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.
Of course we can rarely fit all of those into one update. As it is, each update takes up at least a full day of my time along with a week or two of agonizing about what I’m writing. I keep hoping that, if I write enough articles and essays, they’ll become easier. That hasn’t happened yet.
Last month we received more comments than on any previous Update, largely due to three paragraphs talking about sexism, hate, and harassment in gaming. I’m gratified by the responses, both those in support and those questioning my viewpoint.
Since posting that Update, I have read more news about death threats and other hateful letters to developers (Brianna Wu recently and Robert Bowling in 2012). This has to stop. Apparently hard work and even moderate success are crimes to some people.
Lori and I are very grateful that we have never had to deal with that. Still, it is difficult to write anything, knowing that any misplaced (or misinterpreted) word can lead to a firestorm of anger and even hatred.
Witch Way Did They Go?
This is our favorite time of year. The weather has cooled off, leaves change color, and Halloween will be here soon. We love looking at kids in costume, breaking our low-carb diet to eat too much candy, carving jack-o-lanterns, and decorating the house even though we rarely have visitors. I’m a big fan of pumpkin pie and pumpkin spice lattés.
Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption has a nod to Halloween and the Central American “Day of the Dead” celebrations in our “Noctes de Mortuis” or “Nights of the Dead”. This is the time when the wall between the natural world and the land of the dead becomes thin. Ghosts inhabit the castle, and with the proper ritual, the living can communicate with them.
Besides being cool, the Noctes allow the player to get more information about the other students and some of the past events at the castle. Hero-U is a mystery story, and players need clues to solve the mysteries. There are some major surprises in store if Shawn pays attention to the dead.
Paladin Memorial Sketch
How to Succeed While Really Trying
What is success? It might be easier to define the opposite – What is failure?
The easiest way to fail is never to try. The person who is afraid to risk failure is one who will never have success.
Have I failed? Oh yes, over and over again. You can’t write computer code without failing repeatedly. You can’t write a novel or screenplay without throwing away multiple drafts that didn’t work out. The average successful entrepreneur has failed at least three times at previous businesses before succeeding once. I fail at multiple things every day. Without failure, there is no possibility of success.
I can’t even write an update or blog article without agonizing over it for days, weeks, or longer. It might only take a few hours to actually write the blog, but it takes a huge mind share and time to come up with ideas that I think others will want to read. I’m pretty good at failure because I’ve had a lot of practice at it. See my 2009 blog article on “SSECCUS” for some examples – http://www.theschoolforheroes.
There has been a disturbing trend lately of people complaining loudly about game developers that they do not “deserve” their success. I have never seen a successful person make a remark like that. We all know that, whether or not we like a particular game, every developer has put untold sweat, tears, and months or years of work into that game. If they get a spotlight as a result, that’s awesome!
With all that said, have Lori and I “failed” at making Hero-U? Heck, no! We haven’t “succeeded” yet, but we’re making great progress towards success. The background art and character design, in particular, are far beyond our original plan. As long as we keep working on the game, we are on the path to success.
Paladin Memorial Concept Painting
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.
Paladin Memorial in 3D – Work in Progress
Crafted With Love
Agustín Cordes’ company Senscape is making a game based on “The Case of Charles Dexter Ward” by H. P. Lovecraft. They are Kickstarting the project at https://www.kickstarter.com/
Cordes has made several well-received horror games and the source material is great, so I think Charles Dexter Ward has a lot of potential. The funding drive is in the middle of the usual Kickstarter mid-campaign slump and could use some serious support to help make this game a reality.