Kirith Kodachi posted the next Blogbanter – 63 – Customization.
Super Kerr Induced Nanocoating, new structures that can be fit like ships with modules, the promise of player built stargates… the ability to shape your space and change the look of your ships is finally coming to EVE. What other customization options of EVE would you like to have? What would you like to do to be able to shape space and environments? What would you like to change just for you in the client or in any 3rd party tools?
Would I like my ships pink? A shuttle looking like a dragon? Would I like to have trophies of my few kills hanging on my wall? Would I want my POS look like Disney Castle?
I see two levels of customization in EVE (or any game for that matter), internal and external. Whereas internal customization only affects what I see, external customization affects what other players see. For example, we can to some extend customize our UI and shove the menus around on the screen. We don’t get to change the menus, we don’t get to apply macros or use 3rd party tools to interact with the UI (I think thats what the botters get banned for, yes?) but we do get to optimize it based on our activity, workflow and of course computer hardware. For Internal customization, I would love to spread the individual menus and tools out across my entire computer screen, outside the rectangular bounds of the game client. I would love the ability to make my own shortcuts on the screen (keyboard shortcuts have never been my friend) and I would love to organize my inventory differently, have them sorted into more logical containers or folders. Yes, I know I can buy station containers but its tedious. The limits of internal customization should be that they need to be fair so that nobody has an advantage over another – which is implied if everyone has the same tool set. For example, setting the overview up correctly wins or loses the game and my opponent may well kill me because he has them set differently.
External customization is a different beast altogether. Ship skins and avatars are shared with the rest of the universe and they have to fit into the overall style of the game. For better or worse, EVE is not Stephenson’s metaverse where (nearly) everything goes. CCP has built the entire game on an industrial, dark design that fits well with most people’s imagination of space “SciFi”. Giving players the ability to fly bunny-rabbit-shaped ships with pink ears would break the design beyond recovery. The company has to be very careful what they allow on external customization to prevent one player to ruin the experience for all. The easiest is of course to allow none – pretty much where we are currently (avatars exempt but since nobody really looks at them, they are a moot point).
But customization has the purpose to tie a paying customer further to the product. “Look, this is me” is a much more powerful statement than “look, this is a ship that looks like all other ships but I fly it”. I can’t see a reason why we shouldn’t be able to select from specific skins for each ship type – within limits that CCP’s designers set. Decals and logos of our corporations and alliances are likely to be used for ships, POSes and sovereignty structures but even their layout need to fit into the overall mood of the game. Not everyone has a perfect space logo like our Alliance!
What else would I like to see? Above all, I’d love to interact more with the planets, build PI up into a proper, engaging “mini game” with real buildings and functional roads, vehicles etc. Basically, DUST-style environments that need to be set, maintained, payed for and so on. Wars could be fought over them, alien beasts may Zerg-like invade them, basically, we could have Starcraft over our PI installations. And who says its limited to PI? Why not encourage overall settlements, build cities factories, defense systems? Time-scale differences not withstanding (we can’t just advance by years in SimCity style), the ability to “own” a planet or at least a continent would not break the lore but it would create further attachment to the game. I could tie into “Legion” (if that ever will be a thing) and be the base for Valkyrie fighters.
Overall, while I see great value in the ability to use external customization, I am more concerned that this breaks the immersion of the space game.