This got brought up a lot during the Twitch stream. A number of us are seriously concerned about the quality of introduction, the 'hook' for new players, and what happens when they emerge out of the initial guided tour.
I have made a stupid number of new characters across basically all of the IRE games. I'm always curious about what both the games are doing to keep new players in game and what the playerbase is doing to ensure those new players stick around. I also do this with non-IRE muds for similar reasons.
The current tour does little to introduce new players to -why- they might want to stick around. It teaches them the basics and gives them Things To Do until they hit about 25. And then...nothing. There is no real introduction to lore or what you do beyond basic bashing and questing (which, let's all be honest, is not even close to the most interesting things about Imperian). Further, the removal of most of our newbie-catching systems (novice programs and the like) means there aren't players who feel a direct responsibility to make sure new players are being welcomed in and assisted so they can get a sense of the community and stick around.
My idea on how to fix that involves expanding the content geared towards game introduction well past early levels. Once they've got the basics, hit them up with progressing quests that introduce lore and assorted other activities one might want to do in the game. A well-built MMO guides players into ever more challenging areas of play suitable to their level. I think we could do this with new players. Introduce them to ever more complex aspects of the game while guiding them to new bashing areas suited to their level, introducing them to PK oriented activities through quests and achievements geared towards newbs, etc. This gives them stuff to keep them occupied and gives them more time to get immersed in the culture and meet other players and get a feel for why mudding can be fun.
I also think we should make this a priority, because players are what is necessary to make Imperian fun and we don't do a great job of retaining new blood. If we can make the introduction to the game more engaging and keep people entertained longer mechanically (while showing them how crazy immersive and complex this game world can be), maybe we can bring our numbers back up (and hey, more bodies means more blood out of the stone...er.. profit for the game)