Saturday, April 9, 2016

April A to Z - H is for Heroes Guard. An interview with Rick Kelly from Underbyte Studios

Hello lovely readers! Last year, I interviewed Rick Kelly at Underbyte Studios about his gamebook inspired app, Heroes Guard. This year, we return to see how he's getting on...
How were the festivals you took Heroes Guard to?
At first I was very nervous. I figured it would be very hard to convince folks to sit down and "read". I quickly learned that folks of all walks of life would enjoy this style of game. From men to women, and children to grandparents - they all stopped by and really, really liked the game. I had one guy bring his wife to the convention the next day, because he was so pumped about the game! Folks brought their friends and family back to the booth and a few returned to play the game over-and-over... for hours! So honestly, I'm not sure it could have gone much better.

The game has a card-game component, which represents combat. So to help draw folks in and provide more play-spots at a convention, I created a physical print of the card game. Naturally the physical dice rolls and the large tarot cards drew some interest. This was such a knock-out, that I'm investigating doing a print-run for just the physical card game as well! 

There are tons of pictures on my instagram of the conventions - check them out!
Are you still keeping the story along with card format?
Absolutely! Weapons, magic, items, and companions you pick up through the story become tarot cards for you to use in the card game. While I loved the dice mechanics that most gambooks implement, I wanted more strategic options - and that's what the card game offers. The mini-game like approach also helps with the pacing and keeping the game fresh.
Can you tell us about the story of Heroes Guard?
So you are an old and weathered adventurer. All your questing and dungeon plundering days are behind you, but that doesn't mean all your daring feats won't live on! By going through the journal, you are recording all the trials and tribulations you went through. Your feeble mind is a little spotty on the details and that's why you are often presented with choices. On occasion for the larger confrontations, you'll visit a mystic that will use tarot cards to help you recall the details of the fight.

The story takes place in Argoria, a high-fantasy world filled with goblins, giant spiders, and demons. The story centers around you joining a guild known as the Heroes Guard who are a group of trained battle mages. As a battle mage you'll wield both magic to protect townships that you have sworn to protect. 

What features have you added to the game since you released the demo?
Since the first beta, I've continued to polish the game - mostly focusing on cleaning up the card game. I've also added features to track your progress such as unlocking more powerful weapons and a high-scores wall. The wall is an interesting note, as it houses more than just a score but also a final conclusion to your character. Perhaps you ended up heir to the throne, or perhaps you were dismissed from the guild and lived out your life on the streets?

When will the game launch?
The game is slated to launch in June. I'm expecting to continue producing content for the game post-release.
Are there any ways that people can help with Heroes Guard?
Well since the game will be on the app store, the launch week is pretty much a "boom or bust" scenario. So if you are interested in the game, please sign-up for the newsletter and follow the project on facebook or twitter. The more interest there is during the launch week, the better off it will be! Also if you know anyone who writes blogs or does reviews on this style of game - please let me know!

But if you are a super-fan of this genre, please reach out to me and I'll get you a demo build to provide feedback!

Do you have any other projects?
The physical card game was such a hit, I'll be flushing out the standalone mechanics of the game and investigating printing solutions. I'll be shooting for a fall release with the card game.

If I'm lucky, Heroes Guard: The Journal will keep me pretty busy with content updates and feature requests as well!

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