Extending the Supporter Page
Our "Kickstarter-like" PayPal support page at http://www.hero-u.net/KS-store added slightly over $2,000 to the project budget during March. Originally we planned to close it at the end of April, but due to the project delay, we're extending it to June 30. If your friends missed out on the Kickstarter action and would like to join in the Hero-U community, please tell them about the page and the hero-u.net site.
We would also like to remind you of the Hero-U forum at http://www.hero-u.net/forum/. This is a place to discuss the game with other supporters. You may also post questions for the developers that you think will be of interest to other backers. We try to answer as many as possible when we have time, and knowledgeable fans often step in to provide answers.
Our Team Is Growing
Thank you to the dozens of people who wrote in about our programming openings. I've chosen a three highly talented programmers for the current phase, and identified six others we might bring in later as needed. You're a very talented group!
Speaking of talent, we're now looking for one or two experienced 2D animators. These will be contract positions and unfortunately well below "big game company" pay rates. But it's more lucrative, and much more fun, than your average fast food or warehouse store job. You will get to work with our outstanding art director, Terry Robinson, and our other talented character artists. Here is Terry's job description:
- The main thing we need is a 2D animator who can animate existing concept sketches. 3D experience is good but the look we are going for is traditional 2D similar to Disney's more realistic style. The ability to draw great monster and human concept sketches is a big plus, although we have most of our concepts done. What we really need is someone who can refine those and animate them in 2D – primarily walking animation in our unique low-camera isometric view and combat animation.
- We need samples of their work that can be shown through animated gifs or a demo reel.
If you are interested and well-qualified, please send an email with your resume (CV) and a link to your animation samples to "jobs (at) hero-u (dot) net". Lori and I will scan them and forward the best candidates to Terry for evaluation.
Meet the Hero-U Programming Team
Our new full-time Lead Programmer is Mike Croswell. Here's Mike in his own words:
- I've been programming video games since the Commodore-64 days. I've also created serious programs for the FAA, NASA, the US Navy, the Medical and Aviation industries, and others - often using game technology to improve the quality of these applications. I am visual by nature, but also enjoy the technology that goes into creating games. I'm a wanna-be artist and enjoy creating art that is designed to help guide (and be replaced by) the actually artists in terms of scale, anchoring/position and timing. One day, maybe my art will be good enough to go in a real game!
- Also, I've been teaching Game Design, Animation, Game Programming and general Computer Science for many years at both the undergraduate and graduate college levels. Recently, I finished a book called, "Unity Game Coding Using C#" which is mostly about programming in Unity but also covers the design and creation of 3D and some 2D games. My first book, it will be published by Taylor & Francis in the Fall of this year. Finally, I run the Unity SIG in Fort Collins where we sit around, drink beer, eat tacos and discuss the philosophy of making games.
- When I was eight or nine years old my Dad took me to Sears to buy our first computer, a Commodore 64. It didn't take much for me to want to know how those amazing programs worked. So, around nine years old I bought my first programming book. A couple of years later, I discovered Kings Quest... and so began my love of adventure games. As a kid, I poured all my money into adventure games and programming books. I even tried writing my own adventure game engine, first in C and then in C++.
- Today, I work a lot on open source frameworks for application development, which is what I'm known for most in the community. While I don't have much "real world" game development experience, I've spent a lot of time professionally building developer and designer tools for various industries. I'm really happy to be a part of the Hero-U team and looking forward to building a fantastic set of tools to help enable the Coles to bring their vision to life.
Finally (but certainly not last!), let me introduce Jonathan Cheatham, a triple-threat Unity wizard with experience in programming, art, and game design. In his copious free time between a full-time job and a family, Jonathan has already wowed us with a great prototype of the isometric graphics system we only had on paper before. It isn't quite ready to share on Kickstarter yet, but it's a terrific first pass. Jonathan says:
- Hmm, my fluffy background: I've been fascinated with games forever, and two of the largest influences on me were the original Hero's Quest and Moria (a rogue-like game). So, I started out as a "game designer", but quickly realized that in order to actually get anything made I needed to program. Some time later I realized that artists don't really like to work on sweat equity (at least any more than the rest of us), so I guessed I'd better learn me some art... and that's how I ended up the bizarre programmer/artist/designer I am today. Jack of all trades, master of none... just that I've been programming for the better part of 20 years so I guess I'm okay enough at it to make a living :)
- I worked on a few personal projects (some tiny, some grossly overly ambitious), eventually conned my way into the game industry, worked for Namco Bandai, conned my way into game design, learned the horrible truths, and fell back out of the industry into the dot-com I'm currently at (Zendesk... not really a start-up anymore though, they're pretty friggin huge at this point). I saw Corey's update to the project a few weeks ago and made myself enough a nuisance to attract his attention and let me help out.
This team has made more programming progress in the last two weeks than we saw in the previous three months, and Lori and I are delighted with the talent, energy, enthusiasm, and professionalism of our three core programmers.
Revolutionizing Adventure Game Design Tools
Grumpy Gamer Ron Gilbert (co-creator of Secret of Monkey Island) recently posted something with which we agree whole-heartedly: "If I made another Monkey Island, I would rebuild SCUMM. Not SCUMM as in the exact same language, but what SCUMM brought to those games... I'd build an engine and a language where funny ideas can be laughed about at lunch and be in the game that afternoon. SCUMM did that. It's something that is getting lost today."
At Sierra, we had SCI, our version of SCUMM with many of the same features. At one point, I heard that Sierra had spent over a million dollars (back when that was real money) on SCI development. It gave us a huge head start, and even let me make a non-adventure game, Castle of Dr. Brain.
We knew we will need a new dialogue editing system, so we asked Rob to take that on. He could have just followed my spec and made us a useful tool. But you know these uppity programmers. Rob took the basic ideas, and is building a true Unified Design Editor, the Hero-U Composer. We saw his first prototype today, and it will let use craft the Hero-U design in ways we could only dream of back in the 1990's.
Meanwhile, Mike and Jonathan are working on a graphics tool that will let us patch together a beautiful-looking level from the background artists' tiles, and a "tester" that will let them check out their animation in the context of the game. We will also be building a combat simulator to make sure combat is balanced. Tools like these were at the heart of adventure game development in the 1990's, but the new ones are like supersonic jets compared to the bicycles we rode back then.
Coming Soon to An Update Near You
In the next update, we'll probably have an animator or two to introduce. I will also share some of the work Lori and I have been doing on the game design and story – The combat system and perhaps a bit about the Noctes de Mortuus. Yes, Hero-U has a few holidays.
Thank you all for your continuing patience and support!
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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:
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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:
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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:
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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:
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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:
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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:Add $15 USD to ship outside the US
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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:
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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:Add $15 USD to ship outside the US
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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:Add $15 USD to ship outside the US
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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:
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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:Add $15 USD to ship outside the US
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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:Add $15 USD to ship outside the US
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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:Add $25 USD to ship outside the US
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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:Add $40 USD to ship outside the US
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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:Add $40 USD to ship outside the US
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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:Add $80 USD to ship outside the US
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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:
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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:
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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:
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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:
- (32 days)