From browsing the suggestions forum, it seems that not everyone is up to date with things that have been posted on reddit and in the various CoH discords, so I am posting this here to update people on what I have been doing.
Some of you may recall that a while back, I posted a bunch of random images around discord of NPC parts, then seemingly everything stopped. This was due to the almost accidental discovery that asymmetry was not only possible, but already a core feature of the costume system that the devs had chosen not to use. Asymmetry was enabled and tested locally, and then came to a halt while I waited for a major code change in the I24 server. This is now complete, the code has been reviewed and is ready for merging. At the time of writing, asymmetry is expected to go onto the OuroDev, Rebirth and CoXG QA servers in the near future.
At present, only asymmetric gloves are enabled. Due to some issues, boots need a little modelling work before those can be switched on. Longer term, it should be possible to adjust all the shoulder models to enable asymmetry there as well. Asymmetric jacket/robe sleeves? It’s been suggested, so that will be looked into eventually too.
NPC work didn’t stop, however, it merely changed course as the underlying costume system became better understood. You may have seen the freakshow arms that CoXG have been using – this was a proof of concept release to show that yes, NPC parts can work in a live game environment. It is just a shadow of what is to come, however. Already lined up to be released with asymmetry is Freakshow Arms Deal 2.0 which offers four new body choices for male and huge (two freak arms, freak right arm with normal left arm, freak left arm with right robot upper arm, and freak left arm with right robot full arm). Each comes with a choice of hammer, scythe or claw for the freak arm slots. Females are currently limited to the latter two body choices, with only a claw for the freak arm – work will continue to diversify the other parts. In addition, males get access to a number of shoulder and chest detail options, while huge get the freak tank body, pants and boots, including the noise tank variant and shoulder pieces.
There is still more, however! The test build of these assets is experimenting with enabling jacket and robe options for the freakshow, and if this works out, we could potentially see jackets and robes being made available on the standard robot arm body selections too.
Freaks aren’t the only NPC project in the works. I’ve already made progress on the carnival parts, who I expect to be the next large scale release. There are smaller projects too, however – for instance the cimeroran Sybil robes, and Ghost Widow’s animated hair! Both of these are implemented as capes (or six capes in the case of sybils), which means they have double-sided colouring by default. This has posed a slight technical issue due to the way the game handles double-sided colours, but one that has been solved and can be fixed after asymmetry is merged. The fix for this will also allow us to fix any existing items that accept double-sided colouring but can only currently be edited by using the linked colours trick. Also, despite being capes, they can be implemented without preventing you wearing a real cape at the same time – the limit of one cape is entirely artificial, and while a sensible choice when the game was live, something we can consider reviewing in light of the more powerful machines we’re gaming on today.
There are also some other, longer-term, projects in the works. I have already demonstrated that pretty much any object in the game can be added to bases – you’ve already seen a lot of this from the HC dev teams own unrelated work on the subject, and it’s not high on my priority list right now. What I did do, however, is work out how to make these same objects part of characters, because why not. I shall be browsing the available objects for things that might make decent body parts – things like floating books as a headless option maybe, we shall see what turns up.
So, what does this mean for homecoming? Directly, I’m afraid nothing much yet. Because HC is a closed source server, I don’t have access to the files needed to make HC-specific versions of my work. As I’m working on the open sourced I24 servers, however, everything I do is available and there’s nothing stopping someone at HC making the necessary changes to incorporate my releases onto their server too (aside from the code, it's not hugely different to adding new textures like the work Derek Brown has been doing).
Now the part nobody likes: what can’t we do?
I am, essentially, a coder not an artist – I can make anything that already exists in the right format appear in-game, though some things take more effort than others. People are working on new models, and we’ve had some success importing them already. This means, however, that things like entirely new meshes, moving the robot arm to the left instead of the right, removing hair from hats and so-on are not things I can do without a modeller. And no, this isn’t asking for a partner – I can’t guide you through the tool chain setup to do the model work – but if you already know how then sure, ping me on discord and we’ll see about getting stuff in game. Also no, I can't customise your mastermind pets yet.
And yes, I can implement Rikti, but they are not being looked at for these initial releases because they don't mesh well with the majority of human parts, so they need a bunch more work before they get enabled.