Tuesday the final installment of Incursion, the latest Eve expansion, launched. Part of this expansion was a brand-spanking-new character image generator. The prior one was simply a two dimensional portrait generator, with a limited set of options.
I was eager to try to recreate Toldain with this toytool. First the hair options – haircolor – red, check. A fabulous hairstyle was a bit more of a problem. I decided on the cornrow braids with pony tail. Since it was pretty much the only pony tail. There was at least one other hairstyle that had the right level of pansy-elfness to it, but it was very unkempt. Not bad if you want to promote the “I look this good without even trying” sort of fashion statement. But not really me.
Once you have finished with the model, there’s the portrait that will be used in and out of game. There are choices for background pose, and lighting. And expression on your face, right down to manipulating the key facial muscles. It takes a bit to figure out, but the result is fantastic.
On the portrait screen, there are four squares, for four different snapshots, so you can try different poses and compare. But it is far from clear which snapshot is the one that will be used by the game, both in-game and via the xml external data feed. And only one will be used. My guess was that the top one would be used.
I logged in, to get started looking at my PI, which had also had some modification. (I’ll write another post about that later).
But I was quickly dissatisfied with my portrait. One reason for this is that its display in chat windows is very small. I made my shot with the camera pulled back a little showing my shoulders (which look disproportionately wide). It doesn’t read at all when it is so small. Some folks who were smarter than me (probably they had practiced on Singularity, the test server) made very close closeups, close to the point of cropping part of the head. These seem to work much better (even though they would hide part of my hair).
I poked around a little and couldn’t find any way to get back into the character generator to redo my portrait. It turns out that there was none. And many players were in the same boat as me, wanting a do over. And like always, they haven’t been shy about saying so. So CCP Caedmon responded:
We are implementing UI fixes that we hope will resolve the above two issues.
Change 1: Change the “Save” button to “Finalize”. “Save” implies that it is possible to go back and make adjustments later. “Finalize” is just more… final.
Change 2: When players click “Finalize” they will be presented with a dialogue box like the one below. The dialogue box shows the portrait snapshot that the player currently has selected.
So far, so good, but can I fix my portrait?
We understand that many players proceeded into game under the impression that they could come back and make adjustments later; whilst other players didn’t end up with the portrait they believed they had chosen.
We want to ensure everyone has the portrait of their choice. So now that we have made the UI clearer we will give all characters who have already completed character customization a chance to recustomize. This will be a one-time recustomization to be used during the grace period.
Ok, I can redo my portrait. Marr be praised! But only once, and during a grace period. Boo!
Finally, CCP Caedmon says this:
We will be introducing the ability to repeatedly recustomize characters in a future release. The current plan is to introduce this at the same time as we release tattoos, scars and piercings so players can take advantage of these new assets.
Ok, I’m happy with this. So why wasn’t this available at launch? Other MMO’s let you change your hairstyle and costume, and sometimes have an ingame portrait that is visible when you click “info” on another character. Simple oversight I guess. A lot of other MMO’s don’t have this feature, and it isn’t as important to them as it is to Eve, in which the only visual representation of a character is their in-game portrait. Once Incarna launches, that will cease to be true, but for now, it’s not too surprising that people care a lot about their portrait. And that applies to everyone that plays Eve, even if they don’t have fabulous red hair.
I guess you can chalk it up to squeezed developer resources, and a shaky launch process. And no, I’m not showing you my portrait, I plan to do some more work. For one thing, I think my current nose is a bit too big. I wish there was some way to make my ears pointier…