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Incarna – 'Tis the Season to be Shiny…

December 21, 2010

Welcome to the twenty-third installment of the EVE Blog Banter, the monthly EVE Online blogging extravaganza created by CrazyKinux. The EVE Blog Banter involves an enthusiastic group of gaming bloggers, a common topic within the realm of EVE Online, and a week or so to post articles pertaining to the said topic. The resulting articles can either be short or quite extensive, either funny or dead serious, but are always a great fun to read! Any questions about the EVE Blog Banter should be directed to crazykinux@gmail.com. Check for other EVE Blog Banter articles at the bottom of this post!

With Incursion giving us glimpses of what Incarna will have to offer (the the Character Creator), this month’s topic, by @Minerpewpew, comes just at the right time. He asks “What are your thoughts on how Incarna will effect the current EVE Online social dynamic?” I’d like to see this questioning go a bit further. How will this affect EVE’s player base? Who will Incarna attract? New players to the genre? Seduce old players back into the game? Will we see new players come in that will never leave their station? Please explore to the best of your abilities!

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Well, I’m going to preface this by saying I have not played around with the character creator at all. Have, however, watched a number of the videos. It’s 5am and I’m going to have to respond with something somewhere between how the sam hill should I know??!??, and best guess Mr Sulu.

There is no doubt about it, Incarna is pretty. It looks to have variety coming out the wazoo, and it will certainly appeal to those people who identify with their characters.

From what little I’ve garnered and along with a healthy dollop of “This is what I suspect, so of COURSE it must be right”, I think CCP is releasing something that in and of itself does not have huge consequence in game, but touches a number of areas they’d like to address:

Attracting and retaining more women in game
Microtransactions
Stronger identification with your character
Platform for other games

I’m only going to talk about the first three points, and they’re kind of all tied together chicken and egg style (hmmm thoughts of breakfast just kicked in).

Eve lacks hugely in the female demographic, and speaking purely from a business perspective, this is an untapped resource from an earnings perspective. The old avatars have their charm to be sure, but I know too many women of refined tastes and who certainly “know their own minds” to think they’d have a snowballs in hell chance of overcoming the innate resistance to anything remotely like science fiction.

I also suspect that Incarna may very well be able to attract women but that a fixed and unchangeable avatar won’t help retention in the longer term. Microtransactions that allow changes in style, dress, jewelery, tattoos will help. I’m sure (if that’s the way in which CCP is going do it) that it won’t hurt on the revenue front either.

Lastly, I know that I spend waaaay to long getting my alts to look just so and I have no doubt I’ll spend even longer with Incarna getting the right touches. H especially. I’ve been playing her for two and a half years. It will no doubt be the same for other people who have invested as much time and energy.

The point here really is player retention, though the longer term players would mostly stay in any event. Incarna won’t mean that much to them as far as keeping on playing goes. Unless of course, walking in stations becomes something serious. Removed learning skills? Replace ’em with a “you and your buddies ganked me at the gate, let me return the favor by shooting you with a large caliber handgun” skill 🙂

It does bring me to my final point: the good old law of unintended consequences.

It won’t hit the older players so much, and certainly isn’t going to honk off the low and null sec dwellers who won’t give a ratsarse. I’m talking about the carebears out there. The people for whom their character really is something special. Something they’ve crafted, thought about, and worked upon.

It will also impact the newer players. Can you imagine spending a good 30 minutes to an hour (and possibly longer) tweaking your character only to jump through a gate and get turned into so much frozen space goo? Its the visceral impact that occurs when something you’ve created gets destroyed unnecessarily.

In this Incarna may actually work too well. It may just serve to reinforce and highlight just how ruthless an environment EvE can be. Emoragequitting carebears and newbies is not where CCP wants to be.

We shall see.

Fly Smart

H

P.S – links to follow!

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