HM3 Journal: Duplicity

The biggest challenge so far in designing HeroMachine 3 has been how to let the user control multiple items in the same slot, particularly multiple examples of the same item in that slot. For instance, if you want three Colt .45's on the character, trying to present the controls for them in an intuitive way is hard. Today I've been working on how that might work, and I have a screen shot of the simple test movie:


The idea here is that when you click on an item to add it to your character, a tool bar gets added to that item's preview box. At a glance, then, you can tell which items are loaded and which are not, which is a deficiency in the current round of Minis. The first item in the new item tool bar is a number with a little drop-down arrow next to it. The idea on this is that if you have the aforementioned three Colt .45s loaded, clicking on the dropdown will cycle through each one in order, from 1 to 2 to 3 and then back to 1. I would probably add something that would briefly highlight the actual item on the character, too, so you know which number goes with which of the guns.

The next button on the tool bar is a lock/unlock toggle. Clicking that will lock the current item so it doesn't get removed when you add another item from that slot.

Next comes the Delete Item button, which would remove that item from the character (and the toolbar from the preview box, so you know that item's not loaded any more).

Finally you have the Reset button, which will return the item in question to the default rotation, scale, and colors.

The "Dupe" button would go away in this scenario. I think it was confusing and non-intuitive to use, and hope that this new way -- focusing on the items -- might be easier.

What do you think?

13 Responses to HM3 Journal: Duplicity

  1. Moonshade says:

    That looks great. You’ve put handy actions on the toolbar, and you’re right, it’ll make it very easy to see what’s loaded and what isn’t.

    The more you show us, the more I’m looking forward to the finished product!

  2. Kaldath says:

    I think it is a good Idea and I like it. I also hope you figure out a way to allow multiple items from the same category ( even if it is dupes of the same item ) to be layered Separately. So for example you have can have a cloak/cape on the character back, and a second one resized and layered on the top layer to make a loin Cloth.

  3. Mark says:

    This looks pretty good Jeff. One suggestion tho– rather than putting the select/lock/delete/reset (SLDR) control bar across the middle of the preview buttons, why not put it across the bottom or the top? It would obscure less of the actual item that way.

    In fact, you might consider adding grayed-out, inactive SLDR controls on EVERY item that only become active/colored when the item is selected. That way the SLDR controls won’t obscure any part of the items. Granted the items will have to be ever-so-slightly smaller than they are now.

    Overall tho, this looks like a winner. I had some difficulty with the dupe controls at first too.

  4. Ballin' Boy says:

    In my opinion less clicks is better. So even if you put the lock feature in, I don’t think it should replace the Dupe button completely. Because at least the dupe button was only one click and it covered all the items. I don’t want to have to click the lock button for every item.

    Have you considered a tutorial where you have a screenshot of the app and as the mouse arrow scrolls over a button or something it gives a quick description of the function BUT it also shows examples of how to use it?

    Overall I think I need more than a screenshot to determine whether I like it or not. Any chance for a mini mini mini miniscule preview of like 3-4 items taken from that, I’m guessing it’s the horror or zombie mini, and see how it works?

  5. Frankie says:

    I have to agree with Kaldath on the current layering capabilities. When making multible dupes and using the rotation and scale tools to create “new” items, it would be nice to have everything to be able to go where you want it when you start using the layering tool.

  6. Ballin' Boy says:

    You know you might consider a customize box or something to that effect. Because while I agree with Kaldath and Frankie that at times it is beneficial to have the items in a slot layer separately (like the example Kaldath gave. I actually like what you did by keeping them together, because it makes some characters easier to make. Particularly one I’m making now using insignias but requires me to dupe the body (then hide it behind the front body) and insignia many times for the masking. So having the insignia show up at the top is good for me at other times.

  7. Jimmy says:

    Yes it took me a while to figure out that dupe button thing.

  8. Jeff Hebert says:

    @Kaldath: Yes, the plan at this point is to have everything sitting in one group, so you can layer everything however you want, regardless of the original “slot”. I haven’t figured out yet how to make that really work in terms of the initial, default layout, but I’m working on it.

    @Mark: Yes, it will lie across the bottom, I was just in a bit of a rush putting this test together. Graying them out is a good idea, I’ll have to think about that.

    @Ballin’ Boy 4: I probably will also have some sort of “Allow multiple items? Yes/No” sort of radio button for each set of items. Not sure how that will interact with the locking. And yes, the plan is definitely to have a “rolling beta” kind of like I did with HM2 back in the day, so whenever something significant comes out it’s put into the preview for you guys to play around with.

    @Ballin’ Boy 6: We’ll have to tinker around with it once I have a complete assemblage of sets and see how it goes. There are a lot of conflicting user requirements to contend with, which is always the challenge of good User Interface design.

  9. Alan says:

    @Jimmy: Same here.

  10. TigerGuy786 says:

    That sounds really great! I like that. One thing that frustrated me about the Modern Warrior was having to go into “Delete Mode” to delete one thing. Thanks for you work! that sounds like it will really help!

  11. Danny Beaty says:

    How many poses will there be? I assume there will be male and female poses. I tried making a female body with “Modern Warrior” (It wasn’t pretty.) The problem with simply enlarging everything is keeping everything proportionate. Also, if you plan on marketing “HM3”, the more user friendly it is, the better your chances will be of selling it. I would like to see all the poses that are in “HM2.5” plus teen male and female poses. I realize this would take a lot more time and a lot more work, but it would really pay-off in the end. Also, there is the question of quality: why settle for a adequate product when you can make a fantastic product.I would like to see a “Blend” mode. For example, when I made a capital “A” insignia for my “Atlas” superhero, I reformed 2 beltbuckles and 2 belts to make the “A”, which looked as if it had been made of four seperate pieces. It would have been nice to have blended the pieces together, so the “A” would look as if it had been sculpted from one big piece of material. I like the “Patterns” in MW. If you make “Patterns” part of “HM3”, I hope there will be more patterns. Jeff, I’m really looking forward to “HM3”, and if you choose to market it, I hope you becomer richer than MY wildest dreams!

  12. Kaldath says:

    @Danny .. From what I understand the plan is to have two basic poses, one male and one female, with separate arm and legs in different poses so you can Build a “body” in any pose ( well almost they will have to be full frontal poses unless you can get real creative somehow) then resizing to form Bricks, or Teenagers et al.

    As to your problem with making custom items out of multiple items, I would suggest playing with the Line color of them items, if you make all three color the same ( color 1, Color 2 & line color ) for all the items they will easily blend together to look like a single object.

  13. Danny Beaty says:

    Thanks Kaldath!