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.