Hero-U Project Update #84: Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption

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.

Sneaking into Danger
Sneaking into Danger

A Balancing Act

How are we balancing story and player agency in Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption? It hasn’t been easy, and that’s the main reason this game is taking so much longer to develop than we predicted. We’ve had to balance our ambitious storytelling goals with some practical compromises. Some of the decisions we’ve made along the way were:

  • Each game will feature a single character class, and a particular character. This lets us tailor each game’s story for that character.
  • There is a traditional, linear story that progresses around the player.
  • If the player fails to act, another character may become the hero for that scene.
  • Reputation and relationships are important, and mostly controlled by player actions.
  • No movies or long cut scenes once the game has started.
  • No voice acting, at least in the initial release.
  • Combat is mostly or entirely avoidable at each player’s choice.
  • The story is developed in dialogue, and players have many choices.
  • Exploration is important, and everything in the game responds to players.

We originally pictured Hero-U as a place where players could walk around and explore. The first attempts, as pictured in our 2012 Kickstarter campaign, were chessboard-style maps. The problem is that those aren’t immersive. We quickly switched to an isometric “stage” view, then to using 3D so that scenes could be much bigger than a single screen.

Last year, when Al Eufrasio joined the team, we started adding much more animation that we originally envisioned, following the storytelling rule of “Show, don’t tell.” But we still needed a way to advance the story visually.

Beware the Deadly Pizza Tornado!
Beware the Deadly Pizza Tornado!

Enter the Vignette

The 1990s answer was “cut scenes”, or non-interactive film-like sequences. LucasArts made these work very well in games such as Monkey Island and Grim Fandango. But cut scenes have a lot of problems in a game like Hero-U.

One problem is that the player has to sit and wait for the cut scene to complete before going back to exploring and saving the world (or at least maintaining a passing grade). Another is that many cut scenes destroy immersion because they are not from the player’s viewpoint, nor under her control.

But the main problem with cut scenes is that they’re small movies. They have to compete with Hollywood artistry, and that’s beyond both our expertise and budget.

Our solution is the “vignette”, an image that illustrates a particular event in the game. This gives players a closeup showing how their actions affect the game. When a vignette appears, it also represents time passing.

A simple example is suppertime in the dining hall. When Shawn sits down to eat, we bring up a vignette showing a closeup of the Rogue – er, excuse me, “Disbarred Bard” – table. We have several variations on this image depending on how Shawn and the other characters feel about recent events in the castle.

Game text can appear over a vignette. Images and words together tell a story much more effectively than either alone.

An Unwilling Student
An Unwilling Student

State of The Game

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.

Please keep your address information up to date at www.backerkit.com so we can ship your addon items. We have additional content and a place for your friends to pre-order and support the game at www.hero-u.com. That’s also where you can join us on the Hero-U discussion forum.

Hero-U T-Shirt Back
Hero-U T-Shirt Back

The development history of Quest for Glory 1 and 2 is featured in this long Digital Antiquarian article – http://www.filfre.net/2016/09/so-you-want-to-be-a-hero/.

Check out Woven on Kickstarter – https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1355836783/woven-solve-puzzles-by-reknitting-your-character. The tag line is “Explore a woolen world threatened by metal insects. Customize your character to get past obstacles. A unique narrated adventure game.” It’s a unique look and might be a fun game.

Characters in Woven
Characters in Woven

Hero-U Update #83: Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption by Corey and Lori Ann Cole

As I write this, the top athletes in the world are striving – questing, even – for glory in Rio de Janeiro. Our fantasy heroes have been in the questing business longer, but everyone is looking for heroes.

Olympic Glory

Currently the sporting event best representing the final stages of quests for glory is the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. Getting to the Olympics at all is the toughest part, but once there, an athlete must be among “the best of the best” to medal. In the end, the medal is really a memento of years of dedication, hard work, and talent.

Winning the Rogue of the Year award at Hero-U may not have the same popular awareness as an Olympic gold medal (especially since officially there are no rogues at Hero-U), but it’s still a difficult and challenging feat. The winner must excel at charm, intelligence, skill, and athleticism to take the prize.

Can He Do It?
Can He Do It?

Rogue of the Year is the Disbarred Bards version of the “all-around” competition in a gymnastics event. It isn’t so much an event by itself as an award for being the best at many different skills.

Skills to Pay the Bills

Hero-U features seven skills: Combat, Defense, Stealth, Tool Use, Climbing, Throwing, and Gaming. Each has a unique role, and together they are one of the major differences between a traditional adventure game and a hybrid adventure/RPG such as Hero-U and Quest for Glory.

Instead of a series of puzzles, each with only one solution, Hero-U presents “problems” to the players. Frequently there is more than one solution to a problem depending on Shawn’s skills and the player’s play style. We made a design choice to have a small set of skills that each apply to many situations. For example, “tool use” helps with picking locks, disarming traps, and other tools you may find in the game.

As in Quest for Glory, players can improve their skills, and even their “stats”, through study and practice. Let’s say the player decides Shawn should spend an hour practicing on the tightrope or climbing rope. Either will improve his climbing skill and slightly improve his Fitness and Agility. Playing Poobah is not just a way of earning Lyra; it also improves Gaming, and helps with Smarts, Perception, and Luck.

Practice, Practice, Practice
Practice, Practice, Practice

Challenges within the game are “gated” – Shawn must have a high degree of skill before he can even attempt to use a Houdini 42 toolkit to disarm the most dangerous traps. There is also a mini-game for the player to analyze each trap. As Shawn improves his Tool Use skill and Perception and Luck stats, the game provides more clues to help the player solve the trap puzzles.

Team Changes and Schedule Update

It also takes a lot of skills to make a game like this. We are fortunate to have a team of dedicated developers who are each contributing part of the heart and soul of this game. However, four years is a long time to devote to a single project, and many of our team members have moved on to other jobs. While we miss their presence, we also want to thank them for their contributions and wish them success at their new pursuits.

Our most recent alumni are programmer Carolyn VanEseltine and 3D background artist Aaron Martin. Aaron completed his work on Hero-U, then moved on to another full-time art position. Carolyn also has a new non-gaming day job. In her “free time”, she is one of the founding directors of the Interactive Fiction Technology Foundation. Read more about Carolyn and her work at http://www.sibylmoon.com/author/carolyn/.

3D Model of the Nido King Wing
3D Model of the Nido King Wing

Fortunately, we were able to immediately find a programmer to finish the Hero-U room programming. Adam Thompson of Auckland, New Zealand. Check out Adam’s indie games at http://www.emotiontheory.com/. Adam is a Unity expert and a fan of adventure and role-playing games. We’re very happy to have him on the team.

Where does all that leave our schedule? We plan to reach “code complete” before the end of the year – I’m shooting for mid- to late- November. At that point we will put the game through an extensive testing process, including making builds available to everyone who backed at the $35 or higher level in Kickstarter. We’ll put out the final release when we have a clean version, likely early next year.

I plan to ship non-game physical goods such as Meeps and posters this Fall. Please keep your address info up-to-date at https://hero-u-adventure-role-playing-game.backerkit.com/ if your pledge included any physical goods.

Shawn Triumphant
Shawn Triumphant


SpaceVenture Project Update #111: Two Guys SpaceVenture – by the creators of Space Quest by Two Guys From Andromeda

Pump house madness, Nurbs Landing, Hose Zar, Nurbs Bar, new theme music!

Time for another SpaceVenture update. Got some really exciting stuff to show you all. Guys we are going full throttle trying our absolute best to get the game done by November. Fingers crossed, we still have some moons that need to line up, but we are well on our way.

The game script is getting closer as well and we are talking with the Los Angeles voice studio that we will be using to record our voice actors in. Speaking of which, all our original voice actors(minus Gary Owens for obvious sad reasons) are still on board for voicing characters in the game. We haven’t chosen our new narrator, but that should be ironed out in the near future.


The pump room scene takes us down into a hidden level within the TGFA’s space dome. Not to be too spoilery here, but Ace gets a call from the Two Guys to Fix an issue with their in-dome pool (actually more of a lagoon). Rooter(under player control) ends up being the brains behind solving this puzzle though as he lends a hand, er, paw in helping Ace make the repair.

One fun behind the scenes fact about this scene is that it was actually the very first puzzle that was planned for the game, although it actually happens way later in the story. I hope you guys are as excited to see it come to a reality as we are! Special thanks to one of our artists, Patrick Parish, for working so hard on this.

Just a little warning on the video, we’ve disabled a few things that would completely spoil some of what happens here, but rest assured, there will be a few more things happening in the scene when you see it in game. For one, that big display you see in the background will be important to the task at hand. The mechanics for this scene are already in place, programming and all!





I believe I have mentioned before that this area of the game is a location that I have been the most excited about since the original game design for SpaceVenture. Just so you know, that has not changed! As you can see, the artwork for this area is just absolutely beautiful. Mark Crowe as Art Director and Artist Patrick Parish have done a phenomenal job on all the art assets for the “Nurb’s” area of the game. This area is bound to bring back nostalgic thoughts of your time in the Space Quest games.

A little warning on what you are seeing here. We have a lot of surprises in store for different ships and Aliens that will be seen in this area. Another fun aspect of this area is that you will be able to return to it throughout the game and depending on when you are there, you will experience different creatures.




“Don’t get hosed, see the Zar!”

Nurb, being quite the space faring entrepreneur, not only owns a bar, but also owns a hose shop. Why a hose shop in the middle of no where? The real question is why not! Ace will be needing to pay a visit to the Hose Zar shop in order to continue in a certain portion of the game that I won’t mention right now as to not spoil some of the experience for you all. Let’s just say, it will definitely be worth your while to  “see the Zar” at some point during the game.



Bound to be one of the most memorable scenes in the entire game, it has been hard for me to hold this scene back. The team has almost had a bit to much fun putting this scene together. Nurb’s bar will be packed full of SciFi pop culture references, with gorgeous artwork to boot.

The bar is where Ace will be given an opportunity to catch up with some of us buddies and enjoy some conversation in the goings on throughout the galaxy. This is also where you will meet one of my favorite characters of all, “Url”.

Note on the below content. We have put no where near the characters and props in the scene that we have planned. The bar may look a bit empty right now, but it won’t be in the very near future. Also, when playing SpaceVenture, be sure to revisit this area often to see all the different patrons that are hanging around.








To the right of the bar scene is a corridor that leads to a room called the “Wall of Fame”. As promised, the game will feature a “Wall of Fame”. This area will be connected to Nurb’s bar. $750 and higher backers should have received an email from us in regards to this. If you did not receive that email, please contact us on Kickstarter. Please DO NOT comment on the update regarding not receiving the email, please contact us via private Kickstarter message.

We hope to give you guys a glimpse of this scene in the near future 🙂


Remember the beautiful theme music that was put together for SpaceVenture. Our composer, Ken Allen, added some more polish to it. He is using the same music libraries in this version that movie composers use. This version is what we plan to use when SpaceVenture ships! We thought you all would like to have a listen to it.



Some of you guys pledged at a level that allows you to vote on concept art and death sequences. We’ve got some concept art for some aliens as well as a bit of the end of the game that we will soon be voting on. As for death sequences, there are still quite a few of those that need to go into the game, and we will be allowing voting for that in the not so distant future as well.



As CyberCedric is off to broaden his musical horizons (which can only end badly), the Historian interviews avid adventure game player and fellow podcaster Robert Menes of the Nostalgia Roadtrip podcast (soundcloud.com/nostalgiaroadtrip) about his favorite adventure games. Also on the show, more crowdfunding tips from Serena Nelson, and more music talk with Brandon Blume, Ken Allen and James Mulvale.



Thanks for all of your support everyone!

Chris Pope a.k.a your humble local intergalactic SpacePope

Hero-U Update 82: A Tale Of Two Castles.

The Castle Home of Hero University
The Castle Home of Hero University

The university for Heroes is located in an ancient and foreboding castle with a long and storied history. Here you will explore the mysteries of the past and how they affect the present and future games. As part of our research into the the broad topic of “fantasy schools in medieval castles,” we recently explored another famous school – Hogwarts, the School for Witchcraft and Wizardry. Hogwarts is quite close to Hogsmeade, a charming traditional village. Both are apparently located in Universal Studios Hollywood, although it’s possible some interdimensional rifts were involved in our visit. (You don’t often see snow on the rooftops of buildings in Southern California in the summertime… nor in Sardonia.)

Hogwarts Castle inside Universal Studios Hollywood
Hogwarts Castle inside Universal Studios Hollywood

Walking the Line

It took about 40 minutes to get from the entrance of the Harry Potter attraction to the actual ride. We spent most of that time walking around the castle grounds and inside the castle itself. There were always new things to see and examine, and the exercise was undoubtedly good for us couch potatoes.

Shawn will get plenty of exercise as he walks around the Hero-U castle and improves his skills in the practice rooms. As for “new things to see and examine,” they are everywhere in Hero-U! Our castle is filled with curios from around the fantasy world, and Shawn can interact with all of them. There are surprises everywhere.

Talking Heads

One of the first things we noticed inside Hogwarts was the profusion of animated, talking portraits. They carry on conversations with each other, many played by actors from the Harry Potter films. (See https://www.pottermore.com/writing-by-jk-rowling/hogwarts-portraits for more details on magically-animated portraits.)

The portraits in Hero-U are much better behaved, mostly staying within their frames. However, each portrait in the halls of Hero-U has its own story to tell. Many of them are portraits of backers, but each is also an artwork in its own right.

Portrait of Lenkyl Greatstorm in the Hero-U Basement
Portrait of Lenkyl Greatstorm in the Hero-U Basement

There are some “interactive people” in Hogsmeade Village, actors representing vendors and townspeople. Most of them could have been in any store, but a few took their acting seriously. I particularly enjoyed talking with a Hogwarts Express conductor – he really knew his Harry Potter lore.

Hero-U is another matter entirely. Lori has spent most of the last three years crafting dialogue for each of the dozens of actors at the University. Everyone has unique things to say that fill out the background of the school, provide important game hints, or are just for fun. Shawn’s roommate Aeolus loves to compose lyrics to music, but the melody is not always completely original – see how many popular songs you can recognize as his inspirations.

By the way, most of the dialogue changes every day, so don’t assume you can get to know people in a single conversation.

Rogues Meet in the Practice Room
Rogues Meet in the Practice Room

3-D Action

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 Similarities Between Hogwarts and Hero-U

  • Both are schools situated in ancient castles.
  • Wizards study their Gramarye there; magic is in the air.
  • Deadly terrors lurk beneath, and sometimes in, the schools.
  • Filch and Mr. Terk both think their schools would be better without any students.
  • Harry and Shawn find both staunch friends and malicious enemies at their schools.

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.

There is another big difference between the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios and the Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption game. Their development budget was over $500 million; ours is closer to $500 thousand (or $1 million counting deferred costs). As a result, Universal charges about $100 per visit. We let you visit Hero-U as often as you want for $30 or less. What a bargain!

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.

Snowy Rooftops in Summer at Hogsmeade Village
Snowy Rooftops in Summer at Hogsmeade Village

BackerKit Reminder

If you have moved, and whenever you move in the future, please update your mailing address on BackerKit. I would like to gradually fulfill physical goods orders as I have time available, and I become really sad when a package with $5 or $10 of postage is returned because we didn’t get a change of address.

You can reach any of your BackerKit projects by logging in at https://www.backerkit.com/master_backer_accounts/sign_in.

Interesting Kickstarter and Indiegogo Games

Buck (https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1441684765/buck-2d-post-apocalyptic-noir-action-adventure-gam) has potential. They have a demo available from the project page so you can check it out before backing.

Unity (https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/215931791/unity-tabletop-rpg) looks really nice and has some interesting concepts. This is a tabletop RPG, not a CRPG. If you like experimenting with new tabletop systems, consider giving this game book a try.

Herbert’s Quest (https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/herbert-s-quest-a-medieval-madness-adventure-game#/) is an interesting experiment – a game created in a week using only Unity Store assets. It’s by Oded Sharon, an Israeli game developer with whom we worked on the Bolt Riley game. You can pledge as little as $1 to get a copy of the game.

Zartana (https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/zartana-an-interactive-storybook-adventure#/) is a paper (book-based) interactive adventure game that looks gorgeous.

Indivisible (https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/indivisible-rpg-from-the-creators-of-skullgirls#/) looks impressive. It’s a high-budget Japanese-style RPG, already funded at almost $2 million, but looking for extra backers for their community and stretch goals.

SpaceVenture Update #110: Two Guys SpaceVenture – by the creators of Space Quest by Two Guys From Andromeda

It’s time for another SpaceVenture update! First off, let us start by saying, we know this is overdue. The time between the last update and this update have not been a waste though. One of the issues has been the fact that some serious design time needed to go into certain pieces of the last third of the game that had not been completed. As these things go, game mechanics that make perfect sense in our design document don’t always pan out the way as expected once we begin implementing them in the game, which means, it’s back to the drawing board. During this time, we didn’t have any new visuals to show. We do have visuals to show now though! The good news is, things are coming together nicely and we are still pushing hard for the November 30th release date which is in sight.


One of the pieces of the game that we wanted to show you first is actually from the middle part of the game, however, it was quite a tricky little puzzle scenario that kept getting back burnered until the last couple of months. The scene has changed an insane amount since the image that was shown way back in a previous update.

During your adventures at “Scraps Place” you will be given the task to repair something. You’ll have to operate the nano flea critters shown in the below video in order to achieve your goal. This is a fun little part of the game in which you’ll find each nano flea has a particular job role it can perform during the repair.




The title of this section pretty much says it all. This is a tiny bit spoilery, but I was sure not to divulge any of the puzzle here. As Ace, you’ll have to navigate your way through this creature’s internal plumbing all the while figuring out how to get out and what you might need along the way. Considering Ace’s profession, this should be a piece of cake, right?

NOTE: For some reason Kickstarter had an issue with embedding this video, so please click the below image to view the video on YouTube.


Officer Quicksilver is a character that has been in the works for awhile. Thanks to the brilliant work of artist Brent Forrest, Quicksilver is now on his feet and ready to be implemented into the game. This little video is a bit of a teaser and obviously the music is place holder. We’ve got something fun planned for Quicksilver’s theme song, lyrics and all!
Again, this video a teaser. We’ll have in game footage of Quicksilver for you in the future.



You all haven’t forgotten about the Space Dome from our original concept art pieces have you?

This video below is another small teaser of something that is in the works in which Ace will possibly find himself face to face with the Two Guys From Andromeda themselves as he takes a service call at “Dominian Estates”. Just to clarify, the SpaceDome you all saw in our playable concept art pieces is in the process of being revamped quite a bit. Once it’s in a showable state we’ll have that posted out here for you all to check out as well.




This scene is hot off the presses by Mark Crowe. We don’t have video to show of it yet, because it is still very much a work in progress. The mechanics aren’t rigged up, so we figured an image would do it more justice. Mark is not quite happy with it yet, but he wanted to give you all a sneak peak at it. Hopefully in the near future we’ll have some actual game play to look at. As mentioned, this is one of the very last scenes in the game so for the sake of not spoiling much, I won’t give anymore details of what is going on here.

From Mark Crowe:

“Oooh! Big glowy A.I. eyeball. Scary! Ok maybe not yet but trust me it will be… it WILL be. Bwahahaha! IN this WIP scene, Ace isn’t seeing eye-to-eye with an antagonist in the final showdown puzzle sequence. Sparks are gonna fly.”


If you haven’t heard, the Space Quest Historian podcast is back in action for season 3!
“Things come to a head between the Historian and the scourge of his laptop, CyberCedric. But despite Cedric gaining new powers, there’s still time to walk down memory lane with Jess Morrissette, get more crowdfunding tips from Serena Nelson, and listen to how Pete Toleman made it big in Communist Germany. Tonight’s special guest is Fabrice Breton of CowCat Games, creator of Demetrios: The BIG Cynical Adventure, who talks about being funny in a second language, and making first-person adventure games that are nothing like Myst.”
Our friend Oded Sharon and his company, Adventure Mob, have successfully completed Chapter 1 of their Reggae adventure game “Bolt Riley”. We are really excited for them and hope you will check the game out. Lori and Corey Cole(creators of the Quest For Glory series) even had a had in some of the design. It is well worth checking it out.



Thanks for all of your support everyone!

Chris Pope a.k.a your humble local intergalactic SpacePope

Hero-U Update #81: Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption

Each game in our Quest for Glory series took players into a new land with a unique society. We based these lands on real-world locations to give players a taste of different cultures. As he became more experienced, the Hero traveled from Western Europe to the Middle East, Africa, Eastern Europe, and finally to the Mediterranean.

Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption and the upcoming games in the Hero-U series all take place (or at least start) in the Hero University in Sardonia. The school is again on the Med Sea, but there is a strong influence from many different countries and cultures. While some of Shawn’s classmates are locals, others have traveled to Sardonia from all over the world – Yoruba, Arzmoor, Kriegsland, Mordavia, Marete, and many other lands.

Shawn meets Master Chef Ifetaya
Shawn meets Master Chef Ifetaya

Hero-U prides itself on its diversity. Students, faculty, and staff come from a wide variety of cultures and all walks of life. Nowhere is that diversity better reflected that in the University kitchen and dining hall. Each day Master Chef Ifetaya Kinah leads her staff and culinary students in preparing delicious meals from all around the world – Albion, Bellefrance, Nihon, and other exotic locations. Anyone who asks, “Since when is a Chef a type of Hero?” has never dined at Hero-U.

Our backers and team also reflect our quest for diversity and variety. I shipped packages to backers in over 30 countries, and I’m sure we have many more represented in our all-digital rewards backers. Our developers range from the Eastern and Western United States to Australia and New Zealand.

After the first two years, in which Lori was our sole female team member, the current team has equal numbers of men and women. We are unified in a few other ways – everyone on the team loves making and playing adventure games, and we’re all enormously excited about the way Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption is developing. We’re doing our best to live up to every promise we made about Hero-U during the Kickstarter campaigns – beautiful graphics, realistic character interactions, and meaningful choices throughout the game.

User Interface Survey

School Store User Interface
School Store User 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.

Project Status

Hero-U Reception Area
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.

Kickstarter Projects Ending Soon

Thanks to Unleasher for posting these projects to the Hero-U game forum. Visit the forum at http://www.hero-u.net/forum/index.php to keep up with game discussions and join them. Also check out the main page at http://www.hero-u.com for Lori’s game design updates (when she can find a few hours away from writing dialogue).

Masquerada: Songs and Shadows (https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/13978330/masquerada-songs-and-shadows) is a “pause for tactics” RPG. It needs about $7,000 more to reach its $65,000 goal within the next 3 days.

Chronicle of Ruin (https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/954260789/chronicle-of-ruin) is a real-time tactical Japanese-style RPG. It’s at $6,000 of a $36,000 goal and has 16 days to go.

Masquerada: Songs and Shadows
Masquerada: Songs and Shadows

Thanks for reading! Invite your friends to help support Hero-U by pre-ordering the game at https://hero-u-adventure-role-playing-game.backerkit.com/hosted_preorders.

Hero-U Update #80: Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption

Three years and three months ago, Lori and I set out to make a modest computer role-playing game with some adventure-game-like story. I thought we could get it done in a year with one or two programmers and a few artists.

Thanks to changes in circumstances and team members, plus strong encouragement from our backers and maybe some masochism on our part, Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption has grown into a full-blown adventure role-playing game in the Quest for Glory vein. If you check out the game credits (http://www.mobygames.com/game-group/quest-for-glory-series) for those games, you’ll see why that’s a really ambitious goal for a crowdfunded indie game without a publisher or development studio.

Actually, the main challenge has been working with mainly part-time developers. Lori and I are full-time, but split between design, writing, and administration. Our mainstay artist, John Paul Selwood, has also worked close to full-time. Everyone else is putting in a few hours a week working around their day jobs.

Kalkulating Kwirk
Kalkulating Kwirk

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.

Hero-U By the Numbers

I love statistics, so let me share a few with you. Rogue to Redemption is huge, and more complex than any of our previous games.

  • Art assets and test builds in Dropbox: 5,344 files in 617 folders for 17.7 GB
  • Unity and Composer game files: 33,275 files in 1,957 folders for 4.8 GB
  • Backer Paintings, Statues, Ghosts, and Wanted Posters: 40+10+20+20 = 90
  • Number of game scenes: 68
  • Game days with unique events: 50
  • Number of characters and monster types: 74
  • Number of interactable objects (“props”): 1,200
  • Number of scripts written so far: 815, with about that many still to come

Why so many props and scripts? 68 scenes was about the number in a Sierra game, say Quest for Glory II or IV. But each scene in those games was 320×200 pixels covering one screen. Step out into the courtyard of Hero-U and you will get to get to explore the equivalent of 10 or 20 such screens. There might have been five such objects in a typical Quest for Glory scene vs. 20 or more in each Hero-U scene.

Then there are the character interactions. These typically change on most game days and in each location – Aeolus has different things to say at night in the dorm than in the evening in the recreation room. It is impossible to see all of the dialogue in one play-through; you’ll probably get to half of it after four or five games if you take care to say something different every time. Lori is writing a monster here with a little scripting advice from me.

Shawn Applies His Charm Skill in the Dining Hall
Shawn Applies His Charm Skill in the Dining Hall

Naming the New Team Members

I spend most of my time wrangling team members and funds, but I’ve also been helping Lori with the game design, writing updates, and crafting game text. That took more hours than I have each week, so we reached out to Sierra veteran Josh Mandel to write many of the text interaction messages.

Josh got his start playtesting Infocom and Sierra adventure games, then got a job as a tech writer for Sierra. Ken Williams “discovered” Josh and gave him the chance of doing game writing and design. Josh wrote for Jones in the Fast Lane, The Dagger of Amon Ra, Freddy Pharkas: Frontier Pharmacist, Space Quest 6: Roger Wilco in the Spinal Frontier, and lots of other games. Most recently he worked with Al Lowe on the recent Leisure Suit Larry: Reloaded game.

Josh also contributed game text to one of our non-Sierra projects, Shannara. We’re very excited to have him back on our team, this time writing many of the “incidental” messages for Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption. The game will be much richer and funnier with his additions.

We’ve had a number of challenges on the programming side of this project. Some programmers needed higher pay than we could fit into our budget. Others left for full-time development opportunities.

We stabilized on our current all-star team of Joshua Smyth, Cidney Hamilton, and Robert Kety early last year, but they are only able to work part-time due to other jobs and health issues. We really needed to add a full-time developer to the team.

We’re now delighted to introduce Carolyn VanEseltine as our new programmer and design contributor. Carolyn plans to apply her strong design sense, interactive fiction background, and Unity 3D experience to helping make Hero-U great. Here’s a little about her background in Carolyn’s words:

I started my game development career in 2002 on the Simutronics flagship game GemStone IV. Since then, I’ve held a wide variety of industry roles – programming, design, writing, production, and more – and I’ve worked on everything from Harmonix’s Rock Band and Dance Central franchises to the indie game Revolution 60, as described in my resume. I’m also well-known in modern interactive fiction, both for writing award-winning IF games and for my craft and technique blog, Sibyl Moon.

Rogue Motivational Poster
Rogue Motivational Poster

We still can’t promise a specific release date, but Lori and I have committed to shipping Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption this year. Our best guess – and it is just a guess – is late October or early November. We’ve made enormous progress in the last few months, especially in the areas of art and animation. Lori continues to work hard on scripting the game dialogue and character interactions.

With the additions of Josh and Carolyn, we have all the resources we need to reach the finish line with a game that will make us proud and our backers very happy. We hope the Hero-U series will be a worthy successor to our Quest for Glory games.

Thank you, everyone, for your awesome patience and support as we fight against the mighty challenges of indie game development. This project has turned into far more than we originally hoped, and we look forward to sharing it will all of you and many other gamers.

Worthy Kickstarter Adventure Projects in Progress

A Place for the Unwilling
A Place for the Unwilling

A Place for the Unwilling (https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/mispgames/a-place-for-the-unwilling) just hit 500 backers. It’s a “sandbox adventure game” in which you will try to uncover and solve some of the mysteries of your city.

Lancelot's Hangover
Lancelot’s Hangover

Lancelot’s Hangover (https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1295580533/lancelots-hangover-the-quest-for-the-holy-booze) is a quirky and funny adventure game inspired by Monty Python and Secret of Monkey Island. Hangover looks very strange, potentially hilarious, and a game our more warped fans (that’s all of you, right?) could love.

Don’t forget to visit www.hero-u.com for more information, forums, and other Hero-U goodies.

Follow our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/TheSchoolForHeroes/.

SpaceVenture Update #109: Two Guys SpaceVenture – by the creators of Space Quest by Two Guys From Andromeda

Hey gang, I’m really excited to push out this update to you guys! We’ve got some really cool content to show you below. First off, I wanted to start by telling you that we are still on track for our November 30th release date! We are pushing extremely hard to get the game done by then. So far, we are holding to it and are pushing through as fast as we can.

Let’s look at some new content!


What you’ll be seeing in this video is a demonstration of Ace walking from the Scrapyard with Rooter and onto his newly restored ship. The ship has a graphical navigation system that allows you to set coordinates for places throughout the galaxy you would like to go.

Note that not everything in the video is polished, for example you’ll notice Ace is not currently appearing in the cockpit when looking at his ship from the outside.




One of the big items we wanted to show case for you all during this update is our SpaceVenture ship navigation system. Throughout your adventure in the SpaceVenture universe, you’ll be spending some quality time behind Ace’s sweet newly built ride, which just so happens to be put together by you, the player.

Let me clarify, this is a huge chunk of progress for the game, as you’ll be using this system to jump between long distant locations throughout the galaxy. The navigation system has been something that has been on the table since the beginning, and has been hanging over our head this whole time. We are so proud to say that it’s come together beautifully. We think you’re gonna find this sequence a lot of fun and there is gonna be some hilarious content for you to experience while exploring it.

I put together a developer diary entry over at SVRewards.com for our $30 and up backers to check out. This diary entry shows some of the original concept ideas behind our navigation system. Note that all backers will have access to the diary entries once the game is shipped, as per our original Kickstarter rewards plans.

You can check out the diary entry by going HERE and logging on. If you are a $30 and up backer and can’t log on, please do not message us here or post in the comments. Please email pcj@andromedanpost.com

Here is a video demonstrating what I mentioned above:

https://youtu.be/QNlLgx2QIog ____________________________________________________________________________


Tatoorakis is a place you’ll be exploring in the final third portion of the game. It features beautiful desert scene artwork and will marry a couple of the most epic Sci-Fi franchises together all to make one unforgettable sun blistering, sand chafing, Hydrolating, sand worming adventure!

One of the characters that is still in the works for this section of the game is a character named “Goren Lardz”. Goren is a hydro-farmer who commissions Ace to repair one of his Hydrolator units down on Tatoorakis.

Check out this below video showcasing some of the gameplay currently being worked on within the Tatoorakis sequence of the game. Keep in mind this is all still in development.

https://youtu.be/M_3RCSUgwcM ____________________________________________________________________________


SpaceVenture will feature an in game App store(parody) that Ace can go to in order to get a couple of different apps that will help him solve certain puzzle elements in the game. We are holding a small contest that everyone can submit ideas/artwork for, and possibly get your contributions added to the game and your name in the credits!

Here is a look at our app store as it is right now:

You all most likely have smartphones or tablets, so you can probably think about some of the things that have made you laugh(or cry) in dealing with those app stores over the years. We would love to use(steal) your ideas!

To enter the contest, you’ll need the following:

  • A funny app name
  • A description for your app
  • A square logo(512×512 minimum)
  • (Optional) A couple of fake reviews of the app
What do you win if your idea gets selected?
  • Your idea/artwork gets used in the game
  • Your name in the credits of the game
  • You will be the envy of everyone in the Andromedan galaxy
Where do you submit your contest entry?
Visit this page and submit your entry to that thread. We also ask you to post about it on twitter and/or Facebook. Tag us in the post, and we’ll Like/Favorite it! We don’t have a set contest deadline just yet, but don’t wait too long!


We are pleased to announce that our company, Guys From Andromeda LLC has officially taken over SpaceQuest.Net. I would like to start by paying homage to the man who made all this possible, Frans van Hofwegen.

Being a huge fan of the Space Quest series, Frans started SpaceQuest.Net in 1998 as a teenager. Incorporating the wealth of details collected by Troels Pleimert in his SQFAQ, Frans expanded his site until it was the definitive source for information on all things Space Quest. Over the years loads of friendships have formed on the very website that Frans put together all those years ago.

In 2012 Frans graciously allowed SQN to be re-designed in order to be the official Guys From Andromeda LLC community forums. This was also in cooperation with the very awesome Jess Morrissette, who allowed his site The Virtual Broomcloset to be merged with SQN.

Making some changes in his life, Frans has recently decided to pass the torch on to us. He did require something of us that we agreed to. He requested SpaceQuest.Net be returned to its classic look. This means that when you visit the website, the homepage will look like it did in years past. You will, however, be able to switch to the newer look shortly after hitting the homepage of the site. These changes will be happening in the next few weeks.

Lastly, we wanted to say that we really are very appreciative to Frans for passing control over to our company. We know this was not an easy decision for him.


We wanted to put a feeler out there. We’ve been talking about who we wanted as our narrator for SpaceVenture since the unfortunate fact that the legendary Gary Owen’s has passed away. The question I have for you guys is this. How do you feel about us finding a Gary Owens voice match? In other words, this would be an actor that can match Gary Owens as closely as possible.

We know no one can truly replace the man with the golden pipes, but there are people out there that can match him pretty closely. So what are your thoughts? Would you guys like a voice match for SpaceVenture, or someone else with another unique voice? We’ve got some people in mind that could do that as well.

We would prefer you not post about this in the Kickstarter comments. We would love to keep the conversations over at SQN. Please use the below link:



Just to clarify, we completed work on the Cluck Yegger mini game a couple of months back and the team is 100% focused on completing SpaceVenture. We hope you enjoyed checking it out. We did successfully get the game out on Steam with Windows, Linux, and Macintosh support. As well as iOS iPod, iPhone, and iPad support in the Apple app store. All the moneys made from the game have gone towards finishing up SpaceVenture. We do still have plans to put it out on Android eventually, but that will most likely occur once SpaceVenture is completed.

If you did check out the game on Steam or iOS, we would absolutely love it if you would give us a rating on those App stores. That really helps in advertisement of the game.

We’ve really enjoyed the loads of playthroughs that people have made on YouTube. And we really appreciate all the videos people have posted, from our backers who have taken the time to put out playthroughs, all the way up to people like our friend KuplinovT, who is a Russian youtuber that brought in around 201,000+ views.

The award for funniest playthrough goes to a YouTuber named, “POiisED”. Netting around 51,000+ views, POiisED had us all rolling at his little girl screams as the mutant Chickens moved around him. The fun begins at about 5:30 in just as a heads up.

You can check out his video here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q4KS3BD9wGU ____________________________________________________________________________THE RETURN OF THE SPACE QUEST HISTORIAN PODCAST

And finally, we are excited to announce that the Space Quest Historian podcast will be returning. You can listen to previous seasons of the podcast over at http://spacequesthistorian.com/about/

The podcast features interviews, tons of commentary on the Space Quest series, and not to mention some extra insight into the goings on with SpaceVenture. We will announce the exact return date as soon as we can, so be on the lookout for that.

Hero-U Project Update #79: Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption

The Hero-U team wishes all of our backers, friends, and fans a very merry Christmas, a happy new year, and a fabulous Winter.

We hope you’re all having a wonderful holiday season leading into a fantastic 2016. Lori and I always have fun this time of year trimming the tree, singing carols, welcoming guests, feasting, and even doing a little shopping.

One of our stretch goals in this year’s Kickstarter was “more and improved music and sound effects”. As our Holiday gift for all of you, here is a video of the Budapest Scoring Orchestra doing a live performance of the Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption theme (composed and arranged for orchestra by Ryan Grogan). We’re very excited to have live orchestral music in the game.



More Presents Underneath the Internet Tree

We’ve made great progress in resolving unanswered BackerKit surveys. I spent most of last week going from 800 unanswered surveys to fewer than 100. As a result, we will soon start uploading digital backer rewards to your personal BackerKit pages. These will include:

  • Hero-U screensaver / wallpaper for all backers
  • Fantasy travel posters for backers who ordered them
  • Hero-U Concept Art for backers who ordered them

You can find your BackerKit page and rewards at https://hero-u-adventure-role-playing-game.backerkit.com/.

Fulfilling Quest for Glory keys on gog.com is proving challenging because the way we set up our BackerKit does not distinguish between new orders and the ones we’ve already fulfilled. Chris and I are working to resolve this and email the new keys as soon as we can.

As for those last 100 backers, please respond quickly if you get an email from Chris Fong, Hero-U Support, or myself so that we can make sure you get the rewards you want. If you have any questions or problems, you can use the BackerKit help button or send email to us at support (at) hero-u (dot) com. Chris and I both read support requests and handle them as quickly as possible.

If you’re looking for last-minute presents, Lori has designed some Hero-U Christmas ornaments and other fun gifts that you can order on our Cafe Press page – http://www.cafepress.com/herouniversitystore. If you’re like us and keep the house decorated half the year, there’s still plenty of time to order something nice!

Team Changes 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.

Finally, it wouldn’t be Christmas without a Christmas Card, so here’s one JP Selwood created for all of you:

Happy Holidays from www.hero-u.com
Happy Holidays from www.hero-u.com

SpaceVenture Update #108: Two Guys SpaceVenture – by the creators of Space Quest by Two Guys From Andromeda

Hey everyone! This is just a very short update to let you all know that we have issued Steam keys for Cluck Yegger in Escape From The Planet of the Poultroid.

To keep the tech support down to a minimal, please read all of this post before heading over to get your Steam key.

The keys are issued to all $15 and up backers just as a reminder. To get access to your key, just log onto http://svrewards.com and click the rewards tab at the top.

If you can’t remember your password, you should be able to reset your password from the website. If you have any other problems logging in, you should forward your “Thanks to you, Two Guys SpaceVenture” funded e-mail from Kickstarter to pcj@andromedanpost.com. If you were a PayPal backers, just forward your PayPal paid receipt to that same email address.

Please do not post issues with the website on our Kickstarter page. Again, any issues with the SV Rewards website should be directed to the above email address.


We are still talking with quite a few online game store outlets and have gotten a lot of interest. Currently the game is only available through Steam and Itch.io.

Even though GOG is very interested in the actual SpaceVenture game when it is released, unfortunately the Cluck Yegger mini game will not be available through them.


If you’d like to help us, please spread the word to folks that they can buy the game right now for $2.99 here at http://cluckyegger.com (Our Steam Store) Another way you can help is that once you have your copy, and if you enjoy the game, please leave a review on our Steam Store page. Reviews on Steam make a major difference on whether or not Valve helps advertise the game to players in the store.

Lastly, we are giving out Steam keys to press and youtubers that might be able to help spread the word about the game. Feel free to help us poke at some of those folks about play testing the game, we’ll gladly provide them with access.

As mentioned, 100% of the proceeds from the Cluck Yegger mini game will go towards speeding up the process of finishing SpaceVenture.


We just completed work on the iOS version(release announcement in the near future) of the Cluck Yegger game and are moving full throttle into finishing SpaceVenture. I may personally spend a little time working on the Android version of the game, but my time will also be focused on getting SpaceVenture complete. We originally hoped to get the game out on iOS and Android at the same time, but we’ve had to prioritize.

Thanks for all of your support everyone!

Chris Pope a.k.a your humble local intergalactic SpacePope