Category Archives: Suggestions & Ideas

Feature requests, future version enhancements, and anything else you want the program to do.

HM3: Enter the Haberdasher

I’m going to start working on Headgear today, so let me know any specific requests you have in the comments. If you’ve made suggestions about Headgear items before in other posts, please re-submit them here if you don’t mind; it’s hard to go back through the old stuff and pick out onesie-twosie requests.

And yes, I’ll be including every current HeroMachine 2 Headgear item, so you can skip those.

HM3’s Headgear slot will include at least sets for Standard, Helmets, Masks, and Glasses. If you think of other big groups of headgear-related items that deserve to have their own set, let me know that too.

HeroMachine competitor

My Portuguese is a bit rusty but thanks to Google Translator, I’m pretty sure the guys who do Her-O-Matic have a new version in the works, previewed here:

And here’s another preview of the app:

What do you all think? It’s got some really cool features, most of which (I think) are going to be do-able in the HM Warrior Mini, and then in HM3. Particularly the heads and hands and legs and such being swappable. The only big think I can see they have that I don’t is the texturizing, but I have a pretty good idea how to do that. Is that something you’d want?

On the other hand, I don’t see that in their version you can scale, rotate, or move objects, and I think you’re going to find with the Mini that they are key features, which are going to make for some very powerful options.

They also don’t have item previews, little versions of each one that you can scroll through. How important is that to you?

Anyway, they’re doing a nice job, and I was curious what you thought about it. If there’s anything you see that you want HM3 to have, let me know in the comments.

Comic book ideas: The Badges and Sidekicks

I now leverage the power of having my own blog to force you, the unwitting reader, to pay attention to my latest ideas for comic books which I will never actually publish! This reminds me of something I read by a popular author who kept getting people deluging him with book ideas. They would always tell him “I did the hard part in coming up with the idea, all you have to do is write it!” But the ideas are the easy part, as evidenced by the masses of people who keep thrusting them on him. The hard part is actually sitting down and cranking out the product, fleshing out the characters, making the action real, revising and revising and revising until you actually have something people can read.

That’s the hard part.

Having said that, I now will do the easy part and just throw my ideas out there, secure in the knowledge that I am too lazy to actually get them done.

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Recommended comics blog reading

I can hear you out there right now, thinking “I like reading this blog and Jeff Hebert is one darn sexy bald guy, but where can I go for yet more excellent comics-related blogging?” Luckily for you I am not just a mind-reader, but also a subscriber to the following Certified Good Comics Blogs:

  • Chris’s Invincible Super-Blog“: Chris has become a true Titan (or Inhuman, or New God, or Asgardian, or any other comics-related mythological bad-ass of your choice) of the comics-blogging world, with his weekly review of new releases and all things related to Batman kicking people in the face.
  • Again With the Comics“: The highest compliment one creative type can give another is to say “I wish I’d done that”, and that’s exactly how I feel about Brian Hughes’ “One Hulk, Two Hulk, Red Hulk, Blue Hulk” post.
  • Comics Worth Reading“: Primary author Johanna Draper Carlson offers a great take on the comics industry, including a number of excellent reviews of Manga releases about which, frankly, I know nothing. If you’re trying to expand your comics tastes, check out her recommendations.
  • Fraggmented“: I keep reading John Seavey’s blog largely due to his “Storytelling Engine” series, where he takes a thoughtful look at why certain kinds of characters and books work and others do not. It’s a good read when you’re wanting something thoughtful instead of lame jokes about sentient trees wearing William Shatner’s wigs (what loser would write something like that?!).
  • The Vault of Buncheness“: Chris Bunche, comic book industry insider, gives good post on a wide range of topics of interest to the types of people who read comics. This one comes with some strong language and a few not quite safe for work images, so be warned.

That’s pretty much what I read when it comes to comics blogs. I’d love to hear about others that you follow in the comments, so by all means feel free to throw out your own favorites!

What next?

One of the reasons I wanted to start this blog was so that all of you out there would have the chance to be involved in an ongoing development project by providing insight and input throughout. Over the last few months there hasn’t been a lot of opportunity for that, as the Expansion was in the “grind the items out to the additional templates” mode.

But now that the 2.5 expansion is finally getting to the wrapping-up stage, it’s time to start discussing what you would like to see next out of the HeroMachine team. I’ve been talking with the UGO team, and here are the ideas we’ve put forth as big projects. I’d like to know what you all think about them, or if there are other things you’d like to see us work on.

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Expansion bug updates

I have now fixed all of the bugs from the Big List that can be fixed. Or at least, that can be fixed by me; I’m sure a better Flash developer could repair the LeftHand load bug, for instance. I want to thank everyone who took the time to post errors, having everything all in one place made the whole process much, much easier. You guys rule! Note that the fixes won’t be live until the final 2.5 update, hopefully next week.

I’ll now be moving on to copying over some of the component genre sets into other components. Here’s what I am thinking so far (edited to add new stuff per the comments section):

  1. Copy Coats-Standard into Overshirts.
  2. Copy Coats-CapeFronts into Overshirts.
  3. Copy Coats-CapeFronts into Undershirts.
  4. Copy Coats-FantasyArmor into Overshirts.
  5. Copy Coats-FantasyArmor into Undershirts.
  6. Copy Coats-FantasyCommon into Overshirts.
  7. Copy Coats-FantasyCommon into Undershirts.
  8. Copy Overshirts-Standard into Coats.
  9. Copy Leggings-Standard into Overleggings.
  10. Copy Leggings-Standard into Pants.
  11. Copy Overleggings-Standard into Leggings.
  12. Copy Overleggings-Standard into Pants.
  13. Copy Pants-Standard into Leggings.
  14. Copy Pants-Standard into Overleggings.
  15. Copy Back-Standard into Wings.
  16. Copy Back-Standard into Tails.
  17. Copy Wings-Standard into Back.
  18. Copy Wings-Standard into Tails.
  19. Copy Tail-Standard into Back.
  20. Copy Tail-Standard into Wings.
  21. Copy Companion-Standard into Back.
  22. Copy Companion-Standard into Wings.
  23. Copy Companion-Standard into Tail.
  24. Copy Background-Expansion1 into Back.
  25. Copy Background-Expansion1 into Wings.
  26. Copy Background-Expansion1 into Tail.
  27. Copy Neckwear-Shoulders into Coats.
  28. Copy Neckwear-Shoulders into Overshirt.
  29. Copy Neckwear-Shoulders into Undershirt.

If there are other components you’re dying to have, by all means please speak up, preferably in the comments to this post so everything’s in one place. Each one of these duplications is easier than coming up with a whole new batch, but I do still have to manually position everything for three out of the six templates. I finally wised up halfway through developing this thing and started putting all components in the same spot so I could just cut and paste without repositioning, but it was too late for the first three.

Good costuming

I certainly have written enough words at this point about bad super-hero costumes, but I wanted to take advantage of the tidings of joy in the air at this time of year to point you to a site that features nothing but great design — Project Rooftop. From their “About” section:

Project Rooftop is where cartoonists and illustrators bring their costume design skills to task in tribute to the superheroes and villains we’ve grown up with. This site is intended to promote excellence in costume design as well as foster continued interest for these amazing characters.

All characters are copyrights and trademarks of the respective publishers and creators. All of the designs here were created not for profit and this site is used solely for artistic enjoyment.

Whenever you feel the urge to see what other really creative, talented people can do with super-heroes, I urge you to browse through the Rooftop archives. They’re really something special.

Interest in Making Your Own HM Items?

I was wondering if there would be interest out there in making your own actual HeroMachine items, which would be Flash objects just like everything else — colorable, selectable, and usable on any of the six bodies. The idea is that I would release the Flash source files (like m1-RightHand-Expansion1.fla for instance) and write up some instructions for how to create your own items. People would draw their own items and send me their versions of the source files, and I’d compile them up into further expansion pack releases for others to use.

The source file for the main engine, heromachine.fla, would not be released.

The thing is, you’d have to own Flash and know how to use it. The code on the item files is very simple, all you have to do basically is change the name of the item in three places and you’re good to go. What I don’t know is how many people would be interested in something like that, and then how many would follow through and actually do something.


HeroMachine 3 Items

One of the members of the HeroMachine discussion group wrote the following suggestions for HeroMachine 3:

I have three suggestion for the HM 3
1- create a forhead component. Cool for jewel and other piercing but also for rhino or unicorn horns and for classi mask insignias.
2 – Separate belt in two components : the belt body and the buckle. It permit to create combos. You can introduce in hM3 stuff like metallic letters buckles or other symbol bucles and combinate that with all kind of belt.
3 – Patterning : Not just propose only color but also patterns. Those patterns must be color customisable, of course. It particulary interesting for components like undershirts, leggings and masks. But we can imagine different kinds of patterns and textures for each components. But i suppose it’s less manageable.

These are excellent suggestions. The patterning is already in the plan (such as it is), but I hadn’t thought about separating out buckles.

In my head, the basic idea behind HM3 will be that each spot on the body will have multiple sets of items you can load onto it. So for instance, among the slots available to place on the Torso would be four for shirts (Shirt Slot 1, Slot 2, Slot 3, and Slot 4). I’d have a bunch of separate files containing item sets that would fit any of those four slots, probably grouped into themes, like “Undershirts”, “Overshirts”, “Bandoliers”, “Capes”, etc. so it’s easy to find the items you want. But you could choose to load all four slots up with the Undershirt items if you wanted.

One of the key differentiators between HM1 and HM2 was that in HM1, if you wanted a particular body, you were stuck with whatever components and items were made for that body. So if you wanted a big brickish looking guy, you couldn’t get martial artist weapons, or if you wanted a melee warrior you couldn’t get firearms. HM2 did away with that limitation, so all items and all components were available on any body style. But you still are stuck with, for instance, only one Coat slot. If there are two Coats you want to layer on a character, you can’t. My goal with HM3 is to do away with that limitation, so that you can basically load any set of items you want into any component slot you want.

That raises some complications when it comes to masking — for instance, fitting a gun into a hand without the lines from the gun overlapping the lines of the hand. But that’s the general idea.

For whom the poll tolls …

One of the features I’m most excited about with the new site is the “poll” module in the right hand column. The current question involves matters nearest and dearest to my heart — what do you want to see me and UGO spending our time on with the HeroMachine? I’m working on it full-time right now, so the possibilities are wide open. When you get a chance, register your preferences so I’ll know what it is I ought to be doing!