Former CoH Developer Dives into the Creation of Martial Combat

Former City of Heroes developer Jeff Hamilton, aka Arbiter Hawk, aka Hawkward, took to Twitter to excitedly talk about Martial Combat, the Blaster secondary set which was never released before the game was shut down in 2012 but players can now play on Homecoming. In a series of tweets, he talks about the development of the powerset and his excitement over seeing people being able to enjoy it now.



He begins by saying:

“Breaking my Twitter hiatus because I stumbled upon a thread where people are just… heaping praise on something I made years ago??

I’m so happy. I loved making Martial Combat for Blasters and I’m glad people have gotten to enjoy it now.”

He then follows it up by explaining that there is an ability in the set that they didn’t have the tech to do. “I was playing a lot of Riven at the time, and I loved the feeling of a three-charge ability. “Charges” was just becoming a popular type of design across many games. So I made this…” which then shows the picture below of Burst of Speed.



“But how to make this, when you don’t have tech for Charges on abilities that aren’t temporary? I did have tech to let me put a token on a character when you used an ability, though… And I did have tech that let you recharge a certain power when you used another power…

So, Burst of Speed puts a Token on your character when you activate it, and immediately recharges itself. If you use it again while the Token is less than 10 seconds old, it recharges itself again. If the token is older than that, it goes on cooldown.

It was hacky, but it worked. I got my three-charge teleport kick. And now you can make someone do the Rock Lee move-so-fast-and-kick-you-can’t-see-them patented face kicking.”


He also took some time to talk about Ki Push.

“I also made this in this powerset, Ki Push” and then he includes the picture below.



“Did I have tech to knock someone backwards in slow motion? Hell no. But I did have tech to move someone through the air in a straight line (telekinesis)… And I did have tech to play an animation on someone while they had any given effect lingering on them…

So, Ki Push re-uses the Telekinesis effect that was only used on one Mind Control power as far as i remember. However here, it’s just a flat duration (3 sec? 4 sec?) instead of being a toggle power. Then, when the TK ends, it applies a knock back to them.

Coupled with an anim of flailing their arms, it ended up looking like the Hellion you punched was floating backwards, and then when “slow motion” ends they go flying. Absolute physical comedy.

Anyway, sometimes when you’re making a game, you have to figure out how to lash three different features together to get the thing you want. It’s good to be scrappy as long as you’re also real with yourself about the polish level of what you’re doing.”


It’s fascinating to see how the powerset came together using bits and pieces that already existed in the game. This sort of insight into the development of City of Heroes really gives you an appreciation for the creativity the development team at Paragon Studios had. It also gives context for what the various server developers are facing. So to all developers who have worked on City of Heroes in the past and those who do it now as fans, I say thank you. And a big thank you to Jeff who took time out of his Twitter hiatus to tell us about Martial Combat’s history. If you’d like to see Jeff’s original Twitter thread you can do so by following the link, but do keep in mind that he is on hiatus from Twitter so he won’t reply. Or at least he shouldn’t…if he’s being good.