HM3: Tech tops and multiples

I wanted to show you some of the "Tops" items I've been working on for HeroMachine 3:

This is the second page of items; the first is all stuff from the Modern Warrior Mini, which you've already seen. Note that I've broken these items down into four types -- vest only, left arm only, right arm only, and complete item. I did this so that you could mix and match "sleeves" with various torso pieces. For instance, maybe you like the first chest piece, but you want to couple it with the big bulky arm pieces in the middle row. With these items broken apart, it's no problem.

I also wanted to include the completely assembled pieces for those who don't want to be bothered with selecting and coloring three different things, but who want just one to do it all. That works fine if you don't want to move the figure's arms, and more advanced users can easily hand-assemble the units they want.

I've been struggling mentally with how to organize all this stuff. Originally I was planning on having "Body" broken up into like seven different slots, including upper & lower arms, upper & lower legs, etc. But the more I got into it, the more it seemed like that would impose a high burden on the user to have to go through and pick all those pieces. I want HM3 to be just as easy to use as 2.x was for kids or lazy people (like me). Then I started thinking that having a bunch of "sleeves" in "Right Upper Arm" was overkill and confusing. If you're trying to dress a character, you're going to be looking where the rest of the shirt is, you know?

It's starting to look like "multiple items" is going to pretty much be a very necessary thing. Having the mini toolbars right there on each item preview makes this less of a pain than you might think, as you can cycle through items pretty easily, quickly getting rid of the ones that don't work.

I hope to have the alpha (it's not really even a beta yet) posted very soon so you can play around and see if this approach works in actual usage or not.

7 Responses to HM3: Tech tops and multiples

  1. DJ says:

    I love the top two armors. They are awesome.

  2. Timespike says:

    That center row is amazing.

    These updates are making me drool.

  3. HalLoweEn JacK says:


    HM3 is turning into Starcraft 2 – continuous releases of tantalising material that makes me want to play it SOOO much, but not even a definite release date in sight!

    CURSE YOU JEFF BLIZZARD! And yet bless you at the same time.

  4. tristan says:

    are you going to make matching pants

  5. Scorpidius says:

    Love the idea of splitting the tops up like that, Mixing the sleeves will add so many more options.


  6. Jason says:

    Got a question and a suggestion. First the question: Given the multiple arm arrangements that you have available (and I personally love), it stands to reason that multiple sleaves would need to be drawn to go with each possition to make it possible for them to look “Normal.” Are you going to do that, do you have your own idea to get around this, or are we just going to deal with bare arms if we want to have said arms in a non standard possition?

    Second, the suggestion: Organizing all of this is going to be a PITA, no two ways about it. Since this version has a perfectly asymetrical view one way to cut down on clutter is to keep hands, arms, and legs to just that and either add a left/right option or just let us users use the flip item option already there.

    Did I say one suggestion? Ok, multiple suggestions on the same subject. Secondly, setting up the component dropdown to have sub-menues. So click on the drop down and Head, Torso, Back, Arms, Legs, weapons, and accessories would be available. Mouse-over arms and you would have the additional options of Left Arm, Right Arm, Left Hand, Right hand. Example of this can be found at The breakdown of arangement is just off the top of my head.

    If you are doing multiple drawings for the sleeves the number of items will be cluttered. To minimize this, I’d set it so only the sleeves that match the already selected arms are available. Probably not possible if you’re setting up the preview section as one solid image (which I think you are)

    Heh… so much for a quick post. Hope something in there was helpful.

  7. Jeff Hebert says:


    There is a flip button, yes, it’s just not turned on yet. It works in the minis though.

    The nested dropdowns have never been a big favorite of mine. You’re essentially getting the same thing with the two separate dropdown boxes, one for the slot and one for the set, just organized a bit differently. The problem with having the user do all of the flipping is that it’s an extra step, and an extra cognitive leap. I did it that way initially with the Modern Warrior mini, and ultimately ended up going back in and adding the opposite slot in manually anyway. It’s easier on the user that way, and more intuitive.

    I’ve got to try and make it possible for a ten year old to come in and use this thing with a minimum of questions for Mom and Dad, and a minimum of steps for the quick-hitter type of user. That means, as in the existing Tops-Tech set, making options for just one or the other sleeve, for just the torso portion, and for all of it put together. That way the person who’s into different arm poses can flip and rotate and do what they like, but the more casual user who likes the basic pose and just wants to dress it up can do so with one click as well.

    I considered making pop-up menus when mousing over the actual items, but it gets in the way of dragging, and gets you away from the composition window being dedicated to composition. Right now you’ve got very clearly defined areas of function, with essentially a viewer on the left and a composer on the right. There’s some crossover with dragging and selecting, but not a lot. I like that clean divide.