The final parts of the Incursion expansion have been launched, including the phased roll-out of Sansha Incursions that are already being introduced via live events. More immediately, the newly improved avatar creation process is available, and fancy new avatars are showing up all over New Eden.
CCP's new character creator is as pretty as anything in the video game industry. Most probably it will remain the prettiest for at least a few years to come. Any old character can be re-designed, and after a few weeks CCP will force players to do so if they want to log in. The idea here is that the overall visual experience of the game should be improved by having everybody use the new character creator. And players should want to use it. The characters look more realistic, more attractive, and are more customizable to an extent not possible with CCP's older, now-outdated character designer.
What It Is And Is Not
style="font-style: italic;">There are a panoply of options available for customizing each character's appearance.
Right now, the feature consists solely in designed a new character, customizing his or her body, face, and clothing, then taking a single picture to use as an in-game and forum avatar. Eventually, we will be able to walk around with ours character, conducting business or socializing inside of customizable portions of stations. It seems likely that at least some aspect of this will be introduced by this summer. It is taking some time, sure, but it is a major undertaking.
What we do not have is any ability to really see that body or use the character, unless the single avatar picture includes it. Due to some miscommunication and poor expectation management on CCP's part, there have been more than few people that expected full-blown walking around in stations, this patch. That all comes later, and this is only a start.
Characters With More Character
For a long while now, the starting race of a character is not really important, especially after the first few weeks of of play. Starting skills are minimally important, and pilots often re-specialize based on their interests or game mechanic changes.
Since any pilot can potentially learn how to fly any ship or use any racial weaponry systems, so can be no especial identity attached to a given race or bloodline. Races end up being important to role-players and nobody else.
This expansion changes that to some extent. The various bloodlines of each race look much different from one other. Though many hair, make up, and clothing options are available to each race, there are also race-specific options that help make them more distinct. This is just the start of that: when the whole "Incarna" walking in stations thing moves a bit further along, people will actually be moving around and interacting with these avatars. Players may potentially be spending a great deal of time looking at their avatars, making bloodline choice and careful avatar design paramount. Nobody wants to be stuck with a lemon.
Bloodlines and Races
Each of the four races of EVE Online has three playable bloodlines that are essentially variant ethnicities that still belong to the larger culture. Each has their own distinctive appearance and qualities.
To check out the archetypical look of each of the races and bloodlines, click below:
There is a good deal of possible variation even within each race, and it is quite possible for two members of the same race to look nothing alike. The main aspect that does not have a lot of variation is the clothing and style options. These will presumably become more developed as CCP creates more and allows players to make and sell it.
The interface is so simple that it nearly explains itself. After selecting your race and bloodline, you may sculpt, style, dress, and accessorize your character. Once you have that, you can proceed to the next screen and change your pose, facial expression, lighting, and background scenery.
Some quick tips and explanations:
style="font-style: italic;">Fortunately, there are as of yet no fashion police in space.
- The face is the most important part of your character. Don't worry about hair or clothing until after you have the face to your satisfaction.
- Include at least one bar of either freckles or scarring in order to make the character appear more lifelike, and less computer-generated.
- The face has an interconnected appearance. If you change one part of it, it is likely that you will need to change most other things in order to ensure an attractive and consistent appearance.
- If you have your graphic settings tuned low, many of the changes involving lighting or sill may not be fully apparent. Try zooming in on the face all the way to get a better idea of what things look like.
- One of few the things about the interface that I did not notice at first is that some pants and shirts have a tuck/untuck option, for tucking into footwear or waist, respectively.
- Finally, I will go out on a limb and assume that the following is useful information to at least some readers: though every character must have a top, pants, and shoes, it is worth noting that the top can just be outerwear. In the case of some of the vests and jackets, this can result in a skimpier ensemble than having a shirt or shirt and jacket combination.
The Fun Factor
Making a character with this is really fun. Enough so that I have fired up the game just to show that portion of it to some dubious friends, and they ended up spending hours tinkering with how they wanted the character to look. Reasonable facsimiles of real life celebrities are possible, as are self-portraits, bad-asses, and so on. If CCP maintains this level of production quality, I expect the rest of Incarna to do quite well.
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