Five reasons behind the failure of Hero's Song

In July of 2015, MMORPG fans were stunned to hear that John Smedley was stepping down from his post as president of Daybreak. After all, he had been in the captain's chair at Verant, SOE, and now Daybreak for nearly two decades, helming the company as it handled some of the most influential MMOs of the early generation, including EverQuest and Star Wars Galaxies. Fans were curious to know both what happened and what Smedley was planning to do next.

They didn't have to wait long for the latter. A month later, Smedley announced that he was starting up his own studio to work on a new game. Using his industry contacts and years of experience in game development, Smedley pulled together a solid team to craft Hero's Song, an online fantasy survival game that would provide huge, customizable worlds. The team went into a flurry of activity, putting out dev blogs, holding fundraisers, and pushing early access out the door.

Yet by the end of 2016, the project was dead, refunds were being distributed to backers, and Smedley's studio was dissolved. So what happened? Why did Hero's Song fail when it had so much going for it? Now that a couple of months have passed, it might be time to step back and perform a post-mortem on this fascinating and doomed game. I posit that there are five key reasons why we're not right now playing Hero's Song and anticipating its official launch by the end of the year. Hindsight is 20-20, after all, so what could Smedley have done different?

Problem #1: The Smedley legacy

Game developers, especially public ones, tend to become divisive figures among the community, and John Smedley seems to have attracted as many haters as he has fans. There are those who will simply never forgive him for the NGE, the shutdown of beloved SOE MMOs (rest in peace, Free Realms!), some of the more boneheaded statements that he had made or tweeted, and his lopsided attention that was given to some titles (particularly PvP-centric ones) and not others.

What I'm driving at here is that there are those who simply want to see Smedley punished and to fail at any future projects (or simply not take part in any more), and so a new game was going to have a built-in base of detractors that would be quite vocal and serve to pull interest away from the game from the start. That's not to say that there weren't fans of Smedley to counter this -- there undoubtedly were. But he had just come fresh off of Daybreak with very little time for people to let go of old grudges before starting up a new project and presenting himself as an easy target.

In short, Smedley had to prove himself all over again to players who weren't necessarily going to give him the benefit of the doubt. He obviously has a lot of passion and experience for games and game studios, which played in his favor, but it wasn't uncommon to see him try to be his own PR machine on Twitter and Reddit when he should have left that up to a CM professional that could stay on topic. He was the big boss in a small studio with no one to override him or rein him in, and occasionally this caused some issues in social media that didn't help the overall cause of Hero's Song.

Problem #2: A muddled message

It's one thing to have a vision for the game you're making, and another thing entirely in being able to clearly communicate and sell that vision to a potential audience. Pixelmage was quite passionate about its vision but did a slapdash job coming up with an elevator pitch that fans could grasp and share with friends.

Hero's Song was a hybrid of a lot of ideas and game types, including CRPGs, MMOs, survival sandboxes, roguelikes, and action-RPGs. The end result, however, wasn't quite like what most people were expecting and wasn't easy to summarize. The Steam description lists the game as "an open-world roguelike fantasy action RPG with a beautiful 2-D pixel art style," which certainly checks off a lot of buzzword boxes without getting its true vision across.

We always want to know what makes a new game special, what sets it apart, and why we should play it. To this day, I would have a hard time trying to make the case that Hero's Song was bringing something bold and refreshing to the table. Interesting, perhaps. Or as one Steam player put it, "The game had potential, but that's all it was, potential."

You see, having scads of features and ideas for a game is ancillary to the game core itself. If you can't make the core gripping, playable, and understandable, then all of the frills and extras don't matter. The core of Hero's Song looked somewhat bare and bland, even dressed up in pixel art. I think a lot of people were meeting the game more than halfway by imagining that it was going to be a lot more than what we actually saw in early access.

Problem #3: Not an MMO and no official servers

You have to believe me when I say that we here at Massively OP were quite excited to hear what Smedley had in store for his first non-SOE project. And when Hero's Song was revealed, we found ourselves torn between attraction to the art style and various concepts and the fact that the game was lacking two important aspects: It wasn't an MMO and it didn't have official servers.

I'm not saying that every game has to have these or be these, of course, but Smedley's name and legacy carried with it expectations that he might be off building the next spiritual successor to EverQuest. Instead, the ambitious feature set of Hero's Song was offset by the studio playing it smaller and safer by not running its own shards and keeping the size of the worlds' populations to about two dozen players. It was a bit of a letdown and, in my opinion, a key missed opportunity here.

Imagine that Smedley had announced Hero's Song, an open-world MMORPG done in pixel art style with persistent communities and servers that would occasionally restart with new rules, a la Crowfall. It would have been much bigger news and rallied a lot more of his fans to the cause.

Like it or not, Smedley was known for MMOs -- and his first solo project wasn't one. Running one's own servers with a handful of friends isn't always what MMO players are looking for in new online games and proved to be a dealbreaker with some fans (and us).

Problem #4: Fundraiser follies

I think problem #1 was unavoidable and had to be muscled through (although I would have waited a half-year or so post-Daybreak to get back into the business). Problem #2 could have been fixed over time, and problem #3 was limiting but not necessarily a game killer in this pro-survival sandbox climate. Maybe just a shift of messaging was all that was needed. But then we get to the fundraising and here's where the whole deal started to fall apart.

Video game crowdfunding has to be done smartly and requires a lot of effort to pull off just right. I swear, I truly believe that Smedley assumed that the mere initial announcement of Hero's Song and the star power of his name was all that was needed for a successful Kickstarter for how Pixelmage ran that initial campaign.

It was a disaster. Pixelmage failed to "prime the pump" of community excitement in advance of the Kickstarter campaign, instead opting to push it out quickly and expecting that $800,000 to roll in. Even worse, the studio didn't post regular updates to the campaign, instead going very quiet for far too long and giving the media (i.e. Massively OP) nothing to talk about. Better and much more communication in advance and then during the campaign would have been invaluable to raking in the much-needed funds.

Instead, the team took a black eye by having to pull the campaign once it became clearly apparent that millions weren't going to flood in via magic and wishes. The team acknowledged that it made mistakes and promised that it had investor money to finish the game "all the way" despite the campaign failure.

I sincerely doubt that statement, since the game obviously wasn't funded to a full launch and by the fall of 2016, Pixelmage was running another crowdfunding campaign, this time on Indiegogo. It might have been a different platform, but the result was much the same: The studio was lackluster on communication during the campaign and failed to hit its target goal (this time $100,000).

What if Pixelmage had been better on its talking points and driven a stronger campaign? What if Hero's Song had managed to draw in the hundreds of thousands of funding from players and kept a stream of donations incoming? It would have been a literal game-changer.

Problem #5: Rushed production

To the team's credit at Pixelmage, it did spend most of 2016 working hard to produce a game from scratch -- and it did get one to a playable state, thanks in part to the choice of a 2-D world. But the team was also under the gun, needing to get that early access out to drive publicity and sales.

Taking in account the fundraising situation, the accelerated development, and the premature release of the early access points to a studio rapidly running out of money and time. The November release was a hail Mary pass that even Smedley couldn't cover up.

"It needs more time and love, but I'm confident it's going to get that since it's our sole focus," John Smedley confessed to fans. "It's releasing earlier than we would like, but our commitment to updating it at a constant pace and to the vision that has always been there for what we are trying to make will keep us making it better and better for a long time to come!"

The reception to the alpha and the early access client was, to be fair, mixed. Some people were content to be patient with the developing game and enjoyed what was on display, while others slammed what they saw was a half-baked product. "It is truly early alpha and it shows, there is no endgame content, there is nothing really to do outside of grinding at the moment," a Steam player wrote.

With two lackluster crowdfunding campaigns and an early access launch that fizzled fast, Pixelmage was out of options. "Unfortunately sales fell short of what we needed to continue development. We knew going in that most startups don't make it, and as an indie game studio we hoped we would be the exception to that rule, but as it turned out we weren't," Pixelmage Games wrote in December 2016.

If the game had more time, more money, and a better message, Hero's Song could have had the space it needed to develop into the title that Smedley and company had envisioned. Instead, it will have to serve as a cautionary tale to future projects and a reminder that making and funding games is quite difficult indeed.

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79 Comments on "Five reasons behind the failure of Hero's Song"

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pepperzine

Can we now add the majority of the development team, including Smed, being picked up to work for Amazon to the list?

Reader
deekay_plus

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IzR747E_AEE

for those that haven't seen gameplay of the game, here it is, pretty much next to all of it except gameplay of every single class and higher levels of the classes i did play.

some rumours that the "dungeons" that the game claims to generate (thousands of them even) did actually exist but in all my looking for gameplay of the game i didn't see them and every streamer i watched playing the game (some of which had hundreds of hours in the game before they stopped streaming it) said when asked that they had yet to find one.

smed himself might be a major red flag given his track record at SOE, but the game failed purely because it was a bad game that the devs/owners didn't take seriously enough to even take time to market without costs to themselves let alone produce a half decent by the standards of day 1 early access steam launch states product.

there was next to nothing to the game, and what was there was either poor in design and quality or buggy and unstable.

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Xijit

here is 1 good reason: it looked like cheap shit, but they still wanted AAA funding.

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Lethality

Uh, $800,000 is not triple-A funding. It's barely indie funding.

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deekay_plus

most indies wouldn't know what to do with $800k in liquid assets.

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deekay_plus

if the game was made by a guy working part time after full time work learning how to code while doing it with no money to spend on the game it would be applaudable.

but it was the opposite of that.

Mewmew
Reader
Mewmew

Oooh a mention of Free Realms... Happy memories flooding back of when I was quite a young player, fun and excitement playing followed by sorrow and loss of the game. Nuuuu, sad now.

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Manastu Utakata

Everyone should say "Nuuuu" once in awhile. Even Mr. Schlag below. /Nyaa <3

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Schlag Sweetleaf

Play him off, Keyboard Cat.

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Olympic Bard

I was pumped for Heros Song, then disappointed, then apathetic after hearing about Undungeon. Looks awesome. Hope it doesn't disappoint.

Undungeon.

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Ashfyn Ninegold

Steam is not dev-friendly. Reviews are vindictive, petty and vicious at times. Reviewers rarely give a perspective for their reviews or much else that helps determine whether the review is from someone with similar interests and preference.

All that being said, Hero's Song was simply not fun. Get your avatar up, walk around a pretty empty town, go into vendor shops where you can't afford anything, spend considerable time trying to find the way out of town. Finally find the way out of town for some combat goodness, only for it to be night now. Get mobbed by skeletons with real weapons against your stick. Dead.

Start again. Ignore town, head right out to fight mobs. Find stuff on the ground for crafting. Try to figure out what that means. Night falls. Get mobbed.

Start again. Ignore town, head right out to fight mobs. Find stuff on the ground, but ignore it. Keep wandering looking for mobs to kill. Finally find some. Kill them. Yah. Good stuff. Try to pick up what they drop. Can't quite manage it. Night falls. Get mobbed.

Log off. Decide to wait for some patches. Read on MOP game is toast. Showing complete lack of surprise, ask Steam for a refund. All good.

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Lethality

Steam is filled with idiots.

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deekay_plus

every single positive review on steam was "don't judge this game by what it is now, judge it by what it can maybe be someday in the future".

which based on what they launched to EA with in the time given vs their timeline for 1.0 launch was rather excessively optimisitic.

the negative reviews for the game were anything but vindictive. and i read them all. they never mentioned smed's history/record as a game developer/salesman. they focused entirely on teh state of the game that it currently was.

which just plainly there was very little there for an EA launch state and what was there was not good/in poor shape.

koolthulu
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koolthulu

"It is truly early alpha and it shows, there is no endgame content, there is nothing really to do outside of grinding at the moment,"

Buys alpha game. Gets mad that it's not finished.

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deekay_plus

this was maybe more akin to prototype state than alpha. the fact of the matter is, most early access alpha games launch to early access with much more to them unless they're straight out scams. evne most trash ware that releases to EA on steam is further along than hero's song was when they stopped selling it.

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Emmanuel Carabott

Part of the problem is early access is still quite a vague concept. Some players expect early access to be equivalent of a late beta when you have all your gameplay finalized and just lacking some optimization, failing that you'll get swamped with negative reviews on how much your game is bad.

This will always be a major issue for crowd funding. Developing games takes a long time but with crowd funding that becomes really tricky. Developers cannot expect to get money off players and have nothing to show for it for 3 - 5 years while they finish developing their game but on the other hand release your game too early and your players base will scare away other players.

This is probably one of the major challenges crowd funding will need to address if it is to prosper in the future.

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Drainage

For me, it just didn't seem like they took the fundraising seriously. My assumption is that the rock star dev thought the masses would just throw money at his project.

That is outside of the game itself. Marketing is everything. Was dead in the water before it could blossom.

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deekay_plus

it says something that his promotional partner co owner didn't ever even show the gameplay on his immensely popular twitch channel.

they just didn't seem to care and completely half assed it. much like the game itself felt.

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Zeplini

When I "heard" about the game I was pretty excited till I saw it was a top down 16 bit game, sorry I was done with these 20 years ago and have no wish to go back, unless I am playing a game from 20 years ago on a emulator for nostalgic reasons so that was me and Hero Song done with.

I was disappointed in Smedly, I think he picked what he thought was a easy and dead cert to make money, if he had gone for the bigger 3d open world game I am sure he would have got the backing from the public, its just the public did not want a 16 bit game.

And maybe a bit of backlash/ lack of faith for the failed EQ next?

Hopefully he will go dig Copernicus out the trash, if ever a game needed to be finished and released it is that one and he could be the person to do it, and I would back that one!

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Melissa McDonald

My first impression when I saw what they were making was more or less "wtf?" It failed due to old ideas in a new world. This should have been for iOS and Android and cranked out in a few short months. Probably would have made a lot more money.
PC MMO gamers spend a lot of money on their rigs and those with GTX980 and above expect eye candy.

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deekay_plus

the product they released is definitely the sort of thing a single guy learning code in his spare time making a game as a hobby would crank out for steam ea/mobile.

not something from a veteran team of this size (whichever version of the size of the team one beleives) with this budget.

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Lights and Music

"You see, having scads of features and ideas for a game is ancillary to the game core itself. If you can't make the core gripping, playable, and understandable, then all of the frills and extras don't matter."

Same issues as Wildstar imho

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Oleg Chebeneev

Main reason was that they released alpha version that had no gameplay in it. You basically had nothing to do except running pointlessly and smashing random mobs. This meant bad reviews and bad sales.

Devs, learn from this. Dont release game even for early access if its not fun and playable yet

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deekay_plus

there really was next to nothing to it. and you could run around a pretty long time with out seeing mobs even if you used the correct god combinations to spawn mobs at all.

which 90% of the classes were completely nonviable to begin with. and the maybe 2 viable classes died pretty quickly until you leveled them up far enough to be decent.

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BDJ

I still never got a refund from that hack. Oh well.

Bree Royce
Staff
Bree Royce

I don't think refunds were automatic; you had to go through Steam or email them directly if you'd bought it through Indiegogo. If I were you, I'd try again!

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squidgod2000

AFAIK, refund checks haven't been mailed yet ('cause I haven't gotten mine).

Probably one of those "Please wait 6 to 8 months for delivery" type things.

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Reht

I emailed their point of contact a few days back about checks and basically she said they would be going out in waves and that we would be contacted before our check was sent out.

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squidgod2000

Got the check today.

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johnwillo

I got a credit to my PayPal account. $15 level, FWIW. I did email the designated address.

Bree Royce
Staff
Bree Royce

X.X

Reader
squidgod2000

Disregard—check came in the mail this afternoon.

Bree Royce
Staff
Bree Royce

Squid's paying for drinks tonight! <3

Reader
panthyr

Haven't been following this so much so please consider that when reading my snippet/reply. At the risk of sounding toxic I've always felt the general rule of the thumb is vote with your wallet. While not following it I've seen the game fail at least 2 funding attempts. How many times do you need the big thumbs down to gather that maybe you're product isn't what the market is looking for? It always could be as was pointed out in #1 no one understood what the game was however lets consider this: Maybe the vast majority understood enough to not want to play? I'm sure everyone has that friend that whenever you get into a debate/discussion/argument they without fail take the stance that "if only you understood what I was saying then you'd agree". Sometimes that might be true but most of the time you understand but just disagree (which usually triggers them and sets up the more passionate "But listen..."). I kinda feel like the thats smeds. "My vision is so awesome, if only you could see how I'm envisioning it you'd give me all your money". Or maybe you're just wrong.

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angrakhan

I took one look at the graphics during the first round of crowdfunding and decided not to back it. Shallow? Maybe, but I didn't drop $1200 on a Nvidia Titan X to play pixel graphics. I doubt I'm not the only one that found the visuals unappealing. I'm 40+ and played games that looked like that not because they were trying to be cute, but because that's the best they could do given the hardware at the time. I'm not looking to relive those days, thanks.

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Melissa McDonald

I should have scrolled down first! posted nearly the same thing.

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rawhunger .

Again... amen to that.

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Nordavind

#1 Graphics.

YMMV.

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Manastu Utakata

Yeah the 32 bit nostalgia look was the biggest turn off. I don't mind the isometric look; that works well enough with me for Tree of Savior as an example. But this game look so old skool, it felt like a project more to reminisce a by gone era than anything else. Kinda like an 8-track convention or a leisure suit gathering, it's really for those rare folks who are into that sort of thing. :(

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Lights and Music

I dunno, Stardew Valley did preeeeeeetty well

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Bryan Correll

I was gonna call that #6, but...yeah. I've played and loved games with worse looking graphics, but that was in the past. This look may have worked for some new-to-the-industry-but-full-of-passion designer, but not for someone as well known as Smedley.

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Ashfyn Ninegold

Agree. The graphics were old, old school. Like 1990s old school.

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MesaSage

Well, those are all pretty good reasons, but in the end it comes down to - is the game a quality product that people actually want to play?

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Johnathen Roberts

so moral of the story is? Bad boss is bad.

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pepperzine

I've said it many times since news about the game development started being delivered. The game itself looked like a game that could be created using the open-source eclipse engine, which was written in visual basic. While some people prefer the retro-graphics, if you are going to be selling a product using them you have to make sure that it is not something that people could get for free elsewhere, and that the production value is not at a level that someone could make it if they had enough spare time on their hands and another person who likes to make sprite art.

The fact that there was no official server, and that the server capacity was so small, just added to this whole dilemma because it really brought it down to a sub-par level. Having server stability and a huge player capacity could have been the main selling point of the game that would have set it apart from the other options available in that market.

If anyone is interested in mmorpgs using these types of graphics, either making them or playing them, you really should check out the eclipse forums (https://www.eclipseorigins.com/) as you may find a gem in there that scratches that itch for you, and it is very unlikely it will cost you anything.

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jay

Sorry but John Smedly proved time and again the he didn't have a damn clue what his audience wanted. The guy just had the luck to be able to ride other more talented developers coat tails in his early career, and then backstabbed those same dev's to climb the corporate ladder in his later career. He was a suit, nothing else needs to be said.

styopa
Reader
styopa

#1 "Game developers, especially public ones, tend to become divisive figures among the community, "
No...ATTENTION WHORES tend to become divisive figures. There's nothing about being a game developer that intrinsically says 'this role is going to be divisive'. Individuals who trade their game's popularity for personal celebrity (such as it is) are (naively) surprised that it's not all beer & skittles? Well that's just flippin' human nature at work.

#2 No, I personally don't think the message was muddled, I think people are just no longer giving a flying crap about *another* fantasy 'sandbox' that is purporting to do what every other fantasy sandbox purports that it's going to do. Call it market/consumer exhaustion. How many times have games said that's what they're planning to do? How many crowdfunding projects launched to absurdly optimistic promotions (sorry, I blame the media for a lack of healthy skepticism there) only to crash in searing, noisy flames? *ESPECIALLY* with a celebrity name attached? Partly, I'd blame it on the immaturity of the business segment, filled with rosy-eyed naive idealists and their fellow-traveler consumers who all just really hope this time it's going to be different.
The auto industry has concept cars, where they get their wiggles out and float their high-flying ideas, but nobody believes that stuff is going to land in the marketplace for YEARS. The computer-gaming industry, on the other hand, has people making silly-ass design-concept statements that we KNOW aren't implementable in any reasonable timeframe and are little more than freshman-dorm 'wouldn't it be kewl if...' pipe dreams - but then they emete a kickstarter page and for *some reason* people buy into it.
"You can do it if you only believe in yourself" ISN'T A REAL THING, PEOPLE.

#3 meh, I wouldn't call that a failure point, it's a design choice. It's deliberately (and not wrongly) counter to the meme today that all multiplayer games have to go through the 'offical' server...it's not true, and there was a time when most good multiplayer games were self hosted (Gamespy: where are you now?). Nothing wrong with it, conceptually, and a lot to recommend it (let's call it the Kingdom of Amalur rule?).

#4 agreed. I hope we've matured past the point where devs feel entitled to people's donations just because they've got a good idea and the web equivalent to a tin cup. I don't believe Kickstarter should go away, myself, I'll simply never fund a project with the expectation it will succeed. Ever.

#5 again, I'd call it market exhaustion but in this case, I'd also condemn the (again, current-industry paradigm) alpha release thing. There's too many games out there to waste time farting around with a game that doesn't run yet, IMO. All it's going to give people is a negative impression (aside from the slavering true believers).

I really think this collapsed under it's own weight - as so many current projects today should, I believe - because a) it's bringing nothing essentially new to the table, b) the market is growing tired of overpromises and hype, c) 'celebrity' devs get in the way of their own projects, and d) people have started to get wise to the shell-game of a kickstarted project and are growing more reluctant to throw money based on nothing more than faith and a good pitch.

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deekay_plus

on point #2 both CF campaign pages and theri marketting stream they said almost nothing of detail isn't vague buzz word and lore flavour text.

on top of that the first ks campaign smed was constantly changing backer reward contents and pricing.

at no point did they show any gameplay at all beyond a quick cut 2 minute video that was worthless for displaying the game itself. like they were afraid to let the game speak for itself. and they used the same 2 minute video of quick cuts in both campigns and the marketting stream.

i'd say that's hella muddled.

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Jack Pipsam

Put aside the whole Smed issue, I didn't quite get what the game was about.

It was an MMO, but it wasn't, but it was. Public servers, private servers. I just didn't get if the game was meant to be small by design or if it was actually huge.

The whole thing just confused me at a glance and I never felt a hook to draw me in to try and figure it out.

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deekay_plus

it was something like realm of a mad god but without any fun or death loop and with an rng lore generator that generated the most boring and skippable lore ever and servers that crashed at a faint breeze that had no mp chat.

here's an hour long stream i did of it for some friends that pretty much shows everything the game offers except every single class and higher levels.

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Greaterdivinity

If nothing else, this should be a good lesson for Smed in his post-CEO days. A bit of a reality check after being largely cloistered away in his ivory tower.

His passion has never been in question, but his decision making and ability to run a company absolutely is. And this, unfortunately, was a very stark reminder of that fact.

I still like the guy, despite him never being able to keep his mouth shut. He just needs to realize that he can't act as casually about everything as he did when he was CEO, he needs to actually treat this indie gig like the real job it is. Then he can give this a more serious, buttoned up effort with his next go-around, unless he tries something else entirely.

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Michael18

The fact that Steam introduced its new refund policy shortly before Hero's Song's EA launch didn't help either.

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deekay_plus

steam has had this refund policy for quite a while tho? at least a year or two?

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Shiro Madoushi

hopefully it's a sign that the retrographics fad is over

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Hirku

Thankfully for me it's a big world full of games to suit my and everybody else's tastes. Otherwise I might sit around wishing for people to lose something they enjoy and look like a real dick.

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Oleg Chebeneev

Tell this to Stardew Valley that sold millions of copies

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Ashfyn Ninegold

Stardew may be pixels, but its graphics are head and shoulders above Hero's Song.

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Sleepy

I lived through the evolution of PC graphics, starting with a black and white ZX81, and the retro look does nothing for me. Give me shiny graphics every time, I served my time with 'cute 2d pixel art'.

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Zeplini

ZX spectrum 48k, and yep I'm well done with that, I want immersion and want to feel I am apart in the world not looking at a 16 bit world while playing a game.

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rawhunger .

Amen to that. I lived through TRS-80 graphics games. No more.

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Armsbend

Depends. Sometimes I really enjoy it like with Duelyst, Minecraft and Stardew and sometimes it feels forced and/or lazy.

Bree Royce
Staff
Bree Royce

I hope not. There are some spectacular games with retro graphics, quite a number of which make tidy fortunes on PC and mobile.

I love the graphical style -- I missed out on most of the originals, so it's still fun for me.

Reader
deekay_plus

i really don't think it was the pixel art style/gfx that made this game fail.

some of the biggest early access success stories have pixel art style.

Bree Royce
Staff
Bree Royce

Me either, and I get that some folks want their graphical preferences validated by this, but I think it's a mistake to dismiss all the other problems. (Saw the exact same trap with WildStar.)

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Robert Mann

There are good games with or without. I would rather have a game without the surreal half-3d cartoony mess that those graphics are. The glaring issues with high detailed ground art against circular blob shadows and then weird things like gold coins apparently attached via strings to both a tree and an orc's boot... let's just say that for some of us that didn't really inspire.

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mcsleaz

So, just because YOU don't like something, that means it has to go away? Bad news bruh, The world doesn't revolve around you. Some gamer's, myself among them, like that graphic style. You don't like that graphic style, then don't play games that have it. #DealWitIt

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Targeter

At least we should give Smed some cred. He pulled out early and issued refunds instead of trying to milk it for all it was worth as Hero's Song slowly died and screwed the backers.

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Morgan Feldon

I appreciate that the artists put a ton of effort into Hero's Song. But realize that pixel art is one of the most difficult styles to pull off. You're trying to express emotion and a feeling in just a few dozen or hundred pixels. It's actually a lot harder to do than full color graphics at a high resolution. I feel that the art style of Hero's Song did not fit the pixel art mold particularly well. As a huge fan of pixel art, I did not find Hero's Song to be visually compelling.

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Armsbend

If you are going to write an article you should at first be honest with yourself and the readers:

First and most importantly:

It was a bad game people did not want to play.

Reader
J.T.

Well that is true too. Titan Quest is basically the same thing, cheaper, and available as a FULL COMPLETE GAME right now at a better graphical quality. Also it is like 5+ years old.

Bree Royce
Staff
Bree Royce

I adore Titan Quest, but I don't really think it's even in the same genre as the game Smed was building, at least as it was pitched/on paper. TQ didn't have housing, languages, hundreds of people per server, crafting, PvP, playable permadeath, guilds, etc. TQ was an ARPG; Hero's Song was pitched as a sandbox in mechanics if not in name.

But the fact that some people still think Hero's Song was "just another Diablo clone" is definitely part of the reason it failed. I think that's the danger in repeatedly reframing your game for the specific audience listening. Tell non-MMORPG players it's not an MMORPG enough times and MMORPG players begin to believe you.

(TQ turns 11 this year, btw!)

Reader
deekay_plus

i read the kickstarter and indiegogo campaigns multiple times. watchd the videos/steam.

i could not tell you what the game was intended to be based on that material.

lore flavoured text as a feature list is absolutely non communicative in any reasonable way what a game is going to be.

i think the one concrete detail in the entire thing was they were going to have privately hosted servers. and even on that they didn't give any details that one would ask for wrt to what that encompasses.

like you said they had a lot of buzzwords to describe it in synopsis (i don't even remotely see how the CRPG thing you guys say firts anything of the marketting or what the game was tho). which those buzzwords together ended up being noncommunivative and confusing as to their intentions for the game on top of the long list of non communicative rp flavour text that made up their feature lists and gameplay descriptions.

camren_rooke
Reader
camren_rooke

True, true. If your customers don't know what your product is, they aren't likely to buy it.

camren_rooke
Reader
camren_rooke

More like 10 years, released in 2006. just got rereleased on steam last year but its a helluva fun game.

Also, there is a retrospective somewhere out there by one of the Titan Quest developers about how they wanted to add a lot more to it but were hamstrung by fairly idiotic demands by the publisher.

Reader
BalsBigBrother

I wanted to play the finished game not the early access. I was prepared to wait /shrugs

Reader
J.T.

1) Smed

2) Smed

3) Smed

4) Smed

5) Smed

Reader
Schlag Sweetleaf

Reader
Morgan Feldon

In July of 2015, MMORPG fans were stunned to hear that John Smedley was stepping down from his post as president of Daybreak.

In July of 2015, people unfamiliar with the buying and selling of companies were surprised that the CEO of the company was set to leave the company after 6 months. This was abbreviated to 4 months after a loud and toxic spat played out over Twitter between John Smedley and those who had doxxed him and caused an American Airlines flight he was on to land at another airport and undergo a rigorous security screening as those who had doxxed him called in a threat a year prior.

Not trying to kick anyone, or minimize the personal hell he went through, but just to say that his departure was not at all a surprise.

Bree Royce
Staff
Bree Royce

Probably why Justin said "MMORPG fans were stunned" rather than "industry insiders and business experts."

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