SpaceVenture Project Update #86: Dec. 16th update: Puzzles, Deaths, and Artwork, Oh my!

Hey there backer folks, sorry for the delay on this update. It’s crazy crazy times here at SpaceVenture camp. From a development stand point, a lot of time and energy has been put into three main things.

(1) A puzzle sequence that involves Ace having to get passed some animated objects(leaving out the spoilers) that will kill Ace if he gets to close. This is our first puzzle that we’ve done like this, so some extra TLC is needed.

(2) The death sequence that involves Ace being killed by the animated objects. We know how much Space Quest fans love their death sequences, so as you can imagine, it’s gotta be right!

(3) The icon UI is still in revamp mode. I’ll hopefully have some details to share in the near future.

As always, Mark and his team have been focused heavily on artwork. Scenery artwork still in the works. One of the scenes he is polishing right now will make you sci-fi parody fans giggle in ecstasy when you see it.

These were the words Mark said to me when he first showed it to me: “How many cease and desists do you think we’ll get out of this scene?”. All I’ll say is it puts me in mind of the Space Quest 3 garbage freighter area big time! I’m not sure if/when Mark will let me show it to you. I think he is really wanting it to be a surprise, but we’ll see what I can rip from his hands in the future 😉

EPISODE 5 OF THE NEW BI-WEEKLY PODCAST BY THE SPACE QUEST HISTORIAN

The Space Quest Historian dons his hard hat and delves beneath the surfaces of your favorite Space Quest games. Well, all six of them, in fact. Joined by famed resource spelunkers Akril, BlockMaster and Alan Luckachina, and aided by the invaluable help of Andrew ‘Collector’ Branscom, it’s time to blow the lid off the treasure trove that is the secrets of the Space Quest games.

NOW IN ITUNES!

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RSS FEED HERE

 OTHER SIERRA ALUMNI PROJECTS

The amazing Josh Mandel / Al Lowe’s Leisure Suit Larry Reloaded

Jane Jensen’s Moebius and Pinkerton Road Studio / GABRIEL KNIGHT: SINS OF THE FATHERS 20TH ANNIVERSARY

Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption by the Quest for Glory designers – Corey Cole and Lori Cole

Thanks for all of your support everyone!

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

-= UPDATE! =- Leisure Suit Larry creator Al Lowe retires from Replay Games

Al Lowe

Venturebeat Reported this.

The long and the short of it, per Al Lowe: “It’s time for me to go back to doing the things I love, spending time with my family, taking care of my wife, and playing in my big band,” Lowe said in a statement to VentureBeat.

“I really had a blast during the Leisure Suit Larry Kickstarter and throughout development, especially packing those all boxes!” he said. “I’m not leaving for any other reason than to just return to retirement. I’m 67 years old. I don’t know how many years I have left, and the ones I do have left I want to spend with my family and friends.”


Apparently the quote was not originally given by Al Lowe!

Venturebeat then corrected their article after speaking to Al Lowe.

UPDATE!

From Al Lowe’s Twitter :



SpaceVenture Project Update #85: Dec. 1st Update: Conditionals, the UI, and a little piece of art at ya!

We hope those of you that celebrate Thanksgiving are doing well and are having a good recovery from your food comas! I know for us, we are very thankful for all of you, and cannot wait to show you all what we’ve been working on.

RECENT PROGRESS

More updates to our event driven system have been added to account for some missing capabilities. Namely, we wanted to be able to adjust certain things in the game based on the distance that Ace/Rooter were from certain objects. Example, let’s say that you want to look at an object that is on the other side of the screen, however Ace is on the opposite side of the screen. Shouldn’t the narrative dialogue be different depending on distance? Especially if something is currently blocking Ace from reaching the object. The recent modifications have made that possible.

You’ve seen us mention Event Driven stuff quite a bit. Our senior developer has posted on the SpaceVenture Rewards website about “What is an Event Driven Object?”. Reading his write up will help understand things a little better. You can read it here. Also, if you have problems logging onto the SVRewards website, please email pcj@andromedanpost.com

Another thing that has been a focus as of late is changes to the user interface of the game. We have never been happy with the UI. As much as we love the old sierra style UI, we are really pushing for something that relates to that but is more intuitive. A lot of ideas have been passed back and forth and some great mock ups have come out for that. Eventually I hope to show you all some of what has been put together.

As for what Mark and his team have been working on in terms of artwork, they have also made some great progress. New character artwork has been completed as well as scenery. I’ve been pestering Mark to let me show off some of what he’s been working on and he finally released a small piece for you all to check out.

This scene happens about 3/4 of the way through the game. I don’t want to spoil too much, but you can probably assume certain things about the predicament that Ace finds himself in here.

EPISODE 4 OF THE NEW BI-WEEKLY PODCAST BY THE SPACE QUEST HISTORIAN

The Historian climbs his soapbox and talks about the myth of the female gaming market, with the gracious help of real, actual females like Say Mistage, Cassie Benter and Serena Nelson, along with the indispensable wisdom of Professor Jess and Guy From Andromeda, Scott Murphy. There’s also another installment of the Space Quest IV soundtrack rundown by fan musician Brandon Blume and SQ4 composer Ken Allen, as well as an informative segment on the graphic style of Infamous Quest’s Space Quest II remake by artist Jeremy Kitchen.

NOW IN ITUNES!

or

RSS FEED HERE

OTHER SIERRA ALUMNI PROJECTS

The amazing Josh Mandel / Al Lowe’s Leisure Suit Larry Reloaded

Jane Jensen’s Moebius and Pinkerton Road Studio GABRIEL KNIGHT: SINS OF THE FATHERS 20TH ANNIVERSARY

Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption by the Quest for Glory designers – Corey Cole and Lori Cole

Thanks for all of your support everyone!

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

Hero-U Project Update #46: Adding A Dimension to Hero-U

Let’s Go To the Movies

I shared our new teaser trailer video to backers last month, and our playable demo last week. Now it’s time to share the video with the world. Please tell all your friends to check out the trailer at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DRKycVbHce4 and spread the word.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DRKycVbHce4

The First Dimension – Story

Graphic adventure games are unique, living at the intersection of stories, animated films, puzzles, and interaction. Game producers have always argued about the best ways to design them. Some developers start with the challenges, some with the graphics, and some with words.

For Lori and me, every game begins with a story. We choose a setting, populate it with interesting characters, and ask, “What is life like for them? What are their problems, and how can the player help solve them?” Once we know the story, we can work with our team to create images and code that enhance the story.

The key word there is “work”. Here we have our story at the heart of a game, but 90% of the work goes into the presentation. Brian Moriarty, when he moved from creating text adventures for Infocom to the graphic adventure LOOM at LucasArts, probably said it best: “The problem with graphic adventure games is that you can’t do anything that you can’t show, and you can’t afford to show anything!”

Let’s call our story the “first dimension” of a graphic adventure game.  It’s critical, but not enough by itself.

The Castle on the RocksThe Castle on the Rocks

The Second Dimension – Graphics and Animation

One important lesson we learned from Quest for Glory V: Dragon Fire, and that was “avoid 3D”. Dragon Fire was the only game on which our team went way over schedule and budget. Three years of development on two different graphics engines and tons of 3D art were the main culprits.

Hero-U was supposed to be a simpler game with a simpler artstyle than Dragon Fire. So we reached out for artists experienced with traditional 2D cell animation. All of the Sierra artists in the early 90’s were adept at that, and the programmers just dropped the animations right into the game, so how hard could it be with modern tools and faster computers?

It seems we forgot about the part where Sierra put millions of dollars into developing the tools and engine for making that 2D art so easy. Unity3D has “3D” in their name for a reason; they are only now releasing a version designed to help develop 2D games.

Here’s some of what it takes to get a single 2D character to walk:

  • Design the character and draw a minimum of five angles (forward, back, back left, left, and front left). The last three can be mirrored, but only if the character is completely symmetrical. The artist needs to draw an asymmetrical character in all eight directions.
  • Draw a series of animation “cells” showing the character walking one step at a time in each direction. That’s how we did it at Sierra, and it was way easier when the artist only had 16 colors to adjust.
  • Alternatively, cut the character up into pieces representing each major bone and joint, then animate the pieces moving like a puppet. (This is how Shawn and the other characters are animated in the Demo.)
  • Convert the resulting animations into a format that can be imported into and used in Unity3D.
  • Write a bunch of functions that treat the 2D images as a 3D object. When the character walks somewhere – such as when the player clicks on an object – he needs to find a path to the object and move one step at a time, “cycling” the animation with each step.
  • Meanwhile, the code has to check if the player has changed facing along the way, and dynamically go through the in-between before switching to the middle of a different animation sequence. When done poorly, this will cause the character to “slide” across the screen or make jerky movements. It takes a lot of tweaking of both the art and programming to move him smoothly.

That’s all hard and time-consuming. Worse, the 2D animation in the demo just isn’t good enough for our game.

An Explo-ShawnAn Explo-Shawn

Into the Third Dimension – 3D Characters

That’s when Lori and I realized that not all of the 1998 rules still apply in 2013. Today 2D animation is harder than 3D. All experienced animators know how to work with 3D tools and Unity3D is optimized to use them. They take less time to animate, not more, and also less money. The question was whether we had tied our fates to the wrong technology for too long, and whether we had any choice.

Then fate intervened. We had volunteered to give a talk at the IGDA Summit in San Francisco. Sharing the same hotel was Casual Connect, a conference with a huge exhibit area. That’s where we encountered the Concept Art House (CAH) table. Lori and I were both very impressed by their outstanding game art portfolio.

As it turns out, both James Zhang and Daniel Roh of CAH are Quest for Glory fans, and they promised they could find a way to help us. “Small budget? No problem.”

We gave them a test character to model, and we were blown away – They gave us 3D art that looked even better than the 2D drawings they started from. Just as importantly, the 3D character worked perfectly in Unity.

CAH Gives Shawn a Case of the PolygonsCAH Gives Shawn a Case of the Polygons

We have now signed a deal with Concept Art House for them to model and animate all of our characters and monsters in 3D for a reasonable price and on a reasonable schedule. Actually, the schedule is better than reasonable – Every day we get new models and textures from CAH, and they are all outstanding.

Our team artists continue to focus on the game backgrounds, objects, interface, yearbook, and the many other art needs of the game. We’re incredibly excited about the new partnership and the amazing character art we will be adding to Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption.

Shawn Has Depth of Character!Shawn Has Depth of Character!

To the Fourth Dimension and Beyond!

We feel as though we’ve taken one small step into the 21st Century with our new character animation. Although we have an enormous amount of work to do on the game, we are feeling very good about our new development processes.

It won’t be fast; it certainly won’t be easy. But we’re getting it done, and the game will be much better with the new animation and the complex game behavior we are able to build into Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption.

Think of it as the fourth dimension of our graphic adventure.

Shawn in 3DShawn in 3D

Kickstarter Quickies

The projects I mentioned in the previous backer-only post are in their final days.  Here are two more interesting games mentioned by our backers:

Read Only Memories: A New Cyberpunk Adventure Game (http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/gaymercon/read-only-memories-a-tribute-to-90s-adventure-game/) is a retro-style Cyberpunk adventure game.  It appears to use 16-color graphics – quite a challenge.

The Mandate (http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1964463742/the-mandate) is a slick-looking science fiction RPG.  It also features adventure aspects, space battles, and exploration, so it looks like a cross between an RPG and a 4X game.

SpaceVenture Project Update #84: Nov. 16th Update: Short and to the point today.

Hello dear and fateful backer buddies! The last couple of weeks have been a bit slow in terms of cool items to show you. Don’t take that the wrong way. The team has all been busy working on various things, but it has mostly been a lot of behind the scenes stuff.

The Unity 4.3 update (our game engine of choice) was released last week and one of the things we’ve been looking into is how to leverage some of the new features. 4.3 features a whole new 2D kit that could potentially help our efforts tremendously going forward. Unity has also introduced some new animation tools involving their Mechanim system. This is all great news because we are gonna be able to hopefully make use of a lot of this in different ways 🙂

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE ABOUT SOME OF THE COOL THINGS IN THIS UNITY UPDATE

There is quite a bit of new artwork that Mark and his team have been working on that I wish I could show you. At this time, he’s not quite ready for me to post anything, but I’m hoping by next update, he’ll be ready to divulge some of the cool stuff that has been put together.

Some of you have made it known that you would love to hear about some of the “under the hood” stuff going on code wise with the game. Our Senior Developer Tyler is now going to be posting in the SV Rewards website. So for the code monkeys out there, his post will especially be for you!

CLICK HERE TO READ HIS FIRST POST. (WARNING: You must have an SVREWARDS account. If you don’t, or have problems logging in, please email pcj@andromedanpost.com )

EPISODE 3 OF THE NEW BI-WEEKLY PODCAST BY THE SPACE QUEST HISTORIAN

The newest episode of the Space Quest Historian podcast is live!

“Get ready for a full hour of juicy fun! The Historian delves deep into Space Quest IV and uncovers a host of hidden voice files. Brandon Blume and Sierra composer Ken Allen talk about the SQ4 soundtrack, and the SteveBot returns to talk about the hidden alternate path that was supposed to be in SQ2VGA. Jason Pullara, a.k.a. LordKat, caps things off with a calm and collected spiel about the usefulness of glowing gems. It’s a full hour’s worth of Space Quest extravaganza!”

NOW IN ITUNES!

or

RSS FEED HERE

PLEASE HELP SUPPORT THE BOLT RILEY KICKSTARTER

Our friends at Adventure Mob, not to mention Lori and Corey Cole, have got a really excited Adventure game that needs funding! Become a Reggae legend in “Bolt Riley” – A Jamaican adventure game by Adventure Mob

CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFO

Thank you so much everyone for all of your support!

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

How Well Do You Know Your Sierra Games?

Think you know your Gabriel Knight games? Think you could guess a screenshot from just a portion of a room? Could you guess what room and what game it’s from?

Well, how about taking the challenge and joining us Gabriel Knight Screenshot Game. There’s also one for King’s Quest, Leisure Suit Larry, Police Quest, Quest for Glory, and Space Quest!

So come by and check it out! Match your wits and skills against other Sierra fans!

SpaceVenture Project Update #83: Nov. 1st update on Oct. 31st: It’s a Halloween miracle!

Hey everyone! So tomorrow I will be at the GMX convention in Nashville TN. I’ll be traveling there early and will be tied up the whole entire day, so I thought I’d get this Kickstarter update out for you today. Happy Halloween and thanks for understanding! 🙂 By the way, as a side note, Scott Murphy and our Senior developer Tyler Drinkard have also decided to join me at the convention! If you’re anywhere nearby and can come meet up with us, we’d love to meet you!

WHATS BEEN HAPPENING ON THE PROJECT RECENTLY?

This past week has been an insanely productive time. As previously mentioned, a major part of what has been taking so long is all the “under the hood” stuff that needed to happen on SpaceVenture. Now that we have a great system for adding new elements to the game and making them do our bidding (evil Halloween laugh), we are finally moving at the pace we feel we should be moving.

Scott, Mark and I traveled to South Carolina and closed ourselves up in Tyler’s house for four straight days. We decided us getting together would be a good chance for us to make 100% sure we all got a grasp on the newly updated event system and scripts. This also gave us a chance to talk about a portion of the game that happens towards the end that has always felt incomplete as far as story and puzzles go. I’m happy to report, we got that fleshed out! I posted a small diary post about it here if you’d like to read! (Don’t forget that if you don’t have an SVRewards account, email pcj@andromedanpost.com )

We were averaging 12-16 hour work days, but did manage to occasionally sneak away to feed our faces! 🙂

(Left to Right)Mark Crowe, Tyler Drinkard, Scott Murphy, Chris Pope(Left to Right)Mark Crowe, Tyler Drinkard, Scott Murphy, Chris Pope

We also had a chance to record some behind the scenes footage while we were all together as well! And for the first time in 22 years, the Two Guys put some of there Andromedon costume on.

MEET MIKE PENNY, OUR HEAD ANIMATOR

We thought it would be cool to show case some of the SpaceVenture team in some upcoming videos. Here is a short video put together of our Head Animator, Mike Penny!

EPISODE 2 OF THE NEW BI-WEEKLY PODCAST BY THE SPACE QUEST HISTORIAN

The newest episode of the Space Quest Historian podcast is live!

Strap into your space jockeys and fly off into the nebulous with The Space Quest Historian, a bi-weekly show of all things tenuously related to Space Quest, SpaceVenture and The Two Guys From Andromeda. Soon the podcast will be available in iTunes, but for now, you can listen to it HERE!

First episode can also be found HERE

OTHER SIERRA ALUMNI PROJECTS  

The amazing Josh Mandel / Al Lowe’s Leisure Suit Larry Reloaded is on sale now for ($11.99) SALE 40% off.  

Jane Jensen’s Moebius and Pinkerton Road Studio  

Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption by the Quest for Glory designers – Corey Cole and Lori Cole

PLEASE HELP SUPPORT THE BOLT RILEY KICKSTARTER  

Our friends at Adventure Mob, not to mention Lori and Corey Cole, have got a really excited Adventure game that needs funding!

Become a Reggae legend in “Bolt Riley” – A Jamaican adventure game by Adventure Mob

CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFO

Thank you so much everyone for all of your support!

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

Final Soul – The Haunting (A Text Adventure Game!)

It was late 1995 when it happened. My childhood friend (Charles), his wife (Tammy), myself and my wife (Amiee) had just completed Sierra Online’s game, Phantasmagoria. We had huddled together and enjoyed the immensely fun (and, for back in it’s time, intense!) game. I had told Charles about a game I had played only a year or two before called Colonel’s Bequest, another Sierra Online game. Truth be told, I had been an avid, die hard fan of Sierra Online since Leisure Suit Larry 1. I had even played, from what I remember, was a horrid 4 color version of King’s Quest 1. I don’t recall if this was a limit of the monitor to only kick out 4 colors, but I could swear it was the same system I played LSL1 and KQ2 on (and it had 16 colors!) Regardless, Sierra Online games were something I had always wanted to work on.

Well, with no AGI/SCI tools (and definitely a lack in talent in being able to create some of those games!), I went with what I knew. Text adventure games! I had programmed several (quite silly) text adventure games, as well as wrote up some character generators for things like Dungeons & Dragons. So using BASIC and then compiling it with PowerBasic was something I could do! So, while living with Charles and Tammy, I began creating “Final Soul.” The game would be much like Sierra games, where you would have these limited areas you could explore and find various things; that would be used elsewhere (usually not in the most logical manner!) to solve riddles and unlock areas or clues! Having played Phantasmagoria and Colonel’s Bequest – I knew Final Soul would be something about being stuck in a house. I began writing the code and incorporating real life friends of mine into the game. It wasn’t long until I was done; the general format followed a previous text adventure game I had played – A Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy. I ran it through Charles, Tammy and my wife – and after four revisions, finally had a final, bug free version. However, when it came to compiling all this code; the compiler was limited, so I had to essentially make the command to “POKE” the CAPS LOCK to be on, and remove lower case options. Then I had to trunk down some of the text (and puzzles) and was finally able to compile the game. I had hopes of adding onto it (using the SAVE/LOAD feature to bypass the compiler’s limits, but never got around to it). I even had plans for a sequel to the game, which I never got around to programming (but had the majority of puzzles all written down).

The game, back in 1995, had no problems running on machines. DOS was something that was still a part of Windows 95 and Windows 98. However, fast forward to the future, and Windows 7 and what not – and suddenly there’s a “DOS” in the system, but it’s not real DOS. Suddenly the game could no longer function on modern machines. Well, that was until now. Collector, from SierraHelp.com created an installer that installed the game and made it run effortlessly with DOSBOX. There’s literally nothing to do but install the game, then double click the Final Soul icon on your desktop! And it launches! Granted, it’s an ancient text adventure game, and who wants to play THOSE anymore? Well, in the event YOU do – now you can. You can download the very small file for Final Soul – HERE! The ReadMe file within the installer package explains how the game works, and where to even go if you need the walk thru!

So how about it? Think you got what it takes to beat Final Soul? Got questions? Post it on the forum here!

Hero-U Project Update #44: The Hero-U Report

One year has passed since we posted the Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption Kickstarter project. Ten months since we received the proceeds. Originally we listed Oct. 2013 as the Estimated Delivery date. I’d like to talk a little about the scheduling and budget process and bring everyone up to date on the Hero-U project.

Before I dig into the details, here is the “too long, didn’t read” version: Lori and I remain 100% committed to delivering Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption to all of our backers and to the market. The game development is far behind schedule, but we are completely confident that we can and will finish it. Hero-U will look outstanding and will be as fun to play as we can make it. Based on past fan feedback, I think most of you will find that to be very fun, indeed.

A Kwirk and His MoneyA Kwirk and His Money

More What You’d Call “Guidelines”

This Update is partially a response to a project comment that said, “I assume the project’s not going to hit the October deadline…” Quite correct, up until the last word. The phrase on Kickstarter means exactly what it says, “Estimated delivery.” It’s more of a guideline than a deadline. However, the comment makes a good point – It’s time for a full Hero-U status update.

Based on what we knew at the time of the Kickstarter, October 2013 seemed like a reasonable estimate. There were actually four reasons for an October shipment date:

  • Lori and I love Hallowe’en, so we would have loved a Hallowe’en themed launch.
  • Releasing the game in October is a great time for people looking for Christmas presents.
  • At our minimum $400,000 goal, we expected to run out of money around October.
  • The date seemed achievable based on a small RPG built on the MacGuffin’s Curse engine. We planned to complete design in January, have a demo by April, combat working in June, Beta test in September, and release at the end of October. Ambitious, but possible.

Our Current Plan and Progress

  • Hallowe’en is still awesome. It’s a great chance for everyone to go to a party or trick or treating, since you won’t be locked in your room playing Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption.
  • We are shipping the Meep toys, t-shirts, and Hero-U baseball caps over the next few weeks. All of them make amazing Christmas presents (especially the Meeps).
  • Our development model with a mostly part-time team has slowed development considerably, but it has also slowed our “burn rate”. As a result, we still have a substantial bank balance. This is good – We will need it. More on that below.
  • The schedule that seemed achievable last year for a modest RPG was completely unrealistic for a full-scale adventure RPG. Our new target dates are playable demo next week (it is complete and ready to go), combat test around the end of the year, Beta in April, and release in June 2014. And yes, it is very possible we will need to extend that as well.

 The Money Game

Planning a Kickstarter-based project is hard. You have to guess where to set the goal and what you will actually receive. Lori and I started working on Hero-U in July of 2013. Based on our past projects and those of Brawsome, I came up with a pretty good estimate of the project’s cost. There was only one problem – It came out to $550,000 and we knew it would be very hard to raise that much on Kickstarter. We instead set our goal at $400,000 and successfully closed at $409,150. This makes us #81 on the list of “Top 100 Crowdfunded Companies” according to Entrepreneur Magazine, but it is a fraction of the budget of any of our previous games.  We added another $23,000 via PayPal.

After funding costs and rewards we’ve promised to backers, $275,000 of the $432,000 gross became available for the actual game development. Coincidentally, that’s almost exactly one-half of my original estimate. At a full burn, we would have run out of money about four months ago, and we would have about one-quarter of the game complete.

I chose a different route, developing the game more slowly while we worked out the technology, visual look, and the game design. There were many bumps along the way, but we now have a clear vision of how we will develop the rest of the game.

Shawn O'Conner - Then and NowShawn O’Conner – Then and Now

 Following the Vision

We have promised our backers a great game, and we will deliver it. We take our commitments and our craft very seriously. But how could we do that with half our planned budget?

Step one was to realize that we did not have to live within the Kickstarter budget – It is a “starter”, not an upper bound. I spent a great deal of time working with one of our backers on a possible “media investor” deal, but the numbers were impossible. The game would have to become an indie bestseller to make enough to continue the Hero-U series, and nobody can predict a bestseller.

Instead, Lori and I decided to self-fund the game by means of a personal home-equity loan. We will use that to pay our living expenses so we no longer need a salary, and we will fund other costs out of our “pocket”. Some say this is a big risk – We might lose our home. We see it as much less of a risk than promising a bestseller that we can’t guarantee.

Several of our developers have also agreed to defer some or all of their contract income until after we release Hero-U. They are equally committed to making sure that we complete the game and that it meets our high standards. We love our current team and are very excited about the work we are now seeing from them.

We are still short of the original $550K budget, but we are buying a lot of time this way, time we will use to create the combat test, much more art, and a substantial part of the game. If we need funding at that point, we will have many more options because we will have more to show. We can offer Humble Store pre-orders and Steam Early Access, apply for a small business loan, do a supplemental crowdfunding campaign, etc.

The Bottom Line

We have had many unexpected challenges with the Hero-U project, and not all of our development decisions have turned out well. However, none of those problems were disastrous, and we are now making good progress. Lori and I are just as committed to making a great game as when we first proposed Hero-U. We are now in solid financial shape and we have a much clearer road map towards completing the game. We hope that all of you will remain understanding about the incredible challenges of independently developing a high-quality game.

Bolt Riley - A Reggae AdventureBolt Riley – A Reggae Adventure

Support Bolt Riley – A Reggae Adventure Game

You may have wondered why Lori and I decided to make a new game 15 years after Quest for Glory V. A lot of the credit for that belongs to Oded Sharon of Adventure Mob in Israel. Late in 2011, Oded talked to Noah Falstein about helping him find an experienced adventure game design consultant. Noah introduced us to Oded and we started work on the game that became Bolt Riley. We helped with the overall design structure and wrote the puzzles and dialogue for about one-third of the full game.

Bolt Riley is the story of a young man growing up in a very poor section of Kingston, Jamaica. He loves music, especially the Reggae sound, and wants to become a singer. In the game, you will play Bolt and help him discover the inspiration he needs to write great songs and put together a talented group of musicians.

Alas, Adventure Mob’s publisher deal for Bolt Riley fell through, and they had to suspend development on the game. They were also very busy at that point with another project – The prototype that Replay Games used to launch the Leisure Suit Larry: Reloaded Kickstarter. Lightning struck a second time when Replay cancelled the deal with Adventure Mob, and the company went on hold for a year.

Oded also worked hard to convince Lori and me that we should run a Kickstarter. He helped us understand how crowdfunding campaigns work. Oded also introduced us to Chris Pope of the SpaceVenture project. Between them, they convinced us that it was time to throw our hats back into the ring and make a new game.

Back in 2012, Kickstarter only allowed U.S. companies to create funding projects. Now that they have opened their doors to more of the world, Oded Sharon and Adventure Mob are able to seek the additional funding they need to complete Bolt Riley, including Lori’s and my section of the game.

Oded is looking for $120,000 to finish the game development. With a substantial portion of the art, programming, and music for the game already complete, this seems realistic. Lori and I hope that many of our backers will check out Bolt Riley and help support the project. We’re especially hoping that someone will choose the $10,000 tier that will result in us getting to visit Israel for the first time.

You can find the Bolt Riley adventure game project at http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/soundguy/bolt-riley-a-reggae-adventure-game.

SpaceVenture Project Update #82: October 16th Update: Where we’ve been and where we’re at!

Attention dear and faithful backers. I wanted to spend some time updating you on a lot of what is happening on the project. This includes some things that have happened in the past, happening right now in the present, and hopefully will be happening in the future. It is no secret that the SpaceVenture project has been behind and we wanted to explain why this is and how we are working to get things back on track.

 QUICK CLARIFICATION  Before I give you details, let me start by saying this. We are not broke and we are all still in this 100% and will make this game become a reality even if it kills us.

THE CHOICE OF WORKING WITH A CUSTOM TEAM

After the successful funding of SpaceVenture, Mark, Scott and myself (Chris), had multiple bids from companies wanting to help develop the game with us. Unfortunately, after Kickstarter and Amazon got their share of the money, along with having quite a few declined transactions, and budgeting our Kickstarter rewards, hiring a development studio to help us was not affordable. We budgeted our money based on what we brought in from Kickstarter, and decided to hire our own developers to help do the programming for SpaceVenture.

During the Kickstarter, we made it known that we had chosen Unity as our engine of choice for developing SpaceVenture. A huge part of that decision stemmed from wanting to create the game on as many different platforms as possible. No doubt that the game being available on multiple platforms was good all around, partly due to gaining us more backers that were interested in seeing the game on other platforms, but also in garnering future sales for the game. Needless to say, we stand firm behind this decision, but we do want it to be clear that there was quite a learning curve for everyone involved that proved more daunting than expected.

As for hiring our dev team, we hired two developers to begin with, one being a senior developer and the other being under his management. In the visual department, we’ve always had the talented Mr. Crowe overseeing everything involving artwork, and we hired a lead character artist/animator and contracted with other artists to help with character design and modeling.

The humor infused story of the adventures of Ace Hardway and his little metal apprentice Rooter, Mark and Scott have collaborated on story development in typical fashion. As Scott says, “Mark’s kickass art is quite a literally a canvas that inspires the narrative and dialogue, or whatever the kids are calling it these days, One of the very cool things that hasn’t changed from the early days of our partnership is that we inspire each other. As has always been the case some things are very fluid during the development process. Don’t be surprised to see the part of the game that was demo to have evolved. We intentionally have very slow setting concrete.” It was a no-brainer to bring in Ken Allen for the music and sfx when he expressed interest given our history. He’s back in peak form if not better than he was in the days of Space Quest. These things allow us to have a compact team that’s very effective.

All of us on the dev team have worked really hard to pump-out the highest quality code and assets, but the biggest snag we ran into was programming. Though our programmers were busting tail trying to get things done, there was so much that still needed to happen foundation wise before we really had anything to show for ourselves. We decided to hire another programmer to work with our team to help move things along faster. He was another very talented developer that was able to help immensely due to the fact that he had experience in dealing with event driven systems. The three programmers together made a big difference and a lot of the foundation code needed for SpaceVenture was finally completed. Having a good event driven system in place has been critical for us in order to have code that could continually be reused throughout the entire creation of the game. In other words, we won’t have to reinvent the wheel every time we need to make the character interact with things.

Once we had a big portion of our foundation code written with an event driven system in Unity, we were able to start plugging in all the visual elements that Mark and his team had completed. This is where the demo started to take shape which came out in July. The single biggest number one thing that has slowed us down is in having to deal with building the foundation underlying code of the game. That is also part of the problem with having a lot to show on the Kickstarters updates. It’s not that we haven’t wanted to show you all kinds of amazing things that are going on, it’s that a lot of the progress that has occurred have been focused mostly on the underlying programming components.

Here is a summary of some of the recent project accomplishments:

  • Event Driven System that is invaluable for reusing programming elements within our game engine
  • Custom built narrative editor used to easily manage all game dialogue
  • A newly designed working solution that makes implementing cut scenes much easier
  • The original demo code has been updated to be much more stable and is being utilized for the rest of the game. Though it is not a priority, we do plan to eventually re-release an update with a more stable version of the demo for backer testing.

THE BACKER WEBSITE

One thing for sure I would personally like to get moving along better is the SVRewards website. I might have to get the SQ3 skumsoft whip out in order to make it happen, but I’m gonna be pushing to get the team to start posting more frequently. Be on the look out for a lot more activity coming your way!

THOUGHTS ON WHERE WE ARE NOW

The three of us are firm believers in accountability and we hope and know you all will continue to keep us accountable, but at this time, we can’t give you an ETA on when the game will be available. We know this will anger a lot of you, but that is anger we will have to suffer, because we are NOT going to put a game out that is of low quality and doesn’t meet the expectation that fans have waited 20+ years for. We have decided to wait until we have a much clearer view on when the game will be ready before letting everyone know another expected date of delivery.

Hopefully you can see that we haven’t been idle throughout the entire project, like a lot of those that have voiced opinions, we are frustrated at the speed in which things have been moving, but on the flip side we will not jeopardize the quality of the game in order to meet deadlines. When SpaceVenture hits the market, it will be the game it should be. I have said many times, and the Two Guys are 100% in agreement with this, we want to make the existing adventure game fan base happy, but in order for us to succeed as a company we have to produce a game that also holds up by todays standards.

We’ve worked very hard to manage things with the funds we’ve been given. Please remember that we’re NOT doing a remake here, this is a brand new game, with brand new characters and scenery. And although $539,000+ is a lot of money, and in our opinion, enough to make an adventure game, it also means we have to keep things small and manageable in terms of our dev team. I wish I could say we had investors lining up to help fund a proven development team for completing the game. I wish Mark and Scott had not blown the millions of buckazoids they made at Sierra back in the day on triple breasted women and Keronian ale, else we could have most likely funded this sucker ourselves to begin with. But I digress.. 😉

All joking aside, in saying all of the above, Mark ,Scott and myself all want to let everyone know that we by no means think all the decisions we’ve made were perfect, but we have always had the best intentions for the project in mind, and taken a cautious slow burn approach because of technical problems. We’ve worked hard to keep our belts tight, made decisions as a team, and with the exception of those jetpacks we purchased, we’ve tried to be good stewards with the money you all have so graciously trusted us with. We also want to thank you so much for the patience that most of you have shown. We want to make a game that will blow you away with story, humor, music, graphics, and gameplay.

A SMALL CLIP FROM A CUT SCENE IN SPACEVENTURE

We wanted to share a small clip that demonstrates an in-engine 3D cut scene of Ace, Rooter, and “Scraps” rocketing their way home through a treacherous asteroid belt. This clip also features an inspiring score by our composer, Ken Allen. Don’t worry, this video is not too spoilery 😉

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jtl_KuLWgxA&feature=youtu.be

NEW BI-WEEKLY PODCAST BY THE SPACE QUEST HISTORIAN ‘

Strap into your space jockeys and fly off into the nebulous with The Space Quest Historian, a bi-weekly show of all things tenuously related to Space Quest, SpaceVenture and The Two Guys From Andromeda. Soon the podcast will be available in iTunes, but for now, you can listen to the first episode HERE!

OTHER SIERRA ALUMNI PROJECTS

The amazing Josh Mandel / Al Lowe’s Leisure Suit Larry Reloaded is on sale now for ($11.99) SALE 40% off. 

Jane Jensen’s Moebius and Pinkerton Road Studio

Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption by the Quest for Glory designers –  Corey Cole and Lori Cole

AN UPCOMING GAME THAT WILL HIT KICKSTARTER SOON

Become a Reggae legend in “Bolt Riley” – A Jamaican adventure game by Adventure Mob

Thank you so much everyone for all of your support!

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

PS- I will be at the Geek Media Expo in Nashville TN from Nov 1st – 3rd and would love to meet some of you. Drop by and say hi if you can! 🙂