Why did we develop the second edition of Heroes? How did we do it? What was lacking with the first version?
In this article, we will discuss:
- The first version of Heroes, what inspired it, how it was developed, and how it turned out
- The second edition, why and how it was created, and what new features it ended up with
- What to expect from Heroes in the future
Let’s get started!
Let’s Begin With the First Version of Heroes!
Why was it created?
As we have discussed in other blogs, Sam Neves was the creator of Heroes. He is the current associate director of communications for the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.
Three things inspired him to create the game, stated as follows:
1) The ever-growing industry of gaming
There is no doubt that the gaming industry is a big market. And it continues to grow as gamers all around the globe increase.
In fact, video games have been a “billion-dollar business…for many years,” according to Statista, an online statistics portal.
Because of this, Sam saw a great opportunity to “talk about the greatest Hero of all time.” He wanted to communicate it in “the language that gamers would engage with and understand.”
Also, he knew he had to create a game “because everybody was playing games.”
2) Christ’s gospel commission for the world
As Mark 16:15 (ESV) says, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.”
This gospel commission was given by Jesus to His disciples before He ascended back to heaven from earth. And as their descendants, we have a share in this divine responsibility.
As written in 1 Corinthians 9:22-23 (ESV), “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.”
Because of this, Sam realized that “the gospel needed to be in a game” to connect people with the Bible.
3) The concept of identity by Steve Jobs
Would you believe that Steve Jobs was one of Sam’s inspirations, too? Would you like to know why?
Returning to Apple after having been kicked out, Steve described the company as one “without identity. We are 2,000 employees making computers without knowing why we are making computers.”
Such a harsh truth, right?
Upon hearing that statement, Sam realized that the Adventist Church also “failed to pass on a clear identity to new generations.”
But after creating a successful campaign, Steve affirmed that “instilling identity is easy. You just have to remind people of who their heroes are.”
It had such a strong impact on Sam enough to realize that he had a big responsibility. That is, to “remind this generation of who the real heroes are.”
The first few people who started it
Would you believe only 4 people and 1 organization initially worked for Heroes?
They were the following:
- Sam Neves – creator of the game
- Arnaldo Oliveira – project manager to oversee the game development, marketing, and all other operations
- Julio Flores – main developer responsible for coding the visual elements and programming the features of the game
- Jader Feijo – solutions architect in charge of figuring out which technologies can make the game work and bring it to life
- F4D Media – a team of artists working on the graphics and animation of the game
How did they work together?
The team gathered in London to begin formulating trivia questions. Though it wasn’t easy juggling their time between Heroes and their respective jobs, they nailed it.
Alongside, Sam drew what the characters, features, and screen should look like in the game. Then, he collaborated with the graphic designer and artists to design and animate them.
After that, he worked with Julio and Jader on playability. Aside from having stunning graphics, animation, and effects, the game also had to be fun and easy to play.
But it wasn’t easy. “You imagine it [was] going to be fun” and “you [would] try to prototype it. But until you [could] see it, you [wouldn’t] know…,” Sam admitted.
Testing the game for the first time, he got bored playing.
So, the team had to revise everything and test the improvement, revise again, and test. And the cycle repeated until the game was enjoyable enough to play.
What was the result?
With the help of more people from other countries, the team released the first version of Heroes in 2013. It was called Heroes: The Game.
It was “a great success,” Sam confirmed.
“It had more than 10 million minutes played across the globe in eight different languages.” Significantly, it became “a pioneer game that opened the doors to many other Adventist games.”
Arnaldo found it “rewarding to see a project being born that was very relevant at the time,” He called it a “miracle” seeing its success despite the difficulty of gathering volunteers from different places.
Given this success, why was there a need to create the second edition in the first place? That’s what we’re going to tackle next.
Moving on to the Second Edition
What pushed the team to create this?
1) The first version was missing a very important element.
Seeing the success of the first version, Sam asked Marketing Director Jefferson Nascimento what he thought about the game.
Jefferson replied, “I like it! It’s unique. It’s the first one…It’s amazing that you [came] up with this project. But I have some [suggestions] if you don’t mind.”
While the characters, comic-style gameplay, and questions were amazing, it was missing an element of storytelling. In other words, the sense of journey or adventure that would excite the player.
Trying it himself, he confessed, “I could answer [the questions]. But after 6 seconds, if [I weren’t] good enough, I [couldn’t] play. I [wasn’t] engaged…”
So, what features did they include in the second edition? Just keep reading to find out.
2) A Google search survey inspired the team with a brilliant idea.
Three years after the first release, various Adventist ministries commissioned a study. They looked for the most-searched-for terms on Google related to the Bible.
They found over 250,000 worldwide searches for the terms Bible trivia, Bible game, and Bible quiz every 30 days.
As such, Sam concluded that “of all the game genres, people [have been] searching for Bible trivia [the most].”
Consequently, the team envisioned bringing Heroes to the next level. In fact, they dreamed that the second edition would be the “best Bible trivia game ever.”
They wanted to “help every player further understand the Bible [and] find freedom, healing, and hope in Jesus,” Sam said.
Expanding the workforce
The team grew into hundreds of volunteers coming from different countries, leading to this organizational structure:
- Art Department – artists, designers, animators, modelers, musicians, and others responsible for bringing life to the characters, effects, and the like
- Engineering Department – developers, coders, architects, engineers, and other people working on the technical aspect
- Marketing Department – writers, translators, ambassadors, and others marketing the game with news channels, social media sites, radio stations, and so on
- Evangelism Department – team working on the Bible study course, prayer support, and other evangelistic features of the game
Improving the game
On the art side
The work for the second edition began by redesigning the Bible characters.
From 2-dimensional drawings, the artists added depth to the characters’ physiques to make them look more realistic. More muscular body build. More colorful dresses.
Also, they transformed the comic-style graphics into a quiz type with elegant, colorful templates.
Alongside, the team worked on recording the sound effects and anthem music of the game.
For this, they collaborated with the FILMharmonic Orchestra through the leadership of Williams Costa, Jr., Clayton Nunes, and Peter Pycha.
If you’ve tried playing the game, you could attest to how uplifting the theme song and engaging the sound effects were.
In the engineering aspect
Based on the recommended improvements, the developers modified the code several times until the game was playable enough.
For this, they used C++ as the language software and Unreal Engine as the game engine.
Everything in the game—how the characters move, how the features behave, and so on—had a corresponding code to write.
Can you imagine how detailed and meticulous the developers’ work was and how much patience was required?
To market the game, the team had people working on the following:
- Producing various content for the website
- Translating it to different languages to cater bigger audience
- Promoting the game through social media
- Connecting with news channels, social media influencers, radio stations, and others
To promote Bible study, worship, and prayer, the team added the following features:
- Hope Channel – official television and radio network of the Adventist world church offering programs on Christian living, faith, health, relationships, and community
- The Big Questions – free course giving answers to the most frequently asked questions about the Bible and the stories of its heroes
- Prayer support – team of volunteers ready to offer prayer anytime via Messenger chat
After performing a beta test, the Seventh-day Adventist Church published the second edition of Heroes on March 25, 2021.
It was made possible in partnership with Hope Channel and the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.
Available both in the Apple App Store and Google Play Store. Free of charge!
What was new in this second edition?
1) 3D animation with sound effects
From a 2-dimensional comic style, the second edition had 3-dimensional graphics and animation.
You could now see depth in the characters’ bodies and all objects in the game as if they were real.
And as we discussed earlier, this version also had orchestra-played music and sound effects.
No violent sounds. Just a classical, biblical feel conducive for focus and concentration.
2) Experience points and manna
Heroes incorporated experience points (XPs) that measure your gaming experience and progression. It’s much like the points you get when playing role-playing games.
Now, what about manna?
In paid games, you spend money to buy effects to upgrade your game.
The second edition of Heroes also made its own. But instead of coins, we had it in the form of manna since the game is free of charge.
Manna? What was it?
It was the daily food provided by God for the Israelites in Moses’ time. They needed to take as much as they needed for the entire day.
So, how do experience points and manna work?
Well, the more correct answers you make, the more points and manna you earn. You use these to buy effects and unlock more heroes to play.
3) Power effects
a. Abraham effect
In Genesis 15:9-10 (NIV), God asked Abram to offer a goat, ram, dove, and pigeon. He brought these to Him, cutting them in two, and arranging them opposite each other.
In the game, the Abraham effect eliminates 2 of 4 options in a question to help you determine the correct answer.
b. Daniel effect
In the Bible, Daniel interpreted King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream and writings on the wall of the royal court. The interpretations were revealed to him by God through prayer.
Similarly, the Daniel effect reveals the Bible verse where the correct answer to the question is found.
c. Elijah effect
Before Elijah went to heaven, he gave Elisha, his successor, a double portion of his spirit (2 Kings 2:9, NIV).
Likewise, the Elijah effect in the second edition doubles your XP to boost your game.
d. Friday effect
As we mentioned earlier, God provided manna as the Israelites’ daily bread (Exodus 16, NIV).
They were to gather as much as they needed every day. But on Friday, they had to gather twice as much because there would be nothing provided on the Sabbath.
As such, the Friday effect doubles your manna every time you get a correct answer in the game.
e. Jonah effect
God wanted Jonah to go to Nineveh to preach. But the prophet ran away to Tarshish (Jonah 1, NIV).
Incorporating it into the second edition, the Jonah effect skips a question for you if you find it too difficult.
f. Joshua effect
In Joshua 10:12 (NIV), Joshua asked God to freeze the sun and moon.
In the same way, the Joshua effect freezes your time for 5 seconds, allowing you to think further before answering.
g. Jesus effect
Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, as mentioned in John 14:6 (NIV).
Hence, the Jesus effect removes your errors and shows you the correct answer.
h. Lazarus effect
On Lazarus’ death, Jesus told Mary Magdalene and Martha that He was giving them a chance to have faith in Him.
So, the Lazarus effect in the second edition gives you a second chance if your answer is wrong.
i. Revelation effect
One of the important time elements in prophecy is the three-and-a-half symbol. The book of Revelation mentions it in days, months, and years.
Speaking of the half, the Revelation effect halves your match time if you answer all 12 questions correctly.
4) Multiplayer mode
Unlike the first version, the second edition had this multiplayer mode so you can play the game with other people.
You can challenge your family, friends, and even your pastors in a tournament or competition. Exciting, isn’t it?
5) Hope Channel
This feature of the second edition connects you with Hope Channel, the global television and radio network of the Seventh-day Adventists.
As discussed earlier, it offers programs on Christian living, focusing on faith, health, relationships, and community.
6) The Big Questions
As you’ve learned earlier, this is a free course that provides answers to the most commonly asked questions about the Bible.
The Bible heroes themselves are your tour guides. They share bits of their life stories in some of the modules.
Go and check them out!
7) Prayer support
As part of the evangelistic aim of the second edition, Heroes added this prayer feature.
It leads you to a Messenger chat with our prayer warriors ready and willing to pray for you 24/7.
1) More languages
Currently, Heroes is translated into the following languages:
But as we’re continually improving the game, expect more languages to come soon, one of which is Ukrainian!
2) Hero mode
This mode will challenge you even more as you answer the 12 questions per hero in the game. How? It will limit your time to only 30 seconds per question.
If you won’t make it, the session will close so you need to try again.
It’s a gameplay for real heroes. Can you master it?
Also, we will bring new questions, effects, and ranking formats. Isn’t it exciting?
Would you like to be the first one to try this new feature? Join our Discord server and be a beta tester!
We’d Love to Hear Your Thoughts!
How did you find the improvement from the first to the second edition of Heroes? What lessons have you learned from it?
Let us hear from you in the Comments section below!