs improve the NPE are the new players themselves. Perhaps some kind of in depth study needs to be made where the new payers themselves are asked questions on broad and specific things and the feedback will help shape the NPE, My son recently tried the game and found everything very overwhelming, with a little isk from me and a few pointers he maybe got further than normal he still gave up.

    • Erik Farine

      My son tried it too and I helped him. He went through the tutorials and stopped playing shortly after because “there was nothing to do”

      • CynicalTeacher

        He will likely have the very same experience in RL once he finishes high school.

        • Sanaret

          Eve does parallel real life in uncanny ways

  • Jan Koxsos Kopecky

    Lack of shiny and instantaneous gratification for little effort drives teens whose greatest achievements are killing npcs and not standing in the fire is deadly.
    When I took on EVE it was a challenge I am a min-maxer I am the person who does the math and tops encounters or can read from those who have done it for me.
    And the game is a bliss but the path to content starts and ends with you there is no queue for battlegrounds where you die repeatedly at 0 loss. Neither there should be.
    However sometimes the search for particular content takes forever and this could essentialy be solved with more players.
    Maybe the future lies with serenity, we could score some CIA subs.

  • Sanaret

    Eve isn’t for everyone. Some people don’t want real losses (and wins). Some people don’t want the long game. Some people don’t find open worlds fascinating. Some people want a game that they can feel accomplished with in less than a 20 minute session. Some people want a game they can completely finish on the first binge weekend they play it.

    What I wonder is what fraction of the people who try the game are just not compatible gamers in the first place. They wouldn’t be interested in the kind of game that Eve is, if only they played it long enough to get an idea. Is it 10% of the people who try? 50%? 95%? Who can say? There is some fraction of people who try the game who are just not going to get sold on it.

    It’s a fuzzy line though. Some people might be interested in this kind of gameplay *if only they realized* how interesting it could be. So I think this whole problem isn’t just about showing the new players what is great about Eve and letting them dip their toes into it. The NPE should be ambitious and clever enough to even go so far as to alter the players tastes to any extent possible in favor of the nature of Eve.

    If the new players coming in aren’t already infected with an interest in single shard, real wins/losses, open world, sandbox, pvp everything, etc (the unique and appealing nature of eve), then the NPE needs to make sure they get that infection. It is the difference between retaining people who would have stayed anyway (despite the challenge, like all new players in the past), and retaining people who are willing to give it a shot but aren’t sure it is even interesting yet.

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  • Kael Decadence

    Looking back at this article a year later, how do you feel about Ghost and the NPE progress thus far?