When an MMOG player enters the character customization screen for the
first time, their biggest priority is to create a character that is an
accurate representation of what they believe their super hero looks
like. It's the first part of an MMOG that a gamer ever "plays."
In City of Heroes/Villains, you're given a wealth of customization
options at the beginning, but now the developers have added an even
larger amount of depth by introducing the "Weapon Customization"
feature into the character creation portion of the game.
To expand upon this new feature even further, CoH/CoV Lead Designer
Matt "Positron" Miller has put together an extensive developer diary
focusing on the work that was done to create this new option for
CoH/CoV players. The Ten Ton Hammer team has posted the new information
and we're just waiting for you to take a look!

Standing Apart in a Crowd: Weapon Customization

by Matt "Positron" Miller

of the most often requested features for the “City
Of” games is power
customization. We already offer some of the most extensive costume
customization of any MMO on the market, but that’s just the
tip of the
iceberg for what our players desire. They want the ability to customize
every single bit of their character, including how their powers look.

the animation and effects system that City of Heroes was built on
didn’t lend itself well to customizing power blasts or
altering the
color of the fire attacks. Numerous powers have baked-in elements that
would require a nearly insurmountable effort to get power customization
to work at the level our players have come to expect. When faced with
this fact, we decided that we would much rather devote the animation
and effects time into new powers and new effects than going back over
older powers and giving them a purely cosmetic facelift.

style="margin: 10px; border-collapse: collapse; float: right; width: 136px; height: 165px;"
title="Character Customization with Broad Sword"> src="/image/view/12773/preview"

style="font-style: italic;">Each character can
now choose various styles of weapons for each power set that they

When it
came to adding new powers to the game, Jack Emmert, the Creative
Director at Cryptic Studios, suggested that we poll the players to find
out what they wanted in the way of powers. We knew we wanted to do a
melee set and a defensive set so that the melee archetypes (Tankers,
Scrappers, Brutes, and Stalkers) could get some much needed love. When
we reviewed the results of the polls, the defensive set that the
players wanted the most was Shields.

The players wanted it, but
we were pretty sure that the players all had different ideas of how it
would be implemented. We did a straw poll within the dev team, and
everyone had a different idea of what the “shield”
should look like. It
was so varied in responses that we didn’t think we could make
a shield
that would satisfy even a quarter of the people who wanted the set.
That’s when the animation team did some investigation on the
way our
weapon powersets were rigged up.

The team came back with very
promising results: they were able to swap weapon geometry fairly easily
and still keep the animations intact. With this hurdle cleared we just
needed the UI time to get the costume creator working with the new
weapon altering abilities and we would be able to let players choose
their own shield graphic when they were working on the costume for
their character!

Alas, the actual animation time involved in
getting the Shield set done was too much for Issue 11’s
schedule, so
the powerset itself was shelved for a later issue. However, we decided
to use this functionality with any and all weapons that were currently
available in powers, and with Dual Blades as the new melee powerset in
Issue 11, it was only logical that players could alter the left and
right weapons for powersets that used both hands.

style="margin: 10px; border-collapse: collapse; float: left; width: 136px; height: 165px;"
href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/node/12777" title="Take That!"> src="/image/view/12777/preview"

style="font-style: italic;">This character is
using the new "Dual Blades" power with what appears to be a pair of

The initial
tests were very promising; using models ripped from the game, our
development team was rediscovering existing powersets with new
graphics. Although it was strictly a cosmetic change, no alteration of
damage type or the like, new weapon models really made some of the
older sets feel different and breathed new life into them! Choosing a
Warhammer for the War Mace powerset doesn’t alter any of the
but does give your character a lot more distinction. And since these
are chosen on a per-costume basis, characters can have different
weapons for their different outfits, if they so desire!

The goal
was that every weapon power would get their default weapon, an archaic
or mystical version of the weapon, and a high-tech or more modern take
on the weapon. We succeeded in this area with many powersets, and even
were able to add a bunch of weapons that we had in the game already so
the players could further customize their characters.

We then
decided that certain weapons should be “unlocked”
as rewards for
achieving milestones. These would be the weapons that were closely
identified with enemies in the game; the Thorn sword from the Circle of
Thorns, the Red Cap’s daggers, Rikti swords, etc. These
weapons are earned through normal play so that archetypes that use them
could further customize their character. Additionally, players who
obtain these exclusive weapons could be seen, at a glance, as having
overcome these opponents.

All in all we are very pleased with
the implementation of Weapon Customization. We are always happy when we
can give players something they have been asking for. Players can
expect to see more and more weapons added to the costume creator as the
game moves forward!

Following is a list of powersets and their
respective weapons that are currently planned for testing in Issue 11.
This list may well change during the testing process.

Assault Rifle

Assault Rifle

Merc. Assault Weapon


Tactical Assault Weapon

Tommy Gun

Council Assault Weapon

Council Sub-Machine Gun

Nemesis Rifle

Vanguard 'Redding' Rifle


Battle Axe




Rikti Axe

Dual Blades






Redcap Dagger

Faer Dagger

Dragon Dagger



Ninja Blade



Rapier (Right Hand Only)

Main Gauche (Left Hand Only)


Recurved Bow

Arcane Bow

Compound Bow


Hero Claws

Villain Claws

Fury Claws

Talsorian Blades

Shadow Blades



Ninja Blade

Fantasy Blade


War Mace

War Mace 2

Flanged Mace

Studded Mace


Sledge Hammer

Baseball Bat



Skull Club


Carnival Mallet


Tech Mace

Fantasy Mace




Magnum Revolver

Revolver w/Laser Sight

Match Compensator

Tactical Sidearm



Pulse Rifles

Pulse Rifle

Crey Pulse Blaster

Rikti Blaster

Rikti Rifle

Retro Rifle




Shadow Bane


Thorn Blade

Tsoo 'Katana'

Rikti Sword

Ten Ton Hammer is your unofficial source for City of href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/taxonomy/term/140">Heroes
/ Villains
news and articles!

To read the latest guides, news, and features you can visit our City of Villains Game Page.

Last Updated: Mar 29, 2016