Our first Rifts session went really well on Saturday. We had two new players, and both of them jumped right in and did a fine job. The group was of wildly varying power levels, but everyone found a niche or behavior and did well with it. A robot, three suits of power armor, a hovercycle, and a half-squad of bandits all met their demise.
One note of concern had to be character creation. Now, I am all about character creation. I love group chargen, and feel everything goes better when you make characters as a group. I print out handouts, easy-to-follow instructions, and try to make it as painless as possible. Now, some of it was of course due to have a mixed group of people and some staggered arrivals, but I think the character creation process still took too long, and one of the new players commented afterwards on the same issue. I think it had the potential to turn them off gaming before we even started.
It's going to be something for me to chew on, but more and more, I appreciate being able to jump right in and game, ala Castles & Crusades. On the other hand, Rolemaster and Rifts/Palladium Fantasy are much more involved character creation, but have also given us some of our greatest games. I'm probably going to revisit this several times, but I think spending a couple of hours creating characters vs. jumping right in is getting less and less desirable. At the same time, you want to ensure that especially veteran gamers still feel like they have plenty of "tweak" options available. The nice thing is I think most of the group's on the same page with this one, so depending on what our next campaign is, we'll see what we come up with.