Hero’s Song Returns to Crowdfund Again

You might remember Hero’s Song, the John Smedley/Pixelmage Games project in development, which launched a rather poorly thought out Kickstarter back in January of this year.  The flaws in the campaign were manifold, and by the time I wrote a list of them up the campaign had been cancelled.

Hero's must face turmoil, it is what makes them heroes, right?

Hero’s must face turmoil, it is what makes them heroes, right?

The team found other funding and carried on development of Hero’s Song, which is currently described as:

Hero’s Song is an open world rogue-like fantasy game done in a beautiful 2D pixel art style. Create epic fantasy worlds uniquely shaped by your choices, the power of the gods, and thousands of years of history. Become a legendary hero in a dangerous and mysterious world of magic and monsters. Explore endless dungeons and ancient cities in long forgotten lands in search of knowledge, treasure and the power of the gods!

Well, as the title of the post says, Pixelmage is back with a new crowdfunding effort.

This time around they the goals are more modest, the pledge tiers are better, the details are expansive, Smed isn’t using the word “hardcore” all over the place, and there is a somewhat more realistic timeline for the project.

Dates quoted for truth... again

Dates quoted for truth… again

I still think that schedule is optimistic, but more than 25 years in software development has made that my knee jerk reaction to any schedule I suppose.  Still, it is better than the last one (shown in this post), which had launch in October of this year… so I was right in calling it out on optimism that time at least.

Also different this time around is the platform they chose to run their campaign.  Rather than going with the perennial favorite, Kickstarter, PixelMage chose to go with Indiegogo.

The choice of Indiegogo gives them at least one advantage; there is no minimum threshold to allow them to collect some money.  Unlike with Kickstarter, where you have to make your goal to get paid, even if PixelMage does not make it $200,000 stated target, they get to keep any money pledged at the end of the campaign.

If you pledge it, they get it

If you pledge it, they get it

There are, however, some downsides.

First of all, while Indiegogo isn’t exactly unknown, it still isn’t Kickstarter.  Kickstarter is more famous and, I suspect, more trusted when it comes to giving them payment information.  I mean, Kickstarter has been around a while, to the point that the verb “to kickstart” has practically acquired a new meaning largely associated with them.

NOT the official drink of Kickstarter

Verb also used for motorcycles and energy drinks, which is pretty powerful

The second downside, for me at least, stems from one of the advantages, the fact that PixelMage gets the money pledged even if they do not make their stated goal.

I mean, that is GREAT… for PixelMage.  But how great is it for those pledging money?  If a company says they need a given amount to complete a project, and they only get, say, 25% of that amount, what does that mean to those who kicked in?

Now, in the case of PixelMage, I suspect that, at worst, it will mean some delay in the schedule.  I have no doubt they will deliver the game whether they make their goal or not.  But, in general, I guess I have become accustomed to the Kickstarter method where you only get your funding if you can raise the amount of money you said you needed for the project.  There is a certain logic to that.

Finally, as something an adjunct to the previous item, the lack of a hard “must meet” funding goal also takes a bit of the edge off of the campaign.  Not having an “all or nothing” goal mutes any sense of urgency.  Let’s look at where the campaign stands today, a couple of days in:

September 9, 2016 - Morning status

September 9, 2016 – Morning status

The campaign is 23% of the way to its goal… which seems to be okay.

I have to say that among its disadvantages, Indiegogo doesn’t have the range of external trend and activity tracking tools that Kickstarter does, and also seems to be a bit coy with things like the actual end date.

Anyway, Hero’s Song seems to have made my rule-of-thumb metric for campaigns, which is that if you haven’t hit 20% of your goal in the first 48 hours, you aren’t going to make it.  However, they are going to get that money whether or not they get to $200,000.  The goal is just a line in the sand, more of a “we’d like” rather than a do-or-die proposition.  You can’t really call for a last minute surge if they are short of their goal because they are still going to get something.  And even the stretch goals seem like you might get them anyway, so why throw money down now?

Races and housing

Races and housing

But that might just be me.  I am ever the cynic and/or critic.

Then again, Bree over at Massively OP put it this way in the comments of a post over there:

They get the money even if they don’t get to the soft target. They are plainly using Indiegogo as a preorder system and publicity stunt; there’s no way the “we need 200k more” thing is legit (plus they really want more than that for the hardcore housing feature).

And I think I am a cynic!  The again, there is the “Smed factor” I mentioned when the Kickstarter campaign was going.  He has a lot of history and not everybody likes him.

Anyway, the Indiegogo campaign is on and running for… a month… again, end date on that?  You can check it out here if you are interested, pledge if you want to pre-order and get a T-shirt (or limit Smed’s diet), or wait until it hits Steam about this time next year. (My needlessly pessimistic prediction there.)

Or you can go to the PixelMage site and read up about the project itself.

7 thoughts on “Hero’s Song Returns to Crowdfund Again

  1. Joe Birdwell

    They did contact all the former KS backers so part of that 20% could be due to former pledges moving to the new platform. I for one pledged again. However, I really feel they have missed the plot with goal tears and stretch goals. With a project like this the tiers could be totally unique, and special stretch goals based on time, backer activity, or backer specific incentives could go a long way.

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  2. bhagpuss

    I’m no more interested in it now than I was last time. Not my sort of thing. I do think the way it’s being handled seems to be almost willfully adding fuel to the Smed-haters fire though. I would guess Bree’s take is quite mild compared to some.

    I foresee many interesting news items in this game’s future.

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  3. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Bhagpuss – Indeed, the only thing that seemed to be up for debate was how close you had to get before you could detect the scent or brimstone, with two miles being the current favored guess. So Bree’s comment, of which I just took a segment, was rather light and airy compared to some others in the thread.

    The again, perennial “I hate everything” champion Armsbend was heavily invested in one stream, so he might have been skewing the brimstone average along with the hate level.

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  4. Pingback: Hating on the Hero's Song - Healing the Masses

  5. Kryss

    “Hero’s Song is a hardcore action RPG and uses the familiar click-to-move and attack controls of classic action RPGs like Diablo III or Path of Exile”. That “classic action RPG” list is … interesting.

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  6. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Gevlon – I don’t know how rich Smed is. I am sure Sony compensated him well over the years, and that he got a nice payout as part of the SOE-to-Daybreak transition, but I don’t know that he is past the point where money is a restriction to his desires. Curt Schilling was rich too before he started a game studio and made just about every new company mistake you can, to the point that he, an arch-conservative, went to the state looking for a hand out.

    Anyway, the cynic’s view is that he wants the money, not that he need the money, for the studio. Crowdfunding as marketing and all of that sort of thing I have covered before.

    @Kryss – Yeah, I would say that their two examples were built in the mold of classic action RPGs, but I think you have to at least invoke the names Diablo II and Titan’s Quest before you get back to actual classics.

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