Quest for Glory developers bring back old school adventures with Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption

When it comes to adventure games, few can deny that Sierra Entertainment dominated the genre. From its founding in 1979 to its various mergers and closures decades later, the studio was responsible for what is widely regarded as the golden age of adventure games - a time when players seemed to have an unending thirst for pointing and clicking and questing.

By the end of the 90s it seemed that thirst had been quenched and by the late 00s most interest was lost, resulting in the closure of the adventure game institution. But two designers don't think the genre is dead. In fact, they believe there is enough interest to Kickstart a game that picks up where Sierra classics like Quest for Glory left off.

Husband and wife Corey and Lori Cole are veteran game designers who are best known for their work on Sierra's Quest for Glory series. They recently launched a Kickstarter campaign for Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption, a turn-based role-playing, adventure puzzle game for PC that they hope will fill a niche left by modern day shooters and action games.

"That's exactly why we wanted to do this," Corey Cole tells Polygon. "There are so many first-person shooters out there. When we dropped out of the industry it was because games that were thoughtful and about solving puzzles and really thinking your way through the gameplay were disappearing and being replaced by pure action games."

Corey Cole says he believes there is still a large audience out there that wants a "thinking game" – the kind that will challenge them in ways other than how fast they can click a button.

"When we dropped out of the industry it was because games that were thoughtful ... were disappearing"

The game design duo have given their project much thought and are under no grand delusions about how much money they can raise and what they will achieve. They understand that the $400,000 they are asking for will only cover the bare minimum in design and production costs, they know that with such a budget they'll have to find ways to bring the game to life without spending it on costly animations and, most importantly, they're acutely aware that nostalgia is not enough to fuel interest in a game.

Since leaving Sierra both have spent lots of time designing and playing games while also running School for Heroes, a websites that operates as a virtual school for role-playing and heroism.

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Corey Cole says that many of the design decisions have been made with design costs and player experience in mind. Creating a turn-based game is less resource-heavy than having real-time battles, but he believes it also makes the game's combat a puzzle, which encourages the player to constantly make creative decisions. A player might have to decide whether it would be wise to put down a trap or if it is best to dodge while in battle, or which weapon will give them the tactical advantage. Playing as a would-be thief, Shawn, players must make creative decisions and solve puzzles to guide their character to the Thieves' Guild where he can then become a rogue hero.

"We understand how to make games that are not so frustrating as before"

Lori Cole says that while there are many nostalgic elements about the game and it does draw from the celebrated elements of game design that were popular in the 80s and 90s, she has learned a lot from modern games and Hero-U will benefit from that knowledge.

"We understand how to make games that are not so frustrating as before," she says. "There's a lot of older school games where you basically had to solve a puzzle of you couldn't get anywhere, and our solution to that with Quest for Glory was to simply give you multiple solutions to every problems."

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Aside from making a less punishing game, she says they are also injecting lots of role-playing elements into their game - elements that are not often seen in adventure puzzle games.

Lori Cole cites Star Wars: The Old Republic as an influence in how she shaped the characters in Hero-U. While she believes that BioWare's multiplayer game ultimately failed as a multiplayer experience because she played through most of it solo, she says the game did an exceptional job in making the characters matter, which is what she wants to achieve in Hero-U.

"I want it to feel like you're playing this very immersive alternate life in the game itself."

"In Star Wars: The Old Republic, their voice acting was astonishing, their stories that were based around the specific character classes were incredible, the full companion class that went along with you had distinctive personalities and had meaningful little comments. It was a brilliant move on their part," she says.

Both Lori and Corey Cole are focusing on creating characters that go beyond stereotypes. Where a rogue is often thought to be little more than agile, the Coles want their rogue to be intelligent and witty so that he can outwit enemies. They want their characters to have depth.

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"One of the things I want players to take away from this game is total immersion into the game," Lori Cole says. "We want to create a world that is both fascinating and involving and there are characters in there that you really care about and establish relationships with.

"I want it to feel like you're playing this very immersive alternate life in the game itself."

Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption has almost reached the halfway mark on its Kickstarter campaign with 13 days to go. For more information or to back the project, visit its Kickstarter page.

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