Written by Tim Clark
Looking for an exit strategy from your dead-end job and have a keen eye for show-stopping sci-fi helmet design? Perhaps you should consider a side gig making user-generated content for PlanetSide 2 . We spoke with the game's senior art director, Trammel Isaac, who told us power users like CoffeeOutlaw are already making thousands of dollars designing and selling new looks for existing items and equipment in the game, through SOE's Player Studio program.
A few caveats before you start doodling your dream visor. Player Studio is currently only available to US-based players, and only items that are approved by SOE's art team will be made available for sale through the PlanetSide 2 marketplace. That vetting process typically takes a matter of months, although if you decide to target your creativity at a more obscure item type—hood ornaments for vehicles was the example we were given—there's more chance your masterpiece will be swiftly greenlit.
Note also that these aren't new items with unique stats and capabilities, but fresh skins for existing kit in the game. Since the program begun in July last year, SOE has received more than 2000 designs from users, of which some 469 are now available for sale – so it's just shy of a 1-in-4 ratio in terms of the average likelihood of pieces being accepted.
So could anyone hope to make a full-time living as PlanetSide 2 fashion guru? "Yes, that's what BeastBuster is saying", says Trammel Isaac, senior art director on PlanetSide 2. "He's in school right now, and he's treating this as his job. He comes home from school and he puts in five hours a day, and tries to make something new every day. His stuff is selling, so he's doing pretty well."
How well? Try $12,000 since SOE released Player Studio, $9,500 of which came in the last quarter. (You're paid quarterly as a PlanetSide 2 item artisan, and take 40 percent of the net amount made from each sale.) It may not be quite enough to retire on, but it's certainly not bad for a college kid. Obviously, SOE's artists will only approve content that's a perfect fit with the PlanetSide 2 universe, and even then, the team will do a final polish pass on the submitted designs before your items are ready for purchase.
Isaac is enthusiastic about the user-generated content rather than seeing it as any threat to his own team's work. "It's a joy to have those guys making that stuff," says Isaac, "because when they get into forums and they start creating things, it makes my job easier." Surprisingly, some of the most successful creators—such as Arctorn, another college student—are entirely self-taught. "He's really good," says Isaac. As for how to get started, Isaac recommends: "Watching videos online, tips and tricks from people in the forums, and a lot of trial and error."
If you're looking for further inspiration before breaking out the virtual sewing kit, check out this video of some of the coolest stuff that's been made so far. Hmm, would crotchless camo space marine chaps sell?