By Marie-Cecile Jacq
Hey there, we have such exciting news to share with you! We made a lot of progress on the update of the Player character, and we have a clear vision on what we will aim toward in the following years, but also what we can realistically release initially.
As you know, SSO will be 11 years old next month, and everything we do has to be crafted specifically to fit with all the existing content. Our focus for the player character was first and foremost more diversity, and we feel we’ve achieved a big step in that direction!
Although there are still technical aspects to tackle before being able to deliver the character’s full potential, we know you’ve waited long enough for new skin tones, body shapes, hairstyles, etc. We’re now confident the base is stable and future-proof, meaning we can continue to adapt the characters going forward!
So! What can you expect soon? Well, we will be launching a closed beta in September, for select players to get their hands on the new character and try it out! These players can share pictures and videos, and more details will follow soon about how you can sign up to participate! But let’s get into the details of the character!
That new journey will start launching the game, introducing you to a character customization screen. You should be able to choose body shape, face shape, skin color, eye color, eyebrow shape and eyebrow color. That update is of course free! If you want to change your hair and make-up, you will be able to do it identically as today, through the vanity table in your home stable. Also in your home stable, it will still be possible to modify your appearance at any time if you change your mind!
Our amazing artist crafted six beautiful body types, which was maybe one of the most challenging options for us, as clothes and animations have to work on all of them. In the future, we would really like to increase the options on the skin texture, to increase muscle definition, add scars, stretch marks and more customisation, but these improvements can’t happen just right now, several iterations will be needed in the background, and we aren’t able to predict yet, when that could be ready.
You will also be able to choose between twelve gorgeous skin tones. We didn’t forget people with birthmark and vitiligo, we’re still researching what would be the best technical solution, so although these can’t be added right now, don’t worry, we’re on it!.
Eye colours will be quite similar as we have today, heterochromia (eyes with different colours) has been considered, but won’t be available in this first step.
We’re very happy with the twelve faces we’re proposing, each one is unique and beautiful. We know you might be disappointed, not to have more customisation options yet, but combined with makeup, eyebrows and skin colour, it creates hundreds of thousands of possibilities. And yes! Eyebrows! As just mentioned they are a new customisation parameter that will change a lot! You will be able to choose at first between sixteen brow types and which colour you would like to have them!
Makeup has been updated, and we added the option not to wear makeup too. The possibility to choose only lip or eye makeup has been partially done, but we will have to completely change the inventory and the shop systems before being able to release that.
All the old/current hairstyles have been updated too, and some new have been added, and while we didn’t manage to have our targeted 50/50 balance between straight/wavy hairs (type 1/2) and curly/coily hairs (type 3/4), we’re not giving up! Regularly after release, more hairstyles and colors will be added to finally reach a variety of choice for the player that is realistic with the beautiful diversity of hair types.
For clothes and accessories, we went through the crazy challenge, to adapt all the current clothes to every new body shape. All are functional in game, however, we didn’t manage to reach the level of quality originally planned. Therefore, they will also be updated through time. So please, don’t panic if some of your favourite outfits look weird, or stretched, they will have a second update.
We’re in quite a similar situation with animations. We know how much you were dreaming of smooth, realistic updated animations. It has been a very difficult journey for us, to finally have a character with an amazing potential for a new level of animation, and the release won’t yet show that full potential. We need more development time to code a better interaction between horse animations and the character but thanks to our great technical artists and developers, we managed to transfer the old animations to every body shape. And we’re already working hard to be able to update them one by one post-release.
Of course, we thought of hundreds more options, and possibilities, and we will continue to keep you up to date on any progress on the player character. We can’t wait to have the new player character in-game and to find out more about what you like and what you will want to see in the future, because it’s just the beginning!
Finally I would really love to thank all the amazing people who worked directly on this update, our super talented concept artist, 3D artists, animators, technical animators, graphics programmer, engine and tools developers, server developers, gameplay programmers, game designer, UI/UX designer, economy designer, web developers, localisation specialist and of course the great people of the best QA team!
A huge thanks also to our talented colleagues from marketing, communication and community who worked hard on Blog posts, and on keeping you guys updated, and to anyone else that supported us, gave us feedback and who were very active in feeding us with great ideas during the process. Special shoutout to our player Ambassadors, who go above and beyond with support, passion, and feedback!