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Hero-U is a turn-based PC RPG with adventure game puzzles and immersive story, by the award-winning designers of Quest for Glory.
Created by

Corey Cole

6,093 backers pledged $409,150 to help bring this project to life.

The Hero-U Report

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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 Money
A 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 Now
Shawn 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 Adventure
Bolt 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.

Comments

    1. Creator Lawson Culver on November 12, 2013

      Any update on the playable demo? I'm excited to get my hands on it...

    2. Creator Andreas Baumann on November 6, 2013

      Take your time and have fun developing the game. This way, we will get the best result you can expect :)

    3. Creator Michael Crawford on November 3, 2013

      The best release date is always "when it's ready". No worries.
      Hope you guys have smooth sailing from here on out.

    4. Creator Corey Cole on October 29, 2013

      @Joshua: I addressed that in the Update - "We can offer Humble Store pre-orders and Steam Early Access, apply for a small business loan, do a supplemental crowdfunding campaign, etc." We are working with the very nice Humble people (who happen to be Quest for Glory fans), so we will definitely at least have Humble Store widgets on our www.hero-u.net site.

      @Chad: Game companies miss deadlines constantly. The reason we don't hear about most of them is that they prefer not to announce the game at all until it's almost ready to ship. We knew about delays in various Sierra games long before management would admit to them. I think they thought impossible deadlines were great motivation for people to work harder. Right. :-)

    5. Creator Corey Cole on October 29, 2013

      @Ori: We were in talks with two other game companies about designing new Quest for Glory adventures after they finalized licenses with Activision. Neither managed to get a deal in over a year of negotiations. Meanwhile, there was a post about Activision asking $500,000 for the Space Quest license. Lori and I never actually talked to Activision, so maybe this was all hearsay and we could have worked out a deal. But we feel our "value added" is in the game design, not in the game series title. We don't think a license is worth a large amount of funding that will instead go into the game development.

    6. Creator Ori Rosen on October 29, 2013

      Take your time Corey, I'd rather have a great game later, than an "OK" game sooner :)

      Interesting story about how you got started working on this project.
      I'm sure this was discussed before, but why didn't you make another QFG game? was it because of licensing issues, or were you just done with that series?

    7. Creator Hans Peter Bak on October 29, 2013

      Take your time. We can wait. :-)

    8. Creator Dusty Tome on October 29, 2013

      As a KS'er with a delayed release as well, we completely understand. Take your time and make it awesome!

    9. Creator Gregory McIntyre on October 28, 2013

      take your time, make the game right.

    10. Creator Chad Armstrong on October 28, 2013

      I've been resisting making any snarky comments about the October 2013 date -- I never believed it would happen. I've seen far too many deadlines come and go over the past 15+ years. I remember seeing the first news about QFG5 and being shocked that it would be coming out in July 1997! Well, after reading some of the team member journals and comments about some of the art not even being done yet in late spring/early summer gave the indication that the game wasn't going to make a Summer 1997 deadline. Then it was February 1998. Then there was the 16-bit color reboot which added another 6 months of work. (Side note: really glad the 16-bit color and dynamic lighting was added. Makes for some great lighting effects, especially with the spells.) Finally in November 1998, QFG5 was released.

      And then there's Blizzard's records with missing due dates! Haha!

      Or just give up on giving any date and just say "when it's done". Or be ambiguous and say "Released in October!" (No year given.)

      In all seriousness, I hope the entire team takes their time and produce an amazing product filled with blood, sweat, and meep tears (from happiness, no doubt). And speaking of meeps, that reminds me of something very important. Honeycrisp apples are delicious. I bet meeps would also like Honeycrisp apples.

    11. Creator Joshua Johnson on October 28, 2013

      hope this goes well for you, have you considered steam early access? put up the alpha or prototype version of the game when you have it ready so people can buy into testing the game and get you some additional funding. just an idea, good luck

    12. Creator Michael Bantz on October 28, 2013

      Ohh, a whole update as an answer to my questions about the October release which wasn't to be, and status of money. Thanks Corey.
      I'm a bit sad it has been postponed so much, but at least you seem to have a clear plan, and it seems more realistic.
      One thing I don't understand, and hope you can elaborate on, is why did you not hire a team, like Adventure Mob, or whatever team the Larry team hired. Seems to me it would be much better to have a professional studio doing the all the "work" and you two overseeing and so on.
      What made you go with your own little team?

      Anyway, I really hope this one succeeds. The QFG series still stand tall as some of all time favorite games (I pretty much played all the games you made and had some good times way back when). Would be sad to see it go down the drain. I don't mind waiting as long as you get it right, but let's not make this into a duke nukem kind of realease schedule please! :)
      I look forward to reading the next update.

    13. Creator Corey Cole on October 28, 2013

      Wow, I'm blown away by all the support!

      @Visa and anyone else who has not sent in your Yearbook entry: Yes, please get the information and pictures in SOON. Two of our artists are currently focusing on the Yearbook, and we want to be able to close it out so they can go back to working on the game. We will not accept any pictures after the end of November.

    14. Creator Leewelo Lorekeeper on October 28, 2013

      I don't mind waiting for quality. I have enough to keep me busy ^^.
      Thanks for the update.

    15. Creator Stephen Pougas on October 28, 2013

      We are waiting on a game to have some fun, you are investing in a project that will affect your and your teams lifes for the coming years... I think waiting a bit longer shouldn't trouble anyone much, esecially since it is to the benefit of the end product.

    16. Creator Heartsib on October 28, 2013

      You guys have decades of goodwill built up with this household. You take all the time you need; we'll still be eagerly waiting.

    17. Creator Jared Scott on October 28, 2013

      I grew up playing the Quest for Glory games. I don't think I or anyone who has similar experiences would want the creative process to be rushed solely due to arbitrary deadlines.

    18. Creator Jeff Matovich on October 28, 2013

      Happy to wait. Take the time you need. And I'm happy to support this still through the Paypal link.

    19. Creator Visa | Tormented Dreamgoat of Eternity on October 28, 2013

      When the product is better due to the delay, it's worth waiting. Anyway, I'd be stunningly hypocritical to whine about delays when I'm pretty sure I still haven't send a picture for the yearbook....
      If I send it this week, will I still be able to get it in?

    20. Creator Andrew Houghton on October 28, 2013

      Amazing that every single comment is positive. I suspect that the vast majority of the 6000 backers are also more than happy to wait for a product that you guys design how you want, when you want. All the best with the game, I hope you are happy with the final product :)

    21. Creator David Melanson on October 28, 2013

      Thanks for the update! Yes, glad to see you took the longer, more difficult route - I'll take quality over speed of delivery any day.

    22. Creator Tobi (Crusader Kickstarter pls!!) on October 28, 2013

      +1 for the commitment and
      +1 for taking your time to make an awesome game :)

    23. Creator Marcio Araujo on October 28, 2013

      Thank you guys for the update, it´s always good to hear something from you!

    24. Creator ianquest on October 28, 2013

      Thanks for the update. As everyone else has said, we're all happy to wait for the finished game. People like me have backed more interesting-looking games than we really have time to play, anyway - but I'm still looking forward to playing Hero-U when it's ready, and not one moment before. Good luck, and keep on plugging!

    25. Creator Erik Grape ⊂ Orders aplenty on October 28, 2013

      Really don't mind waiting as long as it doesn't go into DNF territory =).
      I hope your financial risk pays off.

    26. Creator Zombie Pug on October 27, 2013

      No worries. Keep plugging away. We'll still be here when it's done.

    27. Creator Serena Nelson - Hero of the AGRM on October 27, 2013

      Believe it or not, there WAS a time in which the estimated delivery dates weren't there. While researching released adventure games through Kickstarter, I saw that Resonance didn't have one listed.

    28. Creator Corey Cole on October 27, 2013

      @Rata: It has been a year since we started the Kickstarter, but less than that since we got funded. Several months of that were "wasted" in experiments on the graphics. I'll be writing more about that (along with a big Reveal) in the next few updates.

      @Everyone who is sorry Lori and I "had" to take out a home equity loan. Please don't be. We are just happy we were able to do that. It's much "cheaper money" than giving up 50% of the company to outside investors or even running up a 15% credit card balance. It's all just money, and we don't really see the loan as a risk - We've had multiple loans in the past, and always found ways to pay them back.

    29. Creator Ratatoskr- Battle Squirrel of the AGL589 on October 27, 2013

      Has it really been a year? I honestly haven't really noticed or even remembered that you were technically "late" so I'm certainly not fussed about the delay. As people have put it in earlier comments, I've waited this long, I can wait a bit longer to have something really awesome.

      And I'm sure a number of us would be happy to throw more money your way if you remind us about the paypal link from time to time.

    30. Creator Rambutaan on October 27, 2013

      Wow, talk about commitment: taking out a loan on your house :(. Anyway I'm sure you guys will succeed and don't worry about the pushed deadlines - happens all the time (and people forget that it happens all the time with the big publishers too - maybe not as frequently, but it does). I'm sure there are many here that are just happy to see the Coles have a shot at making another awesome game!

    31. Creator Riggo 2x - AGL 589 on October 27, 2013

      Kickstarter needs to put the definition of estimated on their front page. Geez!

      Great update by the way!!!!

    32. Creator Joseph Austin on October 27, 2013

      I'm still rooting for you guys.

    33. Creator Nelson ☜☆☞Menacing Mop☜☆☞ Miguel on October 27, 2013

      What the Hell??? Are you really apologising for a deadline??? TAKE MY MONEY!!! :D I love you guys, i've waited SO MANY years for the adventure scene to be resurrected... What's one or two more years??? At least i know you're working on a game, a few years ago i only knew that all of you guys were "retired"... Please take your time, make and deliver the game you really want to, don't half ass anything just because... You're amazing storytellers and that's what i'm growing my expectations for... To play another "Coles" game!!! If you need ANYTHING from me, please let me know!!!

    34. Creator Jeremie Lariviere on October 27, 2013

      Thanks for the update! I'm looking forward to the well made game you want to make!

    35. Creator Ryan on October 27, 2013

      Is the best way to support Hero U the paypal account?

    36. Creator Travis on October 27, 2013

      Hey, part of the reason you guys developed this with private funding away from a large studio is so you could do what you want in the time needed, right? No hard "deadline" from a boss to push out an unfinished product like we see with the major studios so frequently now.

      A lot of us (maybe all of us) are older fans of your original games that we once played in our youth and as older people we now have learned the valuable skill of patience. On top of that, all of us love what you have built for us in the past and just want to see more of that quality. So I thank you for the update and hope you take as long as you need to make this game perfect. I'm working full time and writing a master's thesis 5 nights per week now anyway, better if Rogue U come out after January (when my thesis is done) so I can immerse myself in this world stress free. :)

    37. Creator Justin on October 27, 2013

      I wish they would remove the "Estimated delivery" and just replace it with "You'll get it when you get it". The amount of people that do not understand what the word "estimated" means makes my soul bleed.

    38. Creator Daniel Harzheim on October 27, 2013

      Take your time, and keep being awesome. I look forward to future updates.

    39. Creator Benjamin Penney on October 27, 2013

      I would also be happy to wait until the game is released and receive all of my rewards in a single shipment.

    40. Creator Jacqland on October 27, 2013

      I don't know about others, but I'd rather wait and have all my rewards (game included) shipped together, rather than know you're spending extra money purely to send me two packages.

    41. Creator Timothy Roller on October 27, 2013

      Wow. Good luck to you both, I have waited a long time for this game, I can wait a little longer. I'm glad you're taking the time and effort to make it work...here's to hoping the proceeds let you buy into an expansion on your house!

    42. Creator Shane Rogers on October 27, 2013

      I'm not sure what I can say to add to what has already been said. Take care of yourselves and do your best. I trust you guys and know you are going to give us the best you can. I'm still behind you. :)

    43. Creator Michael B. Petty on October 27, 2013

      Thank you for the update. I appreciate the "heart and soul" you are putting into this game. I've been a fan of you guys since the original Quest for Glory game. Take all the time you need with the game, I would much rather play something that has had TLC and has been well thought out and implemented, than something that has been thrown together and incomplete/unpolished, just to make a deadline.

      Hated to read that you are having to take such a risky personal financial method to help fund the game. Makes me wish I had the resources to help out more. But, especially considering how the economy is right now, makes things tough (know you guys are experiencing that as well) right now.

      Good luck and here's to future resounding success. Happy Halloween!!

    44. Creator Ravi on October 27, 2013

      Thank you for the update, I am very impressed at the dedication you guys and the team are showing to the project! I hope it is everything you want it to be and more and we will help in any way possible.

      @Khalaq - At this point, IMO, a straight donation is probably the best you can do to contribute. They'd get the most out of that.

    45. Creator GF on October 27, 2013

      Thanks for the update! Anyone who complains about this really doesn't understand what goes into creative projects like software, writing, media. It takes time to make something good. Period. And the best products go for 'finished' rather than release dates. (See Valve's release history.) I feel waiting for something longer is far better than seeing it canceled or poorly released.

      It is distressing to hear you had to get a loan on your home, but bootstrapping is like that and what great reward comes without risk? I hope this game makes you guys lots of dough to pay you for your hard work.

      The quest for glory games were some of my favorite video game memories as a kid and I love that you guys are still working. Thank you for everything.

    46. Creator Vicki H. on October 27, 2013

      Thanks for the detailed update, Corey. Your taking the time and effort to provide such honesty and transparency is much appreciated! Wow, as others have said, I am moved that you and Lori took such a personal financial risk for your project. That really speaks to me of the passion and dedication you have for your project, and makes me all the happier and prouder that I pledged to help support it become reality. That being said, knowing that you and Lori are essentially working for free only strengthens my echoing of the others who have said take all the time you need to make this the game you want it to be. I have full confidence in you, and have absolutely no problem whatsoever waiting longer to play the game--I am sure it will be well worth the wait! :) I also respect and admire your continuing to help promote and endorse other KickStarter projects as well. I have discovered and backed other projects through your mention of them, and am glad to be able to help revive adventure gaming and its off-shoots! Adventure games remain my all-time favorite genre of games, and I still hearken back to those old Golden Sierra years with much fondness and nostalgia. Thanks for keeping that style of gaming alive! We love your work, and are rooting for you all the way! =) All the best, and take care!

    47. Creator Michael Hartmann on October 27, 2013

      Great update. I said this on more projects than I can remember: Take your time. A great game is more important than a bad game that arrives on time.

    48. Creator Khalaq on October 27, 2013

      First, as a Kickstarter backer, I prioritize quality of gameplay (85%) and a pleasing aesthetic (10%) over a quick release (%5). Seeing as how I expect to get both of the first two, I'm not fussed about having to wait for them.

      Second, I backed at a lower tier because I am under-employed. I'm still under-employed, but the passage of time has given me a bit more money to spend. I would love to up my pledge from $20 to $50 so I could get a copy of Jolly Rover or McGuffin's Curse. Would doing so be of any financial help to you two? Or would it be a "wash" and I should just use the "donate" button to give what little I can afford?

    49. Creator Jesse Dylan Watson on October 27, 2013

      I agree with everyone else! I'm not bothered by the delay in the least! I love Hallowe'en, too. :)