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Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption

Why didn't you guys try a traditional 2d adventure game?

Re: Why didn't you guys try a traditional 2d adventure game?

Postby Corey » Fri Aug 05, 2016 3:20 pm

Zachski wrote:Of course, I also understand that you guys didn't exactly have a lot of time, money, or creative freedom with the fifth game, and that it was a miracle you were able to make it at all - and I won't cease to appreciate that. QFG5 is MILES better than no resolution.


Zachski, that's a misunderstanding. Compared with any of the previous games, we had unlimited time, money, and creative freedom with Quest for Glory V. The only restrictions on the latter came very late in the project when the General Manager demanded toning down some "sexy" dialogue with Nawar and a few similar changes.

We had strong-willed team members on every project, and QG5 was no exception. The contractor who developed the combat system (John Harris) wanted to use an industry-standard control system which Lori thought unnecessarily complex for QG. The programming director sided with John, so that's what went into the game. But don't think of that as somehow damping down our creative freedom; we had give and take like that on every game.

QG4 had a $750K budget. QG5 was cancelled when management demanded we cut the budget by 20% and I said we could not make a quality game at $600K. When fans pressured new Sierra management into restarting QG5, they gave it a $1.5M budget, and I think an 18-month schedule. I later calculated (possibly incorrectly) that the game ended up taking 42 months and costing Sierra $4.5M (just for development and overhead, not counting marketing). So we did not have schedule or budget restrictions compared with any of the previous games.

In my opinion, the biggest mistake on the two graphics engines (voxels, then polygons) was developing them in-house. It would have paid to license an engine from a company such as Unreal that specialized in just making engines. That our graphics were relatively primitive was because we used an insufficiently-refined engine.
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Re: Why didn't you guys try a traditional 2d adventure game?

Postby Ambaryerno » Sat Aug 06, 2016 6:16 am

I don't think QfG5 looks any more primitive than most other 3D games of the era. I think the best comparison is the early games of the Resident Evil series in the way it used 3D characters on a prerendered background. I think the biggest weakness there is many of the particle effects (IE the Paladin Sword doesn't look like it's flaming so much as it is just sort of dripping). Although I also could have done withou the Blink Tag magic armor.

As for the combat system, I don't think the problem was so much the controls in of themselves as it was that it was just damn impossible to see where your character was facing. Also the Hero's avatar wasn't particularly response, and turned like a semi. But there's a reason WASD became the industry standard in the first place (that said, I still think QfG2's combat system was the best. The controls were responsive and you were much more flexible in your options).
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Re: Why didn't you guys try a traditional 2d adventure game?

Postby Zachski » Wed Aug 10, 2016 2:27 pm

I actually have a newfound appreciation for QFG5 now, seeing how you guys really did develop everything in-house it seems.

I still think the game is hard to see sometimes, because of the pre-rendered backgrounds, but that's problem I've always had with games that used pre-rendered backgrounds.

It was also pretty hard to aim projectile weapons, especially daggers and spears. They always traveled in an arc, and if the enemy took so much as a step from their original position, it would miss.

Flying enemies were out of the question - you waited until they were in melee range or you used Frostbite/Dragon Fire to kill them - nothing else worked.
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Re: Why didn't you guys try a traditional 2d adventure game?

Postby merryjest » Mon Aug 22, 2016 10:12 am

Another thing to keep in mind are the experiences of Infamous Quests. It seems that traditional Sierra-style RPG/adventure hybrids are enough of a niche market that the sales to maintain a studio simply aren't there. The market, however, seems to be friendlier towards story-based RPGs.

Honestly, because of their craft and track record, Lori and Corey could put on an interactive choose-your-own-adventure psychedelic German expressionist puppet show and it would be an enjoyable and memorable experience. But we do want the series to sell enough to facilitate other sequels, and that means appealing to a wider market. The RPG market is considerably wider.

I also think that the RPG format is a lot freer and closer to the sprawling experience L&C have in mind.
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Re: Why didn't you guys try a traditional 2d adventure game?

Postby Paviel » Tue Aug 23, 2016 9:34 am

I think most people consider the Quest for Glory series an RPG with adventure game elements, rather than an adventure game with RPG elements.

Maybe that's because there's a bigger market for RPGs than for adventure games, as you say.
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Re: Why didn't you guys try a traditional 2d adventure game?

Postby Ambaryerno » Wed Aug 24, 2016 4:37 am

Paviel wrote:I think most people consider the Quest for Glory series an RPG with adventure game elements, rather than an adventure game with RPG elements.

Maybe that's because there's a bigger market for RPGs than for adventure games, as you say.


That was only the case for QfGV. I-IV were much closer to adventure games than they were to RPGs.
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Re: Why didn't you guys try a traditional 2d adventure game?

Postby Zachski » Thu Aug 25, 2016 2:26 pm

Ambaryerno wrote:
Paviel wrote:I think most people consider the Quest for Glory series an RPG with adventure game elements, rather than an adventure game with RPG elements.

Maybe that's because there's a bigger market for RPGs than for adventure games, as you say.


That was only the case for QfGV. I-IV were much closer to adventure games than they were to RPGs.


I disagree.

1 through 4 were closer to 60% RPG, 40% Adventure game.

5 was closer to 75% RPG, 25% Adventure.

The RPG elements were so integral to all the games that I can't safely say they were mostly adventure games.
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Re: Why didn't you guys try a traditional 2d adventure game?

Postby Ambaryerno » Fri Aug 26, 2016 10:07 am

Except the base gameplay is still all adventure in I-IV. It's the same sort of find item/use item/solve puzzle gameplay of King's Quest, Space Quest, etc. The only definitive RPG elements in I-IV are the classes and stats. The former primarily determines what subquests you have available and what the solutions to the puzzles are, while the latter influence the difficulty of carrying out certain solutions to solving the puzzles. Otherwise, the RPG elements are a very minimal veneer over the Adventure elements.

Contrast with V, where these elements become FAR more important. Combat is a much bigger part of the game; the only Rites that don't require going to X and killing Y are Destiny, Courage, and Peace. Conquest and Valor outright require it, while Freedom and Justice are impossible to complete without fighting and killing something (the guards in the Sigil room in the former, and the Minotaur guard in the latter). You also have a significant increase in the variety of weapons and armor (another RPG hallmark) you didn't have in the previous games (where you pretty much only had upgrades to the Fighter's armor in I, sword in II, and the dagger/Paladin Sword in III.

You could easily remove the RPG elements from QFG I-IV without significantly impacting gameplay, whereas that would be impossible to do with V.
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Re: Why didn't you guys try a traditional 2d adventure game?

Postby Zachski » Fri Aug 26, 2016 1:36 pm

Except a lot of puzzles in 1-4 aren't really puzzles so much as obstacles that your character requires a certain amount of skill to overcome or bypass.

And if you removed the RPG elements, the core gameplay would *definitely* be significantly impacted - because you just removed the core gameplay. In fact, the RPG elements are the reason why Quest for Glory is so beloved by its fans in the first place - remove them and it's simply another KQ clone.
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Re: Why didn't you guys try a traditional 2d adventure game?

Postby Ambaryerno » Sat Aug 27, 2016 6:30 am

Think of it this way:

King's Quest is a WWII air combat simulator. Quest for Glory I-IV is a modern-era air combat sim. Both are built on the same underlying mechanics, physics, and principles, with the latter overlaying a few new features on top (missiles and radar).

Quest for Glory V is a space combat simulator. Superficially similar in its gameplay goals, but RADICALLY different under the hood.
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Re: Why didn't you guys try a traditional 2d adventure game?

Postby Ambaryerno » Sat Aug 27, 2016 10:15 am

Consider the ring quest in QfGI:

There's a couple ways to solve it. The Fighter and Thief can both throw rocks at the nest to knock it out of the tree, while the Thief can also climb the tree to retrieve the ring without disturbing the nest. The Magic User can either "fetch" the nest, or use Flame Dart to destroy it. Your available skills determine what method you use, while the level DOES affect the ease with which you can accomplish the task (IE the higher your Throwing, the better chance you'll hit the nest), however ultimately the task is just to retrieve the ring from the nest.

There's nothing about this in QfGI that would have made this same task impossible in King's Quest. You may have only had ONE of those solutions available, but it's still the same type of puzzle. You could eliminate the classes and skills and the puzzle would still work.

QfGV's puzzles were by comparison much simpler (simple fetch quests, Chains of Deals, Use Item A on Thing B, or go somewhere and beat the crap out of something). They lost much of the esoterism of the true adventure game puzzles. Case in point: when I was younger I could never figure out how to complete the dispel potion in QfGI. It never occurred to me that you could actually TALK to the Meeps to get it (for one, IIRC there was never an indication the Meeps were sentient and you even COULD talk to them).

While that sort of out-of-the-box thinking comprised the major part of QfGI-IV and clearly established them as Adventure Games, QfGV was much more straight-forward; had you stormed the Brigand Fortress in V, the dining hall would have been MUCH simpler to negotiate (FIGHTER SMASH!).
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Re: Questions for the Coles

Postby vbibbi » Thu Sep 01, 2016 6:25 pm

Ambaryerno wrote:Trying to do an HD update of Shadows of Darkness like was done with Baldur's Gate would be an ENORMOUS undertaking. Just look how much time it took to do the QFG2 remake, and IV may be even MORE complicated.

Honestly, I think a "downgrade" of QFGV that brings its gameplay much more in line with the first four games, and gives non-fighters more class-appropriate means of solving certain quests (IE dealing with the Mercenary General) would be a fair bit more interesting. However it would certainly be an even BIGGER undertaking.


First post here, although a long time fan of the series. I just finished up a recent paladin playthrough of V from the GOG version. I have to agree with this idea, I would love a downgraded version of V that has a more similar art style to the other games, and with less action, more puzzles and investigation.

I love Dragon Fire and am so grateful that it was made. But when replaying it, it's hard not to notice how most of the Rites had pure combat as the solution to completing them. There were some good puzzles such as the Icarus wings, the flying gondola, and the awesome blackbird sequence. And some great uses of new thief skills, paladin abilities, and wizard spells. But they were mostly used as flavor or to complete side quests rather than to solve the Rites in a clever way.
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Re: Why didn't you guys try a traditional 2d adventure game?

Postby Bashar » Fri Sep 02, 2016 6:49 am

Moderator's Note: I have moved vbibbi's post from the Questions for the Coles thread because it didn't contain a question and the topic was actively being discussed here. The original post quoted can be found here. If nothing else, we have at least proved that Ambaryerno's views on QfG5 have remained consistent. <g> I apologize for any inconvenience.
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Re: Why didn't you guys try a traditional 2d adventure game?

Postby Paviel » Fri Sep 02, 2016 4:24 pm

There's nothing about this in QfGI that would have made this same task impossible in King's Quest.


Your success or failure in that task depends on your skill in throwing, climbing, and/or magic. King's Quest doesn't have the RPG elements that determine your skill in throwing, climbing, or magic; so yes, that does make this task impossible in King's Quest.
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Re: Why didn't you guys try a traditional 2d adventure game?

Postby Ambaryerno » Fri Sep 02, 2016 8:07 pm

Paviel wrote:
There's nothing about this in QfGI that would have made this same task impossible in King's Quest.


Your success or failure in that task depends on your skill in throwing, climbing, and/or magic. King's Quest doesn't have the RPG elements that determine your skill in throwing, climbing, or magic; so yes, that does make this task impossible in King's Quest.


At the core of the gameplay all those skills determine is how easy or difficult it is for your character to accomplish the task. The ONLY difference between accomplishing this in QfG and King's Quest, is that in King's Quest your character would be able to just DO it without having to level up a skill first, and would likely only have one solution rather than three. That's it. But the solution(s) itself would still be the same. Throw a rock at it. Or climb up and get it. Or whatever. It would STILL effectively be the SAME PUZZLE.
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Re: Why didn't you guys try a traditional 2d adventure game?

Postby Ambaryerno » Fri Sep 02, 2016 8:19 pm

Can't edit my post:

The RPG elements merely added a twist to a conventional Adventure Game puzzle, they didn't fundamentally change it.
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Re: Why didn't you guys try a traditional 2d adventure game?

Postby Caz Neerg » Fri Sep 02, 2016 8:27 pm

merryjest wrote:Another thing to keep in mind are the experiences of Infamous Quests. It seems that traditional Sierra-style RPG/adventure hybrids are enough of a niche market that the sales to maintain a studio simply aren't there.


Your conclusion may be accurate, but I don't think we can cite the experiences of Infamous Quests as sufficient evidence to prove it. While Quest for Infamy is enjoyable, it comes across as a passionate work of dedicated amateurs, not a polished, professional product. Citing to it's failure to be a blockbuster as proof that that *type* of game can't be successful is like pointing to the failure of the Freddie Prinze Jr. "Wing Commander" movie as evidence that movies with a heavy emphasis on space combat just shouldn't happen.
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Re: Why didn't you guys try a traditional 2d adventure game?

Postby Paviel » Sat Sep 03, 2016 5:27 am

None of the puzzles in Quest for Glory strike me as particularly out of place in an RPG, though.

Traditional RPGs do tend to reward combat to a much greater degree than Quest for Glory does, but there are exceptions like The Elder Scrolls. I think that Quest for Glory has more in common with The Elder Scrolls than with King's Quest.
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Re: Why didn't you guys try a traditional 2d adventure game?

Postby lancelot » Fri Jun 16, 2017 10:53 am

Corey wrote:Compared with any of the previous games, we had unlimited time, money, and creative freedom with Quest for Glory V.

...

In my opinion, the biggest mistake on the two graphics engines (voxels, then polygons) was developing them in-house. It would have paid to license an engine from a company such as Unreal that specialized in just making engines. That our graphics were relatively primitive was because we used an insufficiently-refined engine.


Do you think it was the right decision to switch to 3D? I always thought QfG V was yet another victim of the "2D is dead" trend.

For me, pre-rendered 3D backgrounds in almost any game have always looked underwhelming. Maybe that's just me, but consider that nobody seems to be making adventure games with pre-rendered 3D anymore. There were dozens of whole series of games done in that style: Lost Horizon, Secret Files, Black Mirror, Memento Mori. And now, almost nothing. Meanwhile, 2D is back, in all resolutions from 160x100 (I kid you not) to 1920x1080.

So maybe it's not just me, and there are some reasons why the plain old 2D is more appealing. Even if creating high-resolution 2D graphics and animations can be more laborious than creating pre-rendered backgrounds and animations for polygonal characters.

Part of it may be just our preconceptions: we are taught by our cultural experiences that a 2D image, however stylized, is an artistic object. We are not used to thinking in that way about 3D renderings. But maybe static 3D renderings are "objectively" not as vivid and expressive as an artist's drawing.

Real-time 3D certainly can make the surroundings more lively, and it also allowed for some interesting advances in the story and puzzle mechanics, but that became possible with real-time 3D of the 2010s, not of 1998.
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Re: Why didn't you guys try a traditional 2d adventure game?

Postby richardbrucebaxter » Fri Jun 30, 2017 5:20 am

Ambaryerno - the redesign of the saurus and saurus rex is one of my major issues with QFG1 VGA also. This appears to be my only serious concern raised by the contents of this thread.

In general I agree with Merryjest in that the Coles could have created anything and it would have been enjoyable (for the same reasons Southpark works). As it turns out however, we are getting a lot more than a tiled adventure/RPG game.

Zachski - you should try the high definition mod of QFG5 (with 16x tessellation; see qfgmods.net). The pixelation becomes a non-issue with a high polycount (which enhances both the curvature and lighting of the models). Moreover, the 3D game art of QFG5 is fine - the polycount was obviously reduced (during the ~3D studio max export process) to support current generation/~200Mhz CPUs, but with the restoration of a high polycount it all looks really good; even better than the original voxel version - which had a number of its own limitations.

The high effective polycount of the QFG5 background panoramas (effectively infinite because the scenes have been raytraced using volumetric primitives) appears to have been designed to match the model quality of the QFG5 voxel 3D engine (again; in voxel rendering the polycount is effectively infinite/per pixel up to regular view distances). So the background panoramas look good as computer graphics (as opposed to hand drawn) when combined with high resolution models. Things look good when they are consistent (take the texture to poly detail ratio of doom 1 for an instance of semblance perfection).

Personally I prefer SCI for adventure, but there are elements of QFG5 which just wouldn't have been possible in 2D (swimming, combat etc; and I really like its melee combat system).

In terms of the graphics engine choice of RTR, I emailed something to Corey back in May 2015;

"Note I have just finished testing the demos under a simulated classic 2D adventure gaming interface, and was thinking of posting something about this.

I think the game looks great in 3D, but for all those die hard 320x200 2D adventure gamers out there, it is worth noting that you can emulate 2D games based on high resolution 3D games in Linux (using a compositing window manger like compiz). It just involves lowering the resolution and rescaling it;

On Ubuntu 14.04;

- Start Ubuntu using the default window manager (Unity)
- Open a terminal (gnome-terminal)
- Install CompizConfig Settings Manager and all the plugins;
sudo apt-get install compizconfig-settings-manager compiz-plugins compiz-plugins-extra
- ccsm
- select 'enhanced zoom desktop' plugin
- Zoom In/Out - edit Zoom In Button <Shift><Control><Button1>
- Zoom In/Out - edit Zoom out Button <Shift><Control><Button3>
- Zoom In/Out - set zoom factor 2.0 (or 1.5)
- Mouse behaviour - Pan Area
- Tick 'Enable enhanced zoom desktop'
- Back - close - exit CompizConfig Settings Manager
- Execute the game (e.g. ./Hero-U-Demo.x86)
- Ensure Windowed mode is selected
- Set resolution to 640x480 (or 640x800)
- Start Hero-U
- Use the mouse to resize the game window to half the size (320x200)
- Trigger the enhanced zoom desktop Zoom In function (hold Shift-Control and click the left mouse button) to scale the window to fit the width/height of the screen"
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