April 4, 2014

[Video] Heroine’s Quest

The first of 2014's... wait, HOW many Quest For Glory successors are due out this year?

Isn’t it typical? You wait fifteen years for a successor to the Quest For Glory series, and then four of them come along at once! Not that I’m complaining. Here’s the first of the set, a Viking themed shot of gender equality whose heroine… gasp… remembered to get dressed today. At least, give or take a bit of a cleavage hole her sprite probably regrets every time she steps into those icy, drippy woods. Thankfully her portrait is more sensible.

Want to play it? It’s free! Download the game here or here.

Additional bits! If you’re curious about Quest For Glory 4.5, check out my Saturday Crapshoot on it here. The complete series, including one of my favourite adventures of all time, QFG4, is available on GOG.COM.

EDITS/EXTRA/ERRATA: At the time of writing I had it in my head that QFG was originally intended to offer gender options, but in retrospect I think it was only character races. They were reduced to just Human to save space.

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  1. Richard says:

    Extra notes! This one is largely a practice run for video content, and in particular getting it made without it taking a whole week like most of my previous videos. If things don’t work, let me know, but trust me, I have a big list of my own, including about bits that I snipped. Quite a few jokes in particular were brutally killed by poor script-reading on my part, and I need to do a lot more reading on audio-processing to better balance BGM or harden up the narration track. Sounded fine here, on YT, it’s a little muddy. On the plus side, all this does mean you don’t need to endure my dreadful Cedric impression. Hopefully as a result though, the next video will be a lot better without having be redone a hundred times. That’s always my goal whenever I make one. Fingers crossed.

    As a general heads-up, I’m looking to do a few different styles for future videos, including editorially focused subjects and more specific games – Quick TRiP being the latter kind. They’re likely to be of the “Here’s what I’m playing at the moment and why it’s interesting” style of video,” of around 5-10 minutes each, with the exact style still a bit in flux as I work it out. This one is fairly stock ‘online review’, but only as a starting point for figuring out how best to do things, what works, and what mistakes not to keep making. Best way to learn in my opinion! Thanks for your patience.

  2. Dirk says:

    The moment I saw the title screen, I thought: “Zanthia is back!”. Will definitely give it a go. In addition to being free, flinging nasty things at Cedric is such a wonderful incentive in itself.
    Your so-called “practice run” looks pretty darn good to me already, Richard!

  3. Richard says:

    Heh, thanks. But it’s almost always a long road to being good at things, and I freely admit to being at the start and looking at the map in no little confusion. The only really important mistake usually made on it though is deciding it’s too much hassle.

  4. DrScuttles says:

    The Quest For Glory games passed me by (I was probably just a bit too young for the first two) but Heroine’s Quest seems right up my alley; I think it was Heimdall 2 that first got me into Norse mythology. And for the price of Free all the criticisms can be charitably overlooked I think. First read about it on RPS the other week and downloaded it but just hadn’t found the time to give it a go. Seems that I really should.
    Looking forward to more videos, this is a great start. The audio balancing does seem to need a little tuning, but then I do have plenty of traffic outside my window which probably doesn’t help.

  5. Richard says:

    Thanks! The audio balancing does need tuning. It’s a case where it sounded fine on my machine when I edited it, but sounded muffled in the final export. In future ones I’m going to try to harden the narration track in a few ways, which needs to be done anyway because my voice is a bit soft, and probably use less BGM in general. Not cut it out entirely, especially for intros and things like that, but both times I’ve tried it as a running background thing (this one and Riana Rouge in a Crapshoot) and it’s been both a complete pain in the arse and ended up sounding worse than just sticking to effects and dialogue for the majority of the vid.

    And yeah, none of the criticisms should stop you downloading it. To a large extent making them in this kind of thing is one of the things in this one I’m not too wild about, and why the straight-up review format as such isn’t really what I’m shooting for longer-term. I think this one would have gone better as a pure “This is neat, you should play this.” Editing it it felt a bit catty to suddenly throw in “But the voices are a bit flat,” not least because it ultimately came less from that being a burning concern while playing it as a kind of shield in case other people said it and were all “Why didn’t you mention this?” Chalk it down to inexperience. Future videos will hopefully ‘feel’ better in that kind of respect, or focus more on things like theme and specifics rather than trying to cover everything.

    (To a large extent the problem with that is how to represent things like themes. My stock worry when cutting together video is that I don’t like things to stop moving – not entirely anyway – which is a big problem when doing narration over footage. You need a billion clips and it takes forever. Things like on-camera stuff can do a lot more with that, even if I’m utterly un-photogenic and savagely overweight at the moment thanks to a stomach problem the other year and house-moving stresses. I’ve actually set up a mini green screen studio in my spare room so that I can experiment with that stuff a lot more, if not necessarily in the next vid. I hate cameras so much.)

    I know, I know. Lots of rambling. But problem solving interests me :-)

  6. GrantNZ says:

    Enjoyed the vid :)

    You probably could have left out the “flat voices” bit. After all, in this format, the game… speaks for itself.

  7. Reece says:

    The video has inspired me to give the game a shot. Been a while since I’ve played something like this, I finished QFG 1 and 2, enjoying them both, repeat playthroughs of 1 as all classes. I have never been able to articulate what sucked me in to that, it actually felt like I was helping the character develop into a hero, felt a part of the adventure (may explain getting sucked into Skyrim, too). Have yet to tackle QFG4 on your recommendation.

    Had a crack at Space Quest 3, and 1 (vga, much later) but got too frustrated at the deaths. Somewhat oddly, it was because I got lost in the joy of exploration of the worlds that I’d forget to save, and get frustrated having to replay tricky areas. Manhunter creeped me out too much back in the day.

    Always been more of a Monkey guy, and the non-death Lucasarts philosophy.

    Anyways, on the vid itself, agree with you points about the sound. I got distracted trying to read the game text and listen to your commentary at the same time, which may be helped by a stronger voiceover. And could your quick-flash text comments stay on screen half a second longer? Otherwise, good stuff :)

  8. Richard says:

    As said, QFG IV is one of my all time favourites. Space Quest is… less good. I like the series, but it’s definitely much more of a ‘splash around and see jokes and funny things like the Enterprise getting burgers’ type affair. SQV is hands down the best of the series, and plays much fairer. Still a lot of deaths, but they’re much more fair and predictable.

    The text comments are kinda finicky because they’re not scripted in advance. They tend to be stuff that comes to mind during the edit, so sometimes by that point it’s a case of “Uh, um, well, hope people read fast!” and have to end with a scene transition for neatness’ sake. But like the sound, that’s something I want to play with. I like the added density of that kind of stuff, but tend to prefer them when they’re used for gags and puns and things that can add a secondary layer rather than conveying key info, or filling in a scrap of information about what’s going on without needing to waste too much time introducing and segueing a plot point. Again, something to play around with, along with not using as many cuts so that things like that get more time to breathe :-)

    (This one also suffered from the fact that when I was making templates, I wasn’t really thinking of a game where so much of the background is white snow! Even cranking up the shadowing…)

  9. dorp says:

    So what are the other three QFG-like games?

  10. Richard says:

    Er, shown in the video. Quest For Infamy, Mage’s Initiation, and to a lesser extent Hero-U: Rogue To Redemption, which is different but from the Coles.

  11. dorp says:

    Excellent. Thanks!

  12. Kathy says:

    The QfG series was my first ever introduction to the concept of an RPG, the first one came out when I was nine or ten. It’s fair to say I became kind of obsessed. The second one is my personal favourite. I could go on gushing about all the things that make that series great (until the fifth one which I’ve never actually managed to finish), but that would be boring and not that relevant here.

    What is more relevant is I have recently played Heroine’s Quest, and I’ll happily second this review. It really captures the feel and the tone of the originals – a careful balance between knowing irreverence and complete earnestness (there’s that meta bit about the cursor that epitomises this perfectly). It doesn’t need saying in a video review, but the art is quite lovely too, while criticism of the voice acting is fair, it’s not that bad, I’ve heard worse in much higher budget games. The whole thing is really quite charming, and surprisingly well polished.

    One thing you don’t mention (and it could well be because you’re much cleverer than me) is that some of the puzzles are HARD. And sometimes all my shameful frustrated googling struggled to find solutions, there are no walkthrus ready to serve up answers (yet). Well there goes my Old School Adventure Game cred. It’s probably not harder than the originals, I’m probably just softer (and busier, and with more than one game to play instead of just the one until next Christmas/birthday). Agree that the combat is properly tough as well.

    About the review – I agree, I liked the text pop-ups but it would have been good if they had been in a beat longer. Might be more of an issue with this kind of wordy game, but reading lots of words and listening to lots words simultaneously is difficult, the pop-ups were fine apart from being a bit quick, but I found my attention wandered reading the in game text (as I’ve played this wasn’t too bad for me, but can see the issue) – maybe fewer clips with lots of writing, although hard in a game like this! Great job though, look forward to more.

  13. Richard says:

    Thanks!

    I liked QFG2 as well, though I was never as big a fan of it as others mostly because I didn’t like its reliance on timed events. Each bit was fairly generous in terms of time, but even so…

    Heroine’s Quest’s difficulty… I didn’t find the puzzles too tricky in and of themselves, just occasionally had problems figuring out where to go next (the stones took me a while for instance, and I forgot to buy Shadow first time around which absolutely screwed me in Svartelfheim). My most embarrassing one was probably the Thieves’ Lodge puzzle, where I was so used to thinking of there being a Thieves’ GUILD that I kept throwing words like ‘GOLD’ at it rather than the actual walkthrough, despite playing a class capable of having magic pixie dust show her the answer outright. No idea what I was thinking…

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