After more than seven years on the market, EVE Online
is about to get a new full-body character creation system, and senior staff at developer CCP describe the painstaking process
"When it came to overhauling our character creator, there were a number of creative challenges to be dealt with," said EVE Online
creative director Torfi Frans Olafsson in a new Gamasutra feature
"Ignoring technological advancements, EVE Online
's visual style has matured considerably since 2001 to 2003 when our original character creation assets were developed."
Olafsson continued, "We decided to move beyond the old costumes, accessories, hairstyles and character heads and build completely new ones which were still rooted in the same backstory as the original assets."
"Given the fact that we have a large number of players that have been with us for a long time, we knew that we would be 'hurting their children' as they had grown attached to their existing portraits and it feels strange to have all of that taken away and replaced with a new system," he said.
The new character creation system is set to arrive with the upcoming Incarna
expansion pack, which will introduce the ability for players to leave their ships and explore space stations, displaying characters' full bodies. EVE Online
currently centers around players' ships, piloted by static avatars created by players.
Olafsson said, "Our key theme for the new character creator is that the player was to feel that he personally, single-handedly, through his decisions and skill created a hyper-realistic human representation of his character in-game. The player should want to call up his mother, brimming with pride, saying, 'I have created a masterpiece!'"
The character creation team tried to remove sliders as much as possible from the user interface, so players would feel more like a sculptor rather than a software manipulator.
"People who are not professional 3D artists will feel as if they are sculpting or pulling clay, while in fact they're mixing and blending 3D assets painstakingly created by our team of artists with the intent of achieving a sense of subjective mastery," said Olafsson.
The full Gamasutra feature
, written by five of CCP's senior staffers, is available now.