Roots of Heropath, Part 1

Heropath is a video game and as such takes its influences from video games that I grew up with and left an impression on me. Essentially, Heropath will be a homage to the following 1980s-90s video games:

Adventure (Atari, 1979) – The first console video game to pay homage to the first text adventure game (Colossal Cave/Adventure), contain an easter egg, and create a semi-procedural, sandbox game. This game is amazing for what it accomplished.

Quest for the Rings (Magnavox, 1981) – A stylized action-adventure that combined board game play with video game event resolution. The game component’s artwork is a major source of inspiration.

The Lords of Midnight (Beyond, 1984) & Doomdark’s Revenge (Beyond, 1985) – These games accomplished so much with so little computer resources (48k RAM). They combined character adventure, military strategy, and narrative design that has never been surpassed.

Ultima IV: Quest of the Avatar (Origin, 1985) – An innovative CRPG that combined open world exploration, quest puzzles, and was the first to bring self-development to video games where killing an evil overlord was not the way to win the game!

Paradroid (Hewsons, 1985) – A unique action-puzzle game placing you in the role of a droid that needs to recapture a rogue space ship by allowing you to hack/possess your robotic opponents.

Sid Meier’s Pirates! (Micropose, 1987) – An amazing achievement of seamless mini-games threaded together while the player navigates an open and dynamic world set in the 17th century Caribbean.

King’s Bounty (New World, 1990) – Deconstructing the CRPG genre by combining heroic advancement with army recruitment and adventuring.

Dune (Cryo, 1992) – This game not only was worthy of its source material, it innovated by combining graphical adventure with real-time strategy. This is one of my favourite video games ever.

Dwarf Fortress (Bay 12, 2006-now) – The Basílica de la Sagrada Família of video games. A sprawling ‘Rouge-like’ with a massive simulation focus. While this game is ‘modern’ it is inspired by the 1980s with the developers being fans of Dig Dug and Rogue.

A group of video games that possess what I shall call staged-poly-mechanics, which consist of stages of distinct game mechanics that are narratively tied together. Examples of such games are: Beach Head, Beach Head II, Raid Over Moscow, and Spore.

There are other video games that I am inspired by but fall outside of my ability and resources to consider developing. I am in awe of Sid Meier’s Civilization and other 4X games but are such complex simulations they are beyond me as a beginning solo developer. The games listed above are all far simpler and are doable yet possess depth, elegance, and innovation.

Replanting Heropath

Development on Heropath started in 2012 when I and a programmer decided to work together. I funded his time and he worked with my role as a producer to create an online ‘Meta-RPG’ game for the next three years. It was launched as a closed alpha in 2016 and did poorly because of its poor design and less than stellar execution. The programmer and I parted ways and I sat on what to do about Heropath for the next few years.

I researched and I wrote down design ideas on how to improve Heropath. Now I’ve arrived at the beginnings of what will be my solution: I am going to re-design and re-code Heropath which is going to be a huge undertaking since I have done neither before.

I plan to slowly learn coding to develop my programming skills. I plan to learn design by expanding on the coding tutorials that I’ll be learning from. This will take many months and I don’t plan to write about every lesson I take or skill I have developed, until I get to the first prototype of what I plan Heropath to be.

In the meantime I will write about game development theory and about the high-level concepts that inspire me. Those will be the focus of my next few posts.