The Good Lives: Hero Generations

Ignore the screenshot. Yes, Hero Generations looks like yet another roguelite, or even a puzzle game along the lines of Triple Town, but the best description of the design concept is right at the top of the Kickstarter page – “The 5-Minute Civilization”. Worlds are procedurally generated and heroes move across them, tile by tile. Each turn consumes a year of the player character’s life so important decisions must be made – will you explore, gather fame by battling monsters and retrieving items, expand a settlement, or find a mate so that you can produce offspring and forge a millennia-long legacy? 4X strategy zoomed in to the individual and personal level. It’s my favourite Kickstarter pitch since Meriwether.

The personal focus – on an individual rather than a tribe or civilisation – doesn’t just change the feel of the game, it exaggerates the importance of every decision. I play strategy games so often that I spend a lot of time thinking about the ‘end-turn cycle’, the point(s) at which any specific campaign becomes a procession of clicks to skip forward, with nothing to do be done in between those clicks. How often does the end-game of Civ come to resemble a Vladimir and Estragon routine without the laughs?

Reduce the concepts and conceits of 4X gaming to the concerns of a single family and every decision becomes charged with meaning. That should be the case, at least. We’ll have to wait a good while to see if it all works, with a release date of January 2015.

The developer is experienced, the concept is exciting and the project is well-mapped. The $32,000 target shouldn’t be a problem and if I’m wrong and success looks unlikely three weeks from now, somebody forward the pitch video to Mark Zuckerberg.

15 Comments

  1. LogicalDash says:

    At last a proper followup to Oasis?

    I haven’t been able to get Oasis to work on my computer for SOME TIME so this is great news.

    • frightlever says:

      FWIW, it (Defense of the Oasis) is on mobile.

      link to itunes.apple.com

    • Shadowcat says:

      I was going to mention Oasis; I’m really happy to see that I was beaten to it! I felt inspired to look up various previous comments I’d made about it, so for those who aren’t (yet) familiar…

      Oasis is a really beautifully-balanced quick-to-play turn-based strategy game, with semi-random level generation which will keep you coming back to it over and over again.

      Individual levels take just a few minutes to play through, but combine together into longer campaigns, and each of the campaigns brings its own unique twists.

      All this means that you can consume it in anything from bite-sized chunks to a full banquet. And just when you think you’re done, you realise that you are ready for the next difficulty level, and the challenge begins anew.

      Mahk and Andrew give a good description of the game in this interview:
      link to gametunnel.com

      Definitely one of the finest independent games I’ve played. One of the ones that is easily worth every cent. I just wish that the demo version conveyed its full brilliance — it took me ages to actually buy it, because I felt like I’d pretty much seen everything by the time I’d finished the demo. An absurd and laughable impression in retrospect, but it makes me wonder if they could have done a bit more with the demo.

      I guess the problem is that it’s the balance and pretty-much perfect learning curve on the difficulty levels that gives the game its impressive staying power, and that’s hard to convey in a short span of time.

      I’m really hesitant to compare Oasis with Civ in any way (although numerous other people have done so), simply because of how stripped down Oasis is. That’s not a criticism — Oasis is a beautifully formed and balanced game — but I do worry that anyone expecting Civ Lite will be going in with the wrong expectations.

      I don’t want to assume that everyone would love it, but if there’s no demo for the iPad, the PC version has a demo. Give it a try. If you enjoy it, then the main thing I’d stress is that the full game has a completely unexpected degree of variety and replay value, and it gets more and more entrancing as you increase the difficulty — I found it was well worth the $20, so $5 on the iPad seems like a crazy good deal to me. I’ve spent more hours playing Oasis than a great many big-budget games.

      They’re [Oasis and Weird Worlds] both computer versions of patience; you might have played it 500 times before, but you still want to find out how things pan out this time. There’s always the chance that the cards will be dealt just so, and you’ll get that magic perfect game… but there’s always scope for things to go horribly wrong as well :)

      It can be crazily additive. It’s one of the few games I’ve uninstalled as a preventative measure, because I knew that if it was there waiting for me, I wouldn’t be able to resist playing it again.

      It’s not 100% perfect, and there’s one particular random element (only in two of the campaigns) which, at the very hardest difficulties, can cause genuinely unavoidable doom by random chance, which isn’t fun. But seriously — you will get SOOOOO much amazing enjoyment out of this thing before ever encountering that.

      • scottbrodie says:

        Oasis is definitely an influence. It’s a wonderful game. Hero Generations is very different overall, but Oasis helped in solving a number of design problems along the way.

  2. Dark Malady says:

    I played this back when it was a … Trial? Prototype? Thing on Facebook.
    It was Fun. I missed it when they took it down and they removed all the Info from their Site… making me quite confused about what had just happened.

    But yeah. It was Fun.

    • bglamb says:

      Yeah, I couldn’t work out if I’d played an Alpha or something, or if this was just a massive rip off! This is from the same guys right?

  3. SominiTheCommenter says:

    The jokes about Oculus have already started.
    This will be a great week, watching expectation crumble is one of my favourite past time.

  4. Philotic Symmetrist says:

    Tile-based and turn-based…no this doesn’t look like a Roguelite, this looks like a Roguelike, and unless I’ve missed something it has all of the high value factors of the Berlin Interpretation so it uncontroversially is a Roguelike.

  5. AngoraFish says:

    Literally backed 10mins before this appeared on RPS.

    Also, first KS for some time I’ve kicked in at a higher tier to support the dev.

  6. Guzzleguts says:

    Isn’t that Simon Pegg in the top pic?

  7. angrychair says:

    I am reasonably certain I played this game years ago, but I can’t rule out that it was some kind of fever dream. I want to say I played it on Facebook or maybe on iOS? I remember wasting a few hours on it and then promptly forgetting about it until now. If memory serves, it played more like a puzzle game than a roguelike (think Desktop Dungeons) and I think the reason I never came back to is that there wasn’t a lot of variation in the game. I wore it out quite quickly.

  8. Frank says:

    “Yes, Hero Generations looks like yet another roguelite, or even a puzzle game” No, actually, it looks like a spinoff from Hero Academy. Oops — some nsfw stuff in that artist’s portfolio.

    Anyway, like all sane, strategy-and-exploration-loving PC gamers, I will be backing this. If he releases the IndieCade thing as a demo, I’d be a lot likelier to opt for the beta, though. I tried the IndieCade website, and wow, were there ever a lot of good games in the competition that year: link to indiecade.com

  9. scottbrodie says:

    I just wanted to thank you for this article about my game. It has in fact passed its funding goal, so no need to call up Mark :) We have a day and a half left to go to reach some of our stretch goals: link to kck.st Thanks again!