Over the years, I've gotten numerous people to try EL. Plenty stuck around for a while. Plenty also tried the game for about a week and quit. In the end, all of them quit after a period. While many had stated positive things about Eternal-Lands, there were more negative opinions shared about their experience of Eternal-Lands.
In terms of the positives:
1. The artwork is pretty nice.
2. The chat system in EL is easy is well-made and easy to use.
The negative aspects:
1. The community seems dead/apprehensive
Eternal-Lands rarely has a large influx of new players dropping in next to the wraith together, thus many of these newbies do not see many players upon beginning the game. They continue to walk around Isla Prima, rarely bumping into anyone conversing in local chat. The beam is also relatively void of any local chatting. Occasionally, a person from channel 20 will stir up a short conversation about something, but that is about it. Players typically do not hear much local chat until they venture to other map areas, such as storage's and high-populated spawns. I am not sure about the average player, but these people found this extremely off-putting and I can see why. While Isla Prima does not have to be full of constant spam, some dialog would be nice to make the game seem more active.
These players also found some of the channels to be somewhat apprehensive of their presence - Channel 1 and Channel 3 in particular. While both channels have specific rules in place to combat the threat of spam for obvious reasons, along with specific rules (No quest help in channel 1, Limit on time before repost of buy/sell declaration in channel 3, No chatting of terms of deal between parties in channel 3), many of these players felt as if they were being verbally crucified, or talked down to in a condescending manner to put it bluntly, for violating these chat rules they claimed to have no idea about. These players tend to end up Channel 20, confused as to why they were sent there. (Off topic, but many players who have actually visited channel 20 tend to have a positive view of the channel. Chat is kept relatively civil, though fun is had by everyone at times. All types of help is given from quest help, to technical help. Even homework help is given. Quite a bit of players refer to Channel 20 as the "Technical Support Channel" for this very reason.) A revision of how channels are ran could possibly benefit the experience of all players.
2. The game is just not fun. <--The short version of many opinions given.
A. The combat system is odd.
People can argue about this until the end of time, but the truth is that combat is the cornerstone of Eternal-Lands. Every skill revolves around it in one way or another. Players I have talked to have found combat in Eternal-Lands to be odd in how it works. The first instinct of any new player is to use a weapon in combat upon obtaining one. The issue is that using a weapon results in less experience. In my personal experience, along with those who I have spoken to, new players tend to find this off-putting and sometimes frustrating. Some have the view that it takes quite a bit of time to get their first weapon and set of armor, and find it odd that it makes the leveling process more difficult. This feeds into the next idea:
B. Losing my newly obtained weapon and armor in a matter of minutes is frustrating!
This has been stated many times on the forum. A quick forum search of anything related to this will bring up quite a bit of threads on this issue. Many of these players shared the view that the cost of death is hard-hitting. Making money, especially at low levels in Eternal-Lands, is somewhat overwhelming. New players are essentially told to complete the tutorial quest, or to grind for hours to obtain enough gold coins to buy the equipment they want/need. Either way, quite a bit of time is spent by these players doing whatever they can to obtain these items, only to make a small mistake of venturing onto a map at the wrong time or fighting a creature when they thought they had enough material points, only to find out that they did not have enough. This typically leads to player frustration, which makes them feel as if they have wasted time.
C. I hate that I have to grind.
Ok, not much can be done about this. Grinding is in every game in one form or another. As a developer, you can only hope that your audience enjoys grinding, or that you can cleverly disguise it in some way to the point where they do not realize they are grinding. This is something that Eternal-Lands is definitely taking steps towards fixing.
In the end, these people stated that Eternal-Lands became stale, or was just too much work to play. The consensus was that the game can be fun at times, but the fun is relatively short lived compared to the amount of work needed to be put in before the fun happens. These opinions were taken from a wide range of people. Many considered themselves 'casual gamers' (Though if you stick Tetris or Brain Age in front of them, they will play the entire day, but I digress) while others were students and professors at my university. Those at my university are involved in many fields of game development (Art/Modeling, Programming, Game Design). Other people had not ever really played a video game, or considered playing one. What is interesting is that they all shared the same opinion. Take it how you will.
The Newbie Island Idea
Eternal-Lands used to have a Newbie Island. It was taken out of the game for various reasons. Occasionally, this idea comes up again and is shot down. Maybe this time will be different.