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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.

Happy Holidays from Hero-U

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Merry Christmas and an Awesome New Year!
Merry Christmas and an Awesome New Year!

First, and most importantly, we wish all our backers and fans a wonderful holiday season. Have a great Christmas and a safe and happy New Year. Lori and I are doing something special this year - our first real vacation in 30 years or so. We’ll be spending Christmas in Barcelona, Spain, recharging our energy before the final push on Hero-U.

Testing and Project Progress

After some initial challenges, we opened Alpha testing to a few backers in August. Since then we’ve invited 100 top backers and have 30 testers exercising the game.

And boy have they been exercising! The testers have reported over 1000 bugs and suggestions for design improvements, most of which we’ve been able to address. We’ve also addressed several hundred automatically reported issues with the game.

This has, as expected, been quite a challenge for our small team. Every day we face the question, “Do we keep polishing the parts of the game we’ve been testing, or spend the time getting the next section ready for testing?” For the most part, we’re making sure there are no story-wrecking problems anywhere in the game.

What we didn’t expect was the passion this small group of playtesters has applied to playing Hero-U. Many of the suggestions have been incredibly insightful, causing Lori to rewrite and add entire sections of dialogue to improve the game flow and responsiveness to player actions.

Our next steps will be to open the testing process to all 340 backers who supported us at an alpha test level. Once all of the game content is ready to test, we’ll open the floodgates to over 4000 Beta testers. At each stage, we raise the stakes for the team as we continue to develop the final sections of the game while fixing and improving the parts that we thought were “done”.

We’ve made a great amount of progress thanks to the team and our testers, but there is still quite a bit to be done before release.

Remaining to be done:

  • Opening cinematic is coming along really well, but still needs time to finish.
  • The Catacombs need to be polished, then submitted for testing.
  • We’re currently doing a major rework on one Catacombs puzzle that required combat. We promised Adventure-Treff that Hero-U could be completed without combat, and we’re delivering on that promise!
  • The Dungeon area needs some polish before we can add it to the testing queue.
  • The final scene of the game - the endgame - has not yet been programmed and needs a little more dialogue.
  • We need to get the Steam achievements integrated into Steam. Final testing, and then release.

We’ve just released a “sneak preview” of the Catacombs to testers. All of the scenes are navigable, but occasionally a bit crazy - Shawn steps through a doorway and ends up on his back in the next scene. We plan to have full Catacombs functionality in place for the next test build in mid-January.

The adjusted schedule:

  • Catacombs about Jan. 15
  • The Dungeon early in February, with the endgame added in late February.
  • Meanwhile, we’ll improve game settings, add additional sound effects, implement Steam achievements, and finalize the opening cinematic.
  • Game release - between March 15 and April 15.

I would love to say a flat “March 15 is the release date”, but as we’ve seen, many things can happen during testing that can cause us to step back and spend extra time reworking an area of the game. Still, March 15 is our target release date.

Shawn isn't the only Hero at Hero-U
Shawn isn't the only Hero at Hero-U

Walking through the Uncanny Valley

We first heard the term “Uncanny Valley” while working at Sierra. As long as games were obviously low-resolution and cartoony, players had no problem ignoring glaring flaws in graphics quality, sound, and storytelling. Games were obviously not films, and that was fine.

At the same time, we knew we could do a lot better, and we did. Through the 1990s, Sierra games went from 4 colors to 16 to 256, doubled their resolution, and started to experiment with 3D graphics. Audio went from PC speaker single-voice “beeps and boops” to 3- and 4-voice sound and MIDI to fully-orchestrated tracks and synthesizer-quality sound cards. The user interface went from typing to point-and-click - I still think there is much more to be done in that area. Storytelling went from simplistic “game logic” to something approaching Hollywood and even art films.

But there’s a danger to coming too close to the domain of the gods. The ancient Greeks called it “hubris”. In modern terms, there is an invisible line between acceptance of game flaws as “fantasy”, vs. getting close enough to real life that players start expecting the game to *be* real. Based on tester feedback, we’re coming perilously close to that line with Hero-U.

We’ve been getting “uncanny valley” feedback on Hero-U much more than with any previous game. Players get so involved in the conversations and action, they feel as though they are really at Hero-U. This means we can’t just take the easy way out that Sierra used so often - “Oh, they’re doing that? We can’t handle that. Kill the character if they try it.” Instead, we add additional dialogue chains, obstacles, and puzzles.

This feedback is one of the reasons we are taking a lot of extra time making sure we get every sequence in the game “right”. We don’t want Hero-U to feel like “just another adventure game” or RPG. If players notice that a character’s dialogue in one scene or event doesn’t seem to match up with what they’ve said or done earlier, we change it to improve continuity. In many cases, the correct dialogue already exists, but there is an error in the scripting code that causes lines to come up out of order. As we walk through the Uncanny Valley, it’s no longer good enough to have some characters that talk - they have to feel real.

Game Play Video

Al Eufrasio put together this game play video to highlight how Hero-U plays.

Incidentally, there is a graphical glitch in one scene of the video due to processing, but don’t worry - that doesn’t happen in the game.

Resource Reminders

Please keep your email and address current at https://hero-u-adventure-role-playing-game.backerkit.com .

Participate in the Hero-U forum at http://www.hero-u.net/forum/ .

Our FaceBook page is https://www.facebook.com/TheSchoolForHeroes/.  

And of course our project updates are on Kickstarter at https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/transolargames/hero-u-adventure-role-playing-game/updates.

Check out A Tale of Two Kingdoms on Steam (art by JP Selwood) - http://store.steampowered.com/app/603870/A_Tale_of_Two_Kingdoms/. This game features our own JP Selwood’s background art, and was recently re-released on Steam. It’s an adventure game based on Celtic mythology.

Ryan, Alex Polson, and 21 more people like this update.

Comments

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    1. Corey Cole 2-time creator on

      Hiroshi, I think you'll be pleased with the difficulty level. Hero-U is designed more as an interactive novel than as a super-challenging puzzle game. Of course, we thought we made Quest for Glory much easier and more fair than other Sierra games, but we've heard from fans that the role-playing features actually made the games quite challenging.

      I don't think you'll find much frustrating in Rogue to Redemption. There have been a few places that the first testers found problematic, and that has led to major work (and more time) to make them clearer, and to provide more ways to play them.

      Hero-U is no Demon Souls. It is designed to be forgiving so that players can focus on the characters and story. Think of it as more of a Secret of Monkey Island than most old Sierra games.

    2. Jeremie Lariviere
      Superbacker
      on

      great update, thanks

    3. Bashar on

      Beware the Ides of March!

    4. Missing avatar

      Kai Sterker on

      Must say that the trailer looks fantastic! Makes me once again excited to finally get my hands on the game.

      Also, enjoy your vacation! There's excellent food to be had in Barcelona :-)

    5. Hiroshi Mishima on

      Out of curiosity, how much of these changes and "improvements" impacted the overall difficulty of the game? As I've gotten older my patience for unfairly or unnecessarily difficult gameplay "challenges" has drastically reduced (not that I ever liked them much to begin with haha).

      Sorry, I'm really bad at bringing this topic up because it's so subjective. Basically, I just wanna be sure the game will be challenging without being frustrating. So many games fail to properly adhere to that, especially ones looking to recapture the feel of older ones. Looking at your commitment to make the experience feel natural and engaging without lazy shortcuts like the "oops you died" things Sierra of Old used to to is really encouraging, however.

      Essentially, I want you all to keep doing what you're doing, I've got confidence in you and I hope you enjoy your holidays. I just was concerned about the game's balance and am terrible at trying to discuss it without accidentally stepping on the toes of those who thrive on that kind of thing.