As I write this, there are about 18 hours remaining in what may be my favorite Kickstarter campaign thus far.
Now, to share my excitement, you probably need to have lived through an adolescence that was very similar to mine, one filled with countless hours playing Quest for Glory, the series of five adventure/role-playing games published by Sierra On-Line from 1989 to 1998. Man, I loved those games. I suspect that to many modern gamers, they’d seem a bit hokey or simplistic, but to my teenaged self, the storylines were the perfect mix of humor and high adventure, and the gameplay combined classic adventure game puzzles with lightweight roleplaying and action.
And now Corey and Lori Cole, the husband-and-wife team that designed Quest for Glory, are looking to build a game in a similar style, complete with a pun title — Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption. It will be set in a fantasy world, at a school for adventurers (Quest for Glory fans will remember that the protagonist graduated from an adventuring correspondence course), with gameplay combining character interaction, puzzle-solving, and combat.
Corey Cole told me that with a $400,000 target, Hero-U will have a “tiny” budget compared to the last few Quest for Glory games. Still, he promised that it will offer more sophisticated character relationships, as well as a deeper approach to dungeon-crawling and combat. To accomplish that with limited funds, Hero-U will be limited to turn- and grid-based combat, with relatively little animation.
Cole said that he and his wife have been thinking about this game for the past seven years. It started out as the Coles’ School for Heroes website, then they decided to work on an actual game, which was originally conceived as a text-based adventure, and then a browser-based game. None of those options offered the experience they wanted, so the Coles decided to use the game engine created by Andrew Goulding for his titles at Brawsome. Meanwhile, they struggled to find design work in an industry that has largely abandoned adventure games, so inspired in part by the success of other campaigns from classic adventure game designers (most notably Tim Schafer’s Double Fine Productions, as well as the Pinkerton Road and Two Guys Spaceventure campaigns from the Coles’ fellow Sierra veterans), they decided to crowdfund the title.
Even though it has been more than a decade since they’ve built a full-fledged adventure game, Corey Cole said the he’s taking the same approach to game design that he always has.
“Lori and I are very much top-down designers — actually, it’s kind of a back-and-forth between top-down and bottom-up,” he said. “We look at the overall setting and characters, look at the problems they have in their life and how you can interact with the world, and that’s where all the puzzles and gameplay comes from.”
Hero-U is currently $30,000 away from the target, so it seems likely to hit its goal, but Cole admitted that he’s going to be nervous “until we cross the finish line.” He said that he made some early mistakes in the campaign, particularly by posting rough early art that convinced some potential backers that they’d be paying $400,000 for a crappy game. He added that he’s hoping that people sign up, not just because they want to play Hero-U, but also to “send a message that you like this type of game.”
I’ve donated to the campaign, which ends at 3:30pm Eastern on Tuesday. You can read more here.