EVE Online's highly anticipated Incarna expansion is now just around the corner. Later this month with the implementation of the Incursion 1.1 patch, the existing character creator will be replaced by a shiny new Incarna character creator. We'll finally get to design an entire avatar, complete with arms and legs, rather than being limited to just a head and a pair of shoulders. Upon logging in after the Incursion 1.1 deployment, players will be prompted to re-create their characters using the new character renderer. In just a few short weeks, those characters we've grown accustomed to over the years will be gone. Now is your last chance to capture your character's portrait. If you'd like to preserve a portrait for posterity, be sure to log in and capture it in high detail before January 18th.
In a new devblog, CCP Lopi explains some of the challenges associated with the new character creator. When we look at a character's info in-game or click on his name in a chat channel, the EVE client currently downloads information on the character from the EVE server and then renders a small passport photo. With the added complexity and higher-resolution textures used in the new character creator, rendering portraits on-the-fly in this manner would take an unacceptably long time. To get around this issue, portrait rendering will be done ahead of time, and the mug-shots we see in-game will be stored on a central webserver. The game will then retrieve the user's image directly from the webserver instead of rendering it. As a result, we should no longer get the short burst of lag associated with rendering a character's portrait, and server load should be decreased.