This is something I've been meaning to post about for awhile. It's amazing how many games force players to make choices without understanding what they mean. RPG games in particular are notorious for this. I think games should try to avoid driving players to leave the game and look things up online, and this is especially true before they've even started the game!
...We eliminated choices that had no effect on you whatsoever and moved these choices to a more appropriate time where you could make an informed decision. You are in charge of your destiny...
...Many times, people would choose blindly, leading them to feel let down or disappointed later on...
...We have moved the allocation of the 5 free attribute points. A new player has no idea what the attributes means...
...Skills received from character creation have been re-visited and removed, many of which were irrelevant to new players...
...These choices, all important, are better made once you have a true understanding of how things work in EVE. Once you know what you want to do, what you want to fly and so on, that is when you should decide on your career and skills. And it is better that you understand what the attributes do, before you start fiddling with them.
Let players try before they buyI remember being impressed with both Guild Wars and Planetside when it came to letting players try things out before committing to them.
Guild Wars does make players choose their initial profession at the beginning of the game without much information, but after leveling for awhile, the player has to declare a secondary profession. This is handled in a very elegant way though. There is a series of several quests that allow you to try out abilities from the other classes on a temporary basis.
I remember going to see the Necromancer trainer, and he sent me down into a crypt with 4 temporary powers which I could use to try out necromancy and complete some tasks for him. Each of the professions had a trainer that would allow you to get the sense of a class on a trial basis, before finally committing to your choice.
Planetside has special VR training areas where all training restrictions are lifted, and any player in the game can spend some time playing with all the different weapon types, special powers, and vehicles. This is a great way to never feel like you've wasted your hard-earned certification points.
Turn one big choice into several small onesTabula Rasa took the idea presented by Guild Wars' secondary professions and took that to an extreme, with 4-tiered class system: In TR, every player in the game starts out as the Recruit class. At level 5, they have the option to specialize further, then again at levels 15 and 30.
The game doesn't allow the player to try out abilities and classes before declaring them, but it does provide a fairly detailed UI highlighting some of the abilities and gameplay style of each class.
This is useful because it allows the player to not worry about advanced gameplay concepts too early in the game, but I imagine it also saved a lot of implementation time when it came to creating gear and missions: There's no need for any specific class-based drops at very low levels, because those classes don't exist yet.
Expanding on these conceptsThe ideal game, in terms of allowing players to make informed decisions, would push all important decisions as late as possible. Every player would start the game without a class, and as a neutral faction. After learning the basics of the game, and some amount of fiction, players would be able to begin trying out some powers and eventually settle on an archetype.
Only once the player understood the game and their class would it become necessary to make players choose a faction and begin thinking about PvP. Players would weigh out their options, see what factions their friends were going to choose, and make an educated decision they would be much less likely to regret.
It wouldn't be difficult to come up with fiction and narrative that supported the idea of one group fracturing into two factions. Huxley would be a good candidate for this sort of treatment, with its two factions of humans and mutated humans.
A Star Wars game would also be an ideal candidate for this sort of thing: discovering Force sensitivity and declaring allegiance to the Light or Dark side is a big part of that fiction.