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The Coles Return to Kickstarter with Hero-U Mk. II

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The Coles Return to Kickstarter with Hero-U Mk. II

Game News - posted by Crooked Bee on Tue 12 May 2015, 13:30:20

Tags: Corey Cole; Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption; Lori Cole; Transolar Games

Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption is back on Kickstarter, with the funding goal of $100,000. Since Corey and Lori Cole, creators of the legendary Quest for Glory series, first kickstartered the game back in November 2012, the project has had nothing but hard times. Initially envisioned as a 2D tile-based game, Hero-U ran into programming issues, had key team members leave the project, and in November 2013, the switch to 3D characters was announced. The September 2014 update then revealed the move to full 3D scenes as well as summed up the evolution of Hero-U's art style:

Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption has gone through many changes in art direction. Originally we envisioned it as a 2D top-down “dungeon crawl” game in the style of MacGuffin’s Curse. We upped the ante on the art by bringing down the camera for an isometric look, but still using tiles to build the images. Then we made it look more like a classic Sierra game, but still isometric. Since then, the look of the game has continued to improve and evolve. Earlier this year I announced that we have abandoned 2D animated characters in favor of full 3D characters modeled by Concept Art House. We have been using a mixture of 2D and 3D props and furniture, with the code going through contortions to make the 2D props look 3D.

Then along came Chris Willis, former Sierra artist and 3D specialist. Chris has done an amazing job modeling 3D scenes that duplicate the feel of JP’s painted backgrounds. As a result, we are moving farther and farther away from the concept of using tiles to create our scenes. Each scene is now a unique piece of 3D art.​

Hero-U: 2012 and now

As a recent (backer-only) update from May 7 disclosed, about half of the money spent on programming "went to work that proved unusable by team members who later left the project." The switch to 3D also necessitated working with new artists, programmers and modelers, which obviously entailed further costs. Furthermore, however, even the initial amount of Kickstarter funding Hero-U received was not really enough to fund the game fully in the first place. Already in October 2013, the Coles had to take a loan and cut the team's salaries to fund the development:

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.​

This is also confirmed again in the May 7 update:

Lori and I are personally covering all expenses beyond the crowd-funding amounts. In fact, we’re literally betting our house on the project - Since we have no income from the project, we are using a $150,000 home equity line of credit to cover Hero-U development and pay our living expenses. We are completely committed to finishing Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption and making it a game that players will love.​

At least the dedication is there - a less dedicated developer would have abandoned the project already; I just hope they do not lose their house in the end. In the May 7 update, the Coles blame "programming issues" for the changes Hero-U's art and gameplay went through. I do believe them on that, and the September 2014 update explains that in more detail; however I do not think that is the only reason. As Lori Cole's blog post from October 2014 shows, one of the reasons why Hero-U has been through so much trouble is that, right from the outset, the developers didn't really have a precise, fleshed-out vision of what style of game they wanted to make, what it would look like, and how much money they would need for that.

In any case, after a very, very bumpy road, Hero-U has a brand new demo - and a brand new Kickstarter campaign:


Why a Second Kickstarter?

It is unusual for the same project to raise funds on Kickstarter twice, but it is not unusual for a game to need additional funding. We have talked to many adventure game developers, and nearly all of their projects went over budget. They have either absorbed the costs themselves or obtained venture capital. We chose not to seek outside funding because we want Hero-U to be a game of, by, and for our many heroes. Kickstarter is where we began, and we would like this to be a wholly crowd-funded game.

In October 2012, we had very little to show, but many amazing fans pledged to support our vision. We now have so much more to share. Check out the game art examples here, and try the combat and game play demos for yourself! If you like what you see, please contribute to this project. We will use the funds to finish developing the game, add new art and music, and polish everything to a quality level where all of us can be proud of the game we made together.

What Happens Next?

We will have a fully playable version of the game by late 2015. The actual release date will depend on the length of the beta testing and game polish phases. What happens after that? If Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption is successful, we plan to make several sequels with new dialogue, character classes and skills, story, art, and music.

In the meantime, we will use the funds from this Kickstarter to "fill in the corners" and make every aspect of Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption immersive, fun, exciting, and beautiful. We want to add even more art, create additional 3D environments, and make sure Hero-U is strong in every way you like to play adventure and role-playing games.​

A lot of people are understandably bound to be put off by this entire second Kickstarter thing. On the other hand, the Coles do have their dedicated fans as well, and as one of those I'll chip in another $20 myself. So, we'll see how this one fares.

Two things are clear, though: good project managers they are not, and kickstarting the same game twice is a bad tendency, however legitimate the reasons. Also, the Coles say they "have talked to many adventure game developers, and nearly all of their projects went over budget." However, the two recent Quest for Glory-inspired adventure games, Heroine's Quest and Quest for Infamy, were both made on a much lower budget. Granted, those were 100% "retro" in terms of graphics, resolution, etc. But did anyone seriously want flashy graphics or a fully 3D game from the Coles?

Again, the Kickstarter is this way and the demo is available at http://hero-u.com/press/ if you want to give it a whirl.

There are 23 comments on The Coles Return to Kickstarter with Hero-U Mk. II

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