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Hero's Journey: A Visit to Simutronics

StraddenStradden Managing EditorHalifax, NSPosts: 6,696Member

Staff Writer Adele Caelia recently visited the Simutronics offices where they are making the MMORPG Hero's Journey. Today, she files her report.


I recently had the honor of spending the day with the developers of Hero's Journey at the Simtronics studio in St. Charles, Mo. I approached the day with a bit of curiosity as to what I would find, having never been in an actual game studio before. As I approached the front doors I found an artist sitting upon the steps, his sketchpad in hand, enjoying the nice weather the St. Louis area has had recently. He didn't seem to notice me, and why should he? It was very obvious that he wasn't in Kansas anymore, but in the far off world of Elanthia. In this world, the reporter does not exist. This is a world where only Heroes are to be found. Not wanting to force him to leave such a happy place I walked on past without disturbing him and entered the building.

When I entered the studio, a very pleasant woman behind the front desk and the Simtronics guardian hound named Xena greeted me. I am pretty sure both were elite mobs and I wasn't about to go any further without their permission! Lucky for me that they were non-aggro, and instead of being attacked, I was quickly introduced to Developer Eric Latham, and soon after met the head honcho, Lead Designer Stephanie Shaver. It was a very pleasant surprise to find a woman in charge (and also a dead give away that the game will naturally be a success... I joke.).

Read the whole article here.

Cheers,
Jon Wood
Managing Editor
MMORPG.com

«13

Comments

  • elvenangelelvenangel Orlando, FLPosts: 2,205Member
    Originally posted by Stradden


    Staff Writer Adele Caelia recently visited the Simutronics offices where they are making the MMORPG Hero's Journey. Today, she files her report.

    I recently had the honor of spending the day with the developers of Hero's Journey at the Simtronics studio in St. Charles, Mo. I approached the day with a bit of curiosity as to what I would find, having never been in an actual game studio before. As I approached the front doors I found an artist sitting upon the steps, his sketchpad in hand, enjoying the nice weather the St. Louis area has had recently. He didn't seem to notice me, and why should he? It was very obvious that he wasn't in Kansas anymore, but in the far off world of Elanthia. In this world, the reporter does not exist. This is a world where only Heroes are to be found. Not wanting to force him to leave such a happy place I walked on past without disturbing him and entered the building.
    When I entered the studio, a very pleasant woman behind the front desk and the Simtronics guardian hound named Xena greeted me. I am pretty sure both were elite mobs and I wasn't about to go any further without their permission! Lucky for me that they were non-aggro, and instead of being attacked, I was quickly introduced to Developer Eric Latham, and soon after met the head honcho, Lead Designer Stephanie Shaver. It was a very pleasant surprise to find a woman in charge (and also a dead give away that the game will naturally be a success... I joke.).

    Read the whole article here.


    Uh...the link is broken :)

    Please Refer to Doom Cat with all conspiracies & evil corporation complaints. He'll give you the simple explination of..WE"RE ALL DOOMED!

  • KaneKane Seattle, WAPosts: 780Member
    So the list has races has changed...again. We used to have 8 (2 subs of each of FOUR main races) then it was 6. Its still six, but it sounds like we can't have the race morphing that used to be in E3s ago. I liked the idea of a triple mixed breed. I hope they add something less human later cause I like to have more options than just the traditional D&D races.
  • GreenChaosGreenChaos Chicago, ILPosts: 2,268Member

    Detailed character customization, multi-classing, and combat more than just auto combat – it has my interest.

  • DownMonkeyDownMonkey Oh you know, that place., CAPosts: 159Member
    Originally posted by GreenChaos

    Detailed character customization, multi-classing, and combat more than just auto combat – it has my interest.


    Good support for roleplayers will make me buy it, I'm looking forward to it.

    image

  • AmatheAmathe Miami, FLPosts: 1,658Member Uncommon

    This is a nice feel good piece and certainly there is much to like about the concept of Heroes Journey . I find a lot of its concepts very innovative and refreshing.

    But the questions the writer apparently didn't push with Simu, and merely alluded to in the last paragraph, is the growing belief that this game will never see the marketplace. Personally, I would have started there and satisfied myself this game actually has a future before getting into the details of one that probably does not.

    EQ1, EQ2, SWG, SWTOR, GW, GW2 CoH, CoV, FFXI, WoW, CO, War,TSW and a slew of free trials and beta tests

  • SorcerousKhanSorcerousKhan Minneapolis, MNPosts: 165Member Common
    Simutronics wouldn't be constructing a new building and gearing up to hire dozens of new employees if Hero's Journey was vaporware. My source on this is Tracy Butler, the art director for HJ.
  • jgankumjgankum Alexandria, VAPosts: 153Member


    Originally posted by Amathe
    This is a nice feel good piece and certainly there is much to like about the concept of Heroes Journey . I find a lot of its concepts very innovative and refreshing.
    But the questions the writer apparently didn't push with Simu, and merely alluded to in the last paragraph, is the growing belief that this game will never see the marketplace. Personally, I would have started there and satisfied myself this game actually has a future before getting into the details of one that probably does not.

    YOU, posting this over and over again, does not make it a "growing belief". It just makes you sound like a broken record and look dumber with the release of each new bit of information.

    Jonny.

  • Yukari_MommaYukari_Momma Kendallville, INPosts: 50Member
    It's not vaporware.  The people who think it is are the same ones calling out for people within the company to give them a few words, and then not listening to any of the words given to them.  The article didn't need to ask the question because it has been asked and answered before in almost every article made for the game in the past three months.



    The game you are seeing has not been in production for 10 years, it is a different game than the original game, which would be now called vaporware.  All it shares is the same name and same company making it.  This game can't even be said to have been in production for 7 years.  They fully admit that they were not working on the game all that much for about three years while they developed the Hero's Engine.  Essentially, we have a game that we could maybe put a man hour equivalent of 5 years to.



    Great article.  I hope to see more soon.  Not sure if I'd believe EVERYTHING mentioned in it, but we can hope.
  • PaksPaks No Where, OHPosts: 263Member
    I really love the sound of this game and wish it got more press.  The sound of their quest system alone makes me drool.  :)



    Let's see some good video footage of gameplay soon please!
  • phosphorosphosphoros QCA, ILPosts: 512Member
    I've been interested in this game for a long time.  But let's face it, Simutronics marketing suck.

    I don't think the game is a 100% vaporware but it's sure a frustrating game to follow with spurts of info followed by LONG tracts of silence.




  • QworgQworg AalborgPosts: 23Member
    Before having even started to read this article I just feel compelled to comment on something regarding the pictures.



    As a fellow member of the industry, I must say, I am rather shocked by the overall state of the ergonomic working environment displayed in those photos. While I have to admit the chairs do look quite comfortable, I'm appalled by the seemingly general absence of underarm support and secondary desk lighting.



    Now, granted I have no idea of how the actual working conditions are for these employees, however, I sincerely doubt I could manage such conditions myself anymore. I have had my share of both carpal tunnel syndrome and debilitating migraines as a result of poor working conditions, I'm sorry to say, and I suppose I merely expected more from a company with such a corporate history as Simutronics.



    However, these are just my personal observations at any rate.



    Looking forward to reading the rest of the article.









    Edit: "a" relocation.
  • NaeyaNaeya Houston, TXPosts: 1Member
    Good article.  The pictures are interesting as well.  Nice to see a more "open" office space not cut up by cubicles and such.



    Vaperware?  I think not.  In fact, I predict more information being released "soon" now that they're focused more on development of the game than that of HeroEngine.



    Glass half full for me, thanks.

    Administrator
    Hero's Hall - Your premier source for all things Hero's Journey

  • elvenangelelvenangel Orlando, FLPosts: 2,205Member
    Originally posted by Qworg

    Before having even started to read this article I just feel compelled to comment on something regarding the pictures.



    As a fellow member of the industry, I must say, I am rather shocked by the overall state of the ergonomic working environment displayed in those photos. While I have to admit the chairs do look quite comfortable, I'm appalled by the seemingly general absence of underarm support and secondary desk lighting.



    Now, granted I have no idea of how the actual working conditions are for these employees, however, I sincerely doubt I could manage such conditions myself anymore. I have had my share of both carpal tunnel syndrome and debilitating migraines as a result of poor working conditions, I'm sorry to say, and I suppose I merely expected more from a company with such a corporate history as Simutronics.



    However, these are just my personal observations at any rate.



    Looking forward to reading the rest of the article.









    Edit: "a" relocation.



    Uhh *looks at the one guy with an armrest in the picture and the poor fellow barely fits in the chair* since all the chairs look alike im guessing they all have the same armrest.  As for lighting..i dont know what it is about artist guys they like it dark which is why i had to resort to bringing my own desk lamp to where I work at.  Course I atleast have a sectioned off cozy cubicle lol.

    When this game finally sees the light of day I'll be totally excited!!!

    Please Refer to Doom Cat with all conspiracies & evil corporation complaints. He'll give you the simple explination of..WE"RE ALL DOOMED!

  • QworgQworg AalborgPosts: 23Member
    Originally posted by elvenangel

    Uhh *looks at the one guy with an armrest in the picture and the poor fellow barely fits in the chair* since all the chairs look alike im guessing they all have the same armrest.  As for lighting..i dont know what it is about artist guys they like it dark which is why i had to resort to bringing my own desk lamp to where I work at.  Course I atleast have a sectioned off cozy cubicle lol.
    Hello elvenangel



    Yes, I did in fact notice that the chairs have armrests when I first looked at the pictures, however, I also noticed that none of them are actually level with the surface of the table and so wouldn't provide the proper support of the underarm by my own estimation.



    Now, I'm not so deluded as to think that I can sit here and lecture you on ergonomics in the working environment, of course. Therefore I shall merely say how it is my firm belief, as a graphics designer of the past 7 years and ongoing, that complete support  of the lower arm is absolutely vital in order to avoid unnecessary pressure on the carpal tunnel for extended periods of time. As such I personally find that  an extension of the desk surface is the best solution.



    Oh and I wouldn't dream of doing any prolonged screen work without my architect's lamp but that may just be me.
  • ThedrizzleThedrizzle Palm Coast, FLPosts: 322Member
    Originally posted by Qworg

    Originally posted by elvenangel

    Uhh *looks at the one guy with an armrest in the picture and the poor fellow barely fits in the chair* since all the chairs look alike im guessing they all have the same armrest.  As for lighting..i dont know what it is about artist guys they like it dark which is why i had to resort to bringing my own desk lamp to where I work at.  Course I atleast have a sectioned off cozy cubicle lol.
    Hello elvenangel



    Yes, I did in fact notice that the chairs have armrests when I first looked at the pictures, however, I also noticed that none of them are actually level with the surface of the table and so wouldn't provide the proper support of the underarm by my own estimation.



    Now, I'm not so deluded as to think that I can sit here and lecture you on ergonomics in the working environment, of course. Therefore I shall merely say how it is my firm belief, as a graphics designer of the past 7 years and ongoing, that complete support  of the lower arm is absolutely vital in order to avoid unnecessary pressure on the carpal tunnel for extended periods of time. As such I personally find that  an extension of the desk surface is the best solution.



    Oh and I wouldn't dream of doing any prolonged screen work without my architect's lamp but that may just be me.I was an art director in the eccomerce industry for years and my new profession is occupational therapy and I have to agree with this gentleman.  Not that any of this matters, but yes, I will agree.
  • VeviVevi Quakertown, PAPosts: 146Member
    Wonderful article! I am really looking forward to this game.  The Wyr system is a god send for role players.

    image

  • elvenangelelvenangel Orlando, FLPosts: 2,205Member
    Originally posted by Qworg

    Originally posted by elvenangel

    Uhh *looks at the one guy with an armrest in the picture and the poor fellow barely fits in the chair* since all the chairs look alike im guessing they all have the same armrest.  As for lighting..i dont know what it is about artist guys they like it dark which is why i had to resort to bringing my own desk lamp to where I work at.  Course I atleast have a sectioned off cozy cubicle lol.
    Hello elvenangel



    Yes, I did in fact notice that the chairs have armrests when I first looked at the pictures, however, I also noticed that none of them are actually level with the surface of the table and so wouldn't provide the proper support of the underarm by my own estimation.



    Now, I'm not so deluded as to think that I can sit here and lecture you on ergonomics in the working environment, of course. Therefore I shall merely say how it is my firm belief, as a graphics designer of the past 7 years and ongoing, that complete support  of the lower arm is absolutely vital in order to avoid unnecessary pressure on the carpal tunnel for extended periods of time. As such I personally find that  an extension of the desk surface is the best solution.



    Oh and I wouldn't dream of doing any prolonged screen work without my architect's lamp but that may just be me.

     

    I know its vital I pretty much went to my boss and was like look this chair I have you provided me is causig me to burn through money for back adjustments and everything else so I got my chair.   Alot of people dont' realize they can ASK for another chair or bring one.  Some don't even honestly care.    I love having my lamp I dont know / understand how the artists here can function without proper lighting.   Infact I think one of those jackels turned one of the over head lights bulbs off near my desk so i have to complain again.

    btw this is completely off topic we should drop here since we agree i was merely stating they HAVE arm rests even if the chair isn't ergonomic and the lighting IS bad but I can bet those Guys WANTED it that way.   Game programmers / Artists are weird beasts in my experience.

    Please Refer to Doom Cat with all conspiracies & evil corporation complaints. He'll give you the simple explination of..WE"RE ALL DOOMED!

  • simu-stephsimu-steph Simutronics Dev St. Charles, MOPosts: 6Member
    Originally posted by Kane

    So the list has races has changed...again. We used to have 8 (2 subs of each of FOUR main races) then it was 6. Its still six, but it sounds like we can't have the race morphing that used to be in E3s ago. I liked the idea of a triple mixed breed. I hope they add something less human later cause I like to have more options than just the traditional D&D races.
    The list of races hasn't changed since our last reassessment.  There was a minor error in the article.  It has been corrected (along with a couple others).  Qwi are still Ilvari-Burian hybrids. 



    There will still be morphing.  The Ilvari-Burian-Human morph you saw at E3 and in some movies was just a proof of concept .  We are anticipating that each race will have three morph targets to shift between, and in the case of the Silvan (Ilvari-Human), Qwi (Burian-Ilvari), and Dranaar (Burian-Human), we are going to be morphing between their parent races to give that mixed look.



    This is still somewhat in development, though.  We'll be playing with that feature in the engine sometime at the end of this month or start of the next.  I hope to get our new AV dude working on getting some movies of just this sort of thing up...sometime. 



    Thanks to all of you with your kind words.  They are greatly appreciated here at the offices.  And man, I look half-asleep in that photo.  :P



    As far as ergonomics go -- my office is usually quite dark, with natural lighting.  We purposefully turn off all the lights in the art section because the artists request it.  The chairs are raised and lowered as per the individual's preference.  Josh S. is a low-rider.  He's also an artist.  And as we all know, artists are nuts

    S.D. Shaver
    Hero's Journey Lead Designer

  • AmatheAmathe Miami, FLPosts: 1,658Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by jgankum


     

    Originally posted by Amathe

    This is a nice feel good piece and certainly there is much to like about the concept of Heroes Journey . I find a lot of its concepts very innovative and refreshing.

    But the questions the writer apparently didn't push with Simu, and merely alluded to in the last paragraph, is the growing belief that this game will never see the marketplace. Personally, I would have started there and satisfied myself this game actually has a future before getting into the details of one that probably does not.

     

    YOU, posting this over and over again, does not make it a "growing belief". It just makes you sound like a broken record and look dumber with the release of each new bit of information.

    Jonny.



    It's not just me. And don't confuse news with fluff. By contrast, and to illustrate my point, check out the Warhammer Online monthy newsletter if you want to see what information is, and how much information there is when a game is on track and being made. That's just one example. I'm not touting that particular title.

    But seriously, why not ask some of these questions?

    Are you still on track for a 2007 release as your website says?

    When is the beta?

    What is the target date for release?

    How much of the game is complete?

    How many classs are finished?

    How many races are finished?

    What parts of the world are finished?

    And so on. I welcome being proven wrong! If this game is for real I will play it1 Show me something tangible. All we ever get are warm fuzzy what it's gonna be stuff, or things they did years ago. So there are lots of hairstyles? We knew that over a year ago. What has actually been done that is new in the last year?

     

    EQ1, EQ2, SWG, SWTOR, GW, GW2 CoH, CoV, FFXI, WoW, CO, War,TSW and a slew of free trials and beta tests

  • calmyroncalmyron Dallas, TXPosts: 46Member
    Originally posted by simu-steph

    As far as ergonomics go -- my office is usually quite dark, with natural lighting.  We purposefully turn off all the lights in the art section because the artists request it.

    As an artist, I can explain why this is.

    When doing sketches and the like on paper, we generally like more light. However, when using the computer, heavy lighting, especially overhead florescent lighting, causes terrible glare issues and causes a lot of eye fatigue and headaches. Low and indirect lighting is much better for long term work on computers. Even eye doctors have recimmended it to my fellow artists to help stop the headaches.

    The reason for this is the nature of the environment. The screen generates color by producing light. The brighter the color, the more light needed. Since the light is already being sent directky to your eye, you don't need another direct light source. If you are reading a piece of paper or drawing on it, you need the reflection of light to see what's on the paper. The screen is already producing all the light you need for it, so now you just need a small indirect lamp to see the keyboard and anything else on your desk.

    I hope this clears up this issue for you. As an electronic production consultant for over 15 years, I've had to explain this very situation over and over again, so I'm quite familiar with it. It seems to contadict what we've been told by our parents growing up, but computers, and more importantly the screens, work differently. Once that's acknowledged, it makes perfect sense.

    As foe HJ, I've been following it's progress for some time. I loved the article and share the same frustration about the lack of additional info, but that's just because of I can't get enough. Once the game is out, I'll be a very happy camper.

  • AnofalyeAnofalye Quebec, QCPosts: 7,433Member

    In the MMO industry, for every good apple there are 10 rotten.  HJ and BioWare MMO's are mostly consisting of good apples!  That is incredible. 

     

    To say I am hyped, that I am a fanboi or such comment would be underrated.  I am not blind, and I would fire at will at the first sign of betrayal from any devs.  But, they just seem to understand what they have to, and to work on strong basics.

     

    I doubt I would be subscribing to two MMOs at once ever, but, I could afford to.  I definitely plan on trying HJ, even if they are definitely not on my top expectations, they are on the "to try list".  They have everything to keep me addicted to their game, only time will tell if they will.

    - "If I understand you well, you are telling me until next time. " - Ren

  • IsaneIsane EnglandPosts: 2,629Member Uncommon

    Nice article and nice to see the guys at Simultronics getting the MMO part of this project back on line. It amuses me that posters such as Amathe seem to have such a negative approach and it is my hope that Simultronics will stick to their guns and develop as they see fit.

    What is interesting is I believe that the concept of Beta will not be the norm as it will be mainly stress testing, I believe the content will be at a pretty polished level as well as the game mechanics. If they just get 70% of the complexity contained within there MUD offerings into the charachter dev code and the environment this game will be exceptional. A real challenge in a real 3D environment.

    The sale of the Hero Engine to other Developers will almost certainly ensure that this game will go live due the MMO elements of this being developed no by multiple sources.

    Can't wait...

     

    Originally posted by jgankum


     

    Originally posted by Amathe

    This is a nice feel good piece and certainly there is much to like about the concept of Heroes Journey . I find a lot of its concepts very innovative and refreshing.

    But the questions the writer apparently didn't push with Simu, and merely alluded to in the last paragraph, is the growing belief that this game will never see the marketplace. Personally, I would have started there and satisfied myself this game actually has a future before getting into the details of one that probably does not.

     

    YOU, posting this over and over again, does not make it a "growing belief". It just makes you sound like a broken record and look dumber with the release of each new bit of information.

    Jonny.

    Well put I guess Amathe has to keep the boards rolling shame that he/she/it will be considered a laughing stock if he/she/it continues to add no apparent value to these orums...

     

    ________________________________________________________
    Sorcery must persist, the future is the Citadel 

  • _Shadowmage_Shadowmage MelbournePosts: 1,459Member


    Originally posted by Amathe
    But the questions the writer apparently didn't push with Simu, and merely alluded to in the last paragraph, is the growing belief that this game will never see the marketplace. Personally, I would have started there and satisfied myself this game actually has a future before getting into the details of one that probably does not.

    You and one other person thinking its vapourware - dont make a growing belief. Peddle your conspiracy theories somewhere else.

    If you are so desperate to protect people from themselves - cant you join the CIA?

    So they are slow to update their website - big deal. If this game comes out in 2008 or 2009 I will be happy and play it then. Until then - I dont loose sleep over it.

    Warhammer is close to release so yes they are peddling the marketing.

  • jgankumjgankum Alexandria, VAPosts: 153Member


    Originally posted by Amathe
    Originally posted by jgankum

    Originally posted by Amathe
    This is a nice feel good piece and certainly there is much to like about the concept of Heroes Journey . I find a lot of its concepts very innovative and refreshing.
    But the questions the writer apparently didn't push with Simu, and merely alluded to in the last paragraph, is the growing belief that this game will never see the marketplace. Personally, I would have started there and satisfied myself this game actually has a future before getting into the details of one that probably does not.

    YOU, posting this over and over again, does not make it a "growing belief". It just makes you sound like a broken record and look dumber with the release of each new bit of information.
    Jonny.

    It's not just me. And don't confuse news with fluff. By contrast, and to illustrate my point, check out the Warhammer Online monthy newsletter if you want to see what information is, and how much information there is when a game is on track and being made. That's just one example. I'm not touting that particular title.
    But seriously, why not ask some of these questions?
    Are you still on track for a 2007 release as your website says?
    When is the beta?
    What is the target date for release?
    How much of the game is complete?
    How many classs are finished?
    How many races are finished?
    What parts of the world are finished?
    And so on. I welcome being proven wrong! If this game is for real I will play it1 Show me something tangible. All we ever get are warm fuzzy what it's gonna be stuff, or things they did years ago. So there are lots of hairstyles? We knew that over a year ago. What has actually been done that is new in the last year?


    I think you might be confusing marketing with product development. Phosphoros got it right in his post. Their marketing stinks. As for the questions listed, they probably were asked. It just doesn't make for much of a story to write, "Were not ready to release that information", over and over.

  • Agent_X7Agent_X7 Staff Writer Endicott, NYPosts: 515Member
    Originally posted by jgankum


     

    Originally posted by Amathe

    This is a nice feel good piece and certainly there is much to like about the concept of Heroes Journey . I find a lot of its concepts very innovative and refreshing.

    But the questions the writer apparently didn't push with Simu, and merely alluded to in the last paragraph, is the growing belief that this game will never see the marketplace. Personally, I would have started there and satisfied myself this game actually has a future before getting into the details of one that probably does not.

     

    YOU, posting this over and over again, does not make it a "growing belief". It just makes you sound like a broken record and look dumber with the release of each new bit of information.

    Jonny.

    QFT.

    Bzzt. Game never coming out. Prove me wrong.

    Bzzt. Game never coming out. Prove me wrong.

    Bzzt. Game never coming out. Prove me wrong.

    Bzzt. Game never coming out. Prove me wrong.

    Makes me want to oil him or get him a new battery or something.

    Agent_X7 AKA J Star
    [/URL]image
    Notice: The views expressed in this post are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of MMORPG.com or its management.

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