We’re also reworking our web site. The front page has links to Steam, GOG, our Facebook page, and so on: http://www.hero-u.com/.
About Those Steam and GOG Keys
Between launch issues and trying to make sure backers got game keys as soon as possible, I managed to create some confusion. Here’s the skinny:
I decided to provide a Steam key to EVERY backer.
All Alpha and Beta level backers have both Steam and GOG keys.
Other backers who requested a GOG key will get one soon.
“Beta-Only” – that’s actually your live Steam key
“Steam Beta Key” – that’s also your live Steam key
The confusing names hearken back to the beta test. Everyone who got a Steam beta key then has been updated to have the live version of the game now.
The Next Game Patch
Even before we launched the game, we were thinking about changes we want to make that we couldn’t safely include in the launch. There are some errors in the game books, a few dialogues and game events that could use tweaking, and at least one known “game-locking” bug.
(If you see a plaque labeled “Pyoter,” it’s best not to click on it. There was a bad line of code that freezes the game.) We will also keep a close eye on player reports and feedback over the next few months.
We will probably release a patch with these and other minor fixes in about a month, after which patches should be rare.
Incidentally, several players with Ultra High Definition monitors have reported serious animation issues in the game. This is a general Unity issue that we’ve also seen reported for other games. The solution – set your monitor refresh rate to 60 Hz. That seems to fix the problem.
Physical Goods and Future Games
We still have some work to do on the Art Book, Bestiary, Soundtrack, Yearbook, and boxed copies of Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption. We expect to ship posters next month, new digital assets as they become ready, and boxed games in late October or early November.
We’ve started concept and art design on not one, but two, upcoming games. One is a smaller casual game we’re calling Summer Daze at Hero-U. The other is of course the second series game, Hero-U: Wizard’s Way. We’re committed to creating innovative, enjoyable games.
Mickey Rooney was famous (yes, before even *my* time) for starring in a series of movies in which the answer to every problem was, “Let’s put on a show!”
As we approach the live release of Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption, it’s time for us to switch hats from developers to marketers. In other words, we need to put on a show! We’re contacting press and influencers, creating “trailers”, and gathering screenshots and clips of game play to show off to the press and new players.
Once we launch the game in just a few weeks, we hope many of you will enjoy it enough to become “part of the show” by posting about your personal experience and reaction to the game on social media.
New Build for Beta Testers
Earlier today, we updated Steam with a new build of the game. This is intended to be very close to the final version. The opening cinematic will get new music and some lighting changes. We have a few bug fixes to make this week, but we consider Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption to be a finished game at this point.
“Finished” is of course a relative term in this digital online age. We expect that we will continue to fix problems and make small improvements to the game over the next several months based on feedback from players. At the same time, we’ll be very busy starting work on the next games and supporting Rogue to Redemption.
How close are we?
We’re trying for a July 9 release, but I think July 16 is equally likely. We will do a “code freeze” on June 30, test for a couple of days, then release it to Beta testers. If that survives a full week without serious problems, we’ll release on July 9. If not, we’ll do a new build and push the release date back a week.
Public release is waiting on three non-game things – finalizing the opening cinematic and finishing the game manual and the student handbook. When we complete those and add them to Steam, Steam will automatically update everyone to the new version.
What about gog.com and the Humble store? We’ll add those later. I’m currently working with gog.com on a license agreement and their requirements for adding Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption to their site. I have an existing agreement with Humble Bundle, but will need to set up new widgets and a download page for their system.
Our trip to Europe was fun and hopefully useful. We visited super backer “The Gardener – Protector of the Forest Lands” in Germany, then showed Rogue to Redemption for the first time at the Casual Connect conference in London.
The conference was held in the Queen Elizabeth II center in the historic and beautiful Winchester district of London across the street from the historic Winchester Cathedral, and a block away from Trafalgar Square and other important and impressive sites (and sights).
Leisure Suit Larry: In The Land of the Lounge Lizards was initially released in 1987 by SIERRA ONLINE, INC.
Beginning the game on the streets of Lost Wages, Larry Laffer has come here for one reason – and one reason alone. To finally get “Laid.”
Being 40 years old and living with his mother all of his life, Larry has led a very sheltered life; and is now looking to live it up some!
So now, it’s up to you to help Larry Laffer fulfill that one desire to finally feel the touch of a woman and be satisfied! Along the way you will encounter an assortment of women, who for the most part, will only live to further complicate and belittle our lovable hero, Larry Laffer.
One of the developers has taken to Twitter to speak more about the upcoming game. Admittedly, what he’s said has put me at ease – and I am hopeful for the game. Although it won’t have Big Al (which has historically proven to be a bad thing – sorry for those of you who enjoyed MCL or BOB), they do seem to be genuinely caring about the Leisure Suit Larry game and how it will be perceived. Here’s some things Maurice had to say:
Admittedly it is indeed tough. And pleasing those who feel positively nostalgic and those who are uber critical and luckily progressive enough to fear the worst is something we are losing our sleep over. But we really are not just doing it for the lulz yet we hope to make you lol
Larry will still be an out of time sexist, but the world will react to that now. This is not Social Justice Suit Larry, BUT there are topics that are fun to explore with a character that is out of time. We have a lot of rules for what we can’t do, but what has been done before.
It’s not our first rodeo so we will suck it up and will push forward. We hope to entertain as many people as possible. Everyone who works on the game has grown up with Larry games and is an adventure lover. Fun fact: I dressed up as Larry for a costume party in the 7th grade.
NOTE: Maurice (who is working on this game) took to Twitter and shared some thoughts, and put my mind to ease. See that over here.
Original article follows:
So there’s a new Leisure Suit Larry game in the works by German based company, Assemble Entertainment being developed by the folks at Crazy Bunch. The title is Wet Dreams Don’t Dry. The initial concern was that it looked to be another remake, because one of the early screens appeared to be Lost Wages, which we’ve already seen in the original EGA version, later remade by Sierra in VGA, and then most recently remade yet again a few years ago with modern graphics (and adjusted puzzles and a new female).
Here’s some of the screen shots also shared on Steam:
Certainly looks like, from the screenshots, they’re going for the Adventure Game feel that Leisure Suit Larry was known for under the helm of Al Lowe, and not the type of game we saw (and suffered through) with MCL and BOB, which is – by appearance a good sign.
Will they be able to capture the personality and feel that Al Lowe developed for our beloved Larry Laffer?
The time has come! Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption is completely playable and ready to enter Beta testing. Alpha testing was challenging, but wonderful – we have never previously had the time and opportunity to find and fix the rough spots in the game. Beta testing will help us add the final polish that will make Hero-U a great game.
What does this mean for the release date? Most likely that will happen 6-8 weeks from now, which puts it in June 2018. That will give us time to fix problems found in Beta, finish the opening cinematic, reach out to reviewers and influencers, and do final polish on the game.
In fact, we’re going to show off the game “in public” for the first time at Casual Connect London at the end of May. If you’ll be at the show, please stop by our space and say hello. Hero-U is an Indie Prize finalist, so we’ll be showing it in the Indie Prize Showcase area.
As for influencers, you are our first and most important. Once you get a chance to play Hero-U, please share your experience with your friends and on social media. There are so many games being made these days that discovering great new games can be very challenging. You’ll be doing us and your friends a favor by letting them know which games are worth playing. We hope that Hero-U will place high on your list.
Checking Out the Beta
If your pledge included Beta Test privileges, keep an eye on your email for a message from BackerKit.
We intend to make Rogue to Redemption available on other sites including gog.com and Humble, but for Beta testing we are only using Steam for simplicity.
While we warned Alpha testers that they would be experiencing a rough and incomplete game, I don’t think we need to do that for potential Beta testers. At this point, the game is complete, and we think it’s a lot of fun. Hero-U is a cross between a Quest for Glory style adventure role-playing game and an epic interactive novel.
An Epic Experience
The latest word count puts us right up with Gone WIth the Wind, although you will only see a fraction of the text during each play-through. We hope you will come back to the game multiple times to catch more of the dialogue and try out different play styles. Shawn can be intelligent, charming, or snarky.
Shawn can work out in the practice room and take on every monster, or he can avoid almost all of the combats by using stealth and subtlety. In fact, there’s a Steam Achievement waiting for everyone who completes the game without killing any monsters. That will be one of the most challenging of the game’s achievements.
Here’s a bit of silliness we might or might not fit into the Student Handbook:
Better Than Bard
So you’ve been told you’re a “Disbarred Bard”. What does that even mean? Are you a failure, someone defined only by what you’re not? Have you been placed in a remedial class because the Headmaster feels sorry for you?
Far from it! The Disbarred Bards of Hero-U are some of the most promising potential Heroes in the University. Each one of you has enormous potential to rise above the common crowd. But there are as many ways to achieve that potential as there are Disbarred Bards at Hero-U.
It’s up to you (and -U) to decide just what kind of Bard you will be. Will you ride the waves and reach for the High Seas? Will you seek to solve uncertainty and become the next Shawn von Neumann? Steal everyone’s heart as you emulate Shawn Juan? Cure their ills like Dr. Shawnas Salk? Be a Ninja Warrior Bard? Or keep it all to yourself as you look out for number Shawn?
The choices are endless, and it’s all up to you what you take from Hero-U. Let’s look at a few of them:
Riding the High Seas
Caligari has long been renowned for its sailors and seafarers, some more opportunistic than others. The Disbarred Bard curriculum at Hero-U can teach you many of the skills you will need for a seafaring life. You could become the next Shawn Paul Jones or Blackbard!
Make sure you practice your climbing and rope mastery every day. That will help you become more agile as well. Practice combat and defense because you never know when some scurvy scalawag will strive to steal your ship.
(more in the Hero-U Student Handbook… if we decide to use it)
A Shared Journey
Thank you all for your part in helping make Hero-U a reality. When we started down this winding road fifteen years ago with the How To Be A Hero book and website, we had no idea it would lead to us making our most ambitious game project. Even as we finish Rogue to Redemption, we’re looking forward to raising the ante again in every game of the Hero-U series. Every step of the way will be an adventure, and we hope you’ll be there with us!
We’re never truly done here! We’ve added (so far only Leisure Suit Larry 1 EGA) – Characters, Inventory and Credits. We will also be adding Locations. We will be trying to do this for all of the Leisure Suit Larry Games (I, II, III, V, VI and VII). We will also be doing some generic screen shots from each game.
Also, found this in one of our drawers… wonder where the other two disks are…
Hey everyone! We know this is another long awaited update, but we were holding off because we were hoping to be able to confirm a few things, such as our upcoming voice over recording session with our voice actors along with when we plan to let you all beta test. Alas, we are not quite 100% on those dates yet, but hopefully soon. Rest assured, once I have got those dates for you, we’ll do another update and have it out there in the open.
The good news is, we are almost there! Believe it or not, we are on the road for finishing this game up, and when it’s released, it will be done right with all the correct amount of tender love and care(not to mention blood, sweat, and tears) it deserves!
As mentioned in a previous update, one of the last remaining areas of the game, has you visiting an interstellar fan convention known as “Andromecon”. This is a beautifully created sequence in the game that features all kinds of creatures dressed up as their favorite characters from all sorts of movies and video games, a lot of which, as an earthling, you’ll hopefully recognize.
Below is a screenshot of Rooter hanging around the convention floor while Centari Corporations baby man CEO Milo Forbin discusses the companies latest creation, the “Facebox”.
We also wanted to show you all some video footage of this scene taking place in action. In this video you will see Rooter navigating part of the Andromecon convention floor. Keep a close eye for some fun SciFi pop culture references milling about. There is quite a few in there! You’ll also notice another SpaceVenture character that we have showed in the past.. Office Quicksilver!
I thought you guys would enjoy hearing from Mark on some of his design choices for creating the Andromecon sequence.
Heres a peek behind the scenes of a short animated sequence I needed in the game.
In our story, Centari Corp produces a VR game console called the ‘Facebox’. From the beginning, the concept for this Facebox appliance was to have a sleek appearance but with something sinister about it under the hood. To reinforce the sinister aspect, we wanted to show Faceboxes being mass produced on an assembly line. The point was to reveal their menacing skeletal innards being encased in a more user-friendly outer shell. The video reveals a little bit of how the effect was achieved.
We used 2D pre-rendered artwork (as with the rest of the game) but mapped it onto simple 2.5D shapes to enhance the illusion of depth. I wanted the outer shell to look like it was actually being 3D printed over the skeleton. To achieve that effect we used a nifty ‘invisible mask’ shader on a flat quad that hides the 3D shell mesh from the camera. But as we animate the invisible mask shape downward, it exposes the shell mesh as it passes through it. Hopefully what I’m trying to describe is more clear in the video.
https://youtu.be/GoHMVfAwbWsI really had a good time putting this little sequence together for the game and just figuring out how to make it work was a fun challenge. Kinda like solving an adventure game puzzle. 🙂
As an added treat, here is some early concepts from artist Brent Forest (and yours truly) showing the evolution of the Facebox appliance.
My initial concept
Brents awesome sketches. Very disturbing. Brent captured the menace perfectly. But who in their right mind would wilfully strap one those to their face, right? So we dialed it back. But then reintroduced the alien-like menace by showing the inner workings of the Facebox in the assembly line sequence.
Image from a April fools Press release we did in 2016
What would you do if you had all the time in the world?
At first, it would seem incredible, a boon that allows you to do everything you want to do.
But then, once you have accomplished all of your dreams, what will you do with the rest of that time? Where will you find challenge and excitement once you’ve had it all and done it all?
This is especially true for an impatient young Rogue such as Shawn O’Conner. Shawn has the run of the Hero-U castle (as long as he doesn’t get caught after curfew). He can check out the wine cellars, Sea Caves, catacombs, and dungeon. He can work out in the practice area, practice with locks and traps, play games with other students, or visit the library. There is definitely a lot to do.
But without time constraints, the choices go away. Shawn would try to do everything every day, and might find himself in a rut.
Using Time Wisely
Fortunately, time is a precious commodity at Hero-U. Even a Rogue needs to sleep sometime, and there is far more to do than anyone can reasonably manage in one semester.
Time is one of the major “economies” in Hero-U. Players constantly need to decide how Shawn should spend his all-too-limited time. Shawn can focus on social relationships, improve his skills, earn money, take elective classes, or uncover mysteries in the school and dungeons. There certainly won’t be enough time to get bored.
Every game action except for “look” takes time. Conversations take several minutes. Practicing a Rogue or a combat skill takes anywhere from a few minutes to an hour. Class sessions take hours. As you guide Shawn through Hero-U, you will find yourself watching the clock and thinking, “Do I have time for one more practice round? Or do I need to run to the library before it closes?”
As a Hero-U player, you will constantly have to make choices. You can’t do everything every day. That applies to conversations too – you need to choose what Shawn will say, then live with the results. Expect some frustration if you’re a completionist.
None of this is accidental. We want Hero-U to be compelling, and that includes forcing players to make choices. We also want the game to be replayable, so it’s fine if you miss out on some of the dialogue, or one of the classes, or even delving the dungeons. There are many different ways to play the game. We hope you will find Hero-U involving enough to try them all.
Taking the Time to Get It Right
In a way, time has been our greatest issue while developing Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption. Shawn’s “semester” at Hero-U consists of 50 game days, each with unique events and conversations. This is what we – and Lori in particular – have been doing over the last five years. She has been writing and crafting all of those events and keeping them from “stepping on each other.”
During the last year, we’ve found many places where the scripts are almost, but not quite, right. Every possible dialogue, each option for picking a lock or disarming a trap, has needed careful testing to make sure they work as intended. We’re getting there, but every day we still find minor (and occasionally) bigger mistakes somewhere in the game. We want to fix as many of them as we possibly can before releasing the game to a wider audience.
By now you might be asking, “What time is it at Hero-U headquarters? When will the game reach Beta, and when will you release it to the world?”
Last time I told you we are “so close we can taste it,” and I estimated a release date between April 15 and May 15. As we haven’t yet declared Hero-U to be Beta-ready, clearly we’re pushing the end of that range, and we could even slip a few more weeks depending on what happens during Beta. I expect to start the Beta process in 1-2 weeks.
If you backed at a Beta tester level, watch your email for a message from BackerKit with instructions on accessing the Beta test on Steam. We have all three versions – Windows, Mac, and Linux – available, but are only using Steam during the testing phases. We’ll add other ways to get your game when we “go live.”
Alpha, Beta, Soup?
Game industry use of the terms “Alpha” and “Beta” isn’t consistent. For us, we’ll be ready for Beta when the game is completely playable, all essential features are in place, and it has no known game-stopping issues such as crashing or freezing. I am also trying to make sure it is as free as possible of “uncaught exceptions”; these might not freeze the game, but they are often signs of deeper problems in the game.
The main missing features at this point are Achievements (which we will turn into Steam Achievements) and the game manual. I’m working on both of those currently. Also missing are credits for both developers and backers, and the opening cinematic. Other than those, the game is complete, but not yet ready for release. We are still tuning combat, making sure all combat items work as intended, and adding additional sound effects. We’ll continue to do all of that during Beta testing.
Lori and I are so excited that we will finally be able to put our game in your hands “really soon now.” Every week we get closer to the day we can say, “Ship it!” That was always Ken Williams’ favorite part of making a game at Sierra, and soon it will be ours.
Of course, then our real work – or the next stage of it – begins again with promotion, fulfillment, the Art Book, Bestiary, and planning Hero-U: Wizard’s Way. This will be quite a journey!