You might think that trading a position as CEO of a multi-game studio to work on a single, smaller, and most decidedly indie title would be a step down in all respects. But for Pixelmage Games’ John Smedley, it’s right where he wants to be.
“I can’t even explain how happy I am to be implementing and to be making things. My last year at SOE, I poured myself into H1Z1 and focused on that. This to me, is even better than that already good experience, because I’m physically doing work on it and it’s so much fun. It’s also a ridiculous amount of work,” said Smedley in an interview with Gamasutra. He pointed out that even though he’s the boss, he still has to do a lot of grunt work, coming in at 5:30 a.m. to get a strong start to the day.
Smedley said that he’s happy to be “in the trenches” with fellow game designers as they work on Hero’s Song. Pixelmage Studios has grown to include 17 employees [the original source article said 77, but Smed corrected it on Twitter] and is currently running an Indiegogo campaign to raise additional funds for Hero’s Song (it is now over $80,000 out of a desired $200,000 goal).
Smed also talks a bit about the design process for Hero’s Song, explaining why he settled on smaller servers for the game. From Gamasutra:
“Players might think they want massive online games teeming with other players, posits Smedley, but the data suggests they really just want a few hundred people to interact with, max; past that, the value of other players drops precipitously. And if that’s true, MMO game designers should consider prioritizing mid-sized, player-hosted persistent worlds above anything grander. ‘Ironically when we did the analysis on it, we saw that 1 or 2 people would talk to 300-400. Most people would talk with less than 200 total people. That’s how their social maps,’ says Smedley. ‘So interaction is really with this smaller number of people and I love the idea of people being able to run their own servers. Set it up the way they want, like a D&D campaign.'”