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Revamping Character Creation In EVE Online
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Revamping Character Creation In EVE Online

December 9, 2010 Article Start Previous Page 2 of 3 Next

Inspiration in Art Direction

Ásgeir Jon Ásgeirsson art director of EVE Online

When EVE Online launched, the character creation system was well-received. However, the original character designs hadn't been retouched since that time, and we felt these avatars were behind the times, both technically and visually.

We wanted the new characters to be hyper-realistic and yet slightly exaggerated and cinematic to fit EVE's dark and gritty setting.

Instead of just blindly copying the old characters and making high-poly versions of them, we studied the original inspirations for them, whether that was ethnicity or just strong archetypes in general and determined what facial features they had in common.

We also wanted the final archetypes and the player-customized versions of these avatars to look like strong protagonists, individuals capable of leading massive fleets or controlling vast swathes of the universe.

Of course, that goes for female characters too, which can be customized to look strong and mature, and yet beautiful. A system with the depth and flexibility to create female avatars which embody these traits is a rarity in the industry today.

Choice in wardrobe adds another level of customization to the new character creator. When designing the new clothing, we had to factor in a number of variables. For instance, since players will be able to mix and match clothing assets, we found that we couldn't limit choices to styles inspired by a particular race or bloodline.

The wardrobes available must fit well together without appearing too ceremonial or costume-like. We do, however, plan over time to incorporate options that are inspired by certain races and bloodlines, including hairstyles, tattoos, and even tribal scarification.

(click for full size)

Challenges in Art Direction

Benjamin Bohn, art manager of EVE Online

EVE Online's character creation system wasn't just revamped -- it was completely re-designed – and this brought us back to square one in many respects. When the art team assigned to the task started to scope, evaluate and brainstorm we quickly realized that this project was not going to be a stroll in the park.

Considering the all-or-nothing quality level we all agreed on when we first sat down to discuss the project, it was obvious that this was going to involve sweat and blood. But we also knew that eventually the results would leave EVE Online players and CCP employees alike in awe.

The process would draw upon a range of talents and skill sets, so we also decided to expand our creative muscle and brain power by beefing up the internal team with temporarily-contracted specialists from all around the world. Considering the different time zones involved and the number of people on board, you could say that at any given time throughout the entire production cycle there was someone, somewhere on the planet working on the project.

One of the principles the art team tried to follow was to have as many of the models as possible being created more or less simultaneously to ensure a constant holistic view. Of course, this led to a continuous stream of adjustments and an intense creative effort to be both laser-focused on each model while providing us with an encompassing overview of the entire project.

Hundreds of photos, sketches and drawings were used in the early stages of research followed by months of drawing and painting which preceded the production of 3D assets and textures. An entire library of new shaders was created to support the visual target we set for the project. We now have a foundation for near-infinite possibilities and our (digital) drawers are already full of designs and concepts that will keep us moving forward for years to come.

We may never exhaust those possibilities, given our vision of EVE Online as a continuous path of progression, but this is what holds the game's aesthetics up to a consistently high standard.

Article Start Previous Page 2 of 3 Next

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