SpaceVenture Update #65

Good news everyone! We are going to be able to offer women’s size t-shirts after all! As of this morning, we sent out an email to those eligible backers to get everyone’s shirt size. If you are eligible for a backer T-Shirt, please make sure of the following:

  • You are a backer of the proper level to receive one of these shirts!
  • Make sure that our official email address is in your email safe list: contact AT guysfromandromeda DOT com (email address listed this way to protect from mail harvesting)
  • If you didn’t receive an email from the above address, check your spam folder!
  • If you are worried about shipping address, don’t! We will get that later when it comes time to ship your shirt and other items!

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SpaceVenture Backer T-Shirt!

Hey everyone! We are in the process of getting all the backer T-Shirts made! As of this morning, we sent out an email to those eligible backers to get everyone’s shirt size.

If you are eligible for a backer T-Shirt, please make sure of the following:

  • You are a backer of the proper level to receive one of these shirts!
  • Make sure that our official email address is in your email safe list: contact AT guysfromandromeda DOT com (email address listed this way to protect from mail harvesting)
  • If you didn’t receive an email from the above address, check your spam folder!
  • If you are worried about shipping address, don’t! We will get that later when it comes time to ship your shirt and other items!

SHIRT PRO TIP: Don’t put on or lose any weight between now and when you receive your shirt! 😉

Also, those that would like to receive a shirt but aren’t a high enough level, please visit http://guysfromandromeda.com to up your level. The shirts will no longer be available after 12/16/12!

Thanks everyone so much for being a SpaceVenture backer! I know you are gonna love these shirts.

-Chris Pope

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LSL Update #46

Good morning!

We were hoping to hold this back for a couple more days, but there was a Red Carpet interview at Spike TV’s Video Game Awards last week, and now the cat’s out of the bag.

So we’re dropping this on you shortly before our official Press Release goes out: Our composer on Leisure Suit Larry Reloaded is Austin Wintory, Grammy-nominated, VGA-winning composer of the incredible soundtrack for Journey.

It’s impossible to say who’s more excited by this: Al, Paul, me, or Austin himself. We’ve been working on this deal for months (I note that my very first email to Austin, introducing him to the project, was on August 8th), and we couldn’t possibly be more thrilled. Any game would be outrageously lucky to work with Austin, and our li’l Kickstarter Larry GOT HIM!

Have a great day!

Josh

Larry Update #45

Good morning, Larryettes.

There have been two extra Kickstarter updates since I last wrote, pertaining to the effort to get both Leisure Suit Larry and Fester Mudd approved via Steam Greenlight. If you haven’t voted for them, and you’re willing to do so, I’d take it as a great favor…especially with Fester Mudd, because that game’s lead designer, Paavo Harkonen, is a talent waiting to be celebrated, and it’s been a privilege for me to work on that game with him.

As you probably know if you read the previous update or two, we’re having a contest, and five of the six prizes are pieces of original art from the game I did with Al back in ’93, Freddy Pharkas, Frontier Pharmacist. I want you to know that those pieces, original Freddy Pharkas talkers lovingly painted by ex-Sierra artist Ruben Huante, are near and dear to my heart. I’ve never made any of the Freddy artwork available before this year, I’ve been caring for them and showing them off for about 20 years now, and I think it’s time to spread some of the joy around.

(If you haven’t voted yet to enter the contest, here are complete instructions.)

The video that accompanied Kevin’s first update dropped eight full, complete backgrounds on you:

  • Lefty’s Exterior
  • Lefty’s Bathroom
  • Lefty’s Secret Room
  • The Come ‘n’ Go Interior
  • The Alley right of Lefty’s (got that?)
  • Mugger alley
  • The Telephone close-up
  • Lefty’s Video Gaming Terminal

For those of you keeping track, that’s not nearly all the backgrounds that’ve been finished. Others include Lefty’s interior, Lefty’s hallway, Lefty’s upstairs, the exterior of the Come ‘n’ Go, the close-up of the Hooker, the Taxi, and the Video Gaming Terminal at the Wed ‘n’ Ready (the while-you-wait wedding chapel).
You also got a taste of Larry’s animation and some of his “idle cycles,” the movements he makes randomly and habitually when you’re not telling him to do anything specific. We’re fully cognizant of the sliding issue with Larry’s walking. That’s a fine-tuning task that came standard with pretty much every Sierra adventure: matching the scale of the walker to the scale of the background.

From a narration-and-dialogue standpoint, I’m still keeping up with artwork. I’m going to talk a lot more about my procedures and choices with the text next time, but since there’ve been so many updates in the past two weeks, I’m going to keep this one brief and give you something entirely different today: the video from N-Fusion that I’ve been talking about for so long.

Now you’ll get to see a bit more of the process, put some faces to names, and so on. I love these people, and we’re lucky to have them working with us. They go above and beyond every damn day…weekends included.

More to come…perhaps sooner than you think.

Huggers,
Josh

Hero-U Update #30

Some of you may have managed to relax a little since our “photo finish.”  I managed to sneak away for a few days to play bridge in San Francisco (“Relax? Hah!”).  Besides handling requests from our backers, Lori and I have spent most of the last two weeks planning the project and adding to the game and story design.

And we’re still staying up until 2 a.m. most mornings.  Sleep is for the weak!

Final Kickstarter Results

The Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption project is now underway, and the Kickstarter funding period is closed.  There were only 21 failed payments out of almost 6,100 backers, which is amazing – Thank you, everyone, for staying committed to this project.

The funds have not yet been released to us, but we now have solid numbers.  Some of our expenses – notably backer rewards – are coming in higher than anticipated, but we still have a very solid starting budget for the project.  There are three ways we can add to the budget in order to increase art and other resources:

We are not currently offering add-ons on the PayPal page.  When we start producing items such as the t-shirt and toy meep, we will add a store page to purchase them.  Those items will ship immediately, rather than being added to the game shipment.

Cascade Falls Bridge, acrylic painting by Terry Robinson

Team and Design Changes

We are delighted to announce that Terry Robinson has joined the Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption team as Lead Artist.  Terry is an incredibly-talented artist who led the art team on Quest for Glory V: Dragon Fire, created box and promotional art for several of our games, and has created art for many other game projects including King’s Quest 7 and The Realm.  Eriq Chang remains on the team as a Senior Artist.

Terry’s first “modest” change was to scrap the square tile interface in favor of an isometric art style.  The game will still be 2D, but this will give it more of a 3D look.  In particular, characters and objects on the screen will look more natural.  The change will require a significant engine change, but will greatly enhance the visual appeal.

Lori and I, and the whole development team, are committed to making Hero-U a great game.  We have a tiny budget by current big game standards, but we know how to use it efficiently.  If it comes up short, we will increase the budget with additional investment rather than cut game features.  We’ve promised you a game as good as – or better than – any Quest for Glory, and we won’t back down on that.

Also joining the team is Chris Fong as Assistant Producer.  Chris recently received a Masters degree in game production from Full Sail University, where he was also Valedictorian.  Chris will assist me with planning, tracking contractors and project tasks, and making sure that all Kickstarter rewards are correctly fulfilled.

Other Game Projects

I mentioned Antharion in a previous update.  It’s an “old-school, turn-based, party-based RPG set in an open fantasy world.”  Unfortunately, they came up slightly short of their modest $15,000 goal, but now they’ve relaunched with an even lower $10,000 goal and several more hyphens in the description.  This time they’ll make it for sure, but they will be able to make a better game with more funding.  Check out their Kickstarter page at http://kck.st/YwRiKl.

The Last Door project has promised to Kick It Forward.  They are making a free-to-play episodic horror adventure “combining orchestral music with pixel art”.  If that sounds intriguing to you, check it out at http://kck.st/UJZqQN.

I’m sure there are a lot of other worthwhile projects of interest to Hero-U backers.  If you see one that we should share, please send me a Private Message (click on the “Contact Me” link next to my picture on this project’s home page) and let me know why we should support it.  As we will be doing much less frequent updates (approx. every 2 weeks), I would prefer to learn about projects that still have a few weeks to run.

A Decent Proposal

Everyone was in for a surprise at our AnyMeeting talk a few days after the Kickstarter closed.  One of our backers asked if he could make a speech.  As it turned out, Charles used his time to propose to Christiana, also known as Elsa von Spielburg.  Elsa founded the Quest for More Glory web site that helped convince Sierra to let us develop Quest for Glory V.  She has kept the spirit of our games alive ever since, and we were thrilled to learn of her engagement.

Elsa lives on Cyprus (not too far from the location of Hero-U), and Charles lives in the Northeast United States.  This is definitely a made-on-the-Internet match.  Lori and I are very happy to have played our small role in their online meeting through our games.

Bashar Speaks Out

At the previous Google+ hangout (shortly after we closed funding), another backer gave a presentation that we would like to pass on to all of you.  Bashar kindly provided this transcript:

Here in the United States we will soon be celebrating our day of national thanksgiving. But in this instance we have cause to be thankful that breaches all borders. Not just for the Coles, who have returned from obscurity to the industry where they so deservedly belong, nor for Brawsome Studios who have given them the capacity to do so. Not just for the deeply rooted community that has coalesced around this project and put so much effort into promoting it, nor to the more than six thousand individuals who made a difference in funding it. What these things, in combination, have brought us is more than a game. It is the confidence that tomorrow, the sun will shine a little bit brighter.

We live now in the digital age. Where we were once influenced by books, and then cinema and television, games will play an ever larger role in shaping who we are as individuals and as a society. Hero-U is a reminder that transformational change is made up of many small instances of heroism, sacrifice, and faith in a greater good. It is also a message to the next generation that life is string of choices, choices that define our character and have a real impact on the world around us. Today we have made our choice. We have chosen the Coles over corporations, we have chosen compassion over compromise, resolve over reflex. We have done so for more than our own well being, but to bring substance to those struggling under the weight of social ennui.

Whatever impact Hero-U may have on the industry, what I believe in is the impact it will have on those who play it. Lives that have been empty shall be filled. Eyes cast to the ground will be raised. The hopeless shall receive purpose. If Hero-U benefits one person in the same way that the Coles work has elevated my life, I shall hold my head high in knowing that I was there, I was part of it; that mine was one of the many instances of heroism that helped make transformational change in the lives of people I will never meet, in ways that I will never know. For that privilege, it is my privilege to give thanks to you all.

Thank you, Bashar!  We hope we will be able to add one more tiny addition to the spirit of Heroism around the world.  While we’re working on it, we encourage each of you to think about some small act of heroism you can do to make your part of the world just a little better… then do it!

Happy Birthday to LarryLaffer.net!

It’s our birthday today! December 8th, is when the first LarryLaffer.net site was born onto the web! It’s gone through quite a few revisions! Thanks to all of you who swing by and enjoy whatever content we have on the site! And thanks to Al Lowe for creating this lovable character!

LSL Update #42

Happy CyberMonday, Larryettes. (May I call you that?)

Before I get into this week’s bits and pieces, I want to thank everyone who supported Corey and Lori Cole’s HERO-U Kickstarter project. Though they made it a nailbiter, they DID reach their goal, so the project is a big thumbs-up. In fact, projects from ex-Sierra designers have a 100% success rate on Kickstarter (Jane Jensen, the Coles, the Two Guys, and the Larry project)…and in the games category, the general success rate for funding is under 40%. We’re hoping that this fact isn’t lost on the major publishers.
Now onto Larry news.

We’ve got the additional final backgrounds for:

  • Mugger’s Alley
  • Fire Escape Alley (Right side of Lefty’s building)
  • The Payphone closeup
  • The Video Poker closeup
  • The Come ‘n’ Go exterior

Mugger’s Alley called for some clever thinking on Colin’s part. This alley actually appears in numerous places throughout the game, and we wanted to make sure that it matches up well with all its locations. In the best of all possible worlds, and with an unlimited budget, each alley would look completely different, but that’s neither practical nor really necessary, as you never get to spend more than a few seconds in these alleys.

The Video Poker Machine will actually have several skins depending on where it appears, because we’re putting it in several places throughout the game. This is a departure from the game’s earlier incarnations, simply to reduce the number of cab rides that a player has to take.

Speaking of departures from the original design, we’re also taking out the concept of death due to going broke. There will always be a way in the game to get a buck or two with which you can rebuild your funds (I’m not going to reveal that methodology; it will become apparent only when and if it’s needed). This is borne out of our feeling that running out of money should just be another obstacle to overcome, not a cause for death.

That’s not to say we’re caving completely to current trends and removing death from the game. There are still many ways to die, but three that we’ve removed are:

  • Going broke
  • Bringing an alcoholic beverage into the taxicab
  • Running out of time

Many people might not remember (or might never have discovered) that the original Larry was timed, and you would die if dawn broke without your finding true love. But with our emphasis on being able to try vast numbers of actions, that naturally can add to exploration time, and it would be cruel to give people more opportunities for exploration and then punish them for taking advantage of those opportunities.In the original game, some deaths would result in Larry being taken to the “Larry Factory” underground. In the very first LSL1, it was an assembly line, and you could see other Sierra characters also waiting to be reassembled. In the VGA remake, it was more of a blender-and-mold affair. Our Larry Factory is neither of those; it’s a concept which I’ve actually hinted at obliquely many times throughout my updates. This new Larry Factory will return you to the exact point you were at in the game *before* you made your fatal error, so it’s as pain-free a death as possible.

We are *this close* (making pinching gesture with fingers) to signing our composer, and if it hadn’t been for the usual Thanksgiving shutdown of everything in the United States except for retail sales, we’d probably have it by now. We’re so excited about this that I’m going to put out an extra Update as soon as we can release the info.

Along with Windows and Mac builds, N-Fusion produced its first iOS build of the game last week. I had it up and running on an iPhone, and it’s absolutely beautiful. Jeff had it running on his iPad, and we were arguing on the phone about which looked cooler, and why.

That’s the news for now. Take care, keep warm, don’t fight, and thanks again for your support, not just for our game, but for all the resurgent Sierra-related projects. Those of us who are anxiously watching the Sierra renaissance are looking forward to a truly memorable 2013.

Hugs,
Josh

Meep And Greet

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Yesterday was “Thanksgiving Day” in the U.S., and we are very thankful for all our wonderful fans and supporters.  Thank you again, everyone!  We are very excited about moving from the uncertainty of the Kickstarter phase to the chaos and overtime of the design and production phases.  Most (99%) of the payments from backers have cleared, and we will have access to funds in about two weeks.

I will start sending Backer Surveys in the next few days so that you can provide a shipping address, tell us which add-ons you want, and so on. If your rewards include keys to previous games, we will try to get those out in December.

Meeting Tonight

Lori and I will host a meeting tonight at 8 pm EST (Saturday 1 am GMT). Visit http://www.anymeeting.com/HeroU1 at that time and enter your name, location, and email to attend.  This is a free site and we haven’t used it before, so we’ll all learn as we go.  Up to 200 people can get in to the meeting, there is a chat window to ask questions, and you can visit the site later to hear the recording.

Post-Kickstarter Store

We now have a PayPal page for people who missed, or were unable to contribute to, the Kickstarter.  It allows you to back the project with reward tiers identical to the Kickstarter $20 – $500 tiers.  We will also add a Donate button soon if you just want to contribute.

Visit – or send your friends to – the Hero-U KS Store at http://www.hero-u.net/get-hero-u.html#storetop. You can purchase with a PayPal account or with any major credit card through PayPal.  All purchases made at the KS Store through February will count towards project stretch goals.

We are not selling add-ons through the store at this time.  We will be adding a separate page for them later.  For now, there are some school-related items available at http://www.cafepress.com/herobazaar. Purchases at the Hero Bazaar are print on demand, so you will get them quickly, but we can’t count them towards project stretch goals.

Partner Projects That You Will Enjoy

Some people have the idea that there is a “gaming pie” (mmm, pumpkin), and one slice of it for all the adventure game sales.  So if a lot of people buy one adventure game, all the others suffer.  To this I say, “Stuff(ing) and nonsense!”  Each successful adventure game gives players more fun and helps the rest of us too.  So please support these games if you can.

There is still time to back the Shadowgate CRPG. They are almost at their goal with 56 hours left – http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/zojoi/shadowgate.

The other three games I will mention were all successfully funded on Kickstarter, and are being created by “Sierra On-Line Alumni”.  Ken Williams got behind us because we are part of “the rebirth of the spirit of Sierra”.  All of us made fun games in the 90’s, and now we’re showing you what we can do with modern computers. (We give thanks for not having to ship a game on 8 floppy disks!)

The folks at Replay Games, and especially Josh Mandel, gave us a lot of valuable publicity towards reaching our goal. They are making a new and improved version of Leisure Suit Larry 1 over at https://www.replaygamesinc.com/.

We also got some big boosts from SpaceVenture, the new game by Space Quest creators Mark Crowe and Scott Murphy.  You can back their new game at http://guysfromandromeda.com/paypal-reward-tiers-spaceventure/.

Jane Jensen – designer of the Gabriel Knight games – has a new game studio, Pinkerton Road. Her first new game is Moebius, and she has several other games planned.  You can join her CSG (Community Supported Gaming) group at http://pinkertonroad.com/join-csg/.

Thank you! Thank U! Thank Ewe! – Hero-U Update #28

That was so close!  And what that means is that every single one of you, every effort large or small, every interview, post, link, and share was essential to Hero-U getting funded. You all deserve gold stars!

Thank you to every backer.  Large pledge or small, you all contributed to reaching the goal.  Lori and I feel honor-bound to give you the best game we can make to justify your faith in us.

Thank you to our active commenters.  People like Robert (our first backer), Candice, SD, RSF, Micartu, Ratatoskr, Serena, Thom, Nelson, Michael, Elsa, and a host of others who haunted the Comments, kept spirits alive, shared links, and answered other backers’ questions.

Thank you, Sierra veterans who helped us reach other Sierra gamers – Ken Williams, Al Lowe, Josh Mandel, Paul Trowe, Jane Jensen, Chris Pope (honorary Sierra alumnus), Scott Murphy, Mark Crowe. and Cindy Vanous (who convinced several backers to raise their pledges in the final hours).

Stretch Goals:

I’ve added three stretch goals to the main project page. You can help us reach them by continuing to back us by PayPal (http://www.hero-u.net/KS-store) and by send your friends to the Kickstarter Store at Hero-U (links under the video on main page) .

It will be a few days before we have the store ready.  Please be patient.

One feature of the store will be a button that lets you upgrade your Kickstarter pledge.  If I can find a way to make that work. 🙂  You will provide your Kickstarter name and pledge amount, then you can order a higher-tier reward by adding more to your pledge.

All PayPal sales at http://www.hero-u.net/KS-store as well as our final Kickstarter funding amount will apply towards reaching the stretch goals.

  • $500,000 – Companion Meep
  • $600,000 – Voice Acting
  • $700,000 – FIGS (French/Italian/German/Spanish) Localization

The Companion Meep is a Tamagotchi-like pet that you need to feed, groom, and be nice to. Your Meep will get in your way occasionally, and might even be helpful sometimes.In addition to the listed feature, every stretch goal will give us additional funds to devote to more and better content – additional art, music, design, and programming for your pleasure.

Projects That Still Need Your Help

I’m sure most of you are as exhausted as I am, and many are tapped out.  But if you still have a few dollars in your pocket, please visit these other worthy Kickstarter projects and see if you want to support them:

Shadowgate by Zojoi (http://kck.st/VsUwJ9) – Great remake by an excellent team.  All through our respective campaigns, Zojoi pointed backers our way (as we did theirs).  With just four days left, Shadowgate looks good to fund, but every dollar will help them make a better game.

Spud’s Quest by ChrisD (http://kck.st/PFLUCc) – This is a side-scroller, but it’s charming and has Zelda-like adventure game elements. If you enjoy the combination of action and adventure, check it out. ChrisD has promised a free art book PDF to every backer who also backed Hero-U.  8 days to go.

Furcadia: The Second Dreaming by Dragon’s Eye Productions (http://kck.st/RUc172) – Dr. Cat is involved in this one, and it looks like a cool project.  They are in excellent shape, but you might back it just because the game will be fun.

Divine Space (http://kck.st/Qi6MuO) – With 55 hours left, this project is in trouble, but could still make it with a major final push. They’re making a game with educational value that looks interesting and fun.

World of Steam (http://kck.st/TFrFjg) – Lori is backing it because she likes the style.  It’s already funded, but ending in 50 hours.  Some cool rewards and a fun stretch goal.

Sui Generis (http://kck.st/PkmGrD) – The graphics engine looks awesome. Will the writing and game play be as good?  If it doesn’t reach its goal, we may never know.  Currently at 45% with 8 days to go. I’m backing it because I think it has serious potential for future “sandbox” RPG’s.

There are many more great projects out there.  These are just a few that caught my attention and might be of interest to Hero-U backers.

And thank you, thank you, thank you again!  Without you, Shawn would have flunked out of Hero-U before the school even opened.  Now he’ll get his chance to graduate.

Even the Kickstarter Campaign Was a Game

John Garretson: Man, this is too cool. This is the first Kickstarter project I’ve backed. When I started, I was happy enough to contribute to a worthwhile cause by standing up in support of the type of game I love the most and sorely miss. I was happy enough standing with other adventure game lovers in support of two game design legends that had significantly impacted my youth with the magic of their craft.

But as the days wound on I discovered that the journey toward the funding goal was much like an adventure in itself. I started off alone and excited at the prospect of the game being proposed. Instantly after pledging, I was connected to a network of all of the worlds biggest Quest for Glory fans. Through the comments system I have been able to relive so many of my favorite gaming moments as all of you have shared your experiences with one another. Together, we watched and together we hoped for a happy ending.

Backers went out of their way to scour the net in public support of the project. We balanced our pledges against our personal budgets, and we found ways to sacrifice and skimp and save in order to stretch our pledges by $2.00 (a coffee) or $5.89 (joining the league) or in the case of an inspirational hero, by $2,500. We left to go about our business, returning each day to bear witness to the progress we had made. We waited with baited breath.

At one magic moment, the Coles actually responded to one of my comments. These people were legends in my house when I was growing up, and all of a sudden, here I was conversing with them! (Thank you for giving of your time so generously to share this experience with your fans.) Before I knew it, I was scouring the Hero-U website and watching a live stream playthrough of Quest for Glory 1.

Now, so close to the end (or the actual beginning), I have come to the conclusion that for me at least, this journey, and everything I have experienced through it so far, has been worth every penny of my pledge. At this point the game is going to end up being the icing on a very sweet cake. Thank you everyone for being so awesome! Looking forward to this happy ending!