The Hero-U Dream Team
As I write this, the Hero-U Kickstarter campaign has shot past its goal! We now have over 1600 backers and $101,000. As I've said before, we couldn't have done it without your strong support in both pledges and in helping to publicize Hero-U.
It's Stretch Goal Time! See the main Campaign page for the upcoming Stretch Goals. First up at $105,000 is improved animation, and Al Eufrasio has that well in hand. These are all features we really want to see in the game, but have had to put on the potential chopping block due to lack of budget. I've also added a section with links to the most important Update articles in both of the Hero-U Kickstarter campaigns.
Making a game such as Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption is not a two-person effort. We don’t sit around and say, “Shawn should get a chance to talk with the other Rogue students every night at supper,” and have that magically appear in the game.
It takes at a minimum some design, a lot of writing, sketches that eventually turn into background art, decorations for the walls, furniture, decorations, creating paths where Shawn can walk, scripting the behavior of the other students and staff, music, and sound effects. Then there are the “talkers”, the close-up vignettes, and much more.
To do all that takes a talented team of professionals, and that’s exactly what we have. Let’s give you a chance to meet a few of them.
Design and Management
Lori and Corey Cole are the creators of the Hero-U game series. They began this Hero’s Quest in 1988 when they designed the first of the acclaimed five game Quest for Glory series. Since then, they have shared their vision of what it takes to be a hero through their computer games, writing, art, and web schools.
Game Designer / Writer / Art Director Lori Ann Cole has done this a few times before, namely on the bestselling Sierra games Quest for Glory and Mixed-Up Fairy Tales, and on the Legend Entertainment hit Shannara. She leads the game design, writes the character dialogue, specifies art requirements, and works with the art team to get everything just right. Lori has a background in teaching, has studied film animation, and is the President of the Yosemite Western Artists group. Lori is an award-winning portrait and landscape photographer.
Game Designer / Writer / Administrator Corey Cole runs Transolar Games Inc., the company that is making Hero-U. He keeps the books, pays contractors, hires and fires, makes deals, and hands out programming tasks. In his scarce free time, Corey works with Lori on the game design and writes text messages for the games with an emphasis on puns and wordplay.
Corey co-designed Shannara and Quest for Glory 1, 2, and 4, and managed the development of Shannara. He designed and directed the development of Castle of Dr. Brain, an award-winning educational game. Corey also had a hand in Sierra’s SCI development system, Passport2Bridge, JetSetPoker, and several other games and game systems. Corey also plays folk guitar, is a bridge Silver Life Master, and was a 190 average bowler.
Assistant Producer Chris Fong was born in the wild, untamed north (Montreal, Quebec, Canada). Chris and his family moved to the United States while he was still a youngling, and he quickly found himself a stranger in a Newtown (lots of grass and trees.) Quickly recapping the past few decades, Chris has a Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance (think the classically trained wedding singer), was certified to teach music (think music teacher), and most recently received a Masters in Game Production, which might actually be relevant to making Hero-U.
Hero-U is Chris's first professional game development project post-graduation. A man of many alleged talents, Chris enjoys many geeky pursuits like tabletop RPG’s, comic books, anime, manga and tokusatsu. He also enjoys craft beer, builds his own PC's, knows his way around a kitchen and a weight room, roots for the Boston Celtics and New York Giants, and likes to engage in DDP Yoga.
Art and Animation
Concept and Background Artist John-Paul Selwood began drawing when he was 3 years old, and always had a vivid imagination from an early age. He grew up on Sierra-Online's "King's Quest" and "Quest for Glory" series, and drew a lot of inspiration for his art style from these games. He has worked on artwork for AGD Interactive's King's Quest I, II, and III VGA remakes, the Quest for Glory 2 VGA remake, and Himalaya Studios' "Mage's Initiation: Reign of the Elements".
JP has a love of classical art, literature, and music. He enjoys working on Hero-U for the great team atmosphere and the artistic and creative freedom to bring the game to life. The quirky humor, cast of characters, and depth of story also make working on Hero-U a very fun experience. His passions include singing in his church, gardening, and exercise.
Interface and Yearbook Artist Eric Varnes, like JP, has been with the Hero-U project from the beginning. Eric is responsible for the inventory icons, many of the Yearbook portraits, and decorations (“props”) in the game. He also drew the cute Kwirks that adorn our Kickstarter and hero-u.com pages and designed the Dire Rat and other scary monsters in Hero-U.
Paul Bowers of Melbourne Australia has also been on the Hero-U team since the project began. Paul has created many types of art for Hero-U, including Yearbook portraits, monster designs, closeup character talking heads, and interface elements.
Paul says, “My family's first console was an Intellivision in about 1982 and from then on art, technology and gaming have been a large part of my life. I grew up drawing and painting, playing D&D, Warhammer, Magic the Gathering as well as every generation of PC games/consoles over the last 30 years (Adventure/RPGs being my favorites).”
Paul developed pay TV games, worked on a sequel to PuzzleQuest, then on MacGuffin’s Curse from Brawsome. His education background includes Graphic Design and New Media as well as an advanced diploma in Game Development.
He is currently a Tutor of Game Development at Evocca college in Melbourne and continues to work on Hero-U part-time. You can see some of Paul’s work at http://paulbowers.carbonmade.com.
Al Eufrasio recently joined the Hero-U team as our 3D animator. Al has previously worked as a 3D modeler, concept artist, and animator. He says he has worked in the game industry long enough to remember when it wasn't plagued by weekly mass layoffs and studio closures, but that would make him older than Corey and Lori, since they remember no such time.
Notable titles Al has worked on include Harry Potter, Digimon, Magic School Bus, Rugrats, King's Quest, and Leisure Suit Larry (the original series, not the ones with that godawful, so-called "nephew").
Along with Hero U, Al is currently working on another upcoming indie title as a business partner. One of game development's nicest guys, he is also a published author and illustrator for the Weird U.S. book series.
Aaron Martin is the main environment artist for Hero-U, capably taking over where Chris Willis left off. Based in Australia, Aaron has many years of experience in all things 3D. When he is not helping create the world of Hero-U, he is working at "Hungry Yeti Games", his own indie start-up in which he is the lead character artist.
Programming and Development Tools
Cidney Hamilton is our main content programmer, setting up Unity scenes, then connecting them with Composer scripts. Cidney has been programming since she was about nine, and hasn't really stopped since. She says, “I've got experience in interactive fiction, open source, industry software, and web development, but this is my first professional game dev gig.”
“I've been working on Hero-U for about six months. My focus is mostly on putting together rooms in the game via Unity (mostly focused on the rest of the castle and the adventure game interactions), but like everyone else, I'm doing a bit of everything! The game is very text and story heavy; it's like interactive fiction with pictures and animations. It's looking pretty great!"
We met Jonathan Cheatham at the Game Developer Conference in 2013, and he soon joined the team. Jonathan has been our main system programmer, customizing Unity to meet the unusual needs of Hero-U’s adventure, role-playing, and use of both 2D and 3D assets.
Always modest, Jonathan describes himself as a Jack of all trades, and master of some. When not traveling the world in search of adventure, this respectable father of two generally finds himself gainfully employed for his prodigious ability to push around bits and pixels to varying success.
That gainful employment includes a more-than-full-time-job with a company that went from start-up to major success in five years. Jonathan somehow finds time to help with Hero-U and to spend time with his family. We suspect he may be using Hermione’s Time Turner on occasion.
Jonathan Cheatham, Code Wizard: STR: 14, DEX: 12, CON: 13, INT: 15, WIS: 8, CHA: 10
One of several children of nomadic librarians, Jonathan is a credit to the family. He has brown hair, hazel eyes, and an average complexion.
Joshua Smyth is a code wrangler for Hero-U. He created the outstanding combat prototype demo, has taken over Composer development, and constantly improves the Hero-U system code and features. Currently Joshua resides in Middle Earth, also known as New Zealand.
Joshua says, “I spend most of my days working remotely and love RPGs and adventure games of all kinds. I got my start programming by playing around with some tools a few very clever people made which reverse engineered Sierra's earliest game engine (AGI). Several years later I ended up going to University, studying math and computer science and then working for a few different companies in either business / web application software / image manipulation and then later mobile gaming.”
“The game development scene in NZ is still pretty small - but it is growing (by like 50% each year or something) mostly thanks to mobile. I just think it's cool that I can work remotely on different projects around the world.”
“The Quest for Glory series has been hugely inspirational to me, and it was my dream goal to work for Sierra one day. Sadly that never happened, but Hero-U has the potential to become another excellent entry in the RPG/Adventure genre, which was essentially pioneered by the Coles way back in 1989.”
Robert Kety is a generalist developer currently working on game interface features. Robert did most of the programming behind the break-in room gameplay demo. He says he is a , “C# Developer and graduate of the Famous Adventurer's Correspondence School. I apply finishing touches to existing scenes and provide implementation solutions for Unity and Composer (our in-house development utility).”
“I've been an ardent supporter of Hero-U. According to Corey, I was actually the first backer of the initial Kickstarter campaign. The Kickstarter campaign really reinvigorated my passion for software development. I spent the last two years refining my developer skills in a post-baccalaureate program at Oregon State University and a few open source projects. I became part of the Hero-U development team in January of 2015 and developing on Hero-U is a childhood dream come true.”
“Hero-U is beautiful, fun, and manages to contain a wealth of story-based content on par, if not exceeding, previous RPG adventure games. This game really puts the Universe in Hero-University!”
Music and Audio
Ryan Grogan is our award-winning musical composer from Australia. Ryan is a prolific composer with a knack for capturing and reflecting back the mood and nuance of visual media through careful consideration of the original creator's intentions.
Over the years he has written music for commercials, TV series, games, stage productions, documentaries and films. His work has appeared on numerous major TV networks both in Australia and internationally. Along the way he has picked up several awards including the 2012 Australian Screen Composers award of Best Children's Music for TV.
Ryan composed music for the MacGuffin’s Curse and Island of the Lizard King games.
Developers who made substantial contributions to the Hero-U project, but have since left the team to pursue other goals include:
- Terry Robinson - Lead Artist, designed many of the characters and the look of the game
- Chris Willis - Modeled detailed 3D environments that maintain the spirit of JP’s concept paintings
- Rob Eisenberg - Created the Composer scripting tool and prototyped game systems
- Jerry Shaw - Set up many of the game scenes and made Composer scripts work with them
Pushing Promising Projects
Here are the Kickstarter campaigns I’m supporting currently, and that should be of interest to Hero-U backers.
Chris Crawford, one of the most influential computer game designers, has launched a Kickstarter campaign for his Siboot game. Chris founded the Game Developers Conference - the first one was held in his living room - and edited the Journal of Computer Game Design.
Siboot (https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/544670315/siboot) is one of his passion projects showcasing dynamic conversation and storytelling rather than pre-scripted behavior. It should be something special and could promote new directions in believable character interaction.
The Umbra hack-and-slash (and I mean that in a good way!) RPG project (https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1062682568/umbra) ends Sunday - this is your last chance to back it. Umbra is well above its minimum and working on stretch goals.
Regalia: Of Men and Monarchs JRPG-style game (https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1719693924/regalia-of-men-and-monarchs) has almost reached its $40,000 goal with 20 days to go; I’m sure they can use extra funding and support.
The Bard’s Tale IV (https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/inxile/the-bards-tale-iv) is $40,000 away from its ambitious $1,250,000 goal. I think it will be a unique and exciting take on the dungeon crawler genre.