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“Inventing Wings” by Character Artist, Jay Doherty

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City of Heroes / Villains: "Inventing Wings" by Character Artist, Jay Doherty

Jay Doherty is a Character artist who is currently working on Cryptic Studios' City of Heroes / City of Villains. Today, he writes this developer journal about designing the costume piece wings that are available in the game.

Hey, I'm Jay Doherty, and I am a character artist for City of Heroes. One of my specialties is inventing wings for City of Heroes and Villains, and I am here to tell you how it all goes down.

With each new content update that has come out over the recent years, I always saw players making their own threads on costume pieces what they wanted, so I decided to start a thread on the City of Heroes several months back asking players what they most wanted. Within about two weeks 10,000 requests were made. So I started chipping away at the ever-growing requests. Obviously one of the cool aspects of City of Heroes is the ability for characters to fly, and not surprisingly one of the biggest requests was that players wanted wings. So wings are what they got.

It's safe to say that wings are one of the most difficult player costume pieces to make for the game. There are two basic "rigs" for the wings which we call internally "Bat" and "Eagle." Depending on the wing; the proper rig will be used. When designing our new wings, I had to make sure that every wing looks good both in its flying state and resting state (You will not understand the giant pain in the butt it is to do that). The hardest wing to make was the Angel, just because it was the first one I made (we introduced Angel and Demon wings first as part of our Veteran Rewards program). One of the coolest things about being a character artist is making sure everything looks tight and I wanted to make sure that every wing looked different from far away and close up; so to achieve that I tried giving every wing a distinctive Silhouette.

So as I mentioned already, the first two wings that I designed were the Angel and Demon wings. The higher-ups really liked how I and the animation team implemented them so they beat me until they got some more. So to date we have created ten wing sets: Angel, Demon, Dragon, Burned, Bone, Bat, Cherub, Insect, Tech, and Fairy. Here was my thought process on each of the different wings.

I wanted the Angel wings to be very natural and bird like. The Demon wings had to be elegant, sharp, and vampire-like, whereas the Dragon wings had to be big, bulky and tough looking. The Burned wings are supposed to be for undead and monstrous characters, but just in case they aren't undead enough for some players, I made the Bone wings. The Bat and Cherub wings aren't supposed to be real world practical; they are more a cutesy accessory. The Insect wings turned out pretty bad-ass because our animators made them look like real buzzing wings. Why a robot would need wings is beyond me, but the people wanted them so they got Tech wings. Oh, and I made the Fairy wings for all the really good little girls out there in CoH land.

And what better way to give these new wing sets to our players than through our new Invention system! So if you want to look cool and be the hip guy or gal on the block, get out there and start inventing. Enjoy!


Guest Writer