SpaceVenture Project Update #100: Two Guys SpaceVenture – by the creators of Space Quest by Two Guys From Andromeda

Happy New Year everyone! Let me flat out start by saying that we are still on track for 2015 being the release year of SpaceVenture! I’m crazy excited to say that, and I know it’s been a long wait for everyone. I hope you know, it’s been a long journey and wait for us as well. We have not been idle. Parts of the SpaceVenture team work on the game just about every single day, that includes weekends.

A WEEK OF VERY LITTLE SLEEP

We utilize a virtual office environment on team SpaceVenture that allows us to be located all over the world. Back in November, some of us had an opportunity to stay in a cabin located near Pigeon Forge TN for free. This gave some of us a chance to get together in the same place and do some team building exercises. Okay, not really, our team building consisted of working on SpaceVenture for an average of sixteen hours a day for seven days straight, but we did get a chance to take a nice little chunk out of the middle of the game, and move us towards the last third of the game.

As we were leading up to the cabin trip, Mark created a funny movie poster style piece of artwork that I thought I’d share with you guys.

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SOME QUESTIONS THAT ARE PERHAPS ON YOUR MIND

Are you guys broke?

Nope, still not broke and we’re doing just fine in that department. We have money to pay voice actors and money for all the rewards that have to go out, not to mention our artists, etc..

Is the project moving faster than it was?

Definitely! Seeing as it was the programming that was really holding up our project, I can proudly say, it’s not slowing us down anymore because we’ve got most everything we need built right into our custom event system. Not to mention the programmers we do have are all hard workers and very dedicated to the project. It feels so good to be able to write those words. :)

I still plan to post some demonstrations on the SV Rewards website to show off some of our event system in Unity (our game engine of choice). Be on the lookout for some posts from me(Chris Pope).

When is the game going to be released?

As mentioned above, we are still on track for having the game out sometime during this year. When I can give you estimated date/month/quarter information on this, I promise I will.

How far along is the game?

We are getting real close to having the second third of the game up and running and will be heading full throttle into the final third of the game. Considering the fact that we are able to move much faster than in the past due to programming, I’m confident that even the final third of the game won’t cause us too many slow down periods.

The project updates seem to be getting further apart. Is that how it’s gonna be from this point on?

Nope, and I wanted to personally apologize for how long it has taken for a new update to come out. There have been a lot of reasons for why it has been so long since the last update, I won’t get into details. I just want you to know that it should never be three months before you get new info from us.

When will the Kickstarter rewards ship?

The rewards will ship around the time that the game ships.

My address has changed since I pledged to this project. How do I let you guys know for rewards shipping purposes?

Don’t worry about letting us know any of that yet. We’ll send out info on that when the time comes.

NEW STUFF TO SHOW YOU

As always, I need to clarify something. EVERYTHING YOU ARE ABOUT TO SEE IS A WORK IN PROGRESS AND CAN AND WILL PROBABLY CHANGE BY THE RELEASE OF SPACEVENTURE. Nothing you are about to see is 100% final. Be advised though, that the changes will be for the better and will mostly be polish.

Another thing worth mentioning is that you’ll notice that we still aren’t really showing you anything involving the SpaceVenture UI system. That is because we still aren’t happy in that department. It would be pointless to show it to you because it is definitely going to change. Once we’re happy with the looks and intuitiveness of it, demonstrations will be posted in an update.

Now for the fun part of this update. The new stuff I get to show you all! We’ve got quite a few things to show you all and I hope you’re as excited about it all as I am.

First up, some music for you!

ROOTER’S THEME MUSIC

It’s been awhile since we had any music to let you all listen to, so I asked Ken Allen (the SpaceVenture music guy) if he could shoot something my way. He decided on “Rooter’s Theme”.  This little video show cases a little interaction with Rooter in SpaceVenture and let’s you hear the theme music Ken put together as well.

http://youtu.be/FDY3D9zHebs

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HOME SWEAT HOME

We’ve told you before that Ace stays with his usually cantankerous (not to mention cranky) mentor, Scraps. In the past, I may have showed you a mockup of the inside of his home. Here is an update! This scene is chocked full of SciFi pop culture references. Can you figure them all out?

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A COMFY COUCH TO LOUNGE ON

Some of you might remember an early concept drawing of Ace lounging out on the couch and getting caught up on his favorite shows on The Holotube. Well I put together a little video featuring the original concept art along with some updated in game footage of that scene.

http://youtu.be/EsVHmKEMLlk

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JOSH MANDEL JOINS THE SPACEVENTURE TEAM AS A CAMEO WRITER

If you’re behind on Sierra/Video game lore, you might like to know that Josh Mandel was one of the majorly talented game developers that once worked at Sierra On-Line back in the day. He’s credited on games such as Freddy Pharkas: Frontier Pharmacist, Space Quest 6, not to mention other Sierra titles. He also worked directly with Al Lowe on the Leisure Suit Larry remake, Leisure Suit Larry Reloaded.

If you saw the above video, you’ll notice Ace watching the Holotube. As you may have guessed, you’re gonna hear more than just sound effects coming from the tube! Josh is writing some hilarious content to be played throughout Ace’s perusal of the Holotube channels. You will get to make Ace flip through those channels yourself.

If you haven’t already, you should listen to the Space Quest 6 youtube video I did will Josh awhile back. You can check it out here.

AN UPDATE TO THE GARAGE

The Garage scene I showed you previously has had some polish made to it. Here is an updated look for you!

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GOING UP AND THEN BACK DOWN

Speaking of the Garage, here is a small video demoing Ace and Rooter using the elevator. Any of you guys know the SciFi reference for that elevator? Be careful, you’re dating yourselves! I apologize for the jerkiness/framerate of this video.

http://youtu.be/yXbOa67yZc4

WORKING ON ROOTER

Without being too spoilery here, I’ll just say that at some point in SpaceVenture you’re gonna need to prop Rooter up on a workbench to make some repairs. Here is a glimpse at that scene.

And here is a small video look at the Rooter Repair scene.

http://youtu.be/Zzjk2QYKzDo

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FLEAS ARE NO JOKE IN GAMES OR REAL LIFE

I believe I shared a story with you all a year or so ago about how my family cat had somehow gotten out of my house and was lost for a day. When we found him and got him back into the house, he was infested with fleas. Apparently he had gotten into the woods. Anyway, long story short, we put him in our basement which is where my office is and the whole basement had fleas all over it. I waged war on the fleas. A war that I lost, and was unable to work on SpaceVenture with the team for a couple of days. Anyway, I was telling the story to Scott and Mark while in a game design meeting. Next thing you know, Nano fleas were showing up as a puzzle in the game itself.

Without spoiling the point behind this sequence, here is an early look at controlling a nano flea in a portion of SpaceVenture:

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THE CRANE PIT

In the last update you saw an early look at the scrapyard with a magnetic crane in the background. You never got to see a closer look at the magnetic crane. So here is a work in progress look at the crane pit!

Here is a small video that demonstrates Ace and Rooter walking along the navigation paths of this scene. Keep in mind, this scene still has a ways to go.

http://youtu.be/Ckhs83mTCq0

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INSIDE THE CRANE ITSELF

Also in the previous update, I mentioned that you would need to pull some things out of the scrapyard itself using that big magnet in the above scene. Here is a look at being within the interior of the crane.

NOTE: The UI controls that you see in the lower left of the screen are temporary. We just put that in there for testing purposes until the polished artwork goes in.

http://youtu.be/WZmGyVL3KqA

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DELIVERING PARTS WITH THE MULE

What you just saw in the above video in which Ace can pickup parts out of the scrap yard isn’t quite as simple as it looks. There is a puzzle there that I don’t want to spoil. Just know, it’s not as easy as it may seem. However, once you do get the certain parts you need, they’ll need to be delivered to the Garage. Enter “The Mule”, which is the vehicle you’ll control that floats above the ground (think land speeder from StarWars: A New Hope) and is used for parts delivery.

Here is a small video I put together of Ace delivering a part to the garage.

http://youtu.be/b9-jKmMeNts

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WHAT THE HECK IS THAT THING

Speaking of parts! Here is a part that will play a major role in the game. I’m not allowed to give you any real information about it. Let your imagination run wild with this one. ;)

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TIME FOR SOME CHEESY TACO GOODNESS THAT IS SURE TO STOP YOUR BOWELS UP AND LEAVE YOU WANTING MORE

Of all the scenes in SpaceVenture, I am the most excited about the one below. I think everyone who played through most of Space Quest 3 remembers their first experiences in Monolith Burger. For me, it was a video game life changing experience that I’ll never forget. Getting to step foot in a greasy SciFi fast food restaurant was almost more than I could bare. We hope you’ll have that same experience when stepping into Taco Nova.

And here is a short video of the outside of Taco Nova:

http://youtu.be/a9mcO46KlC8

I hope you all have enjoyed taking a look at some of what’s going on with the project! Looking forward to future updates.

EPISODE 23 OF THE BI-WEEKLY PODCAST BY THE SPACE QUEST HISTORIAN

This episode starts out with an immediate interruption by Chris Pope the SpacePope to bring you good tidings of great joy with how things are going on the SpaceVenture project. And it’s that time of the year — you all know what I’m talking about — the Space Quest Historian delves head-first into the pool of hard-ass, difficult-as-all-hell puzzles in a rant that, predictably, goes nowhere. Luckily, he’s not on his own, as Alan Luckachina steps up to deliver his own take on the subject in another phenominal bit of The Lucky Corner. Also on this show, you will find not one, but two impressive treats: Our music pal, Ken Allen, talks about music devices of old that never went anywhere, and the Historian plays his entire interview of Space Quest III composer Bob Siebenberg in its full, unedited glory! Merry whatever, ladies and janitors!

LISTEN IN ITUNES or THE RSS FEED HERE

Thanks for all of your support everyone!

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

Hero U – Project Update #59: Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption by the Quest for Glory designers by Corey Cole

Meep Enjoying Autumn

Meep Enjoying Autumn

Next week is Thanksgiving. In America, this is a time to sit down together with family or friends to indulge in serious feasting. Turkey with dressing and cranberry sauce, spiral cut ham, mashed potatoes, and pumpkin pie are among our favorites. My birthday falls on or near Thanksgiving each year, so I’ve adopted pumpkin pie (with oodles of whipped cream) as my preferred “birthday pie”.

As (nominally) adults, we’ve maintained and extended the tradition of Thanksgiving revels by inviting friends over for an extended weekend of role-playing gaming. We’re looking forward to a great one this year.

Giving Thanks to You

Thank you very much for your continuing patience and support as we continue to add dialogue and other content to Hero-U. We couldn’t do this without your support.

We’d like to help you with holiday gift-giving, so we have lowered the prices on all Hero-U collectible merchandise by $5. We’ve also added a holiday special – the awesomely cute toy Meep along with a Hero-U keyring – at an additional $5 discount (limited to the first 100 orders). Quantities on t-shirts and baseball caps are extremely limited. When they go, they’ll be gone for good.

Meep and ChainMeep and Chain

Visit http://www.hero-u.net/hero_u_collect.html to take advantage of our Holiday Special discounts. Friends DO give their friends Meeps.

Of course, Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption preorders also make great gifts for your game playing friends. Our preorder store is http://www.hero-u.net/hero_u_preorder.html. Every preorder helps us polish and improve the Hero-U experience.

Two Years On

Today marks the two-year anniversary of the Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption funding campaign on Kickstarter. We’ve gone through many changes since then. Our original delivery estimate of October 2013 proved to be ridiculously optimistic. We based it more on the amount of time we could pay the team based on the Kickstarter contributions than on the actual requirements of building a unique new game. At that time, it didn’t occur to me that we could use a combination of Kickstarter and other funding sources for the game.

I have resisted posting a new release date because we have had so many unknown factors, each causing more delays. Now that we are at 90% complete on art and music, and making good progress on the game writing, Lori and I have committed to a release date of Oct. 15, 2015. So, yes, two years into a one year project, we have exactly as much time remaining as I originally estimated the whole project would take. Project estimation is evidently not my top skill.

Actually, it’s that the project is not what we thought it would be when we began the Kickstarter campaign. However, the real issue turns out to be in the work Lori and I are doing, which in turn involves some promises we made during the campaign.

We promised that Hero-U would be a game in which relationships are critical, story comes first, and that the game would support multiple styles of play. Those were some pretty big promises, and they are proving very difficult to fulfill. The events in Shawn’s dorm room took almost two months to write and script, adding a number of improvements and new features to the Composer scripting tool as we discovered the need for them. The Rogue Classroom has taken about a month. Fortunately, those are the two most dialogue-intensive scenes in the game.

We expect to complete the writing and scripting in 4-6 months. We will need another 1-2 months to finalize and tune the combat system. Originally I planned on a 1-2 month testing period. However, now that we have a better idea of the scope and complexity of this game, we know that it will need much more testing than that. After much discussion and creating a “backwards calendar”, Oct. 15, 2015 stood out as the achievable delivery date for the game.

Gog Temple in the Sea Caves

Gog Temple in the Sea Caves

Kickstarter Projects – Large and Small

Our favorite adventure game designer is Ron Gilbert, lead designer of Maniac Mansion and Secret of Monkey Island among other awesome games. A key collaborator on those and other great LucasArts games was Gary Winnick.

Monkey Island might just be the best adventure game ever written, so it’s pretty exciting news that Ron and Gary are running a Kickstarter for a new retro-style 2D adventure game. Two days into the campaign, it’s already halfway to the goal, so we’ll get to play a new Ron Gilbert adventure in 2016! You can support Thimbleweed Park at https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/thimbleweedpark/thimbleweed-park-a-new-classic-point-and-click-adv.

Megara Entertainment, creators of the Arcana Agency game books, are developing a board game based on the Lone Wolf game books. This project is also halfway to its goal and has a good chance of success. Lone Wolf uses stand-up cardboard figures and appears to be a fantasy war game on a board. If you enjoy imaginative board games, visit https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1615043334/lone-wolf-the-board-game to help them make this game.

Late to the Party (https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/pyrodactyl/late-to-the-party-a-cold-war-espionage-rpg-in-the) is a Cold War period spy RPG by the makers of Unrest (https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/pyrodactyl/unrest-an-unconventional-rpg-set-in-ancient-india). The latter is an ambitious project based on the traditions and mythology of India. I supported that project, and the resulting game is interesting, unique, and fun.

Have you seen a Kickstarter or Indiegogo project that Hero-U backers would enjoy? Join the discussion at http://www.hero-u.net/forum/viewforum.php?f=6 to share it with everyone.

Hero-U Project Update #58: Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption by the Quest for Glory designers by Corey Cole

Happy Halloween!

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

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.com/questlog/671/sseccus/.

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

Paladin Memorial Concept Painting

Current Progress

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

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/projects/agustincordes/h-p-lovecrafts-the-case-of-charles-dexter-ward. Lovecraft and Edgar Allen Poe were the greatest authors of fantasy horror stories. Lovecraft was responsible for The Necronomicon, Cthulhu, Eldritch Abominations, and many other symbols of horror that have since become tropes.

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.

SpaceVenture Project Update #99: Two Guys SpaceVentu?re – by the creators of Space Quest by Two Guys From Andromeda

Hey everyone! It’s time to get caught up on some of the goings-on within the SpaceVenture project! We’ve had a pretty eventful last couple of months as we have worked out the majority of the bugs we were having with the first third of the game along with moving into newer territory with the rest of the game.

AN INTRODUCTION TO A NEW CHARACTER

Meet, Url (Pronounced as Earl). This little fella is someone you’ll come in contact with during your time at Nurb’s Landing. The concept art you see below was sketched by Mark Crowe, and we have a 3D model of him that is currently in progress.

A LOOK INTO THE SCRAPYARD

So we’ve told you since the beginning that Ace has a friend named “Scraps”, who just so happens to own a scrapyard. A decent little chunk of the middle of the game will include some time well spent in this area. In fact, without spoiling much, I’ll confirm that you’ll need to piece together some pretty important items using some of the objects you’ll find there. The polished artwork for the scrapyard scenes are still a work in progress, but I did want to show you some of the concept art.

Want to take a closer look at that crane you see off in the distances?

Does this crane model remind you of something you might have seen in a Sci-Fi movie from your past? If it doesn’t, it might be time for you to get caught up on some 1980’s Sci-Fi flicks!

PILOTING ACE HARDWAY’S SHIP

Probably one of the most exciting things I get to share with you all during this update is the fact that we’ve made some big leaps forward in terms of how the navigation of Ace’s ship works. Whether you’re a fan of taking matters into your own hands, or your less inclined to anything that remotely resembles an arcade sequence in an adventure game, we’re gonna have you taken care of.

Last time you saw this garage, it was empty, but not anymore!

http://youtu.be/6fiyGMxnp1A

Here is a screenshot of Ace’s ship coming in for a landing.

And here is a video of the landing/takeoff of Ace’s ship!

http://youtu.be/FEw29j_DUOs

And lastly, this is how things look while navigating Ace’s ship through space!

http://youtu.be/DXwwrGCxyNo

Let me also say that all of these videos are still considered early testing of controlling Ace’s ship. Things can and probably will change. Let me reiterate to you out there that will be concerned about arcade type sequences in SpaceVenture, there is nothing for you to worry about. We are working on a great balance for the game.

As for the release of the game goes, things are still on track for 2015! I’ll give more info on that as I have it in a future update.

CONCEPT ART VOTING

Some of you backers out there qualify for getting to vote on some of the game’s artwork. We aren’t gonna set an exact date on that just yet, but I did want you to know that it’s coming up. Be on the lookout for a future update mentioning how this is all gonna work! :)

EPISODE 18 OF THE BI-WEEKLY PODCAST BY THE SPACE QUEST HISTORIAN

The universe might implode at the sheer awesomeness of having three illustrious fan game developers, Guy From Andromeda Mark Crowe, SpaceVenture composer Ken Allen and Westwood composer Frank Klepacki all in the same podcast episode. But that’s exactly what’s happening here. Get ready for two hours of pure unadulterated nerdy space fun as we take a closer look at three retro style fan games — The Lost Chapter, Replicated and Decision of the Elders — complete with commentary by all three developers, along with some added incentives to play Replicated by our resident Professor Jess. Serena Nelson gives her lowdown on her favorite supporting character, and Mark Crowe talks about the inspiration behind Roger’s crew in Space Quest V. There’s also more fun to be had at Priapic Mountain Games’ CEO, Pete Toleman, and Josh Henry continues his epic fan fiction tale “Quest for the Two Guys From Andromeda.” And, as a special treat, our music pal Ken Allen sits down for a chat with the composer for Westwood’s Legend of Kyrandia and Command & Conquer series, Frank Klepacki.

LISTEN IN ITUNES or THE RSS FEED HERE

Download Space Quest 0: Replicated here: http://wiw.org/~jess/replicated.htmlWatch Professor Jess and the Historian play Space Quest 0: Replicated here: https://storify.com/TorbenFrost/decaffeinated-jedi-and-the-space-quest-historian-pDownload Space Quest: The Lost Chapter here: http://frostbytei.com/space/Download NAGI, the AGI emulator for Windows here: http://www.agidev.com/projects/nagi/Download Space Quest -1: Decision of the Elders here: http://www.tonundtext.at/downloads/DOTE.zip

Thanks for all of your support everyone!

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

Hero-U Project Update #57: Project Progress and Game Industry News

August was a very exciting month for the Hero-U project. We made significant progress in art, programming, writing, and design. We also made some important decisions that will affect the entire game series.

Foodies and Scientists

Eric and Paul have completed the portraits for the Yearbook, and they look fantastic! Each portrait has been brilliantly painted and dressed up in official Hero-U robes.

Ifeteya Kinah - Our Culinary InstructorIfeteya Kinah – Our Culinary Instructor

I divided the Yearbook-level backers into seven categories – Warrior, Rogue, Wizard, Paladin, Bard, Scientist, and Foodie – according to each backer’s flavor text, name, and comments. We had no idea that Hero-U would include a Science Division and a Culinary Academy when we started this project!

Naturally all of the backers who submitted dog or other animal portraits are listed as Foodies – Dogs love to eat.

The Yearbook is not just a place to showcase our fabulous backers. It also contains information about the University professors and staff.

Evolving Art Style

Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption has gone through many changes in art direction. Originally we envisioned it as a 2D top-down “dungeon crawl” game in the style of MacGuffin’s Curse. We upped the ante on the art by bringing down the camera for an isometric look, but still using tiles to build the images. Then we made it look more like a classic Sierra game, but still isometric.

Since then, the look of the game has continued to improve and evolve. Earlier this year I announced that we have abandoned 2D animated characters in favor of full 3D characters modeled by Concept Art House. We have been using a mixture of 2D and 3D props and furniture, with the code going through contortions to make the 2D props look 3D.

Then along came Chris Willis, former Sierra artist and 3D specialist. Chris has done an amazing job modeling 3D scenes that duplicate the feel of JP’s painted backgrounds. As a result, we are moving farther and farther away from the concept of using tiles to create our scenes. Each scene is now a unique piece of 3D art.

Wine Cellar - 3D Model and In-Game Point of ViewWine Cellar – 3D Model and In-Game Point of View

Evolving Programming

Our last bastion of tiles in the game was the combat movement interface. By building everything on a grid of tiles, we had an easy way to specify positions and places where the player can move. The problem? Sometimes this resulted in stiff-looking animation or jerky movement.

In the meantime, we’ve changed some fundamental systems including the combat interface. By eliminating Action Points, we no longer need movement tiles. So Jonathan changed to a smoother movement system that looks much better. It’s also simpler, works better with Unity’s built-in systems, and has lower overhead.

Result – Goodbye, tiles. The system is now fully 3D and the game looks better than ever.

Further result – For the rest of the series, we plan to use all 3D assets. Everyone who has been struggling with making the 2D art work is much relieved.

More Insider News

If you backed Hero-U at one of the “insider access” levels ($175 or higher), check your Humble Bundle Hero-U page by clicking on the “eBooks” button just to the right of “Choose platform”. We’ve posted a second Insider newsletter covering March to June 2013. Chris has written the third newsletter (July – Sept. 2013) and we will post it this week once we finish adding illustrations and formatting. We will keep posting these insider reports throughout project development.

Love, Hate, and Women in Gaming

We have been very disturbed by the degree of hate towards indie game developers, and women developers and players in particular, on many web sites. Personally I think it comes from jealousy – The commenters want the publicity and success of the game developers without devoting the years of 60 hour weeks that it takes to build a game.

Unfortunately, a lot of this has come across in the form of hate towards women. This isn’t new – Roberta Williams got hate mail for featuring Rosella as the main character in King’s Quest IV – but it is just plain wrong. Games can be fun with either a male or a female protagonist as long as the story reflects that choice. Buffy the Vampire Slayer with a male Slayer? Boring!

Shawn Could Have Been ShawnaShawn Could Have Been Shawna

Lori wrote about why we decided on a male character for the first Hero-U game at http://www.hero-u.net/leaders/why-shawn-isnt-shawna/. I assure you that we will have female protagonists in future games and that we will ignore any resulting hate mail. :-) We are proud of the strong female characters we created in previous games, and even more of the ones in Hero-U.

We have also proudly added our names to an anti-hate open letter on diversity in gaming and the game industry at https://medium.com/@andreaszecher/open-letter-to-the-gaming-community-df4511032e8a. We hope many of our backers will continue to speak out against hate and harassment in any form. This week I learned a new term – SJW or Social Justice Warrior – used negatively about people who harp about social justice in gaming and media. You know what? We’ll wear that badge proudly. Our games have always been about heroism, and yes, that includes social justice.

The Return of Sierra

Activision announced last month that they are reviving the Sierra label for a new indie game division. They are starting out with Geometry Wars 3 and a new King’s Quest game. There are some interesting quotes in http://www.polygon.com/2014/8/13/5998789/sierras-rebirth-was-made-possible-by-the-success-of-digital-platforms.

Lori and I are not currently involved with the new Sierra, but we won’t rule out the possibility of doing a project with them in the future. Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption remains a fully independent game funded by Kickstarter backers and our personal resources.

Crowd-Funding Projects You Might Like

Rose: Time Apart (https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/905533486/rose-time-apart) ends on Sept. 9 (tomorrow!). It’s an adventure game mystery game that promises an immersive puzzle-solving experience. They promise Oculus Rift and Ouya support as well as the usual PC/Mac/Linux platforms.

Stash: No Loot Left Behind (https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/frogdice/stash-no-loot-left-behind-pc-mac-linux-consoles) is an “online multiplayer RPG with turn based combat and epic amounts of loot.” It is ambitious and looks good. The campaign ends on Sept. 12.

The Fine Young Capitalists (https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-fine-young-capitalists–2) ends on Sept. 26. Games created by women who would not otherwise have had the chance to make a game. Proceeds will go to charity. My personal favorites are Afterlife Empire and My Eyes. Check out the projects and vote for your favorite at http://www.thefineyoungcapitalists.com/Voting.

Duke Grabowski, Mighty Swashbuckler (https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/venture-moon/duke-grabowski-mighty-swashbuckler-point-and-click) ends on Oct. 6. It’s a humorous point-and-click adventure in the vein of Monkey Island, and could be a lot of fun.

Do you love animated films? Would you like to see an epic Steampunk adventure starring two young female protagonists? Check out the beautiful Indiegogo campaign – https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/hullabaloo-steampunk-animated-film. This very successful campaign has already tripled its goal. It closes on Oct. 1.

Hullabaloo Episode 2 - Curse of the Cheshire Cat Hullabaloo Episode 2 – Curse of the Cheshire Cat

Hero-U Project Update #56: Truth and Consequences

Truth and Consequences in Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption

In the long-running game show “Truth or Consequences”, Bob Barker and the other moderators asked guests to answer difficult questions in two seconds. When they almost inevitably failed, they had to do something embarrassing (and funny to the audience) as a consequence.

There is no time pressure in Hero-U, but the consequences are still there. We like to give choices that matter to our players. This is especially important in Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption because Shawn does not start out as a paragon of virtue. He is a rogue and is trying to survive through stealth, guile, and subtlety. How he does that is up to you, the player.

There are no absolutely right or wrong choices in Hero-U, but there are always consequences. Tell a little white lie to a friend, and you can make them happy… unless they later find out you told a lie. The game doesn’t end, but relationships change. Those relationships influence later story elements and sometimes open up new possibilities.

The most serious consequence in life or a game is death. Originally we did not plan to allow Shawn to die in Hero-U, but backer feedback has reminded us that the possibility of death can have a positive effect on game play. Lori recently wrote about our new way of handling the chance of death in http://www.hero-u.net/leaders/a-matter-of-life-and-death/.

Truth has its place, but a Rogue sometimes chooses a flexible approach to what is true. Just be ready to face the consequences of your decisions. Death is always waiting, but Shawn is pretty good at cheating it… as long as you make good choices.

Choose Wisely Choose Wisely

 Insider Reports

I emailed our “Insider Access” backers a few weeks ago to tell them about the new “inside Hero-U” reports we’re posting to their Humble Bundle pages. A few of you wrote back to say you had trouble finding the first report. It isn’t obvious!

On your Humble page, look for the line (just under the preview video currently) that says “Choose platform”. If you have insider access ($175 tier and up), you will see “eBooks” as the last entry on that line. Click on eBooks to see the PDF file with our first insider access report covering January through March 2013.

Chris Fong has written the second report, covering April to June 2013. I plan to post that article to all of the insider access pages this week. We will add two more quarterly reports covering 2013. After that, we will probably go to monthly reports for 2014 and onward. Even after we release Hero-U, we will continue to document the marketing, game enhancements, and development of future games in the series.

We will also continue to keep everyone up to date here on Kickstarter, but the insider reports will have more details from our regular weekly development meetings.

The Kind of Games We Make

Lori and I are best known for our Quest for Glory games (originally called Hero’s Quest) at Sierra On-Line in 1989 through 1998. Two entertaining bloggers who specialize in replaying and rating “early” computer adventure and role-playing games are currently covering Quest for Glory II: Trial by Fire.

For the adventure gamer perspective, The Adventure Gamer’s take on Trial by Fire began at http://advgamer.blogspot.com.au/2014/07/game-45-quest-for-glory-ii-introduction.html. He also wrote about Hero’s Quest: So You Want to Be a Hero (later renamed to Quest for Glory 1) starting with this article: http://advgamer.blogspot.com.au/2012/11/game-26-heros-quest-introduction.html. I occasionally comment on his blog, and highly recommend it.

The CRPG Addict, as you would expect, looks at games from a role-playing viewpoint, so his rating criteria are different from those of the Adventure Gamer. Still, I am proud to say that both chose Hero’s Quest as their favorite game of 1989. The Addict’s articles on Trial by Fire begin at http://crpgaddict.blogspot.com/2014/07/game-154-quest-for-glory-ii-trial-by.html.

His entries on Hero’s Quest began with this preview –  http://crpgaddict.blogspot.com/2012/11/game-77-heros-quest-so-you-want-to-be.html. After rating the game in late 2012 playing as the Thief character, CRPG Addict returned to the game as a Magic User in this article – http://crpgaddict.blogspot.com/2014/06/revisiting-quest-for-glory-so-you-want.html.

On both sites, use the sidebar “Blog Archive” feature to find the rest of the articles in each series. While we’re back in Hero’s Quest, here’s a picture a fan sent us recently – the infamous Antwerp in action on her arm:

Beware the Bouncing Bicep Antwerp! Beware the Bouncing Bicep Antwerp!

Kickstarter Adventures Need Your Support

Oded Sharon has posted a one week Kickstarter project for Bolt Riley – A Reggae Adventure Game. The reason for the short campaign is so that the project can slip in under the final days of the OUYA #Freethegames fund matching program. The new goal is very reachable with a bit more support from adventure game fans. Please spread the word.

Lori and I consulted on this game in late 2011 to early 2012. Our work was mostly on part 2, so will not appear in this first game chapter, but a successful campaign could lead to later production of the 2nd and 3rd chapters.

Bolt Riley Chapter 1 Bolt Riley Chapter 1

The game is the story of a poor young man in Kingston, Jamaica who wants to become a musician. You help him achieve his goals by solving adventure game puzzles. The soundtrack is reggae music.

In Inherit the Earth: Sand and Shadows (https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1867564967/inherit-the-earth-sand-and-shadows), intelligent foxes and other furry creatures try to prosper in a hostile world. The game is characterized by a lush art style, strong story, and challenging puzzles. I enjoyed the first Inherit the Earth:Quest for the Orb game.
Inherit the Earth: Sand and Shadows Inherit the Earth: Sand and Shadows

I’ve gotten a little tired of games, films, and TV shows that keep getting darker, grimmer, and more horrific. Inherit the Earth has drama, but is more upbeat in graphics and story. I’d like to see more games like this. The developers will need a strong push to reach their Kickstarter goal.

Jenny LeClue (https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/mografi/jenny-leclue-a-handmade-adventure-game) is a beautiful choose-your-path adventure game looks like a big budget animated film. Thanks to some very dedicated volunteer developers, the campaign has a modest goal and a realistic ship date. I could learn from their project scheduling.

The art is terrific, the developers have a sense of whimsy, and Lori and I think this will be a fun game. I’m sure they could use some extra support to help them improve Jenny LeClue and build up their team.

Jenny LeClue Jenny LeClue