Tag Archives: Hats

CCP Should SKIN All The Things

I suppose it is a bit odd to being doing a post about monetizing EVE Online in the shadow of all the various controversies going on, but I haven’t got anything else queued up for today, so why not?

Cosmetics items, especially SKINs, seem to be non-controversial as a cash shop item in EVE Online.  Yes, there are people who hate them and that wish CCP wouldn’t bother, but I don’t think anybody finds them game breaking.

CCP also seems to have some problems of its own keeping the SKIN gaming going.  We had those Ghostbird SKINs up in the shop for close to a year, giving  Caldari pilots some nice choices while the other empires were left mostly wanting.  The Ghostbird SKINs are gone now, but the holiday weekend did bring back some old SKINs that had been retired from the store.  But once the time runs out on that we may be back to a dearth of options.

So leaving aside current convulsions and CCP’s famine and feast cycle with SKINs, what else could CCP apply their SKIN talents with?

Most of these are ideas I have heard elsewhere, so I make no claim to originality even if I cannot remember where I heard them first.

Structures

Here is a big obvious one that people have been asking for, structure SKINs.  This one seems like a gimme.  Yes, we got corp and alliance logos floating around structures, but these place are just begging for giant splashes of color.   Do you think Goons would pass up something like a Hazard Control SKIN, with bright yellow bee stripes?  They most certainly would not.

Who doesn’t want to paint on that canvas?

The catch here is that, unlike ships, structures don’t have a single person controlling them the whole time they are in space.  There would have to be some mechanism for the owning organization to apply a SKIN.  Also, how do you sell and manage such SKINs?  If you buy one, do you get to apply it to all structures you own, or just one?  If so, they probably have to expensive.  If not, if they attach to only one structure, then they can be cheap and make up the difference with volume.

Corp/Alliance SKINs

There was at least an implication that we would be getting something like this back at EVE Vegas 2016 when they were showing off the new, easy to use, SKIN creation tech.  We saw them run with an Apocalypse with all sorts of SKIN options created off the cuff.  (A gallery of them here.)

Apocalypse battleship with some pattern and color variations

Some of us walked away thinking that custom SKINs for corps or alliances could be a thing, maybe via an interface like the one for corp logos.  Now, nearly three years later, CCP seems somewhat indifferent to the SKIN store.  Still, we live in hope.

As with structure SKINs, this would most likely require some code to go with it.  When you join a corp or alliance with a custom SKIN, you then get access to it for the appropriate ships.  Maybe.  The big stumbling block is making a corp/alliance SKIN that can be applied to all ships.  Still, people have asked for this before.

Fleet SKINs

And idea I have seen come up once or twice, the idea of a SKIN that the fleet boss could apply to all the ships in the fleet.  This suffers from similar issues mentioned above, like having SKINs that could be applied across a variety of dissimilar ships.  In addition, there is the possible issue of people getting annoyed at having somebody else apply a look to their ship.  This wouldn’t be a problem in a group like Reavers, where we like to play dress-up, but on main fleet I could imagine some complaints.

Gates

Going on down the list of things you could sell to null sec alliances, special decor for gates comes pretty easily to mind.  I know that gates now have flags and logos, but what if you could make them extra special?  Like so much, there would have to be an alliance interface for this no doubt, but it seems doable otherwise… at least in Delve where we have Amarr gates that look like they were made with leftover Apocalypse hulls.

Cynos

I was thinking about maybe SKIN-like kits for lasers… you could have a Pride month Abbadon rainbow laser pack… but the color of lasers actually tell you what the enemy has loaded, so that is probably a no go.

But a cyno… you just have to sit and look at that thing for minutes at a stretch after you light it up.

Normal and covert cynos burning

So why not a pack of pretty cynos SKINs of different colors, just for variety?  Again, there is the question of creating a UI for this and, of course, if this would even be worth the effort.  There would probably be a pretty limited market for this.

Explosions

Now exiting what we might consider SKINs and heading into something only slightly related, but why not?

Ships have two sorts of explosions, the orange one and the blue electric one.  What if you could buy something that would give your ship a different or more spectacular explosion.  I know, that might be somewhat defeatist, but it could still be fun.  We all get blown up once in a while, why not go out with a bang?

And the upside of this is that, unlike some of the other ideas, I think you could do this without any UI work.  Just sell an item in the New Eden Store that, when present in your cargo hold, triggers a special explosion when your ship goes up.  Seems doable… once the art team creates some new explosions.

Cat Ears

And, just to go completely off the reservation, let me just put in another word for hats.  Things are better since I last complained about the lack of hats.  We now have hats.  We have baseball caps and berets.  They aren’t very good, but they are better than nothing I suppose.  Still no Viking horned helms or, for Jin’taan, cat ears.

Of course, having seen how the hats we have now work, I am pretty sure Jin’taan is going to remain unfulfilled in his desire for cat ears.  CCP went the easy(-ish) route for hats where, like in many games, you can have a hat or you can have hair, but not both.  I tried this on a female avatar with long hair and, as soon as she has that Permaband hat on she has a shaved scalp.

Still, we could get better head covering hats.  Just no cat ears I guess.

What Else?

Anyway, those are some ideas.  Not all of them are worthwhile, but there has to be some money in it for CCP for a couple of them, enough to be worth the effort.

What else should CCP SKIN that won’t break the game or be more work that it is worth?

Changing My Clothes in Space

Way back when, I bought the EVE Online Second Decade Collector’s Edition… and then CCP gave me a copy about a month later.  Comedy always finds me.

One of the items that was part of the whole big box of stuff was the Mystery Code, printed on the back of a piece of black plastic.

The Mystery Code Card

The Mystery Code Card

The Mystery Code, when entered, gave you a PLEX, a few special items, and the promise of more special items in the future.  Free stuff… for only $99… or free if they gave you a copy… or if I gave you my extra code as part of a contest.

Just this past week, CCP put up a note saying that there was some new special stuff for Mystery Code holders.  So I immediately went and tried to figure this out.  But since this is CCP, the process was somewhat… Icelandic?

Okay, the first thing you have to do is go to account management and claim your items, which is done by logging in and going to the “Vouchers” option under the “Services” menu, despite the fact that no vouchers of any kind are involved.

There you can pick your items to claim.  As it turned out, I had several items as I had never been to that option in in account management before, nor did I even know that it existed.

The new gifts for Mystery Code holders consisted mostly of clothes, something that disappoints children at Christmas and the perennially grumpy the rest of the year, but which was fine by me.  I am against CCP spending resources on walking in stations, but I still believe that your in-game avatar is important.  And while I would prefer hats, which you could actually SEE on people rather than, say, shoes, where you have to click, and click again, and then click a third time, and then resize a window, and zoom and rotate in order to even recognize that a shoe was even present, much less updated, I refuse to get too bent out of shape at CCP working apparel that is off screen 99.9% of the time.  More pants, more shoes, more whatever.  The people doing that probably are not working on null sec sovereignty fixes in any case.

So, new clothes redeemed at account management.

From there I had to log into EVE Online and, at the character select screen, redeem the items by dragging them from the bottom of the screen onto the character to which I wanted them to go.  After that I logged into the game and saw that I had a bunch of clothing items in my hangar in the station.

And I did not have a clue what to do with them.

Seriously, the EVE Online interface strikes again.  You can see these items of apparel in your hangar, but no amount of clicking on them, dragging them around, or getting info on them will tell you what to do with them.  Seriously, they tell you the amount of physical space they take up, but nobody could take a minute to paste in some text that says “Go to the character editor to use this!”

Where CCP fails, Google provides.  A quick search pointed me at several forum threads where people had asked the same “what do I DO with these clothes” question, which sent me to the character editor.

In the game.

Somewhere along the line I missed when this button showed up amongst the station services.

Of course, all the buttons look different now

Of course, all the buttons look different now

But there it was, and it brought up the full fledged, create your character editor.  That, in turn, allowed me to change all manner of aspects of my avatar, something I thought they were charging for at one time.  The character editor also told me I was owed a “resculpt,” which I am going to guess is the “start from scratch” option when it comes to your avatar.  Maybe that is was CCP was charging for… only they seem to be giving me one… because the first one is always free?  I don’t know.

Anyway, when you are in a station and in the character editor, then clothing items that are in the hangar of that station show up as choices amongst all of the standard selections.  I went through and picked out what looked to be “new” items and selected them to be added to my avatar.

After that I had to go and take a new portrait so that my change of clothes would show up in-game.

Wilhelm, before and after

Wilhelm, before and after

I am not sure that is much of an improvement.  But for most people my avatar will only show up as a tiny little square in a station list or chat channel. (One of the bigger shocks of watching people stream EVE Online is seeing how many people leave avatars on in chat.  The first thing I do when I open a new channel is turn off the avatars and set compact members list.  Maybe it is years of playing MUDs, but I do not need a tiny, indistinguishable picture next to somebody’s name in order to recognize them… I recognize the name.  Also, so many blinking chat tabs… you know you can turn that off, right?)

Of course, it turned out that these were not the new clothes I was looking for.  This was another set we got handed at some point for some reason… I don’t know… they were in my hangar as well.  The new set we had been given were dark, padded psuedo-combat armor style.  Oh well.  I might go back and change all that later.  And now I need a hat for the new avatar if I am going to use it elsewhere.  That requires old school Photoshop capabilities rather than anything in the game.

But having gone through all of that just to put on some new clothes… and you cannot even see my pants… a few thoughts jump out at me that might smooth out the process should CCP be taking this whole dress up thing seriously.

  • In the description on clothing items, tell us how to use them.
  • In the character editor, highlight in some way items of clothing that are not part of the standard load-out.
  • Give items from a matched set the same name please.  The new set had a jacket called “Impact” and pants called “Strider.”
  • Don’t just dump clothing items into the station hangar, to be lost amongst all of the other junk we accumulate.
  • Don’t make me be in the same station as an apparel item in order to use it.

The last two I think are especially key if CCP has some plans to make money selling people clothing so they can dress up their avatar.

I know that the last one breaks the “rules.”  In EVE Online, the fact that things have to be moved around, that there is no magic in-game bank or mailbox to deliver ships or modules or ammo to me no matter where I am is an important part of the game.  If nothing else, anybody who does a region-wide buy order in Domain should be made to feel the same pain I did a few years back.  I still haven’t picked up all those light missiles.

But I don’t think clothes really play into that.  What hat my avatar is wearing on a given day has no impact on the core game play in EVE, be it combat, hauling, mining, production, or playing the market.

So I think CCP ought to round up all that clothing I have left strewn about space and put it together in a nice little wardrobe tab as part of the character editor, so if I feel like wearing my Quafe T-Shirt when I am out in Immensea I don’t have to worry that I might have left it behind in Deklein or Jita or Amarr.

Of course, ideally I should just be able to go to the New Eden Store, buy a new hat, and be able to apply it immediately without having to go through the rigamarole of playing with the full character editor and all the positioning choices and what not.

I see that CCP is giving this some thought on the whole ship skins front, which says to me that the process is more convoluted that people are willing to work with.  We shall see if that gets translated over to the apparel side of things, because I would still like to be able to buy me a decent hat.

People Aren’t Wearing Enough Hats!

Last week Rixx Javix put up a post over at his blog about hats.

Specifically his post was about EVE Online avatars that he has adorned with hats over the years, including his own and others.

A selection of Rixx Javix hats

A selection of Rixx Javix hats

You should go look at that post.  He has done a lot of hats.  EVE Online avatars with hats on them appear to be quite a thing.  Even my own avatar on the blog is my EVE avatar with a horned helm applied to it. (I used that avatar at work as well.)

That lead me to joke that if CCP had given us hats instead of monocles with the Incarna expansion, things might have gone a bit differently.

I was, of course, being silly, and doubly so because monocles were never the main issue with Incarna.

But still, I felt in my gut that there was something to this.  Hats are fun.  Putting on a hat is almost the simplest form of costume.  Hats lend a sense of style, silliness, or personality when put on.  I love hats.

In fact, in-game if I cannot have a good hat I won’t wear any hat at all.  But I will go out of my way for a hat that fits my mood or forms the basis of a look.  One of the things I miss about Rift is that it had both a varied selection of hats available and a cosmetic system that allow players to easily wear what they liked.

Hillmar with his mean face on

I always liked that farmer’s hat on Hillmar

I realize that Blizzard wanted to use transmorg to get gold out of the economy, but the restrictions on what can be transmog’d into something else are too restrictive in my book.  I want to make my plate helm look like Whitemane’s chapeau or the Hydromancer’s Headwrap!  Is that too much to ask? (Also, the stuff you sell in the Blizz Store… the hats… they look awful.)

Fortune Telling Foursome

Fortune Telling Foursome

And in Lord of the Rings Online as well, I always had to find the right hat.

Manteca the Goon

Go ahead, say something about me hat!

Hats may be the only item I have eagerly spent money on in cash shops.

Who you calling, "fuzzy?"

Bunny hat I bought in EverQuest II

And there is Team Fortress 2 which apparently finances itself entirely through the sale of hats.  That seems to indicate that it isn’t just me with the whole hats thing.  Hats make the character.

Hats seem to be a thing worth monetizing.  Here is an opportunity for CCP to add something to their in-game cash shop that people might buy.

I hear somebody from the back of the hall saying, “But you can buy hats in EVE Online.  And they are bringing more in with the Hyperion expansion.”

And I would have to admit that those are true statements.  But the options currently available do not thrill me, and the options they are adding with Hyperion are even less palatable.

Hyperion Apparel Additions

Hyperion Apparel Additions

That was clearly the problem with the NEX Store, or whatever they are calling it these days; not enough color choices in the hosiery section.

Anyway, those headgear options barely qualify as hats and certainly do not represent anything I would want to display on my avatar.

What CCP needs to do here is get off the whole dark brooding dystopian future… after all, this is the future where anything should go, so if you can name yourself DoomBunny or HVAC Repairman (or even Dabigredboat) in-game and be taken seriously… and at least one of those people is… then fix things so you can find a decent hat in New Eden.  Dystopias tend to have pretty decent hat selections.  Look at Blade Runner or that snappy model Alan Arkin wore in Gattaca.  And lets not forget the Mad Max series.  Or the Soviet Union.  Police states and dictatorships practically rise and fall on their haberdashery selections.

So here is what I want.

I want to have a wide selection of hats, from subdued to zany, that I can buy from the in-game cash shop and apply directly to my in-game avatar so when anybody sees it come up in an info screen… or if they are one of those horrible people that leave icons on in chat… there is my damn hat in full view making exactly the statement I want… which is that I think hats are cool.  In a year I want Rixx Javix to look at the store in EVE Online and say something like, “I can’t keep up with that.”

But that is not all I want.

No, I want an entire hat subsystem in the game.  I want to be able to buy a hat from the store and apply it to my avatar right away, easy-peasy, no questions asked.  I want a hat inventory window where I can view and select from my ever growing collection of hats so I am always wearing the hat appropriate to my mood and the occasion.  I want the method by which I acquire in-game currency… Aurum, isn’t it?  I want that simplified.  I don’t want to have to buy a PLEX and then convert it to Aurum.  That commits me to a nearly $20 transaction.  Just sell me a stack of Aurum, small to large, starting at $5.

Which leads me to the last, and most essential bit.  Make the hats cheap.

We have a luxury item with a non-insignificant amount of overhead to create, but which has almost zero incremental cost per unit sold.  You make it once and sell it a zillion times and your costs don’t change all that much.

Because here is something that Jester got totally right on the similar topic of ship skins, which are too expensive (and too inconvenient) for most people to buy for ships they are going to lose.

Price the hats so that you will sell many.  I want them to be cheap enough that an FC can call for a specific hat style and get decent turn out on that front.  I want them to be cheap enough to feel okay calling anybody who refuses to “hat up” a cheap-ass scrub.  I want to see GSOL running around in yellow construction hats and Theta Squad in fezzes and Triumvirate in very serious fedoras and a halo for The Mittani and a selection of pirate hats and horned Viking helms for every low sec pirate corp to feel included.

What hat would you and your corp or alliance want?

I know, I know, technical details, 3D modeling, limited resources, everything is too hard.  Make the hats freakin’ stickies to apply to your avatar ala that horrible system in Google Hangouts.  You can add in fright wigs, red ball noses, and bow ties while you’re at it them.

All I know is that I want some decent, affordable hats dammit.

Which CSM member will take up this cause?  Who will lead the campaign for more hats in New Eden?

I would, but I’m trying to get this Soviet Naval officer’s cap on my avatar.  It just isn’t quite right.

Comrade Wilhelm

Comrade Wilhelm

A work in progress.