Author Archives: Jeff Hebert

New Layout Now Live!

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I’ve just updated HeroMachine.com with a new layout in response to the problems Google AdSense reported. Had I not made these changes, Google would have shut down my account and quite simply, I’d have had to close the site. There should be no effect on your character saves though, as always, hopefully you have text and/or image backups just in case. I confirmed this by loading previously saved characters using the new file.

I tried to make a virtue out of necessity, always keeping in mind while redesigning both the site and the apps what the best user experience would be and not just what would make Google happy. I hope on that front things are actually better now. Here are the major changes:

  • I removed the integrated 300×250 ad unit from all HeroMachine versions. The upshot is that you should have more space available to see your character, and you can now capture the screen in landscape mode without the ad being visible.
  • I also moved the controls in both HM2 and HM3 from the right side to the left. Partly this is to avoid having any clickable controls too near the ad in the right column, and partly it’s because it always seemed like that was a more natural place for them to be. I only had them where they were to make the ad more prominent (that was decided by UGO back in the day).
  • The page is now 1080 pixels wide, which along with rearranging the apps should result in keeping the work area the same as it was when there was only a single column in the narrower layout. The standard site-wide side bar is also now present on the character creation pages.
  • Finally, the forums now have the standard site-wide side bar. Hopefully that will help integrate the blog and forums more closely to foster cross-discussion and visibility of things like contests.

From a business standpoint, I do worry that the new layout will not pay out nearly as well as the original. If that’s the case I will have to try other ways to monetize the site so I can keep it going. That might include different ad placements, but it might also mean more radical changes like some sort of premium area based on a subscription model where no ads are served and the apps are full-screen, or making downloads available for sale, or even (as a last resort) going back to the pre-UGO days when there was a crippled version of the apps available for free and only paid users got the full slate of items. I’d rather not do that, but I have to pay the bills, you know?

Anyway, hopefully everything will work out fine and I won’t need to make any more changes.

If you run into any problems with the new layout or the new app versions, or if you’d like to let me know what you think of the changes (hopefully without too much cursing!), please let me know in the comments section.

Let me know what you think about a new layout

As I mentioned earlier, I have to redesign the way the site is laid out to avoid getting the Google Hammer dropped on me. Basically the ads are too close to the content in the current layout.

The good news is, the app itself has also gone under the knife, and I think there are a few good bits in there for you, the intrepid HeroMachine creator. Here’s a screen capture of what I’m proposing:

hmnewad-screencap

And the stuff I hope you’ll like about it?

  • The Google ad will no longer be present in widescreen mode, so you can once again do screen captures without having to crop. Hooray!
  • The character canvas is larger than in the current layout letting you see more of your creation.
  • I’m proposing to swap the tool buttons over to the left side, which always felt more natural to me.

None of this is set in stone, of course. I’ll be continuing to make tweaks to the design over the weekend, so please let me know any thoughts you have on the new layout.

Changes coming ’round

I got a notice today from Google that the HeroMachine apps are in violation of their placement policies. Apparently they require 150 pixels between any Flash content and their ads. As a result, I’m going to have to make some major changes to the HM layouts. I only have three business days to get into compliance, so you’re going to see some weirdness over the next few days. I apologize in advance for any frustration you run into.

Electrium vs. Surge

I worked with Brad Carter on another illustration of his characters, this time featuring the speedsters Electrium and Surge. He gave me the following writeup of what he wanted:

I want another battle scene but this time instead of 2 powerhouses it is 2 speedsters Surge and Electrium.

Surge’s powers: Runs at the speed of light (fastest human alive) a skilled combatant snd get generate and manipulate positive lightning (lightning that comes from the sky) he can also utilize electronics byusing his lightning powers. his suit is made out of pure energy (no spandex) in the concepts you will see lighting bolts on his costume those glow with lightning energy running through them. Surge stand at 6’11 about 185lbs of athletic ness he’s not muscle bound like titan but he is not skinny either he is the perfect build for an athletic speed runner

Electrium’s powers: electrium is basically the reverse surge he has the same exact powers and capabilities the only difference is electrium can control negative lightning (which comes from the ground) and is more devastating then positive lightning his suit is also made out of energy the same way so no spandex the basically have energy based armor suits kinda like the green lanterns suit is made out of energy so around that concept. elstrium is the same size and build as surge.

basically the battle will be on the ground and they will be running side by side with lightning coming off of them symbolizing how fast they are going I want electrium to be running kinda leaned back ready to throw a lightning fist at surge and have surge in front of electrium as if he got a few steps ahead of him and jumped in the air while running to hit electrium with a lighting fist as well however if you think of a better idea we can do that as well have like a blured building in the background or something to make it look like they are running super fast I will send you the concepts of them

Brad also provided the following HM reference photos:

With that as our starting point, we were off to the races! So to speak. Ahem. I don’t have the process photos to show you but the final result turned out pretty well. I ended up doing the coloring in Photoshop, which is a bit of a new approach for me.

Brad-Carter-Speedsters-web

Exporting in Chrome Broken Again

Chrome has apparently auto updated again and once more they’ve broken something, so the Export function isn’t working in that browser at the moment. This happened once before and within a few days they updated again and it started working. I don’t know what it is they break and I don’t know how they fix it, but unfortunately all I can do is wait on them. In the meantime, Firefox continues to work properly, so if you don’t want to do screen captures, that’s your best bet.

Titan vs. Demora

I recently completed another commissioned illustration for an awesome guy currently serving the US overseas. Here is the description we started with:

Continue reading

The Jackrabbit March Hare Contest

(Note: This is a guest post by author Ian Thomas Healy.)

Greetings, HeroMachine Faithful! I’m back once again with a brand new design contest in honor of my upcoming book release. Jackrabbit is the fifth book in the Just Cause Universe series and the fourth with a cover done by your very own Jeff Hebert! This is Jackrabbit:

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Jackrabbit is a fun guy, a weirdness magnet, and a penchant for getting himself into bizarre predicaments and ridiculous situations, and that’s the theme of the contest. Since Jackrabbit himself has a very basic and simple appearance, I want to see you put him into bizarre predicaments and ridiculous situations (Keep them PG, please). Here are a couple ideas to get you started.

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As with all other HeroMachine contests, please upload your images to your favorite image sharing site and post the direct link to it here. The contest will end on Friday March 7. The prizes are as follows: I will select the best of the goofy Jackrabbit images and incorporate them into the video book trailer. If your work is selected for the trailer, you will win an ebook copy of Jackrabbit before it goes on sale on April 1, and your name will appear in the trailer credits. The creator of my favorite entry will win a signed Advance Reading Copy (a print book) as well as the ebook and trailer credit.

Let the wackiness commence!

Legal: Jackrabbit, Just Cause, and the Just Cause Universe are Copyright to Ian Thomas Healy. All Rights Reserved. Entry into this contest construes explicit permission for Ian Thomas Healy and Local Hero Press to utilize and display the contest entry for promotional purposes without further recompense to the entrant beyond the stated prizes of an ebook edition of Jackrabbit and/or a print edition of an Advance Reading Copy of Jackrabbit.

Half-Elven Victorian Detective

Another Reddit /r/characterdrawing sketch. The original description was:

She’s a major character in a book that I’m currently writing, sort of the enigmatic Sherlock Holmes/Special Agent Pendergast type character that trouble always seems to follow or she always stirs up somehow. Just as a costume note she wears pants rather than a dress for practical purposes.

Go nuts.

victorian-detective

Enjoy!

Sophomoric Humor

Over on /r/characterdrawing, someone made the following request:

Hello everyone. This is my first post here, but somehow my players have themselves convinced that there’s a dwarven soccer team involved in my current campaign. It might be some cryptic clues I’ve given them, but is there anyone out there who might be willing to sketch a dwarf playing soccer that I might use as the logo for the campaign online?

Thanks very much for your time.

So I came up with this. Yes, it’s immature, but then again, so am I. Apologies to anyone finding it offensive.

dwarf-soccer

Smiles, everyone!

I’ve just added the following 19 smile variations to the MouthFemaleStandard set of items. I hope they put a smile on YOUR face as well! See what I did there?!

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