During Comic-Con 2009 I got to spend some time hanging with NCsoft's Matt "Positron" Miller, who walked me through how to show your true colours in the upcoming Issue 16: Power Spectrum update.
According to Positron, power customisation is something they've wanted to include in the game from the very beginning, only to have the feature constantly pushed onto the back-burner. Why hasn't it been a focus? "Well it's a whole lot of work," he explained, which would certainly deter me from doing it. The game's powers were basically set in stone, and changing that meant changing a great deal of how powers function in the game.
The issue finally got the attention it deserved last year, when NCsoft took over development from Champions Online developer Cryptic Studios, bringing over most of the team that originally created the City of series. Miller explains that once that change went through they gathered together a crack team to work on power customisation, locked them in a room for a year, and here we are.
The update brings more than one welcome change to the game's extensive character creator. Along with power customisation, players can now hop back and forth between the different character creation steps, meaning no more spending hours creating a costume only to find out your name has already been taken... though in City of Heroes it's generally best to assume it has been taken anyway.
Miller walked me through a bit of colour customisation. Much like the costume colour palette, players are able to select primary and secondary colours for each power, tailoring each skill in the power set they've chosen to their personal taste. For simplicity's sake they can link colours across all powers, so your Pink Lemonade Avenger will fire off uniformly pink and yellow bursts of energy in order to take down bad guys.
Each power has to palettes to play with - a light and a dark - with the dark-based powers eventually showing up on a different background to better display how they will look within the game's environments, as they certainly don't display well against the character creator's current dark-blue background.
It looks like they've got a rather nice implementation going here. Rays, lasers, and explosions all carry custom colours, while powers that summon creatures are also affected by the colour change. Physical skills, like the kick-heavy martial arts power set, now feature a choice of animations, allowing players to swap out their kicks for punches.
I'm definitely looking forward to the update going live now, my mind swimming with ideas on how to best take advantage of this new feature. How about a superhero team based on the colours of the rainbow, or a hero whose powers change colour with his costume? Sure, I'm just going to forget that idea and create an all pink guy with a heart on his chest who fights with the power of love while Huey Lewis and the News music plays in the background, but still.