There’s already a video out of the new character creator for EVE Online, which is about to hit the Singularity test server, if it hasn’t already, and which will launch with EVE’s next expansion, Incursion, which is slated for November. (Thanks to CrazyKinux for the heads-up.) There’s a dev blog about it HERE, which answers most of the questions I had about it, and which also raises some interesting potential ideas for the future, like jumping into clones of different races, bloodlines and genders than you started with.
The new avatar creator is a precursor to Incarna, the long-awaited and much-ballyhooed “walking in stations” enhancement to EVE, which will finally shut the “yeah, but you can’t get out of your ship,” criticism down. So Incursion will give you full-body avatar creation (with what look to be outstanding customization options,) while we’ll have to wait until Spring or Summer to actually disembark and do stuff. In the meantime we’ll just see a shoulders-up portrait much as we do now, but hopefully it’ll be animated (which I kind of expect.)
When this goes live on Tranquility, all existing avatars will need to be recreated. I am very much looking forward to this, since my existing EVE character (which attentive readers may realize was my first-ever MMO character) looks like a gimp. As is pointed out in the dev blog, the new avatars are supposed to look much less cartoony.