Hero-U

Not finding any Glory in this whole Quest for Glory bit? Need a hint? Or just want to discuss Quest for Glory - this is the place to do it!
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Re: Hero-U

Post by Mostly » Sun Jul 03, 2016 5:50 pm

The entire problem with the Hero-U kickstarter was that they changed their concept during the funding drive.

What was a $400,000 campaign for a top-down, 2D tile-based game using an existing engine turned into a 3D game with an isometric perspective that would clearly need much more money and resources. This was a recipe for long-term complications and problems. One of the original programmers or artists left because the project changed compared to what had been agreed upon in the original contract relating to initial project pitch. I didn't back Hero-U so I haven't seen all the updates, but I've followed along best I can and the situation doesn't look good.

I don't think there was any intention to be deceitful, but the Coles might have gotten caught up in the whole "adventure game renaissance" of 2012 that prevented them from realizing their project needed much more work before asking for money. They came to the table with almost nothing to show in the hope that their history with Quest for Glory would carry the project. The Coles aren't alone in doing this and I'm not singling them out in that regard, but they showed up 6 months after the boom when there was more fatigue and higher expectations beyond nostalgia. Many of the older devs who haven't been active in the gaming industry (unlike Tim Schafer, Brian Fargo, Charles Cecil, etc.) have struggled with project management.

If the Coles wanted to take the backers' feedback to heart and give them what they were asking for they should have canceled the campaign, started from scratch to at least build a demo or prototype, and relaunched the kickstarter down the road (like John Romero recently decided to do). Or, in my opinion they should have stuck with the original 2D tile-based game (but still have demonstrated more than a few preliminary artworks). That format could have still featured plenty of puzzles, exploration, and gameplay without the need to waste so much time and money on 3D development. Instead of either of these options, they continued to accept pledges for a campaign goal based on obsolete game concept. Again, I don't think that was bad faith but rather poor judgment that is easier to recognize in hindsight.

I feel for the Coles, I really do. They've apparently mortgaged their house and bet their well-being on this game. I just don't see how Hero-U will separate itself in an endless sea of indie games that struggle to get noticed and end up in a cheap bundle or steeply discounted a few months after release.

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Re: Hero-U

Post by DeadPoolX » Sun Jul 03, 2016 7:47 pm

Here is what Corey Cole wrote: "In this case, if I had accurately projected the time, effort, and cost this game would take, we wouldn't have done it. If we had accurately listed those on the Kickstarter page, I doubt backers would have funded it."

Okay, some of you feel he wasn't trying to deceive us, but more likely just completely and utterly inept at management skills. I can see how you might feel that way IF you only read the first sentence.

Read the second sentence. Right there he's saying that if they had accurately listed everything, backers wouldn't have funded their project.

He's not saying he grossly miscalculated or that he doesn't know what he's doing. He said that if the correct information was presented to potential backers, they wouldn't have paid into the project.

Please tell me how obscuring that information isn't, in some fashion or another, deceitful?
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Re: Hero-U

Post by adeyke » Sun Jul 03, 2016 8:50 pm

It's only deceitful if they had the accurate information, which the first sentences says is not the case.

What the statement is saying, as I understand it, is this:
1. They thought the project would take [small amount] of time, effort, and cost.
2. They thought a Kickstarter campaign would fund that [small amount] of cost.
3. It actually ended up costing [large amount] of time, effort, and cost.
4. If they'd known that initially, they wouldn't have committed to the project.
5. They don't think a Kickstarter campaign would have successfully funded the [large amount] of cost.

None of that requires intentional deception. Even if they knew that asking for [large amount] wouldn't work but asking for [small amount] would work, they could still have genuinely believed at the time that [small amount] was all they needed.

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Re: Hero-U

Post by Tawmis » Mon Jul 04, 2016 12:29 am

adeyke wrote:It's only deceitful if they had the accurate information, which the first sentences says is not the case.
I am reading that first sentence way different than you. I am reading how DPX is reading it.

Corey Cole wrote: "In this case, if I had accurately projected the time, effort, and cost this game would take, we wouldn't have done it. If we had accurately listed those on the Kickstarter page, I doubt backers would have funded it."

To me, what I am reading is him saying: "In this case, if I had told you the project time, effort and cost, this game would take, we wouldn't have done it. If I had listed those on the Kickstarter pager, I doubt backers would have funded it."

To me - that reads - he knew - this was going to take way longer and much more money than what he was asking for.

It's pretty plain and simple.

And mind you, I don't think they're evil, and did anything illegal. I do, however, think they intentionally told a white lie, to get the ball rolling for the Kickstarter.

He knew saying: "This game is going to take me six years and $600,000!" would never get the game off the ground, because not enough people would have backed it (or backed enough) to even TRY and get it off the ground.

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Re: Hero-U

Post by DeadPoolX » Mon Jul 04, 2016 6:24 am

Tawmis wrote:
adeyke wrote:It's only deceitful if they had the accurate information, which the first sentences says is not the case.
I am reading that first sentence way different than you. I am reading how DPX is reading it.

Corey Cole wrote: "In this case, if I had accurately projected the time, effort, and cost this game would take, we wouldn't have done it. If we had accurately listed those on the Kickstarter page, I doubt backers would have funded it."

To me, what I am reading is him saying: "In this case, if I had told you the project time, effort and cost, this game would take, we wouldn't have done it. If I had listed those on the Kickstarter pager, I doubt backers would have funded it."

To me - that reads - he knew - this was going to take way longer and much more money than what he was asking for.

It's pretty plain and simple.

And mind you, I don't think they're evil, and did anything illegal. I do, however, think they intentionally told a white lie, to get the ball rolling for the Kickstarter.

He knew saying: "This game is going to take me six years and $600,000!" would never get the game off the ground, because not enough people would have backed it (or backed enough) to even TRY and get it off the ground.
Tawmis just explained the situation EXACTLY how I'm seeing it.
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Re: Hero-U

Post by Rudy » Mon Jul 04, 2016 7:31 am

So they knowingly and purposely put themselves into a position where they knew funding wasn't going to be sufficient before the project even started? Just to be able to proceed with it? That would be.. eh... I just hope the additional funding was sufficient to get it completed, but 100K additional budget is really not that much. Larry Reloaded for instance cost around 1.4 million to develop and they've been heavily cutting costs. Pinkerton Road games also cost over 1 million combined (hence the recent announcement).
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Re: Hero-U

Post by OmerMor » Tue Jul 05, 2016 2:15 pm

Tawmis and DPX's interpretation makes no sense:
it means that the Coles intentionally decided to under-fund their game and burden themselves with debt and bad reputation.
That would make themboth evil and stupid.
The "bad management skills" theory makes more sense to me. Especially knowing how smart these guys are (Corey is a bad-ass programmer).

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Re: Hero-U

Post by DeadPoolX » Tue Jul 05, 2016 4:19 pm

I think they were having serious financial issues before the project started, so Kickstarter as an "easy" way to gain money from die-hard QFG fans by playing the nostalgia card, and decided to make a game.

Once they realized how much money it'd cost and how much time it'd take, they kept quiet and hoped to pull in enough money to pay off their bills (which explains where the majority of the first Kickstarter went) while a second Kickstarter would hopefully provide enough to complete the game.

So yes, a big part of this is terrible management skills, but also lying to their backers. My issue isn't with their ineptitude when it comes to running a project, it's with the lack of transparency.

At the moment, they don't have anything to show for their so-called work or the money they've been given. Maybe if they had at least half the project done (something that isn't too much to ask after nearly four years), I could give them the benefit of the doubt, but they don't. Not even close.

All they have is a terrible alpha demo, some mock-ups, screenshots (that have horrendous character modeling), and a crap-ton of promises.

What they should have done was been upfront and tell everyone how much time and money it'd cost. Corey's statement implies he knew (or at least had a good idea) of the figures involved and these were not disclosed.

Even IF he discovered the full cost after the fact, what he should have done then is refund all the backers, and start a new Kickstarter with all the relevant information supplied. That way people could make their decision based upon all the info, as opposed to whatever little was given us in the beginning.

Instead, the Coles decided to pocket the money, keep the figures hidden from backers, and then start a second Kickstarter. That's shady as hell and has made me lose ALL trust in not just their capabilities in this project, but as people whose word isn't worth a damn.

Look, I don't think the Coles are evil. Desperate and perhaps morally and ethically questionable, but not evil.

I do think, however, they didn't tell their backers the whole story and purposefully kept vital information from them in order to keep people sending them money. That's deceit in my book, because even if they discovered the totals later on, it was their responsibility to inform their backers.
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Re: Hero-U

Post by adeyke » Tue Jul 05, 2016 6:32 pm

But again, the statement says that they didn't accurately project (i.e. estimate/forecast) how much it would cost. That's the opposite of saying that they knew all along.

Also, they're saying where the money is going, and the Coles themselves aren't taking any of it (they'll only start paying themselves once the game becomes profitable). It seems like you're saying that they're so dishonest that they're just pocketing money and outright lying about it, but also so honest that they'd casually confessed this.

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Re: Hero-U

Post by DeadPoolX » Tue Jul 05, 2016 8:10 pm

That's not how I read it at all. How Tawmis described it is exactly how I take it:
Tawmis wrote: Corey Cole wrote: "In this case, if I had accurately projected the time, effort, and cost this game would take, we wouldn't have done it. If we had accurately listed those on the Kickstarter page, I doubt backers would have funded it."

To me, what I am reading is him saying: "In this case, if I had told you the project time, effort and cost, this game would take, we wouldn't have done it. If I had listed those on the Kickstarter pager, I doubt backers would have funded it."
I emphasized the second sentence in Corey's statement by bolding it. Take a close look at it. That says that if they given potential backers the information, none of them would've put money in, and he knew this. Tell me, how is that at least questionable?

Even if there was no deceit (and Corey himself practically stated he withheld information) present, their complete and utter inability to manage a project — all the while seemingly fine with taking money from two Kickstarters — is both inexcusable and unforgivable. That alone is enough to distrust their current (and possibly future) endeavors.

So at absolute best, they're grossly inept and at worst, they attempted to scam their old fans. Either way, the end result is people are out whatever money they've put into their project and will likely never see anything for it.
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Re: Hero-U

Post by adeyke » Tue Jul 05, 2016 9:10 pm

I've addressed that already. It would only be dishonest if they actually had the information that the project would need more funds than the Kickstarter goal indicated, but according to the first sentence, they didn't have that information.

I think a case could be made that the project was mismanaged and I wouldn't blame people for refraining to back any future projects on that basis. And I can certainly understand original backers being upset.

However, I think there's a very solid line between a scam and an actual project. With a scam, the entire purpose of the Kickstarter campaign is to get money in order to have money. With a project, the goal is to get money in order to fund something. A poorly managed project isn't a scam. A project that takes longer than was estimated isn't a scam. Even a project that ends up failing isn't a scam.

And intentionally lowballing the goal only makes sense for a scam. If you intend to take the money and run, you'll take what you can, even if that means making unreasonable promises (after all, you never intended to keep those). On the other hand, if you intend to actually use the money to make something, then there's no plausible motive for intentionally underfunding it. You're better off just failing the Kickstarter campaign and not starting the project than you are investing your time and effort into it and then still not having a product to ship because your budget was too small.

So if they were intentionally dishonest, the only way for that to make sense if they really are evil scammers who never had any plans to make a game, and I just don't see that.

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Re: Hero-U

Post by Tawmis » Wed Jul 06, 2016 12:06 am

OmerMor wrote: Tawmis and DPX's interpretation makes no sense:
it means that the Coles intentionally decided to under-fund their game and burden themselves with debt and bad reputation. That would make them both evil and stupid. The "bad management skills" theory makes more sense to me. Especially knowing how smart these guys are (Corey is a bad-ass programmer).
Was it stupid though? At the time, every "major Sierra developer" was launching a Kickstarter... other than Ken & Roberta Williams...
  • - Space Quest = SpaceVenture (Mark Crowe & Scott Murphy) - Launched May 8th, 2012, Estimated Delivery: Feb 2013
    - Leisure Suit Larry = Well, Leisure Suit Larry (Al Lowe) - Launched April 2nd, 2012, Estimated Delivery: Aug 2012
    - Gabriel Knight = Pinkerton Road (Jane Jensen) - Launched April 4th, 2012, Estimated Delivery: March 2013.
    - Police Quest = Precinct (Jim Walls) - Launched: July 15th, 2013, and cancelled August 6th, 2013. They ended up going another route, which they also ended up cancelling...
So the only one not doing one (again, other than Ken & Robera) were the Coles (Quest for Glory). They launched a little later than everyone else (October 19th, 2012) with an estimated delivery of December 2012. (Now, I have no idea how they could logically think to create a bug free game in 2 months... But whatever). They eventually launched a second kickstarter... on May 11th, 2015 with an estimated date of July 2015 (yeah, so that's come and gone... again...)

Still think we're crazy? How about this word from Corey Cole...
Corey Cole on April 30

Yes, Hero-U is a passion project for Lori and me. It is a million-dollar-plus game by any normal standards, partially funded by $350,000 from crowdfunding (after subtracting fees and the costs of fulfilling physical rewards). We are personally covering most of the budget by not paying ourselves and by borrowing money against our home equity and credit. We also have passionate team members who are working hard for 1980's rates, deferring payment until after the release of the game, or contributing their time to help us get it done. We couldn't do this without the generosity and passion of our team, and we didn't have that team in place until the 3rd year of development.

It would be far easier to say, "Well, we blew it," declare bankruptcy, and move on. But that isn't a path we will ever take. We are continuing to make good progress with the game, and everybody is working really hard. Our monthly burn rate has tripled over the last few months as we've added people to the team, and we have it covered. This is *far* from an abandoned project.

It is, however, really hard. We had some huge advantages working for Sierra - everyone working in one place, full-time (with considerable unpaid overtime) developers, and game engines and other tools already in place. I had the Sierra picture in my head when I scheduled and budgeted this project, and since then I've been repeatedly kicked in the butt by the realization that we no longer have that "perfect storm" development environment. I also forgot about a little thing called "inflation" - Quest for Glory III cost $600,000 in 1982 dollars to develop. In 2013 dollars, that would be $1 million. Quest for Glory IV cost twice that, and QGV tripled the QGIV budget - it would come to $6+ million in today's dollars.

So, yes, I made many mistakes along the way... but every developer has made many mistakes in the development of every game ever. Often they're necessary - we learn from them. In this case, if I had accurately projected the time, effort, and cost this game would take, we wouldn't have done it. If we had accurately listed those on the Kickstarter page, I doubt backers would have funded it. In the long run, mistakes happen and we move on from them. Only the passion is a constant.
Now how can ANYONE read - especially that line in red - as any other way than they purposely didn't put up the right price? They essentially used the Kickstarter fund as a "loan" - as they used their house and property as a "loan" to try and cover the cost. They didn't ask for the cost of the game. They knew no one would fund such an outrageously expensive game. So they "Kickstarted" just enough (so they thought) to act as a "loan" to get the game going - and they'd use loans against their own home and property to try and cover the actual cost.

Now, why ask for less than what the game is going to make?

Because Kickstarter has a wonderful thing call "Stretch Goals."

The Coles probably hoped - or perhaps even planned - on "exceeding" their Kickstarter goal by encouraging others to do "Stretch Goals" to "unlock" other features in the game.

And why not plan on that? "Sierra Nostalgia" was certainly at an all time peak during this craze when all these Kickstarters launched!

As for the Coles being a Kickass programmer - DPX, if I may quote you?
DeadPoolX wrote: All they have is a terrible alpha demo, some mock-ups, screenshots (that have horrendous character modeling), and a crap-ton of promises.
Now, I agree. They have done some amazing things with Quest for Glory. But that's like saying, "Boy, that guy was great as a skater when he was 18!" But now the years have gone on, the skater has packed on tons of weight, and can't do those great things they used to do. Now I am not saying that the Coles can't deliver. I'm just saying they haven't delivered yet, since QFG, in regards to this kickstarter.

And you might be upset to know, here's something from Corey, to make your day better, OmerMor, in regards to Corey's "kick ass programming"...
Corey Cole on March 20

I'm not programming at all these days. That was a conscious decision on this project. We have a strong team now, and I'm focusing on what I can do on administration and design. The game is coming along very well, although there is always far more to do. (cf. Quest for Glory IV, which took a full year of debugging *after* Sierra shipped it. We want Hero-U to go out in much better shape.)
adeyke wrote:But again, the statement says that they didn't accurately project (i.e. estimate/forecast) how much it would cost. That's the opposite of saying that they knew all along.
Also, they're saying where the money is going, and the Coles themselves aren't taking any of it (they'll only start paying themselves once the game becomes profitable). It seems like you're saying that they're so dishonest that they're just pocketing money and outright lying about it, but also so honest that they'd casually confessed this.
I don't think anyone's saying they're pocketing the money? What I am saying (and I believe DPX is as well) - is that they purposely under shot the Kickstarter, because they knew if they asked for the ACTUAL cost of the game, that he already knew would cost MUCH more than they were asking for (banking on Stretch Goals and taking loans against their home and property to cover the rest)...
adeyke wrote:I've addressed that already. It would only be dishonest if they actually had the information that the project would need more funds than the Kickstarter goal indicated, but according to the first sentence, they didn't have that information.
Right. Sort of like if they said something like "If we had accurately listed those on the Kickstarter page, I doubt backers would have funded it."... yeah?

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Re: Hero-U

Post by OmerMor » Thu Jul 07, 2016 1:48 pm

I stand corrected.
Corey *was* a kick-ass programmer.
Trust me. I've seen his code.

I still believe it was all in good faith, and this whole situation is dwarfed by their past achievements.

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Re: Hero-U

Post by DeadPoolX » Fri Jul 08, 2016 9:28 am

OmerMor wrote:I stand corrected.
Corey *was* a kick-ass programmer.
Trust me. I've seen his code.
Maybe so, but that doesn't make him qualified to manage a project.

Perhaps part of the reason the QFG series ended up succeeding was that Corey didn't have to manage his own project. Sierra did that for him, so he could concentrate on his "kick-ass" programming skills.
OmerMor wrote:I still believe it was all in good faith, and this whole situation is dwarfed by their past achievements.
While nothing can take away from the Coles' previous work with the QFG series, the success they enjoyed nearly two decades ago doesn't make up for the fact their current endeavor turned into a major trainwreck.

So no, whatever happens with Hero-U, we'll always have the QFG games (and I'm thankful for that), but just because they did well then doesn't give them a free pass today.

In the video game business, there's a saying that goes: "you're only as good as your last game." That's a very true statement, and it can work for you or against you, depending on the situation you find yourself in as a developer.
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Re: Hero-U

Post by Collector » Fri Jul 08, 2016 1:07 pm

I don't see this as purposeful deception. If anything they were deceiving themselves. This may make little difference to the supporters, but I would not call it a scam. I think that the one thing that the Kickstarters have shown is the importance of Ken Williams' role as a manager in Sierra's success. He has said that he learned that you cannot rush creative types, but I would say that there needs to be someone to keep the fire lit under them to keep things moving.
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