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EVE Online's Incarna for summer 2011

"It's fully operational," says CCP.

EVE Online's oft-talked-about but never-nailed-down Incarna expansion (née Walking in Stations) will be released in summer 2011, Eurogamer can reveal.

Speaking exclusively this afternoon, creative director Torfi Frans Olafsson said Incarna will be the beginning of EVE Online's transition from "the space game" to "the ultimate sci-fi world".

"Incarna is in development," Olafsson began, scotching rumours to the contrary. "We are working hard on all of the back-end technology required to make it work alongside designs for what actually happens within the stations.

"Since our release cycles are very short - only six months - we have opted for rolling it out progressively. And the character creator coming out this winter with the character assets [in new expansion Incursion] is the first step towards Incarna - in a similar way that we released new planet graphics one expansion before launching planetary interaction. You'll be getting the Incarna characters this expansion, in Incursion, and the goal is that the first implementation of Incarna will becoming in the next expansion.

"That will be next summer," he added, when pressed.

"But it [already] runs in-house on our computers. We prioritised it down during Apocrypha [March 2009], and it has gone up and down in terms of prioritisation since. But it's fully operational, there are people working on it, it's on our road map - it's not going away.

Walking in Stations, as Incarna was then known, was promised on and off throughout 2009. As the name suggests, the expansion/addition allows avatars to walk and explore 3D environments; where no [EVE] man has gone before.

In closing, Olafsson reiterated that Incarna's release next summer will be a beginning rather than an end: "This will not be a full-blown new game inside EVE with 10,000 hours of content," he said. However, his overarching aim with Incarna will be to change the face of EVE Online forever.

"Incarna is not really an expansion, it's an addition to the game which is a stepping-stone in us realising our long-term goal of making EVE the ultimate science fiction simulator," offered Olafsson. "Essentially, it's the transition from EVE being 'the space game' to EVE becoming 'the ultimate sci-fi world'."