Hero Factory

By Shamus Posted Monday Mar 9, 2009

Filed under: Nerd Culture 16 comments

I’ve seen a few hero designers here and there in my web travels, but this one is surprisingly polished and fun. (Needs more variety, though.) If you enjoy playing around with the city of heroes character builder, then this is an amusing way to blow twenty minutes. If I were running a capes & tights superhero game, I would definitely point my players at this thing.

My own efforts:


It’s Emo McBrood, aka Captain Angst. He gained his powers when a chance encounter with a robber ended with the murder of his parents, grandparents, best friend, girlfriend, gym teacher, favorite lunchlady, baseball coach, pen pal, dog, cat, and pet hamster.

The outpouring of emotion was so powerful that it created an angst-surge – a torrent of fearsome supernatural power – and transformed him into Captain Angst. Now he can recall those powers by tapping into the memories of that fateful day. In order to save others from his fate, he guards the city from serial killers, butchers, murderers, and other amoral life takers. Once he stops them, he agonizes over killing them since he doesn’t want to become like the monster who murdered his parents, grandparents, best friend, etc etc etc. Then the bad guy escapes during his moments of anguish and inner turmoil, meaning Captain Angst will blame himself for his foe’s subsequent killings.

His comic has faltered in recent years and now has only a small but devoted following of young men, and the only reason the book is still in print is because they keep mailing the publisher threatening to cut themselves if it gets canceled.


This is Emily Pout, aka Angst Girl. She has pretty much the same origin story as Captain angst. She has the exact same powers. Her comic started about five months after Captain Angst became a commercial success, and was canceled less than a year later. “I dunno”, said the publisher, “I guess girls just don’t like comic books.”


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16 thoughts on “Hero Factory

  1. Hotsauce says:

    “I guess girls just don’t like comic books”
    Witty and insightful; who says you can’t be both?

  2. Avilan the Grey says:

    Well to be fair, they can claim it’s a comic aimed at girls since her head is bigger than her…

  3. Mari says:

    Not liking the name generator that comes with it, though. I had a perfectly serviceable concept for a heroic twist on Salary Man and instead I get “Baron von Masked Accountant.” Huh? See how I’m being clever here and you’re just being a wise guy? Similarly I created a female superhero in the necktie and skirt with bat wings and a neat hellish trident thinking “Catholic schoolgirl by day…daughter of Satan by night.” The name generator gives me “The Amazing Watered Down Bat.” Um, please can I just go with “Hellspawn” instead?

    I’m just saying a useful feature for them to add might be the ability to input a name rather than being forced to use the automatic generator.

    Either way, I’m probably going to spend far too much time there over the next few days exercising my twisted sense of humour.

  4. DaveMc says:

    “Needs more variety, though.” To those used to playing with the City of Heroes character generator, this is an understatement of massive proportions.

  5. Her Geek says:

    Wow. I hadn’t seen Hero Factory in about seven years, from back when we were playing a PBEM Champions game and we started off using that for the character costumes. They’ve spiffed it up quite a bit since then…but still the same poses. :-)

  6. Locri says:

    Wow, yeah… that’s ridiculously limited. Instead, you should try Hero Machine:


    I used it a long time ago for a few things. I still wish someone would come out with a good 3D model created one (which would make it a lot easier to pose as you want) this is about as customizable as I’ve seen.

    You used to have to pay for the offline version (a feature that is fantastic to reduce the load times of all the items) but it looks like it’s all free now which is fantastic. I think I’m going to have to take a look again myself ^_^

  7. Onuryn says:

    I strong recommend this one:


    It is very complete. Just click on the American flag next to where it says “Idioma”, and you’ll be fine.

  8. doosteen says:

    I immediately envision an episode involving the evil villian constructing a giant mind-erase ray, thus leaving Captain Angst memoryless and without powers. COULD THIS MEAN THE END OF CAPTAIN ANGST AND ALL HIS ANGSTINESS?!?

  9. Anaphyis says:

    “I guess girls just don't like comic books.”

    Not funny. Depressing, yes, as reality tends to be. They will propably retool Angst Girl with more pink, ponies and even more dependency upon a more spiced up Captain Angst. Because, God forbid, every girl wants to read about an insignificant female sidekickshow freak wearing less fabric then Eve in Eden.

  10. Alex says:

    Shamus, I don’t know what superhero generator you were using, because the one you linked to us was anything but “polished and fun”. In fact, it was surprisingly buggy(the colour options rarely worked, and could not be removed even by pressing “Start Over”), and the 80’s music is just a kick in the groin. =/

  11. Ravens_cry says:

    I like Hero Machine 2.5 myself. Compaired to the Hero Factory I find it much more versatile.
    Hero factory has some nice animated-style hero art, but it doesn’t have any layering options, which balks with some of the other options.

  12. zimboptoo says:

    I’m a big fan of Hero Machine myself. The selection of costumes and props, while not limitless, is certainly extensive, and the ability to layer is incredibly useful. It is flexible enough that I’ve used it to design characters for non capes-and-tights games, from medieval to cyberpunk, with decent success. The only gripe I have with the system, besides not being CoH (read: a professionally designed “you have to pay for this” 3D generator) is the scarcity of poses. There are times when I want to make a character that isn’t a Football player, a basketball player, or a dwarf. But other than that, I highly recommend it.

  13. zimboptoo says:

    Oh yeah, I forgot. One of the coolest features of Hero Machine? A random button. One of the best ways to quickly come up with NPCs I’ve found. Also, often hilarious.

  14. Ravens_cry says:

    Also, there is a muscular woman pose in hero machine. She’s no line backer, but she looks like she could take on crime.
    Mr. Young, if your still interested in making superheroes, it’s a good place to look.

  15. Mephane says:

    Just look who’s holding that flamethrower there (wishful thinking for some future episode of his adventures):

    Gordon Freeman!

  16. Bizarre says:

    She can’t possibly be a comic book superheroine! Her breasts aren’t absurdly large and supernaturally perky.

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