Ever come across a line of heroes under the statue of Atlas, all assembled against the side of the Atlas platform that faces City Hall? Well, in all likelihood, you have witnessed a costume contest in progress.
Costume contests are unofficial ways to get insane amounts of influence in-game. Basically, you stand there, showing off your best costume, competing against the other heroes gathered, and the judge (there's usually only one) decides which are the three or four best among the group. Influence prizes for such contests usually range in the millions--a lot of money anyway, but especially for a new hero!
The following article gives some tips on what you need to do to participate in a costume contest, and also some tips on how to hold your own costume contest! (click the link to skip down)
Participating in a Costume Contest
Be there on time.
When a costume contest is announced on Broadcast chat, and they give a time limit, make sure to be there. It's often good to get there early and have a place in line already established. This helps the judge and the other contestants get the contest started on time, which means you have to stand there doing nothing for a shorter time.
Show off your costume with the standard pose-- /e wings.
While you're being judged, you don't want your arms to come up into the crossed position and block the chest emblem or shirt design. Thus, the standard pose for costume contests is the fists-on-hips pose, achieved by typing /e wings into your chatbox.
Turn off all toggle powers. Yes, I mean ALL.It's important to turn off any toggle power that makes you glow, makes it hard to see your costume (like invisibility, intangibility stuff, etc.), or that affects you and the look of the ground around you. Your toggles will affect how your costume looks, and even if you think it looks cool to have them on, the judge needs to see your costume at its most unaffected.
(Exception: If the judge has said that shield toggles and other toggle powers are okay for a certain round, you'll be able to use your toggles then to their best effect.)
Also, please, please, PLEASE turn off toggles that make other characters around you invisible or partially invisible, or that subtly change the colors of others' costumes. It is very annoying to stand beside someone that has these powers turned on, because suddenly your character is see-through or has turned a different color, and you can't do anything about it!
Don't buff anybody in line until the contest is over.
For much the same reason as turning off toggle powers, don't buff other contestants until the contest is over. Buffs often change the color cast of the other person's outfit, skin color, or hair, and the change might not be so flattering. Be considerate.
When standing in line, don't talk trash about another contestant's costume.
If you're a contestant, it really doesn't matter what you think about the costume of the heroes standing next to you. The opinion that matters is the judge's, and if you're standing there putting forth a stream of typed negativity and generally being a pain in the posterior, you might find yourself booted out of the running entirely. Keep it positive and encouraging when you chat with others in costume contests.
Also, if someone else is spouting off about your costume and won't shut up, simply type /ignore [their name] into the chatbox, and you won't see their comments in your chatbox anymore.
Whether you win anything or not, be gracious.
If you win one of the prizes, thank the judge and then say no more about it. The last thing anybody wants to see is a bunch of crowing in Broadcast chat or Local chat, such as "omg im so awesome i got best costume EVAR!!!1!!1". You can congratulate the other winners as well, and thank the judge for holding the contest. This shows that you're levelheaded and not totally wrapped up in your win.
If you didn't win anything, don't be obnoxious about it. The judge made the decision as he/she saw fit, and getting angry and going off at the mouth (or at the keyboard) is not going to change anything. Neither is sending angry Tells to the winners or to the judge. Thank the judge for the contest, and leave to do your own thing--don't hang around trying to get a pity prize. Remember, you haven't lost anything but a bit of time standing in line, and who knows--you may have made a few friends while you were there.
Costume contests are generally held in Atlas Park, on the platform underneath the big statue of Atlas holding the world.
If you want a LOT of participation, advertise on the CoH Forums about your contest.
Announcing your contest in-game is great, but if you've got a specially-themed contest you want to hold, or you just want a lot of people to come out, putting a post up on the City of Heroes Forums will help drive more players to your contest. As I'll note later, make sure you put up all the rules for your contest, the prizes for each winner, and the right date and time (be sure to include the time zone you're in so that people outside your time zone will be able to adjust accordingly).
Give a sufficient time span for heroes to get ready for the contest.
Giving your first announcement about the contest saying that you're holding it in 3 minutes won't get many takers--most people want at least 10 minutes' warning so that they can make last-minute tweaks at the Tailor, sell a few things at Wentworth's, finish up a mission, etc. Giving 10-15 minutes till the contest in your first announcement is usually the standard.
Make your announcement clear and concise about contest rules, and always announce in Broadcast chat.
You are the judge of this contest, so it is your responsibility to make up the rules. If you only want costumes of a certain theme, say so. If you don't want level 30 or higher players to have Auras (which cannot be turned off except at a Tailor), say that in your announcement. Make it clear what the contest is about, what your rules are, and especially what the prizes are for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place. (It's up to you if you choose to have more prizes than that, but usually 3 or 4 winners is typical.)
Also, putting your announcement in Broadcast chat ensures that most, if not all, players will see that you're holding a costume contest, and they will then act accordingly. If you want to get a broader coverage of players, you could put out the message in Broadcast chat in several different zones, and send Tells to all the people on your Friends list and in your Supergroup.
Offer prizes that are attractive to players.
Usually, amounts of influence are typically the prizes, but you could dare to be different and offer rare enhancement set pieces or certain pieces of rare salvage. Whatever you offer, though, make sure it is something that other players will need and will use. Giving large Inspirations or certain common/uncommon Invention salvage pieces is not a good prize unless you're giving multiple items to each winner; likewise, giving basic Invention recipes isn't really a sought-after prize. (One exception: giving a few Luck Charms can make a lowbie's day!)
Generally, a prize of around 3-5 million is tops, with the second- and third-place prizes falling below that. You can give more or less as you will--just make sure you have the funds to do it!
In terms of finding good prizes outside of giving influence, AE will likely be your best resource for item prizes like rare salvage or Enhancement Set pieces. Buying a few rounds of the Random Bronze-Class Recipe rolls will likely net you some good recipes you can then build and hand out as prizes. (Learn how to build Enhancements here.) As for rare salvage, you can get individual pieces of rare salvage for 540 tickets each--check the rare salvage prices over at Wentworth's before you get the salvage, though! You want to be sure that if the winners want to sell their salvage, they can get good influence for it.
Post reminders for your contest every so often in Broadcast chat.
To make sure the maximum number of players knows about your contest, repost your message every 2-3 minutes in Broadcast chat. You can simply copy and paste your original message, lowering the number of minutes till the contest each time.
While holding the contest, make sure you judge each costume carefully.
You are the judge of the contest; that means you need to do more than just pause briefly in front of each person. Pause long enough so that you can see how the costume was designed, and how the different pieces and colors work together (or don't work together). Yes, the costume should be pleasing to the eye, but you also must give a nod to sheer intricacy. If the costume looks like the person spent a lot of time on it, and there's a lot of detail, you've got to acknowledge that effort (even if the resulting look doesn't quite fit your own style). Otherwise, you're not being fair.
Also, note any themes that are in the costume. People like all different types of themes, so if you notice that there's a halo and wings, for instance, you can note that as part of an "angelic" theme, and so on. Designing thematically takes patience and skill on the part of the designer, so make sure you account for that in your decision-making process.
If this seems like a lot to keep up with, you can actually chart what you're doing on a piece of paper or in an open document. Below follows a sample "Costume Grading Rubric" (lol, drawing on my teaching experience here), which provides you a format you can use to "grade" each costume you see. Making a note of what you think about each costume as you look at each one helps you make your decision later, especially if you've got a lot of costumes to judge. You can make out your own scale for this; for this sample, I've used "Excellent > Good > Fair > Poor" to describe all the different categories except for Theme.
|Contestant #||Colors||Theme Present?||Costume Detail?||Overall Effect|
|2||Fair||Yes - Fire||Poor||Fair|
|3||Poor||Yes - Robot||Excellent||Fair|
|4||Good||Yes - Ninja||Good||Excellent|
In this example, which contestant should get the top prize? Doing a chart like this makes it a little easier to see that #3 has great detail, but doesn't have a good color scheme, while #1 has an awesome color scheme, but no real theme and little bits of detail here and there. If I were judging this example, #4 would get top, #3 would be second, #1 would be third, and #2 would get an Honorable Mention, but you might judge things a bit differently. Judging costumes is a subjective process, but doing a chart can help put in a little more objectivity.
Don't make it a popularity contest.
This is very important, possibly the most important of all. Be fair to all contestants, and don't reward your participating friends or supergroup members more highly than the rest of the group. You will definitely get called on this kind of favoritism, and it won't be pretty when it happens. It doesn't matter who the person is or what kind of rewards they might have given you in the past; for now, what matters is the quality of their costume, matched against those of the other contestants.
When you are finished making your decision, let the winners know, and let the non-winners go.
Instead of announcing who has won what prize in Broadcast chat, send a Tell to each of the winners telling them what place they got and asking them to stay behind a minute, and then announce in Broadcast chat, "The finalists/winners have been decided. Thank you all for coming out!" or some variation. (In place of sending Tells to the winners, you can also invite the winners to a team if you're going to move them to a different location to hand out the prizes.)
Be sure to express your gratitude for all the participants, and if you plan to do another contest in the future, mention something like "I'll be doing another contest soon--hope to see you all there!" as part of your parting message. If some of the contestants seem especially down about the results, encourage them to come out to the next contest, or give them a few polite tips on how they might improve their costume via a Tell.
Don't forget to use the Trade Screen to transfer influence and items--right-click each winner and select "Trade..." to open the Trade Screen.