Project Update #36: Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption by the Quest for Glory designers by Corey Cole

A month has gone by since the last Update, and we have lots of news. Shawn O’Conner wishes all of you a Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Chris and I have caught up on Backer Surveys received through March 10.  We sent out Steam and GoG keys to everyone who requested them as part of their backer rewards. If you sent mail to Hero-U Support or filled out a survey, but did not receive your “past games” key, please send a new message to support (at) hero-u (dot) net. (Sorry to write it that way, but we really don’t want to attract the attention of spambots.)

We’ve made quite a bit of progress on the art and music fronts. Ryan Grogan continues to delight us with his spot-on tunes. He’s probably getting a bit of a swelled head by now, but he deserves it. 🙂  All of the artists are giving us beautiful work. Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption is an indie game, but it will look professional. After all, everyone working on it *is* a professional – We have well over 100 years in the game industry between us. Ok, so maybe we’re professional dinosaurs, but hey, dinosaurs are cool!

Terry has been working with a toy company to specify the toy Meeps. We’re going to make them in two colors – light blue and light green – and we’re ordering extras so that we can offer them in the Hero-U store. Here’s our artist conception of a Green Meep and the manufacturer’s sample of the Blue Meep design. They may change a little before we get the final versions.

Part-Time Perils

Lori and I decided early in the project to work with independent contractors rather than employees. This has allowed us to control costs by paying only for the actual work that has been completed at each stage. The downside of that decision is that we have much less control over the pace and amount of work from contractors.

I’ve been a “part-timer” myself on the game design because a large part of my time has been devoted to administration and reward fulfillment. I knew all along that those would take a lot of my time, but I didn’t realize just how much. I’m now through that phase and participating much more actively in working with Lori to design game systems. Recent eye surgery (cataracts) is also making a big difference, now that I can read the computer screen without a magnifier!

The good part of this is that we are burning through the Kickstarter funds very slowly. The rough part is that we are also building the game slowly. In particular, both of our team programmers have dropped out to pursue lucrative full-time contracts elsewhere. We are in the process of doing a “partial reboot”, bringing in a full-time lead programmer, and redesigning the software architecture. This is allowing us to further refine and improve the game design, but it means that we have zero chance of making our original October ship date.

We still plan to use part-time contractors for much of the final game programming. Are you a strong Unity and C# programmer? Would like to contribute to the development of Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption. Oh, and are you a code monkey who is happy to work for bananas because bananas are so tasty? That’s pretty much what the rest of the team (including Lori and me) is doing. If so, please send an email with a resume (CV) and information about your availability and contract rates to jobs (at) transolar (dot) com. Actually our rates are highly competitive, compared to say fast food restaurant and warehouse store work.

We will keep all of you informed as we move forward with the project. I don’t want to promise a specific date for Hero-U release at this point, but we are 100% committed to shipping it as soon as it is a great game.

[A Catacombs section by John Paul Selwood]

Last Chance at Fabulous Kickstarter Projects

My wallet has grown thin this month as I found many awesome projects to support.  Here are three important projects that are closing in a few days.  Please check them out and back the ones that interest you.

Var and the Vikings (http://kck.st/VQHyLz) has just one week to go. So far it has raised $11,000 towards its modest $31,000 goal. It would be a real shame if this project fails. Think Lemmings, except you get to teach your lemmings how to live. Var is a fun combination of puzzle game play with the chance to experiment with game-style artificial intelligence decision trees. Back this project and tell your friends to check it out. They have a nice project demo (Firefox browser only), and the development team are nice people – They came up for a visit a couple of weeks ago.

Mage’s Initiation (http://kck.st/W7OBdj) also has one week to go. This is a Quest for Glory inspired hybrid adventure / RPG in which you play an elemental mage. Depending on your specialty (Earth, Air, Fire, or Water), you will have unique puzzle solutions and combat abilities. The team has just added a playable demo of the Fire Mage; you can download it from http://www.himalayastudios.com/downloads/Mages_Initiation_Demo.exe. I managed to work through the puzzles with a little head-scratching, but couldn’t quite survive the first combat test. Maybe they’ll add a turn-based mode as in Hero-U. 🙂

Weregeek (http://www.weregeek.com/) is one of Lori’s and my favorite webcomics, and now it has its own Kickstarter (http://kck.st/VeeGKq). Alina Pete, the very Canadian creator, is a cool person in addition to an excellent artist and very imaginative writer. The idea behind the comic series is that ordinary people turn into Weregeeks – sometimes with amazing powers – as a result of their secret lives as role-playing game addicts. Or maybe it’s the full moon or something. Anyway, great stories up there for free, and it’s up to us – by supporting her Kickstarter – to make it possible for Alina to keep telling them.  There are just three days left in the Weregeek campaign.

Big Games With Huge Potential

Those are the “little people” with great small projects deserving your attention. There are also two new blockbuster games that many of you will enjoy if you have anything left in your wallets.  (Please help the little projects first – Your backing will make a huge difference to them.)

Shroud of the Avatar (http://kck.st/WahMzs) is Richard Garriott’s (“Lord British”) spiritual successor to both the Ultima series and Ultima Online. At 91% of its million-dollar goal just a week into the campaign, this one is definitely happening. The team is already well into development; the project page shows a number of videos showing game play. It’s a highly-ambitious game that is trying to provide a solid single-player experience as well as the fun of gaming with friends and a few potential future friends. Can Lord British pull this one off? Join the backers and find out.

Torment: Tides of Numenera (http://kck.st/13F7hZm) is the second big Kickstarter from Brian Fargo and his inXile Entertainment team. Previously they funded Wasteland 2 at almost $3 million. Ten days into their new campaign, they are close to passing that. This one is the spiritual successor to Planescape: Torment, one of the best D&D-based computer RPG’s. They are teaming up with Monte Cook, who raised over $500,000 back in September for the paper gaming version of the Numenera system. (That one had a $20,000 goal!!) Torment: Tides has the potential to be a terrific story-based RPG.

That’s enough for this Update. We’ll see you all next month with more art and other information on the progress of Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption.

Leisure Suit Larry – Love For Sale, On Gog.com!

Release: Leisure Suit Larry: Love for Sail!

Dignity overboard!

Leisure Suit Larry: Love for Sail!, the final classic installment of the hottest grope-and-click adventure saga in existence, featuring everyone’s favorite hapless wannabe Casanova, is available on GOG.com, for only $5.99

Cruises are particularly popular with horny people. We don’t have any science to support that statement, but who needs numbers when the facts are out there in the open, for everyone to see. If you’ve ever been on one, or even heard about one, you’ll know we’re not mistaken. It stands to logic as well. Just think about it. The space on the boat is limited, just as the ways to pass time. On top of that, there aren’t that many people to choose from onboard. Boredom, limited space, limited choice, unlimited supply of alcohol in the bar–sounds like a great chance for the sorts of Larry Laffer. But will the errant womanizer be able to take full advantage of all the favorable circumstances?

Leisure Suit Larry: Love for Sail! is the final Leisure Suit Larry game from the classic Al Lowe era of the series, and it’s considered to be the best one. The cartoony graphics and fantastic animation alone make it stand out, but it’s the witty humor and a scenario full of fun and–ummm–excitement, that make it one of the most memorable point-and-click adventure games of all times.

Do you think you’ve got what it takes to be a good wingman? Test your skills in Leisure Suit Larry: Love for Sail!, for only $5.99, on GOG.com.

We also have some good news about the previously released Leisure Suit Larry 1-6 pack. We’ll be adding the full-talkie SVGA version of Larry 6 today. Check out the game page, there’s a good chance it’s already there. If not, it will be available very soon.

LSL Reload Update #52!

Happy Monday Holiday again, faithful Larry backers!

It’s been an incredibly eventful couple of weeks. I’m referring, of course, to the release of the alpha version four days ago.

I think it’s safe to say that there wasn’t an individual at Replay or N-Fusion who wasn’t as nervous as hell about this. Alpha versions are not intended for viewing by the general public, and for good reason. We don’t want people rushing to judgment about the final product based on programming, art, music, sound, and text that are incomplete. Speaking only for myself here (although I’m sure I’m not alone), I was fairly certain that we would be inundated with emails asking us about features, puzzles, scenes, and characters that aren’t in the alpha.

Instead, the response blew us all away. The vast majority of commenters clearly had no trouble understanding the concept of an alpha, and, better yet, were overwhelmingly supportive of our efforts. That’s not to say there aren’t issues people have brought up, and we’re listening to them.

But most of all, I think the alpha has proven something to that small, vocal contingent who’ve been doubting that we were serious about bringing Sierra On-Line gameplay, and Larry in particular, back to life.

We know the job is far from over. None of the music you heard is final. Some of the backgrounds you saw aren’t final, including the close-ups of Eve, Jasmine, Faith, and Fawn. There are literally thousands of lines of text and dialogue that aren’t plugged in. There are many characters you haven’t seen at all yet, dozens of animations yet to come, and a lot of fixing and tweaking of stuff that is there. Then there are the voices. So there’s still a lot of heavy lifting still in front of us, but now the world knows that we were serious when we said that Larry will Live Again.

In other news…

The various Backer rewards are all in progress; some are actually finished and in the Replay offices. Here’s a shot that Britton Mathews found of the silkscreens for the exclusive Larry t-shirt.

As I’ve mentioned before, the Backer rewards will all go out at the same time, at the end of the game’s production. We need to wait until all the artwork is finalized, because some rewards, such as the calendar and the art books, require finalized artwork.

We had an interesting little hiccup in the Breath Spray production a couple of weeks ago: on the label, we had text that included the words “Contains industrial-strength breath spray.” The company that produces the custom-printed spray contacted Kevin Kettler and said, “The FDA is refusing to allow us to put that on the label.” So we did a rewrite, but Kevin pointed out that while Larry has been rejected by many women over the years, this is the first time he was actually rejected by the government as well!

By the time I speak to you again, we’ll be startlingly close to beta. So hang on. The best is yet to come.

One last tidbit before I turn back to my spreadsheets. Al recorded Larry’s Theme with his MOJO Big Band just a few days ago, and although we don’t have a final mix for you yet, we thought you might enjoy it. Here it is.

https://s3.amazonaws.com/replaygame/mp3/LeisureSuitLarry.mp3.

Josh

LSL Reload Update #50!

Hi, ya, KSers! It’s me, Al Lowe, back again with another huge bunch of news for our thousands of favorite people in the whole world! (But not everyone. You. Over there. Yeah, you! The person not reading this. You’re no favorite. But all the rest of you are!)

It’s been a busy few weeks here at Larryton Abbey, so let’s get right to the deets!

Alpha release scheduled

Those of you who qualified for the Alpha release of the game get the first big news: right now, we think our Alpha version will be ready for download on February 16, yes, a mere dozen days from right now!

You’ll receive complete details via a Britton Mathews magic email, but I don’t think he’ll mind me letting it slip that it’s going to be a download from Steam. Now remember: this is an Alpha and (like making laws and sausages) it ain’t pretty, but rejoice in the knowledge that you’re going to get the very first look at Leisure Suit Larry: Reloaded of anyone outside of us inside the Larry Compound.

Sure, the game is buggy; in fact, it’s so buggy we not going to accept bug reports from you. Nope, all you get to do is enjoy it! No responsibilities. How Larryish!

Beta testers, be patient. You won’t get off so easy; from you, we’re going to expect lots of bug reports. But when the beta release will be, we’re not sure — but it won’t be long from now!

Achievement and Points

We’re in the process of implementing a new Achievement system for the game. While all of my games used Points to indicate your progress (as will this new version), now you’ll be able to share your progress with your friends via Achievements. I can’t tell you much about it, but just think what Achievements from Josh Mandel (and me) could look like. Ah, the implications! The double entendres! The embarrassment!

Music

You know how I feel about game music in general and how much of it is weak. But not Leisure Suit Larry: Reloaded! Every weekly update we get from Austin Wintory confirms in my mind what a ge-nius he is — and what a lucky slob I am for being able to land him for our project!

I’m so delighted to hear what he’s doing with my humble little Larry theme song. He’s treating it as a leitmotif that you’ll hear throughout the game, subtly weaving it into a tapestry of beautiful colors that capture the emotion of the various scenes perfectly. And yes, I’m still talking about Leisure Suit Larry.

Box Art

I’ve seen the first drafts of the commemorative box artwork and I love it. You will, too! Talk about a real collector’s item! It’s a masterpiece. This will blow you away.

Logo

The game’s logo is now finalized and here it is:

Collectibles

Speaking of artwork, we’ve also finalized the design for the Leisure Suit Larry playing cards, con-doms, cocktail napkins, shot glasses, poker chips, and other cool KS higher level rewards. At the risk of sounding like a broken record (wait; anachronistic), uh, dirty CD (nah; dated) repetitive download (hmm?), anyway, it’s some of the coolest stuff I’ve ever seen associated with a game. I can’t wait for you to see it. Which you will. Soon. But not too soon!

Fester enters beta

Fester Mudd: Curse of the Gold is currently in beta and will be rolled out to PC and Mac via a brand new platform on our very own website, as well as most other major portals worldwide. An-droid and iOS will follow soon after. Set aside some time to enjoy this one!

More is worth a wait

Because of all the cool things we’ve added to the game, our schedule has slipped …a little. We planned for a March release; unfortunately, we’re going to be a few days late. Let’s just say early April.

Please consider this good news: by waiting just a little longer, you’re going to get the best game we can create! And isn’t that worth a little wait?

Whew!

I didn’t mean to wear out your scrolling finger with this update, but I’m so proud of the Replay and N-Fusion teams and the work they’re doing here at Laffer Manor that I just couldn’t stop bragging!

Until next time,
AL

SpaceVenture Update – Stretch Goals And Such.

January 31st is the last day for the backer system:

Time is running out for getting in on the incredible SpaceVenture backer items. Please help us spread the word by telling everyone to visit http://guysfromandromeda.com before time runs out. We are also planning to deploy the official store very soon.

Ken Allen’s Kickstarter: 

If you haven’t already heard, our very own SpaceVenture composer Ken Allen(Sierra alumni and composer) is running a Kickstarter called “Under The Half Dome”

CLICK HERE to check out his Kickstarter page!

Jim Walls joins Chris Pope Live

As we mentioned in the previous update, Jim Walls, the creator of the Police Quest series will be joining Chris Pope on the Guys From Andromeda Podcast.

When?

Friday February 1st, 2013 at 6pm PST / 9pm EST (Check your local time zone info here)

Where?

www.justin.tv/andromedaguys

Ken Allen’s HALFDOME KickStarter is LIVE!

PLEASE pass around the following URL that links directly to the Kickstart: http://tinyurl.com/kenallenhalfdome


=========

If you played PC games 2 decades ago, there’s a chance I created its music. I’m making a new album based on some of that music & more.

  • Launched: Jan 22, 2013
  • Funding ends: Feb 21, 2013

Yeah the video is pure corn dog. It was fun to make and edit. But my forte is music (pardon the pun). Thank-you to my patient wife who directed this video.

First some housekeeping.

Links

The Project

I am producing a brand new album based on music I created during my years as a game composer, roughly 1989 – 1996.

What was once music created for vintage era PC sound cards and synth modules will now be freshly recorded for full orchestra with the same sound libraries used by today’s film and TV composers.

The album will feature a lot of work based on pieces I did for Sierra’s games, like Space Quest, King’s Quest, Oilswell, Dr Brain and more, and I’ll add some of my favorite tracks from other games not published by Sierra.

About The Album

As mentioned above, I’ll be producing all-new performances using state-of-the art workstation software and the same instrument libraries used by many of today’s film and TV composers.

The sound libraries are from the Complete Composers Collection, which includes Orchestra, Choir, Fab Four, Stormdrum 2, Pianos, Goliath, and Ministry of Rock, plus a few more.

You can find these on soundsonline.com. (No, this is not a shameless cross promo plug.)

If this Kickstarter does well, I’ll invite guest musicians and singers to perform on a several of the tracks.

If we raise enough to reach one of my stretch goals I’ll even have the album mixed in 5.1 audio, but I’m getting ahead of myself. Stretch goals will be announced as this campaign makes progress.

The album will be roughly equivalent to an audio double CD, somewhere north of 90 minutes, and will highlight some of my favorite work spanning my game composing career.

I’ve got a couple surprises in the track listing, too, so stay tuned.

Backer Rewards

Outside the US?

Be advised that sending physical goods to backers outside the US will cost extra.

I’ve made estimates for shipping. Check the rewards section for more info. I’ll do my best to keep the costs down. And if it ends up being cheaper, I’ll refund you the difference.

$5

This is the minimum pledge for this project.

At this tier, not only do you get a warm fuzzy feeling from supporting this project, but you get notified when I post updates here and YOU get to leave comments here.

This way, you get to jump in, stay informed, and then increase your pledge later. You can increase your pledge at anytime before the end of this Kickstarter.

$15

For $15, you receive a digital download of this album (in lossless format and MP3) and a PDF of the CD booklet.

You also get access to my backer-only blog, which will even include video and podcasts chronicling my progress on the production of the album as well as the music for the upcoming game SpaceVenture by the Guys From Andromeda.

Go to guysfromandromeda.com for more about this game. (Yes, this IS a shameless cross promo plug.)

You also receive a badge based on the album cover, which you can use in online forums and social networks. (Pictured badge not the actual badge.)

Plus everything from the lower tiers.

$20

For just $5 more, you’ll also get a collection of ringtones based on music from this album.

$30

At $30, you take delivery the album in its physical double CD form.

Yes, this is so 1999, but the CD cover is autographed by yours truly and the artist creating the album’s cover art. (See $150 for more about the artist.)

Plus, you get everything else in the lower tiers.

$50

At $50, you receive a digital download of the making-of videos and podcasts from the backer-only blog.

Plus, not only will your name will be listed in the Thank-You section of the CD booklet, I will call you with my personal thanks!

During the call you can ask me about stuff like what it was like to work at Sierra, or the process of creating music, or even how I got interested in composing music in the first place.

We’ll do this as a video call in a Google Hangout and invite several of your friends, or we can just do the call on the phone. Your choice.

This, in addition to all the rewards from the lower tiers.

$75

At $75, not only do you get everything from the lower tiers, but you take delivery of a t-shirt unique to this project.

It features the first page from the conductor’s score of Back To The Sequel, a fully orchestrated recording based on the opening of Space Quest 4, which will be included in this album.

$100

At the $100 level, you get to participate.

You can write up to 250 words for the liner notes on any family friendly topic. Wanna say how playing your first Sierra game blew your mind? Here’s your chance.

Plus you are listed as Associate Producer in the album credits, and you lay claim to all the rewards from the lower tiers.

$150

This summer, some friends and I will make the trek to Yosemite’s Half Dome, the beloved icon of Sierra Online, and we’ll revisit the old Sierra HQ buildings where all this magic took place.

We will film this trek and create a documentary, and then YOU get an invitation to download it.

You also take delivery of a signed and numbered 12 x 12 enlargement of the CD cover created by Sierra artist and illustrator, Rich Powell.

Rich’s website is at www.richpowell.com and his webcomic can be found here www.gocomics.com/dixie-drive. (Shameless plug #2.)

This is in addition to all the rewards from the lower tiers.

$200

For $50 more, you take delivery of a physical DVD of the trek to the old Sierra HQ and Half Dome from the $150 tier, which includes stills and footage not made available in the digital download.

The DVD case will be signed by those who participated in the climb as well as your truly.

You also take delivery of a second copy of the album CD to give to a friend, and a 2nd t-shirt that bares the phrase “A Real Pantload” in the Space Quest font.

All this loot, plus the rewards from lower tier rewards.

$500

Now this next one was suggested by one of the fans.

If you want to perform on one tracks for this album, a pledge of $500 will get you there.

The track is called Space Questin’ and is based on a song performed one of the bands from the Space Bar cantina in Space Quest 1 (VGA remake).

What to hear what your gettin’ yourself into? Here’s a link to a fresh recording of the original song performed by my friend, Brandon Blume. (Shameless plug #3)

Even if you’re not a musician, through the magic of the interwebs and NASA technology, we can record you snapping your fingers, clapping your hands, or even hitting a cowbell. You can even use this track to promote yourself as a recorded musician.

On top of that, to commemorate yourself being a recorded on a track on this album, you get a 3rd t-shirt that reads “Space Questin'” in the Space Quest font. You also get listed in the credits as a performer in the song.

That, plus everything from the lower tiers.

$750

At $750, the rewards reach the true enthusiast level.

Not only do you get everything from the lower tiers, and if you’re keeping track, it’s a LOT, you also receive a keyboard used by me in the production of this album and the SpaceVenture game, which will also be signed by yours truly.

To clarify, I will purchase the keyboard pictured above, use it to make some music for this album and the SpaceVenture game, add my autograph, and then ship it to YOU.

$1,000

I will compose a song for you.

You tell me the music style and what message you want to convey. You can even suggest lyrics or melody. Or it can just be an instrumental for a family video or home-brew game.

And for your pledge, you also receive a license to use the music for any family friendly purpose of your choosing.

If the song turns out great, I’ll include it in this album!

And if THAT is not enough, you also get everything from the lower pledge tiers.

$2,000

This is the grand-daddy of tiers for this project (unless you can come up with something even more awesome, which I’m sure you can)!

For a $2,000 pledge, not only do you lay claim to all the rewards from the lower tiers, but I will commission a company to create a customized bobble-head doll set of YOU and ME rocking out together.

Just the thought of this gets me excited. Yes, I’m cereal!

Higher?

If you’ve got suggestions for rewards at even higher tiers, click the comment link above and then click on “contact project creator”. Let me know your ideas for rewards on this project.

Image Credits

Images used here are through a Creative Commons license, except for the Kickstarter badge at the $15 tier, the image created by Rich Powell used in the $150 tier, the keyboard image at the $750 tier, and the bobblehead image used at the $2000 tier, all of which have been used with the permission of the owners.

Thank you!

Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

Though I will be performing most of this music as I did when I composed the originals, I want some of the tracks to be collaborative with some friends who are also musicians. We would be using the cloud to do this and this will be my first time using a virtual studio.

So, cloud collaboration is part of the plan and among the risks.

As with every Kickstarter project, the rewards and shipping them cost money, and I’ve done a lot of research on this, but there’s always the chance I may have misinterpreted the data from my sources.

If the rubber hits the road and I discover the cost of a reward tier exceeds the pledge amount, I’ll let you know so we can work out a fair alternative.