Thursday, January 20, 2011
Eve Online - Character Creator
As you may or may not know, Eve Online is an MMO focused on flying around in spaceships doing spaceship stuff. The publisher CCP recently introduced their new character creator, which is used to create the look of your character. The previous character portraits were rather... primitive. The new portraits are a vast step forward. There are still some rough spots with the tool, but I'm very pleased to see CCP modernizing the look of the game.
You might notice I dropped this into the RPG category. Why? Because this tool is a great way to make NPC portraits. Some of the options are a bit limited, but to my "not an artist in any way" brain, it is a huge step up from anything I could create by hand. I'm fairly certain you can use the character creator on free trial accounts too, meaning it's pretty much free aside from the hassle of setting up Eve trial accounts. Luckily I have an Eve account with a free character slot, so you can see the quality of portraits the character creator produces. The images in this article range from a randomly generated portrait to 30 or 40 minutes of messing about. Honestly you probably can't tell which is which. There are still a bunch of options I haven't really delved into, including skin tones and some of the camera posing options, but these images should give you an idea what can be accomplished.
There are a couple of drawbacks to the character creator. Clothing is pretty limited, both in style and colors. The background selections are all pretty dark, and all have a bit of a science fiction feel to them. Lastly the character creator is a bit of a piggish application, especially since it wants to run at very high graphics settings so you can really see what you're doing.
From the Eve perspective, the character creator is a win. The old portraits were pretty lame compared to modern game graphics, and I think this change improves the overall look of the game. It also makes micro-transactions for character make-overs much more appealing, giving CCP another revenue stream that isn't a pay to play fee. That's always a win to me.
From the RPG perspective, I'll definitely be using the character creator to provide some graphical oomph to my face to face games. Even with the limited options on background and clothing it's a great tool for a non-artist like me.
If you're interested in checking out the character creator, you can sign up for a free trial of Eve Online. It's a bit of a hassle, and you'll need to provide some personal information. Once you've created your account, you'll need to download the client, then log in and create a few characters. Note that if you finalize a character you're stuck with them for a while. To prevent account abuse there's a timer on deleting characters. You can take screenshots within the character creator though, so there's no need to actually finalize a character. The images shown here are from in-game portraits, which are much smaller than the image you work with during character creation. While you're checking out the character creator you may want to try out the game too. Eve is a fairly atypical MMO with a pretty steep learning curve, but there are some pretty amazing depths to the game.