Hero-U Update #88: Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption

What’s New at Hero-U?

The University is preparing to open its doors for the Fall Semester! But first we need to have the Campus Visit (Alpha Testing), Entry Examinations (Targeted Beta Testing), and Orientation (Final Testing). It takes serious preparation to get the most value from a Hero-U education.

We added a couple of steps to the project over the last two months to dramatically improve the game’s visuals and reliability. First, with the guidance of two programmers with serious Unity credits, we upgraded the development system from Unity 4.7 to version 5.5.

We knew that would cause some disruption and extra work, but the change lets us take advantage of the latest Unity features and support. The biggest upgrade has been in our ability to effectively light scenes.

Catacombs entrance before lighting upgrades
Catacombs entrance before lighting upgrades

In the above image (just after porting to Unity 5.5), the contrast is low except on Shawn, who appears to have a spotlight on him. Everything looks a little muddy and indistinct. It’s fully playable, but not as good as it should be.

Same Catacombs entrance with improved lighting
Same Catacombs entrance with improved lighting

The improved lighting highlights some of the detail and sets the mood. Shawn looks more natural.

Let there be Light!

When we started building a castle to house Hero-U, it felt a little empty. Sure, there were classrooms and corridors, the dining hall and the great hall, the vestibule and the recreation center, the garden and the courtyard. But you know how it is with a castle – all that stonework can get pretty cold in the Winter.

That’s when we brought in portraits and tapestries for insulation and warmth. They also help us tell the story and the history of the University and some of our notable alumni. Tapestries are also pretty good at concealing secret doors and hiding places. You didn’t read that here.

At that point, we naively thought we were done decorating the castle. Then our artists stepped in and turned on the lights. And the lights shone throughout the castle, and it is good. Man is it good! Maybe a few “before and after” pictures will help you see how important lighting is to establishing the drama and mood in each scene.

Meanwhile, we continue adding new vignettes, closeups, and custom animation to bring more of the game to life.

Courtyard Before Re-Lighting
Courtyard Before Re-Lighting

This nighttime Courtyard view got the “dark” right, but feels “2D” and loses much of the beauty of the scene. Unity 5.5 let us keep the feel of the scene while bringing it to life with better lighting.

The Courtyard with Strategically-Placed Lights
The Courtyard with Strategically-Placed Lights

Here’s the same courtyard re-lit. It’s still obviously nighttime, but now the lights work and some details come to life. Shawn has also been toned down. (By default, Unity 5.5 lighting is about twice as bright as in Unity 4.7.)

We’ve had to make these changes to every scene in the game – over 60 of them – so our artists had a busy February and March. But the difference is “night and day” in bringing out the details and quality of the artwork.

Getting Ready to Graduate

After over four years of work and more than twice the original Kickstarter budget, we can finally see the graduation stage not too far in the distance. The extra lights probably helped. Here’s our current schedule for the initial testing phase:

  • 1 May 2017 – Feature complete – all “adventure” dialogue and interactions
  • 1 June – Castle Alpha Test – All team members and Insider Backers
  • 1 July – Castle Targeted Beta – Test specific areas in the Castle
  • 1 July – Wine Cellar opens to Insider Backers for Combat Alpha Testing
  • Etc. Specific dates will depend on early testing progress.

For this targeted Beta, we will need a few dedicated volunteers to test the game. There’s nothing like game testing to spoil all the fun of playing the game. If you are sort of person who likes to continually throw rocks to build up your throwing skills to the max (not that we’d ever want to make you do that sort of thing in a game) or who pulls back curtains to look for the man running things behind them, or who uses a magnifying glass to reveal every last detail, we could use your detection skills to make Hero-U better.

I will set up a web page and database for alpha and beta testers, then issue invitations to volunteer backers next month. We’ll be trying something new – assigning each beta tester to a particular area or game day so that we can make sure every event is tested throughout the game.

Beta testing is much more than playing the game – you’ll need to keep a critical eye on everything you see, and play through the same sequence multiple times with small variations to identify bugs that only show up after a certain sequence of actions.

If you’ve ever wondered why commercial games could possibly ship with “glaring errors”, it’s because many of those errors only show up after a specific set of moves or in a particular case of random numbers. This will be a real challenge for everyone who volunteers. That’s why we don’t have a fixed shipment schedule – we’ll ship when the game is done – and fun!

Resource Reminders

Please keep your email and address current at https://hero-u-adventure-role-playing-game.backerkit.com 

Participate in the Hero-U forum at http://www.hero-u.net/forum/

Our FaceBook page is https://www.facebook.com/TheSchoolForHeroes/.

Shawn Enters the Catacombs
Shawn Enters the Catacombs

SpaceVenture Update #113: Two Guys SpaceVenture – by the creators of Space Quest by Two Guys From Andromeda

Greetings and salutations SpaceVenture backers. We have another update here for you. First off, as always, we want to make sure everyone knows we are still pushing hard to get SpaceVenture out. A lot of you have made it clear you’re chomping at the bit ready for the game to be done. We hear you and are working extremely hard to get the game done as fast as possible. In the past we have let you guys know some of the things that have slowed us down. If you aren’t familiar with those things, please take a look back at some of the previous updates.

Lately, we have been silent in the comments section of our Kickstarter page. That being said, there are some things that we would like to quickly address here so you know our thoughts. You all have every right to speak negatively or critically on some of the causes of the delay to the game. We hope you all realize that none of the team ever expected things to go on as long as they have. A lot of folks probably check in on the project on occasions and get upset when they notice the game is still not complete. Those same people can push the game from their mind and not worry about it again until they decide to check back in. The team lives with this day in and day out. Everyone on the team cannot wait for the day that the weight of the game is lifted from our shoulders. That is not to say we haven’t enjoyed working on SpaceVenture, and that we don’t appreciate the fact that you backers gave us this opportunity. None of us regret working on the game. This has been an experience that we will never forget. We just hope you understand that there is real stress in getting it out, and hope you will continue to be patience with us. We are all real people with real life stuff going on, and we are taking the responsibility of getting the game completed very seriously.

In saying all that, we aren’t asking you not to criticize or say negative things. You have every right to. We only hope you will understand that we are not purposely trying to make the process any slower. We want the game complete probably more then anyone. One of the main reasons it has been a slow process is because of the high quality we are aiming for.

We are very much aware that we keep missing deadlines. We are pushing as hard as we possibly can to not keep up this pattern, but hope you all will understand that we are not going to give another deadline out until we finish a lot of the items that are listed below.

Rest assured, we will complete SpaceVenture. It has been slow going, but this will not be one of those Kickstarters that get abandoned. Again, thank you so much for the patience.

So what is the status of the game?

  • The last few scenes in the game that have puzzle related material are still in the works. There is some artwork that still needs to be finalized and some puzzle mechanics to work out.
  • We have a few cutscenes that are still slated to be completed, including the game ending
  • There are a few death sequences that are still in the works for Ace. Some of which will be voted on by backers hopefully very soon.
  • Most scenes have gone through the polish process artwork wise, but still have to pass through testing for bugs before we go into full beta testing.
  • Music for most areas of the game are added where music is warranted. There are still a couple of scenes that need music including the last areas of the game as well as the ending sequence
  • Sound effects have been added for the large majority of the game, but there are still a few areas left to complete
  • The vast majority of “look” messages are added to the game with exception to the last few scenes
  • Voice over has not been recorded but we are in the process of selecting the correct voice actors for all the parts in the game, and will hopefully have news on that coming up.


Going as far back to the original Kickstarter pitch with our playable concept art pieces, we showed you all of a Two Guys From Andromeda Space dome idea. There is a whole sequence of the game in which Ace Hardway gets a call from none other then the Two Guys themselves involving their in-dome swimming pool/lagoon. Ace eventually makes his way to the dome only to find that the Two Guys haven’t exactly made it easy for him to get to where he needs to be in order to fix the problem.

This is image of the old artwork for the Dome that was put together in the Kickstarter campaign:

Below is a look at the huge artwork revamp that has been done on the Space Dome. This is how the dome currently looks in game:

One of our SpaceVenture artists, Patrick Parish, worked hard with direction from Mark on making this scene look absolutely amazing.

This sequence of the game has quite of bit of hilarious content we think all of you will enjoy, not to mention some huge plot points that will take place. The dome has gone through a massive overhaul artwork wise that we hope all of you will love. Check out the exploration video below.


This video features a fun new tune by our composer Ken Allen.

NOTE that this video is fuzzy due to compression, and parts of the scenes are still a work in process.



After finally meeting the Two Guys in person, Ace will need to make his way down below the interior of the dome into the pump house to repair the pool/lagoon. In order to get to the pump house, Ace will need to pass through the Two Guys development lab. The lab happens to be the place where the Two Guys design and work on their latest projects.

Things can get real spoilery here so we aren’t gonna say too much about what to expect, but we thought you guys would like to have a look at the scene itself.


We’ve mentioned Veronica to you guys a few times in the past. We also got quite a bit of feedback from you all on how you felt involving Veronica. Veronica is meant to be a strong female character in SpaceVenture that plays a pretty important roll in solving the mystery of some of the story line going on around Ace.

Here is how Veronica used to look in early concept art:

Here is a look at Veronica as she is scene right now. Keep in mind, she isn’t wearing any of the outfits here that are planned for her in game.

Considering Veronica’s line of work, she will be seen wearing different outfits in different scenes of the game. Her outfits are one of the artwork elements we have left to complete. Some of you backers backed at a high enough level to vote on concept pieces for SpaceVenture. We plan to let you all vote for which outfits you like, and the ones that are selected will be the ones that she wears in game.

Here is a glimpse of one of the concept pieces to be voted on:

Be on the look out for a survey request involving Veronica’s outfits.


Mark posted a diary entry on the SVRewards website involving what it takes to put together a 2.5D scene in Unity, such as the Space Dome. There is also a blooper video involving Rooter posted up there as well. All $30 and up backers can go have a look at that. Here is a sneak peak of an image he posted. The image will also link you straight to the website as well.



Thanks for all of your support everyone!

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

How well do you know your Sierra games?

Over on the SierraHelp forums, we have a game where a portion of the screen shot of a specific game (King’s Quest, Leisure Suit Larry, Police Quest, etc) and others need to guess where the screen shot is from. Some of the games have been going on for quite some time; but we’ve opened up some new ones (like Conquest series which includes Conquest of Camelot and Conquest of Longbow; as well as EcoQuest, Freddy Pharkus, Goldrush, Laura Bow series which is Colonel’s Bequest and Dagger of Amon Ra, and the Manhunter series).

Be sure to check out the latest post of each thread to see where the game stands! So if you haven’t already, please come by the forums and join in the games! And if you haven’t already registered on the forum – please do! We’d love to have you! Whether it’s to participate in the games, or join us in all the Sierra conversations we have!