Dev Diary: City of Heroes' Mutant Pack

cityof routinely features Developer Diaries: tales of what goes on behind-the-scenes in the development studios making your favorite games. This Dev Diary is titled " The Making Of: Super Booster V: Mutation " and was written by David Nakayama, City of Heroes' Art Lead and Floyd Grubb, Sr. Powers Designer.

We're celebrating the launch of the Mutant Pack by giving away 10 copies to our readers! Tell us who your favorite super mutant is and why in the comments and we'll send codes to our favorite ones today. Anyone that doesn't win can purchase the pack here .

UPDATE: Winners announced in the comments below! Thanks to everyone that participated.

David: Hey, folks. Today we'd like to share a little behind-the-scenes information on how the latest City of Heroes Super Booster came together. The Mutant pack is the latest in our series of 'Origin'-themed Boosters, and like all the previous entries, it includes new costume sets, new emotes and a unique power.

Floyd: Hi, I'm Floyd "Castle" Grubb, Lead Powers Designer at Paragon Studios. I worked with David to design a power to fit with the new theme.

David: So our first problem was simply picking aesthetic themes for something as open-ended and broadly-defined as 'mutation.' Because the word 'mutant' can refer to literally ANY deviation from the norm, every fan's probably got a different idea of what belongs in a set like this. Off the top of my head, I can think of at least 20 distinct aesthetic directions that fit the parameters of 'mutant,' and to truly cover the entire spectrum, we would need multiple Super Boosters.

Nonetheless, having done packs inspired by all the other origins previously, it made sense to continue the tradition, finish the series, and do a mutant-themed pack. We weren't trying to cover every single flavor of mutation in this one set alone of course, but we did come up with two really cool, distinctive flavors for our players that haven't been available in City of Heroes previously. Here's the lowdown:

  • BIOLUMINESCENT represents the change-from-within concept of post-humanity: with these parts, your hero or villain is clearly changing at a genetic level and doing so in style--with tintable glows that really pop in dark environments. Given the new glow tech, we immediately looked to actual examples from nature for inspiration and got the set's name along the way. Production art from James Cameron's The Abyss also came in handy. The patterns themselves were designed to fit several different character types at once, and we tried to avoid anything too tech-y or too tribal.

Bioluminescent concept art

  • ORGANIC ARMOR represents the other side of the coin: external change-from-without. With these parts, you can achieve a carapace/exoskeleton look, as if your character is growing a new skin or shell or perhaps being taken over by a symbiotic entity. And for added visual punch, you get the tintable glows here too. In terms of inspiration, both Senior Character Artist Jay Doherty and I were thinking along the same lines for this one: densely overlapping organic shapes like you'd see in the work of Japanese artist Yasushi Nirasawa .

Organic Concept Art

Organic in-game

As a set, the Mutant Pack gives you the ability to make new heroes or villains to fit a fairly wide range of aesthetic types: alien-corrupted, hell-spawn, genetic freak--all of that's doable with this set. And with 2 animated tails, wings, and a sword, there's a couple cherries on top.

And let's not forget the incredible Mutant Pack emotes created by animators Colin Brown and Nelson Tam with VFX support from Keetsie Braz da Cunha. Beside the all-new growl and showoff animations included in the Mutant Pack, we've got some fantastic costume change options. In City of Heroes, of course, your character can swap one costume for another with a cool animation, and this pack includes three of our best to date:

  • RAPID BOIL surrounds your character with bubbling green goo that then explodes off of you, revealing a new costume.
  • Then there's ENERGY MORPH , which started conceptually as an organic pod enveloping the character but, to be more useful for more players, ultimately mutated into something else entirely—more like the energy spear from the Terminator movies.
  • Last but certainly not least is DIMENSIONAL SHIFT , which is something you just have to see.

Floyd: So speaking of powers…..When it comes to Boosters, we always try to include some minor new functionality or power. In the case of the Mutant Pack, we knew it had to be a power that somehow “changed” the player, but how could one power represent so many different possibilities? There were some pretty far out suggestions (which you may see later), but we finally settled on “Secondary Mutation.” This new power applies a random buff (usually) to the player's character. Because these buffs are so varied, they will fit almost any characters' theme.

David: For me, as a player, the release of every new Super Booster feels like someone just dropped a bunch of newness in the COH toy chest, and I can't wait to try 'em all out. As an artist, the part I look forward to the most in our Booster Packs is seeing what our players do with them. They always come up with creative and unexpected new costume combinations that we never even imagined, and that's very gratifying. I hope you'll be just as excited as I am when you get to play with Super Booster V: Mutant.

If you want to know more about Super Booster V: Mutant, including videos of the new emote, check out the City of Heroes Facebook Fan Page .