Hello! I'm Tom. I designed a game called Gunpoint, about rewiring things and punching people, and now I'm working on a new one called Heat Signature, about sneaking aboard randomly generated spaceships. Here's some more info on all the games I've worked on, here's the podcast I do, here are the videos I make on YouTube, here are some of the articles I wrote for PC Gamer, and here are two short stories I wrote for the Machine of Death collections.
Brain Storm is back, in a sleek new costume and with three burly ghost men bodyguards. She’s now in her mid-twenties, and openly superheroinic. You might remember shots of her in a previous post looking rather ordinary – the original concept was a heroine who just looked like a normal person – albeit with a bandana to hold her radioactive brain in. It worked well at early levels, beating up thugs and using her brain-snapping powers to do favours for the city, looking like a minor vigilante. But then she was blinding everyone in the room with a gesture, summoning spectral armies and rendering herself completely invisible. She was acting way too much like a superheroine not to look like one. At level 20 you get a second costume slot – a chance to design a completely new costume, but still be able to go back to the old one when you like. So it was time for a redesign.
This second generation of your hero is a fantastic idea – even though your costume has no bearing on your abilities, it’s a far more integral part of your character than the latest piece of armour you’re wearing for the stat bonuses in WoW. Making a new one is a chance to redefine your hero’s personality. Brain Storm started out as a woman with the unusual ability to make people imagine they’re more and more horribly mutilated until they black out from the trauma. She was generally a nice person, but if you were trying to wrestle a young woman’s handbag from her in broad daylight, you could expect to find your skin bursting open in septic lesions until you fell unconscious with the pain. Now that her abilities were more spectacular, more diverse and frequently more cruel and unusual, she needed a look that would announce her awesomeness, but also reflect her not entirely serious personality and avoid the machismo or pomp of heroes who can take or dish damage – she does neither. Thus, this:
I agonised over it for nearly an hour. I’d hit a huge problem in that the bandana, the previous costume’s only distinctive feature, came with long hair that you couldn’t change. All long hair – about half of the female hair styles – conflicts with having a cape; the two move freely through each other and it looks deeply wrong. When I’d finally got around it and finished the costume, I worried that it was too generic – black and white are not terribly adventurous colours, and essentially what I’d created was a woman in a standard superhero costume – she even had an Incredibles-style black eyemask. I needn’t have worried – the first person to see me when I came out of the costume shop immediately said “Holy shit, nice costume!” He was a giant in a blue and yellow leotard, which reminded me: no-one wears black and white in City Of Heroes. No-one wears sensibly cut trousers, a simple eyemask or a cape with subtly different patterning on each side. I stood out more as a hero with an unexuberant costume than I did as a normal-looking person.
The point of the new costume is to look imposing (for a small lady), smart (everyone I team with looks good bashng goons, but I’m the only one who could attend a post-goon-bashing soirÃƒÂ©e without having to change), tasteful (to distinguish myself from the many scantily clad heroines created by their male players for their own ‘entertainment’), and yet very subtly casual (because I’m no square). Hence the shoulder pads, the black, the full-body-coverage and the white boots that look like trainers under the trousers – respectively.
That’s the look. The changes in Brain Storm’s abilities since her vigilante beginings mean that she’s now an extraordinary crowd-controller, a mistress of chaos. Her opening moves on any given mob leave them freezing, terrified and set upon by powerful, indestructable yet entirely imaginary assailants. Actually killing them after that is a trivial matter, best left to the menial executioners of other classes. Also she is invisible and can punch people in the stomach or head.
They say City Of Heroes is shallow, but your heroes certainly aren’t. Every level mine becomes more complex, more distinctive and gains a little more backstory and personality. Now let me tell you about my World Of Warcraft character:
It’s a level 33 Warlock.
E cigarette Reviews: I truly didn't expect to see a page like Brain Storms New Clothes, by Tom Francis today. Very impressive. Reminds me of something I learned about where to buy the e cigarette the other day.
Tom Francis: Spam, but so good! Cut the link and kept it.