New player retention is simple. END POWERLEVELING NOW. Reinstate the old lvl cap. I can't stress this enough. There is nothing more discouraging for a new player to log in and the first thing they see is "WTS PLVL 1-15 20m" and they don't even have more than 400 gold to their name by the time they reach lvl 5.
It sucks to find parties because everyone wants to be plvld. Some people even refuse regular parties, because they've been graced by a few free plvls from nice people and they think they are entitled to more plvls and they just don't want to learn how to really play their class. Even when I go looking for a regular party and manage to get in one, it usually consists of 4+ppl AFK/AFing many lvls under me and a plvler who doesn't even kill as efficiently as the rest of the group would if they were fully active killing normal level mobs.
I think limiting PR/VR to people at least 58+ is a good idea too. A lot of new players get blasted thru the beginning levels and by the time they hit 52 they think they are good to go for PR/VR then complain because: they don't know their class well enough, the don't know how to defend themselves, they don't understand that its a PvP map as well and its not just a hunky-dory place full of rainbows and cupcakes for more leaching goodness.
Also I would really like to enchants capped or nerfed somehow in 1-15 and 20-30, AND the removal of lvl 6 and ele 2 lapis from 1-15. It will hurt some of the players that have high enchants and good links, but there are ways for these people to be properly compensated. If people from 1-15 and 20-30 actually want to see new players come and compete and have more PvP, they should be willing to accept that the dynamics simply have to change. There is no way we will see new players get excited about Shaiya and continue to play and progress if the first thing they experience is being pwned in 1-15 by people with high enchants, ele 2's, and lvl 6 lapis.