The first Incarna element will be Captain's Quarters, where players can get away from their crews on space stations. They'll be a small living quarters, filled with useful gadgets and connected to a viewing balcony, to gaze lovingly at your docked vessel.
The Quarters will offer in-environment interfaces for features such as changing ship fittings and customising your appearance. CCP explains that turning menu elements into 'physical' items will help ease new players into the game "without forcibly dragging them along with lengthy tutorials." Placing a Corp Recruitment console somewhere prominent, for example, will "explicitly tell a new player how important it is to find a good player corporation in EVE," CCP says.
Incarna will eventually bring a whole host of on-station features, including player-run shops, bars and games, but CCP is starting small with Captain's Quarters. Initially, they'll be "single-player," private areas. The developer explains that as Incarna will bring a lot of new technologies and features to EVE, it wants to "battle test" these before rolling out on a large scale. It also wants to be sure gameplay and server performance won't be affected too greatly.
EVE already rolled out remarkable new character creation tech with oodles of options in a previous update. However, these fantastic-looking avatars are still only seen in their profile portraits.
The Captain's Quarters are due to arrive on the 'Singularity' test server before the EVE Fanfest VII begins, which kicks off on March 24. It'll then go live on the main server in summer. The full Incarna expansion was scheduled to arrive this summer, but it'll now seemingly follow the 'Incursion' expansion's example and be split up into parts.