Friday, November 19, 2010

Blast off.

Sorry about that.

Okay, for reals this time:
Immediately after finishing the character creator, you're given the option to go to either a Crisis or a Tutorial. While selecting one of the Crises will boost your level up to five and drop you right in the middle of the action, the Tutorial is actually pretty well done, and I never mind doing it. Plus, if you take your time, you'll have a level or two advantage when you do get to the Crises, which just makes everything run more smoothly throughout pretty much the entire game. So, Tutorial it is.

During the loading time between the end of the character creator and the beginning of the level, Champions Online puts up comicky summaries of the various zones like this one. It's pretty handy if you actually want to know anything about the plot of the game, but only want to in pretty broad strokes. Of course, on a decent connection the level will load before you actually finish reading the loading screen, but you can stick around and finish if you really want to. Aaaand CUTSCENE.

The city is under attack by enormous robotic bugs... scratch that, human sized bugs that pilot giant robotic bugs. You know this because you can overhear police chief Surhoff, who sounds awesome, growling over the radio to some of his underlings. They explain that the alien bugs are called Qularr or something like that, and that they've lost contact with the Champions, the city's resident superteam for which the game is named... or possibly who are named after the game, I don't know. There are forcefields cutting off different parts of the city from each other, and they don't have the manpower or the supplies to effectively repel this week's giant bug invasion. Etcetera, etcetera, things are really bad. In the midst of all this, your lovingly crafted avatar opens it's tender young eyes for the first time...

Aaaand I finally manage to squirm out of an enormous pile of rubble. I appear to have torn off the remains of my shirt during the crawl and ripped up my jeans pretty bad, and for some reason, I'm standing next to Zorro, a werewolf, a knight, and some kinda glam rock Gohan who all seem to be in a steady procession of various weirdos filing neatly out of said pile of rubble; so many, in fact, that an officer is on hand apparently just to help people out of this exact pile of rubble and make sure they know how to walk. Now at first, this seems like a bit of a waste of police resources, until I realize that there are probably a lot of concussions involved when pulling people out of collapsed buildings, so I suppose he's probably doing a good job. Thanks, officer.

I have no idea what's up with this pile of rubble. My working theories are that the collapsed buildings throughout the city have formed some sort of rubble-funnel that slides every survivor in a three block radius to this exact point, or possible that there's a subway station right under the rocks with a train that still works. But then, I'm standing next to a werewolf, giant robot bugs are attacking the city, my last memory was a nuke going off in my face, and I seem to be made out of metal; rubble portals aren't that weird today.

Okay, so, I decide to talk to the officer, he seems to know what's going on. After ascertaining that, yes, I do know how to walk, he tells me to go talk to the Champions' computer instead. This doesn't seem terribly helpful, but despite the fact that he's been relegated to pulling-freaks-out-of-the-rockpile duty, he nevertheless has a pretty sweet mustache, so I defer to his expertise.

The Champions' super crime-fighting computer winds up being pretty hard to miss, as it's apparently a twelve foot naked hologram woman named Socrates standing on a giant gold pedastal and gazing down imperiously at all of us. ... Alright, whatever.

You may remember her from such games as Halo, Mass Effect, System Shock, or any comic book with computers. How transparent hologram women seemed the next intuitive step past flatscreens is beyond me, but I guess it's a common assumption.

Apparently she thinks I'm a cop, because she immediately tries to put me to work helping the official effort. I was kinda hoping for some medical attention, like, from that ambulance about thirty feet away... but come to think of it, yeah, okay. It'd actually be kinda nice to not feel completely useless while the police do their thing, and I'm feeling pretty damn healthy despite everything. Whatcha need, boss? I could carry stuff, I know a little first aid... hell, if this new metal skin is as hard as it looks, I could probably hammer nails with my bare hands or something. How can I help?

Help destroy pods...? Well sure, okay. I mean, I don't know how to work an incinerator or anything, but I can drive a forklift and work a woodchipper. Yeah, yeah, this'll be good, I'll go help the police destroy pods. South, right? On my way, boss!

I take off, feeling quite good about this whole having been deputized for the police department by a giant computer woman thing. It doesn't even hurt to run around barefoot, and despite the fact that I've been half naked in the rain for a few minutes now, I don't feel cold. Maybe this whole turning into metal thing could help out for the next few hours.

Rounding the corner I see the spot where the police have rounded up all the hive pods. This... doesn't look so good.

Before me stretches a city street littered with Qularr hive pods which several officers are standing behind barriers staring at while various superheros run through the field shooting, punching, and stabbing the pods one at a time. The police have apparently gone throughout the city risking life and limb so that they could bring all of these pods to the same place so that... people could punch and shoot them.

I wonder how many lives would have been saved on this fateful day if they had taken their sidearms with them and shot them where they found them in the first place? It seems like a much more efficient use of police resources...

I um, I guess I'll help anyway. Having seen several superheros rupture the pods just by hitting them, and given that there are no convenient weapons nearby without lifting a billy club out of an officer's belt, I decide to try my luck that way. I trot on over to a plump looking one that nobody else is beating up yet and start smacking at it.

While I'm still not convinced that this isn't a ludicrously inefficient way of dealing with the problem, I have to admit that this is much more effective than I would have expected. There's a satisfying "clank!" every time I hit the thing, and it's surface buckles like I'm using a pair of knuckledusters. Apparently punching things with metal hands is significantly more effective than punching things with meat hands. Pretty soon the entire thing is covered with little craters the size of my fist, and the insides are sounding squishier and squishier.

And then the damn thing explodes in my face.

Well, one down, about a dozen to go, I suppose. Or, rather, two, according to the giant computer lady. I guess they're really into delegation around here and have another few heroes on the way for the rest, eagerly awaiting their chance to have alien yolk spattered all over their faces, too. I towel off and look for some way to pop these things at arms' length instead.


One of the more entertaining ways that your character can interact with the environment in Champions Online is good ol' fashioned Lifting Stuff. The environments are by no means fully destructible, but they do a pretty good job of littering most urban areas with various objects that characters can destroy. Characters with a decent Strength score can also lift these objects and use them to batter enemies until they break, or even throw them a fair range to take out foes at a distance. The barricade isn't particularly impressive, and probably a non-strength-based character could lift this too, if not at first level then soon. But as your Strength score increases, so does the size of objects you can wield. At higher levels with strength-focused characters, things like giant boulders and some vehicles are fair game. Larger objects do more damage, of course. There's something just immensely satisfying about crushing hostile soldiers with their own tank, I can't deny.

Muuuch better. The pod explodes, and I don't even get alien splooge all over myself.

The rest of the pod-disposal goes pretty smoothly, except for one that hatches while I'm hitting it. An insect the size of my torso comes tearing out, flying straight towards my head and breathing fire, I kid you not. Lacking other immediately obvious solutions, I decide to keep punching it, and you know what? I kill the thing.

Yes, that is me straight up coldcocking a giant flying firebreathing insect from another world.

The police didn't even have to do anything. They didn't even reach for their guns. They were just like "he's got this" and you know what? I did. It tried to spit fire at me and it didn't even hurt, and then I hit it once right in the face and it died.

I think I've got this alien-fighting thing DOWN.

Strutting a bit, I make my way back to Socrates' giant golden pillar of efficiency. Pods are totally taken care of, boss, what else you need? So, she tells me.

Having apparently witnessed my relatively effortless survival of an alien fire-loogie, this supposedly benevolent computer program would like me to go and let a heavily armed swat team shoot me to test out their guns.

No, seriously, that's exactly what she asks me to do. There are alien invaders periodically assaulting a barricade about fifty yards away that's manned by maybe half a dozen slacks-and-polo policemen, not to mention about two dozen pods lying utterly defenseless in the street right next to us, and she's decided that these special assault guys should test their massive advanced weapons out by shooting me a few times to make sure that they can later, presumably, shoot the aliens assaulting the barricade or the pod things. Er... why not test the weapons out on them?

... The Champions' AI wants me dead, I realize. But why could this be? Surely I've been useful so far, even though I've only had one task to complete, but I completed it with flying colors. Maybe it considers me a threat? A potential supervillain that ought to be taken out of the picture early on so that she won't have to deal with me later? Maybe she protects the Champions' reputation by guiding potential one-uppers to their untimely deaths in foolish "misadventures" on the battlefield? Or maybe she's been the evil mastermind all along?

I did just get a building collapsed on me without getting a headache, though, and I got squirted with lava a couple minutes ago without any ill effects. Alright, Zordon, I'll play along without arousing any suspicion until I have a chance to investigate you a bit more, but I'm on to you.

I head over to where about a dozen heavily armed men are standing with their massive weapons and bravely ignoring the life or death struggle of their unarmored comrades a few paces away, waiting to shoot me to make sure their guns work. Maybe I can talk some sense into their commander.

What th...? Screw you, Captain Henry. I'm gunna let you and your guys shoot me to make sure your guns work because you're too afraid to engage your enemy and you're taunting me about it?

This is actually the "how to block" part of the tutorial, although you'd think they'd have come up with a less ludicrous explanation for it. Ah well. Blocking actually figures fairly prominently into the combat in Champions Online, and while the timing isn't very difficult (block whenever the bad guy is charging up for something) it lends a bit more interactivity to combat. While it's not really vitally important in most fights (and, the way I plan on building Iron Will, not even terribly helpful) it's something you've actually got to pay attention to. Unlike many if not most MMO's, you don't just click the enemy and then wait half a minute for its copious amounts of HP to slide away slightly faster than yours. Neato.

I don't say anything, just fix the captain with a steely gaze (ha haaaaaaaaaa...?) and let his guys do their thing. Despite the fact that their guns are probably a hundred pounds, about the size of my leg, and fire explosive grenade-thingies instead of bullets, it just tickles a bit at the generous range of about three and a half feet. Maybe Socrates did know what she was talking about, these things couldn't cut butter. ... Or maaaaybe I'm just so tough all of a sudden that their best shot can't faze me, despite Socrates' obvious intentions to murder me. Yeah, probably that second one.

If I'm going to be this invincible, I'm going to need a name. I start trying to come up with one on my way back to Socrates. Argent Avenger? Silver Sentinel? Bulletproof Brawler? Alliteration never hurts, I figure.

Socrates plays off the shock of seeing me alive pretty well... although, since she's a computer, that's probably not all that hard to do. Evidently at a loss for currently convenient ways to try to kill me, she instead sends me off to see the mayor of Millennium City. This sounds like a huge honor, until I realize that he's been about thirty feet away this whole time standing in a tent. I'm pretty sure I waved to him earlier and had no idea who he was. Awkward. All the same, I'm glad to be away from this malevolent machine (see? Alliteration is awesome.) and hopefully taking orders from a real human being who DOESN'T want to see me destroyed.

I pack up my things (half of one recently singed pair of tattered jeans, check) and head off to my new job at city hall.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Superfluous Backstory!

Okay, so I lied about starting the game in this next entry, but that's only because I'm not at home like I expected to be and don't have the game on this computer, but DO have access to the screenshots I already uploaded to Google's lovely Picasa service, and I can work with that, damn it. All we need is a little imagination. And fairy dust.

And google image search. Anything that's not a screenshot of mine is either gallium or dr. Doom.

Champions Online doesn't have a "backstory" segment, I feel I should point out, this is just me playing with pictures from an alternate character. The beginning of the game, next entry, immediately follows the end of the character creator, dig? Marvelous.


One fine day in the Southwest Desert, a lackluster Geology student named William was hiking about searching for mineral samples in a last-ditch effort to pull a C average in the class. Though he was a clever enough lad, young William simply wasn't cut out for geology, but since he was at the university on a football scholarship, he couldn't simply drop the course. Fearing for his position on the champion football team (The *DATA EXPUNGED* State Tardigrades) (Audience: Cheer!) his Geology professor had shown blatant favoritism and given him one last chance: unknown to most, one area of the desert kept turning up discoveries of trace amounts of Neutronium, a rare, indestructible element normally only found in collapsed stars. Intending to bring a Neutronium pebble back to the geology department's rock gallery in lieu of actually completing his final, William had set out early that morning to comb the desert for the elusive rock, taking only the clothes on his back and his resentful lab partner Daniel.

Most unfortunately, young William had little more skill with geography than he did with geology, and within three hours he was separated from Daniel and hopelessly lost! (Audience: Gasp!)

After wandering for hours and beginning to suffer the early effects of dehydration, William stumbled upon something that seemed slightly out of place. (Audience: Ooooooh...!)

Why, perhaps this was what he had been looking for in the first place! William leaned in to get a closer look at the strange boulder and to retrieve a sample.

Much to his surprise, before even taking out his chisel and hammer, a small chunk of shiny material dislodged itself and fell from a fissure in the boulder.

It was unlike any material William had ever seen before! Quickly scooping it up to put it in his backpack, he was startled to discover the material melded to his hand! (Audience: Gasp!)

Shocked, William stared as the strange meteor rock melted into a liquid and coated the palm of his hand, only to realize with horror that the liquid was actually seeping into his skin! (Audience: Murmur.)

Efforts to shake the material loose proved to be futile, and William, in a panic, took off running, hoping to find a way back to the road and a hospital. However, he still had no idea where he was going, and wound up even further from his car than he had been before.

Cresting a hill some hours later, he was greeted with a sight that nobody really wants to see:

(Audience: Scream!)

Fortunately, William was thrown so far by the explosion that he landed in the middle of the highway, miraculously alive. (Audience: Relieved Sigh!)

He was taken to the nearest small town's hospital, at which he was airlifted a short fifteen hundred miles to Millennium City to be put under observation in quarantine. For you see, young William had begun to develop strange symptoms in the bed of the pickup truck back to town, which by the time he had reached the hospital were quite obviously serious.

In fact, by the time of his arrival in Millennium City, he was hardly recognizable.

Kind of like this picture of Dr. Doom from the Fantastic Four movie! But not quite! But sort of!

Surely, this couldn't be healthy! The doctors found themselves unable to help young William, though, as every time they tried to take a sample, their needles bent, their scalpels broke, and their X-Rays and MRIs were simply reflected back at the machines. William's condition was a complete mystery, and seemed only to be getting worse and worse, until...!

ROCKS FALL, EVERYBODY DIES. (Audience: Applause!)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Let's get started!

The very first thing Champions Online does is throw you into the least awesome part of their character creator, the occasionally baffling Choose Your Framework screen.

It's not so much baffling because of the interface (which is about as straightforward as you can get with twenty options right off the bat) but because, from here, you really don't have any idea what the powerset you choose will have in store for you later. They do give a paragraph description of what you'll likely be good at, but not how you'll progress or what your choices later on will be. They also don't really give you an idea what your ideal role in a party would be, which I don't really miss, but which is generally a standby of MMOs. City Of Heroes, for example, had you choose a class first (Tanker, Blaster, etc., the names said it all) with a pretty self-explanatory role attached to it, and then choose which actual powers you would have after that. Champions is quite a bit more fluid. While some powers simply won't work for some roles (if you're flinging fireballs at everyone, you're not ideally suited for hand-to-hand combat, whereas if your only power is super punches, you're not going to be much for ranged DPS) you can generally manipulate your stats to fulfill whatever role you wind up preferring. Additionally, Champions lets you mix and match powers as the game progresses; notice the "custom framework" option at the bottom, with which you can choose two powers from two different frameworks and a characteristic from a third, if you like. Choosing one particular framework at the beginning doesn't limit your choices later on much either. You could start with the Electricity Framework, for example, and start taking Martial Arts powers as soon as you level up. It's a steeper learning curve than most MMOs, but I find that I prefer it to the bland "choose your class" options of most games, where you wind up with the same six characters repeated thousands of times throughout the game world. In Champions, there's a lot of variety in the population.

It also isn't immediately clear how the combat works until you actually play a bit of the game. What they refer to as an "energy-builder" is actually your default attack, which you toggle on by clicking an enemy and which your character will continue to use until they or the enemy are disabled. While they're doing this, they'll steadily build energy which you can then spend on more effective or flashy moves. So basically, combat for every class works about like the Warrior works in World Of Warcraft, except that you don't start at zero energy. Your Endurance stat determines your maximum energy points and your Recovery determines both how fast you get it back and how full it is to start with. Characters with a high enough Recovery can unleash their most powerful moves without using their default attacks first at all. It's... strange. It's actually a pretty great system when you get used to it; one of the things I hate about most MMO's is the built in "down time" that your character needs to replenish whatever before you can start, y'know, playing the game again.

Also, I feel that I would be remiss if I didn't bitch about Telekinesis a bit. While it sounds like it would be, you know, telekinesis (which I for one associate with it's definition of moving things at a distance) like Darth Vader or Sylar or Jean Grey or so many other awesome characters have had, the folks at Champions Online seem to think that kinesis is Latin for weirdass energy sword. Seriously, if you choose Telekinesis, your character will fight by throwing glowing pink darts and then hitting things with a glowing pink sword it pulls out of thin air. I can only assume that they were going for some kinda Psylocke-from-X-Men thing, but it doesn't make any sense whatsoever. If you want a guy with telekinetic abilities, Force is significantly closer to the mark.

A more personal gripe is the power choices themselves. While you have a metric shit-ton of options for shooting-stuff-at-people powers (Electricity Fire Force Ice Archery Gadgeteering Munitions Power Armor Telekinesis Telepathy Celestial Darkness Infernal Supernatural Sorcery) and different ways to do it, the options for actually fighting someone with your bare hands are pretty limited, with only Martial Arts and Might available for hand-to-handers. (There's also, of course, one sword, two swords, and punching daggers, but that's not really the same thing, is it?) So if I just wanted to make a character like ol' Iron Will whose superpower just makes him physically different from most people, I've just got two to choose from. Martial Arts would work, except the animation involves them jumping into the air and then hovering a foot off the ground while rapidly jerking around to alternately punch and kick the enemy several times a second in what looks like something between a glitch and an epileptic fit. It would work for a speedster or a ninja, but just looks silly when a regular looking guy runs up to an enemy and then lifts off the ground and spazzes out. Might is a fairly straightforward punching-people power, so for Iron Will, we're going with Might.

Might's a pretty good powerset taken all-in-all, and my only real objection to it is that because it's the only really viable moves set for an unarmed strength-based character, I've used it on enough of my alts that I'm a little tired of it.

The description given to the left here is a little inaccurate for our purposes. As stated, one of the main strengths of Champions Online is the customization options for your individual characters. While Might CAN be used to excel at slow heavy attacks and taking less damage as the fight wears on, that's only if you keep going with Might all the way through your character's level progression, including taking it's passive abilities (abilities you can spend your points on that aren't actually "moves" you use so much as new traits your character acquires) and building it's primary attribute, Strength. Just to start with, it does none of these things. Rather than going for as strong as possible (I have a character I've already done that with) in this case I'm just picking it for it's energy builder and then building the rest of the character to be durable rather than strong (though the two are of course not mutually exclusive).

Of course, if you're going for a specific theme or concept (which I recommend going in, just 'cuz there are so many options that having a goal helps rather than just becoming a hodgepodge of mismatched elements for sheer mechanical effectiveness) you'll probably want to create a custom framework, which will let you pick and choose powers you want. Maybe you want to kick people in the head until you have enough power to explode them with a fireball like Ryu? Maybe you want to shoot people with a bow until they get close and then let loose with a sword? You'll want a custom framework. Don't worry, they're easier than they sound. Here're the screens you'd have to choose from.

The last screen is your Innate Characteristic, basically which stat bonuses you'll want to pick. Depends entirely on which powers you take, really. It's fairly basic. The default for Might is Strength and Constitution, and that works fine for me.

Then comes the fun part: the costume creator. First thing's first:

Wait and see, some day birth's gunna be like this.

Functionally, there's no difference between male and female in this game (like most, I suppose). It's entirely aesthetics and a few minor in-game dialogue tweaks ("get him!" vs. "get her!", stuff like that). However, there do seem to be more varied costume varieties for the male character models than the females. Also, as I'll get into in a second, with the male models you have more options as far as baggy clothes or general alien hideousness than with the females. It's sort of like halloween costumes in real life: guys can be anything under the sun they think would be cool, girls are mostly relegated to slutty profession/animal/theme. I'll touch on this a bit later.

The first two pages of the character creator are the slider section, which is a lot of fun. One page is virtually all aspects of the head, such as nose and eye size height and width, chin breadth and depth, etcetera. This is a fairly familiar system to most games that let you customize your character's head. It's not perfect, but it's more in-depth than most. Here's examples of all the sliders as far as they'll go to the left and then to the right, to give an idea of what all's affected.

Pretty attractive, no? Even more entertaining is the body sliders. However, this might just be me, but I noticed a bit of a problem with the female body sliders, lemme know if you agree.

With these sliders you can decide whether your guy is anything from a strange little wormy creature to a giant hulking mass of mutated muscle, and decide whether your girl is anything from a strange little wormy creature to a giant... cartoonishly exaggerated hotty.

Wait, what?

This was pointed out to me by a friend who had set out to make a female version of The Blob (of X-Men fame) but found that no matter what he tried to do with the body sliders, it wouldn't let him make a female with anything but perfect hips and butt, even if her face was a nightmarish Aztec bug-god cyborg.

That's the sliders as far as they'll go one way and then the other. Though you can control most everything else about her appearance, Champions Online won't budge on one thing: all female characters MUST have a waist, hips, and butt you can leer at. Although, considering the target audience and the fact the the character's avatar spends most of the game walking away from you, I guess I can see the reasoning behind it. Creepy though.

You can also change how over-muscled your character is by changing the opacity of their muscle-shadow-texture-thing, which is kind of a neat feature. Goes all the way from what most comics look like (naked and skinless with colored bodypaint) to something approaching what people actually look like in spandex. Since Iron Will's gunna be dressed mostly in tatters most of the time and half of his costume is supposed to be bare skin, I'm going with the most impossibly defined musculature possible, but less ridiculous IS an option.

ANYWAY. After spending about an hour in the sliders section trying to get his head exactly the right size and making at least one character whose entire power is having extremely large hands (who I named "Hans", which continued to strike me as hilariously clever until I sobered up a bit) it's on to the actual costume design. Didn't take many screenshots for this part because, really, there's no point. There are hundreds (thousands?) of costume parts to choose from, and it works sort of like a paper doll. You'll choose a body part (heads, torso-arms, hands, legs-feet) and choose from a number of types of that body part (animal heads, regular heads, heads with hats, heads with helmets, regular bodies, bodies with jackets, bodies with integrated shoulder thingies, bodies with chest armor, humanoid legs, bent-backwards monster legs, robot legs, etc etc.) and pick and choose from a pretty impressive list of costume parts which you can then color and, for the most part, texture to specifications. It's a little buggy at times; certain capes are only available if you're not wearing anything on your chest even though it wouldn't interfere, certain combinations are available for hands that aren't available for feet, etcetera. For example, while making Iron Will, I found that I couldn't go with metal skin legs, as your character has to have some kind of speedo underwear thing, and trying to texture the legs metallic only gave him a metallic speedo over gray skin legs. I worked around it by just giving him metallic tights the exact same color as his skin so there's no glaringly obvious seam, but little problems like that pop up pretty frequently if you're going for something specific. Still, the sheer variety available makes it a pretty damn impressive character creation engine, especially compared with many of the "choose one of six faces, choose one of ten hairstyles, you're good to go!" engine of a lot of MMO's.

Some of the various options available:

But, alas, another of those afore-mentioned inconsistencies pops up. Apparently, you can have shorts and textured skin or textured torn pants and regular skin, but you cannot have regular torn pants and textured skin on the legs.

Too bad, 'cuz those pants is perfect, but I'm way too obsessive to ignore the one weird calf throughout the whole game. After about eight minutes of trying to come up with a plausible explanation for it (maybe he's like Achilles, and he was dipped into the liquid metal that would make him invincible by his calf... and then they like, also dipped his feet in, but not his calves...?) I wound up just scrapping it and going with something similar but avoiding the leg-texture barrier.

Hell yeah, cutoffs. If there's one thing that will never, ever go out of style, it's cutoffs.

Still a bit of a seam between leg and foot, but they're the same color and the same texture, so that's the best we can do. There's actually always a seam between wrists and hands, ankles and feet, and at the waistline whether they're clothed or textured or not, so it's not really anything worth worrying about. ... Well okay, if we're being fair, none of this is anything worth worrying about, but you know what I mean.

The last tab lets you choose their stance and facial expression. There aren't many decent options facial-expression wise, and most of them look a little goofy, so we're going with "normal" and leaving it at that. The stances available are, and I might be getting the names wrong, normal, heroic, huge, beast, and huge beast. Normal's what you see here, hands at sides, looking around benignly, and kind of jogging along when in motion, which works for some, but I'm going Heroic for this guy, which is all clenched fists, wide stance, and puffed out chest, head down straight ahead and charging in motion. Huge does a pretty good job of implying size and weight, as the character is hunched over and clenching his fists widely at either side like he's about to pound something smaller into the ground and stomping around when it moves, and Beast is down on all fours. Huge Beast is just Huge with fingers splayed and jaw hanging open, which is a pretty cool look, but probably should just be a different facial expression option. Ah well.

And last but not least, we pick a name and type in a short bio of the character himself. Names are required, bios are not, so most people I run into haven't bothered, but if they have you can read a character's bio by right clicking their name in-game. Something short and to the point or witty is recommended (by, well, me) if you actually want anybody to read it. About half the people who bother with bios in the first place also bother to write down a long and usually grammatically flawed list of fictional situations their character has been in in the past, often doing very little to describe the character itself, but taking a good three minutes to read through if someone actually wants to, which nobody does. Eschewing a lengthy list of made-up names that he's beaten in the past, I instead try to cram in as many metal-anatomy-related cliches as I can in a paragraph:

"William hasn't been an invincible being composed of pure living metal for long, and honestly, he's not very good at it yet. He got into superheroing mostly because his new abilities had made him a liability in most other fields, due to his embarassing habit of accidentally destroying all but the sturdiest clothes/objects/structures. However, with his nerves of steel, brass balls, silver tongue, and heart of gold, Iron Will is proving much better at his new job than anybody expected, especially himself."



Next up: Play the damn game, stupid.