Calypso Gateway Navigating a strange environment is one thing, but expand that to an entire planet, and the potential for confusion and possible frustration may increase. Planet Calypso has gone through some growing pains over the years, and has certainly learned through trial and error what does and does not work. While there is still a learning curve for new players, many feel that First Planet Company is headed in the right direction with its latest offering. On June 24, 2010, First Planet Company’s CEO Marco Behrmann announced the addition of the Calypso Gateway, which is the entry point for all new colonists arriving on Planet Calypso. Over the years, several other cities have played host as entry points, but Port Atlantis has always been the premiere beginning point for many, and a location to start the educational process of all that is Calypso. Well, that has changed, and the Calypso Gateway is now the open portal that welcomes new colonists to a secluded island. The island is a training ground and first contact with what will lead them through a series of missions (quests), and an introduction to hunting, mining, and crafting prior to becoming fully engaged with current Calypso residents. Colonists will be given equipment to assist in their learning process, and will gain knowledge about Calypso and the Real Cash Economy, while also learning about basic features and how they work. The sweating function is also available on the newbie training island, but I didn't see any specific instructions as to how it works other than reading the information off the equipment that pulls the sweat from creatures. The Calypso Gateway is unique in that it offers a far less distracting environment away from the hustle and bustle and elements of potential stress that may include things like busy traders and chat message spam, as well as perhaps some strange terminology, according to Marco. He adds that, "… newcomers get a chance to interact and learn" and "… all within a calm environment." This is all accomplished as a result of the Calypso Gateway being off-limits to other colonists, and once a new colonist takes the one-way teleporter to mainland Calypso, there is no going back. However, prior to the full implementation of this new training island, all colonists of Calypso will be given an opportunity to experience the Calypso Gateway for approximately one week, which began on June 30th. Since I am one of those who feel that this is a great move on FPC’s part, I made an effort to go bare bones to the Gateway and have the experience as a fresh new colonist myself, which was rather difficult to do given my skills and current knowledge of Planet Calypso, but vital for the overall experience. I had opportunity to communicate with our Community Director Hanne prior to taking on this mission and she said that since I am a professor (teacher) in real life, "It'd be cool to see how you'd do as a student in this setting, even if you already know the information." Well Hanne, here are the results. ARRIVAL AT CALYPSO GATEWAY Upon arrival, I immediately noticed a very modern and quite appealing environment, but then I also noticed that there were no signs to guide me to what I should do next. For those who are new to these types of environments (each virtual environment being unique), this addition would help facilitate navigation of the training experience. Perhaps at minimum, adding tutorials for learning avatar movement, how to chat, and keyboard mapping could be considered. Since the environment is so clean, crisp, and inviting, my suggestion would be to have an NPC near the arrival/departure teleporter with a minimal sign above saying Start Here. This would be where the new arrivals could learn the basics mentioned above, and also a final message as to where to go next to continue the learning process. The arrival/departure teleporter is on the second floor, which appears to be the main hub of where activities begin, and where colonists hang out. I decided to explore a bit before taking on the missions and found a lounge that operates the clock around. I know this because the perfectly-toned and enunciated public announcements by the female voice told us so. This is quite a nice feature, and I didn’t find it annoying at all, but the announcer needs to learn that the televator doesn’t go to a fifth floor where someone apparently left something they weren’t supposed to … there is no fifth floor … at least not at the moment. The announcements were rather humorous at times, so it was more entertaining than it was a distraction. Looks like the newbies got the hard stuff … maybe the Beer is still on its way to Calypso. Just what we need, buzzed newbies ready to take on the jungle. Wait till they discover that those vehicles they see on the second floor are available on the mainland, but then … there are no laws in the jungle for drinking and driving, and plenty of penalties if you disturb the locals … I think you know what I mean. As I continued my tour, I discovered the mining and manufacturing office officials, which is the starting point that begins your missions. There are multiple immigration papers and receipts to sign before being given your official documents to continue and receive the missions. It’s actually quite comical, and I like the added humor injected in the dialogue. There is a televator centrally located on the second floor that takes you between floors one and two (you can see it in the background of the above photo), and on the other side of the televator is the hunting office official where once again you get (and sign) proper papers in order to receive your missions. These are two definite first stops to help facilitate a smoother experience. However, while you’re in the neighborhood, you might want to stop in the Lounge and toss one back with veteran Carstein Sand. He will chat your ear off, but will give you a nice collection of Calypso history, and if you choose the right dialogue path, you can end up with 3k of ammo, otherwise only 2k I believe. Next stop was visiting Dr. Melinda Clark, who is the individual you will want to see if you run into a glitch with your crafting missions. Tips and helpful information was given quite frequently in chat by individuals like Mark Rufen Power of –TAO- and Blaze from NBK. These tips were a result of discovering a few glitches along the way where some ran out of ammo, or a weapon broke, or didn’t have enough materials to complete a quest. Rufen was collecting unused items from those who had finished everything and gave them to those who had not. (gotta love the sign) It seems that the Calypso Gateway corridor and outer platform (for now) are for show, but give indication that new colonists appear to arrive from the spacecraft and are greeted with a Welcome to Calypso Gateway at the corridor entrance to the inner part of the facility. As mentioned earlier, the arrival/departure teleporter is inside. However, there is also a nice elevated deck on the outer Gateway platform to view the surrounding landscape, along with sunrises, sunsets, and moon rises. The deck view of the lagoon is especially striking and rather inviting. It was now time to visit the mission NPC’s. On either side of the arrival/departure teleporter is an exit that leads down stairs to a lower level where the mining and crafting missions are received. This is where a bit of confusion may come in if you don’t visit the office officials on the second floor first to get all documented papers that allow you to do the missions. However, in all fairness, I believe there is dialogue that redirects a person to the officials in order to get the papers first. While exploring the second floor, I was privey to the tips and helpful hints in chat that forewarned me (thank you), so it made it a smoother experience. The exit doorways to the mining and crafting mission NPC’s are close to the arrival area, so people may be inclined to explore in that direction first, which is why a Start Here NPC near the teleporter would be a most efficient addition for basics and direction. The hunting missions NPC can be accessed by taking the televator from the second to the first floor. It is my understanding that the mission areas related to hunting, mining, and crafting are through the exit at each respective location. Also, there is a revival terminal just outside each exit as well. I did run into an interesting fellow (NPC) at one of the exits that has no general purpose other than to complain about the bugs? Not sure whether he was referring to the local creatures, or … well, you know. Another interesting character I ran into near the televator was an FPC Pioneer official who briefly answered a few questions posed by the locals. However, I couldn’t help but be surprised at his altered official fashion. My (silent) question was … does FPC not inspire fashion sense prior to venturing off to face the colonists? So faux paux, but it was amusing. He was cordial enough, but wasn’t with us that long. He had to go do a post mortem release evaluation I think he said, so perhaps they are soaking up our feedback and we will see those much needed tweaks to make the experience more efficient. ON A CLOSING NOTE The overall experience was quite nice, and the environment and aesthetics are quite appealing indeed. Personally I feel that this is a step in the right direction for FPC, and I believe we are all hopeful that they will take note of our feedback as veterans, and any newbies that happened to have gone through the Calypso Gateway during open viewing, and prior to official operation. I think the true test will come when veterans are not available to assist and give guidance. It was an effort to step outside the box and pretend I had no knowledge of the inner workings of our planet, but the effort was worth it, because it brought to light those things that need attention to make the experience more efficient for new arrivals. Sometimes I think we're too close to it all, and don't see it through the experiences of a brand spankin' new colonist. I think one other question that comes to mind in all of this however, is how will the new arrivals learn about our Real Cash Economy? I didn't see anything that addressed this, unless I overlooked it. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to include in the proposed Start Here NPC function some resources for where they can find more specific information, like forums and other sites ... just a suggestion. I know there are various views from experiencing the Calypso Gateway, and the feedback has been plentiful. This is only my personal view, and while I did have some of the same challenges that others did, they were minimal as a result of those who had gone before me and shared their experiences. I just can’t say enough about how this community steps up to help each other, and for me, that’s what it’s all about … continuing to forge and build a frontier that is more conducive to our needs, but that has to include the developers as well. However, I'm very impressed with this latest addition, and I can see it growing into a very viable first step toward integrating with the rest of us on Planet Calypso. Perhaps some sort of mentoring system in the future may be available to complement the transition. However, I can foresee that if the Calypso Gateway experience does encompass comprehensive basic training, then perhaps being taken under the wings of a society could facilitate further understanding and growth without need for an official mentoring system. The key is to retain our new residents for future growth, and maybe with this latest endeavor, we'll see more of a partnership from both sides of the virtual fence going forward. The architecture and interior of the Calypso Gateway is beautiful, but I will leave you with this question … how many of you think that we might have a specifically-focused coder out there? The following is a bit of a tour of the Calypso Gateway … enjoy! > Hugs and thanks to my graphics guru Baradur who I caught in the Lounge (probably tossing a few back with Carstein). He designed the graphics header for this article and I am always grateful for the assist.