HeroMachine 3 open Alpha

With that rather cryptic and Star-Trekkie-like headline, I am happy to announced that the early test version of the upcoming HeroMachine 3 is now available! Please note all of the caveats and disclaimers and warnings of incompleteness at the top of the page -- this is a very, very early look at the program, there are lots or more items and features yet to be implemented. Only about half the slots even have any items in them.

So yes, there will be eyes and noses and mouths and pants and gloves and boots and all that other stuff, in time.

Regardless, that page will always have the most up-to-date version of the test program I have.

What I'm looking for at this point is very broad feedback, things like how you feel the multiple item functionality works; whether or not the little toolbars in the preview of each item makes sense and has the buttons you want on it; does the organization of the items in the various slots work; etc. I'm fully aware that there are (not to get too technical) "a crapload" of features that while mostly working are still quite buggy, like the item selection getting hosed up if you mouse out of the menu area and scaling "all items" only works horizontally, that kind of thing.

Anyway, please make any suggestions, observations, complaints, requests (either items or features), or quips you like in the comments to this post. Whenever I launch an update I'll make a new entry for it and we can go from there.

Thanks already for all the great feedback I've received so far; with your help this program will absolutely kick ass!

47 Responses to HeroMachine 3 open Alpha

  1. Ballin' Boy says:

    So glad I didn’t have to go to work today.

    First off cool. And I’ll say one thing I like is how strong and heavy everything feels, what I mean is everything in the minis felt kinda loose and things moved.

    I guess suggestions I have is
    1.can you make it so we can click on the name of the slot instead of just the arrow.
    2. And when you click on a slot say body, it won’t let you unselect it unless you click on the other tab and choose a subset. But I love the fact you made it so you had to click the tab rather than just scroll over it

    Just figured I’d give you a comment to read real fast. Good job dude.

  2. Jeff Hebert says:

    Thanks Ballin’! I do need to make the name clickable as well as the arrow, that’s a good point. I think I was thinking about not making it open automatically on mouse-over and forgot to add it back on click.

  3. Lyogi says:

    I love the item mini bars. It makes managing multiple items much easier.

  4. Luke says:

    Is there going to be background items like in HM2 and 2.5? As i tried sizing an insignia to make the diamond background instead as i couldnt find them but it woudl nto go big enough. Looks really good so far though

  5. Jeff Hebert says:

    @Lyogi: Thanks, glad you like them!

    @Luke: Yes the plain shape backgrounds will be back.

  6. Danny Beaty says:

    So far, so good.

  7. Jeff Hebert says:

    Hey Danny, don’t forget to send me your illustration request for winning the last caption contest.

  8. Fabien says:

    The body standard set lacks of an obese belly for designing fat characters.

  9. Ballin' Boy says:

    Well in terms of organization, truth be told if there is anything you can do to put more features on the front page I’d appreciate it. In particular the color patches. Because as it stands now, there is no way to really have any connection between the two color tabs, so you can’t transfer color from 1 to 2 or can’t switch the colors without manually going to both color tabs if you accidentally put the color you wanted on color 1 on color 2 or vice versa.

    If anyone feel different please speak up, but I take smaller preview boxes to get the colors or something else on the front page, so there are less tabs. Which in turn means less clicks. Though not sure how possible it is with the new scroll bars (which are nice by the way though still trying to get used to them. Although the lock button doesn’t work unless there are at least two items from a slot selected already with the allow multiple buttons on already. Not sure if that’s the way it’s staying or not.).

    Also you could treat the save buttons like a scroll box. And have 1 button that says Save then when people click on that and you can have a pop up box that has all the different save options, which could free up a couple buttons

    I hesitate to comment on the item organization cause not sure if certain things are going to be combined later, like possibly the body slots, or broken up like possibly the face slot

    Anyway thanks for this it is already really fun to play with and it’s not even a beta yet. Three are plenty of things I like so far and I’ll be here to bug you till you ban me. πŸ™‚

  10. Jeff Hebert says:

    Thanks Ballin’, that’s the kind of thing I’m looking for.

    Fabien, missing items are not really what I’m looking for, as I’ve said repeatedly, there are lots and lots and lots of items yet to come.

    As far as putting colors on the front tab, there’s just no way. There are almost two hundred color boxes, they simply won’t fit without massively cutting down on the color choices. I need to think about some way of transferring colors from 1 to 2 like there is in the 2.x version. The addition of line color complicates that, obviously. And save-able custom colors.

    The lock button doesn’t work yet, I’m debating whether that feature’s even worth it, or if I ought to put a “complete reset” button there instead so you can reset the position, rotation, colors, and scaling of the item in question all at once.

  11. Alan says:

    I love it so far, I really love the new body poses.

  12. Worf says:

    Few things I’ve noticed:

    If I click on the items tab button and then click it again (close the tab without a selection) I still do not get back control of the rest of the interface.

    ItemLeft and ItemRight are not layered correctly with the hands (they always come on top). Plus (I know I might be asking too much) but shouldn’t they automatically “mesh” with the selected hand as much as possible? I mean, take HandLeft 3 (closed fist, palm up) I can’t make any weapon fit that hand at all. Plus, even if I could flip the gun around (a flip button might be nice here) layering would still be a “problem” as the weapon is either in front of the whole hand or behind it. If feels as if the fingers should be a separate layer. (Again, I might be asking too much)

    That’s it for now, but I’ll come back and find more comments. Otherwise I really liked it. You’re on the right track.

  13. neon_n64 says:

    Seriously, good job Jeff. I think everything feels right, it’s easy and intuitive. The only thing I missed from HM2.5 is a button to swap color 1 and color 2.

    General suggestion:
    Keep “splitting” items (like you did with the sleeves and torso for the tops). This can be applied to a lot of things like weapons and other hand items, hair (I like to make crazy hairs), belts, eyes (left eye, right eye), eyebrows, backgrounds, etc… Specially backgrounds, you could draw a couple of different moons, suns, clouds, floors, buildings, trees, mountains, etc. That way we could have customized backgrounds with many different colors.

    Also (this is a big one), could you consider to make every glove for every hand position?

    About individual requests… Can you please make a couple of katana blades with hamon? (one color for the blade, one color for the hamon).

    Anyway… thank you for all the effort you’re putting into HM3.

  14. DJ says:

    I’m glad you now have to click on the menu instead of just hovering over it like it was in the Modern Warrior one. That annoyed me to no end. I just started playing with so I’ll be telling you more here in bit. So far so great.

  15. GreenBat says:

    Great, I’m not going to get anything accomplished this weekend.

  16. DJ says:

    Wow. Just finished making my first with it and wow. I had my doubts because it is so drastically different then HM 2.5 and I wasn’t a huge fan of the Modern Warrior or Zombie apps but wow. This “alpha” is beautiful. The controls are great and I love how you have the menu set up for transforming it. I love being able to transform EVERYTHING at once. I am having tons of fun with this and can not WAIT till everything is completed. I don’t see what you’re talking about with the scaling on going only horizontally because it’s working great with me. This has so many options that it is near impossible to create the same exact character twice unless you try really hard.

  17. DJ says:


    It’s not working in the alpha but for the weapons and hands there is a mask button which you can look at in the modern warrior and zombie application.

  18. Joshua says:

    Jeff– first off, bravo, sir, bra-VO. However, I did run into a bug: the applet locked up on me. I was attempting to reposition an arm and accompanying amour when it happened. Managed to angle the armor just so, but when I clicked on the arm it shaded on me as if it were waiting on me to select Military/Standard/Zombie and afterward nothing I clicked on worked. Other than that, I dare face ridicule when I say it’s geekgasmic!

  19. Worf says:

    @DJ Thanks I finally got the workings of that. The “mask” button with the flip button is exactly what I was looking for. It ain’t perfect (if you change the hand after masking you loose the object and I didn’t manage to get it back without clearing the whole thing) but that’s exactly what I was thinking of.

  20. Jeff Hebert says:

    @Worf: Danny’s right, the “Mask” feature is the last remaining “Major” one to be implemented. Once it’s ready you’ll be able to make the items fit into the hands.

    Although, one thing I’ve been considering is to auto-mask anything in the “item” slots with the most recently added “hand” item. In looking through the Modern Warrior contest entries, it was clear to me that most people didn’t understand Masking at all. I need to make that easier.

    @DJ: Glad you’re pleasantly surprised!

    @Joshua: Thanks for the report, I haven’t seen that yet, I’ll poke around and see what I can find. In general the drop-down slot/set selection menus have been and continue to be pretty big pains in the butt.

  21. Ballin' Boy says:

    You guys really shouldn’t lose a lot of sleep over glitches, since this is just an alpha. I think Jeff wants more feedback on how easy is it for us to navigate and get the items we want and things like that. At least that’s what it seems to me.

    Jeff I think the lock button is better for experimenting, although it easier to use the dupe button with the toolbar, cause you can click on an item then delete right there, but right now you have to click on an item, then the second, then go back to delete the item before, otherwise you get taken to another slot if everything in a slot gets deleted.

  22. DJ says:

    I figured you would be able to pull it off but I still had that fear of “Why fix what isn’t broken?” well you upgraded it tons. I like the delete part better as well. You don’t have to worry about deleting the wrong thing.

  23. Jimmy says:

    Awesome Jeff. Can’t wait for the final.

  24. the topaz says:

    needs fat belly for larger characters, maybe a create an item or something but so far so great

  25. Paul says:

    Awesome stuff Jeff.

    Not sure if this is possible, but if you scale a certain body part (i.e. head), would it be possible to “lock” that new scale for all new additions to that area.

    For example, say I add a head first and make it really big. Now, when I add hair and eyes, I want those head objects to be at the same scale as the head.

    I realize you can add all the head objects and then do a group scale, but it seems like the use case I’m describing above would be useful.

    Keep up the great work.

  26. Niall Mor says:

    Jeff, I see your comments above in reply to Worf. Bringing the masking feature online and being able to properly position guns and such in the figures’ hands will be a huge step forward.

    That, and you gotta give these guys some pants πŸ™‚

    For a first attempt, it looks great. I like the larger scale. It makes it much easier to work with items and see details. I like the fact that each color has a name–this makes it much easier to remember what items were what color. Will the finished version the ability to switch between color 1 and color 2 with a single click, as you do now in HM 2.5? I really like that feature.

    Will the finished version include the ability to “keep items as a pair” for things such as gloves, boots, shoulder pads, etc. as is now the case in HM 2.5? I assume so, but I thought I’d ask.

  27. DJ says:

    Remember everyone he hasn’t loaded all the items yet. This is just an alpha. He wants to hear about glitches in it,features you want,features you don’t want and how the new features and layout works for us.

  28. Scorpidius says:

    Hi Jeff

    Just had a little fiddle with it and I must say this knocks the socks off your mini’s already.

    Everything feels so much more thighter and polished, the new way of selecting items and manipulating them is fantastic, it has such a smooth feel about it and I actually think it is much easier to use than the mini’s

    This is a fantastic start and I feel you are on to a big winner here!

    Just one question Jeff. Are there any thoughts of having a paintbush button? So we could free draw on the warrrior, e.g. scribble our own patterns, write text, colour face paint on warriors etc

  29. Fabien says:

    The face doesn’t position correctly by default. With the moving feature it’s not really a problem. The hair is positionned to low and you can use the moving feature to position correctly.
    The shoulders right and left aren’t layered correctly. They are positionned behind the body and tou can use the layer management tool to up it.

  30. Jeff Hebert says:

    @Niall: I’m porting over the Masking stuff now, but it needs some work (deleting the mask item makes the item that relied on it get real wonky, etc.). Pants are definitely next in terms of items. I’ll have to think through the color swapping functions, I hadn’t planned on including them but there seems to be some demand for it. I HAD planned on a “keep items paired” type of feature but given how the implementation has worked out I don’t think that’s going to be possible.

    @Scorp: I had thought about that, and it’s possible but … from a philosophical standpoint, I thought “Well, kind of the point of this whole thing is to be a program for people who can’t draw, so why include a manual drawing function? If you could draw you wouldn’t need the program in the first place…”

    @Fabien: Yes, I’ve been messing with the positioning of the head and it’s thrown things off a bit. It’s in the process of being corrected. I’ll look into the shoulders.

  31. DJ says:

    The thing with the draw though Jeff is that it would just add to the level of customization. As it is people wouldn’t have to use it but its there. You can’t be expected to fit EVERY item we want in it so being able to draw our own would help. It would also be a handy tool to fix some of the problem areas where the clothing doesn’t QUITE fit the body and there is some stuff showing.

  32. Kaldath says:

    Well this isn’t a comment on functionality or feature request, I figure I’d just show off my first attempt with the “Alpha”


  33. Frankie says:

    That was fun.

    For me(I don’t know about anyone else), saving to jpg only saved the left leg and hand. After I deleted that, I put it on widescreen and there was no way to return to the alpha lab. I thought the back one page button at the top of the window would work, but that just erased everything. All well, atleast I had fun making a nice looking character. I gave him a pair of pants, without having to color the leg skin. I also made a pair of mechanical shoes and mechanical gloves. And I gave him a helet that I made with an angry eyes visor. I’ll check out the updated version later.

  34. Jeff Hebert says:

    To get out of widescreen mode, you just press any key or click anywhere in the window.

  35. The Imp says:

    It’s going to be f**king awesome, Jeff, no doubt about that.

    One question/gripe: I like the concept of the outline feature, but the outline itself seems too thick, too ‘pixelated’. Is there a way to make the ouline just a bit thinner, and smooth it out a little?

  36. Paul says:

    So, did anyone else understand my comment, or better yet, think it had merit?


  37. The Imp says:

    Paul: I think that’s a good idea. That’s one of the problems/frustrations I have with the Warrior Mini – it’s kind of a pain in the ass to have to individually scale everything and make it match.

    If you could ‘lock’ a group of objects together, it would avoid that issue.

  38. Rendu says:

    Looks great, Interface is very easy to use. Just a couple of things:

    You need an “Ooops!’ button, even if it’s just the standard “Ctrl-Z”.

    “Color 1” and “Color 2” aren’t consistent. On the body, 1 is the “highlight” color and 2 is the “main” color, while for the items, 1 is the “main” color, and 2 is “detailing”. Maybe it’s just a layering thing.

    The flip function should work in both axes, and should probably be with the other Transform controls.

    I’ll keep watching and commenting.

  39. Jeff Hebert says:

    @Paul: It’s an interesting idea but I can’t think of a way to implement it. I do plan on having a “Clone” feature, where you can apply all of one item’s properties (rotation, position, colors, scaling, etc.) to another by clicking on it, like the paintbrush. Not the same thing, but a little closer.

  40. JudasFm says:

    Just had a quick look and it looks really good so far!

    Any chance of a more finely built centaur body? I use HeroMachien for a lot of centaur characters and the one thing I really didn’t like about 2.5 was that I only had one choice. Okay for the men (just) but a finely built, delicately featured female with the body of a Clydesdale just looked weird πŸ˜‰

    Also, will there be less mega-muscled characters and more of a normal, everyday body? Same thing as above really; I love the variety of objects and how easy it is to use, but sometimes I don’t want an Ultra-Cool Superhero type.

    Just my two cents πŸ™‚

  41. Paul says:

    Thanks for the reply Jeff.

    Yea, the clone feature would provide a way to do it.

    What if you could save a specific scale, rotate, and move setting as a preset, kind of like you can do in a print menu. So, if you save the settings for one item, you can select (from a list) that same “preset” for other items. You could provide a way to save the presets in the Grouping for Scale, Rotate, and Move panel. I guess that could be one way to implement a clone feature.

  42. Jason says:

    Hey Jeff! I finally have internet again so I can do more than just take a brief scan of things when I’m at a friends. That said, I’ve missed a LOT and don’t have the time to backtrack, so I’m sorry if this suggestion is a repeat.

    I saw that you’ve added some new viewing options (Full screen and body/head) that I really am going to enjoy. Can the facemaker applet be incorporated in so that a strait headshot can be done as well? Just an oddball thought.

    (Speaking of Facemaker, is it still only a beta version or did it get completed? I liked that app.)

  43. Jeff Hebert says:

    Welcome back, Jason!

    I do plan on bringing in as many of the Facemaker bits as possible, yes.

    The FaceMaker itself is probably as done as it’s going to get for the foreseeable future. UGO didn’t seem too interested in going forward with it so it’s lying fallow at the moment.

  44. Jason says:

    Noticed a slight issue almost not worth noting, but going to anyways. The shading color (color 1) adds shading to where the transperent lines are for joining body parts. Kinda messes with the illusion that they all are one graphic.

  45. JDB says:

    Yes…this was a big problem for me because i am an artist and use this as a quick rough sketch, and in that problem i had to put something over it so it didn’t look odd. Bye the way, i love what your doing and keep at it.

  46. marmcco says:

    When you click for the wide angle view of the hero, you DO get a wide angle view, but not all in one screen. I ended up only being able to see 1/4 of my hero’s body, and I had no way to un-select the wide view option. With the closeup of the head angle, you still have the control panel to the right, but that disappears in the wide shot.

  47. Bishwamc says:

    Hey this one doesn’t have head gears like last 1. also military type of accessories are less the 2.5