News & Updates

01/13/2017 - Friday Update #215


This week, we’ve been making a few small adjustments to our main animation rig, as we discovered that the way the shoulder bones were laid out were causing some slight deformation in some of the models’ shoulders when they were using some of our basic animations.

Because of the way that character models and their animations rigs are set up in video games there’s an inevitable amount of distortion that happens when they move, but where and when the distortions happen determines how acceptable they are – for example, in ‘City of Heroes’, the somersault part of the Ninja Run travel power animation caused the character’s spine to bend beyond normal human limits, and for their stomach and ribcage to become seriously mangled – but because it happened in the middle of a fast movement sequence, it wasn’t really noticeable under normal speed, and only showed up in screenshots taken at the right moment.

However, in the case of our animation problem, the deformation was noticeable even when the characters were in motion, as it was as slight sagging about the shoulders while one of the idle animations was playing, so it wasn’t really something that could be ignored as un-noticeable.


Have a heroic/villainous weekend!

The Heroes and Villains team


01/07/2017 - Friday Update #214


This week, we’ve been doing some more work on the tutorial design template, with a focus on how to create a balanced presentation of the information in regards to the “newness” that players might have in mind for their characters’ careers.

From a mechanics perspective, like in any MMO or other type of RPG, all characters obviously start off at a simple level and get progressively better, so it makes sense for the stories for these sorts of games to treat all characters as just starting out on their careers, especially in traditional fantasy settings where more limits can be put in place for potential character types and career paths.

However, in a comic book setting where pretty much anything goes story and character wise, and origin stories are a key part of a character’s background, but way to diverse to be able to present properly as a part of the gameplay, it’s very important not to have the tutorial and any of the other following storylines always assume automatically that a character is just starting out on their career, even if the game mechanics might suggest that they are.

At the same time, we need to be careful not to make the presentation so vague that it becomes bland and generic, so finding the right balance between the two is vital to making the stories both interesting and flexible for all kinds of character concepts.


Have a heroic/villainous weekend!

The Heroes and Villains team


12/31/2016 - Friday Update #213


This week, we’ve been doing some more work on the character creation and selection areas, focusing both on way that they’re coded, and the way that they connect to the rest of the game world, along with the way that character deletion is done.

Obviously, anything at all that involves the deletion of player characters has to be approached and handled with extreme care, as the accidental loss or damage of a character that a player could have worked on for months or even years is one of the worst possible things that can go wrong in an MMO, for both the players and the developers.

Ways to minimize potential problems range from simple things like placing a character delete button away from any other buttons to avoid accidental clicking, and adding in a confirmation pop-up as an additional protection, to more technically complex things like removing a deleted character to a temporary “cool down” area, freeing up a character slot, but not removing the deleted character right away, to allow for rescuing it if it turns out to be a mistaken deletion.


Have a heroic/villainous weekend!

The Heroes and Villains team


12/24/2016 - Friday Update #212


This week, we’ve been doing more work on the travel powers for the game, this time looking at ones beyond the basic four ones used in ‘City of Heroes’.
While those four covered the major single types of movement that you would expect from a comic book game – running, jumping, flying and teleporting – there were still a few types that weren't included, with one of the more noticeable ones being some form of rope or line swinging.

One of the reasons it might not have been included in CoH is that unlike the other travel powers, it needs more focused environmental interaction to make it work successfully and look visually correct – having the line or rope just be attached to the sky out of the player’s line of sight wouldn’t really deliver the kind of dynamic look that it should have, while using anchor points on various tall buildings would create the right look, but would also add an extra layer of complexity to using it, and could become excessively twitch/reaction based, which wouldn’t really tie in with the other travel powers.

And additional issue could be how certain environments could make it impossible to use – for example, a desert or open fields would cause either practical problems if the line was using anchor points on the scenery or immersion problems if the line was just attached to the sky, which could stretch believability past breaking point even for a comic book game.


Have a heroic/villainous weekend!

The Heroes and Villains team


12/17/2016 - Friday Update #211


This week, we’ve been continuing with design work on our basic travel powers, with a focus on how they interact with the environment and how they affect zone design.
As we mentioned last week, flight is the most versatile of the travel powers because of its ability to let the player hover and indefinitely bypass the effects of gravity, unlike the other 3 main travel powers, which are all subject to gravity in one way or another.

This makes some types of zone quite tricky to design in a way that won’t penalize one or more of the non-flight powers – for example, the old Faultline zone in ‘City of Heroes’ was quite tough for superspeed users, although giving superspeed some kind of limited ability to travel up vertical surfaces could be one way to reduce problems like that in any similar zones in ‘Heroes and Villains’.

Another CoH zone – or zones - that were right on the edge of playability for some travel powers was the Shadow Shard – the distance between the floating islands was almost always beyond the maximum distance for superjump, and superspeed was close to useless.
This meant that players without flight or teleport had to either learn to use the geyser system to get around, or team up with one or more players who had the Recall Fried teleport power.
This would be an even bigger problem for a zone set in space, which is a pretty traditional comic book environment, as unless it was some kind of asteroid field there really wouldn’t be anywhere for non-flyers to land.


Have a heroic/villainous weekend!

The Heroes and Villains team