Pixelmage Games Cancels Hero’s Song Kickstarter

Hero's Song Kickstarter Cancelled

As of this very moment, 39 minutes ago the Kickstarter for Hero’s Song was cancelled. Hero’s Song is Smed’s new game from his new company called Pixelmage Games.

Hero’s Song – A Good Idea?

I was already planning to write something on the game today. A few of you have asked me for my comments/thoughts/etc., and I guess now is the perfect time to weigh in. In general, Hero’s Song looks fun. The “2D” isometric RPG is, in my opinion, the best was to present a sandbox. The most memorable sandbox (or psuedo-sandbox) games, for me, have always been that quasi-2D isometric view: Ultima Online, Harvest Moon, Terraria, etc. Combine that with RPGs and you have games like Baldur’s Gate, Diablo, Divinity, etc. Good things come in 2D isometrics.

The ideas behind Hero’s Song servers being hosted independently sounded appealing. Is it a MMORPG? No, not by a long shot. Does it have to be? Probably better for them that it’s not. The idea of having the world change so much based on diety choices and story also sounds good. Hero’s Song sounds good to me overall.

I think a lot is still left unsaid. The type of things I want to see in Hero’s Song are farming, owning land, deep character development, and permanence. I’m not sure if those things would have, or could have, ever made it into Hero’s Song given they seem to be drifting dangerously close to a forgettable rogue-like action RPG instead of a deeper sandbox experience.

Bottom line, there is potential. I’m their target market. This is the type of game that I like to buy and play. I want to see Hero’s Song made, and I want to play it. I like the blunt “no f2P” mantra, too.

Kickstarter Mistakes

I’m no fan of Kickstarter for games. I think Kickstarter had its moment in the spotlight and their flame is since flickered out. Running a successful Kickstarer campaign takes hype and planning, and a lot of luck. A failed Kickstarter will hurt your game way more than it could have possibly helped if it succeeded. Hero’s Song Kickstarter has failed, and was destined to fail.

Coming right out of the gate with an $800,000 goal was ridiculous, and a strategic error. They should have had a goal around $200k, especially if they would have funded the game anyway. A success builds hype, and from there they could have launched campaign #2 or other forms of crowd-sourcing — though I’ll say again I am no fan of such methods.

If Hero’s Song survives, and it still may, they better take a serious look at how to market their game properly. Slapping the names and pictures of streamers on your website, immediately launching into a huge Kickstarter for a pixel art game, and failing to communicate the proper details to excite the right people are all amateur mistakes for a supposed veteran team. Here’s hoping they learn from it, and make the game I want to play.

Smedley Flip Flops on the F2P Model

So here’s a fascinating turn of events. Remember when Smed (John Smedley) was all about the F2P? The “our games will be free forever!!” mantra that was being preached from every channel. Check out the article he wrote on GamesIndustry.biz back in 2011. I particularly like the section headlined, “The Future is Free to Play.”

People can change their minds. I do it often. Apparently John has changed his mind. See the tweets below.

You don’t say? I’m not trying to be an overly snarky ass here. I completely agree with all of his tweets. Check out all of them @j_smedley. I’m cautious, though. This is all a little bit much to take in when you look at the 180 he’s taking.

I hope that more people grow tired of the “development” process being all about how to monetize every line of code. I’m ready to stop feeling like I am being manipulated into spending money, or feeling like everything I do has been calculated to maximize revenue per player. Smed is tired of people questioning whether or not something was done to make money or to make a better game:

Well guess what? I’m tired of having to do the questioning. I’m tired of having to listen to corporate shills tell me why playing for free forever is so amazing for me. I’ll be waiting to see what Smed churns out, and for $20 I just might give it a try.

First Look at John Smedley’s New Game

We all knew Smed would be starting something new after parting ways with Daybreak/SOE. So what has he been working on? Thanks to a Periscope video, Smedley accidentally showed something they werent ready to share right on Bill Trost’s screen!

bill-trost-smedley-wallpaper

Ah ha! There it is! An isometric 2D RPG that looks remarkably like… oh wait, that’s Kakariko Village from A Link to the Past.

kakariko-village

So really we’re not much closer to knowing what Smed and team are up to other than a few tidbits of generic fantasy in the form of wood elves, dwarves, and human concept art shown via Twitter. Personally, I hope it’s not an MMO… or the spiritual successor to SWG with zombies and battle royale. I’m not bitter. Not at all.

Any guesses on what this small team of industry vets is working on?

Smedley is Gone

Okay, who had 170 days? Pay the man.

Smedley fired from Daybreak

I choose to remember him like this.

I was thinking Smedley would last at least 6 months at Daybreak after SOE was acquired, but it turns out he lasted just shy of that coming in around 5 months and 20 some odd days. This was coming folks, and whether it was inevitable due to the acquisition might remain a mystery, but look at what happened over the last few weeks.

Smedley’s near-tirades on social media telling hackers “I’m coming for you” and taking his very visible role as President of a company and turning it into a spectacle… I would be questioning his leadership role too. Around the time his social media accounts disappeared is likely the time he got a visit from someone no longer willing to sign his checks.  The whole “staying on in another role” is a nice way of saying he’s gone for good but if you liked him you can pretend there’s hope for a few more weeks.

I want to start into this next paragraph by speculating if this could be good for Daybreak, but I’m not sure if such a spin could even be possible.  Let’s pretend. Let me start over.

This might actually be good for Daybreak. I do not have insights into how much of the F2P movement was due to Smedley’s leadership, but he certainly made it public knowledge how into the whole F2P model he has been and how their game is “F2P forever” or whatever inane slogan they’ve been pitching to the masses. Despite his reputation for those (more than a few) horrible mistakes, Smed did a lot of good for online games. His recent leadership, however, leaves much to be desired from a player’s perspective. I hope whoever steps in steers the ship back to common sense.

This might also mean we get some decent games. (Again I’m running with this whole delusions of grandeur thing; Get onboard will you?) Maybe we will see Daybreak stop focusing on their awful me-too product (H1Z1) and focus more on making EverQuest the game it needs to be in order to give Daybreak any sort of future in this industry.

Smed is out. Long live Smed.

Smedley: Daybreak is Focusing on Shorter Session Times

Daybreak Games Company Logo

In a recent interview discussing mostly ‘company vision’ stuff, John Smedley made the following statement: “I firmly believe the days of the WoW-style MMO are over.” He went on to discuss how he believes the days of long arduous raids in World of Warcraft are over, and people now prefer shorter play sessions. That statement caused a bit of an uproar, and gave Smed cause to post the following on the EQ2 subreddit. I’m going to paste bits of it below.

I’ve read some of the threads about my comments in that interview. I wanted to clarify what I was talking about. I was asked in the interview about what things we’re doing differently for our new games going forward and that’s when I said we’re focused on shorter session times because not many people have the time anymore to spend on a 4 hour raid. [… insert minor back-pedaling and we will still support EQ/EQ2/EQNext raiding] […]

However, when we’re choosing what new games to make we’re focused on games with shorter average session lengths. Why? Because that’s the way the gaming world has evolved and we need to adapt. That’s precisely why we aimed so high on Everquest Next. We know we needed to change our aim on these games. We can’t just expect our users to want to grind through an epic 8 hour raid encounter or treat these games like it’s a second job. We need to make sure our games are just as fun in smaller time increments. […]

Well John… AMEN.

I completely agree that play sessions should be capable of being shorter, and MMOs should be designed in such a way that we do not have to wait for the fun to begin. HOWEVER, there is a caveat: Those shorter sessions must still have the same depth, investment, and experience of the longer play sessions. That’s a challenge for MMOs, and that would be a huge step forward in their design. Single-player and console games do this quite well. Why? Because you can just hit save and pick up right where you left off — often right in the middle of something epic.

My average play time now on a week day is roughly in the 1.5-2hr range. That’s much shorter than my 5-8 hour range, which was shorter than my 10-15 hour range. My time to play games has shrunk, but my desire to enjoy them the same way hasn’t. I don’t want to go on an 8 hour raid or even a 4 hour raid, but I want the same kinds of experiences of killing big monsters and getting loot. Etc.

If Daybreak wants to be the company to try and let me have my cake and eat it too, then I’ll happily cheer them on.