You’ve probably been playing Heroes: The Bible Trivia Game. But have you met the people who spearheaded the game development?
In this blog, you will:
- Discover the things that inspired the creation of Heroes
- Meet the “heroes” behind the game development
- Get a glimpse of how they worked together
- Learn important lessons from them and their experiences
Let’s dive right in!
3 Things That Inspired the Creation of Heroes
Sam Neves, General Conference Associate Director of Communications, was the creator of Heroes.
These were the things that inspired him to create the game:
1) Steve Jobs’s concept of identity
When Steve returned to Apple after having been kicked out, he described it as a company “without identity. We are 2,000 employees making computers without knowing why we are making computers.”
Sam thought that Steve was describing the Adventist Church. He realized that the church also ”failed to pass on a clear identity to new generations.”
But then, Steve began a campaign that successfully transformed Apple from within. With this, he affirmed that “instilling identity is easy. You just have to remind people of who their heroes are.”
This affirmed that Sam’s work was cut out for him. He needed to “remind this generation of who the real heroes are.”
These are not the “child-like, sanitized stories” presented in Sabbath School. Instead, these are the “raw biblical stories” with their “rich and powerful details,” Sam concluded in the Adventist Review.
2) The Gospel Commission
Sam was inspired by God’s commission for us in Mark 16:15 (ESV). The verse says, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.”
The Apostle Paul echoed it in 1 Corinthians 9:22-23 (ESV). He said, “I have become all things to all people that by all means, I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel that I may share with them in its blessings.”
“The whole creation” and “all people” refer to all of us. And this quantity ”includes gamers,” Sam pointed out.
3) Prevalence of the gaming industry
Video games have been “a billion-dollar business…for many years,” as claimed by Statista, an online statistics portal.
Sam saw this as a great opportunity “to talk about the greatest Hero of all time.” It would be ”in the language that gamers would engage with and understand.”
He added, “We knew that we had to create a game because everybody was playing games. And the gospel needed to be in a game…connecting people with the Bible.”
The “Heroes” Behind the Game Development
1) Sam Neves
We have just learned that Sam was the creator of Heroes: The Bible Trivia Game. Now, let’s get to know him personally.
Born in Brazil, he grew up exposed to church ministry. It inspired him to take Theology/Theological Studies both as his bachelor’s and master’s degrees.
After which, he pastored the Stanborough Park Church from 2005 to 2016.
Then, he moved to the General Conference to work as its associate director of communications. He has been overseeing its branding and marketing efforts.
2) Arnaldo Oliveira
His personal and professional background
Arnaldo is a Brazilian entrepreneur, project management contractor, admin consultant, and financial manager.
From 2012 to 2019, he worked as a financial assistant, finance manager, and project planner for companies like MovinPixel Limited.
He has also been an admin and bookkeeping consultant for SoftMagic Limited from 2018 until the present.
From 2018 to the present, he has been a project manager for the Communication Department of the General Conference.
And from 2019 to the present, he has been managing the Center for Online Evangelism of the same institution.
His role for Heroes
Arnaldo was the first project manager for Heroes before Jefferson Nascimento took over his position in 2020. With this, Arnaldo had to oversee the game development operations and progress.
He would supervise the people working and coordinate with them regularly. He would check and approve the copies, graphics, videos, and so on.
He would even assist in formulating questions and translating them to different languages.
Above this, he made sure everything was done within the allotted time and budget. Also part of his job was to lead the team in resolving conflicts and challenges along the way.
3) Julio Flores and Jader Feijo
Their professional background
Living in Denmark, Julio is a software engineer with work experience in the computer software industry.
Meanwhile, Jader is a Brazilian residing in London.
He started programming at the age of 12. With this, he was able to develop a financial management software for his father’s company using Visual Basic.
He has also learned and gained experience in more than 14 programming languages and platforms.
He specialized in Apple platforms to develop iOS and Mac apps using Objective-C and the Cocoa framework.
Since 2005, he has worked with companies such as Clicbusiness Software S.A., MovinPixel Limited, and Mobile and Connected Experiences.
Their contribution for Heroes
Julio has been the main developer, responsible for coding the visual elements and programming the features of the game.
But his work would not be complete without Jader’s function—solutions architecture.
Jader oversees the entire technology of the game development. Specifically, he figures out which technologies should be used to make the game work and bring it to life.
4) F4D Media
F4D Media is a London-based digital design studio specializing in creative projects.
With a team of talented artists, designers, and programmers, it has worked for international clients through the years.
Heroes is one of these clients. The graphics and animation that you see in the game were initially designed by F4D.
A Glimpse of the Game Development Journey
Developing the first version of Heroes
As we’ve learned from its creator a while ago, Heroes was created because “everybody was playing games.” Also, the “gospel needed to be in a game” to connect people with the Bible.
With this, the team “wanted to do something heroic,” Sam noted.
To make it happen, the project needed a developer, a manager, an artist, and a lot more brains. “In fact, it’s so complicated to make a game,” Sam admitted. “Lots of people needed to be inspired to give the best work of their lives to the first heroes.”
The first members of the team gathered in London to formulate the trivia questions for the game. Given their small number, it wasn’t easy for them to juggle their time between Heroes and their personal jobs.
For instance, Project Manager Arnaldo was studying for his master’s degree at the time. Yet, he needed to manage the team, making sure everything was done efficiently on time. He even had to help conceptualize and finalize the questions.
But with the help of more people from other countries, the first game came out successfully. “It was an incredible exercise,” Sam said.
For the record, it was played in about “10 million minutes of interaction with the biblical narrative” in 2013.
Arnaldo found it “rewarding to see a project being born that was very relevant at the time.” He loved how passionate and dedicated their team members were to push through the game.
He even called this game development experience a ”miracle” given the difficulty of gathering people from different places. More so, it was a project that hadn’t been done before but they were able to materialize it.
Developing the second version of Heroes
Inspired by the first version of Heroes
Heroes: the Game was a great success. As a pioneer game, it opened the doors for many other Adventist games to emerge.
But something inspired the team in 2017.
Research showed more than 250,000 worldwide Google searches for Bible trivia, Bible games, and Bible quizzes every 30 days. Among these key terms, “Bible trivia” had the highest search demand.
This compelled the team to come up with a better version of Heroes: the Game. But not just a better version. Sam envisioned it to be the best Bible trivia game ever.
Assembling the team to start all over again
The team began working for Heroes 2. It was like “one of those Avengers moments” where “the team assembles again together,” Sam imagined.
With this, he wanted the team to do it all over again. But, knowing that they weren’t paid for this project, he was a bit hesitant to call Arnaldo again. Yet, to his surprise, Arnaldo was like, “Let’s do it!”
Sam also called Jader and the F4D Media, who both agreed to do it.
The team also needed a full-time developer. However, knowing that Julio was already making apps for Disney, how could Sam convince him “to make games for God?”
Surprisingly, like Arnaldo and the rest of the team who’ve been with him from the beginning, Julio signed up too. “That’s exactly what I’m gonna do,” he said with excitement.
Sam couldn’t help but commend these people. They put God first and their careers second all for the success of this game development.
Expanding the team
From a small group of 4, the development team of Heroes grew into hundreds. These hundred people were to create, write, translate, code, animate, test, publish, and so on.
Despite the lack of project management tools at first, they were able to push through this game development project. Sam commended Arnaldo for such good and efficient leadership and management.
This growth of the team led to this structure:
1) Art Department
As the name implies, this department provided a strong art direction for the entire project.
The team had a 3D modeler who took about 2 weeks to design each of the 12 Bible characters.
Another artist would rig the characters, giving them bones, muscles, and shape to create movements.
Still, another artist had to make the characters breathe and bring them to life.
And there was a lot more work to do such as creating the screens and buttons.
As we have learned earlier, the F4D Media made a very significant contribution to all of this.
Can you imagine how much time and energy were spent to make it all possible?
2) Engineering Department
This division took the art to make it work.
Specifically, the developer had to look at the codes necessary to run the game. He would also figure out how to position the data.
Other members of the team were in charge of creating and adding music, sounds, screens, and others.
With this, 3D animation and multiplayer mode, among other significant improvements of the game, were made possible.
But, apart from coding and designing, this department also had to liaise with lawyers. They had to secure and properly place data and permission.
Such a lot of technical work for this game development!
3) Marketing Department
After doing the engineering work, the game had to be positioned in the market and promoted accordingly. This was the role of the Marketing Department.
It involved contacting almost 5,000 news channels, social media platforms, radio stations, and so on.
One of the things the team was very thankful for was the opportunity to partner with Hope Channel. This official television network of the Seventh-day Adventist Church became the game’s publisher.
In cooperation with the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, Hope Channel published Heroes 2 on March 25, 2021.
4) Evangelism Department
“Every game we make has a very simple reason,” Sam noted. That is “to inspire people to die to themselves and give their lives to Jesus.”
As such, the making of our Bible trivia game didn’t end with marketing. There was also a need for evangelism.
Through the help of Hope Channel, Heroes launched a Bible study feature called The Big Questions. Here, you can find the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about the Bible.
This partnership also provided the game with a prayer portal. It directs you to a Messenger chat with our prayer team available 24/7 to pray for your concerns.
What Can We Learn From This Game Development Journey?
1) Mediocrity destroys the team.
Sam learned from Steve Jobs that “you can never add a B player to an A team.” The A players are amazing at what they do while B players are mediocre.
It implies the importance of having a team member ready to meet and comply with the high standard you’re setting.
Or else, “it’s better for you not to have somebody than to have someone as a B player.” It’s because when you have a B player in the team, “everybody loses motivation.”
2) “Just do it” and God will do the rest.
The famous footwear brand Nike says, “Just do it!”
Reflecting on it, Sam advised us to “put in the time. God will multiply it. And then the project will flourish.” By doing our best, God will take care of everything in His power.
Also, “we can make a whole revolution in innovation if only we take seriously the idea that God gives us.”
3) Find people who are willing to listen.
“Start talking to everybody [who] is willing to listen,” Sam would like to challenge us. By doing so, “God will lead you to people [who] will say, ‘I love it.’”
However, in this process, there are people who will put you down. Instead of encouraging and giving you tips to improve, they love pointing out why things won’t work anyway.
Sam advised avoiding those people when the concept of your project is still raw. They are like “thorns that kill the seed.”
Instead, go near those who will give your idea some ”life and ground.” Eventually, “God will gravitate some people toward you [who] are just gonna help…and inspire you.”
When you meet these people, “honor them and try your best to inspire them” as well. “Work…and dream with them because they will give you the best work of their lives for something that matters.”
In other words, “Don’t give up on the idea. Get rid of those [who] are trying to kill it.” Just “focus on those [who] are willing to do something with it,” Sam concluded.
Share Your Thoughts!
Did you enjoy this blog?
What have you learned from the people behind the creation of Heroes and their experiences during the game development?
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