CCP's giving every EVE Online player a free facelift in January, courtesy of the game's new character creation tool slated for release with the third part of the Incursion expansion on January 18th. We've got four exclusive before-and-after shots of player avatars that highlight the huge graphical update, and a brief Q&A with the brains behind its development.
PCG: What was your biggest goal that you had in mind when you set about remaking the character creation tool?
Craig Scott, Senior Game Designer : We wanted to push the boundaries with what a character creation system could be, both in terms of fidelity of the characters and the user interface. The characters had to look amazing. It's that simple--we wanted to make them look as good and then better than what is out there now. As for the interface, we knew there had to be a better, more immersive way of customizing a character than a wall of sliders. Sculpting the characters face directly seemed like the most personal and artistic way of doing so.
Sveinbjörn Magnússon, Art Producer: It had to be the best….. Nothing more. Nothing less.
PCG: Was there anything in the process that proved to be particularly more difficult than anticipated?
Magnússon: Often it is what you think of as the simple things. Tying all the small elements together and taking that extra step from great to perfect.
Scott: I agree. The devil's in the details. We nailed down the big stuff pretty quickly but the details they took a bit longer. It was a case of taking all the elements we had and making them fit together into one cohesive and useable whole. When making anything new, we were thrown a few curve balls during development features that we thought would be really easy. Those easy additions came back to bite us pretty hard, but even they were worth the pain--they made us step back from what we were doing and re-evaluate things in a way that lead to a better solution .
PCG: What existing character creation tools did you look towards as good examples of what could be done when redesigning your own?
Magnússon: I would say that we were set on making it unique and more immersive than other games and based on the original ideas from the old character creation system.
Scott: Playing with Mario's face at the beginning of Mario 64 was the first time I saw the potential for using the character itself as an way of manipulating how it looked. I would be lying if I didn't say we didn't look at APB as the pinnacle of character customization systems when we first started, yet we didn't quite take direct inspiration from it. It became more the benchmark we'd use to determine our success, if that makes sense.
PCG: Is there a way to calculate exactly how many different variations a player could possibly build in the new tool? If so, what's the number?
Scott: It makes my head hurt thinking about this the variety of characters we are getting out of the system , but to give you an idea we have over 10,000 NPC agents in EVE. We are using the new character customization system to create them and they all look unique and they are just scratching the surface of the amount of variation available.
Magnússon: I would say no. You can do so many different things that the permutations are staggering.
PCG: Are you 100% content with the tool as it stands now? Is there anything you have in mind that you want to update in the future?
Magnússon: You can never be 100% content with how it stands, always wanting more time for polishing and perfection. For future updates we will have to see. There are of course a lot of thing that we want to-do, but only time will tell.
Scott: Yep. No matter how good it is just now we would love more time to polish it, so we won't ever be 100% content. There are a number of thing swirling rounds in our head about how we can make it better and what additions it deserves but I can't say too much other than it will make it even better.