Interview with Lori Cole

We did an interview with Lori Cole, one of the creators of Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption and a few other games, about her game, game development and games in general. Here's what she said:

1. Tell us a bit about you:

I was raised in Arizona, a southwestern state where the summers are extremely hot. I much preferred indoor activities like reading or game playing. When I was a child, the only computers at the time took up an entire floor of a building. I never saw a real computer until after I graduated from college.

Lori Cole

2. What were your favorite games when growing up?

I have played games all my life. I grew up with Monopoly, chess, and strategy games. I even had a “Build Your Own Board Game” kit. However, my favorite game of all time was Dungeon and Dragons. It was the first game that let you work with other players rather than against them - and everybody wins in the end. Besides, D&D allowed me to really use my imagination to create interesting characters and stories.

3. When did you start making games?

I started making games in the early 1980s after I married Corey Cole. The first real “games” I made were scenarios for D&D to run as a Dungeon Master. We were frustrated by the D&D game rules, so we created our own system of rules that allowed the characters of the game to grow and learn skills as they played. We loved the notion of continual growth and improvement through gameplay, and that became the core of our games.

4. What made you start developing games?

Computer games in the early 80s were pretty primitive. Many computer games at the time tried to use character development concepts from D&D, but they would wind up being little more than “kill the monster” with very little story or character.

It was our frustration with the games we played on computer that made us want to create our own - and make them better.

5. Why did you decide to make this particular game (Hero-U), what was your inspiration? How did you come up with the idea and story?

Our first computer game series was “Quest for Glory” - a five game Role-playing/Adventure series that took the player’s character on an adventure to five very different lands. Along the way, the character became more powerful as he gained skills and made friends. This series was extremely popular and many fans wanted a sequel.

After Quest for Glory, we created a website called “The Famous Adventurer’s Correspondence School for Heroes” where visitors could take an online personality test that determined what kind of fantasy game character they would be - Wizard, Warrior, Paladin, or Rogue. Then the player would be able to take “classes” with virtual teachers. They could do class assignments, get grades, and roleplay themselves at this site.

We used Kickstarter for the money to again create our own computer game and we brought elements of the Quest for Glory series and “The Famous Adventurer’s Correspondence School for Heroes” together to create Hero University.

6. What are your characters based on in the game? For example real life experiences and people, movies, games etc. Who would you be in your game?

Some of the characters in Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption are relatives of characters from the QfG games. The instructors at Hero University were from the Correspondence School as were some of the references in the game to past events. A few of the characters and story subplots were contributions from our Kickstarter fans. We tried to bring everything together into a cohesive, compelling story.

When I write my games, I become the characters. I know exactly how each character thinks and feels, so in a real sense, I am all the characters. Personality-wise, I’m probably more like Professor Silvia Witherspoon Featherstonehaugh, the Wizard instructor.

7. How would you describe the style of your game?

We worked for many years to come up with this semi-realistic art style that is moody and emotional while still being beautiful. Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption follows the story of Shawn, a young man who grows and learns from his experiences in the course of the game and gives the player real choice in determining Shawn’s actions and personalty.  Hero-U is a true mix of roleplaying and adventure with an exciting story, humorous characters, and a complex plot. It is everything I ever wanted to play in a computer game.

8. Did you experience any challenges in the development of the game?

There were many challenges to create this game. We had to start our own company, raise the money on Kickstarter, and work for years without any income from the game. We redesigned the game art and style several times in order to overcome technical difficulties and make best use of the people who worked on the project. It took many years and much more money to create Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption than we expected starting out.

But we couldn’t be prouder of the game.

9. What are you most proud of about your game/what do you like most about the game?

Despite all the difficulties, the compromises, and the years of hard work that went into creating Hero-U, it turned out to be a great game that our fans love as much as they loved Quest for Glory.

I am so happy that I was able to make this game.

10. Is there anything you think could have been better?

We made many mistakes along the way. Trying to create an ambitious game on a small budget is challenging. There is one section of the game that is too much “on rails,” while giving players the illusion of having choices. If we had the time, team, and budget, we’d have given the player more real agency in that sequence.

11. Are there any Easter eggs in the game?

There were many funny bits and surprises in the game. Quest for Glory is known for puns and humorous dialogue, but we went even farther in Hero-U. Players who are looking for funny surprises should click on everything, everywhere to enjoy Josh Mandel’s funny contributions to the game.

12. You also created the Quest for Glory series, as you mentioned earlier. Do you think there will ever be a prequel/sequel/remake? Would you like to make one?

Hero-U, while a different style from the original QfG series, is truly the successor to the series. It has the same humorous and yet very serious tone filled with interesting characters and a complex multilayered plot. Hero-U incorporates everything we’ve learned and experienced since we originally created QfG - and is a much better game.

We don’t plan to make another Quest for Glory game. Activision owns the IP rights, and has not shown any interest in licensing them, even to the original game creators. Besides, that game series is complete.

A big thank you to Lori, for taking the time to answer these questions. 

If you're interested in trying Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption, you can find it here. Her other games can be found elsewhere. :)