Smed Goes to Kickstarter for the Hardcore

John Smedley, formerly of SOE and Daybreak, went public with his new company and their first project.  The company name is Pixelmage (according to the trademark application), which is “Pixel Mage” and not “Pixe Image,” something that could be sorted out with a space or a capital “M” in the middle.  Or, just look at their logo.

Pixel Mage Games

Pixel Mage Games

And, in announcing this he has also pointed at the company’s first project which will, of course, be financed via a Kickstarter Campaign.  Pixelmage wants $800,000 minimum for their game Hero’s Song which is described as follows:

Sing this Hero!

Sing this Hero!

Basically a 2D retro-pixellated multiplayer action adventure RPG game thing… for the hardcore!

Hardcore action RPG for Hardcore Gamers!

It is a sign of my age I suppose that my brain always links the word “hardcore” with the word “porn,” which always makes this sort of discussion just that much more amusing.

Missing from the Kickstarter page at the moment is the platform it will run on, but I guess we can all assume Windows 64-bit will be required, though maybe it will run on the Nintendo 3DS.  It certainly looks like it could.

There are all the usual hallmarks of such a Kickstarter campaign, including dev bios, stretch goals, a range of backer options, some grand sweeping statements, and an overly optimistic time line.

Dates quoted for truth...

Dates quoted for truth…

Give the standard Kickstarter multiplier for multiplayer software video game projects, this ought to launch in late 2017 or early 2018.

Anyway, Smed and his new company are off to the races.  You can see the Kickstarter campaign here.  We shall see how things develop.  Pledge now ($25 minimum) or wait until it comes out and get it for $20.


The press embargo appears to have lifted so deeper coverage is available at:

Addendum: And a statement on supported platforms at last:

Addendum: Sanity kicked in and you can now pledge $15 and get a copy of the game when it is done, and if you pledge more you get a second copy now.

15 thoughts on “Smed Goes to Kickstarter for the Hardcore

  1. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @HZ – It isn’t so much that I am calling them out as liars as just knowing through personal experience over the last 25 years that no software developer in history has ever correctly estimated the time it will actually take to finish a project. They are unbridled optimists as a profession.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. bhagpuss

    Not backing this for the very simple reason that I don’t like ARPgs so I don’t play them. That said, it looks mildly interesting. $800k sounds, on the face of it, modest enough. The pitch is clear and well-presented. Smed and Patrick Rothfuss certainly have sufficient name recognition in their respective fields to generate initial interest and we all know that Smed can keep that pot boiling if he chooses.

    The real issue is what’s the point of backing it? Seriously! Look at those Pledge tiers. For a game that’s due to be released in less than a year at a box price of $19.99 or a Collectors Box price of $49.99 what’s the added value for early adopters on Kickstarter?

    Erm….at the lowest Pledge you get to pay $5 *more* than the box price for the privilege of jumping into the final stages of beta in September 2016, a month before launch. Say what? $50, 1c more than the Collector’s Box costs, gets you one extra month of beta play starting in August and…the Collector’s Box. Double that to $100 to get alpha access, which is…one more month. Add another $50 on top again (now we’re at $150 for a game that’s going to cost less than $20 when it actually works) to get…wait for it…access to the closed beta forums.

    Up and up the Pledge you can go, digging deeper and deeper into your wallet for the privilege of doing more and more of the development work yourself: name an NPC; name two NPCs; name 5! By which time you’re down a thousand dollars.

    The game itself may or not be fun but the Kickstarter borders on self-parody. I’ll wait til it launches and if the reviews are good I might go the $20 then. Probably not though.


  3. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Bhagpuss – Over use of the phrase “incredibly deep” aside, the game does tickle some interest in me, just not enough to pay extra, many months in advance, for some dubious add ons like beta access. I think you might have hit the nail on the head with self-parody.


  4. Isey

    Sounds like “Dwarf Fortress” in its history and whatnot pieces. Will probably pay, if they end up getting funding. I tend not to kickstart.


  5. SynCaine

    Never have a rooted harder for something to fail than this, and not just because its Smed (mostly because its Smed).

    How lazy and behind-the-curve is it to go down the pixel graphics path at this point? Ohh and a rogue-like? How new! Leave it to Smed to ask 800k to make something that can already be found by the dozens on Steam at $5 or less.


  6. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    Also, a chance to test my hypothesis that a Kickstarter like this needs to get to the 20-25% mark in the first 24 hours in order to succeed. That means $160-200K by tomorrow morning, with the campaign already past the $20K mark.


  7. Fenjay

    About 60 people are going heavily in for $100 or more. 3 are between $500 and $1000 so there are some whales in the pool, but not blue whales (to torture the metaphor).

    I generally admire people/teams who dare to make harder games that don’t appeal to everyone, so I generally want this to succeed. But I’m not huge on retro so I personally don’t seem likely to play it. And after being in software development for a long time now, looking at that timeline got an involuntary bark of laughter from me. If they actually nail it I will be seriously impressed, but I just can’t see one year from project start to go-live in any reasonable universe. Especially if they want a smooth launch, which you REALLY need in today’s world.


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  9. p0tsh0t

    It is a sign of my age I suppose that my brain always links the word “hardcore” with George C. Scott?

    Yes, I suppose it is.


  10. Sylow

    For me the big drawback is “Smed”. There are enough good developers out there, who deliver good games, while not insulting their customers on a regular basis. Thus my money rather goes there, thanking them not only for their good work but also for their good manners.


  11. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Potshot – Yeah, I think we’re both drawing from the same well there.

    Meanwhile, 24 hours into the campaign and Hero’s Song has raised less than 7% of its goal. But they did add a $15 tier that gets you a copy of the game on Steam so you don’t have to front the money early AND pay extra for the game.


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