Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption - All News
Friday - February 17, 2017
Hero-U - Schedule Update
The Cole's are planning to start beta testing of Hero-u at the end of April, with a release date set in the summer of this year.
The current plan calls for “Code Complete” – all features implemented and ready for outside Beta testing – in 2-3 months. Figure on April 30 for the start of Beta. We plan to distribute digital copies of the game through a download on BackerKit for backers, and through Steam, GoG, and Humble for new orders.
The Beta phase will also last 2-3 months, so we’re targeting late June to mid-July for game release. We are following the tradition of similar Kickstarter projects in releasing the digital version of the game first. After we’ve fixed most of the problems reported by players, we’ll manufacture the boxed games and send them out to the backers at higher contribution levels.
We might still slip, but it won’t be by much. Lori and I have strong financial and creative incentives to get the game out the door and into your hands.
It’s a Trap
Here’s a sneak peek at the trap disarming puzzle. As Shawn practices disarming traps and improves in skill, some of the incorrect letters will be removed from the dial of Shawn’s Trap Tapper.
Remember, Rogues, it takes more than a disarming smile to bypass a diabolical trap!
Monday - January 09, 2017
Hero-U - Celebrating Hero-U 2017
Here's a new update for Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption:
Celebrating Hero-U 2017
We like to decorate our Christmas/Solstice tree with themed decorations. One year was space, another Harry Potter. For the past five Christmas seasons, we’ve decorated the tree with symbols of Quest for Glory and Hero-U to remind us of our commitment. We have Quest for Glory ornaments, School for Heroes baubles, and Rogue decorations. Our gifts this year included Hero-U mugs and t-shirts. It’s safe to say that we’ve thought of Hero-U a lot more than about snowmen, reindeers, or sugar plums during these holidays.
We believe the love and commitment from us and the team will make Hero-U great. Every week, I have the pleasure and honor of seeing John Paul’s gorgeous artwork created for the game. Chris and Aaron did fantastic work bringing JP’s vision for the school into 3D. Al has given our characters graceful movement. Carolyn turned static scenes into staged events. Jerry and Robert built the foundation of the castle and the other environs. Adam gave us our Reputation system and our new interface design. Judy created the foundations for our mini-games and added important features to Rob’s game scripting editor. Joshua has led the development of… well, nearly everything code-related. Our other Josh is helping Hero-U be hilarious through his droll messages for interacting with objects that most games ignore.
Both Al and JP play the game weekly to see that things work and look right, handling Quality Assurance as well as their artistic contributions now that the art tasks are winding down. Who better to judge whether a room lights need adjusting or a character’s movement looks stilted?
It’s the programmers who need to do the heavy lifting now. We’ll be adding a few new names to our programming list soon. It’s time to get this game done.
The game is designed, but I am still writing dialogue and setting scenes in motion. Our custom game system has turned me into a programmer as well as a writer. It gives me the control to make a scene extremely complicated and sophisticated without the worry that my design will get lost in programming translation. It also makes my job harder and take longer as I have to keep track of ‘If’s and Else’s”. We also get to spend time finding mistakes in the scripts as well as in the Unity code.
Corey is now going over the resumes of the many wonderful folk who want to work on the game. There’s a lot of behind-the-scene work like paying people, bills, and taxes that needs to be done to keep this project going. Occasionally he even contributes to design decisions.
Hero-U is a very different game from anything we have made in the past. We’ve applied lessons from every game design we’ve created, the experiences of all the people involved, and the pleasure of all the games we all have played and loved. Hero-U will bring these things together to create a game experience that we hope you all will love as much as you loved Quest for Glory.
So here’s to 2017! We are adding more programmers to add to the richness of the game. We are incorporating new music and sound effects to give the game emotional depth. We are testing, poking, and judging every pixel and action in the game to make sure it works as intended and that the game is fun.
This is the year we ship this game. You will enjoy all the effort it took and all the love we built into this creation.
It’s going to be a great year for Hero-U.
Sunday - December 25, 2016
Hero-U - The Year in Review
Cory Cole takes a look at 2016 and what happened in the devlopment of Hero-U.
2016 has been a roller-coaster ride for us. There have been some great and exciting moments, and some sad and terrifying ones. If I needed to describe it all in one word, it would be “unpredictable”. Sadly, I could use the same word to describe most of the development of Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption.
The hardest part of running a small indie business has been turnover. To date, we’ve had about 30 people work on Hero-U, but currently we’re down to four regular developers, three occasional contributors, and Lori and me. Health, family, and computer issues have cost almost every team member at least a month during the year, and much more for some. I’m not going to go into details, but many events unrelated to the project have created huge stress for us and the team this year. These challenges have continually impacted the schedule, but we’ll keep pushing until the game is done.
On the positive side, we’ve made tremendous progress with the game. I’m personally funding it at this point, and that’s appropriate. “With great risk comes great reward.” – Dungeonmaster or maybe the D&D Player Handbook. Fortunately, Lori and I turned 60 while working on Hero-U, which opens access to our retirement accounts. We’ll try not to exhaust them, but the game comes first! We’re much too young to actually retire.
Monday - November 14, 2016
Hero-U - Risk and Rewards
In this month's update for Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption we are informed about the way lockpicking works in the game, teh risks and rewards of backing a Kickstarter game and that the release is still scheduled for the second quarter of next year.
I learned a lesson in improbability many years ago while playing Risk. My 12 armies were about to eliminate a player’s last two defenders. When the dust cleared multiple dice rolls later, my lone remaining army stared helplessly at the remaining single defender.
The lesson – high probability is not the same thing as certainty, and low probability is not the same thing as guaranteed failure. We all watched those lessons hammered home in last Tuesday’s U.S. Presidential election, and before that with the Brexit vote.
It’s an important lesson for game designers – there is no such thing as a 90% chance in a one-time puzzle. That puzzle is really a 100% chance for 90% of the players, and a 0% chance for the other 10%. If you want players to solve the puzzle, make it 100% solvable, or allow players to try multiple times until they solve it.
Lockpicking in Hero-U works that way – you might encounter a lock Shawn can’t open, but he’ll get a little practice attempting it. After enough practice and study, and a more advanced toolkit, Shawn can come back and open the lock. Trap disarming involves both Shawn’s skill and the player’s, but every trap can be disarmed with practice and cleverness.
Wednesday - September 28, 2016
Hero-U - September Update
A new development update for Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption, is about the story of the game and the status of the development.
How do you tell a story in an interactive medium? How do you give players agency while giving them a good story and keeping the game size manageable?
How can a game writer tell a strong story while also making it the player’s story for each and every player?
There isn’t any single answer. Action games minimize the story, and instead provide an experience to players. Most role-playing games focus on combat while telling a bit of story between (and sometimes during) fights.
Lori and I set a higher bar in our Quest for Glory games. We told stories in which the player was the hero, but players also had the freedom to explore. And yes, fight some monsters to prepare them for tougher challenges.
We’re making great progress. Adam immediately started to bring new tools to our development process, such as ways of showing the interaction points for all of the objects in a scene. This is a great way to make sure that every object has a waypoint and that they’re in the right places.
Currently we’re working on mini-games such as trap disarming and puzzles. Joshua is getting back to the combat system after adding many new features to the game and Composer systems.
Our target is Beta at the end of the year, and release once the game is absolutely solid. Due to the complexity of character interactions and the scripts, we expect to have an extended beta of around 3 months.
Thursday - July 14, 2016
Hero-U - A Tale of Two Castles
A new kickstarter update for Hero-U and Corey shares some thoughts on the design ideas that went into various systems. Expect a beta at the end of the year and a full release either end of this year or early next depending on beta results.
Like most of the attractions at Universal Studios, the Harry Potter ride is a 3-D motion simulator. Your broomstick seems to soar above and through Hogwarts as you encounter some of the scenery and situations from the Harry Potter films. It was definitely fun, but also a challenge for those of us - such as Corey - who suffer from motion sickness.
Corey has a similar problem with 3-D action games such as first-person shooters. The sometimes jerky, uneven motion is more than he can stomach, so to speak. That's one of the reasons why we are going out of our way to make Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption a very different experience. Yes, we have 3-D environments, but you control the action. Combat in particular is turn-based - it's about strategy and tactics, not about how fast you can click.
Top Five Differences Between Hero-U and Hogwarts
- Hero-U offers many other disciplines than Wizardry, even Roguery.
- Hogwarts students play Quidditch, not for the faint-of-stomach. Hero-U students play Poobah and other games that do not require flight.
- Mundanes and magicians mix freely in the halls of Hero-U.
- While many Hogwarts teachers have quirks, only Hero-U has Kwirks.
- There is no "chosen one" at Hero-U; anyone can be a Hero.
We look forward to opening the doors of Hero-U to our Beta testers late this year. Depending on the results of the tests, we’ll release the full game either at the end of this year or early next year. Both Wizarding World and Hero-U took several years to develop, but they are experiences you will enjoy exploring.
Tuesday - May 03, 2016
Hero-U - Interface Survey & Project Status
User Interface Survey
Hero-U School Store Interface
We've tried multiple variations of the main user interface for Hero-U, and we're still tweaking and refining them. I've put together a short survey of how you play games, and it will be very helpful to us if you and your friends take the survey at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/WGMC5CW.
We want to know how many of our players use both mouse buttons when playing games, and what expectations you have for the right mouse button. In Quest for Glory, the right button toggled between commands (such as Talk, Look At, or Use) that the left button would use. In our first Hero-U demo, the right button brought up action menus, while the left button. For the second version, I switched that - left button acts, right button gives a description.
Hero-U Reception Area
We are continuing to refine the rest of the user interface, including the look and feel of the inventory, character sheet, and journal. It takes an amazing amount of behind-the-scenes work to make these screens work well with the right appearance and ease of use.
We're in the last couple of months of creating "room content" for the game. This includes all the dialogue, text, interactions, animation, and "adventure game stuff" for Hero-U. This Summer we will refine and expand the combat system and working on "alternate interface puzzles" such as trap disarming. We will also start adding music and sound effects once all of the rooms are otherwise complete.
We plan to have a very long beta test to prevent the kinds of problems we had with several of our Sierra games. We hope to start Beta in late September or early October. As we get closer to the finish line, our ability to estimate the real completion date will improve.
We are delaying shipments of physical goods until the game is complete. It's a very time-consuming process that takes time away from game development. We've sent out digital rewards such as Quest for Glory game keys and high-resolution travel posters and game images. Log on to BackerKit and visit your Hero-U page to get access to your digital add-ons.
Saturday - March 26, 2016
Hero-U - Spring Forward
A development update for Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption:
In the midst of Winter, there are times when it seems as if the chilling gloom will never end. Game projects go through a similar period when the game is like a scattered jigsaw puzzle with many of the pieces missing. It is hard to believe that the project will ever be completed. But even in the depths of the coldest and darkest Winter days, we know that Spring will be reborn with joyous warmth and sunshine. So too, we know that Hero-U will find all the pieces of the puzzle, put them together into a beautiful picture, and we will be ready to release the game so that we can share that beauty with all of you.
The pieces are coming together now. There are many more pieces to this game puzzle than we expected when we started out. We listened to our fans and supporters. Thus, the Sea Caves are much more extensive than we planned. Our animation is becoming more sophisticated. Our programming is becoming more elegant and expressive.
It will still take months to fit all the pieces into the game. It will take more months to test it all and make sure it lives up to its heritage of QfG and the expectations of its fans. However, we are springing closer to our goal every day.
All of the backgrounds for the Sea Caves have been completed by JP Selwood and Aaron Martin. This means that all of the background art is finished.
So, is the art done? No, not exactly.
When we started out designing the art for the game, we created backgrounds like a stage set with many reusable walls and props. This made the scenes seem a little dull and artificial.
We have started the polishing phase of the project. We are going over many of the older rooms now to make them more dramatic and dynamic. Each prop is handcrafted from the finest pixels. Each room is aglow with the careful arrangement of many-colored lights. It’s amazing what lighting can do to bring out the emotions in a scene.
We are also refining and improving our user interface design to make the game play intuitive and yet beautiful.
Our newest programmer, Carolyn VanEseltine, is crafting each scene with character movements and camera placement to bring a cinematic approach to game interaction.
Josh Mandel is bringing his clever wit and wry humor to Hero-U whenever the player examines objects or interacts with the myriad of props and decorations in the rooms.
My dialogue script keeps getting longer and more sophisticated as the stories of all the characters in the game are revealed. This is the richest, most complex story I have ever written.
The game just keeps getting better and better.
Of all the games I’ve worked on in the past, Hero-U has the best team and the best art. I could not be prouder of what we are creating with Rogue to Redemption.
Monday - February 29, 2016
Hero-U - Numbers
In the latest update for Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption, Corey Cole talks a lot about numbers and about the game still being scheduled for release this year (Q4).
I spend a lot of my time working with numbers. I actually like them and thought I’d share a few of my favorites. First, the project financials:
- Pledged income: $555,000
- Actual receipts after fees and loan payments: $460,000
- Payments to art, music, and programming contractors: $380,000
- Pledge reward and shipping costs: $80,000
- Project burn rate: $10,000/month
So we’re at break-even from the funding campaigns so far, and are now working on personal loans. The above does not include any income for Lori and me, as we won’t pay ourselves until Hero-U becomes profitable. We also owe about $50,000 to developers who have chosen to defer their contract payments until after we release the game. (Thank you!)
This is all pretty normal for game development. Developers normally have a publisher contract that doles out funds as the developer reaches milestones. The publisher in effect "goes into debt" to make the game, then hopes to make a profit after they launch the game. They lose money on many games, and make it up on a few profitable ones... or the studio goes out of business. That happens a lot to both big publishers and small indie developers.
We’ve had a total of 28 developers work on Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption so far. 12 are still actively contributing to the project. That’s smaller than the teams on our last few Sierra games, but about as many as we had on Quest for Glory II: Trial by Fire. Then again, all of those worked full-time for a year. In man- (and woman-) years, we're still well under the development time of any of our Sierra games.
Monday - December 21, 2015
Hero-U - December Update
The Hero-U Kickstarter page brings us some Christmas wishes and a video shoing the recording of the game's theme song.
There is also some news about backer rewards and teamchanges and challenges.
Of course, as Ebenezer Scrooge pointed out, the Christmas season also tends to be a bad time for productivity. We’ve had distractions ranging from helping my mother recover from knee surgery to catching the obligatory Thanksgiving colds to doing Christmas things. In fact, life has been so busy, we haven’t seen The Force Awakens yet, potentially causing serious damage to our nerd cred.
Last week we had the pleasure of entertaining super-backer Katherine Owen. She was in a bad car accident several years ago that led to her becoming active in our How to Be a Hero and School for Heroes web sites. We’re happy to say that after many very rough years, Katherine is doing much better. She enjoyed visiting our rustic “lived in” home and watching me start a fire in the fireplace to take off some of the mountain chill.
Janet Weddle has joined us as project manager to help us keep development on track. She has helped us set up Kanbanchi boards to track tasks and took over our most recent programming meeting (allowing me to cough freely without blowing out everyone’s headsets). I’ve been stretched very thin between management, bookkeeping, writing, and dealing with Kickstarter rewards, so Janet will be a valuable addition to the team.
Sadly, key team programmer Cidney was also caught in a serious car accident a few weeks ago. She has had two surgeries and is doing well, but we’re much more concerned about her recovery than in shackling her down to the counting room - er, programming - desk just yet. However, Cidney assures us that she wants to get back to work on Hero-U as soon as she is able.
Wednesday - November 11, 2015
Hero-U - November Update
In this update for Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption, we learn what the Coreys think about the release date:
I've been saying Spring (June) 2016, but since we aren't in Alpha yet, Lori's estimate of late Fall (November 2016) may be more realistic. We'll try hard to complete the game earlier - it's just as critical to us as to our backers - but we won't release it until we're satisfied that Hero-U is an excellent game with no major bugs.
How the story is made:
What's involved in making a game? Why does it take so long? The answers might surprise you - there's a lot more than meets the eye. Let's take a quick peek behind the curtains of Hero-U.
At the heart of every adventure game is the story. (You enter the room. What do you see? Who is there with you? What happens when you push the button?) The designer describes the scene and all of its possible interactions (and their consequences).
In an ideal world, everything would come together in a single glorious swoop. As the designer tells the story, the artists' brushes (or styluses) would be a whirlwind of color; scenery and objects and characters would pour out of every surface, which animators would immediately bring to non-motion-captured life.
A symphony director would gesture madly (5/8 time! Now 4/4!) and a full orchestra and choir would respond in perfect harmony without needing a musical score. Programmers would capture all of this real-time data - story, art, animation, music - dynamically generate a world, shove it into a app, and... voila! A game would be born!
Sadly, game development in the real world moves far more slowly. Shockingly, it actually takes hard work and a lot of it.
The zombie pirates in the Sea Caves is discussed and how the story has been composed for it.
Further more we learn that the music will be performed by an orchestra.
One of our stretch goals in this year’s Kickstarter funding campaign was improving the quality and quantity of music in the game. We’re excited to announce that Ryan is currently in Budapest, Hungary working with the talented Budapest Scoring Orchestra to record a fully orchestrated version of the theme!
Saturday - August 15, 2015
Hero-U - August Update
In the August update for Hero-U: Rogue To Redemption we receive more information on the combat system, art and animation.
One of the stretch goals in the recent Kickstarter was “improved animation”. Former Sierra animator Al Eufrasio is now working full-time at bringing the characters and monsters of Hero-U to life.
There’s more to it than meets the eye – for example, students with capes have had trouble sitting down because their capes like to float through the backs of chairs. Some looked disproportionately large when sitting, and some seemed to float in mid-air. All of them tended to slide out of the way if Shawn walked too close to them.
As with everything else in Hero-U, we’re trying to walk a tightrope with character animation – it needs to make the characters feel alive without breaking the budget or adding too much time to the schedule. When in doubt, we try to err on the side of “make it look better”.
Sunday - June 21, 2015
Hero-U - Supplemental Kickstarter Ends Successfully
The second Hero-U Kickstarter has succeeded, too:
Hero-U Funded Again – Thank You!
Lori, I, and our entire development team would like to thank everyone who contributed to and shared either of our Hero-U Kickstarter campaigns. Your pledges will give us a solid base for improving and finishing the game. Our total funding between the two Kickstarter campaigns, PayPal donations, and Humble Bundle pre-orders will be slightly under $500,000 (about $450,000 after subtracting fees).
If you pledged to the 2015 campaign, your credit card should have been billed for the amount of your pledge. If you received notice that there is a problem with your payment, please work with Kickstarter and your credit card company to resolve the issue quickly. We were very proud of the backers of our 2012 campaign in that almost everyone honored their pledges – honor and honesty are prized attributes for Heroes!
Chris Fong and I are working with BackerKit to make sure all of you will receive all the rewards we promised. We have a complicated campaign in that we’re combining pledges made in two Kickstarter campaigns, PayPal donations, and Humble Bundle pre-orders. The folks at BackerKit have been very responsive and assure us they will help us make everything correct.
A Stronger Team Thanks to You
Thanks to the successful Kickstarter, we’ve been able to upgrade Aaron Martin (3D environment artist) and Al Eufrasio (animator) to full-time status. We may add an additional animator later if needed.
We are also happy to announce that Judy Feng will be joining the development staff as a part-time contract programmer. Judy is a skilled and experienced programmer who will be helping us out while also working another full-time job. The extra development power will make sure we can do a good job with the custom sections of the game such as the Poobah card game.
Wednesday - June 17, 2015
Hero-U - Kickstarter Ends Successfully
The Hero-U Kickstarter is over. It got 116.889$ from 1.869 backers.
Monday - June 15, 2015
Hero-U - Funded! & Update On Combat
The Hero's Quest spiritual successor Hero-U reached its funding goal of 100k$. At the moment the Kickstarter is at 110k$. A couple of stretch goals have been met, the next one is at 120k$ with 14 hours to go.
The Coles also added an update to explain Hero-U's combat system.
Action Game Combat - Too Fast
Computers are great at the dice-rolling and rules memorization parts, but we also expect much more of them. Combat has to feel involving and take a reasonable amount of time; animation and special effects need to show what's going on. No more spending 10 minutes on one round of the fight. Taken to extremes, combat becomes purely arcade - mash the buttons faster to do more damage. A one second cooldown or 300 millisecond latency can feel like an eternity in an MMO game.
Even our Quest for Glory games used real-time combat. We tried to make it interesting and have a good reason to parry and dodge, but most players just kept hitting the Attack button. We constantly tweaked with the combat rules and ended up with a different combat system in each game. We were trying to find the Holy Grail of combat that was fun, fair, fast, and rewarded players more for gaining character skill than for having twitchy trigger fingers.
Balancing a real-time game is really (pun intended) hard. Some of those games that seemed pretty fun at the time are now completely unplayable on faster computers - the enemies react too quickly. We want to make games that will be just as fun in 20 years as they are now.
Visit the Hero-U Kickstarter page to find out why the Coles claim the Hero-U combat is "just right".
Saturday - June 13, 2015
Hero-U - KS Update #9 - The Skill System
Kickstarter update #9 from Hero-U - it has character growth!
Leveling Up the Hero-U Skill System
When was the last time you gained an experience level? Did you get a promotion at work and suddenly find that three or four of your skills had instantly improved?
That’s exactly how level-based role-playing games work. Each time your character gains an experience level, their skills improve.
A D&D-style leveling system makes a lot of sense for a paper game - less bookkeeping - but that isn’t an issue on the computer. We think character skills should improve by using them or by getting specific training, not because of killing 35 Dire Rats.
Real life doesn’t work that way, so we developed our own game system in which players had a chance to improve the skills they used the most. It took some time at the table, but it made the game seem more realistic.
Setting Some Skills on the Sierra Skillet
When Sierra called on us to develop a role-playing game, we adapted our in-house rule system to the computer. When you climbed a tree, your Climbing skill sometimes improved. That gradually caused your Strength and Agility to improve as well. There was no direct way to improve Strength by itself until we later added a gym to Quest for Glory V.
We have a similar system in Hero-U, but we’ve simplified it a little so that the effects of players’ actions are more intuitive. Shawn can use most stats directly, such as trying to be Charming in conversation.
Over the course of the game, these help define Shawn’s character. If he relies on Moxie, he becomes good at that and will be more successful with Moxie attempts later in the game. Use more Charm or Smarts, and that stat improves instead. Shawn can improve all of his skills and stats through practice, but the ones he uses frequently will improve faster.
Attributes and Skills in an Adventure Game?
Yes we have numbers! They are a staple of role-playing games because they give players a feeling of progress and allow tougher challenges as the game progresses. One difference between our games and most adventure games is that our characters learn, grow, and change over the course of each game.
A Skill System lets us “soft-gate” the story - you can discover a problem early in the game, but might need to improve some of your skills before you can overcome it. One way to think about the difference between role-playing and adventure games is that adventures have puzzles, each with a specific solution.
RPGs have problems, and there are many different ways to overcome them. We think the latter approach makes more realistic and fair gaming - players don’t have to guess our way of solving a problem; they need to find a way that works within the game rules. (...)
Wednesday - June 10, 2015
Hero-U - KS Update #8 - The Story
We passed $88,888 a little earlier, and are well on our way to $90,000 as we enter the last five days of the Hero-U Kickstarter campaign. Thank you for your support, and tell your friends they're running out of time!
One of the things that makes adventure games special is the emphasis on story. You aren't just running around solving puzzles, you're participating in a shared-storytelling experience. Obviously story and characters are essential features of Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption.
Throughout the game, you will learn small threads of the story. How you put them together creates the tapestry that is your version of the story. Some sections may be incomplete until you play the game several times, because the way you play Shawn helps direct the story.
There are story threads as early in the game as the opening "break-in house" scene. Some of them are subtle, but designed to raise questions in the player's mind. Clearly Shawn is special - how many young men do you suppose the Chief Thief pulls off the street and assigns to a special test with no training? Who is the man in the alleyway, and why does he care what happens to Shawn? Who has sponsored Shawn to attend Hero-U, an elite University that does not normally cater to street people?
Inside the break-in house, why are shamrocks a theme in a game set in the Mediterranean? What do you learn about Shawn by examining the piano or the globe? What is going on with that safe that looks specifically designed to thwart expert thieves? Why does Shawn think about his mother, but never mention his father?
The answers to those questions are intentionally ambiguous for several reasons. One is to set up later plot development. Another is point of view - in Rogue to Redemption, you play as Shawn, and he doesn't know the whole story.
There is also the nature of "interactive fiction" - we can't tell you the whole story at the beginning because we're writing it together. Each decision you make in the game affects some part of the story and character development. It even helps create the style of the game.
Current status: 90.751 of 100k$ with ca. 5 days to go.
Sunday - June 07, 2015
Hero-U - Update #7 - Combat Let's Play & Stretch Goals
Another topic they're talking about are their stretch goals. Since the first stretch goal has already been secured by other means, the second becomes the new top of the list: improved animations will implemented if the KS reaches 105k.
Update: Half an hour ago a high-res video was uploaded. I've replaced the embedded video.
Hero-U - KS Update #6 - Dialog System & Project Status
The way the Coles are handling their Kickstarter campaign for the Quest for Glory inspired Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption is quite surprising, to say the least. After 1.5 weeks without an official update, enough to kill off all the momentum their crowdfunding campaign had and bring it to a crashing halt, they dish out two monster updates within 48 hours. Other successful campaigns prefer many short updates.
Current status is 83.810 of 100.000$, with 9 days to go. So a success is still possible.
The first update explains in detail the dialog system created by Lori Cole. Here's a brief excerpt:
Creating the game dialogue for Hero-U is one of Lori's major responsibilities. Besides writing tens of thousands of individual messages, she is using the power of our proprietary Composer scripting system to create dependencies.
Composer allows her to decide if game text is only available once, once per day, or repeatedly. She makes other dialogue dependent on previous game actions. For example, if Shawn and his roommate Aeolus are discussing Sophia, the receptionist, it makes a difference whether Shawn has met Sophia and talked to her.
This is handled by "script tags". When Shawn talks to Sophia in the reception area, the dialogue script sets a tag. Some of the conversations with Aeolus in the dorm later only appear if Shawn has talked to Sophia first. Here is one of many possible paths through that dialogue. On the next day, the conversation will be different, but may refer back to the choices made in today's conversation.
It is impossible to go through every dialogue option in one playthrough of Hero-U. Subtle differences in conversational choices and meeting other characters affect the available choices. This gives a different mood to similar conversations across multiple playthroughs.
Furthermore the Coles give a general project update and endorse a couple of other Kickstarter project. So far they have backed 82 projects.
Stay tuned for the 2nd update.
Wednesday - June 03, 2015
Hero-U - Project Update
Art is about 150% complete according to the original plan, which is to say about 80% complete with the new animation we intend to add and one 3D area that is still in progress.
Programming: Estimated 50% complete. The hardest parts are out of the way – we have a scripting system integrated into Unity, we’ve worked out the combat basics, UI, and object placement and handling.We think it will take about six months to finish all the scripting and system programming.
The player can walk around the entire University and the wine cellar, but we are refining all of the areas to make them look and play better. We also have a lot of work to do on refining combat.
Game Design: 100% complete. All of the basic design and story structure is done, but we have a great deal of writing and scripting to do.
Dialogue and Other Text: Estimated 30% complete. Our process for design and writing involves specifying the key elements of all scenes, then writing detailed text and dialogue after the basic implementation is complete.
Since this is a key area that is being done by Lori and me, it is on the critical path for completing the game. We estimate we have four to five months of work to do on writing, given the distractions of managing the project and team.
Testing/QA: We plan to have a 3-4 month testing and refining cycle. That’s the part that got shorted on some of our Sierra games, sometimes resulting in buggy releases.
We expect to complete development late this year, and have the game ready for release early next year.
Tuesday - May 26, 2015
Hero-U - Versus Quest for Glory
The Coles compare the Quest for Glory series with Hero-U to come to Quest for Hero-U.
The biggest strengths of our Quest for Glory games were the storytelling and the balance of serious stories with humorous situations and plentiful puns. Our goal is to continue those traditions in Hero-U with new and exciting stories and plenty of fun moments to help make the serious ones more meaningful.
Each Quest for Glory game had its own story - “coming of age” in the first game, experienced adventurer in the second, peace-maker in the third - all part of the greater story of the hero. In the final game, he could even become a King.
In Hero-U, Shawn O’Conner is again a young man with no real experience, but his coming of age has a difference. All we knew about the player’s character in Quest for Glory is that he wants to become a hero. Shawn doesn’t start out wanting to be a hero; he just wants to survive. But Shawn also has a past cloaked in mystery. In Rogue to Redemption, Shawn will discover his heritage as well as create a new destiny.
The Hero-U stories are in layers. World-changing events occur inside and around the school while the player character is trying to get an education. Each game reveals more of these events, and each character is involved in parts of them. What happens to one character, and how the player has that character act, affects the future games.
Hero-U is our spiritual successor to Quest for Glory. We are using modern technology to create even stronger stories, with more meaningful choices. These games are our response to fans who asked for more games like Quest for Glory. Thank you for being part of this new series.
Friday - May 22, 2015
Hero-U - Now @Steam Greenlight
The Quest for Glory inspired Hero-U is on Steam Greenlight now. Here's the description:
Hero-U is both like and unlike Quest for Glory. If anything, the story is richer because we have had more time to craft it and no restrictions on memory. There is more conversation.
The new game is less puzzle-intensive than old Sierra games. You can get through Hero-U without very many head-scratching moments... but you will want to play again to experience a different path through the game and do some of the "quests" you bypassed the first time.
Combat also has a different feel. In Quest for Glory, it was real-time, so you didn't have much opportunity to use tactics. Combat in Hero-U is turn-based, and Shawn has a variety of tricks and traps to help him win.
We've also cut down on deaths - loss in combat results in a trip to the infirmary and some wasted game time, but not a "restore game". Time is an important resource in Hero-U, so it will still be a fate you will try to avoid.
Current Kickstarter status is 61.5k out of 100k with 24 days to go.
Wednesday - May 20, 2015
Hero-U - Interview @RPS
Rock, Paper, Shotgun posted an interview about Hero-U and its roots in the Hero's Quest / Quest for Glory franchise with Lori & Corey Cole. This piece takes a couple of unexpected turns. Did you know the connection to Ultima IV?
RPS: So, heroism. It’s core to the genre, but so often it’s rarely on display. The main reason I wanted to speak to you guys specifically is because Quest For Glory is one of my main touchstones for games where you’re ACTUALLY a hero – and of course, began as “Hero’s Quest” rather than anything to do with gold and glory.
Corey: Yeah, the name change was completely wrong and inappropriate, but we didn’t have a choice. We had to change it to something! But Hero’s Quest is the actual game.
RPS: So was heroism rather than simply adventure part of the DNA from the start?
Lori: When we started out, it was wanting to get into games after playing things like Ultima that touched on this concept, of how to be a Paladin, an Avatar, and so on. It had so much potential, but when we actually played it… where was that?
Corey: I think in particular she’s thinking of Ultima IV, where of course you start with the gypsy fortune teller and moral questions that determine your stats and class. We said yeah, that’s great storytelling… but then the rest of the name is just “Name? Job? Bye?” There’s some story…
Lori: …but it was so disappointing, because that beginning gave us this idea we could have this grand adventure. We got into games to give that grand adventure we thought games needed to have.
RPS: Yeah, I was going to bring up Ultima, simply because it amuses me that if you look at the series’ story, the Avatar is the worst thing to happen to Britannia. [...]
The Hero-U Kickstarter is at 59k ,with 26 days to go. Although pledges have slowed down a bit it looks as if the Coles will reach their goal of 100k.
Saturday - May 16, 2015
Hero-U - Interview @KickstartVentures
A new interview about Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption can be found at KickstartVentures.
You’ve admitted that the $400,000 originally asked for wasn’t enough to get Hero-U fully funded. Why did you undersell it and not ask for closer to what was originally estimated to cost?
Kickstarter is all-or-nothing financing. Had we asked for $800K or $1 million, the answer would have been “nothing”. We asked for as much as we thought we had a reasonable chance of receiving, and nearly failed at that. It took last minute heroics from many of our backers to creep over the finish line.
If I had it to do over, the goal would have been $150K, and we would not have promised a finished game. That would have covered a tech demo, artwork, and design that we could show in a second Kickstarter for the actual game. Instead, we did it backwards, raising $400K without anything like a game demo to show, and asking $100K now to make the game shine.
The successful Kickstarters since 2012 have been based on games already in an advanced development state. Chris Roberts raised over $2 million, and spent 2 years working on a prototype before coming to Kickstarter with Star Citizen. Yooka-Laylee is well into development and showing a polished play experience.
We used the Tim Schafer model of waving our arms and saying we had a great idea. Try to get $1,000 on a pitch like that today! Even in 2012, it was not enough to raise $800K for a couple of game designers without an established development house.
Hero-U - KS Update 2: Hit by False 10k Pledge
It seems the Hero-U Kickstarter by the Quest for Glory creators Lori & Corey Cole was hit by a false pledge for 10k too. The situation was handled by Kickstarter though and the campaign is running well so far.
We are doing very well despite someone who apparently hacked a Kickstarter account and made a false $10,000 pledge. That has been revoked by Kickstarter, but we are back up to almost $49,000. The rule of thumb is that any project that gets 30% of its goal within the first week is likely to be fully funded. We did that on the first day. Thank you so much for your support!
In this second update the Coles talk about the budgets for adventure games in general, their original Hero-U budget, the latest updated budget, their plans for the money collected through the running campaign and the early sales.
Hero-U - Interview @ Techraptor
The interviewer summarizes parts of the interview in this way:
After talking with them, I’d say if I had to choose 3 words to represent Hero-U they would be: choice, consequences and fun. Those are at the heart of most of the design decisions for Hero-U I believe and are what makes this game stand out so much from other projects.
Choice is represented in almost everything in Rogue to Redemption. Hero-U often presents problems in various forms for the player to choose if and how they interact with them. Given their background with Sierra, Corey and Lori have spent a lot of time explaining the differences in that approach compared to the traditional adventure puzzle game approach.
By focusing on creating potential systematic solutions to problems rather than scripted ones, they are able to give a lot of freedom to people to choose how they want to play. It’s not just about creating branching paths and dialogues in Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption, though there is plenty of that, it is also about creating the type of experience one is interested in. If that is sneaking about and avoiding combat using wits and tricks, you can do that; if you want to fight with dastardly deeds you can; or if you want to focus on having friends and some more scholastic pursuits you can.
Thanks Silver and Coboney.
Tuesday - May 12, 2015
Hero-U - New Kickstarter Launched
As announced last week, the new Kickstarter for Hero-U has launched today. At this moment it has already reached a fifth of its $100K goal.
In November of 2012, we raised over $400,000 through Kickstarter toward the development of a top-down "rogue-like game with story" based on a previous project developed by our lead programmer. However, as we started to get feedback from our backers, we realized that the majority of them wanted a game more like Quest for Glory, the award-winning game series that Lori and I developed in the 1990s.
Hero-U has evolved into a much larger and more expensive project. While it is taking much longer than we originally planned, the result will be far more than we originally imagined possible. We think it will be a great game and one you will love playing.
Hero-U is a passion project for Lori and me. We have put two and one-half years of our life into it so far, and we will continue to do whatever it takes to make this a great game. That includes hiring the best programmers, artists, and musicians we can find.
It is unusual for the same project to raise funds on Kickstarter twice, but it is not unusual for a game to need additional funding. We have talked to many adventure game developers, and nearly all of their projects went over budget. They have either absorbed the costs themselves or obtained venture capital.
We chose not to seek outside funding because we want Hero-U to be a game of, by, and for our many heroes. Kickstarter is where we began, and we would like this to be a wholly crowd-funded game.
The pledges include a special $20 pledge for those whoalso backed the first Kickstarter.
Wednesday - May 06, 2015
Hero-U - Post-Funding Update #63
As you probably know the Coles announced a second Kickstarter for Hero-U. In this Kickstarter update they talk more about why they do it and what's in it for us.
Starting May 12, we are taking a very unusual step - Two and one-half years after successfully completing the Hero-U Kickstarter, we are coming back to ask for more funding and more support.
We will need your help to succeed, and I want to show you here why supporting our second Kickstarter is both the right thing to do, and why you will benefit from supporting us.
It won’t take much - If every backer from our first Kickstarter pledges just $10, we will be more than halfway to our $100,000 goal. If you all pledge $20, we can reach our goal on the first day.This game will be amazing! Thanks to you, we’ve made amazing progress over the last two years.
Every dollar contributed the new Kickstarter campaign will make a big difference to the quality of Hero-U.
For those of you who backed us at the $20 level in 2012, we’ve created a special $20 pledge level just for you. For that second $20, you will receive all the benefits of our new $50 tier. That will include a hint book with tips and strategies for reaching different goals in Hero-U. We will give you the complete soundtrack with all of Ryan Grogan’s stunning musical compositions along with any music we add to the game in the coming months.
You will also get the “Making of Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption Art Book”, highlighting many of the stunning portraits, paintings, and background art from the game. It also includes an insider look at the process our artists went through to complete the game art, including the original design notes, early sketches, and “color comps”. It’s a pretty awesome reward level!
Friday - May 01, 2015
Hero-U - Another Kickstarter to Raise Funds
Developer Corey Cole announced on the website for Hero-U he will be starting a new kickstarter to raise more funds to help finish development of his game.
In May, Transolar Games will start another Kickstarter to raise money to finish the Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption project with extra flair and pizzazz. Over the course of the next few weeks, we will send two demos out to our Kickstarter Backers who wanted to Beta test our game. After initial testing and feedback, we will make both demos available to other backers and the public.
Sunday - February 15, 2015
Hero-U - Post-Funding Update #61
The latest post-funding update from developer Corey Cole has information he will be starting a new kickstarter to help fund development as the game has grown to big.
We are still on target for release on Oct. 15 thanks to our talented new programming team members (see Update 60). They are rapidly filling out the game and keeping Lori and me on our toes trying to write game text fast enough to keep up with them. We still have a long way to go on development, but the light in the tunnel is no longer an oncoming train.
We plan to release a playable combat test and an updated version of the break-in house playable prototype late next month. These will lead up to a supplemental funding campaign in April-May.
When we originally ran the Kickstarter, we planned to make a much smaller and simpler game. As the campaign proceeded, it became clear that our backers wanted much more, and we promised to deliver it. Unfortunately, this is taking far more time and expense than that small game.
Even with several of our team members (including Lori and me) delaying compensation until after the game makes a profit, we have stretched our personal finances to the breaking point. We think it makes more sense to return to Kickstarter now that we have much more art and real development progress to show, rather than making a publisher deal or looking for venture funding. We also think a new Kickstarter campaign will give us a chance to reach many players who did not see the first one.
Friday - December 26, 2014
Hero-U - Post-Funding Update #60
This update for Hero-U shows us that it is hard to keep staff working for you when your budget is low, but that you always can find new people.
We've had some serious challenges with our programming team. Two programmers had to leave due to health issues, three others for better-paying jobs to support their family. Last month we sent out the call for experienced Unity/C# programmers to help us complete Hero-U. We received several enthusiastic responses and gave each a challenge - Create a scene similar to the one in the Hero-U demo using art assets we supplied. Other requirements included documenting the process and tracking time spent on the task.
Three candidates took up the challenge and provided strong examples of their work. Each is also a dedicated Quest for Glory fan and brings additional talents to the team. We are excited to welcome them to Hero-U as we work towards our October release date.
And there is this art update.
Thursday - November 20, 2014
Hero-U - Post-Funding Update #59
Corey Cole brings us a development update for Hero-U, which contains amongst others a new release date, which is now set to October 2015.
Today marks the two-year anniversary of the Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption funding campaign on Kickstarter. We’ve gone through many changes since then. Our original delivery estimate of October 2013 proved to be ridiculously optimistic. We based it more on the amount of time we could pay the team based on the Kickstarter contributions than on the actual requirements of building a unique new game. At that time, it didn't occur to me that we could use a combination of Kickstarter and other funding sources for the game.
I have resisted posting a new release date because we have had so many unknown factors, each causing more delays. Now that we are at 90% complete on art and music, and making good progress on the game writing, Lori and I have committed to a release date of Oct. 15, 2015. So, yes, two years into a one year project, we have exactly as much time remaining as I originally estimated the whole project would take. Project estimation is evidently not my top skill.
Actually, it’s that the project is not what we thought it would be when we began the Kickstarter campaign. However, the real issue turns out to be in the work Lori and I are doing, which in turn involves some promises we made during the campaign.
Sunday - October 19, 2014
Hero-U - October Development Update
Corey Cole posted his October update for Hero-U with information about the games development. So if you have no patience with reading it's not for you.
Why We Update
I put some thought this morning as to the purpose of these updates. I think an update:
- Reassures you, our backers, that we are still working on, and committed to, the project.
- Keeps you informed about the project status.
- Shares some cool things (and occasionally an Inside Secret) about Hero-U development.
- Entertains you and/or provides something of value.
- Encourages you to spread the word about the project.
- Occasionally gives me a soapbox to share ideas I think are important.
The current status? Art is about 85% complete, design is complete, programming is at 50%, writing has just begun. Now that Lori has completed the game design, she is working hard on writing the game dialog. I am also much more available now to work on the other game text. We’ve completed 1,200 “lines” (some of them are really full paragraphs) of a planned 50,000. This will make Hero-U more text-rich than Quest for Glory IV, “the CD-ROM from Hell” according to John Rhys-Davies. John had 6,000 "lines" of narration to read; he told us they were the equivalent of 20,000 lines in an animation script.
We have spent, or have obligations to spend, about $150,000 beyond the initial Kickstarter income. We are still under the original $650,000 budget plan and expect to stay under that. However, obviously the schedule has suffered from the need to stretch out expenditures, team changes (we had to throw away $50,000 of work), and Lori’s and my time spent on other aspects of the business than writing the game. Making a dialogue-based graphic adventure game is neither fast nor easy.
The new Hero-U release date? I can’t promise a specific date, but it will be in 2015, and hopefully in the Summer. We should know much more by January or February.
Monday - September 08, 2014
Hero-U - Post-Funding Update #57
The latest update for Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption provides information on the development of art and programming, and shares some thoughts on women in gaming.
Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption has gone through many changes in art direction. Originally we envisioned it as a 2D top-down “dungeon crawl” game in the style of MacGuffin’s Curse. We upped the ante on the art by bringing down the camera for an isometric look, but still using tiles to build the images. Then we made it look more like a classic Sierra game, but still isometric.
Since then, the look of the game has continued to improve and evolve. Earlier this year I announced that we have abandoned 2D animated characters in favor of full 3D characters modeled by Concept Art House. We have been using a mixture of 2D and 3D props and furniture, with the code going through contortions to make the 2D props look 3D.
Then along came Chris Willis, former Sierra artist and 3D specialist. Chris has done an amazing job modeling 3D scenes that duplicate the feel of JP’s painted backgrounds. As a result, we are moving farther and farther away from the concept of using tiles to create our scenes. Each scene is now a unique piece of 3D art.
Wednesday - August 06, 2014
Hero-U - Post-Funding Update #56
This latest update for Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption is about choice and consequence and reviews of the Cole's Quest for Glory 2.
n the long-running game show “Truth or Consequences”, Bob Barker and the other moderators asked guests to answer difficult questions in two seconds. When they almost inevitably failed, they had to do something embarrassing (and funny to the audience) as a consequence.
There is no time pressure in Hero-U, but the consequences are still there. We like to give choices that matter to our players. This is especially important in Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption because Shawn does not start out as a paragon of virtue. He is a rogue and is trying to survive through stealth, guile, and subtlety. How he does that is up to you, the player.
There are no absolutely right or wrong choices in Hero-U, but there are always consequences. Tell a little white lie to a friend, and you can make them happy… unless they later find out you told a lie. The game doesn’t end, but relationships change. Those relationships influence later story elements and sometimes open up new possibilities.
The most serious consequence in life or a game is death. Originally we did not plan to allow Shawn to die in Hero-U, but backer feedback has reminded us that the possibility of death can have a positive effect on game play. Lori recently wrote about our new way of handling the chance of death in http://www.hero-u.net/leaders/a-matter-of-life-and-death/.
Truth has its place, but a Rogue sometimes chooses a flexible approach to what is true. Just be ready to face the consequences of your decisions. Death is always waiting, but Shawn is pretty good at cheating it… as long as you make good choices.
Monday - June 30, 2014
Hero-U - Post-Funding Update #55
Corey Cole brings us an update related to the art and the composer tool they are using for Hero-U.
We continue to make good progress on Hero-U, particularly on the art front. I talked a few months ago about the issues we were having getting 2D character animation to look good in our "fantasy realistic" environment.
I am happy to report that Concept Art House has now completed all of the 3D character modeling and animation for the game, and it looks very good! Please visit Lori's article about the "Anatomy of a Drat" on her Hero-U Leaders Blog.
The art team has completed sketches of every scene in the game. They are about 70% complete on final painting and rendering. We should reach "art complete" in about 3 months. There is much more to this project than the actual game. The in-game and physical Yearbooks are also coming along very well. Almost 100 backers submitted photos, and Paul and Eric have turned all of them into works of art. Chris Fong is working on summarizing the last 18 months worth of meetings into a series of Insider Access articles. I will release these over time to the Humble Store pages of our "Insider Access" backers.
Wednesday - May 28, 2014
Hero-U - Many Kinds of Heroes
Corey Cole has a new update for his game Hero-U with a message about real heroes around the world. It's has nothing to do with the game, but still is worth a look.
Today was “Memorial Day” in the United States, a holiday devoted to remembering Americans who have died in war. We often extend this to remembering all armed forces veterans. My mother and father both served in the Navy during World War II - In fact, they met at a Navy event. Both thankfully survived their military service, although my father passed away five years ago.
A sad memorial is also in order for the University of California, Santa Barbara students who were recently murdered. My son and I both attended UCSB, and Michael lived in Isla Vista where the murders took place. Our hearts go out to the families and friends of these victims.
Many Kinds of Heroes
There are many kinds of heroes. One of the themes of all our games is being a hero by doing what is right. Every one of us gets many chances to decide whether we will be heroes, villains, or merely ordinary people.
If you see someone getting hurt, do you run to help them, call the police, or simply look on? Phil Ochs wrote the song “Outside of a Small Circle of Friends” after an incident in New York City in which a woman was beaten and killed while many people looked on and did nothing. I have since read that some of them did call the police, but that they responded too late to help the victim. Could someone have helped that woman without becoming another victim? That’s hard to say. The real question is, what choice will each of us make in a similar situation.
I include among the heroes everyone who takes a stand to make their communities better places. Heroism can be as simple as contributing to charity, donating blood, or donating your time to teach or to help with a community project. Being a hero can be immensely rewarding in personal joy and in friendships with other heroes.
Thursday - May 01, 2014
Hero-U - Post-Funding Update #52
Corey Cole shares some details on the organizational aspects of the development of the game and compares it with the way it was done at Sierra Online, in this update for Hero-U.
Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption development is far more challenging than developing our games at Sierra. We didn't start with a multi-million-dollar development environment hand-tuned for making adventure games. We don't have any full-time team members because the budget doesn't allow for them. Communication is sometimes difficult because our team members are located all around the world – Australia, Virginia, Florida, Connecticut, Washington, and several locations in California. How could we all work together effectively?
Sometimes the answer is unfortunately, "We can't." In those cases, we've dropped team members or they've left on their own. And sometimes we have temporary issues because long-distance communication is hard. We decided to use a multi-tiered approach to keeping everyone on the team "on the same page".
The Sierra workshop provided part of the answer – If each team member is highly talented and motivated, we can trust them to do their parts of the job well and to infuse them with their own creativity and talent.
We are also taking advantage of several network technologies that didn't exist in the 1990's. We have two weekly team meetings via Google+ Video Chat. One is mostly for the artists, and one for programmers, but everyone is invited to both meetings. We use Google Drive and Dropbox to share documents, and Trello to track project tasks. Occasionally team members phone us with specific questions. For anything less urgent, we send email either to specific team members or to the entire team.
Monday - April 14, 2014
Hero-U - Post-Funding Update #51
Corey Cole has posted a new post-funding update for his kickstarter game Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption with a short update, and mentions a few projects to support.
Projects Worth Supporting
I haven't done many shout-outs in the last few Updates, so this one is mainly about sharing a few projects that I think our backers will enjoy.
But first... You may not be aware that we actually do regular project updates in two places. I (Corey) write most of the content here on Kickstarter, and Lori makes regular posts to the Hero-U Leaders Blog on our web site, most recently last week - http://www.hero-u.net/leaders/. Beware the Killer Pandas of Sardonia!
While you're there, visit and post on the Hero-U forum (http://www.hero-u.net/forum/) and check out the Hero-U Collectibles store at http://www.hero- u.net/hero_u_collect.html. We have also updated the rest of the http://www.hero-u.net/ site with new images and information about Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption.
Thursday - March 13, 2014
Hero-U - Post-Funding Update #50
We are making a lot of forward progress on Hero-U. Our artists have created most of the game scenes and props. They have painted customized images for everyone with a yearbook picture, in-game painting, or "school spirit". The programmers have put together many of the scenes and are working on the combat interface and simulation. Lori and I still have a lot of writing to do as we gradually build up the game, in between directing the team and handling the many details (such as filing tax reports, answering email, and posting here and on www.hero-u.net) involved in running a small business.
Next up for our "insider backers" ($175 and up) will be a sneak peek at the combat system. Jonathan has been working on the interface and I am developing a simulator to help us balance stats, tactics, and special abilities.
Thank you all for your patience and understanding as we work to get every detail right in Hero-U. This game will have a different feel than anything else out there, and that is only possible thanks to your support.
Sunday - February 02, 2014
Hero-U - Post-Funding Update #49
In the next update for Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption we get information on some of the backer rewards for sale, and some new animations. Here are the details.
Further Fulfillment Fun
Well, it's been an exciting couple of weeks here at Hero-U HQ. With some serious help from Ken and Sue at Pugsly's Trading Post, I managed to mail out about 3/4 of the "soft goods" packages. Then we ran out of one type of box, while having about 150 extra of another type. Somehow I missed that lecture in applied post office mathematics.
We also ran into a slight snag with t-shirts, leading to a reorder. So here's the scoop:
- If your tier rewards were exactly one meep toy and a Hero-U baseball cap, we probably haven't mailed them yet. They should go out next week.
- If you requested an XXL or XXXL t-shirt, your package is also likely to be delayed until next week. I think we were also short on about five other shirts.
Missed Out? Perhaps Not...
If you feel sad that you missed your chance to own an authentic piece of Hero-U history, Lori and I have decided to make the Rogue to Redemption Softwear Collection available for a little longer. I'm sure it has nothing to do with the 400 or so meep toys crowding our garage. Still, they are really cute, and we'd hate to find out the bats ate them all.
Until we add our pre-order store to the Hero-U web site, you may use the Donate button at www.hero-u.net/KS-store to purchase meep toys or the whole soft goods set. (Why a "Softwear Collection"? When Lori and I married, I had her wedding dress sent to Olivetti, where I worked. I told the dressmaker to send it to the "Software Dept.", which she wrote as "Softwear". The company had a policy of inspecting all incoming packages, and I was much mocked for my apparent taste in women's clothing. Lest you think, "Oooh, fancy, custom wedding dress!", well it was... from a stall at the Renaissance Pleasure Faire.)
Shawn's New Moves
Last night we received the first set of animation for Shawn from Concept Art House. We're very excited about finally getting to see him move around in 3D in the game.
We have an art meeting every Tuesday, usually the first time Lori and I see some of the new creations. It's getting more amazing every week! The artists have especially had fun with some of the crazier requests for in-game portraits. Wizard about to be eaten by a bear, anyone? Or the... well, that would be telling!
Happy Chinese New Year to everyone - This is the year of the Horse. To honor that tradition, there will be a horse in Rogue to Redemption. Of course, it’s a horse of a different color - It has been dead for decades. We could say more, but that would be beating a dead horse.
Tuesday - January 21, 2014
Hero-U - Post-Funding Update #48
In this update for Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption, the Cole's share (again) little on the game development status and more on what is happening on the organization around the development of the game, which you can read for yourself. Here is the part on the game status.
Concept Art House is still sending us wonderful character models each week, and they are now working on character animation. As we receive the characters, we can start building them into the game, the revised demo, and the combat tests.
In the meantime, the team is making progress on mapping out the dungeon, catacombs, and sea cave, and building castle rooms. Our artists have done a great job of turning backer photographs into paintings, statues, ghosts, and Yearbook entries.
Monday - December 23, 2013
Hero-U - Post-Funding Update #47
In the latest kickstarter update for Hero-U Corey Cole wishes you A Hero-U Holiday.
A Hero-U Holiday
Lori and I wish you a Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah, Joyous Solstice, Happy New Year, and any other seasonal holidays you may prefer to celebrate.
Lori and I sing carols with a local chorus every Winter, so we were inspired to write a little parody very loosely based on one of the Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption events. Not willing to leave well enough alone, we recruited backer (and professional opera singer) Maus Merryjest to sing our silliness, then Lori put together a video with some of the preliminary game art and more than a few Kristmas Kwirks. I did the narration. Please share it with your friends.
Physical Goods Delay
I just heard back from the company that was going to distribute our physical goods. Apparently they've had some family issues and will be unable to fulfill the orders, so we need to scramble again to find a distributor. As a result, the toy meeps, t-shirts, and baseball caps that were supposed to go out last month will take a few more weeks. The designs and mailing list are done; we just need to find someone who can box up over 1,000 items and mail them for us.
Concept Art House continues to amaze us with the speed and quality of their work. Our in-house team continues to work on the locations, furnishings, and other items. Eric and Paul have done a great job on painting fantasy versions of our Yearbook backers. We are adding Chris Willis as a 3D artist specializing in environments. Chris worked on King's Quest VI and VII, Space Quest, SWAT, and many other games, at Sierra. Chris also contributed art to Fallout, Asheron's Call, and Dungeon Siege 3. He's a terrific artist and we are thrilled to have him on the team.
Saturday - November 30, 2013
Hero-U - Post-Funding Update #46
In the latest kickstarter update for Hero-U Corey Cole shares a new video of the games demo, and talks about the different dimensions of the game.
Let's Go To the Movies
I shared our new teaser trailer video to backers last month, and our playable demo last week. Now it's time to share the video with the world. Please tell all your friends to check out the trailer.
The First Dimension - Story
Graphic adventure games are unique, living at the intersection of stories, animated films, puzzles, and interaction. Game producers have always argued about the best ways to design them. Some developers start with the challenges, some with the graphics, and some with words.
For Lori and me, every game begins with a story. We choose a setting, populate it with interesting characters, and ask, "What is life like for them? What are their problems, and how can the player help solve them?" Once we know the story, we can work with our team to create images and code that enhance the story.
The key word there is "work". Here we have our story at the heart of a game, but 90% of the work goes into the presentation. Brian Moriarty, when he moved from creating text adventures for Infocom to the graphic adventure LOOM at LucasArts, probably said it best: "The problem with graphic adventure games is that you can't do anything that you can't show, and you can't afford to show anything!"
Let's call our story the "first dimension" of a graphic adventure game. It's critical, but not enough by itself.
Thursday - October 31, 2013
Hero-U - Post-Funding Update #44
Corey Cole has a posted a new post-funding update for Hero-U with a status report on the state of the game.
The Hero-U Report
One year has passed since we posted the Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption Kickstarter project. Ten months since we received the proceeds. Originally we listed Oct. 2013 as the Estimated Delivery date. I'd like to talk a little about the scheduling and budget process and bring everyone up to date on the Hero-U project.
Before I dig into the details, here is the "too long, didn't read" version: Lori and I remain 100% committed to delivering Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption to all of our backers and to the market. The game development is far behind schedule, but we are completely confident that we can and will finish it. Hero-U will look outstanding and will be as fun to play as we can make it. Based on past fan feedback, I think most of you will find that to be very fun, indeed.
Friday - October 04, 2013
Hero-U - Post-Funding Update #41
Hero-U has a new post-funding update that deals with something called a Meep.
The Meep toys have arrived on our shores, and we plan to ship them to backers within two weeks via TeeLaunch. Every backer who chose the $125 or higher tier (except for the digital-only $175 tier) will get a toy meep if we have your mailing address. Of course, backers who added on a toy meep will also get one *if* you filled out the survey and gave us your address. If you have moved or did not complete the survey, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org immediately with your current address.
We are working on cleaning up the t-shirt design. T-shirts will probably be mailed separately from the toys, but might be combined if we have them ready in time.We will have some very exciting news and images coming soon regarding character animation, game art, the trailer, and the playable demo.
Tuesday - July 30, 2013
Hero-U - Post-Funding Update #40, About Kickstarter
Corey Cole writes in this update, about Kickstarter, the games Kickstarted by them and how that compares to games published in the regular way.
How do Kickstarter-funded game projects do compared to ones financed by publishers? Actually, very well. I've read that 90% of Kickstarter projects eventually ship, but that almost all of them miss their deadline estimate. That's a heck of a lot better than the 20% of publisher-financed games that eventually make it out. My numbers may be off, but the conclusion is definitely correct – A game funded on Kickstarter is much more likely to ship than a traditionally-produced game.
As to the missed deadlines, those are almost inevitable. If a project barely reaches its goal (such as Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption), the creators need to scramble for resources and use part-time developers to get the project done. If it makes a lot more (e.g. Double Fine Adventure), the developer is expected to make a much more complex game with stretch goal features. It takes a lot more time to make a big game than a small one.
So when people complain about Kickstarter projects "running late", they are apparently looking for miracles. It's possible for a game to ship on time, under budget, and relatively bug-free – I've managed it on several of my projects – but it's never the way to bet. Big publisher with a big budget, indie developer with a tiny budget – The process is difficult and uncertain for all of us.
He also provides an overview in this update of what some of the former Sierra developers are working on.
Friday - June 28, 2013
Hero-U - Post-Funding Update #39
In their most recent update for Hero-U the Coles that pledges can still be made until the end of the month and give a bit more info on the status of the demo.
The team is well along on our first playable demo, the "Break-In House". This is a simplified version of an actual game scene, so creating it tests most of the code we've developed so far. Shawn can walk around in it and interact with everything. Don't worry – It's one of the first scenes of the game, so there aren't any spoilers.
We are trying to complete the demo in the next week or two with Shawn's real animation, sound effects, and most of the interactions and dialogue that will be in the game. We'll post a link to it when it's "ready for prime time."
There is also some information on new team members to be had.
Tuesday - June 11, 2013
Hero-U - June Update
An update on Hero-U has appeared last week on the Hero-U site mentioning that a playable demo will exist at the end of the month.
It’s really exciting behind the ivy covered walls of Hero-University. We’ve been working hard to turn the Unity game system into a game engine that has all the abilities of the old Sierra Game engine that created the Adventure Games. Now we’re starting to get it to do things that Sierra could never do. We can’t wait to show you..
We will have a playable demo by the end of the month that will look a bit like an Adventure Role-playing game that you all know and love. We’ve even got a few references in it to the old Sierra games. But there’s a lot more to show off…
Our Music Man is a Winner!
Ryan Grogan, our composer, recently won the award for Best Music for Children’s TV – for animated series ‘GASP!’ – at the 2012 Australian Screen Music Awards. He composed music for the very popular animated series “Guess How Much I Love You?”
He’s creating some lovely music for Hero-U that I’m sure you will love. Check out his website and take a listen… you’ll hear some of our music hidden around his site.
We are so proud to have animator Mark Povey join our team. He recently worked on the “Broken Sword” game and on the Tarzan game for the PS1. He has worked before with the tools that we are using with Unity for our animations. Best of all, he’s a traditional animator who worked with companies like Steven Spielberg’s Amblimation animation studio and Don Bluth, so he knows how to make things really move.
Corey and I will be going to E3 in Los Angeles next week to speak with people about publicity and distribution for Hero-U. If any of you are going to be there and would like to meet up with us, let us know in the comments below.
Here’s a pencil sketch from JP that shows off the courtyard of the school… You have to look closely to see Shawn wandering around. Don’t worry that you’ll need a magnifying glass to play this game. We’ll move the camera closer to Shawn when the room is in the game.
Monday - May 13, 2013
Hero-U - Post-Funding Update #38, Evolution in Action
Corey Cole provides us with an update on the development of their Hero-U game, which is now heading more to having a Quest for Glory style of gameplay. This results in more puzzles, more story and the removal of the cartoony character style.
Once long ago, in that bygone era we now call 2012, we set out to create a simple game. It would involve turn-based combat in a dungeon-like setting with a simple plotline overlaid upon it. We would use cartoon-like graphics on a tile-based, flat world that would allow us to concentrate upon the story and game-play rather than upon the engine or graphics.
Then we held our Kickstarter and heard from you - our fans - what you actually want to see.
It was clear that what you really wanted was something more like the Quest for Glory series and less like yet another RPG.
As we read your comments, our vision evolved. We put more story and puzzles into the design. We went away from the cartoony look into a more realistic character style like the best Sierra On-Line characters of the 1990's.
Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption evolved from an RPG/Adventure Game into a modern take on Quest for Glory with turn-based, puzzle-oriented combat. We decided to let the players out-think the monsters in the game rather than out-mouse-click them.
Saturday - April 20, 2013
Hero-U - Update #37, Paypal, Extending the Team and Tools
In this update for Hero-U, Corey Cole informs us that their team has grown and the update shares some information on the new team members. Also the Paypal donations can be made until June 30. This because of the delay of the game, which allows them to extend the period and there is this:
Grumpy Gamer Ron Gilbert (co-creator of Secret of Monkey Island) recently posted something with which we agree whole-heartedly: "If I made another Monkey Island, I would rebuild SCUMM. Not SCUMM as in the exact same language, but what SCUMM brought to those games... I'd build an engine and a language where funny ideas can be laughed about at lunch and be in the game that afternoon. SCUMM did that. It's something that is getting lost today."
At Sierra, we had SCI, our version of SCUMM with many of the same features. At one point, I heard that Sierra had spent over a million dollars (back when that was real money) on SCI development. It gave us a huge head start, and even let me make a non-adventure game, Castle of Dr. Brain.
We knew we will need a new dialogue editing system, so we asked Rob to take that on. He could have just followed my spec and made us a useful tool. But you know these uppity programmers. Rob took the basic ideas, and is building a true Unified Design Editor, the Hero-U Composer. We saw his first prototype today, and it will let use craft the Hero-U design in ways we could only dream of back in the 1990's.
Meanwhile, Mike and Jonathan are working on a graphics tool that will let us patch together a beautiful-looking level from the background artists' tiles, and a "tester" that will let them check out their animation in the context of the game. We will also be building a combat simulator to make sure combat is balanced. Tools like these were at the heart of adventure game development in the 1990's, but the new ones are like supersonic jets compared to the bicycles we rode back then.
Saturday - March 16, 2013
Hero-U - Update #36, March Update
Gary Cole brings us a new update of Hero-U, which is about sending information to backers and that they work with contractors.
Lori and I decided early in the project to work with independent contractors rather than employees. This has allowed us to control costs by paying only for the actual work that has been completed at each stage. The downside of that decision is that we have much less control over the pace and amount of work from contractors.
I've been a "part-timer" myself on the game design because a large part of my time has been devoted to administration and reward fulfillment. I knew all along that those would take a lot of my time, but I didn't realize just how much. I'm now through that phase and participating much more actively in working with Lori to design game systems. Recent eye surgery (cataracts) is also making a big difference, now that I can read the computer screen without a magnifier!
The good part of this is that we are burning through the Kickstarter funds very slowly. The rough part is that we are also building the game slowly. In particular, both of our team programmers have dropped out to pursue lucrative full-time contracts elsewhere. We are in the process of doing a "partial reboot", bringing in a full-time lead programmer, and redesigning the software architecture. This is allowing us to further refine and improve the game design, but it means that we have zero chance of making our original October ship date.
We still plan to use part-time contractors for much of the final game programming. Are you a strong Unity and C# programmer? Would like to contribute to the development of Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption. Oh, and are you a code monkey who is happy to work for bananas because bananas are so tasty? That's pretty much what the rest of the team (including Lori and me) is doing. If so, please send an email with a resume (CV) and information about your availability and contract rates to jobs (at) transolar (dot) com. Actually our rates are highly competitive, compared to say fast food restaurant and warehouse store work.
We will keep all of you informed as we move forward with the project. I don't want to promise a specific date for Hero-U release at this point, but we are 100% committed to shipping it as soon as it is a great game.
[A Catacombs section by John Paul Selwood]
Friday - February 15, 2013
Hero-U - Update #35, A RPG Slider
The Cole's have updated the Kickstarter page for Hero-U with some less relevant information like what they did for Valentine and more relevant information like how the game allows you to change between adventure and RPG playing modes. There will be a slider.
Lori came up with a new solution to the "Is it an adventure game, or is it an RPG?" question. Instead of having a difficulty slider (or possibly in addition), we will have a game style slider. You will be able to select "Puzzles only, no combats", "Traditional RPG with random encounters and emphasis on combat", or "Mixed adventure and RPG". We may add a few settings such as "RPG Challenge Mode".
In addition an audio file has been added, which might or might not be from the game.
Thursday - January 24, 2013
Hero-U - Update #34, Story and Art Progress
Corey Cole provides a new update on Hero-U at Kickstarter, with some art and story updates as well as the challenges of balancing the books:
Two of our team members have decided to reduce their involvement in the project for personal and financial reasons. Because we barely scraped by with $9,000 over our minimum goal, we were not able to pay for full-time work to any of our contractors. In fact, my current projections show Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption running at a $50,000 loss, mostly because I underestimated the cost of fulfilling all of the premiums. This includes the art time needed to customize Yearbook pictures, paintings, and statues, so that's good for the artists. But we also need to get all the game art assets, so the premium reward art is an additional expense to the project as a whole.
Sunday - January 06, 2013
Hero-U - Update #33
The Cole's have kicked up a general New Year's update for Hero-U, mostly concerned with details for backers, but this is where they are at:
Happy New Year, everyone! With the holidays behind us, we're ramping up the development of Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption. Lori and I have been brainstorming game and story ideas,the artists are hard at work designing and animating characters and monsters, and the programmers are experimenting with different isometric "looks" for the game.
Monday - December 24, 2012
Hero-U - Update #32, New Programmer
In update number 32 of Hero-U, Cori Cole wishes us Happy Holidays, but also mentions that they added a new programmer to the team and thatsome design refinements were made.
Although we have not yet started full production on the game, we've added a programmer to help build the game "rooms" and an animator. Todd Hendrix has programming credits all the way back to Might & Magic and Heroes of Might and Magic. We worked together on an online poker site, and I'm excited to have the chance to work with Todd again. Bryan Ellis is a talented local artist who worked at Sierra and several other local game companies.
Andrew has prototyped the isometric-view modifications to his game engine, and we'll start developing art and animation for it in January. In the meantime, Lori and I have been working on the game design, converting FAR Studio to an LLC, and fulfilling previous game key requests. The latter has been time-consuming, but I've worked out some ways to speed up the process.
Why an LLC? That will help us to raise additional funding that we can use to create a better-looking and more impressive game than we think we can manage on the Kickstarter budget alone. Our goal is to give our backers much more than you paid for. Adding content will also mean more work for the team, so they won't starve quite as much.
While I've been working the spreadsheets, Lori has added quite a bit of content to the game design. After Shawn has had some time to explore the University and storage cellar, he'll find some exciting opportunities in the Sea Caves. Meanwhile, Lori has added an entirely new plot line based on the story of one of our "Wing" backers. We'll send out a Survey to the other Wing and Monster Lair backers next month to see how your stories can be incorporated into the game.
We've also done some work on the stats and skills systems, with much more yet to come. There will be some seriously challenging game play with a bit of whimsy and humor. Shawn doesn't take much seriously, and that includes his hard-won Rogue education.
There is a lot more going on, but we wouldn't want to spoil it for you. And of course every design decision is in flux until we test it. An important part of good game design is being willing to throw away our most cherished ideas when they turn out un-fun.
Wednesday - December 05, 2012
Hero-U - Update #30, Final Results, New Lead Artist
Catching up on a few items, there's a new Hero-U update with some comments about the final Kickstarter payments and the news that Terry Robinson has joined the project as Lead Artist as well as other new staff:
We are delighted to announce that Terry Robinson has joined the Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption team as Lead Artist. Terry is an incredibly-talented artist who led the art team on Quest for Glory V: Dragon Fire, created box and promotional art for several of our games, and has created art for many other game projects including King's Quest 7 and The Realm. Eriq Chang remains on the team as a Senior Artist.
Terry's first "modest" change was to scrap the square tile interface in favor of an isometric art style. The game will still be 2D, but this will give it more of a 3D look. In particular, characters and objects on the screen will look more natural. The change will require a significant engine change, but will greatly enhance the visual appeal.
Lori and I, and the whole development team, are committed to making Hero-U a great game. We have a tiny budget by current big game standards, but we know how to use it efficiently. If it comes up short, we will increase the budget with additional investment rather than cut game features. We've promised you a game as good as - or better than - any Quest for Glory, and we won't back down on that.
Also joining the team is Chris Fong as Assistant Producer. Chris recently received a Masters degree in game production from Full Sail University, where he was also Valedictorian. Chris will assist me with planning, tracking contractors and project tasks, and making sure that all Kickstarter rewards are correctly fulfilled.
Friday - November 23, 2012
Hero-U - Post Funding Update #29, PayPal and a Meeting
Corey Cole posted an update on Hero-U informing us of a meeting tonight on AnyMeeting and the availability of PayPal for your continued pledges.
We now have a PayPal page for people who missed, or were unable to contribute to, the Kickstarter. It allows you to back the project with reward tiers identical to the Kickstarter $20 - $500 tiers. We will also add a Donate button soon if you just want to contribute.
Visit - or send your friends to - the Hero-U KS Store at http://www.hero-u.net/get-hero-u.html#storetop. You can purchase with a PayPal account or with any major credit card through PayPal. All purchases made at the KS Store through February will count towards project stretch goals.
We are not selling add-ons through the store at this time. We will be adding a separate page for them later. For now, there are some school-related items available at http://www.cafepress.com/herobazaar. Purchases at the Hero Bazaar are print on demand, so you will get them quickly, but we can't count them towards project stretch goals.
Wednesday - November 21, 2012
Hero-U - Update #28, Thank You and Stretch Goals
In update 28 Corey Cole thanks all their backers from making them achieve their goal for Hero-U and reaching $409,150.
Three stretch goals have been announced as well, which can be achieved by donations on PayPal.
I've added three stretch goals to the main project page. You can help us reach them by continuing to back us by PayPal (http://www.hero-u.net/KS-store) and by send your friends to the Kickstarter Store at Hero-U (links under the video on main page) .
It will be a few days before we have the store ready. Please be patient.
One feature of the store will be a button that lets you upgrade your Kickstarter pledge. If I can find a way to make that work. :-) You will provide your Kickstarter name and pledge amount, then you can order a higher-tier reward by adding more to your pledge.
All PayPal sales at http://www.hero-u.net/KS-store as well as our final Kickstarter funding amount will apply towards reaching the stretch goals.
The Companion Meep is a Tamagotchi-like pet that you need to feed, groom, and be nice to. Your Meep will get in your way occasionally, and might even be helpful sometimes.
- $500,000 – Companion Meep
- $600,000 – Voice Acting
- $700,000 – FIGS (French/Italian/German/Spanish) Localization
In addition to the listed feature, every stretch goal will give us additional funds to devote to more and better content - additional art, music, design, and programming for your pleasure.
Tuesday - November 20, 2012
Hero-U - Will See the Light of Day
With still 4 hours to go the Hero-U Kickstarter has reached its goal of $400.000 and is now somewhat above that.
Hero-U - Kickstarter update #26,27
There are plenty of updates appearing these last days of Hero-U. With just 9 hours to go they are still 9K short of meeting their goal with just 1.000 dollar an hour it is done.
The last updates give some more info on add-ons, interviews and paypal.
Will we accept PayPal pledges for Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption?
Yes, we will. We are waiting until after the Kickstarter closes before offering PayPal contributions. Then we will start accepting them on the Hero-U web site: http://www/hero-u.net is the home page, and will have a link to the "Hero-U Store". We expect to offer Kickstarter-like reward tiers for two or three months. All of those purchases will count towards project stretch goals.
The store will remain open after those 2-3 months, but purchases will count towards "game sales" rather than our stretch goals. This is an important distinction for developer royalties, possible future investors, and the Kicking It Forward campaign I mentioned in the last update.
Hero-U - Adventure and Role-playing - They're better Together
Corey Cole has penned a Hero-U guest post for German site Adventure Treff (although I feel I've seen this heading before - it's hard to keep up with their updates):
From those beginnings were born computer role-playing games and computer adventure games. RPG's concentrated on exploring mazes – computers were good at drawing mazes, even with a limited 3D perspective – and killing monsters. All of those things could be done fairly easily with numbers and a knowledge of geometry. Role-playing games have not changed dramatically over the years. They now have more text, occasional dialogue, and much better graphics, but the game play has stayed the same.
Adventure games concentrated on the storytelling and (occasionally) conversation. Stories could be stored in compressed text files, and it wasn't too hard to write a simple language parser that allowed the player to type in short commands. Adventure games were more ambitious than early RPG's, and usually frustrating in how few player sentences they understood. A big part of the game became, "Guess what to type."
As PC's got slightly more powerful, the developers added graphics and sound to adventure games, and they improved player immersion. They also took up most of the computer resources and project budgets. In the 1990's, Sierra and other companies dropped their parsers, and adventure games became point-and-click. This made them easier to use, but took away a lot of the player's feeling that she was helping to write the stories.
Somewhere along the way, we lost the roots of both adventure and role-playing games, and forgot why game developers separated them in the first place. We have much more powerful computers now, and we can easily combine all of the aspects of adventure and role-playing games in a single game. The question is – Should we?
Monday - November 19, 2012
Hero-U - Kickstarter update #25
Another update for Hero-U shows up talking about some interviews, testimonials and the rsks and rewards of backing a Kickstarter game. At this moment they still need to raise 36K in the next 21 hours.
I ran into an interesting post about Kickstarter projects in which the author said that people who support Kickstarter games are stupid because there are no guarantees they will receive anything. He had a point, but...
Kickstarter tracks these things. Many projects ship later than their projected date, but almost all of them do ship. The projects that get funded usually depend on the reputation of the project creator. People who come to the Hero-U project know that Lori and I have a history of delivering what we promise... and more.
There are many kinds of risk. Every game you buy entails risk. If you get that heavily-advertised AAA game, you are putting out $50 to play something that might be a bad game. And it's probably a lot like the last three games you played, because the big publishers love to make sequels.
Here's the risk of NOT supporting a Kickstarter game – If you sit back and decide to wait until the game is released, it might not be made. Most of your money on Kickstarter goes directly into product development. If we come up short of our goal, there is no funding and no game. If we're funded, we promise a game next year. Lori and I made eight adventure-style games at Sierra and Legend, and all of them won approval from both critics and players.
If you like the kind of games Lori and I make – games that applaud heroism and the human spirit – you will win by supporting our drive to make new games for you. Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption will be just the beginning.
Personally, I think that putting $20 into the Hero-U Kickstarter is much less risky than paying $50 for Yet Another First-Person Shooter. And it's way cheaper than spending $13 a month on an MMO subscription.
So far, over 5,150 gamers agree. If you are not yet among them, why not join the winning team? Besides, Tuesday is Eriq Chang's birthday. It wouldn't be a very nice birthday present for his game with us to go unfunded, now would it?
Hero-U - Kickstarter update #24
With less than 33 hours to go and still in need of 50K it is not impossible for Hero-U to reach its goal of 400K. To make that go faster new add-ons are available.
Here are the new virtual add-ons (no shipping charge):
- $10: NEW - Downloadable game music soundtrack
- $10: NEW - Art book PDF
- $20: NEW - Set of 4 high-resolution game art images in PDF
NOTE: The first two are included in the $35 and higher tiers. Order one if you are at the $20 tier and only want one of the two items, or if you are at any tier and want an extra copy to give to a friend.
New physical add-ons (shipping charges apply, the 4 art print add-on counts as a single item for shipping purposes):
- $10: NEW: Meep keychain
- $20: NEW: "Erana's Tribute" poster 11"x17" (art without poem)
- $50: NEW: Set of four 11"x17" poster prints of Hero-U game art
The art prints are different from the "school art on canvas" print that Master Rogues (and above) will receive.
In addition they also list how Hero-U is different from other games.
Lori answered this question for the Gaming on Linux site. I think her answer is of interest to all of our backers and potential backers.
In the first place, Adventure/RPGs are a very rare breed indeed. We were the first to design them with our QfG series. Japanese RPGs could be called Adventure/RPGs because they have strong stories and characters. But I don’t know of anyone actually using the classification of Adventure/RPG other than us right now.
But story-telling is ingrained in human nature. We love stories. That’s why movies and books continue to entertain people all over the world. RPGs are direct descendents of tabletop D&D games that combined story-telling with character progression and action. We want to create games that are fun experiences with meaningful stories, characters you care about, and excitement.
There isn’t a lot of excitement in most Adventure Games. There aren’t too many quirky characters in RPG games – they tend to take themselves very seriously.
Quest for Glory was an Adventure Game with Role-playing elements. It took advantage of the strengths of Sierra On-Line’s talents and resources. Hero-U will have more Role-playing elements – more exploration of caverns, dungeons, and catacombs. The player will have the ability to shape Shawn’s character and his destiny by making critical choices and improving Shawn’s skills by practice and study. Unlike the real-time combat of Quest for Glory, Hero-U will have tactical combat where you can treat each combat like a chess match where you plot your moves carefully, a fast-action skill vs. skill, or find ways to never come in direct combat with your opponent. We want the player to feel completely in charge of Shawn’s fate.
Hero-U will be a unique game with humor, story, adventure, action, and perhaps even romance. It will touch the heart and it will make you smile. What’s not to like?
Sunday - November 18, 2012
Hero-U - Kickstarter Updates #21, 22 - Updated Website
Hero-U has kicked up two new updates - the most important thing is the revised official site that offers a bunch of concept art:
Eriq Chang has completely revised the Hero-U web site. It now has a lot more information about the game and the process of making it. It also has a lot more recent concept art for those who have been wondering about the art style.
Visit the new site at http://www.hero-u.net/.
We've passed 4,650 backers and just need to raise $87K to reach the goal. We're on our way!
Adventure-Treff just posted my article on "Adventure and Role-Playing – They're Better Together". Click the article title for a link to the English version, or edit "lang=en" to "lang=de" for the German version. In the article, I explain why Quest for Glory and Hero-U are hybrid games with both adventure and role-playing game features. They're just better that way.
Several people have commented that they liked the more in-depth approach of the Quest Log article I posted yesterday. If you would like to read more of my thoughts on gaming, game development, and success, this index lets you find any article in the Quest Log: http://www.theschoolforheroes.com/questlogindex.php
Saturday - November 17, 2012
Hero-U - Kickstarter Update #21
With 91K to go Hero-U still needs quite a bit of funding over the next 3 days, but it is not impossible. In the update for today a stretch goal is announced (just in case) and more explanation of why they selected a thief to be a hero.
Some of you may wonder why we chose the Rogue class for our first Hero-U game. Of all the fantasy game archetypes, the Rogue or Thief is usually considered the least heroic.
That's exactly why we decided to start with Shawn. He's an "unlikely Hero." Think of the game subtitle, "Rogue to Redemption". This game gives you – the player – a chance to experience Shawn's redemption, or to see what happens if you fail to redeem him. There is no greater Hero than one who starts out as a scoundrel.
I talked about Rogue Heroes in my "Hero on the Ropes" Quest Log article (the full article is at http://www.theschoolforheroes.com/questlog/450/the-rogue/). Here's a brief excerpt:
Some famous Rogue Heroes include James Bond, Han Solo, Indiana Jones, and Robin Hood. Note that we only listed fictional ones. The real ones are too good at disguising their Roguishness. African and Native American mythology prominently feature "trickster gods" (Anansi the spider and Coyote) in devious roles. In the old Greek stories, Prometheus was a Rogue when he stole fire from the gods and gave it to man. So Rogues have been around for a long, long time.
Rogues know that when you do things "by the book," you get mediocre results. They strive for exceptional results by breaking the book, tearing out the pages, and using them for something more practical, like ransom notes or toilet paper. They tend to do things indirectly, because direct action is too easily countered. And boring. Rogues have a problem with boredom.
Heroic Rogues go a step farther. They may break the rules – or even laws they consider stupid – but they always have a Heroic goal in mind. Spiderman isn't concerned with reading criminals their Miranda Rights. He leaves that to the authorities… and stays away from those authorities himself.
So Shawn is an unlikely hero, but he comes from a long tradition of troublemaking heroes. And he will have just as hard a time of it as most of them did.
Friday - November 16, 2012
Hero-U - Kickstarter Update #20
They sure keep on trying, so here is update number 20 for Hero-U. It is about the Unity engine and programming, but also provides links to an interview and testimonials.
Hero-U is currently 113K short of its goal with 4 more days to go.
For Hero-U we’re using Unity. Why is this good? Well, Unity is a professional grade engine that can make anything from a AAA blockbuster to the smallest indie project. What this means is we have a powerful and professional game engine that can do just about anything a modern game can do, for a reasonably low price. In addition, it supports many of the top platforms, including PC, Mac, iOS, Android and Linux, though that’s not to say it’s just a matter of pushing “build” to target these platforms, but that’s another story entirely.
Because Unity is so flexible, powerful and cheap, it’s being used in a lot of projects, so has a large and active community, which means if you’re trying to do something, chances are someone has already done it.
One of the downsides of Unity though is it’s never been that strong on the 2D capability, because of this Brawsome uses 3rd a few party libraries to bridge this gap, these include Sprite Manager 2 and EZ GUI from Above and Beyond Software. It’s not that I *couldn’t* write this software myself, but writing the software is the easy part, the countless hours of robust testing across a number of platforms and game types, and performance optimization and bug fixing is where the real value lies.
This is another reason Unity is great - Because of the volume of people using it, there are many great 3rd party plugins and add-ons at a reasonable price to plug any gaps in the engine, such as supporting iOS Cloud, or Steam integration. And now with Linux support being added, I’m certain we will start seeing Linux-related plugins popping up as well, mostly like from the Linux enthusiast community.
One of the reasons I haven't yet ported Jolly Rover to iPad, where it would fit perfectly, is because it was created in an engine that only supported PC and Mac, and because the engine was a closed system, porting it would essentially require writing a new engine. When making MacGuffin’s Curse the first thing I did was look at the available engines and determine which supported the most platforms, had the best features, support and community. Unity ticked all these boxes.
If I had made Jolly Rover in Unity, it would be on a number of platforms today instead of just PC and Mac – in fact, work has already started on a full engine port of Jolly Rover to Unity, but the golden quantity of time has been one that has been hard for me to come by. It’s actually just about there, but work and family life has left scant hours to dedicate to this fully.
Thursday - November 15, 2012
Hero-U - Interview @ Just Adventure
Just Adventure caught up with the Coles as Hero-U enters the final days for its Kickstarter campaign ($274k/$400k, 5 days to go). This has had a recent uptick and looks like it might just squeeze through:
What else do I need to know about Hero-U?
It is going to be an RPG also. It is going to have people going down into dungeons and caverns, trying to find things that go beyond the traditional RPG tropes of killing for loot. It’s all one story.
As far as combat elements: They will be entirely optional. Combat will be turn-based. It’ll be entirely a thinking game. We’re seeing combat as another puzzle. So adventure players who don’t like combat shouldn’t be afraid of this game. It’s not about reflexes.
That’s a return to classic RPG gameplay. It’s not about fast action and fast thought, it’s about correct action and correct thought.
Part of the joy of this game is exploring. You feel like you’re in the game!
Corey: By supporting Hero-U Kickstarter, you are saying “You want Lori and Corey to be making games again!!”
This is our chance to get back into the industry. We need your help! So that we’ll have the game a year from now. If you wait and see, there will be nothing to see!
Wednesday - November 14, 2012
Hero-U - Kickstarter Update #18
In update number 18 of Hero-U, Corey Cole notices that the amount of backers are increasing but that they still need 150K in the next 6 days in order to make it.
The rest of the update is mainly about how everybody can help to make this work.
Some of our backers have collected a long list of interviews, articles, forum posts, and other links relevant to the Hero-U campaign. Here is the full list on Christiana's wonderful Quest for More Glory site: http://www.questformoreglory.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=3155
Every one of you can help the project in just a few minutes of your time by visiting these links and "upvoting" them. Help the Hero-U project get to the front page of Reddit, 1Up, and other sites.
We have less than a week left, and we need everyone to pitch in just a little bit. Share a few of these links on Facebook, Google+, and other social sites so that your friends know what you're supporting and what is special about Rogue to Redemption.
With your help, we can reach thousands more potential Hero-U backers, and this project will become a reality!
Tuesday - November 13, 2012
Hero-U - Kickstarter Update #17, Interviews
In this update for Hero-U (237K/400K, 7 days to go) thew focus is on some testimonials and two interviews.
The first interview is at Alternative Magazine:
Is it an adventure game, an RPG, or a mixture of the two?
Corey: Hero-U is a hybrid adventure/RPG in the same vein as our Quest for Glory games. That means it has a real story, and puzzles to solve, but your character also changes during the course of the game.
Who is the main character and how would you describe them?
Lori: Shawn O’Conner is a young man from a poor family. He’s cocky, and not afraid to take chances. But that’s just a template. Hero-U puts the player in control. Each player will decide whether Shawn is more of a Hero or a Scoundrel, whether he likes to make friends or stay aloof, and so on. Shawn’s personality develops throughout the game based on the player’s actions.
Will the game be a serious affair or more comedic in tone?
Lori: It’s a serious story, with mysteries to solve and some really dark events happening in the catacombs.
Corey: But as in most good dramas, humour is an important part of it. The students tend to make fun of their all-too-serious Rogue instructor. There are some very strange characters.
And the second at Gaming on Linux:
Any interesting stories from when you worked for Sierra?
By my definition of interesting? I expect all the readers fell asleep during my last answer.
One of the most exciting moments was seeing my first intentionally-drawn rectangle appear on the Atari ST screen, but anyone but a programmer would say, "Yeah, so what?"
Having Hero's Quest (our original name for Quest for Glory 1) become an immediate success and win Adventure Game of the Year in Computer Gaming World was amazing.
The best parts of game development are when someone on the team comes up with a crazy idea, someone else picks up on it, and pretty soon it just has to go into the game. Silly Clowns mode in QfG2: Trial By Fire was one of those. A programmer commented that the early productivity software always had greyed-out menu items that did nothing, because they intended to support the feature in a later patch. So we added a meaningless menu item, but it eventually morphed into only "mostly meaningless," since we had it affect Harpo Marx and some death messages.
What's your favorite game or series of games by your co-workers at Sierra (other than the ones that you and Lori built).
Wait! Sierra made other games? We rarely had time to play them. I playtested King's Quest IV, Leisure Suit Larry 2, Police Quest 2, and Space Quest 3 as part of my work on the Atari ST SCI interpreter. They were all pretty fun, but I was mostly looking for bugs while I played. I didn't see much of the later games.
Lori and I liked some LucasArts games, particularly Monkey Island 1 and 2, LOOM, and Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis. Ron Gilbert said he picked up some ideas from Hero's Quest for Monkey Island, and we took a few from him for Quest for Glory 2. (I've forgotten the details.)
Monday - November 12, 2012
Hero-U - Kickstarter Update #16, Humor
Another day, another update for Hero-U. This time it is about humor in the game.
Humor is hard. Except when it's easy. When you have a funny character like Ali Fakir or Gnome Ann, you let them do the talking. It just comes out funny. That doesn't happen often. If I sit down to "write something funny," forget it. Good Humor (mmm, used to love their ice cream) comes spontaneously, or not at all.
We'll have lots of funny stuff in Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption, and we have no idea yet what it will be. The humor comes out almost by accident during the writing. Like last night when I was thinking about lockpicking and ended up with the Sherlock Holmes joke in Update #15. I wanted a good name for a really secure lock, and "the Surelock 1700" popped out. Then I strained to make it work with "homes". Then I changed the model number to 221-B, Holmes's Baker Street address.
Many of my infamous puns come from mishearing or misreading something, then playing on the result. I'm not the only one. Marc Hudgins told us that the "Awful Waffle Walker" Easter egg in Quest for Glory 3 happened because he misread an animation list as "Eggo Walker" instead of "Ego Walker". Everyone at Sierra called the player character the "Ego".
Some things are inherently funny. Words with "w" and "k" tend to sound amusing. That's why Quest for Glory 1 has an Antwerp, and there's an Aardvark in QfG3. (Actually, there are at least four reasons for the latter. Maybe five or six. Our company name is FAR Studio, where "FAR" is short for "Flying Aardvark Ranch".)
It's funny – or not so funny – that when Lori and I talk about the story line for a game, it's almost always a serious discussion. Until I derail it by making a bad joke about something Lori just said. Probably I have ADHD (Attention Deficit Humor Disorder... "Ooh, Sparkly!"). Humor comes when you least expect it.
Sunday - November 11, 2012
Hero-U - Kickstarter Update #15, The Thief
In the 15th update of Hero-U insight in the thief gameplay is provided. Also with 8 days to go the game appears to be quite a bit away from being funded (222K/400K), so it could use some help.
(Here's a teaser of how the first scene of Hero-U might play out. This is by no means final – We will adapt the text to the art, and will no doubt come up with last-minute design ideas or humor. "Secure your valuables with the Surelock 221-B. Remember, the safest homes are Surelock homes!")
(This is the first part of the game, so it's designed to help the player along. Also, Shawn has no tools at this point of the game, so his options are limited. First, some scripted lead-in... There is no player interaction at first as we set the scene.)
You crawl in through the side window and find yourself in a study room illuminated by a single oil lamp on the fireplace mantle. The main wall has a display cabinet with the portrait of some gloomy old man over it. There is a large desk in the middle of the room.
"Ah, made it! Good thing this window was still open to let in the night breeze. Pretty silly of them not to shut it before they left for the evening…"
"I just hope they stay away for a while."
(The player looks at the cabinet. At the moment, it doesn't seem significant.)
"There are some bottles and things in the cabinet, but I don't see anything that looks like a medallion."
(Now the player interacts with some of the objects in the room. Eventually, he gets Shawn to inspect the desk.)
"Let me see… The Chief Thief said to find the medallion hidden someplace in this room. The desk is a good place to look."
Shawn walks over to the desk and examines it carefully.
"Hmmm… Nothing but junk and papers in these drawers. Wait, this last one is locked. Damn, if only I had some lockpicks, I'd have it open in a second… if I knew how to use them. Well, once I bring the medallion back to the Thieves' Guild, I'll learn all about picking locks."
(One case: Shawn looks at the desk again, and didn't look in the cabinet earlier.)
"The medallion has to be in that locked drawer. But where's the key?"
(Different case: Shawn looked in the cabinet earlier, and now looks at the desk for the 2nd time.)
"I've got to get that drawer open, but it's locked. I thought I saw something shiny in that cabinet. Maybe I should look in there again."
(Player asks for a hint or looks at the desk yet again.)
"You know, people don't carry desk keys around with them. I'll bet the key is around here someplace. It's not in the other drawers… It's not in the pen holder… I guess I have to look somewhere else for it."
(Player looks at the cabinet after having looked at the desk.)
"I wonder if the key is hiding in the cabinet. Hmm..."
(And lots of other options from there. Sorry, it's a little hard to turn an adventure game into a story unless we skip all the interactivity that makes it fun.)
Saturday - November 10, 2012
Kickstarter - Hero-U - Kickstarter Update #14, Interviews
Hero-U has a new update ($217k/$400k, 9 days) with some new reward tiers and Add-On updates but mostly to point out some press articles.
Adventure Gamers has a lengthy interview:
Ingmar: Many people seem to be skeptical about how much "adventure" there will be in this game compared to the RPG elements. Can you give an idea of some of the classic adventure game puzzles you'll offer?
Corey: That might be telling. *smile* We have a strong mystery subplot in Rogue to Redemption. The player will find some hidden clues in the school and catacombs, and will learn more by talking to characters in the game. The player may discover secret messages written in code, and will have the option to decipher the codes himself, or to find additional clues that will help him solve them. There are locked doors to be opened with keys and/or lockpicking skill. Some of the characters will assign tasks to the player – quests, if you will. Some of them contradict each other, and the player will have to choose which to fulfil, perhaps angering some characters and pleasing others.
There is an entirely different category of puzzles relating to Shawn's skills. The player can pick up certain elective skills, and can improve any of them with study and practice. Many of the game's puzzles – particularly in combat, but also the adventure-style puzzles – have multiple solutions depending on clever use of those skills.
There's another interview at Gaming Furever (and I think the pun in intended):
6. I've heard you describe Hero-U as the game you have always wanted to make. Were you originally shooting for a game like Hero-U during your time with Sierra? Was it not deemed possible at the time, technologically?
Sierra tools were designed for making a particular type of adventure game. I added a layer on top of them to support some role-playing game play, but we frequently ran into limitations of the system. However, Sierra originally hired Lori because they wanted her to make a role-playing game, so we made a hybrid adventure/RPG. It certainly fit *our* definition of an RPG.
Hero-U is again a compromise, but one we are very excited about. We have an interesting story and characters planned, we're getting to use an upgraded version of our "school for heroes" as a setting, and we have a team that we trust completely. We're getting to do some interesting things because we have fewer limitations than at Sierra. Partly that's because of our decision to focus on a single character rather than having to handle many different options for four character classes.
Friday - November 09, 2012
Hero-U - Kickstarter Update #13
The Cole's are pumping out the Hero-U updates as they pass the halfway mark ($208k/$400k with 11 days to go) with this latest comparing the game to CRPG Addict's list of RPG criteria. For example, on choices:
Choice of actions, and changes in the game world based on your actions
As I've written in previous Updates, choice is central to Hero-U. Most of the problems you face can be solved in several ways using your skills, equipment, or dialogue. What you say, and how you act, to others affects relationships that can block or unlock parts of the game. What Shawn becomes is largely up to you.
All in all, I think we measure up pretty well to one blogger's definition of "What is a CRPG?" We don't have first-person, 3D dungeons, and you won't control a party of adventurers. But most CRPG players should feel at home in our game despite all that adventure game story and dialogue stuff.
Thursday - November 08, 2012
Hero-U - Kickstarter Update #12
With 12 days to go the Coles need to double the current amount of money pledged in order to be able to reach the $400.000 goal. This looks like a very promising game, so head over to their Kickstarter page and pledge if you have not done that already (note to Corey: I'll collect my check for this shameless plug later).
And now to the update.
Corey Cole did an interview with Gaming Furever (which are not showing that interview yet) and is sharing one response to a question:
"What's unique about Hero-U and its world? What kind of experience can your future players look forward to, once the game is finished?"
With each Hero-U game focused on a single character, the story can be tighter than in our previous games. And of course, making story central to a game immediately distinguishes it from most games being made currently.
We also have a dynamic mix of game play between the University, taking classes, studying in the library, making friends with other students... then going down into the catacombs, exploring, fighting monsters, and solving the mysteries of why Shawn got sent to Hero-U and what's going on in the outside world. Our plan is to have a strong balance between the story, character interactions, and role-playing elements of the game.
We're trying to create a game for which walk-throughs will be inadequate. Each player can make choices about how to interact with other students and teachers, where to spend their time, and on what they want to focus. All of these choices will have effects on relationships and the story, so the game may seem different to every player. That's a much different idea from watching a film or playing a tightly-scripted adventure game.
The constant for all players is that more of the game world and mysteries will open up for the player as the game progresses. Eventually you'll reach one of a number of satisfying conclusions.
We intend to let players save their status, then "import" that into future games. But it won't work like a Quest for Glory import. Shawn will be present in the later games, and what you did in the first one will affect his personality and elements of the story, but you'll be playing a different character with a completely different backstory and character abilities by then.
In the last game, all of that will come together through a Cunning and Subtle Plan that Lori and I hope we'll know how to pull off by then.
Then there is also the example of '2D Tiled Art that doesn't look tiled".
And finally the project video was redone.
Wednesday - November 07, 2012
Hero-U - Kickstarter Update #11
Update number 11 gives some more information on Linux support, the add-ons and some testimonials.
We have had a lot of requests for a Linux version, but the team had concerns that spending time on making Linux builds, testing them, and getting them out to the Linux Beta testers might affect the development schedule. A few nights ago, I came up with a solution.
I have decided to personally commit to bringing Hero-U to Linux. Originally we planned this as part of our first stretch goal, but I came up with a new plan. After Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption is complete and on the way to our Windows and Mac users, I will personally port the game to Linux and - with the help of some of our passionate Linux friends - make sure the game is rock solid.
See, there's a little part of my history that 5 or 6 of you might not have heard yet. Before I was a game designer, I was a system programmer. My first job at Sierra was to translate the SCI game engine to the Atari ST and port the first four SCI games to the ST. I'll just put on my software engineer hat for this task.
Why am I doing it this way? It is so that none of the Kickstarter proceeds will be used for the port. I will be doing it on my own time after the game is complete, so that we can guarantee that the Windows/Mac versions of Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption are absolutely the best we can make them.
Hero-U - Interview @ Pixels for Breakfast
While Corey and Lori Cole may be spearheading the creation of this new tale set inside their famous world, award-winning Melbourne indies Brawsome are joining them as the developer of the project. How did two Sierra veterans end up working with what is essentially a one man team on the other side of the world?
Lori:It’s because Brawsome was a fan of ours. He sent us emails saying ‘I’ve got this great game, would you like to take a look at it?’ It had been sitting in my email pile for a while, and I finally got to it, I actually took a look at MacGuffin’s Curse. We had seen Jolly Rover when he put that out, but when I saw MacGuffin’s Curse I said ‘look at this, this is exactly the sort of thing that would be easy to produce, and we could make the game with this style of game.’ We knew that we couldn’t do an adventure game, it’s just so expensive to do an adventure game, we didn’t think we could raise enough money for that. Yet a nice little simple game, along the lines of MacGuffin’s Curse, we could pull that off no problem, and I was really, really thrilled.
Corey: We went through quite a few evolutions of the game. We talked about making a Quest for Glory style game, then we kind of had to abandon that because we said we don’t have the million dollars or more it would take to make it. Then we talked about making a Rogue-like dungeon game. We said that would be kind of fun, but we’re not sure it is really a commercial product, maybe we could do that just for fun.
Somewhere the ideas kind of combined and we said, ‘what if we could do the Rogue-like dungeon look, with the monsters on the squares, but instead of having a random dungeon crawl thing, instead put a real adventure game in that setting?’ Then we saw MacGuffin’s Curse and we said ‘hey, this thing uses tiles and squares and stuff and it is exactly the look that we had talked about’. We knew that Andrew of Brawsome really wanted to work with us, he actually contacted me back in 2010 and sent me Jolly Rover. I said ‘it was a pretty fun adventure game, but we’re not really doing adventure games right now, we don’t have the funding for it’. Then he sent us MacGuffin’s Curse and as Lori said, she got hold of it and started looking at it and she said ‘hey, this is what we’ve been talking about for the last two months’.
Tuesday - November 06, 2012
Hero-U - Kickstarter Update #10
In the tenth update on the Kickstarter page of Hero-U brings us add-ons that can be chosen to help make the Coles reach their goal.
Digital add-ons available at any tier
Important Note on digital keys to our previous games: We are actually buying these keys from the respective sites. Since Kickstarter and Amazon payments take a percentage of our proceeds, and the purpose of selling these add-ons is to raise money for Hero-U development, all of these keys are more expensive than if you buy them directly. If this concerns you , please buy the previous-game keys directly from Steam, gog.com, or another site. We are offering them here solely as a convenience.
- $15: Steam game key to Jolly Rover (PC or Mac)
- $15: Steam game key to MacGuffin's Curse (PC or Mac)
- $20: gog.com game key to Quest for Glory 1-5 package (PC only)
- $18: An additional Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption game key for a friend
- $18: Pre-order the second planned Hero-U game featuring a female Wizard main character
- $100: In-game Head(stone) of the Class. See Update #9 or main project page for details
- $200: In-game School Spirit. See Update #9 or main project page for details
Physical Add-Ons ONLY for Physical Tier Backers
Physical add-ons will be shipped separately from your copy of the game (exception - additional physical game boxes will likely be shipped in one package). When you select physical add-ons, please also add the following shipping charges to your pledge:
- 1-4 items: $15 US, $20 Canada/Mexico, $30 other countries
- Each additional 4 items: Add $10 US/Canada/Mexico, or add $20 other countries
Physical add-on choices:
- $30: Hero-U logo t-shirt
- $35: Embroidered Hero-U baseball cap
- $50: Extra standard boxed copy of Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption
- $50: (Extra) copy of the physical yearbook.
- $100: (Extra) copy of the Kickstarter-only premium boxed game plus Graduate-level inserts (game DVD, manual, music CD, varsity letter, and Hero-U backer's button)
In addition more information is given on the $2000 Art Lover tier
We have had many questions about the art pieces available through the $2,000 Art Lovers tier. Two of the choices are from Lori's and my personal collection, and are shown on the main project page over the description of the Art Lovers tier. Brad Herbert and Brandon Klassen of The Art of Sierra are graciously making other pieces available at their cost to help support the Hero-U project.
NOTE: Art Lovers is a unique tier. Backers at higher tiers will not get original Sierra game artwork.
Each piece is approximately 6" x 9", and is the actual painting that was scanned into either Quest for Glory 3 or Quest for Glory 4. Backers at the Art Lovers tier will be asked to choose their favorite pieces in priority order. We will then assign pieces based on pledge date (first come, first served) followed by preference. The sooner you choose the Art Lovers tier, the more likely you will get exactly the piece you want.
Mr. Herbert has prepared a video to show you some of the art pieces available. As usual, embedded videos are not working in my updates, so you will have to follow the link to see the video.
Monday - November 05, 2012
Hero-U - Kickstarter Updates
To me, Role Playing Games are about problems, and Adventure Games are about puzzles (in the very specific way those two terms are defined in the PC Gamer article).
Why? Because in fact, Role Playing Games are NOT about Role Playing, and Adventure Games are ALL about Role Playing.
In a tabletop Dungeons & Dragons game, I am an elf - an elf fancied from my imagination - not a human playing the part of Legolas and trying to guess what Legolas would do in a situation. I’m not, as on a movie set, an actor learning a script and pretending to be an elf while he delivers his pre-written lines.
In Sins of the Fathers, this IS where I actually play a role, the role of Gabriel Knight. The ONLY difference with a movie is that the director doesn’t give me the script, I must guess it (what will you as Gabriel do?), otherwise this would be a fiction, not an Interactive Fiction (and therefore not a game).
So Adventure Games are Interactive Fictions, where you have to guess the script. The more well written the script is, the more entertaining the game is. You’ve said that Day of The Tentacle was one of your favorite adventure games; well, imagine how great it would be as an animated comedy movie, or Grim Fandango as an animated film noir.
Role Playing Games are Simulated Worlds, where you can live a second life. But even the greatest RPG sessions would not necessarily make great movies, mostly because they would not be structured enough or strong enough in terms of storytelling (just like true stories have to be romanticized before making to the big screen).
Friday - November 02, 2012
Hero-U - Update #7, Add-ons and an Interview
In the seventh update for the Hero-U Kickstarter two add-ons to the pledges have been announced. If those who have pledged before add another 100$ to their pledge they will get an in-game tombstone with their name on it. By adding 200$ you get to become a spirit in the game.
Furthermore the update also summarizes an interview the Corey and Lori Cole had on Reddit.
Burf90 asked about the "save game" features:
Lori answered: There will be an autosave feature that will record every time you step into the dungeon and every morning you get up. That being said, you can save your game anywhere and any time for yourself. So yes, the old Adventure Game motto will apply - save early and often! And for those of us who are out of the save the game habit, there will be autosaves to fall back upon.
Torchinomotorino asked about equipment and cross-class skills:
Corey responded: We will have many more equipment options in Hero-U than in Quest for Glory. As Sierra adventures, those games were severely limited in inventory space and options. Rogues at Hero-U rely heavily on their tools and possessions. We'll also get Shawn some stylish changes of armor and clothing.
Lori added: The Rogue can set magical traps and snares, learn to make healing salves and blinding powders, and even itching powders to add to his repertoire of thief skills. He's never going to be a great fighter, but he'll find ways of defeating his foes that no warrior would dream of using!
Twincast2005 and ubyuby asked about romance, relationships, and companions.
Lori responded: Reactions to Shawn's deeds depend upon the other character. Something dastardly might win you the respect of one classmate and the disdain of another one. If Shawn makes friends, then he'll have to work to keep them. They won't stay his friend long if he doesn't act like a friend.
Reputation will be a critical part of the game for people who really like the "Role-playing" in a game. It will take an effort to raise your status with other characters because you start out as a poor Thief. What you do for and to other characters will raise or lower the opinions of those around you.
Right now, I'm planning on the issue of romance to be determined by the player. There are classmates and staff who could be romanced. Everyone has their own goals and agendas, so helping them achieve their goals will give you serious karma cookies.
Then, maybe... they'll think enough of Shawn to fall in love with him.
But Romance is only a side quest in this game. The player may or may not want to put in the effort to impress other people. Shawn may have more important goals in his life than making friends.
Shadowfax11 and DeviantBoi asked why we are using a different graphics approach than in the Quest for Glory games, pointing out that SpaceVenture has promised a Sierra-like engine on a $500K budget.
Lori responded: At our $400K goal, we will have $260K after expenses and backer rewards with which to make the game. Quest for Glory IV cost almost $1 million to make back in 1993 when most of the developers earned $15/hour. Costs are higher now.
We've done the math. We know exactly what it took to make Shannara, MacGuffin's Curse, and Jolly Rover, which was a traditional adventure game. Our budget is not enough to make an Adventure RPG as complex as Hero-U will be using the Sierra approach to art and animation. It is enough to make a great game with tiled graphics.
There is another reason we are goingwith the MacGuffin's Curse approach. We know that we can create a game with the same emotional involvement, character development, and story-telling as any Quest for Glory with this engine. In addition, we can create a combat system that is more "Puzzle-solving" than "click, click, click."
You want to sneak past a monster? No problem - if your sneak skill is high enough. But maybe you'd like to set a trap for the monster and then lure it into the trap. Or perhaps you'd like to push a few barrels so that you can keep the monster from getting to you while you investigate it's lair. We couldn't really pull this sort of game style off with the Adventure Engine.
So our decision to go with the MacGuffin's Curse style is as much because we want to add a different sort of game play to the story as it is financial.
Corey added: What we're doing with Hero-U is boiling the game down to its essence - story, characters, and puzzles - then putting in as much art and music as we can to support those. By using the top-down view, we don't need as much animation or backgrounds, and the programming is simpler. That's allowing us to put a million dollars of gameplay in a $260K game.
Wednesday - October 31, 2012
Hero-U - Update #6, Crowdfunding and More
In their sixth update for the Hero-U Kickstarter Garey Cole talks about the current pledges of the game (154K out of the desired 400K as of this writing) with still 19 days to go. Besides some links to other news about interviews there is this on crowdfunding:
Dear Fellow Gamer,
Every time you choose to support a Kickstarter project, you are casting a vote. When you back a quality adventure or role-playing game, you send a message. You tell everyone out there that you believe in that type of game and want to see it made.
There are many ways to cast your vote. You could be like the millions who flock to the latest in the endless stream of indistinguishable first-person shooter clones. You don't have to back those on Kickstarter. They'll get made anyway because publishers know that a lot of people will buy them.
But your "votes" on Kickstarter matter in another way. Games like Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption will not exist at all without your support. You can sell massive explosions and special effects in a television ad. You can't sell games that promise story, puzzles, and intelligent game play. Games like ours don't appeal to the mass market. You have to stop and think to play Hero-U, and that's not as popular as grabbing a rocket launcher and blasting away at Zombies.
Supporting Hero-U and games like Shadowgate matters. We're small companies making the biggest, best games we can put together on a modest budget. You've taken the time to read this far, and that means you are our target player - Someone who reads and thinks about what they read. We lost all the twitch gamers back at "casting a vote."
This game is for you, and when you recognize that, you will discover a secret. It's the truth about "risk". Is it riskier to back a game that will take a year to make, but is made by developers you respect, and is the type of game you will love when it's done? Or is it riskier to sit and wait, and have those developers leave the business because not enough players seem to want their style of game? When you wait for someone else to back your games, you may be waiting forever.
Don't worry, you can always play another first-person shooter. Or maybe Solitaire. Those games will always be there. Our type of game can only exist with your backing, and your help in spreading the word. Care to join us?
Monday - October 29, 2012
Hero-U - Update #5, Story, Relationships and More
In the fifth update for the Kickstarter Hero-U, Corey Cole talks about story paths and relationships in the game, new pledges, testimonials, interviews and the 'Kick it Forward, program.
Here is the bit on story paths and relationships:
There are a lot of "black and white" games out there. They give the players two paths – good or evil, etc. That's an improvement over making the player sit through a linear, non-branching story.But we can do better. Yes/No, Either/Or, Binary pathing is so last century! It's also not the way life works.Quest for Glory broke the mold of D&D-style games by eliminating experience levels. Instead, players gradually improved each of their skills through practice. In Hero-U, we are doing the same thing for character relationships. All of your actions during the game will affect how others see you, and how they react in turn.No two players are likely to see the exact same story in Hero-U. Each player will forge their own relationships, and choose where to spend their time. The subtle connection between these decisions will affect many aspects of game play.
This won't as simple as "You're a Thief" or "You're a Rogue Hero." The game – like real life – will be much more complex and layered. Shades of grey mean something in Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption.Let's say for instance you've been friendly to one of the other students. Maybe that student saw you in the hallway after curfew, but she'll keep quiet about it. Or maybe she'll mention a useful book in the library. If things work out, maybe you can develop a romantic relationship.Of course, the opposite is true too. Maybe someone else is jealous of that budding relationship, and decides to make you look bad. There are a lot of ways for a Rogue to find revenge. Maybe one of your teachers will stand up for you, or maybe everyone will hang you out to dry. Everything you do in the game will affect someone's attitude towards you, positively, negatively, or sideways. That would be the case when a plot element hinges on your actions, and a character decides you might be useful to them... or not.
The people who write walkthroughs for games are going to have a hard time with Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption. The players, on the other hand, may find themselves playing the game over and over, trying to see what changes when they take a different attitude. The developers will need to develop some automated tests to check out all the options.
Saturday - October 27, 2012
Kickstarter - Hero-U - Kickstarter Update # 4
The team behind this game has updated their Kickstarter page. They've collected about 130,000 $ for far. And for this, they say:
We're doing very well so far - Thank you everyone for your support! We're rapidly approaching the 1/3 mark towards Hero-U's goal. We're now in the "accumulation period" where we slowly build up towards the goal. We hope all of you are sharing the project with your friends, but being gentle about it. :-)
Thursday - October 25, 2012
Hero-U - Kickstarter Update #3
In the third update on Hero-U, Corey Cole talks about how thier plans on merging the adventure game with the RPG. Here is a part for adventure players that do not like combat.
You know those multiple solutions? Many of them involve avoiding fights entirely. As a Rogue, Shawn can sneak around many combat situations. He can get away from them by using sneezing or flash powder. He can sneak up behind his enemies and take them out of action before they know he's there. He can lay traps to keep his enemies away. Hero-U's tactical movement and action features will let you play the game the way you want to play it.
No combat? No problem.
Of course, if you want a higher level of challenge, and don't mind getting your hands dirty in combat, you'll treat battles as a new type of puzzle. All of our combat is turn-based, so you will make decisions and see how the monsters respond, then try your next actions. Many died-in-the-wool adventure gamers may soon find they love Hero-U's combat. If you're one of the players that doesn't enjoy it, you'll avoid it. A skilled Rogue chooses his fights, and might well choose "none".
Hero-U is all about choices, and to fight or not to fight is one of them.
Wednesday - October 24, 2012
Hero-U - Kickstarter Update #2
The Cole's Kickstarter for Hero-U is currently at $115k/$400k with 26 days to go. There's a new update linking to news around the web but also responding to the question, "why didn't you just make a new Quest for Glory game?".
We tend to look at games, films, etc. with the unique perspective of being able to see the finished product. Will Hero-U be as much fun to play as Quest for Glory (pick your favorite number)? That’s impossible to tell. Filmmakers all think they’re making great films, but only in hindsight can we find out which ones were right about which of their films. Peter Jackson did an amazing job with Lord of the Rings, but I found his King Kong disappointing. Am I looking forward to his take on The Hobbit - knowing that he’s changed a lot of things? You bet I am!
What Lori and I will promise is that we are putting the same work and dedication into Hero-U as we put into each of our other games. We still have the same “gamers sensibility” that we applied as a yardstick each time. Hopefully we’ll be funny. Hopefully the dialogue will work as well as it did in Quest for Glory. Is it possible we’ll get this one wrong? Sure it’s possible - but I don’t think it’s the way to bet.
Monday - October 22, 2012
Hero-U - Update #2, Word of the Web
The Hero-U Kickstarter has a new update, which basically lists the media attention, some feedback they received and this:
What Lori and I will promise is that we are putting the same work and dedication into Hero-U as we put into each of our other games. We still have the same “gamers sensibility” that we applied as a yardstick each time. Hopefully we’ll be funny. Hopefully the dialogue will work as well as it did in Quest for Glory. Is it possible we’ll get this one wrong? Sure it’s possible - but I don’t think it’s the way to bet.
Of course, you can always “wait and see”. But then the game might not happen at all. It’s pretty much up to you, the players, to determine the fate of Hero-U. If you want higher production values, support at a higher level and get more of your friends to support the project. For now, we’ve designed a minimalist style that can be implemented within a reasonable budget. It’s more important to make sure that we can complete the game than to promise a level of polish that we won’t be able to fund.
It’s all about the story… and the puzzles… and the characters… and the game mechanics… and the play balance. :-) Those are where we’ll be spending our time. In the meantime, the only promise we can make is that we will work hard to create the best experience we can. Really, that’s as much as anyone can promise.
Sunday - October 21, 2012
Hero-U - Interviews @ RPS, RPG Codex
A couple of interviews have hit for Hero-U, talking to Lori and Corey Cole. From RPS:
RPS: And this one’s going to be more of an RPG, of course.
COREY: I guess you could say that Quest for Glory was about 70% adventure and 30% roleplaying. This one is going to be more 60% roleplaying and 40% adventuring. Part of that is just down to the look. It’s a 2D, top-down world, so it is going to feel more like a graphical version of a grid based game like Rogue than a Quest for Glory adventure.
LORI: Well, not like Rogue. We’re using much of the engine from Brawsome’s MacGuffin’s Curse, so it’s more tile based.
COREY: Yeah, and the tiles are large, so we’re able to have better animation, larger characters… you’ll feel like you’re in the environments. We’re also going to have some screens that are more like adventure game backgrounds. We’ve got some very beautiful images that the artists are putting together. How many will depend on how the budget turns out.
...and RPG Codex:
RPG Codex: How did the idea of Hero-U originate, and what were the main points of debate you had when coming up with the game's concept? Why the name, "Hero-U"?
The version of the game we worked on in 2010 focused on the Wizard character, but we decided to save that for a sequel so people wouldn't think, "Oh, it's a Harry Potter game set in Hogwarts." The team brainstormed some title ideas, Andrew Goulding of Brawsome suggested "Rogue Redemption", and artist Eric Varnes modified it to "Rogue to Redemption". We all liked the combination of word play and good description of the story. Your character starts out as a disgraced Thief and may redeem himself to become a Rogue Hero.
As for the concept, Lori and I have been kicking it around since 2008 in various incarnations. We started out trying to make a straight text adventure, but we weren't satisfied with it. Two years ago we tried again as a mostly-text game with a "click on the keyword" interface and a graphic window, but it still didn't seem to have the right feel. This year we talked about moving to a top-down map interface similar to Epyx Rogue on the Atari ST, and that sounded more promising. When we saw Brawsome's game "MacGuffin's Curse", Lori and I both thought that was exactly the look that would work for our new game. Well, close anyway - We're perfectionists who always tweak things. : )
Corey Cole: We wanted to make a game based on www.theschoolforheroes.com. I thought the name was a little long, and a few of the people on the project pointed out that "school" made them think of a game for teenagers. We talked about a few variations, and ended up with "Hero-U" because "U" stands for "University" and also for "You". We want each player to feel that this is a game made just for him/her.
Saturday - October 20, 2012
Hero-U - Kickstarter launches, $70k so far
The Kickstarter for Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption, from the designers of Quest for Glory, has launched and rapidly put $70k on the board from a goal of $400k. A snip from the feature list:
Hero-U is a turn-based RPG with adventure game puzzles and immersive story, by the award-winning designers of Quest for Glory.
Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption is a classic 2D RPG by award-winning game designers Corey and Lori Cole (Quest for Glory, Castle of Dr. Brain, and more). In our genre-bending style, Hero-U combines classic RPG skills and combat with the rich character relationships of Persona, and the story and puzzles of Quest for Glory in a single challenging game experience.
- A classic role-playing game with exploration, combat, and skills
- Tactical combat that is much more than "hack and slash"
- A rich story that changes based on the way you play
- Characters with unique personalities and their own agendas
- Adventure-style puzzles that are an integral part of the story
Wednesday - October 17, 2012
Hero-U - Interview with Quest for Glory Creator
The New York Post interviewed Corey Cole, one of the creators of the former Quest for Glory series on the upcoming Kickstarter for Hero-U, which is a role-playing adventure game in which you play a Rogue character. You are caught and sentenced to attend Hero-U to become a better citizen....
The game has 2D tile maps to emphasize exploration and uses tactical and movement skills.
The kickstarter starts this Friday.
When did the idea for your own Kickstarter, launching October 19, come up?
Last October (2011), Lori and I decided to stop taking assignments at the school and to put our focus into developing it as a game. The only problem is that we had no idea how to promote or fund game development. Then came the Tim Schafer Spring, and suddenly Kickstarter became a serious springboard for indie game development. As fan email poured in, and other developers offered to help us make the game, we resolved in July to start a Kickstarter, and in August which one we would do.
We decided to wait until October 19 to start the campaign so that we could do preliminary design work, start a word-of-Web campaign and make sure that we would launch a successful campaign. We don't make mediocre games and we don't want to run a mediocre Kickstarter campaign, so we decided to take our time.
We are very happy we made that decision, because we would not have wanted to run our campaign head-to-head against the Obsidian Project: Eternity juggernaut. We had enough problems at Sierra in years when a Quest for Glory and a King's Quest shipped in the same year. One great role-playing game per month is probably enough.
Information aboutHero-U: Rogue to Redemption
Play-time: 10-20 hours
Voice-acting: Partially voiced
Regions & platforms
· Platform: PC
· Expected at 2017-08-01
· Publisher: Unknown