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News & Features Discussion  » Hero's Journey: GDC Progress Report

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43 posts found
  Stradden

Managing Editor

Joined: 7/08/05
Posts: 6729

 
OP  3/14/07 1:23:51 PM#1

MMORPG.com Managing Editor Jon Wood had the opportunity to talk to Eric Slick, the Technology Director for Simutronics, about the progress of their upcoming MMORPG, Hero's Journey.

Hero's Journey is the name of a game that you probably haven't heard too much about recently. If that is the case, let me give you a refresher course. Hero's Journey is the MMORPG currently under development by Simutronics. That name probably sounds familiar to MMORPG fans, and with good cause. In the last year, they have been frequently in the news, not for the game itself, but for the technology that drives it.

At the Game Developers Conference in 2006, Simutronics first displayed their game's engine as a separate, marketable product. Throughout the year, we have heard announcements that the Hero Engine would be used by companies like: Stray Bullet Games, Virgin Games, and Bioware Austin. With news about the engine's success continuing to flow out of Simutronics, many had started to wonder about the future of the Hero's Journey and whether it would be pushed into oblivion in favor of their popular technology. As it turns out, it hasn't.

Read the whole article here.

Cheers,
Jon Wood
Managing Editor
MMORPG.com

  Ryowulf

Hard Core Member

Joined: 8/28/05
Posts: 664

3/14/07 1:45:50 PM#2
Vaperware. They haven't even starting adding quests in yet? So its not coming out this year.
The sold the engine to people who will be making mmos going against theirs.
  BountyGreg

Novice Member

Joined: 5/14/06
Posts: 37

3/14/07 2:10:15 PM#3
not every MMO is the same, nor targets the same market, so they aren't especially selling at the concurrence.
We know for sure that Bioware is working on a sci-fi MMO for example.
a game like WoW for example, targets more people who actually enver played MMOs, it's simple, you can level to max solo and it's actually very close to a single player game. On the other side, Everquest 2 targets people who already played Everquest and more hardcore gamers who have more time to spend on their characters, in a long-term aspect.
Hero's Journey sounds to target players who wants to have an influence on the world, and hope their actions actually matter. We'll see what it becomes like.
I'm definitely looking forward to HJ, i hope they can fulfill my expectations
  korvass

Apprentice Member

Joined: 5/29/06
Posts: 629

Has successfully forgiven SOE/LA for the NGE.

3/14/07 2:20:01 PM#4
Originally posted by Settingsun
Vaperware. They haven't even starting adding quests in yet? So its not coming out this year.
The sold the engine to people who will be making mmos going against theirs.
1. Learn how to spell 'vapor'.
2. Try to get your ignorant head out of your arse.

Selling the Hero engine will give them a commercial boost to help their own MMO project along. Their ideas are solid, and their game has some great concepts being built. They seem to be about pushing the bar, even if they're letting people use their own technology to build from.
  Celestian

Novice Member

Joined: 5/07/03
Posts: 1145

3/14/07 3:49:06 PM#5


Originally posted by BountyGreg

We know for sure that Bioware is working on a sci-fi MMO for example.

Really? Where is that press release.

  BountyGreg

Novice Member

Joined: 5/14/06
Posts: 37

3/14/07 5:05:27 PM#6
Loads of rumors say so...

Facts:

1. LucasArts will release a Star Wars MMO, you can read this on the GDC 07 release announcement
2. Shortly after Bioware announced they would work on a MMO, there was some strange rumor (added to a strange Press release, might be fake tho) about BioWare actually working on a Star Wars MMO.

So maybe it's just a pure coincidence, or maybe it's reality. To me it makes no doubt and would actually make sense since BioWare worked on KOTOR and they said it would have something to do with their past games.
Of course I could be wrong, but I might as well be right. What do I get if I'm right? I always wanted a poney
  Celestian

Novice Member

Joined: 5/07/03
Posts: 1145

3/14/07 5:22:30 PM#7


Originally posted by BountyGreg
Loads of rumors say so...

So, it went from "We know for sure that Bioware is working on a sci-fi MMO for example." to "Loads of rumors say so..."

In conclusion, we know nothing about what Bioware is doing and assuming it's a Star Wars MMO is just a fantasy for SWG haters.

  Geiddian

Novice Member

Joined: 2/03/07
Posts: 11

3/14/07 5:36:15 PM#8

 

 It's vaporware until they prove otherwise.  The above article says nothing new.  It is just Eric's word that things are progressing in spite of the resources and time spent marketing the HeroEngine.  Other than that, there was nothing new in the article.  It was just a rehash of features we were told about a year or more ago.  Not one new point. 

  Hero's Journey didn't progress when it was being produced by Tom Zelinski for years. It progressed a little while Melissa Myers (who has left Simutronics) was producer.  It hasn't progressed at all with Eric Slick as producer. 

 10 years!  If that isn't a record for vaporware, it's pretty darn close.  What have they done of any substance since being chosen best of show at E3 in 2005 by MMORPG.com?  That's over a year and a half ago.  That certainly deserves a vaporware suggestion.

  In fact, Eric's other project, www.christiangaming.com , has updates just about as frequently as Hero's Journey, which is supposedly his real job.

  If they want to lose the moniker of vaporware, the people at Hero's Journey need to produce, not just claim to be producing.  Results not words.   

 

  BountyGreg

Novice Member

Joined: 5/14/06
Posts: 37

3/14/07 6:03:46 PM#9

Actually it's been more then a rumor and almost say for sure I've read it just after GDC that they worked on a Sci-Fi title. Since I didn't find the source anymore, I didn't bother to mention it. Anyway, it has nothing to do with SWG haters, I still  love SWG as much as when it released, eventho it changed a lot. Added to this, from rumors on developer forums, BioWare actually works on a X360 MMO, so go figure. Loads of rumors find their way out, and rumors often start from something.

So if you're up to search the Web, go find the 100% right answer. I don't remember ever being wrong when it came up to things like this tho.

The only one who could tell for sure, are the producers, and they probably won't tell you.

  Valentina

Apprentice Member

Joined: 5/28/06
Posts: 1651

3/14/07 6:57:21 PM#10
I'm glad they are resuming production.
  Pietoro

Novice Member

Joined: 6/21/06
Posts: 161

"..."

3/14/07 7:19:45 PM#11
Interesting how he doesn't mention that the Suwari race (featured in many screenshots) have been scrapped for release.  So aside from vague details, no real news for months except for what's been taken OUT, my interest in this game has pretty much gone out the window.
  Ryowulf

Hard Core Member

Joined: 8/28/05
Posts: 664

3/14/07 7:42:58 PM#12
Originally posted by korvass
Originally posted by Settingsun
Vaperware. They haven't even starting adding quests in yet? So its not coming out this year.
The sold the engine to people who will be making mmos going against theirs.
1. Learn how to spell 'vapor'.
2. Try to get your ignorant head out of your arse.

Selling the Hero engine will give them a commercial boost to help their own MMO project along. Their ideas are solid, and their game has some great concepts being built. They seem to be about pushing the bar, even if they're letting people use their own technology to build from.
Misspelled words don't make what I stated any less true.  They are no where close to even closed beta, which means a 2008 release at the earliest, yes or no? Have you seen how their web page looks? Or how little it is updated? Its vaporware. Maybe you are in a state of denial right now, but lets see how you feel come 2008 and the game is no closer to release.
  Rattrap

Novice Member

Joined: 9/09/04
Posts: 1594

Freedom of choice
is what you got,
freedom from choice
is what you want!

3/15/07 2:22:52 AM#13

Bioware - hinted over and over again that they are working on FANTASY MMO.

Sure it may be a clever way to trick people off the SWG2 rumour.

 

Anyway. What is sure it will in no way be SANDOBOX game. So even if it will be SWG it will in no way resemble preCU swg.

From their description - their game will be very similar to LOTRO (in gameplay mechanics). So story driven,quest driven more on classical side of things.

 

As for HJ... not impressed at all so far. From GFX side it sounds like another Vanguard waiting to happen. And the game has still
very very long way to go...a second gen mmo, released in time of 4th gen's ?!

"Before this battle is over all the world will know that few...stood against many." - King Leonidas

  Draq

Novice Member

Joined: 10/07/06
Posts: 300

Heroes always arrive late.

3/15/07 5:52:58 AM#14
Suwari weren't 'scrapped' . They simply won't make it in time for launch due to the extra art resources they require. They'll be around later.
  Hexxeity

Novice Member

Joined: 2/21/07
Posts: 850

3/15/07 12:31:40 PM#15
It really doesn't matter at all right now whether you or I believe it is vaporware, or even if we are interested in the game.

It will start to matter if and when they get to beta, not before.  At the moment, both sides of the argument are completely irrational, unfounded, and a waste of time.

I think some of the gameplay ideas they have mentioned sound wonderful, but I know it's far too early to get my hopes up.  Even if the game gets made, so much can and will change before release that it could be completely unrecognizable by then.

P.S.  I am SICK TO DEATH of previews that sing the praises of environmental graphics.  To me, this is the least important part of the overall graphics equation.  I'm glad this article mentioned at least one spell effect.  That's a step in the right direction, but what about character models and animations?

I can honestly say that I will never purchase a game based in whole or in part on what the damn sky looks like or whether the shadows move.  These are nice touches, but completely trivial in the overall picture.
  Pietoro

Novice Member

Joined: 6/21/06
Posts: 161

"..."

3/15/07 2:32:11 PM#16
Originally posted by Draq
Suwari weren't 'scrapped' . They simply won't make it in time for launch due to the extra art resources they require. They'll be around later.


I said 'scrapped for release' . Thanks for 'correcting' me by saying exactly what I'd just said.

I won't be buying a game that only has the boring old (resized/pointy-eared human) race choices, so if they want to push Suwari back to their first expansion more power to them, I won't even look at the game 'til then, in that case. Hopefully I won't be playing another game with friends that I won't want to leave, when that happens.

  _Shadowmage

Novice Member

Joined: 7/13/05
Posts: 1461

3/15/07 7:03:07 PM#17


Originally posted by Geiddian 
 It's vaporware until they prove otherwise.     

Every game is vaporware until its released.

Until a game is released it might be cancelled (imperator), or instead of being cancelled it might be rushed out the door buggy because the money ran out (Vanguard) so people can pay to beta test it.

And I really dont think they need to prove anything to you - probably dont even know you exist. So as far as they are concerned - you and I are vaporware.

  Geiddian

Novice Member

Joined: 2/03/07
Posts: 11

3/16/07 6:46:26 AM#18
Originally posted by _Shadowmage

 


Originally posted by Geiddian 
 It's vaporware until they prove otherwise.     

 

Every game is vaporware until its released.

Until a game is released it might be cancelled (imperator), or instead of being cancelled it might be rushed out the door buggy because the money ran out (Vanguard) so people can pay to beta test it.

And I really dont think they need to prove anything to you - probably dont even know you exist. So as far as they are concerned - you and I are vaporware.


  Ah, yes.  The "it depends on what the definition of the word is, is" defence.  Didn't work for Clinton either.  If we define vaporware as any unreleased game, then everything is just rosy for HJ.  How convenient. Luckily, for those with a modicum of common sense, the definition of vaporware isn't quite so broad. Nice fanboy try at it though!  An E for effort.

  And I didn't say they had to prove anything to me, in particular.  They have acquired a perception that the game is vaporware and will never be released.  Now the onus is on Simutronics to prove otherwise instead of just saying that it isn't.  The ball is in their court.

  "It's not vaporware, no really!  We're working on it! No really!"

 Just words. Words that are not going to help eliminate the public perception that the game is, in fact, vaporware.  At this point their only way to mitigate that perception is to actually produce something. No more promises. No more words. Not after 10+ years of the same old promises.

  In my own somewhat knowledgeable opinion, having played Simutronics' games for over 17 years, since they were only available via dialup modem on the GEnie network at $6/hour in the evenings and weekends and $12/hour during the day, I can say that HJ really only suffers from three problems.  Those problems are David Whatley, Neil Harris and Eric Slick. 

 

  ShadowZERO

Novice Member

Joined: 3/19/06
Posts: 98

3/16/07 7:04:28 PM#19
Originally posted by Geiddian
Originally posted by _Shadowmage

 


Originally posted by Geiddian 
 It's vaporware until they prove otherwise.     

 

Every game is vaporware until its released.

Until a game is released it might be cancelled (imperator), or instead of being cancelled it might be rushed out the door buggy because the money ran out (Vanguard) so people can pay to beta test it.

And I really dont think they need to prove anything to you - probably dont even know you exist. So as far as they are concerned - you and I are vaporware.


  Ah, yes.  The "it depends on what the definition of the word is, is" defence.  Didn't work for Clinton either.  If we define vaporware as any unreleased game, then everything is just rosy for HJ.  How convenient. Luckily, for those with a modicum of common sense, the definition of vaporware isn't quite so broad. Nice fanboy try at it though!  An E for effort.

  And I didn't say they had to prove anything to me, in particular.  They have acquired a perception that the game is vaporware and will never be released.  Now the onus is on Simutronics to prove otherwise instead of just saying that it isn't.  The ball is in their court.

  "It's not vaporware, no really!  We're working on it! No really!"

 Just words. Words that are not going to help eliminate the public perception that the game is, in fact, vaporware.  At this point their only way to mitigate that perception is to actually produce something. No more promises. No more words. Not after 10+ years of the same old promises.

  In my own somewhat knowledgeable opinion, having played Simutronics' games for over 17 years, since they were only available via dialup modem on the GEnie network at $6/hour in the evenings and weekends and $12/hour during the day, I can say that HJ really only suffers from three problems.  Those problems are David Whatley, Neil Harris and Eric Slick. 

 

Interesting.  So you are blaming the CEO, the Technology Director, and the Vice President of the company as being the "problems" with HJ.  May i be so bold as to ask why?  I've been a player of Simutronics games since Gemstone 3 around the year '95.  I also have to note that the lead designer of HJ(Stephanie Shaver) was not mentioned as a problem.

Also, as far as the definition of vaporware, i think the true definition is a game that was in development, but was completely cancelled.  So while the possibility of HJ being vaporware is there, I fail to see how you can say that the game is in fact vaporware.  Maybe you missed the brand new footage of the city that they have been working on at TenTonHammer.com. www.tentonhammer.com/index.php.

Either way, I think the point that a lot of people miss is that the overall health of the company is more important(at least at first) than the overall health of the game, especially if you decide that that health of the game is measured in "public perception".  Simutronics has absolute nothing to prove to people like you, and could really care less how many people cry "vaporware!!!" just because they had to put their designing of the game on a "back burner" for a little while, which was simply  to ensure that they will have the necessary funding to complete the game.  The proof will be in the pudding, which will be available when(and not if) the game launches.

Expect to be retracting your vaporware argument later this year as they improve their ability to keep both the Hero Engine project and the Hero's Journey project moving forward independantly, which was admittedly a problem during the past year.  Keep in mind the more money they make from the engine licensees the more money they have to pump into the game.  What i'm interested to see is if they will actually be able to publish their own game.  Its highly unlikely IMO that they will, but if they have a very close to finished and polished product to negotiate with, finding a publisher to put boxes on store shelves wouldn't be as much of a problem.  But who knows, if they do really well with the Hero Engine, they might even be able to publish themselves.  Simutronics is going through a revolutionary time for them, and there's really no reason to think that they would just scrap the project that they have been planning for about 10 years(not developing mind you, the current HJ project will likely be in the development cycle for a bit longer than most MMOs, but a lot of people don't understand that the HJ that was worked on back in 99 is a totally different project, that was never really expected to launch.)  The current version of the game didn't start development until they finished the basics of the Hero Engine, and is in much better shape to become a mass market product.

And before i run the risk of sounding like a Simu fanboi, i'd like to point out that there are 2 major things that i hate about the company, but i won't go into them just yet.  In fact, thats the main reason that i'm wondering why you think that the leaders of the company are "problems" for HJ.
  Geiddian

Novice Member

Joined: 2/03/07
Posts: 11

3/17/07 1:36:03 AM#20

[quote]Originally posted by ShadowZERO


Interesting.  So you are blaming the CEO, the Technology Director, and the Vice President of the company as being the "problems" with HJ.  May i be so bold as to ask why?  I've been a player of Simutronics games since Gemstone 3 around the year '95.  I also have to note that the lead designer of HJ(Stephanie Shaver) was not mentioned as a problem.

I'll try to answer your questions one at a time. I'll save my thoughts on those three for the end, if I may.

Stephanie Shaver is a capable artist. As I recall that was why she was hired in the first place. Artists don't generally make the production decisions, however. I don't see many people complaining about the artistic design of HJ. Do you? That isn't really the problem. Much of the appeal of HJ comes from that design. But producing the game is something much different.


Also, as far as the definition of vaporware, i think the true definition is a game that was in development, but was completely cancelled.  So while the possibility of HJ being vaporware is there, I fail to see how you can say that the game is in fact vaporware.  Maybe you missed the brand new footage of the city that they have been working on at TenTonHammer.com. www.tentonhammer.com/index.php.

The term vaporware originated that way, yes. The term is now applied to games which don't seem to be on a good track for actually being released. This is the perception of HJ for many people. We all remember other games which finally proved themselves to be vaporware, for various reasons. Mythica, Master of Magic II, Harpoon IV, Multiplayer Battletech at EA, and so on. HJ is beginning to look like those games. The ostensible reason is the concentration on the HeroEngine. However, also remember that this supposed slowdown came after HJ was so hyped at the 2005 E3. Bad timing. You don't push your game out there, encourage a fan base, gather awards at E3 and then wander off to do other things. It looks bad. It begins to smell of vaporware.

As for the new art. Again. That is one reason I didn't list Stephanie Shaver. She and the art team are competent people. But in the end, pretty pictures are just pretty pictures, not a complete game.


Either way, I think the point that a lot of people miss is that the overall health of the company is more important(at least at first) than the overall health of the game, especially if you decide that that health of the game is measured in "public perception".  Simutronics has absolute nothing to prove to people like you, and could really care less how many people cry "vaporware!!!" just because they had to put their designing of the game on a "back burner" for a little while, which was simply  to ensure that they will have the necessary funding to complete the game.  The proof will be in the pudding, which will be available when(and not if) the game launches.

Most of this ties in with points below about two of those three individuals. Again, you don't put a game on the back burner after pushing it so publicly into view at E3 2005. That is what creates the perception of vaporware. And you're making a completely umsupported statement saying when not if. The proof will indeed be in the pudding IF the game is ever released.


Expect to be retracting your vaporware argument later this year as they improve their ability to keep both the Hero Engine project and the Hero's Journey project moving forward independantly, which was admittedly a problem during the past year.  Keep in mind the more money they make from the engine licensees the more money they have to pump into the game.

I'll gladly retract the vaporware statement if the game is ever actually released. Not before then. However, your arguments that it isn't vaporware can get old and cobweb-covered with no end in sight, can't they? At what point will you be willing to admit that you were wrong? If the game is cancelled completely, if the game is still not out when we're all using walkers to get around the old folks' home? What's your limit?

As for the money they make, that again will be addressed below.


What i'm interested to see is if they will actually be able to publish their own game.  Its highly unlikely IMO that they will, but if they have a very close to finished and polished product to negotiate with, finding a publisher to put boxes on store shelves wouldn't be as much of a problem.  But who knows, if they do really well with the Hero Engine, they might even be able to publish themselves.

They already went the route of looking for outside publishers for that game. No takers. So it was decided to publish entirely in house. I agree that they probably need an outside publisher if this game is ever going to see the light of day. But then, we aren't in charge are we? See below.


Simutronics is going through a revolutionary time for them, and there's really no reason to think that they would just scrap the project that they have been planning for about 10 years(not developing mind you, the current HJ project will likely be in the development cycle for a bit longer than most MMOs, but a lot of people don't understand that the HJ that was worked on back in 99 is a totally different project, that was never really expected to launch.)  The current version of the game didn't start development until they finished the basics of the Hero Engine, and is in much better shape to become a mass market product.

This is incorrect. I've known Tom Zelinksi for a long time. When he was producer, which he still was in 2002 by the way - at least that's how he was introduced to the crowd at that Simucon, the game was indeed expected to be released. In that period, Derek Sanderson was the lead designer. I wonder whatever happended to him?


And before i run the risk of sounding like a Simu fanboi, i'd like to point out that there are 2 major things that i hate about the company, but i won't go into them just yet.  In fact, thats the main reason that i'm wondering why you think that the leaders of the company are "problems" for HJ.

I'll show you mine if you show me yours.

Let's take them one at a time.

David Whatley. He is still living in the fantasy world created when Simutronics launched on the web after AOL and Simutronics ended up listed as one of the Forbes' fasting growing companies. That too was a passing fancy. But it still hasn't sunk in with David. He still acts like he's the up-and-coming, golden-haired wunderkind of the gaming industry, even though his player base has been steadily shrinking ever since.

And then there's his alleged penchant for romancing young ladies who play his games (some under 18), and making them part of his company and promoting them into positions of responsibility. Do you recall that Melissa Meyer, who has since left Simutronics with her latest husband Matt, also a former Simutronics GM, was before that Melissa Callaway and for a while in the late 1990's she was also Melissa Whatley, straight out of high school? From player of the game to wife of the CEO then to various positions within the company then eventually producer of Gemstone and HJ? A few years back, he had on his personal web site pic of various of his young girlfriends/players in lingerie poses. They've since been removed. Fast sports cars, young girls and a persistent fanstasy of being a "leading" game company CEO. Those are some of my problems with Mr. Whatley.

Neil Harris came to Simutronics after leaving GEnie in July, 1993. On the same day that GEnie's pricing structure changed. He left GEnie because they changed that pricing structure, reducing the price from $6/hr to $3/hr. At least that's what he once told me was the reason he left. Maybe it isn't true. He was instrumental in the shift a few years later from AOL to the web. For that I applaud him. After that, however, he displayed a certain lack of consideration for the players of Simutronics' games. If you played Gemstone since 1995 then you were there for the fiasco with the "double" billing in late 2004 (I may have my year wrong there) because of a supposed accounting error. It wasn't really a double billing but a change from post-billing to pre-billing monthly. But the timing was stupid, the explanations were feeble and it made a lot of people very angry. At the heart of that was Neil Harris, unapologetic and apparently entirely immune to the concerns of the community. There is a disconnect between the financial concerns of the company and an understanding that the community of customers is the basis for having the company in the first place. He has a certain corporate mind-set which thinks that the customers can be treated any old way, without regard to how it might look, and the customers just have to deal with it. I don't think he's ever really grasped that in a gaming community, the fan base is very important. It's a lesson SOE seems also to never have learned or learned too late.

Finally, Eric Slick. Melissa Meyer would be in this spot if she were still the producer of HJ. She's now with some other game company. I believe in some capacity at NCSoft working on their future game called Aion. But Eric is the producer now. His previous experience being as a player of the text-based Gemstone and as a producer of the text-based Dragonrealms, just as Melissa's prior experience was as a player of and producer of the text-based Gemstone and not entirely coincidentally girlfriend and then one of the wives of the CEO. Not much in the way of experience with graphic games for either. But Bubba is the producer of HJ now. The buck stops with him. He too suffers from the delusion that the game is separate from the community. He'd make a wonderful, or perhaps I should say typical, customer service rep for SOE. Sadly, he's the producer of HJ.

If Suz Dodd were still alive and still the producer of these games, there would be more hope. It's possible that some of the outstanding people at Simutronics, like Elonka, can overcome the negatives of the three individuals above and the game will actually see the light of day. I'm not optimistic, obviously. I think it would be wonderful if the game did see launch. Until then, my opinion stands. It's vaporware that won't ever see launch.

Was that detailed enough an explanation, Shadowmage? :)

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