There has always been a lot of enthusiasm for the possibility of customizing the paint scheme of EVE Online’s internet spaceships. I am excited to let you in on a little secret: In Rubicon 1.3 (11 March) we will begin gathering data that will help us make your larger dreams of ship “skinning” come true!
While we know that this has been asked for in the past, we do not have enough data on which to base our design and implementation decisions. We have many questions, including: What is the actual demand for this feature? What is the sweet spot in terms of cost for such customization? Are pilots more risk-averse if they are flying a painted ship? At what volume and velocity do painted ships travel through the markets of the greater EVE economy? How does graphical load scale when the GPU has to render painted hulls?
Depending on the reception in Rubicon 1.3 and beyond, we can see more clearly where we stand before we start the ”Paint Shop” project with full force. Hence, the pilot program.
The pilot program began with the current, available code we have, so it isn’t going to be very representative of any possible final designs that would have more work put towards accessibility. The pilot program is also going to start small, with 9 pre-selected skins available in the first release and a gradual expansion from there. In the name of SCIENCE! we intend to collect as much feedback as possible about how this program is received. We intend to make small and measurable changes to get as much data, with as many variables as possible, to help inform our future decisions.
Our vision for the future of ship skinning includes skins available from many different sources, including some skins sold through Aurum and others available through purely in-game methods such as loyalty point stores. In the first release of the pilot program we will be introducing eight skins available for Aurum, and one available exclusively through in-game achievement.
It is important to note that every single skin can be obtained by players who wish to use in-game ISK, by purchasing PLEX from other players via the market. We’ll start by going over the Aurum skins and then cover the purely in-game skin in its own section.
Here’s the list of the 8 Aurum ship skins we’re starting with and what some of them look like.
What do I need to do to get those pretty ships?
First you have to acquire a Blueprint Copy from the NEX Store (found as a “Station Service” in any station) for Aurum. Many of you may have some promotional Aurum left over from years ago, waiting for an opportunity just such as this! You can also obtain Aurum directly from account management, or by converting PLEX purchased from the in-game market, account management or through GTCs.
The material requirement of that blueprint copy is a ship hull of the type you want to paint, so make sure that’s in the same place you want to start the painting process. Simply put, the only input will be a regular ship and the output will be a painted ship with the same stats, but a different color. Like other blueprint copies, it will only have X many runs and will be destroyed once all the runs have been used up.
Pop the blueprint copy into a manufacturing slot (right click, Manufacture) and after a short while you can Deliver your shiny new ship.
To reiterate, the only thing that changes is the color. All the stats will remain the same. Also, to state the obvious: When your painted ship is destroyed, well… then it is destroyed. Yes, this destruction will be supported in killmails.
So, how much does space-paint cost?
Historically, pricing has a fair amount of thought behind it. Drawing upon developer knowledge within CCP, experience from EVE’s storied microtransaction past, and some best guesses (since there are relatively few consumable vanity items for sale in the MMO industry), we've come up with a basic range of prices for the pilot program:
Remember that since this is EVE Online, every item in the game -- including these skins -- can be obtained by players who do not wish to spend real-life money. Options include purchasing PLEX from the other players using ISK and converting the PLEX to Aurum, and purchasing the final painted variants of the ships from player manufacturers using the market.
The prices listed in parenthesis below are in US dollars and assume that the Aurum is obtained through the purchase and conversion of standard priced PLEX. The price range depends on which PLEX package is selected, and even lower prices can be obtained during any of our many PLEX sales.
- Frigate paint; around 45 AURUM (~$0.23-$0.26) for a single application
- Battleship paint; around 350 AURUM (~$1.75-$2.00) for a single application
When I say “around” I mean that we will of course want to experiment with the price ranges and perhaps offer super cheap or super expensive variants in the future. Also, reminder, the ships must also be combined with the blueprints, so there’s a cost of obtaining the original ship to factor in.
As we obtain more data and expand upon the ship skinning system, the prices of skins may of course change.
Is that a Woop Woop I hear?
As mentioned above, we are also introducing one ship skin available purely through in-game methods in Rubicon 1.3. We expect that if we continue to expand the skinning system we will introduce many skins obtained through many different methods, and this ship will serve as the first test of one of those methods.
In Rubicon 1.3 players will be able to obtain blueprints from the CONCORD LP store that will convert a Federation Navy Comet into the much anticipated Police Pursuit Comet!
The Police Pursuit Comet blueprint will cost 3,000 CONCORD LP and 3,000,000 ISK and can be purchased in any station with a CONCORD LP store. CONCORD LP is obtained by fighting off the Sansha incursions that occasionally appear in all areas of space.
The blueprint for the Police Pursuit Comet will work in exactly the same way as the other ship skin blueprints, and like the other skinned ships the Police Comet will have exactly the same stats as its Federation Navy brother. We are very happy to be able to reintroduce this skin, flashing lights and all, back into the EVE Universe where it can be enjoyed by one and all.
Would you like to know more?
Since this is a pilot program intended to gather data, we went ahead and started with the simplest implementation even though that might not be the actual long-term solution.
For instance, legacy technical matters prevent us from changing the skin of a ship if that ship retains its original typeID. To introduce a differently painted Rifter, we would have to create a new typeID for that Rifter, and of course it cannot be called “Rifter” since that name is already in use. So the new ship has to be called “Rifter, green edition” or something similar. And a different typeID means that it has its own market group, its own entry on the overview, etc.
Needless to say, this prototype model gets exponentially unsustainable at a larger scale. Having 24 different Rifters would mean 24 more market entries, 24 more overview entries, etc. Not very pleasant for players trying to use it or developers trying to maintain it.
And speaking of market groups, the painted ships will of course be sellable for ISK on the market and in contracts, and be tradable just like any other item in EVE. The blueprint copies will also follow the normal trading rules. This will provide even more opportunities to players who wish to obtain the painted ships using their in-game ISK currency.
If this pilot program reveals that the painting of internet spaceships is indeed popular and we are able to gather enough data and thoughtful feedback, we will put some very eager programmers and designers on the task of creating a system that allows us to change the skins of ships without us having to create a new typeID to get a different color variant. The exact game design of how you’d paint your ship has not yet been decided, but we are keeping our super capital brothers and sisters and their wormhole siblings -- and their inability to dock their ships -- in mind.
One more point is that we have plans to move all the ships skinned in the pilot program into any new and improved skinning system, if and when that time comes, so early adopters will not suffer in any manner, other than maybe a slight cost difference if we change the structure there.
In regards to timeframes I’d like to quote a wise man that said; “Predictions are always difficult, especially about the future”.