City of Heroes' first player-designed costume hits the cash shop

Josh Augustine

RetroGroup

Last month, I talked about how impressed I was that Paragon Studios let the players design so much new content at this year's Player Summit. My favorite was a new post-apocalyptic armor set that players dreamed up, voted on, and directed a concept artist to draft during the mini-convention.

Today, City of Heroes released the costume set from last year's player summit design session, the Retro Sci-fi kit, available for $5 in the game's cash shop. I had a quick chat with the devs to find out how close it is to the players' original design, and why it took so long.

PCG: What were the defining features players asked for in this set?

Eric Johnsen, Associate Producer: There was a large focus on the space suit aspect of the Costume Set. Honestly, the concept sheet ostensibly could have contained hundreds of great costume pieces, so we had to narrow it down to a fairly refined set of concepts. So we decided to go after the ring theme that was displayed in some of the concepts as well as some of the oft-requested backpack themes.

PCG: What major changes did the art team make beyond what the players asked for?

EJ: Probably the biggest additions to the set were the different material variations we were able to introduce as we went through development of the set. The concept dealt largely with shapes and general concepts, but didn't hinge heavily on the materials used or the addition of various treatments such as glowing variations and the like. We also made some additions in terms of taking various accents like the rings and simply changing the orientation or placement of them to get different looks.

Click to see the original concept design drawn at the player convention.

PCG: What other outside sources influenced the design?

EJ: Obviously we drew a lot of inspiration from classic black and white sci-fi movies. Cheryl Austin, the character artist who turned David Nakayama's concept art into 3D reality, is a big fan of the classic black and white movies, so this set was right in her wheelhouse.

PCG: At this year's player summit, the players helped design a post-apocalyptic costume design. Will players need to wait a year for that to be implemented into the game?

EJ: We'd like to get a quicker turnaround on the player summit Costume Set this time around. The last time we did it we honestly didn't know how enthusiastic the reaction would be to the idea of a player influenced Costume Set. Our release schedules are set pretty well in advance, so finding a slot for Retro Sci-fi necessitated a later release schedule.

PCG: Is a year typical development time for costume designs?

EJ: Not at all, our turnaround time on a Costume Set from beginning to end is relatively quick, getting a window for release is another matter since we're usually planned out several months in advance. For the upcoming Post-Apocalyptic Costume Set (name pending), we were better prepared for the demand and player enthusiasm and had a release window already penciled in for this upcoming Costume Set.

PCG: What's your personal favorite piece of the new Retro Sci-fi costume set?

EJ: The Jetpacks, I don't know why, but they just really seem to capture the spirit of the set and the source material in my mind.

City of Heroes is free-to-play, and you can download the game client on CoH's official site .

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