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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.
Hero-U is a turn-based PC RPG with adventure game puzzles and immersive story, by the award-winning designers of Quest for Glory.
6,093 backers pledged $409,150 to help bring this project to life.

Puzzling Problems and Mighty Meeps

Posted by Corey Cole (Creator)

We're making great progress, with over 3,000 backers and $170,000 pledged so far.  That's right on track for making our goal!  Thank you everyone for keeping Hero-U one of the top-rated Universities in the Southeastern quadrant of Silmaria.

Puzzles and Problems in Hero-U

We've said that there will be "adventure game puzzles" in Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption. It's true – There will be. But they might look a little different from adventure game puzzles you've known.

There were certain "rules" to successful adventure game play – Take everything that isn't nailed down. Find a crowbar and use it to take the things that are nailed down. If there's a guardian, kill it, bribe it, or distract it. There isn't a lot of moral subtext to most of those games. Use your intuition to guess the designer's mind – "Ah, violets are blue and so is the sky, so you have to make someone believe a mirror is really a window by pasting on 500 violet petals."

We like to break those fundamental rules. In fact, we think you have to break them to make a great game. Worthwhile games are about innovation and surprises, not about copying formulas that might have worked for someone else in the past... or even for ourselves.

So we're afraid that Shawn won't be able to microwave his roommate's hamster – No microwave ovens in the University. He won't be able to slay a Dragon with his bare hands; he's not as buff as a Warrior. If he makes a mustache out of Meep fur, he'll get caught – green mustaches are not an effective disguise.

We're not going to require you to navigate a complex maze using your mouse, because those suck. They also don't work well in our interface. We won't make you map out the catacombs on paper, but you might find yourself taking a few notes, such as how to avoid the traps.

There are plenty of things to click on in Hero-U, but everything interesting fills a tile, and we intend to make the important things fairly obvious. Sorry, we don't like "hunt the pixels" puzzle either.

This lovely PC Gamer article from September 2011 talks about the difference between "puzzles" and "problems". We like that terminology. In Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption, we present Shawn with problems that you get to help him solve. You and Shawn have a lot of ways to resolve these problems, some with different consequences than others.

Silly as it was, the line about "itching powder" in the project video shows this flexibility. Someone is making trouble for you – You can try to make friends with him, play a practical joke, get him in trouble with the administration, get another character to help you with the situation, and so on. Our goal as designers is to provide a lot of tools, and let you use the ones you find appropriate.

What will happen in each of those cases? The situation may escalate if you are too obvious. Your attempt at implicating the other student might backfire and get you in trouble. The friend you make might prove important (or a love interest) later... or you might get them in trouble.

Now that level of detail sounds impossible, and it would be in a pure traditional adventure game. One of the "rules" of that genre was that there was exactly one solution to each puzzle. But we like to break rules. In Shannara, Jak could use his fishing pole in two different ways to solve problems. The producer balked when we tried to introduce a third. None of them involved actual fishing.

Shawn's role-playing stats and skills work the same way. If he doesn't study or practice his lockpicking, he will be bad at it. It he takes the Botany elective, he can harvest plants down in the catacombs and use them to make potions and powders. He might be able to buy some of those, or he can use other solutions to the problems he faces.

The Hero-U interface also lets us set up "problems" of a type that wouldn't work in an old-style adventure game. We can place traps and secret passages anywhere, with generic code, instead of spending a day coding each instance. Our combats add an entire layer of problems that you and Shawn can solve in many different ways.

So yes, Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption will have adventure game puzzles... but only ones that we think are fair and fun.

Musing About Meeps

"In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit." Oh wait, we're talking about Meeps. Some of them live in holes in the ground too, but others inhabit the walls, ceiling space, and otherwise-unused corners of Hero University. We've had some requests for more information about these curiously fuzzy creatures, so we thought we'd share the answers with all of you.

Q: Will the player be able to learn to tame meeps and have a meep pet to accompany him in the game and perhaps even help him fight? If so, can we give our meep a weapon to fight with?

A: Meeps would be the first to tell you that they cannot be 'tamed.' They consider themselves to be a free people.

However, there will be interaction between the protagonist of Hero-U, Shawn, and the Meeps that inhabit (some say "infest") the walls, halls, and caves below the university.

If we reach our first stretch goal for Hero-U, we will allow Shawn to adopt a baby Meep. This Meep will be hungry, noisy, and a bit insistent at times. It's very hard to be stealthy with a hungry Meep. However, if Shawn feeds, pets, and takes care of his Meep, it will be a very happy Meep. Happy Meeps are good. A happy Meep will warn Shawn when danger is near. A happy Meep may even help Shawn fight the monsters (if the monsters aren't too scary), by distracting the monster with a bite to the monster's butt.

The Baby Meep is too small to wield a weapon, but it has very sharp teeth and a perverse sense of humor. It would be unwise for Shawn to get the Meep mad at him.  You don't want to know what an unhappy Meep is like.

Q: Will the player perhaps find a fun magic potion (or learn how to make one using alchemy skill) to turn himself into a Meep?

A: While the idea of turning into a Meep hadn't occurred to us before this, it is definitely funny enough to put into the game at some point. It might not be in Shawn's game, because Shawn would probably enjoy being turned into a Meep. It will be much funnier joke when the protagonist doesn't want to be turned into a Meep.

Q: Will there be any meep teachers at Hero-U? I think that would be so cool to have a very smart meep teacher in one of my classes in the game.

A: There are at least two people at the University who do not like Meeps. One is the Famous Adventurer, who (in theory) runs the school. The other is the Rogue instructor, Master von Urwald. (It may or may not come out in story that Urwald was once transformed into a Meep. This is not an incident Urwald cares to remember.) However, there are no Meep instructors currently at the University. Nor is there (so far) enough blackmail evidence to get a Meep on the staff.

There is more to the Meeps that at first meeps the eye, ut we have to save some surprises for the game!


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    1. mrfatso ~ Defender of The Goat on

      Thanks Corey for the update. I for one am glad to hear that this isnt gonna end up as a huge crate puzzles and good point on the Dr. Brain analogy.

    2. Sameer Kale on

      Oops, I think I may have unclear with my post below (where's that dang edit button!).

      To clarify, with the Icewind Dale/Baldur's Gate thing: Baldur's Gate = Icewind Dale (dungeon crawl) + more story and roleplaying.

      Similarly, I thought Hero-U = Macguffin's Curse (puzzle game) + more story and roleplaying

      Ok, hope that makes sense. Sorry for the multiple posts!

    3. Sameer Kale on

      Also, to further explain how I *was* thinking before, consider Baldur's Gate vs. Icewind Dale. They're both more or less dungeon crawl RPGs using the same engine, but Baldur's Gate has a lot more storytelling, dialogue, and overall roleplaying. That's how I thought of Hero-U vs. Macguffin's Curse, when in fact QfG vs. Dr. Brain is far more appropriate.

    4. Sameer Kale on

      I concur with Starker and Ratatoskr: As I mentioned before, I've been following Hero-U for a while now; I've read most, if not all of the interviews, watched the intro. video multiple times, and even attended two of the Halloween 'hangouts,' yet I still misunderstood how unique Hero-U will truly be. I know it's my mistake for misinterpreting things, but luckily it didn't matter to me when it came to pledging and giving my full support to the project: I'm too big of a Cole/QfG fan for it to make a difference. But I can see others being put off by the (false) idea, especially if they're not puzzle fans.

    5. Ratatoskr - Battle Squirrel of the Varl on

      Like a snipe hunt for the children :)

      And I do think that would be good to mention the difference from MacGuffin's Curse as well, since people who aren't huge puzzle gamers may be avoiding Hero-U from that misconception.

    6. Starker on

      All the more reason to post a new update soon. :)

      Perhaps it's worth mentioning in an update or FAQ that the game will NOT be a box puzzle game like McGuffin's curse. I don't think everyone understands just how different two games made with the same engine can be, especially with the engine getting upgraded in the process.

      PS. I've always thought that pixel hunting would be something that adventurers undertake with their offspring as a rite of passage.

    7. Corey Cole 2-time creator on

      Ack, please ignore that post. I have no way to delete it. :-(

    8. Corey Cole 2-time creator on

      The "about the project creator" for Lore is simply amazing. Bonus points - Count the number of spelling, grammatical, and punctuation errors in this passage:

      My name is George Givens im 28 a gamer sense i was 3 my first game was mario of course the game that got me hooked was tigerhelly. What made me want to make games is im soo tried of seeing the same types of game over and over and over again. LOL dark and demons souls borderlands, psychonauts,spelunky, so on and so on to me was a breath of fresh air but they wasn't hard enough for me. i love games that are out the box and i wont to brag that back to gamers fun and deep games and that's what she said lol i'm not a robot like these big company's i like to joke and have fun yall support ill talk joke laugh with you guys and ill answer the questions about the games i wont hit you all with them PR lines like that's all we right talking about that the time. im a indie developer i been working on lil games with unity 3d for a bit and so i know my way around the program and i feel like with it i have brag something big and game changing with it

    9. Sameer Kale on

      @ Corey, gotcha, thanks! Even though I've been following Hero-U for a long time, I was for some reason under the impression that the game would be more similiar to MacGuffin's Curse than I would have liked. Thanks for the analogy between Quest for Glory vs. Dr. Brain. I think you may have given us this example before, but it finally makes sense now.

    10. Maus Merryjest AGL589 on

      Doing my part to support the endeavor. Love seeing all these great designers coming out of the mists again. Power to the designers!

    11. Corey Cole 2-time creator on

      @bluemeep: I think we will ask in the questionnaire what color you want... but we're currently working out details of the meeps with our vendor, so I can't promise that yet.

      @SK: To be clear, we are not making a MacGuffin's Curse style game. We are using the*engine* that game used to do a top-down, tiled look for the game that will allow us to make the game much larger without driving the art budget into the stratosphere. At Sierra, Castle of Dr. Brain used the same Engine as Quest for Glory 3, but it looks and plays very differently.

      We will also have some Sierra-style painted backgrounds to establish the mood in scenes. But we won't have "hunt the pixel" puzzles among those backgrounds.

      Since we have the MacGuffin's Curse code available, we will probably have a few puzzles that involve moving things around, but that will be a very small part of the game.

    12. Sameer Kale on

      mrfatso, I have to agree with you regarding MacGuffin's Curse: it was fun but did get repetitive at times. Hopefully the RPG aspect of Hero-U, combined with Lori and Corey's storytelling and setting, will help keep the game fun and fresh from start to finish. I think you make an important point about introducing new mechanics/options as the game progresses. That way we're always looking forward to something new... plus it serves as a 'reward' of sorts for progressing. The Zelda games do this quite well, especially the SNES and some of the handheld versions.

    13. bluemeep on

      Ooo, will we have to chance to pick our Meep's color? I'm obviously a little attached the blue variety myself...

      And just throwing this out there, but if green fur can be put to use in a dispel potion somewhere along the line, I *will* squeal like a schoolgirl.

    14. Corey Cole 2-time creator on

      Great comments so far! Lori and I are already talking about which ones to "expand upon" for the game.

      Spoofing bad games is a tough business. I'm sure we will do some of that, but it can be hard for players to tell which parts are spoofs of bad games, and which are just bad game design. I once wrote an article about a D&D creature called "the cliche eater" - The idea was that it grew more powerful every time a party member used a cliche. But Dragon Magazine rejected it because it had too many cliches. D'oh!

    15. Павел Галякевiч on

      One thing that I really liked about QfG - "logic of things." If there is a gate - сlimb it, break it, lockpick it. You need to stop the evil ritual - just overturn the candle. You're in the jungle alone with a beautiful girl - kiss her, you fool =) Wanna solve a puzzle - use your brains, not your mouse.

      No silly rubber duck, clown noses and billiard balls. No "Oh, you did not bring that thing from the beginning of the game - very bad for you, game over" (really hate it in KQ and early Larry Laffer).

      Hope in this game puzzles will be like in old times - intelligent, logical and appropriate.

    16. JuanitaD-ArmikrogArmyGoat @ AGL589+$4.96 on

      "We're not going to require you to navigate a complex maze using your mouse, because those suck." Yes, they do. And Thank You!

      Can you please banish the Simon puzzle, too? I hate those! I have a good memory and can do them, I just hate them. Or if you must include one, how about one with just one giant button. It lights once, Shawn lights it once and the puzzle is complete. Or, if you really want to mess with Shawn, have no point to the puzzle. Just make it an endless puzzle that gets more and more complex with no hope of ever solving it and getting any reward. Now that I would like.

      For a good nod to pixel hunt puzzles, I like Jack's idea of having a monster named Pixel. It would be cool if Shawn needs to hunt it down to obtain something necessary for school. And it should be really really small and sit still. :)

      I absolutely love everything you have in mind for the Meeps, especially the stretch goal. Meeps have sharp teeth! Who knew! I always pictured them as vegetarians, probably because of that apple core the green one tosses up from his hole.

    17. twincast ~ Mangy WoOS-DOoD Mage

      @Matt: Because the traditional Germanic (and most other languages' I can think of) colors are red, blue, green and yellow (and black/swart, white, gray and brown), with intermediary colors sometimes, but not always getting differentiated by the respective compounds. All other colors (not just the obscure tints stereotypically only women know) are named after something specific that has that color -- occasional later drifts in meaning notwithstanding -- and are fairly late to very late additions.
      TL;DR While violet is now thought of as a subcategory or purple, it used to be thought of as a subcategory of blue. That's all there is to it.

    18. mrfatso ~ Defender of The Goat on

      i just complete macguaffin's curse. I just hope that when the games comes out, we wont see everything we need to know about the mechanics in the first few rooms.

      Crate Puzzles are interesting when done well, but most of the time, i find myself not looking forward to playing it, i was just playing it for the sake of completing it.

      As soon as i was done, i removed that game. Here's me hoping that while u guys followed macguffin's curse in making each room a puzzle on its own, it doesnt get too repetitive.

    19. Missing avatar

      Remi D. Finjord on

      I liked every single part of this update.

    20. Missing avatar

      jfrisby on

      I always liked the traditional adventure-y puzzle/problem vibe... hope you hang on to enough of it!

    21. sVnsilver Sand, Dream Traveller on

      @Jack: Great idea!

      A similar idea Pixel could be a thief Pixie (or a variation of a Pixie) and it's nemesis could be a clever little mouse.. those ever elusive Pixels.

      ... Pixels could be a delicacy for Meeps.. helpful in the process of taming one, or bating/diverting one nasty Meep. Go Pixel hunting just to feed those nasty little Pixels to the those less nasty Meeps..

      I'm tired and my mind is everywhere, but these sound like clever and entertaining ideas. :P

    22. Matt Clemson

      I never understood "Roses are red and violets are blue". Violets are, well, violet. The clue's kinda in the name. Oranges aren't yellow, either.

    23. Missing avatar

      Jack on

      Now hold on you two. Er, five. Or however many people are on your team. Pixel hunting is a tried and true adventure game convention, so it falls on you to include it if only to mock it endlessly. At some point in one of the games someone is going to need to hunt a pixel--or rather, a creature named a pixel! Perhaps it's a mining monstrosity made to move and maraud in a mine--security and staff in one! (Note: Oddly enough that sentence was originally going to have "p" rhymes). Either way, I can't imagine you not trying to get a dig like that in.

    24. Corey Cole 2-time creator on

      I thought it was "Simon" that was mandatory for all adventure games (in fact, I used it in Castle of Dr. Brain). I'll be working with Andrew on whether we want to do a "pop-up alternate interface" for puzzles similar to the one in Dr. Brain. But even if we do that, no Tower of Hanoi. That's just tedious.

      Now a 20x20 grid of buttons, all of which you must press in the precise order.... KIDDING!

    25. alcaray on

      1. God love you for banishing "hunt the pixels" puzzles!

      2. Will there be a version of the Tower of Hanoi puzzle? I think it is in half of all adventure games and rpgs - sort of a tradition. Maybe you could do a parody of it?