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.

  • 200,000 would allow 4 people to work on the game for one year on a low salary with no money left over for licenses, outsourced material, or tools. At that point probably better to not even do a Kickstarter

  • No. Just no. Smed is not going to sell himself for $50k a year. And Patrick Rothfuss (probably the worlds greatest fantasy author stil living – go read The Name of the Wind – is not free. Hell, he’s probably $200k and Smeds another $200k. I think the original ask was too low really.

    But 2D? What the hell? I mean why not make a MUD? Mechanics mean a lot, but a rotary dial phone would probably still let you call people but…our expectations have changed.

    2D was the death of this. Rothfuss is a genius and has legions of fans. Can’t really believe Smed pulled him off. $800k would have failed though. Would have allowed them to hire 2 low paid programmers. Should have thought much bigger.

  • @Sanz: Wow, so much wrong with this post.

    1st: A lot of recent kick start success games have been isometric games: Pillars of Eternity, Shadowrun Returns, Grim Dawn etc. are all considered the same type of art style.

    2nd: Who is Patrick Rothfuss? I have been reading Fantasy for two decades and never heard of the guy, I doubt he would be that expensive. I can think of 3 people of the top of my head (Terry Goodkind, Terry Brooks, RA Salvatore, George RR Martin, Brandon Sanderson) who would probably be more expensive and more well known, so I doubt this is as big an issue as you make it out to be.

    3rd: Mechanics are everything in a game. Looks at things like once again Pillars of Eternity, Grim Dawn, Divinity Original Sin, Shadowrun Returns, X-Com. Xenonauts, etc. None of those games had great graphics and all of them were pretty damn successful.

    4th: He was starting a new studio, I am sure he did not expect to keep receiving the same kind of money he was making before (well then again it is Smed). 800K was a very HIGH starting point. Hell, Obsidian Entertainment asked for $1.1 Million for Pillars, and that was from a well known company with a history of fairly decent games, not a new unknown company made by a veteran. Divinity Original Sin only had a $400,00 0 kickstarter goal and is probably the best game to ever come off kickstarter. Shadowrun Returns, another kickstarter so successful it had 2 sequels, was only $400,000. So yes, $800,000 was too high for a company with no track record.

  • @Valkrysa: They had funding already before doing a KS. The K was to generate more funds. Even now that the whole KS is cancelled Smed is still saying the game is on track to launch in October. A successful 200k KS would have meant actual money vs. nothing at all, and the hype of a success. Success vs. what is now failure. People don’t back failures. This KS failure has already lost them customers.

    @Sanz: See above.

    @Drathmar: Agreed on all fronts.

  • Glad this Smed scam failed. If you already have enough funds to make the game, why are you on Kickstarter selling a $20 game for $25? It’s Landmark all over, except with even LESS game this time around.

  • Anyone that claims to be a fan of fantasy books and has NOT heard of Patrick Rothfuss needs to stop what they are doing this second, and go buy “The Name of the Wind”. You may as well pick up “The Wise Man’s Fear” while you are at it, since you won’t want to wait.

    As far as authors of fantasy go, Rothfuss and Sanderson are my two favorites. Sanderson has the uncanny ability to turn out amazing content at a breakneck (and maybe even crazy) pace. Rothfuss has produced two utterly astounding novels and is working on the third, but simply doesn’t go at the insane pace of Sanderson. With that said, the Kingkiller Chronicles are absolutely my favorite fantasy series to date. And this is from a person that grew up reading The Wheel of Time, The Sword of Truth, and A Song of Ice and Fire.

    You simply must read this series. You will not regret it. Actually…. afk. Going to go read it again.

  • I gotta be honest, at risk of getting off topic…I don’t understand why people adore the Kingkiller Chronicles. I really, really despise the series. Rothfuss is a great writer in that he produces very easily read, engaging prose, I do have to hand it to him for that. It’s hard to overstate how much I hated Wise Man’s Fear, and even with that being said I read it through in very few sittings. But god almighty is his ability to weave a good story shit. Kvothe is a completely unlikable mary sue self insert character who blunders from one pointless event to the next in a quest to avoid a coherent plot and be every 13 year old boy’s biggest idol. Every character in the series serves to fawn over him unconditionally or be an obstacle to him.

    For fairness’s sake, some of my favorite fantasy authors are Brandon Sanderson, Robin Hobb, Megan Whalen Turner, and Daniel Abraham

  • I played the 2d The Realm for years and was happy as can be. Or was that 1D? I later dabbled in the 2D UO.

    Scroll forward 20 years. 2D is not acceptable to any new players or even me.

    You set yourself apart by getting an amazing author and I’m assuming the IP too, and you go and make a game from 20 years ago. That screams – we have no staff and won’t after you fund us either.

    The only possible argument you could make to these points is mobile gaming is forcing us to 2D again. At which point I would ask why do you need a famous author for that and why did a small Kickstarter fail?

  • @Sanz

    DId you not read anything I said. There have been a lot of 2D games recently that were successful and more than acceptable.

    Grim dawn, Pillars of Eternity, Divinity Original Sin, Shadowrun Returns, etc. 2D =/= sprites and SNES graphics like you seem to think.

    I am sorry it is not acceptable to you but experience from the success of 2D games says that you saying it’s not acceptable to any new players is flat our wrong.

  • Also its not like top-end 3D graphics are only found in AAA games either. ARK looks better than most games and is an indie game (or at least started as one, its a monster now). Or some of the art assets in Mount and Blade mods (a game that is 6+ years old now) being higher quality or more interesting than a lot of AAA assets.

    Gaming has changed in recent years thanks to things like Unity and Kickstarter. AAA today just means 100s of people working on a game with a huge budget. Looking at a lot of recent AAA releases, and comparing them to a lot of budget games, I’d say its basically 50/50 in terms of worthwhile stuff. AAA gets you something like Sim City, indie gets you Cities: Skylines. AAA gets you Witcher 3, indie gets you Pillars of Eternity, etc.

  • Wow. I hadn’t heard of this game, but the 2D visuals remind me a lot of the old (but still existent) MMO Clan Lord. Though I think it was considered a graphical MUD back when it was released.