We’re deep into production of Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption. The game’s scope and scale are much larger than we intended when we first started out. We thought we were making a small puzzle/rpg that had its roots in Adventure Games. Now it is becoming a full blown RPG/Adventure Game along the lines of our original Quest for Glory games.

As you may know by now, the Hero-U team is all over the world. It would be very nice to have us all in the same place working at the same time as we had on our previous game project. It is a challenge to manage a project of such an ambitious scale under the best of situations, but our team is creating something beautiful and unique for all of you to play.

It’s time we pulled back the curtain to show some of our progress and process.

The Wine Cellar Painting

Wine Cellar Painting

Wine Cellar Painting

This was one of the first concept paintings that JP Selwood made for this game back just after we completed the Kickstarter. It’s such a beautiful piece, it made it difficult to picture our game as a simple puzzle game. Between the fans and artwork like this, we knew we had to make a game worthy of them all.

This was the inspiration – now it was time to turn the Wine Cellar into an environment for the game.

Game Design Time

First I came up with a list of all the things we wanted to happen in the Wine Cellar. Most of the castle/school is safe for the students – much safer than Hogwarts. But it’s hard to learn to be a hero if you never have to face danger.

Few things are scarier than the unknown.

So the Wine Cellar is a place to explore in the dead of night. There are creatures lurking in the corners. There is danger here. There is a mystery to solve.

And at one time, it was where the knightly order who lived in the castle made wine. Alas, even knightly orders have to make a living somehow.

So I had to research the ins and outs of winemaking in order to set up this location.

Then I created a floor plan for the Wine Cellar, wrote up a detailed room description in Google Docs so that it could be shared with the team, and passed it onward to JP.

Wine Cellar Layout

Wine Cellar Layout

Bringing the Wine Cellar to Light

Now it was time for JP to work his magic again.

He started with a detailed pencil sketch.

Wine Cellar Pencil Sketch

Wine Cellar Pencil Sketch

Then he did this lovely color comp.

Wine Cellar Color Comp

Wine Cellar Color Comp

Here’s a detail of the glass blowing room (where the bottles were made) and the main corridor of the cellar.

Wine Cellar Detail

Wine Cellar Color Comp Detail

Building the Cellar

Now that we had a detailed vision of the Wine Cellar, it was time to give Chris Willis his turn at taking a painting and creating the room in 3D. It had to retain the unique qualities of JP’s painting. We are creating the game with both 2D and 3D artwork, and they need to meld seamlessly.

Chris first created the separate elements that made up the Wine Cellar right down to the individual bottles. Here’s a screen shot of some of the elements in Maya.

Wine Cellar 3D Details

Wine Cellar 3D Pieces

The main way we work together with the team is by holding weekly meetings – one with the artists and another one with the programmers. Here is a screenshot from one of our Google Hangouts showing part of the 3D rendered art.

Wine Cellar 3D Construction

Wine Cellar 3D

And finally, here is a close up of the 3D Wine Cellar to match JP’s color comp.

3D Details

Wine Cellar Color 3D Detail

After all that work, the room is only about half finished. The programmers need to put in the events, the combat, the game play, and finally the music. Meanwhile, we will continue to polish the game design and fill out the text, dialogue, and events that take place in the Wine Cellar.

And this is just one section of the game. We are making steady progress on all of them, but as you can see, nothing in game development comes easily.