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Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption is a Win/Mac/Linux adventure role-playing game by Lori and Corey Cole, Quest for Glory series creators.
Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption is a Win/Mac/Linux adventure role-playing game by Lori and Corey Cole, Quest for Glory series creators.
Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption is a Win/Mac/Linux adventure role-playing game by Lori and Corey Cole, Quest for Glory series creators.
1,869 backers pledged $116,888 to help bring this project to life.

Hero-U Names and Numbers

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Three years and three months ago, Lori and I set out to make a modest computer role-playing game with some adventure-game-like story. I thought we could get it done in a year with one or two programmers and a few artists.

Thanks to changes in circumstances and team members, plus strong encouragement from our backers and maybe some masochism on our part, Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption has grown into a full-blown adventure role-playing game in the Quest for Glory vein. If you check out the game credits (http://www.mobygames.com/game-group/quest-for-glory-series) for those games, you’ll see why that’s a really ambitious goal for a crowdfunded indie game without a publisher or development studio.

Actually, the main challenge has been working with mainly part-time developers. Lori and I are full-time, but split between design, writing, and administration. Our mainstay artist, John Paul Selwood, has also worked close to full-time. Everyone else is putting in a few hours a week working around their day jobs.

Kounting Kwirks
Kounting Kwirks

Hero-U by the Numbers

I love statistics, so let me share a few with you. Rogue to Redemption is huge, and more complex than any of our previous games.

  • Art assets and test builds in Dropbox: 5,344 files in 617 folders for 17.7 GB
  • Unity and Composer game files: 33,275 files in 1,957 folders for 4.8 GB
  • Backer Paintings, Statues, Ghosts, and Wanted Posters: 40+10+20+20 = 90
  • Number of game scenes: 68
  • Game days with unique events: 50
  • Number of characters and monster types: 74
  • Number of interactable objects (“props”): 1,200
  • Number of scripts written so far: 815, with about that many still to come

Why so many props and scripts? 68 scenes was about the number in a Sierra game, say Quest for Glory II or IV. But each scene in those games was 320x200 pixels covering one screen. Step out into the courtyard of Hero-U and you will get to get to explore the equivalent of 10 or 20 such screens. There might have been five such objects in a typical Quest for Glory scene vs. 20 or more in each Hero-U scene.

Then there are the character interactions. These typically change on most game days and in each location – Aeolus has different things to say at night in the dorm than in the evening in the recreation room. It is impossible to see all of the dialogue in one play-through; you’ll probably get to half of it after four or five games if you take care to say something different every time. Lori is writing a monster here with a little scripting advice from me.

Shawn Applies His Charm Skill in the Dining Hall
Shawn Applies His Charm Skill in the Dining Hall

Naming the New Team Members

I spend most of my time wrangling team members and funds, but I’ve also been helping Lori with the game design, writing updates, and crafting game text. That took more hours than I have each week, so we reached out to Sierra veteran Josh Mandel to write many of the text interaction messages.

Josh got his start playtesting Infocom and Sierra adventure games, then got a job as a tech writer for Sierra. Ken Williams “discovered” Josh and gave him the chance of doing game writing and design. Josh wrote for Jones in the Fast Lane, The Dagger of Amon Ra, Freddy Pharkas: Frontier Pharmacist, Space Quest 6: Roger Wilco in the Spinal Frontier, and lots of other games. Most recently he worked with Al Lowe on the recent Leisure Suit Larry: Reloaded game.

Josh also contributed game text to one of our non-Sierra projects, Shannara. We’re very excited to have him back on our team, this time writing many of the “incidental” messages for Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption. The game will be much richer and funnier with his additions.

We’ve had a number of challenges on the programming side of this project. Some programmers needed higher pay than we could fit into our budget. Others left for full-time development opportunities.

We stabilized on our current all-star team of Joshua Smyth, Cidney Hamilton, and Robert Kety early last year, but they are only able to work part-time due to other jobs and health issues. We really needed to add a full-time developer to the team. We’re delighted to introduce Carolyn VanEseltine as our new programmer and design contributor.

Carolyn plans to apply her strong design sense, interactive fiction background, and Unity 3D experience to helping make Hero-U great. Here’s a little about her background:

I started my game development career in 2002 on the Simutronics flagship game GemStone IV. Since then, I've held a wide variety of industry roles - programming, design, writing, production, and more - and I've worked on everything from Harmonix's Rock Band and Dance Central franchises to the indie game Revolution 60, as described in my resume. I'm also well-known in modern interactive fiction, both for writing award-winning IF games and for my craft and technique blog, Sibyl Moon.

Rogue Motivational Poster
Rogue Motivational Poster

 Making a Date

We still can’t promise a specific release date, but Lori and I have committed to shipping Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption this year. Our best guess – and it is just a guess – is late October or early November. We’ve made enormous progress in the last few months, especially in the areas of art and animation. Lori continues to work hard on scripting the game dialogue and character interactions.

With the additions of Josh and Carolyn, we have all the resources we need to reach the finish line with a game that will make us proud and our backers very happy. We hope the Hero-U series will be a worthy successor to our Quest for Glory games.

Thank you, everyone, for your awesome patience and support as we fight against the mighty challenges of indie game development. This project has turned into far more than we originally hoped, and we look forward to sharing it will all of you and many other gamers.

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Don’t forget to visit www.hero-u.com for more information, forums, and other Hero-U goodies.

Follow our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/TheSchoolForHeroes/.

Lucid Dreamers, MadJo, and 15 more people like this update.

Comments

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    1. Missing avatar

      René Lafleur on April 5, 2016

      Thank you for the update Corey, every single one is a real treat (can't get enough Hero-News).
      I'll be playing through the entire QfG series (something I've yet to accomplish) in the meantime.
      Keep up the great work!

    2. BlackGauntlet
      Superbacker
      on March 30, 2016

      Speaking of Josh, I love his work on Jones In The Fast Lane. His magic touch gave the people in that little board game personality. The "say-it-as-it-is" Recruitment Office manager, the "gold-digging" Realtor Office lady, the "peppy-yet-sarcastic" Monolith Burger cashier...

      Damn, that game needs a sequel or a modernized and expanded remake!

    3. Corey Cole 2-time creator on March 4, 2016

      We can safely say that any release date we pick will overlap another major release. We're targeting about the same time as SpaceVenture. Since indie computer games have unpredictable schedules, any game scheduled for release in 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, or 2017 could coincidentally come out at the same time as ours. The 2018 games probably won't be ready that soon. :-)

    4. twincast ~ Mangy WoOS-DOoD Mage
      Superbacker
      on March 3, 2016

      Well, welcome, Josh and Carolyn! (^_^)

      And a Halloween release would be awesome. If it weren't for it being big sales season. Alas.
      Anyway, I'd wager the chief concern (other than quality and budget) should be not to fall too close to Persona 5's U.S. release (whenever that's supposed to be) - and preferably before it.

    5. Jeremie Lariviere
      Superbacker
      on February 28, 2016

      thanks for the update!

    6. Corey Cole 2-time creator on February 27, 2016

      Thanks, Mark. The second game will be considerably easier to make as long as we keep the same technology. Much of the time on game 1 was spent developing tools such as Composer, and building software "classes" and other general-purpose code in Unity. Of course, experimentation on the graphical look also took many months.

      The part that will still be difficult and time-consuming for the subsequent games is the writing. Lori writes essentially all of the dialogue. She also directs the art team. Having seen how much writing is needed for all the things we promised in the Kickstarter - especially developing relationships with every character in the game - we now know that can't be done quickly. While we originally guessed one year for the first game, and six months for each sequel, it's now looking more like four years for game 1 and two years for each subsequent game. There's no easy way to speed up the writing without doing a "hack job" on it. Look at, for example, Game of Thrones or Name of the Wind to see how long it takes to craft a great novel. Then add art and programming to the schedule. :-)

    7. Missing avatar

      Mark on February 26, 2016

      If the game doesn't sell well enough I hope for the 2nd game you try a variation on your original proposed design. I don't really want to see you guys get burned out because the fans wanted this massive QFG style game. I think you have so much to offer in new directions. A different game for the followup is ok. As a fan since Hero's Quest, I want you guys to stretch your wings. HQ was so innovative. I'd also like to see a big studio hire you on for a VR game.
      I love Hero-U in every way but you 2 deserve major studio backing with total design freedom. You are so underrated. I hope Hero-U gets that kind of attention. If I were a millionaire I'd fund you myself.
      With HQ you ended up my "Tolkien" for my life. The ogre, brigands, Rakeesh, all the characters are THE fantasy world as far as I see it. Day dreamed about the game in school growing up and I'm still attached to those characters, settings and stories.

      Take care of yourselves you Coles. Your fans need you to be with us for a long, long time.

    8. Paskarl (k0SH) on February 26, 2016

      So December it will be ;-)
      Great to hear Josh joined!

    9. Missing avatar

      Kai Sterker on February 26, 2016

      Nice update. From the dozen or so games I backed on Kickstarter, Hero-U is currently the #2 most anticipated. Sorry, but it looks like there is simply nothing that could beat Torment: Tides of Numenera. But I think both TToN and Hero-U share the underlying quality of deep gameplay, with many choices that allow me to experience a very personal journey that will be unlike that of any other player. That is interactivity at a whole new level! So thanks for putting all this effort into the writing, even if none of us will ever get to see all of it! I appreciate it :-)

    10. TAHR on February 26, 2016

      The fact that Josh Mandel is going to participate to the project is really an excellent news :-)
      Keep up the good work everyone !

      -TAHR