META: What’s the state of our union?

Here's the overall status of HeroMachine 3 as far as I know. Please let me know in comments where you think it is, where it needs to be, and what I ought to be doing next.

  1. I see the item population process as anywhere from a third to a half done. Almost all of the Standard sets are in, but I still have almost all of the non-Standard stuff to migrate. That's going to take a while.
  2. I am working on Neckwear now, with probably a quick dash into Sleeves to follow.
  3. Saving/Loading of characters is only minimally functional. Layer order is getting messed up on load, some items may be missing (although that might just be an artifact of the layering problem) on load, and the "Multiple/Single" setting for each slot is not reset, resulting in lots of confusion.
  4. Printing whenever you have a Hand loaded makes the character image occupy just a tiny corner of the resulting image. This makes saving as a JPG/PNG or printing fairly limited in value.
  5. The ability to specify a size when saving as a JPG/PNG would be very helpful.
  6. The program gets very slow, sometimes to the point of crashing, when a high number of items is loaded, particularly when patterning.

I think that hits the high priority stuff. I want to get Newckwear and Sleeves knocked out, then focus on the programming stuff again for a week or two.

I'd like to hear if that list seems right to you, what your specific experiences have been with it, and how you think the program's shaping up overall in a broader sense. Is it easy enough to figure out? Does it confuse you? What could be done at a higher level to make it all better? Has it met, exceeded, or fallen short of what you would want in a character creator?

19 Responses to META: What’s the state of our union?

  1. Ky2030 says:

    I think you’re just about on the money

  2. pilk says:

    elbow pads of some sort becuase theres always the open area for armor and such

  3. Hammerknight says:

    I think it is going as good as possible. Don’t get rushed. It’ll be there when it is the right time.

  4. berserker says:

    umm a problem ive had is that when i save the weapons change form blades two and ranged into blades

  5. The Imp says:

    Sounds pretty accurate.

    As far as bugs and problems, I was working on a character last night with a LOT of stuff on the screen. The last thing I put in was a shield, and that seemed to be the straw that broke the camel’s back. When I went to change it to a different shield, it wouldn’t let me, wouldn’t even let me delete it or move it. It would let me add a pattern and color to it, however. Fortunately, that was the last thing I had to add to the image, so it wasn’t a big deal, but it might be in the future…

  6. There are programs that download a portion of themselves into the computer, not unlike the Gears addition in WordPress. Could that be something to look into? Some sort of reworked Flash-base that would use some of our hard-drive space to make up the difference?

  7. Jeff Hebert says:

    That’s a possibility, Damien. I’ll have to diagnose the cause before I know a good cure, because it’s possible that the problem isn’t a network-to-desktop problem but rather an internal one with the program itself, in which case having part of it on the desktop wouldn’t help.

  8. Brons says:

    Printing (at least through the print control in HM3 itself) doesn’t seem to work on the Mac. I get blank white pages. I haven’t created any characters without hands, so maybe it is a variant on the hands/size problem.

    It is hard to predict what level a newly created part will appear at, so I end up bumping them up and down a lot. It may be inevitable, or it could be that you are doing something poorly. I can’t tell you.

    I haven’t really played with masking yet, but the couple of minutes I put into it left me confused. I’ll have to really sit down and figure out how that works. Till then, no critique on that area, beyond the observation that it initially leaves me going “Huh?”.

    On the whole, though it is working very well. I am able to create good looking versions of both my own original characters and copyrighted characters from the comics that do a nice job of matching my mental image of them. (It was fun constructing a Green Lantern logo, and nice to see that without your including copyright violating pieces, it was possible for me to match the arbitrary design.)

    Keep up the excellent work.

  9. RSC5 says:

    I think, and I’m being honest with you here, that with a decent connection and some playing around it’s rather straight-forward. The more complicated stuff, the kind you showcase in the contest entry mentions, you know with the layering and the cobbling this and that together…is less of an immediate understanding, at least for the casual user.

    But, again being honest, I think if one wants to do those things it’s nothing that regular use and familiarization with the catalog won’t help.

    Has it met my expectations? With the additional drawing details and pose options it has, as an expected upgrade from HM2x. It has exceeded my own personal expectations with regards to item movement, multiple items from the same categories, and the ongoing expanded item sets.

    I’m still dismayed that I haven’t gotten to play with it as much because of my lousy computer, but I’m just biding my time till facial details and the girl stuff anyway. Everything else is just one step closer to that in my book, though I completely understand just how many steps are required until you get near there.

    Blunt Conclusion:


    Gives it that extra oomph. You’re really very talented.

  10. Danny Beaty says:

    I’ll be glad when the bugs in the JPG/PNG saves are fixed, as well as the bugs in printing. In an earlier post, you said you would hire a woman to do the female stuff. Who is she?

  11. Jeff Hebert says:

    I do not believe I indicated the gender of the person I was hiring. I have arranged for another artist to do the base figure drawing, not the items themselves, and he or she does not wish to be identified.

  12. JR says:

    after you get the rest of the items from hm2 into HM3 and get some girl/women’s items in there like facial features and clothing and all of the other asthetic and physical aspects in ther i’ll be VERY happy. thx.

  13. Neil Leslie says:

    For me, the biggest issue with HM 3 right now is the small size of the finished image. While I’m designing the character, the image is at normal size, but when I use the JPEG or PNG snapshot option, the finished image is tiny. I blundered across a work-around using Paint and the Snipping Tool (two tools that come with Windows Vista), but the extra steps are a nuisance, and I don’t know what people who use other operating systems would do.

    The layering problems when reloading characters are also a nuisance, but I can usually jiggle things around and put things where they need to be without to much trouble. I personally haven’t had any problems yet with overloading and crashing the application with layers and items, but my character designs tend to be fairly simple (some spandex, a cape, a mask, maybe a weapon–it’s old school for me, baby πŸ™‚ )

    I would still suggest finishing the item subsets first, resolving the size issue second, and improving the save/load functionality third. I think it’s great that you’ll have a second artist working with you an the female body templates and items, because it sounds like you’ve got plenty on your plate already. I can’t wait to see what my female HM 2.5 characters will look like once they get an HM 3 makeover.

    Oh, I almost forgot to mention some good news–I really like the larger scale and higher level of detail for HM 3. These characters look tougher and more muscular–like some heroes that could really kick bad guy butt. Keep up the good work!

  14. violodion says:

    #6 is my #1 issue. Kinda wonder if this is akin to a floating point to integer math thing. That is, the applet runtime tries to calculate everything to the upteeth decimal place, when only integers (ie, pixel locations) are required. Figure a Flash programming expert (deep Adobe forum?) would need be consulted for such an intricacy.

    #6 seem exacerbated as I tend to use FF’s zoom on the applet for larger than usual images. Can’t be helped as the detail shows much better in this way. πŸ™‚

    #5 is my #2 issue. The included PNG transparency is fantastic — especially if/when one decides to do groups shots, or drop the character on a specialty background.

    #3 is my #3 issue. It *is* alpha, so really not trying to emphasize that overmuch this early along.

    #4 is trivial. Trimming the transparent space adds 5 sec to a creation, once one figures out how to do it in a paint program (Paint.Net, etc).

    Kinda figure it is the hand Mask layer causing the issue, as noted in post #3 on the Bug thread.

    #1 and #2 are merely matters of patience. πŸ™‚

  15. Tim says:

    HM3 is coming along very well, Jeff. There are some difficulties to resolve, but nothing that would cause any imperfections in the final release.

    As of right now, my biggest problem would be the application crashing. My character designs are usually quite detailed and sometimes complex. Simplicity just isn’t my cup of tea lol. The “minute click” proves to be quite troublesome as well as the “sticky items.”

    The current save/load feature is also a main culprit to my procrastination of character designs. I wouldn’t want to create a character that required sometime to make to be deleted as a result of an application crash and/or deletion of flash cookies.

    Although I will always save the character as a PNG, but, in HM2.X, I frequently found myself loading up old characters and changing them as I often do. So I’ll wait for the save code feature or the final release before I recreate all of my old characters (No rush Jeff :D) For now, I’ll continue to add more items to my request list and post them when the time is right.

    Has Heromachine 3 met my expectations? It met my expectations and blew them away!!! The customization options available, even right now, is astronomical! Thank you Jeff for making character creation possible without putting pencil to paper (For those of us who can’t draw lol.) I sincerely look forward to the final release and I’m sure we are all happy to contribute as well πŸ˜€

    That being said there are a few more slots that might have been forgotten that I would like to mention. That is tattoos and jewelry, but I think jewelry will be delayed for when the female items are drawn.

    Since Neckwear is next, I’ll continue adding to my list.

    Thanks again Jeff.

  16. PeachTea says:

    I don’t know if this is intentional or not (or if there is already a way to fix it that I’m not seeing), but when you bring out a new item when other items of that category already exist, all previous masking in that category is reset, even if the items are masked to something else. I don’t know if this is clear, but it means that if you’re using the multiple bodies technique you mentioned a while ago with several items from the same category (say, insignias), loading a bran new insignia unmasks every other insignia in the project.

    It’s obviously fixable, but it’s time consuming to re-mask every single item when you start working with large amounts of layers.

    I care much more about the save/load feature, though. I have a character in progress now, and it would be unfortunate if she was lost completely.

  17. Jake says:

    A huge help to me would be the addition of an Undo button. I was working on a pretty neat looking zombie just now. I made a mistake and hit the “Change All Skin Color” button. A nice undo button would make the process of correcting my mistake far easier.

    I’ve also had problems saving, like many others. I think shin guards and elbow pads would be a great addition as well. Overall, three is miles ahead of 2.5. Keep at it.

  18. guy says:

    theres no suit coat. there are trenchcoats and jackets and all sorts of other stuff, but no suit coat.

  19. Conor says:

    I just gotten this new game Prototype and I thought that another good item group could be limbs. So could you try to create some like these. If you do it would be awesome.

    Also the cloths he wears are pretty cool they would be great for heromachine 3.