March Meeping Madness!
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.
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.
pledged of $400,000 goal
seconds to go
Oct 19, 2012 - Nov 20, 2012
Pledge $5 or more
Friend: Thank you for your support! Your name will be added to the Hero list on www.hero-u.net/leadersroll.php, a small first step towards immortality.Estimated delivery: Dec 2012
Pledge $20 or more
Freshman: You will receive a DRM-free digital game download, access to discussion forums to help us improve the game, and your name will appear on the Hero list.Estimated delivery: Oct 2013
Pledge $35 or more
Sophomore: Digital Reward 2: Receive everything from the Freshman level, the downloadable Hero-U Soundtrack, and the gorgeous Hero-U Art Book in PDF form. The art book contains production sketches, final art, and insider commentary on the making of Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption.Estimated delivery: Oct 2013
Pledge $50 or more
Junior: Get a head start on your education by playing one of the development team's previous award-winning games. You will receive all of the Sophomore class benefits plus a digital key to your choice of MacGuffin's Curse, Jolly Rover, or the complete Quest for Glory collection.Estimated delivery: Dec 2012
Pledge $65 or more
Beta Tau Initiate: All-Digital reward. Everything in the Junior package, including your choice of one game key. PLUS you get early access to the Hero-U Beta and Combat-Balancing tests. Help us shape and tune the game the way YOU want it!Estimated delivery: Jan 2013
Pledge $75 or more
Senior: Get physical with a high-quality boxed copy of Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption containing the game on DVD and a printed game manual. You will also receive all of the Sophomore benefits (including an additional digital copy of the game). While you wait for your box, enjoy a preview with early access to our Beta and Combat Balancing Tests. All Seniors may add any of the Junior-level previous games at $15 each.Estimated delivery: Oct 2013Add $15 to ship outside the US
Pledge $100 or more
Big Man On Campus: (Super Digital Rewards) You're special, and everyone should know it. Your name (or your favorite character's name) will appear in the in-game DIGITAL YEARBOOK along with a brief statement of your/their accomplishments. We will also email you the Secret Thieves' Guild Password. (Other players will need to discover this in the game.) You will also receive everything from the Sophomore level as well as early access to our Beta and Combat Balance tests. (NOTE: This tier does not include any physical rewards. It's highly International-Supporter-friendly.)Estimated delivery: Oct 2013
Pledge $125 or more
Frat Rat: Halloween Special – You love Meeps, and that's why you will get your very own Toy Meep along with your boxed copy of Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption. That's on top of all of the Senior-level physical and digital rewards and eligibility for add-ons. You will also receive your own entry in the in-game DIGITAL YEARBOOK. International Customers please add $15 for shipping costs.Estimated delivery: Oct 2013Add $15 to ship outside the US
Pledge $150 or more
Graduate Edition: Unique Kickstarter-Graduate-only Collector’s Edition Box containing the game DVD, manual, a Music Soundtrack CD, your own Varsity Letter, Hero-U button, and everything in the Big Man On Campus digital reward tier including your very own entry in the in-game DIGITAL YEARBOOK.Estimated delivery: Oct 2013Add $15 to ship outside the US
Pledge $175 or more
Exchange Student: The *ultimate* all-digital package, perfect for international backers. You will start with everything in the Big Man on Campus edition. Then you will have the chance to follow the development of Hero-U with insider access to developer discussions and Alpha tests. To give you more insight into our games, you will receive digital keys to ALL EIGHT of our currently available previous games (Quest for Glory 1: So You Want to Be a Hero EGA and VGA versions, Quest for Glory 2: Trial by Fire, Quest for Glory 3: Wages of War, Quest for Glory 4: Shadows of Darkness, Quest for Glory 5: Dragon Fire, MacGuffin's Curse, AND Jolly Rover). NOTE: The previous game keys are part of this tier only; we are not adding them to the higher physical tiers.Estimated delivery: Jan 2013
Pledge $200 or more
Research Assistant: You're practically a team member, so you will receive a very-limited-edition Team Meep Hat plus insider access to developer discussions and Alpha tests. You will also receive everything in the Graduate Edition, and your chosen picture (subject to team approval) will appear in the in-game digital yearbook.Estimated delivery: Oct 2013Add $15 to ship outside the US
Pledge $250 or more
126 backers Limited (674 of 800 left)
Alumnus: As a proud Hero-U Alumnus, your chosen name, preferred photo (or other image of your choice, subject to team approval) will appear in the Very Limited Edition physical Hero-U Yearbook. Of course, alumni like to collect signatures from their University friends, so Lori and Corey Cole will autograph your yearbook and Graduate Edition premium game box. You will also receive Research Assistant privileges and a Team Meep hat.Estimated delivery: Oct 2013Add $15 to ship outside the US
Pledge $500 or more
33 backers Limited (167 of 200 left)
Master Rogue: The rewards of your advanced education include a limited-edition art print of the school on Canvas, everything in the Alumnus package including the autographed premium game box and autographed yearbook. You will also receive a Limited Edition Kickstarter Superfan T-Shirt, and digital keys to ALL THREE previous games – the Quest for Glory Collection, MacGuffin's Curse, and Jolly Rover.Estimated delivery: Dec 2012Add $25 to ship outside the US
Pledge $1,000 or more
6 backers All gone!
PhD: You will be immortalized. Not only will you receive all of the benefits of a Master Rogue, your chosen name, hero biography, and picture will appear prominently in-game as well as in the yearbook. Your canvas art print will be supersized, and you will be one of the proud few to complete a graduate school education at Hero-U. We'll also provide you with the secret location and key to the Faculty Lounge. (Other players will be able to break in later in the game.)Estimated delivery: Oct 2013Add $40 to ship outside the US
Pledge $1,050 or more
19 backers Limited (6 of 25 left)
DFA (Doctor of Fine Arts): You will be featured on an in-game painting. When players click on it, they will see your chosen name, image (this could be you, a favorite character, pet, or other approved image, converted by our artists to look like other in-game portraits), and humorous description. You also receive all of the benefits of a Master Rogue, You will have a listing including your chosen image in the yearbook, and of course will receive an autographed copy of the physical edition. We will send you a canvas art print of your in-game "portrait" in addition to the school art print, and you will be one of the proud few to complete a graduate school education at Hero-U. We'll also provide you with the secret location and key to the Faculty Lounge. (Other players will be able to break in later in the game.)Estimated delivery: Oct 2013Add $40 to ship outside the US
Pledge $2,000 or more
5 backers All gone!
Art Collector: In this extremely-limited reward tier, we will send you an original, one-of-a-kind production painting that was used to create a Quest for Glory game. We only have a few of these paintings available. You will also receive all DFA (Doctor of Fine Arts) benefits, including having your picture and biography immortalized in-game. The Quest for Glory artwork will be shipped separately in January or February.Estimated delivery: Oct 2013Add $80 to ship outside the US
Pledge $2,500 or more
3 backers All gone!
Benefactor: As one of the top alumni contributors to Hero-U, we will name one wing of the University after you or a loved one. The name you choose (with team approval) will be prominently displayed when any student enters your wing. We will send you a customized architectural drawing of your wing. If you send us a suitable video clip, it will appear in the launch video for your wing. You will also receive all benefits of the PhD reward tier. Free shipping worldwide!Estimated delivery: Oct 2013
Pledge $2,500 or more
3 backers Limited (7 of 10 left)
Monster Lair: You are so diabolical, you are the master of a dungeon den. We will collaborate with you on designing your own custom monster lair, likely including a sculpted image of yourself or a friend. Your lair, complete with the monsters and traps you select, will be placed somewhere in the catacombs. You will also receive all benefits of the PhD reward tier. Free shipping worldwide!Estimated delivery: Oct 2013
Pledge $5,000 or more
0 backers Limited (2 of 2 left)
High-Roller: You're a serious role-player, or just really want to support our game at a high level. In addition to all of the PhD-level rewards, Corey and/or Lori will run a D&D game for you and friends at a convention anywhere in North America. Or add $1,000 for our additional travel expenses, and we'll join you anywhere in the world. Does not include the Benefactor reward – The school doesn’t have enough wings. Instead, you’ll have a large statue in the main wing celebrating your or your hero's accomplishments.Estimated delivery: Oct 2013
Pledge $7,500 or more
2 backers Limited (3 of 5 left)
Philanthropist: You really care! And we care about you too! Spend a day visiting Yosemite Park and touring Sierra landmarks in Oakhurst with Lori and Corey Cole. We'll share a nice meal or two and discuss game design or anything else you want. You'll also receive all the rewards of the PhD level and we'll find a prominent place in-game to thank you for your awesome support. We will cover a one-night hotel stay, but you are responsible for transportation to and from Oakhurst, California.Estimated delivery: Apr 2013