Welcome to Jester's Trek.
I'm your host, Jester. I've been an EVE Online player for about six years. One of my four mains is Ripard Teg, pictured at left. Sadly, I've succumbed to "bittervet" disease, but I'm wandering the New Eden landscape (and from time to time, the MMO landscape) in search of a cure.
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Monday, July 23, 2012

Quote of the Week: The right thing to do

I'll make this quick.  There's a lot more I want to get published today.

QOTW honors this week goes to some comments made by CCP Flyingscotsman during one of the AT10 interstitial videos over the weekend:
We have to make sure that spending resources on ship skinning is the right thing to do.
The context of the quote was a discussion regarding where CCP is going to spend their resources going into the winter expansion.  Art, as ever, is a bottleneck.  I've written about that before, lots of times.  And no art project in EVE could be more time-consuming than the idea of providing custom ship skins for EVE ships.  There's no question players want it: we've been begging for it for years.

The thing that surprised me about the discussion, though, is how pessimistic Flyingscotsman sounded about it.  Oh, he made it clear that ship skinning is possible, sure.  But he sure made it sound like it would be an absolute ton of work to get done.  And I have to say that kind of surprised me.  I've been running under the impression for a couple of months now that the v3 ship skins were specifically designed to be easily replaceable or at least modifiable.  They've got common feels, specific logo locations, and a lot of consistency from hull to hull.

Granted, I'm not an artist or a 3D artist.  But if you're using the same basic camou texture from ship to ship, the same basic backing colors from ship to ship, across the various T2 ship lines... why wouldn't it be less work to simply change some of those camous, change some of those colors?  Is it really that difficult?  Wasn't at least some of the preliminary leg-work needed for this done during v3?

'cause Flyingscotsman sure made it sound like it would be a major, major effort.  Or maybe it's giving the players the ability to swap out those colors and skins and logos that would be difficult.  God knows the character creator still has a lot of major bugs in it.  Dunno.  Just something that caught my attention and surprised me.

Honorable mention for QOTW honors goes to this gem from the EVE-O forums:
A fantastically written devblog. The dream is to temper the Tech prices and spawn conflict in low-sec like Alchemy 1.0. Here's hoping~
It references the technetium dev-blog that I wrote about last week, of course.  It's the source of the quote that's amusing: Elise Randolph.  You know, the Elise Randolph that's in Pandemic Legion.  The same Pandemic Legion that is part of OTEC.  Also the same Pandemic Legion that has two CSM members... one of whom is Elise Randolph.  There's a level of nested metas there that tickled me.  One hopes that Elise was being sarcastic and can separate the needs of PL from the needs of the game.

We'll know more when we see the CSM minutes.~


  1. My understanding was that with V2 shader's, custom ship skins were impossible, but that V3 shader's was the first step in making them possible, but that it would still take a lot of work to get it done. I have every hope that CCP can pull it off, but that it is not going to be quick and easy, especially if they want to avoid "Time to penis"

  2. "We'll know more when we see the CSM minutes.~"

    What is this mytical beast you speak of & CSMs proclaim will be like the second comming?
    I hope the reason why CCP Diagoras has not tweeted in the month since his vacation ended isn't because of this scrap that I suspect will go to prove the CSM's are out for thier own special interests.

    I suspect next election is going to be complete anarchy with HI SEC crying for its dissolution.

  3. Ship skinng ( with custom skins ) is one mother load of work...

    I don't know how the current skins are laid out. But unless they are a full wrap. They will have to re-uv and texture everything.

    Secondly. Everyone and their brother will want a custom skin. CCP's servers will have to store all this stuff, and serve it live. They have problems with getting our character images in and rendering. (Have you ever tried to scroll jita local with images enabled?) Imagine that with every ship.

    And finally. Imagine how much on fire people's video cards will be as the amount of textures required to render a large fleet multiplies an order of magnitude.

    And exactly how will we specify these new skins? A whole new set of ui elements and windows.

  4. "Is it really that difficult?"

    I guess it is a matter of how much hardcoded these things are. Remember that the primary goal of V3 was to change the composition of the models, since they were composed of three layers and the textures were the middle one. They may have decided to save some man-hours of effort by not even analyzing how to make skins dynamic for the end user.

    There is also the issue if they are going to make fixed, pre-defined skins or if they will provide us pieces of it and let us assemble what we want.

  5. Sort of offtopic Jester but here's my bid for QOTW
    "Death of Hulkageddon AUG 8th"
    The Alchemy changes are nothing compared to the mining changes here for Inferno 1.2: http://pastebin.com/frBc2muR
    No more can flipping retrievers!!! thier special ore hold is 20k-30k
    I'm curious though if the covetor will require the ~40 day training or not

    ps: peeps are sayig the rookie ships PG change will allow it to hold a cyno now?

    1. you can already fit a cyno on a noob ship, just need slap an aux power core thingy in the low slot

  6. They will also need to ensure that people don't go skinning their Thoraxs to literally look like a dong.

    Because you know Goonswarm would be start some campaign called the penifscourge and swarm Jita, then it would be all over the news.


  7. Here's the devblog that announced the V3-ing: http://community.eveonline.com/devblog.asp?a=blog&bid=732

    Eve looks stunning - when I show the game to people that haven't seen it before that's always one of the first comments I get. Allowing people to fly around in pink and purple Drakes could really spoil the look of the game.

    So I'd guess the problem with custom-skins is more about the approval/getting it into the game workflow than actual code - and once you open that door you've got a permanent commitment to that work. From what I hear, it can take some-months just to get an alliance logo into the game?

    Personally I'd like to see corp and alliance logos on ships, if they've been setup such that the logo isn't part of the skin, and is applied to the hull afterwards, then it's already possible and there's no additional long-term commitment - the logos already exist and are already being approved.

  8. "cause Flyingscotsman sure made it sound like it would be a major, major effort"
    You're talking as though the only that needs to be added is a drop-down to the fitting screen to pick a skin and Job Done.
    I think with V3 the tech is probably the easier part of this feature.

    Making it scalable and lag-free in battles, making it balanced in terms of economy and gameplay (remember how much everyone wanted a clothing-designer mini-profession?), making it variable enough that groups can have their distinct livery without breaking the art style of EVE.
    These are the things that will make-or-break this feature, not the tech, and you disregard them altogether. This are the things that actually make it worth doing, and they need doing well.

  9. I don't know who said this, but you're spot on. The issue isn’t the technology – that’s what the V3 project is for. The devs can certainly go under the hood with the new shader system and adjust just about anything that needs to be adjusted. The issue is how to deliver that to the player base – in a way that doesn’t result in a complete mess. There are a thousand questions to answer before the work can be done on crafting the tools that give players access to this customization.

    Would ship skinning be a built in feature, like fitting your ship? Would players just swap paint colors at will, or buy paint cans? What restrictions would there be on color combinations (obviously we don’t want heinous looking ships flying about)? Would a “skin” be a set palette, according to a corporation such as Boundless Creation, or a faction such as Blood Raiders? What about lore consistency - do we want Blood Raider colored Vexors, for example? Would a palette be a module, or something more akin to avatar clothing? Where would these palettes be acquired? LP stores? NEX (hopefully not)? Loot drops? Could players create customized skins and sell them on the market? Could you create custom corp livery? Could a CEO mandate that all ships be flown under the same colors? How would that be enforced / applied?

    Not only do these questions only scratch the surface of the issues that need to be nailed down before they can build the appropriate UI, there’s also the task of sorting out what the players themselves want to see, and whether they want ships skins more than another big project - say the POS revamp. CCP is wise in not rushing to half-ass something that could have a huge impact on the look, feel, and performance of the game, and they are showing the players great respect by not committing any time or resources till they get the impression we want it more than anything else they could be working on.

    1. Of course these are difficult and complex questions. That is why we have experienced and talented people to deal with them. At some point "it is hard" ceases to be a valid reason for not doing something.

  10. Perhaps this would not work well with CCP's existing code, but it seems like you could make a few changes, and at least reduce the problem:

    1) allow alliances to join alliances, or officially recognize coalitions;

    2) allow alliance (and coalition) skins only. The ships in your vanity corp will look like they did when they rolled off the line (sorry);

    3) base the skin on the colors and patterns in the alliance logo. No logo, no ship skin;

    4) corp logo gets put on the ship as a stamp, just like the manufacturing corp logo.

    This way, the number of skins that the server has to store and serve during huge fleet battles is minimal. The colors are gated by what CCP already allows for alliance logos, and that makes more sense as a way to identify the alliances anyway. As an added bonus, Goon ships will look like bees.

  11. "As an added bonus, Goon ships will look like bees."

    For some reason, that made me laugh pretty hard.

    But anyway, I love the idea of custom ship skins, but I can see problems (like everyone it seems) with the whole application of it. What if you can skin ships to look like other ships? For example, could you custom skin an Arbitrator to make it look like a Curse or Pilgrim? That could end very badly imo.

    Of course if you're paying attention to your overview it's not a huge problem, but twenty Arbitrators is much less threatening than twenty Curses. Psychological warfare anyone?


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