Thank you very much everyone for placing me on CSM 6 and now on CSM 7 where I am currently serving as the Chairman! If you would like to contact me directly, do not hesitate to just send me an eve mail in game. Keep your eyes here and watch for new posts.

Friday, January 21, 2011

New EVE Character Creator

Seleene on the catwalk.
Seeing as how everyone was busy showing how large their new avatar's breasts were or just how gay they could make their cyno alt look, I decided to start a new thread on Scrapheap Challenge to actually discuss the feature itself and see what people thought:

Okay, so there's threads with lots of boob pics in them but now that it's actually out, what does everyone think of it?

One of the cooler things I've seen happen since yesterday is that it's obvious that even :bitter vets: have a lot of love for their characters. The 'magic' of this new system is obvious even to the most jaded as it gives us the ability to bring to life an image that may have only existed in our minds for 7+ years.

It's also a lot of fun. I logged into TS last night with nearly 40 people arguing about lip gloss and eye shadow and what constituted the perfect 'apple bum', sometimes with significant others sitting in the background giving tips throughout the process. Lots of laughs.

As you go through the process tho, it's hard not to be struck by some of the stuff that's missing. I get that this is Phase One of the Master Incarna Plan, but still, a few points that stuck out to me:

  • The inability to do seemingly basic things like change the color of clothing is a major disappointment. I was very surprised by this tbh and it leads me to wonder if this is due to some kind of artistic control over how CCP wants the game to look or because it's just not ready for deployment.
  • Where is my corp / alliance logo? Even if I couldn't have it as a patch on my shirt / jacket or tattoo'd on my ass, it woulda been nice to be able to stand in front of it as a background or something.
  • Common stuff like lack of accessories. Rings, earrings, necklaces and such. There are far too many gay cyno alts missing their diamond earring studs.
I also do not understand why, once the avatar is finalized and 'locked in', why we cannot go back to the 'creation' process to take more pictures or poses or whatever. It seems ridiculous that you spend all this time perfecting the character and all you have to go on is a final 2D image. I get that when Incarna goes full blown live we'll probably (?) get a dressing room or whatever, but it seems awfully limited that if you forget to take screen shots during the creation process you're just screwed if you want to show your character off.

$$ Money $$

I can only assume that some of the above is specifically being held back for the larger Incarna release. The primary concern, of course, is are we going to be charged for it or will it be free as part of the expansion? We've joked about it and suspicion has run rampant but, so far, we have exactly zero solid information on what CCP's actual plans are in this regard. One could be cynical and say that THEY don't even know what their plan is but, in this case, I call bullshit and believe they do have at least a basic idea of where this is all going to lead.

For myself, if I have to pay in game ISK (of which there's a glut of anyway) to fancy up my characters, I can live with that. There's not enough shit to spend money on anyway these days and ISK sinks are good. However, the monster in the closet is the idea that this stuff will be some sort of micro-transaction or PLEX purchase, which I don't see being very popular to say the least.

Four Years

The sad part of it all though is that after you've (re)made your characters and you've spent a few days showing people pics and marveling over the technology... that's it. It still adds absolutely nothing whatsoever to the actual day to day game play of EVE Online, which is a game first and foremost about SPACESHIPS.

As a former employee, I understand all too well the drive of CCP to create the ultimate Sci Fi universe simulator with all the trimmings, but as many have noted the ambition to reach this goal often sidelines the things which might actually contribute to the day to day enjoyment of EVE. At the very least, the order in which this ambition is being carried out is questionable.

The first time I saw any sort of demo for this was back at FanFest 2006. Since that time they've obviously come a long way in terms of technology and how things look. I think it's safe to say that this is the most incredible 'character creation' technology ever seen in a game, at least in terms of graphics, and CCP is justifiably proud of what they have accomplished. It leaves something to be desired in terms of customization but I've already covered that.

The concern here is the one voiced over and over - where is the GAMEPLAY?

The CSM delegates have gone into great detail about how even in their face to face meetings, there have been no definitive answers. In fact, deflection / no comment seems to be the mantra. The latest EON article hints at things like being able to leave your ship and 'do stuff off the grid', which may prove interesting if implemented correctly but, even then, why not make the effort to present some sort of minimal vision for this feature?

I remain of the opinion that after all these years Incarna is a pretty package with no soul; the heart and soul of EVE is the day to day sandbox game play and player generated drama which has kept so many of us playing for so long. I would still much rather see this level of resources and effort put into something that furthers the game play elements we all share an interest in. How many of you would trade Incarna for a true UI overhaul, sub system targeting, 0.0 / lo-sec iteration, or or or or.... ?

Incarna seems very cool and :awesome:, but I could live without it.


  1. It is unfortunate that CCP doesn't seem to be focused on iterating on those features like Sov and FW that attract players who are interested in long term, invested game play that contributes to the big stories of New Eden. Incarna may promise pretty, but content-wise, it's shallow.

    As for the Character Creator, well, if it hadn't crashed on me 8 times at different points where I was nearly done with my new me, I might say it was fun. Instead, I'll say it was an exercise in frustration. Sure, I got my new avatar made, but not customized nearly as much as I'd have preferred due to being gun-shy and saving after minimal customization--before it decided to crash yet again. Kind of irritating that there is no way to save interim progress. Very irritating that appropriate confirmation for submitting your avatar is not presented. Language used on the buttons could be much clearer in terms of indicating what's really going to happen when you click it. "Save" to me means "store this for now and keep working". In the Character Creator right now, it means "SURPRISE! You're stuck with whatever random photo happened to be selected if you weren't paying attention! Hope you like it!" Seems like a friendly UI was sacrificed in favor of :awesome:. I'm also pissed at the lack of tattoos for Minmatar...and the vague promise that we'll get them in a future iteration.

  2. And for this character creator, I lose the use of my second PC and the ability to run more than four of my accounts at a time with only a few hours notice. Tiny fraction of the effort involved in this would allow them to produce an optional build without the character creators high end features enabled to give me time to upgrade.

    Artistic vision v gameplay as usual. And as I actually PLAY the game, I'm not one of the stakeholders who have any say in it.