EVE Online players are spoiled by a dedicated development team. The bunch charged with making *cues Godlike voice* AWESOME planets is no exception. Find out how it's done!
The scrum team responsible for the updated planet graphics in Dominion was Team Oli Dan. Here we will explain how the planets came into existence; but the team also redid the star field background, created sovereignty structures, fighter bombers, and factional ships.
We have several types of planets in EVE: Gas giants, Temperate (Earthlike), Barren, Ocean, Storm, Ice and Lava. In addition we have moons, which from a programmer's perspective are also planets. A new type was added in Dominion, the mysterious Plasma planets.
In order to make an omelet you have to break some eggs
Almost all the shaders use a height map at its base and this texture determines much of the surface features. It is generated by blending two textures together to get variations. The textures are grayscale and square, but they are combined with different scale and position. Our artists created different types of height maps for the different worlds we were creating. For instance, the Ice planet textures are very cracked and craggy, while the Temperate planet textures are based on height maps of Earth.
Read the rest of the creation process at the link above.