I bought SupCom when it was released in 2007 and played most of the way through the storylines; then SCFA came out and I played that for a bit but life intervened. Then I discovered FAF but mostly didn't like the actual online community because it was punishing being a noob still and the only advice people had was "play more games", "learn to play better" and "watch your replays to see what you did wrong". A friend of mine played FAF together vs AI for a while and then we discovered the ANZ FAF discord channel and I've been having a lot more fun.
So firstly I think that players stay if they have a group of friends to play with. You can lose to those friends occasionally but you can cope with that if people support you, you work together as a team and your mistakes are overlooked. People who trash talk need to be called out and settled down, and people who contribute to the team's success need to be complimented. A "learners discord server" or similar, with a small complement of experienced coaches there, might help contribute a community for new players.
But really the big problem I see is that if we taught drivers to drive the way we teach people to learn FAF, we'd have carnage on the streets every day.
With driving, you start a new driver out just doing the very basics in a safe environment. Then you might take them for a drive around an empty parking lot to learn a bit of control. Then and only then do you take them out into the world to do some driving on known routes in good conditions - and all the while an experienced driver (hopefully) is there to take control if they need to and give advice and encouragement.
The way we 'train' in FAF it's like we throw a new person into the drivers seat and say "OK, go". And then we blame them for crashing and say "just look at what you did wrong and don't do that next time".
Here's an example of a single exercise from a FAF training plan I'm working on:
- Map: Cobalt Valley or Theta Passage
- Exercise: Build one engineer, five labs, and one scout. Assign the lab/scout group a number and target enemy mexes and engineers. Practice moving the group around while continuing with your normal build orders.
- Objective: To kill one engineer and at least two mexes not in the core base using that lab/scout group.
This could be played vs an AI by oneself, or against a trainer playing the opposing faction who was in voice chat with the learner. That's a very basic exercise but it's clearly one that some newer players never learn. Then they get ravaged by LAB raiding and they think "this is unfair, I don't know how to do that". I've got ideas for exercises right up to T3 and experimentals. I'm happy to share this with other people - it's in its early stages (too many things to do, you know?)
The other thing I'd recommend is that in team games one person in the team take charge (a bit) and give directions. Coordinate your actions and make sure that people are getting the assistance they need. If there are newer players, check on them to see how they're going - and lend a hand if they need it. If you see them getting into trouble, help them out! You're almost always better off with two players than with one player dying early. People know they're struggling but they're doing their best and they'd far rather be helped than cursed.
I love this game and I love the community around it. Some of my best gaming moments have been winning, and losing, in Supreme Commander. If we can keep new players interested and learning, we'll all enjoy it more.