The Pilots who burn through space while lighting their enemies on fire. (or relax peacefully in an asteroid belt as they mine for rare ore) in the massively multiplayer space simulation game Eve Online were recently treated with a much anticipated upgrade.
CCP, the company behind this wildly innovative game has been working for years to continually upgrade graphics and game mechanics to keep Eve one of the most talked about games around. Yet it is a game that is perhaps just as famous for it’s innovation and immersion, as it is for it’s insanely complex and unintuitive user interface.
When CCP announced that they would be taking the process of character creation to a level never before achieved in video games, players went wild with anticipation. Everyone was extremely excited to get an opportunity to give their old faces (many of them being seven years old) a facelift.
However, as is so common with Eve Online, the conversation within the community quickly turned from one of praise, to one of frustration as they found the interface to be frustratingly difficult to discern. No real explanation of interface controls were provided which lead users to miss key options for customization. Perhaps the biggest grievance of all was that no warning dialoge box popped up at the end of the process to warn users that their changes were now permanent which resulted in pilots with strange, often hilariously awful looking portraits.
Now, anyone who owns a drivers license can tell you that having a picture of yourself with a goofy sideways grin and half shut eyelids is perhaps the most true to life aspect of the entirety of this game about “internet spaceships”. But, if you are going to pay a monthly fee to play the game, you might as well look good doing it right?
So, after thousands of complaints, two update patches to the game client, and another opportunity for players to re-do their character portrait, all is well again in the far reaches of space. And CCP has learned once again, just how crucial clear and intuitive interface design is to the overall experience of their game.
(honestly, the technology behind the character creation is really incredible and totally worth a look.)