Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption by the Quest for Glory designers
(an unofficial Q&A-style list of known/important details by yours truly)
Pledge goal: USD 400,000. Reached 1/2 of that in 2/3 of the time, so we need a bit of a proper end rush to prevent it from becoming one of the 3 % of KS projects that fail despite having reached 50 % of their goal.
If you have already seen the project page, I implore you to check out the replaced video/recent updates. Or at least check the art question at the bottom here.
Q: What is Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption?
A: A role-playing/adventure/puzzle game by Corey and Lori Cole.
-Q: Can you be more specific?
-A: The first game in a planned pentalogy (and potential hexalogy) of tile-based turn-based role-playing/adventure/puzzle games, each following a different character of a different class with different reasons for attending Hero-University through their freshman year at an actual mythology-based medieval fantasy-themed school complete with haunted catacombs, by Corey and Lori Cole, the core creators behind the setting and all (official) games of renowned groundbreaking 1990's (1989-1998) adventure/role-playing game series Quest for Glory. (It might also be followed by a series following them through a sophomore exchange year, but let's not get ahead of ourselves.)
-Q: That sounds like an overambitious hodgepodge of genres, does it not?
-A: May sound like it at first, but when you think about it, it all fits together very well. IMHO one could just as easily describe it as a role-playing game that cherry picks the best(-fitting) parts of adventure games and puzzle games, which are already way more present in most tabletop RPG's than in most computer RPG's. Besides, they are all seasoned developers.
Q: What platforms will be supported?
A: Windows PC, OS X and Linux. (I think tablets have been mentioned as a potential stretch goal.)
Q: Why should fans of the Quest for Glory series be interested in this project?
A: It's by the creators of the QfG series, set in the world of QfG, with the writing style (and thus both depth and humor) of the QfG series.
-Q: But I'd rather they make a game in the exact same style as the (VGA) QfG games, why don't they?
-A: Painted graphic adventure backgrounds are very expensive (but the more money they get the more will be made to illustrate important scenes) and the easily expandable tiles lend themselves better to the focus on RPG gameplay, i.e. navigating between rooms and around enemies.
--Q: Well, okay, but I don't owe them anything and it just doesn't interest me, so?
--A: Fair enough, but you should still join in advertising it to your friends and followers as Activision has been lazily sitting on the QfG rights, neither selling nor licensing them to any of a number of interested parties that wanted to continue the series -- many (all?) of them with the Coles --, so a combination of this project and Telltale's King's Quest sequel (merely oddly phrased by them as a reboot) both being successful would go a long way to ensure not just any Quest for Glory game, but a "true" Quest for Glory VI (starring the Hero's child of whatever pairing you ended up with in QfG5 if the Coles have their way).
Q: Why should fans of role-playing games be interested in this project?
A: Three words: Tactical turn-based combat. And because your choices will matter; not just through dialog, but also your actions. What's more, each game will focus on a character of a particular RPG archetype class in their QfG interpretation: The first game will star a male rogue called Shawn O'Conner, the second a female wizard and the third and fourth a male paladin and a female warrior. (I don't know the planned order of the latter two.) The last as I understand it will star a "mystery character" (I suppose the child of a QfG NPC?) and maybe have segments of you controlling each of the prior protagonists (but that's just speculation on my part based on a hunch or three)? And they've talked about maybe adding a game starring a (proper) bard student between the fourth game and the final one if the series is big enough a success. Also, the QfG games were revolutionary for their time in their offering of multiple ways to solve a situation, so expect much of that.
-Q: Tactical turn-based combat? Tell me more!
-A: The current plan is for there to be five action points per turn, movements costing 1 AP per tile, light attacks (and minor actions?) costing 2 AP and heavy attacks (and major actions?) costing 4 AP. And of course Shawn being a rogue, he'll be able to sneak, backstab and lay traps.
--Q: Wait a moment; tiles? You mean squares? Ugh.
--A: I can think of some games with hexagonal tiles (instead of just an according overlay), but they mean tetragonal ones, yes. I'll be honest, I prefer vector-based a bit over hex-fields and both a lot over square grids, but I am capable of enjoying all of them. If you like turn-based you should be very much used to them as well. And if you actually prefer them, all the better; go pledge now!
-Q: And how will my choices matter?
-A: Primarily in the first game you can decide whether to go with Shawn's original plan of joining the Thieves' Guild in the end or try to follow the school's teachings and become a heroic rogue. And you can decide every time whether to diligently go to class (etc.) or to spend that time exploring/treasure-hunting in the catacombs, caves and ruins below and near the school instead. Whether you attend your classes and how you behave there (or in the library or wherever) will affect how the instructors and fellow students think of your PC, everyone liking different kinds of conversation/behavior, e.g. you can work together, help someone out, play pranks, try to cheat on tests, take the blame for something or put the blame on somebody else. So, while Shawn will always have a typical roguish personality, it's up to you if he's just a jerk or has a heart of gold (or both, I guess). Spend enough time on Shawn's (and later the other PC's) social interactions and you may gain him some friends and/or foes (and maybe also find him some love). And you will be able to import your characters into the sidequels, so they'll have the same personality and abilities as a (cameo-ing) NPC as they had as a PC. That and some other undisclosed changes and minor bonuses.
-Q: What about experience gain and skill progression?
-A: It will be neither typical XP-leveling like most RPG's, nor exactly akin to the easily exploitable repetition-based systems of Quest for Glory and The Elder Scrolls. The current plan goes something like this: Doing something new with the abilities at your disposal, like defeating a new enemy type (in a respectively new way), will give a boost to the skill you used, but slaying fifty rats or throwing a dagger at a wall fifty times won't get you anything but maybe carpal tunnel syndrome. Additionally, attending classes will increase your stats in some way, with elective courses potentially even giving you new skills altogether.
Q: Why should fans of adventure games be interested in this project?
A: Despite its look it will have lots of adventure game-style problem solving (inventory items, dialog). Also, all combat will be avoidable through dialog and/or sneaking. And the main draw should be the bound to be interesting story and lots of well written characters. Plus, it's got a punny title! What self-respecting fan of graphic adventures -- especially Sierra's -- doesn't love that?
Q: Why should fans of puzzle games be interested in this project?
A: Andrew "Brawsome" Goulding is also working on this, the engine is based on the one for MacGuffin's Curse and there'll also be some puzzle game-style problem solving (logic, environmental objects). And every combat encounter can be thought of as a puzzle to solve. Besides, Corey Cole also created The Castle of Dr. Brain.
Q: Why should any/all fans of computer games be interested in this project?
A: The writing ("Mystery, Magic and Murder") should entice anyone that isn't totally averse to fun and funny moments. But most of all? Because it's unique, and not just for today's market. Aside from The Bard's Tale being the last RPG I can think of that had a heavy dose of humor, it's really the criminally underused school (not just student characters) setting (and according interactions with NPC's) that seals the deal for me. It's fairly common in Japanese adventure games (= visual novels = choose-your-own-adventure) with their boring gameplay and outside very special scenes boring visuals that live and die by their writing, many of them solely focused on selecting your love interest of choice (although some do have very interesting stories) through the utterly necessary choice tree guides that come with practically every review, some of them having a stat-based sim factor (the actual romance sims), but many of those drift into the creepy, and only a scarce few that are based on RPG gameplay (essentially almost only the rarely released Persona series). And it's completely untapped in the West! (Other than a couple of very, very, very low budget indie games set in present-day magical schools. Meh.) And of course a university in an actual mythology-based medieval fantasy-themed medieval setting adds another level of unique awesomeness -- a "normal" school would most likely run the risk of merely "reliving" your high school years or at the very least be perceived as such. The project just combines the best of so many worlds, it makes me giddy!
Q: What about the art style?
A: 2D. Think classic animation. They had to endure some flak for the (naturally, duh, very cheap-looking) early mock-up(s), but they recently posted image(s) closer to their final goal (and an all-new pitch video) and I have to say I find it very pretty despite their choice of perspective. Sure, I'd prefer isometric tiles, but unlike MacGuffin's Curse the perspectives of the different elements at least aren't all over the place (let alone plain wrong -- I'll never stop complaining about/making fun of the front-angled top-down view mid-room book cases that grow (much to boot!) wider at the bottom) and the average level of detail seems to already be much higher to me. And like for example Guild Wars 2 dialogs will show bigger versions of the conversation partners left and right.
Q: What's in it for me other than the game, i.e. pledge reward highlights?
A: Download edition, boxed edition and KS-exclusive limited edition boxes. The official yearbook. Inclusion in said yearbook. Toy meeps. Caps. T-shirts. At least two types of meet-&-greets. And more! As for pledge add-ons: second copy of the first game, pre-order of the second game, getting a personalized headstone in the catacombs, getting that headstone and a virtual presence as an undead there. And more!
Q: Anything else?
A: The first stretch goal would encompass an optional baby meep to adopt, which depending on how you treat it could grow into a useful little helper. =)