Character Design Contest ♯66 (Fashion Show 2) Poll

Character Design Contest ♯65 (Free For All) Winner

I  can’t believe how many votes we got for this weeks poll. The previous record for number of votes in a CDC poll was around 150. This week we got per 200 votes. And it was close, 6 votes between the winner and second place. But of course there has to be a winner. And that winner is DiCicatriz for Yrys. Congrats DiCicatriz, please make sure you talk to dblade about your prize, and well done to everyone who entered, there where some excellent entries.

65 DiCicatriz_Yrys

Anime Talk: Sword Art Online

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*** WARNING MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS ***

On this addition of Anime Talk I want to discuss the anime series “Sword Art Online”.  For those who do not know, Sword Art Online, or SAO for short is an anime about people being trapped inside a Virtual reality MMO computer game. Now before I go any further with this discussion I want to address the one thing I always see or hear come up when this series is discussed, which is .hack. Now I honestly do not know if SAO is a “ripoff” of .hack, or if .hack is a ripoff of SAO and honestly I don’t care. The premises of both series may be similar but the difference between the two are so large that I personally do not think either could be considered a true ripoff.

Continue reading

Subscriptions

After one work week, the new ad layout has proven to be a disaster, financially. That means two things in all likelihood:

  1. I’m going to have to go back to the old layout with the ad integrated, hoping that Google really only objected to the drop down menu covering the top ad and not the one in the app;
  2. The implementation of some sort of paid model.

I very much want to hear your thoughts on both of these but I imagine it’s the second that’s going to cause the most angst.

I should say at the outset that this is not set in stone. As always, your opinion matters very much to me. I’m just spitballing here; just like when I created HeroMachine, I’m trying to involve the community in coming up with solutions.

First, why am I considering this? The answer is simply that Google’s new layout has cost me 75% of ad revenue. I can’t live on that. And if I can’t live on that it means I can’t continue to host HeroMachine any more either. So something has to be done.

Second, I’m thinking that initially at least, all HM versions will continue to be free just as they are now, but that I’ll add a “Premium Members” area to the site in exchange for some subscription fee. What would you get for that fee? Two things, mainly — no ads at all on the page, and the ability to make the app window as big as your browser will allow. If you have a monitor that’s 2400 pixels wide, you get HeroMachine 2400 pixels wide. You could do HUGE screen shots, see all the controls and items in crisp, crystal clear detail, and have an enormous palette to work with. All with no ads.

Does that seem like something worthwhile? More to the point, is it something you could see yourself paying for? And if so, what would be reasonable? My gut instinct is a dollar per month. That’s $12 for a year, which doesn’t seem like much since I used to charge $20 for a CD.

Alternatively, I could do what I used to in the CD days, and make it so the free version had only the “Standard” set of items. Anything else you tried to load would give you a “This set of items is available only for Premium members” sort of message. Is that better or worse?

Look, we’d all like to be able to continue in the current mode of it all being totally free for you to use. But that depends on Google ads which, as we’ve seen, isn’t necessarily sustainable. It might be that there’s no longer enough support out there to keep the site going on a paid model either, but I won’t know until I try.

Again, this isn’t set in stone by any means. I encourage and welcome your feedback, though as always I do ask that we be respectful towards each other.

http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photo-set-fully-editable-vintage-premium-quality-labels-woodcut-style-eps-vector-illustration-image29732770

Kaldath’s Caption Contest #24

Once again it is time for a new caption contest! This week I want you to come up with your best replacement dialog for the following image:

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The usual rules apply, You are limited to Three (3) entries which are due by 12 noon Eastern Time on Tuesday April 1st.  Of course I as always expect you to keep your entries no worse then PG-13 in nature and that you follow all the normal rules of the forum when writing your caption for the above image. That being said I wish you all Good luck!

Caption Contest Delay!

I to being extremely ill last night and still not feeling all that well today I will be delaying the new Caption contest for this week until tomorrow.

HM3: Soulful Helmet and Cowl (Reward for CDC#59: Chinese Zodiac)

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Whiz Bang releases artwork to the masses! Masses scratch their heads and shrug!

This Helmet and Cowl is a prize request from Vectorman316 for winning Character Design Contest #59 (Chinese Zodiac).

The Cowl can be found in Tops/MaleFantasyCommon while the Helmet can be found in Headgear/Fantasy.

 

Character Design Contest ♯66- Fashion Show 2

Ok guys, this week we’re going to do another costume design contest like we did last year. The rules are simple, I’m only really concentrating on the costumes you come up with not poses or faces or backgrounds, so be creative with your costuming. It can be  any kind of costume, superhero, everyday, formal, historical etc. etc. Last time we did this sort of contest it was one of the best we’ve ever done, so I want you to beat that.

As per usual, no limits on entries this week and the contest will close at midnight Saturday (blog time). The winner gets to claim a custom made item from dblade to be put into heromachine, so long as the item conforms to his prize rules, which you can find here: http://www.heromachine.com/forum/the-heromachine-art-gallery/dblades-whiz-bang-item-dispenser/. Please read the contest rules before entering, have fun and good luck.

Rules for posts, contests, and challenges that I am hosting: Original characters only, no copyrighted characters, no characters based on copyrighted characters, no characters based on RPG’s or other games. The characters must be your own design and not based on any character that might be copyrighted in any way. I have the right to delete any post that I believe crosses this line without warnings. Only post characters that you have either created for this contest specifically or you know for certain have never been entered to a contest before. If you aren’t certain, don’t enter it, because I’m not going to go back through all of the contests and check. 

HM2 Printing

In moving around the controls for HM2, I accidentally broke printing. But I have now un-broken it, so print away!

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.