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Ex-Sony Online boss announces RPG Hero's Song

UPDATE: Smedley cans Kickstarter, but game will still release.

UPDATE 26/1/16 4.00pm John Smedley has pulled the plug on his company's new Kickstarter game after just one week.

Hero's Song managed to raise $136,849 of its $800k goal over the past seven days. That's no small amount, but apparently not enough to convince the studio it would hit its target.

"After looking at our funding levels and the reality that we aren't going to reach our funding goals, we've decided that the best thing to do is to end the Kickstarter," Smedley's studio Pixelmage Games explained in a final update to the game's Kickstarter page. "We sincerely appreciate all of the support we got from the backers and the Kickstarter community.

"This was our first Kickstarter and we made mistakes along the way. I want to acknowledge that right up front. We put a lot of time and effort into the Kickstarter, but it's obvious missing things like physical goods hampered our efforts. It's also fair to say because we're early that we didn't have enough gameplay to show the game off enough to get people over the hump.

But the game will still release - and at the same time, too:

"So where do we go from here? Well the good news is that our investors are backing us all the way and we're going to get Hero's Song done exactly when we said we would. I'm also happy to say that we've been able to do this without having to take money from publishers, something that was of key importance to us so that we could remain in creative control.

"We'll be updating you all along the way.. holding development streams (on Cohhcarnage's stream on Twitch) and being completely transparent with our development process. You'll be hearing from us all the time and we'll be updating our website and all of you on a constant basis as we have cool stuff to show.

"Thanks again for all the support you've shown, and thanks for the constructive criticism as well. We took that to heart and we've learned a lot from it. Kickstarter remains an incredible source of both goodwill and community support, and we'll never forget the kindness our backers showed us. Thanks and we'll see you soon!"

ORIGINAL STORY 19/1/16 5.00pm John Smedley, former boss of Sony Online Entertainment/Daybreak Studios, has resurfaced with a new company and a Kickstarter project.

Smedley has founded Pixelmage Games, a new indie studio based in San Diego, California and launched a crowdfunding campaign for pixel art role-player Hero's Song.

The project hopes to raise $800,000 over the next 29 days. More than $10k has been pledged already over the course of the first few hours.

Hero's Song describes itself as a "hardcore action RPG for hardcore gamers", and an "open world rogue-like fantasy".

You'll be able to play online with friends and host games for hundreds of players simultaneously.

At SOE/Daybreak, Smedley oversaw countless online games such as Star Wars Galaxies, Planetside, EverQuest and H1Z1.

12 other staff are working on the project, and their resume reads like a roll-call of recent SOE titles - it looks like Smedley has hired a roster of senior staff from Daybreak to join him.

And, while only announced today, Hero's Song is already well into development. The game's Kickstarter page includes a lot of detail on the game's world, lore and mechanics.

More impressively, the title is slated to launch fully in October 2016, following a pair of beta tests to be held over the summer.

"Pixelmage Games has been in stealth mode since October [2015] while developing the core elements and prototype for Hero's Song," the company explained in a press release.

"It has already raised $1m in funding from private investors and will use Kickstarter to raise another $800k to finish development. Pixelmage intends to deliver the game in October 2016, just nine months from now. The team has a track record of AAA quality games that reach massive audiences."

The team is also working with fantasy author Patrick Rothfuss on the game's narrative, story and world building.

Whatever the result, it's good to see Smedley resurface within the industry after stepping down as Daybreak boss last summer. The exact circumstances of Smedley leaving are still a little unclear - at the time, it was reported he would be transitioning to another role in the company, which clearly did not happen.

But Smedley had faced more than a year of online harassment from hacking group Lizard Squad - the group of teenage hackers who took down PlayStation Network and Xbox Live over Christmas 2014.

The group doxxed and repeatedly swatted Smedley, while Daybreak's games were continuously targeted. And, among the numerous personal attacks was a hoax bomb threat which grounded the flight Smedley had been travelling on.

Smedley was, pretty understandably, incensed by the fact that 17-year-old hacker Julius "zeekill" Kivimaki - convicted of more than 50,700 computer crimes - had avoided jail. Here's hoping that, after time away, the launch of Pixelmage Games and Hero's Song can be a clean break.

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