Hero-U: Adventure Games and Player Agency


Although it’s more of an adventure game than a FPS-RPG, Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption by Lori & Corey Cole (Quest for Glory) seems to be trying to scratch an itch similar to that of the Underworld games. Gamasutra has a nice interview piece on this game up today.

That’s maybe not surprising given how much DNA both these games inherit from D&D. But it’s definitely welcome. See if these quotes from the Coles sound familiar:

We think of these things as problems, rather than puzzles. We don't want to say there is only one way past this and you have to guess what's on our minds and get it. We know players are going to use every tool at their disposal to try to find ways to solve the thing, and we try to make it so that as many reasonable things as possible work.
If people are curious and they're the explorer type of personality who click on everything and try everything in the game, they'll be rewarded for that. Not so much in getting gold and glory, but in having fun reading all the little Easter eggs and messages peppered throughout the game.
As an experienced dungeon master, you come up with all of these ideas on what the players should do, and they come up with something else. It's always that way. The trick with designing a computer game is that you can't possibly cover everything the player will come up with, but you have to give them the feeling that they thought about something and came up with a solution that maybe you didn't think of, and then let the game go with that.
You have to really work hard to make the player feel like they're in control. It’s a puzzle-solving game in itself. As the designer, you're really coming up with these problems, and then you also have to come up with multiple ways to handle that problem from all sorts of approaches. It's always a challenge, and it's a lot like playing a game when you're making one. You're really trying to outthink yourself, and trying to find a way to get these wild ideas in a manageable form so you can get the game done sometime.