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To RP Or Not To RP?

“To RP, or not to RP: that is the question:
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of enemy archers,
Or to face frustration from a thousand impossible puzzles,
And by googling, solve them?” – Shakesmeep

Why, you may ask, are Lori and I making a role-playing game rather than an adventure? After all, we are best know for our work at Sierra On-Line, an adventure game publisher. And our most popular games – the Quest for Glory series – looked and played a lot like other Sierra adventure games… with a few twists.

To us, those twists make all the difference. Quest for Glory are wolves in sheeps’ clothing, RPG’s in the guise of adventures.

So one answer is, we’ve never actually made a pure adventure game. Quest for Glory? RPG in adventure clothing. Shannara? Adventure game with RPG features. Castle of Dr. Brain? Educational puzzle game in an adventure game engine. Mixed-Up Fairy Tales? Children’s storybook in an adventure game setting. Our other games are even farther away from the adventure game mold.

The Trouble With Adventures

Now we have nothing against adventure games, but it’s really hard to make one these days because of that insidious creature, the Internet.

ShakesmeepBack in the 80’s and 90’s, adventure game players seemed to thrive on frustration. If they couldn’t solve a puzzle, they would keep trying – sometimes for weeks or months. Maybe they’d ask a friend for help, but most of them were perfectly content to spend months working through the puzzles in one game.

Now things are different. People have no patience because they don’t need any. All of the answers are a few clicks away on the Internet. Unfortunately, getting a hint is a lot like eating a salted peanut – It’s impossible to stop at one.

Role-playing games have a big advantage there. Most RPG “puzzles” rely on building up your character’s abilities and using them well. You can go to a hint site to find out how to play better, but winning the game is still up to you to play. The game designer has a lot more power to control the length and difficulty of an RPG than an adventure game.

The popular first-person shooter genre is also immune to Internet hints, but Lori and I find those games boring. They rarely make you think, and they rely on fast hand-eye coordination to win. That’s fine; it’s a valid form of game play. We just don’t think it should be the only form.

What’s In a Game?

“What’s in a game? That which we call an RPG
In any other game would play as well.” – Shakesmeep

When we say that Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption is an RPG, we mean that traditional RPG features are its main focus. You will explore, fight monsters, gain new skills, find items that help your character (mostly in combat), and improve your abilities through game play.

When people talk about adventure games, they mean you explore, find and use inventory items, solve puzzles, and usually talk to characters in the game.

Both types of game have quests. In truth, you can incorporate all of the elements of an RPG into an adventure game – as we did with Quest for Glory – and everything we think of as part of an adventure game greatly improve a role-playing game.

In tabletop roleplaying, the best games use all of the elements of both computer RPG’s and adventures. We think a great role-playing adventure should do the same.

The Heart of the Matter

So why are we calling Hero-U an RPG and not an adventure?

  • 1. Branding – It’s a way of reaching a wider audience that might not have played classic adventure games.
  • 2. Budget – We can make a better RPG-style game for less money than it would take to make a great graphic adventure.
  • 3. True Love – Our hearts are in role-playing games. Lori and I met over a Dungeons & Dragons table, and we moved to Oakhurst because we wanted to develop RPG’s. We like the challenge of honing our character’s skills, learning new abilities throughout the game, and having the power to fight evil directly. It’s fun getting your frustrations out through imaginary slaughter!

So when you’re talking about Hero-U, please call it an RPG as we do. It’s ok to wink if you’re subtle about it. We don’t like to make games that fit neatly into a single category. Hero-U will have something for role-players, adventurers, questers, combatants, and puzzlers.

We want you to be too involved with playing your character’s role to worry about what kind of game you’re playing..

And that’s why we RP.


  1. TAHR Says:

    I’m sorry if you were waiting for an instant reply ; living in a different time zone, when you’re writing I’m sleeping, and vice-versa :

    Thank you very much for having published my post (and corrected some of the syntax mistakes) !

    I think a lot of people will contradict my statement, and that’s precisely the goal :)
    This keeps the Kickstater project full of life and moreover help people to express their fellings about games (and therefore help you to better understantd what they’re waiting for).

    I love to debate ; the only problem is that it’s REALLY a time consuming activity. However, I’ll try to clarify my demonstration as much as I can directly on the KS Update comments section.

  2. Lori Says:

    You speak English better than many a native American, TAHR. You made great points with your comments and they were good discussion points.

    I would not have played World of Warcraft if a friend hadn’t encouraged me by telling me how much role-playing there was in the game. It had a lot of role-players flocking to the game in the beginning. It soon lost the role-playing and eventually it lost everything I enjoyed about the game. I only started playing Star Wars because my son recommended it. SW is a brilliant failure – it won’t survive long because they did not put enough time into the “Multiplayer ” part of the MMO. So I hope that I will be able to finish the stories of all my characters before SW goes belly-up. However, since I can only play a few hours every once in a while, I’m not holding my breath.

    I liked “Day of the Tentacle” because I liked the quirky sense of humor and the puzzles were easy enough that I could solve them without a hint book. Alas, I really suck at Adventure Games. That’s the reason that QfG and Hero-U will be more about problem-solving than about puzzles.

    Yes, it’s true that we are weighing the game play toward the “Good” side of the alignment scale. If we had more time and a bigger budget, we would balance out the sides better. But unless we get some additional funding, we are on a tight schedule for design. And so I’d rather devote more time and energy into the Hero Shawn than the Rotter Shawn.

  3. TAHR Says:

    “I think its well-worth getting others to read and comment upon. We’re going to use this as an update starting point.”

    I would be honored. Even though it would make me more ashamed of my syntax problems.
    Being a native english speaker is the kind of skill I can only have in RPGs :/

    “I would argue that some RPGs are all about role-playing. Star Wars: the Old Republic really goes out of its way to give your character depth, motivation, and relationships in the game. ”

    I have to try this game. I must say that the fact that its based on the new trilogy of movies + the fact that it’s presented as a competitor of World of Warcraft (which to me is more a Third Personn Shooter with swords than a RPG), hasn’t kindled my curiosity like you do.

    “But I didn’t enjoy the “Grim Fandango” game – the puzzles were too convoluted or obscure for me to solve without a hintbook.”

    I’ve had the pleasure to finish Grim Fandango without using a hintbook.
    Sure it’s a very difficult game, but it’s also the best exemple I could think of to illustrate the debate about “what makes the difference between bad (impossible to sovle) puzzles and hard puzzles”. Grim Fandango is a hard game to beat, but it’s hard to be a hero anyway 😉 And most of the best movies have the most original solutions you could think of (like climbing to the top of clock to catch the lightning because you know the exact timing
    thanks to an anachronistic leaflet, and inject it via a wire and a hook into a time machine).

    “Shawn can aid them or ignore them. It won’t ruin the game if Shawn is an absolute rotter who selfishly pursues his own agenda. It will just be a richer game if Shawn interacts with everyone and tries to make good grades, friends, and a lover.
    It’s not my job to tell the player how he should play Shawn. This is a Role-playing game in the true sense.”

    I would add that it will be a richer game, if you can explain Shawn’s actions (good or evil) by looking at his background. I agree that is not your job to tell a RPG gamer how he would play Shawn (that would make no sense), however, due to technical limitations, and moreover due to common sense of storytelling, you still have to organise your simulated world around a certain kind of behaviour (trying to make good grades, friends and a over). You could have decided that the game would be richer if hawn would act like an absolute rotter.
    This is the delicate balance we were talking about last time (between the character’s point of view and the player’s one).

  4. Lori Says:

    Nice demonstration, TAHR. I’d like to elevate this out of the comments ghetto. I think its well-worth getting others to read and comment upon. We’re going to use this as an update starting point.

    I’ve always been a role-player. Like you say when you are doing tabletop games, you Are the Elf, whenever I write a character for a game, I AM that character. Likewise, I tend to project personality into every game I play.

    I would argue that some RPGs are all about role-playing. Star Wars: the Old Republic really goes out of its way to give your character depth, motivation, and relationships in the game. There is a storyline that is centered on your character’s life rather than just upon the “Save the Galaxy” or “Conquer the Galaxy” (depending upon which side you are playing).

    Actually, I’d love to see “Grim Fandango” as an animated movie. I really enjoyed the “Beetlejuice” cartoon of by-gone days. But I didn’t enjoy the “Grim Fandango” game – the puzzles were too convoluted or obscure for me to solve without a hintbook.

    I agree totally with you about your comments about Games and Movies. Great Games do not necessarily make Great Movies. Monkey Island would be a fun movie. Wizardry would not. It makes about as much sense to make a movie from an RPG as it does from a boardgame like Battleship.

    I began design for Hero-U not by asking what interesting monsters are hidden under the castle or what nifty magic item can we give Shawn. I wanted to know who Shawn was, why did he come to the school, and what was going to happen to him. Every person he meets in this game will be part of the story in some way. They all have their own back stories and goals. Shawn can aid them or ignore them. It won’t ruin the game if Shawn is an absolute rotter who selfishly pursues his own agenda. It will just be a richer game if Shawn interacts with everyone and tries to make good grades, friends, and a lover.

    It’s not my job to tell the player how he should play Shawn. This is a Role-playing game in the true sense.

  5. TAHR Says:

    Having read “Project Update #8: Puzzling Problems and Mighty Meeps”, as well as the PC Gamer article, I’d like to share my point of view (again 😛 ) :

    To me,

    Role Playing Games are about problems,

    and Adventure Games are about puzzles

    (in the very specific way those two terms are defined in the PC Gamer article).

    Why ? Because in fact,

    Role Playing Games are NOT about Role Playing,

    and Adventure Games are ALL about Role Playing.

    Explanation :

    In a tabletop Dungeons & Dragons game, I AM an elf ; an elf fancied from MY imagination ; not a human playing the part of Legolas and trying to guess what Legolas would do in such a situation.
    I’m not, like on a movie set, an actor learning a script and pretending to be an elf while he’s deliverings his pre-written lines.

    In Sins of the Fathers, this IS where I actually play a role, the role of Gabriel Knight.
    The ONLY difference with a movie is that the director doesn’t give me the script, I must guess it (what would you Gabriel do ?), otherwise this would be a fiction, not an Interactive Fiction (and therefore not a game).


    Adventure Games are Interactive Fictions, where you have to guess the script.
    The more well written the script is, the more entertaining the game is.
    You’ve said that Day of The Tentacle was one of your favorite adventure games ; well, imagine how great it would be as an animated comedy movie, or Grim Fandango as an animated film noir.

    Role Playing Games are Simulated Worlds, where you can live a second life.
    But even the greatest RPG sessions would not necessarily make great movies, mostly because they would not be structured enough or strong enough in terms of storytelling (just like true stories have to be romanticized before making to the big screen).
    What makes great movies/Adventure Games are not only the problems the characters have to face, but morevover the great solutions the script writers/game designers have invented : how will Marty McFLy/Bernard Bernoulli go back to their own time ? The question is a good start, but without a great answer, it would be totaly uninteresting to watch.

    This post is not only about finding the right terminology, it’s about the concepts behind the labels we use.

    And there is a big issue with the “Simulated World” concept. While a good Pen & Paper RPG Game Master will have no problem to satisfy all your desires and turn them into an adventure with some twists and climaxes without you knowing it, a computer just CAN’T.
    Elder Scrolls games can be great fun, but only if you accept the fact that almost EVERY problems are solved through combat tactics. The world is simulated through the perspective of a fighter.

    This explains why I’m interested in the Hero-U project ; because while simulating a world like a Pen & Paper RPG Game Master does is impossible with a computer program (even with the multi-millions dollar budgets Bethesda Softworks grant for their games), mixing mechanics from Adventure Games and Computer RPGs
    would still be a GREAT experience, especially if you try to do more than “just” including stats and combats to a classic Adventure Game (which is a good start but sill a Adventure Game, not an RPG).

    To me, the best Computer RPG someone could possibly program would be one that replaces the problems (really fun to solve in P&P RPGs but impossible to be told properly by an artificial intelligence, other than finding the best solution to slay everything that stands in your way) with the puzzles of an Adventure Game, assuming that those puzzles would have 3 or 4 different solutions, and that ALL those different solutions would reach the quality of a good movie in terms of storytelling.
    To paraphrase you, succeeding in this task would be a new definition of “hard”.
    I’m aware that Hero-U won’t necessarily match with my very specific definition of “the Best Computer RPG”, however, your project have all my support

    If you see a flaw in this demonstration, please let me know…

  6. Lori Says:

    Exactly, TAHR, we’re trying to create a very different sort of game that incorporates all the genres by borrowing the best elements and mashing them together. Hero-U won’t be quite like any other game. Nevertheless, it will be fun to play.

    Yo won’t regret checking out the MacGuffin’s Curse demo – the only complaint I had about it is that I couldn’t tell when I got to the end of it – and then I had to go get the entire game to play. Corey has played it several times now, just to appreciate the puzzle style.

  7. TAHR Says:

    After having read “Project Update #4: Pre-Halloween Parties” and watch Andrew Goulding’s video, I’ve decided to make enquiries about MacGuffin’s Curse, which looks like a really nice puzzle game (I think I will look for a playable demo).

    During my research, Google pointed at this article written by Corey : “Puzzling Under a Full Moon” ( ).

    In the comments section, Corey adds :

    “I’m not sure we’ve ever seen a really large number of puzzle games. A few of exceptional quality stand out – in no particular order:

    -The Seventh Guest
    -Fool’s Errand
    -Castle of Dr. Brain

    are a few that come to mind.

    The nice thing about puzzle games is that they can still be fun long after their graphics and technology becomes obsolete – The point is solving the puzzles, not eye candy (although the eye candy in Seventh Guest was amazing at the time).”

    That exactly confirms what I was explaining (about Puzzle games (Myst-like puzzles) VERSUS Adventures games (inventory/dialogue based puzzles). We’re on the same tune :)

    In fact, Hero-U is the combination of 3 genres (not 2) : RPGs, Adventure games, AND Puzzle games.
    It has taken me a long time to understand this.

  8. Lori Says:

    Thanks, Isair. Hero-U will look a bit different from the QfG games, but there will be even more story and characters than the Glory games. I’m sure that Quest fans will be pleased.

  9. Isair Says:

    That hand painted concept art is so beautiful, top-down dungeon too not bad at all. It remind me Albion (especially this part: ). Combination of dungeon and clasic point and click (?) adventure sounds good. Quest for Glory series is also very unique and funny after all. I wish good luck with this interesting project.

  10. Speedster Says:

    I’ve been seeing positive response to update #3 on the mix of adventure and RPG elements. Well done.

    “I am thrilled by update 3 on Hero-U…glad they addressed the RPG vs Adventure concern!”

    “Okay, the update got my attention back (even though I’m not backing yet).”

  11. Lori Says:

    We’re definitely ‘re-branding’ our campaign as we go along. We know that our game will appeal to a broad range of tastes. We just need to let the players know that. So for now, Hero-U is an ‘Adventure-Role-Playing’ game rather than a ‘Role-Playing Adventure’ game.

    The mainstream players have little interest in a game that requires more thought than visceral reaction. Let them play Quake (or its descendents)!

  12. Speedster Says:

    I think you’re exactly right about the rarity of adventure games helping forge adventure game enthusiasts into this tight-knit backer community, who appreciate quality games enough to chip in with both funds and time. On the other hand, mainstream gamers don’t tend to show up on kickstarter in droves, because they are keeping themselves occupied with the stuff being advertised on gamespot and IGN, so why bother risking money on pre-orders?

    So the more you can attract dedicated adventure gamers as backers the better, and then once the game is made those fans can see for themselves that it has the old QfG story-telling flair with a different look, you won’t need to ‘advertise’ to them any more. At that point you won’t be asking the skeptical mainstream to do pre-orders — the game will exist and you can sprinkle review copies around those big review sites that give mainstream gamers ideas on what to try.

  13. Speedster Says:

    Note that I’m not saying you need to commit yourself to the classic adventure game graphic style if it’s not affordable, just saying that if graphics are stated to be the only thing that is less adventure game-ish than QfG series, then it will be easier to get adventure game fans to consider looking past the graphics to the detailed story and puzzles, some of which happen to take place in a practice-dungeon setting.

  14. Lori Says:

    It occurred to me just Why the Adventure Game Community is more tightly knit than the RPGs – because Adventure Games are so rare. RP gamers, even the ones who prefer the ‘old-fashioned’ style games, can find the modern descendents of those games. They’ve been playing World of Warcraft and SWtOR. But there have been no true offspring of Adventure Games in the modern game world.

    I agree with you – our target market should be the Adventure Gamer. They are the ones who will be happiest with Hero-U when they get to play it. I will point out though that LSL, Space Ventures, and Jane’s Kickstarter projects did not make all that much money. Corey and I did the math on how much it will cost them to make an Adventure Game. They will be very lucky if they ship those games without additional funding from somewhere else. And they promised exactly what the Adventure Gamers wanted to see.

    Double Fine Adventures was a Black Swan. Who wouldn’t want to play another Monkey Island with Ron Gilbert designing it? Frankly, when I think of fun Adventure Games, I think of LucasArts. I think their games were more friendly and fun than most Sierra Games. In truth, at the beginning of the 90’s, Sierra on-Line was THE Adventure Game company. By the mid-90’s, the company everyone mentioned when they talked about Adventure Games was LucasArts.

    If we can tap into Double Fine’s fan base and convince them that Hero-U will be fun and exciting, then we have a chance of doing more than break even with this Kickstarter.

  15. Speedster Says:

    Lori, I know it’s hard to say yet whether the RPG marketing emphasis is helping or not, but I have a preliminary impression that it’s not. I have seen a handful of Project Eternity “Obsidian Order” members, but some of those who showed up have also backed straight non-RPG adventure games (like Broken Sword or Jane Jensen). Meanwhile there are some frequent adventure-game-backers who are holding back because Hero-U is “less” adventure than Quest for Glory, and they want it to be the same mix.

    The adventure game crowd on kickstarter is more tight-knit because they are so counter-mainstream (except in Germany) that they have to help fight for enough publicity to get their favorite games funded, so it could just be that I’m more aware of the missing adventure gamers than the additional RPG fans. However it’s also true that the core fans who have been inhabiting your kickstarter thread and upvoting articles are just about all in that adventure game camp (plenty with dual interest in RPGS of course).

    So you might want to reconsider the core audience for the Hero-U that you want to make — it may really be adventure gamers. Adventure gamers are very appreciative of story, while the standard cRPG crowd is into lots of character customization and open-world exploration. The PE backers were into all the different classes, races, attributes, skills, avatar customization… and a large part of that customization clashes with the sort of story you want to write. So does the aspect of exploring a big world, as you’ve already explained.

    I say all this as someone who appreciates both types of games: Hero-U seems like an adventure game with RPG flavor, just like QfG series. If that’s true, explicitly say so to the QfG fans who ought to love Hero-U but are currently feeling a bit abandoned in pursuit of the bigger RPG crowd.

  16. Lori Says:

    Thank you, Perdoname, for your thoughtful and concerned comment. I can understand why you are upset with some of the things we have said lately. I agree with you, that comment about the “Insidious Internet” was just plain dumb. (I like the alliteration, though…)

    My two favorite Adventure Games of all times are “Monkey Island” and “Day of the Tentacle.” They were fun to play and had a great sense of humor. While I don’t think anyone considers “Day of the Tentacle” to be a “beautiful” game, its art style was as quirky as its story.

    However, I’ve never played a lot of adventure games. I’m not all that good at figuring out puzzles.

    Andrew Goulding, our programmer, has made two games with his Brawsome Company – “MacGuffin’s Curse” and “Jolly Rover.” Jolly Rover is a traditional Adventure game, a sort of “Doggy Island” with pirates and canines. “MacGuffin’s Curse” is the most fun I’ve ever had in a pure puzzle game.

    The answer to “Why is Hero-U emphasizing the RP over the Adventure” game is two-fold:

    1. We want to reach an audience beyond Adventure Game players (and so we are emphasizing those aspects at the moment)
    2. We can’t afford to do an Adventure Game on $400,000 dollars. Adventure Games are art and programming intensive. Realistically speaking, we can’t see putting as much game play as we plan for Hero-U in an Adventure-style perspective for under $800,000-$100,000, and we didn’t think we raise that much money on Kickstarter.

    However, I ask you to look at most of the concept art we have for the game. Does this look like a sterile, boring dungeon to you?
    Shawn at the Garden

    Most of our art team really wants to do Adventure Game-style paintings and artwork. I’d love to do the whole game with this look. Realistically speaking, we can’t afford to do the whole game this way. However, we can have moments in the game that use this sort of beautiful art.

    What we will do is find ways to make all our artwork beautiful – even the dungeon crawls.

    But I believe that a game is more than the graphics. ‘Day of the Tentacle’ didn’t need traditional ‘Adventure Game Graphics’ to pull off a fun game. It was all about the story, puzzles, and above all, the characters.

    I promise you that Hero-U will have as involving a story, quirky character interaction, and humor as any Quest for Glory. We’ll also be giving the player the opportunity to pass or fail in his Rogue Class, make friends or bitter enemies, and maybe even fall in love. There will be more things to do and puzzles to solve and, yes, monsters to outwit or destroy than any QfG game.

    We don’t want to re-do what we have done in the past. We want to do more.

    (So please forgive us for sometimes inserting our foot in our mouth about Adventure Games.)

  17. Perdoname Says:

    First off, let me say that years ago I purchased (no illegal copies) Hero’s Quest 1, QFG1 VGA, QFG2, QFG3, QFG4 (including CD version) and Castle. I enjoyed all these games and found them to be exceptionally well-crafted and worth every penny and then some. Quest for Glory was one of the most memorable series of games to come out during that period.

    I also want to thank you for allowing players the opportunity to provide feedback here.

    So, it is with the utmost respect that I offer the following feedback.

    I am extremely disappointed that you have chosen to take Hero-U in a more RPG-style direction and away from the Quest for Glory mold. I am also disappointed by what appears to be a lack of appreciation for what makes adventure games so special and unique.

    You write:
    “When people talk about adventure games, they mean you explore, find and use inventory items, solve puzzles, and usually talk to characters in the game.”

    Wow, how sad that you reduce a truly unique gaming genre to nothing but a short list of gameplay features, which, from the way you describe them, could be found in many other kinds of games. Is that all an adventure game is to you? While it is true that some “adventure games” are more like scavenger hunts (e.g., KQ4, a very fun game, by the way), some of the best (e.g., Day of the Tentacle, Monkey Island, Gabriel Knight) are immensely enjoyable because of their compelling stories, memorable humor and ingenious, story-driven puzzles. Jane Jensen has said that she prefers the term “interactive fiction” to “adventure games” because “interactive fiction” better reflects the fact that these games often work best when their necessarily linear gameplay detracts as little as possible from the pacing and delivery of the most important component in the game – the story. Adventure games (or whatever term you want to use) are more than just a handful of incidental gameplay features; adventure gamers, from what I have seen, often enjoy these games because the fun comes primarily from the strong stories and story-driven puzzles, without too much (if any) RPG-style, abstract character point building/ monotonous grunt work to distract from the plot and story mood/atmosphere.

    Speaking of atmosphere, I want you to know how much I enjoyed the Sierra game engines with the many individual, unique “rooms.” These richly detailed rooms did so much to help create believable worlds and to create a particular atmosphere in a way that a minimalist, top-down perspective could never do.

    I also have a problem with the way you repeat the same old cliche that adventure gamers back in the day were somehow more “patient” than adventure gamers today.

    You say: “Now we have nothing against adventure games, but it’s really hard to make one these days because of that insidious creature, the Internet.

    Back in the 80’s and 90’s, adventure game players seemed to thrive on frustration. If they couldn’t solve a puzzle, they would keep trying – sometimes for weeks or months…

    Now things are different. People have no patience because they don’t need any.”

    I don’t want to go on and on about this, but just wish to point out that this is a ridiculous notion, and I am especially disappointed to see it repeated by the creators of Quest for Glory (!). Adventure gamers were no more patient then than they are now. If they wanted to “cheat” or find walkthroughs, they could find a way to do so. Today, adventure game fans obviously have more options to cheat, but we are more than capable of resisting the urge to do so. Yes, adventure games are probably a niche market and for a particular kind of player, but there are still plenty of gamers who specifically seek out these types of games. The recent funding successes of several Kickstarter adventure titles more than backs this up. To suggest that the existence of the internet is some kind of insurmountable obstacle to creating or playing adventure games is more than a little silly.

    Anyway, you guys can make the game you want to make. I have no doubt your new game will get funded and will be very well-made. Wish you great success.

    However, just know that at least one fan of your previous games is disappointed that the new title will apparently (maybe I’m wrong) put a greater emphasis on more traditional RPG “dungeon crawl” and will feature a stripped-down, sterile looking game environment. Oh, why, oh, why couldn’t you have had all handpainted backgrounds. The beautiful handpainted art in the previous QFG games had a timeless quality and added a lot.

    Sorry for the long comment, and thanks again for giving us the opportunity to provide feedback.

  18. Lori Says:

    Precisely, TAHR.

    It’s a delicate balance in game design. In QfG, we tried to go more with trying to accommodate what the player would want to do. In Hero-U, there are things that Shawn (and therefore the player) will have to do. Like go to class occasionally… Fortunately, most of the time, the player and Shawn will want to do the same things. And most of those things do not include going to class. :-)

  19. TAHR Says:

    Yes, that’s one the big difficulties of combining the RPG genre and the Adventure genre : there are two points of view to mix, the (RPG) player’s one, who wants a great freedom of action, and the (adventure game) character’s one, who wants to follow his own path according to his personnality.
    The balance between the two will be hard to set, but as the designers of the Quest for Glory series, you’re certainly among the most qualified game designers who can take up this chalenge.

    I’m really impatient to play Hero-U.
    This is definetely the kind of audacious project I want to support.

  20. TAHR Says:

    “However, under the right circumstances one could have some amount of the mechanical puzzles in a “true” adventure game, as long as it was well integrated into the detailed story… ”

    I totally agree, and I like your exemple.

    “I think games with an emphasis on Myst-like fancy graphics and puzzles could use a new label”

    So do I. The double meaning of the “adventure game” label is confusing for a lot of people.
    Actually, I sould say triple meaning because in the late 90’s Tombraider was called…. an adventure game :/

  21. Speedster Says:

    Actually that was a brilliant explanation — I’ve said for a while there are really 2 genres both being labeled as adventure games, with Myst and Gabriel Knight being good examples of each. I think games with an emphasis on Myst-like fancy graphics and puzzles could use a new label, perhaps “exploration games” which is what Amanita Design calls their Botanica game, light on story but heavy on graphics and puzzles. However, under the right circumstances one could have some amount of the mechanical puzzles in a “true” adventure game, as long as it was well integrated into the detailed story… for instance, making a rogue reason logically to figure out how a trap works in order to disarm it.

  22. Lori Says:


    Ok, I agree, all game puzzles should be from the point of view of the main character. Alas, many of the early adventure games didn’t seem to be designed that way.

    Seventh Guest had the most random types of puzzle, but the mood and the graphics really made the game entertaining. We played it on an extremely dark, extremely slow PC eons ago. It gave the game even more atmosphere.

    With our QfG games, you could usually remove the combat and the game would still be a game. If you removed the puzzles, there would still be a story to follow and characters to talk to. Of course, the game was richer for having all of those elements working together.

    With Hero-U, we want to have a more tightly integrated game. Combat won’t be something that gets in the way of gameplay and story. Combat is a means to the goal. Likewise, the puzzles will be as much a part of the combat as the story is.

    As game designers, we have to ask ourselves not only “What would Shawn Do?” but also, “What would the Player do?” We need to think about the sorts of things that a player might want to do in the game, and then find ways to reward and encourage their behavior. After all, the game isn’t about us. It’s about You and about Shawn.

  23. TAHR Says:

    Lori: Again, thank you very much for having take on your time to answer. I really appreciate it :)

    I will clarify what I mean by “Myst-like puzzles” and give you my personal point of view about this. I hope it will feed the reflection and help…

    By using the term “Myst-like puzzles”, I’m not refering to pixel hunting. Pixel hunting never really bothered me. This is part of the exploration aspect of adventure games.

    To me, games like Myst aren’t adventure games. They are puzzle games, just like Tetris or Puzzle Bobble. The story there is just a pretext : you can take the puzzles of Ripper an put them in The 7th Guest ; someone who never played those games won’t notice anything. You can even remove all the puzzles from The 7th Guest, and the story will still be there.

    If you remove the puzzles of a “real” adventure game, like Sins of the Fathers, nothing will remain, because the puzzles ARE the story.
    When you combine the objects in the inventory and then use the result on interactive elements of the backgrounds, when you’re trying to figure out what line of dialog could change the mind of this character, you’re not wondering “What would Jane Jensen do in this kind of situation ?”, but “What would Gabriel do ?”.

    When you’re playing Myst and spining gears of machines to solve some mechanical enigmas, you’re not thinking of the story, you’re doing your homeworks, some kind of math & logic exercices. I’m not saying this is not fun, but to me this is not “adventure games” in the way Sierra and Lucasarts have defined the genre.

    Sorry if my english is not too good ; I hope my sentences are still understable…

    Speedster: If you’re still there, what is your opinion about this ? Please, correct me if I’m wrong.

  24. Speedster Says:

    TAHR is exactly right — I have been posting that quote on threads at another adventure game forum. It gives a nice little insight into the sort of games Hero-U series will be, would be good to work it into an upcoming kickstarter update

  25. Lori Says:

    TAHR: I was never a real fan of Myst-like puzzles – they were too much like “hunt the Pixel” – I spent a lot of time just clicking on the screen to find something that actually did something useful. Our games will have puzzles that are inventory based, yes, but they are also skill based (use your stealth to avoid a nasty monster, then set a trap for it), and some are dialogue based (how do you sweet-talk that person into helping you?) The other type of puzzle we will be using are the ones from “MacGuffin’s Curse” that involve moving things and changing the layout of the dungeon so that monsters can’t gang up on you.

    We’ll have plenty of variety and many different things to do in the game.

    Thanks for your support! We’ll give you your money’s worth. Smiley Meep

    – Lori

  26. TAHR Says:


    Me again :)
    I’m one of your backers now.

    Thank you Lori for the reply.

    Your thoughts about RPGs making sense are interesting :
    -The possibility to trick big monsters instead of fighting them the kamikaze way.
    -Dead rats that won’t drop magical swords and gold.

    You should put those kind of concrete exemples on your KS page.
    I think that’s part of what people want to hear (and play !)… Well, in my opinion :)

    The “sandbox” term could be as well in the description of the game. That’s a key word that speaks to a lot of players.

    About the puzzles in the game, well maybe it’s my level of english, but I have some difficulties to figure out if they will be Myst-like puzzles (like in…Myst), or if the will be inventory based puzzles (like in Gabriel Knight or Space quest for exemple).

    I wish you Good Luck !

  27. Ashton Herrmann Says:

    I have to admit that I always thought of the QFG series as an RPG presented through a point-and-click adventure lens. I’m pretty sure that the back of the QFG Anthology box even outright declared that the series were role-playing games. At the time, I didn’t really understand what that meant yet so it was a bit of a shock for me when I learned that other games in the RPG genre included Final Fantasy and Shining Force, games that I loved but in an entirely different way than QFG.

    I guess what I’m trying to say is that I’m excited to hear that Hero-U is being envisioned as an RPG series with a Cole twist.

  28. James StarRunner Says:

    Heheh… I’m just reminded of how me and my brother think of what RPG stands for. I see it as Role Playing Game and he sees it as Rocket Propelled Grenade.

    That amusing tidbit aside, that’s propably a good move. Even though Hero-U will blur the genres, there is a much bigger market for RPG’s (the nonexplosive kind).

  29. Lori Says:

    Hi, TAHR, Corey and I love RPGs, and we put the RP in Adventure Games with our Quest for Glory games for Sierra On-Line. Quest for Glory 1: So You Want to Be a Hero was one of the first ‘sandbox’ designed games that gave you the freedom to run around, explore, help people, or practice your skills as you want to do.

    Hero-U will be a more structured game than many RPGs. It’s got a very strong plot line and all of the qualities you expect from Adventure Games except for the “Guess the Designer’s Mind” class of puzzles. (You know that sort of puzzle – the one that you have to try everything in your inventory in hopes that some item will do something useful, even if it makes no logical sense whatsoever.)

    Hero-U will have turn-based combat that will be more like “Hmmmm…A big nasty monster that can chew me to pieces… How do I trick it into falling into that pit?” rather than “Hack and Slash anything that moves.” It won’t have the ability to loot a dead rat to find a magical sword and twenty gold pieces. We like our games to make sense. Smiley Meep

  30. TAHR Says:


    “The Andromedan Post” brought me here.
    I just want to say :

    If you ever succeed in combining in one single game the simulated freedom of RPGs (like Elder Scrolls) and the interactive brillant writing of some adventure games (like the Gabriel Knight saga), you will definitely be my gods.

    I’m probably one of your future backers. Just need to know more details about the gameplay ; I’m waiting for the KS page to be launched and to see more about this promising project.

    Thank you.

  31. Joseph Austin Says:

    The internet can be used to hack through a lot of different types of games, really. I’ve never had the problem of requiring walkthroughs for Adventure games, having played them extensively all my life. I think one thing that helps make them work is when they use some kind of bare hint system to keep you on track, because as much as we want to be forced to think, being stuck for an hour is annoying. The Tex Murphy game strike me as one of the most effective uses of this approach.

    The important thing is for you two to make the game you are driven to create. I personally never felt you needed to explain yourself on that. :)

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