If you have not read the news today, then it’s time to catch up on Hero’s Song. The first game from John Smedley’s new team is launching on Kickstarter this morning. This new open world MMORPG can be played in multiple ways. You can actually go through the game single player, host your own server, and play with thousands of others in a sandbox game. John said he always wanted a game like this and now fans are in for a treat.
We started out by talking about his lore master Patrick Rothfuss (read his books). Patrick is a bestselling author and is now working on building this world which has huge depth for a 2D MMO. John confessed to always wanting to write a fantasy novel over the years and he met Pat about six to seven years ago while working on his writing. “He actually reviewed my manuscript,” John explained. Once he had the chance to be out on his own, John reached out to Pat to help him with world building and since October the two of them have been setting up a great format for the game.
“We wanted a world where the gods mattered and mythology was a big deal,” John said. His pantheon system as a direct effect on the servers that are hosted and how the worlds are built. The Lonely God is the big one and the children populate the Pantheon from all different aspects. Gods of war, elves, dwarves, or the sea can appear. When building out your own world you can choose five of the fifteen gods at the beginning. This will impact how your world comes to be. You may have the god of the shadow world as part of your world which can impact the monsters you see or how you fight to come back to life if you die. If you choose the sea god you may have more islands than continents. You do also get to choose terrain features in your world as well. This system just scratches the surface of how the game is being built, but all of this power will be in the player’s hands. Imagine how many different worlds there can be with a god-based system like this?
The game will have a normal class breakdown of warrior, priest, wizard, or rogue, but diversity goes much deeper than that. Once the world is built, the races are formed and you then can go in and choose a character to play. So if you want an elf ranger, you can find the elves on the world and customize a character which will then come with a deep history and lineage. It ties you back into the world that is built. The classes will also expand over time with a unique stat system, but more on characters will be coming up soon.
Each game world is massive and can take weeks to walk from one end to the other. What is important to note is that all the worlds in the game are fantasy. John wants to keep the game in the high fantasy setting, something that is close to his heart. The races also splinter out into some unique divergent subraces. John talked about Ashen Elves who had their homeland destroyed by the Dwarvesn created Golems. The war between these two races can run deep right as you kick off the world you are building. This led us quickly to the topic of death which John explained in detail, “Permadeath is definitely a thing in our game. If you die, you go to the shadow world and have to complete a series of trials to regain your life. There is a reasonable chance to get your character back. We will also have things like resurrection in the game, but it all has a reason behind it. Think of it as a rogue-like game at heart.” And as such, the sting of death won't always be so harsh, because starting anew and trying again is crucial to the flow of the game.
So what happens with the end game? Yes, we thought that too. John continued, “If you reach level fifty and hit the end you can actually ascend.” It sort of works like godhood where you can now become bound to a world and have influence there. You don’t lose your character at all, you just have a much stronger impact on the world or server where you play. It is a lot like Dungeons & Dragons where a character from one of your old adventures lives in myth and legend and you can sometimes run into them with one of your newer characters, or see how they have affected a kingdom or land.
So why is the game going to be 2D? Well John wants to build a very in depth game that can be easy and fun to play. He mentioned the success of Minecraft and Terraria and said, “It’s all about good gameplay, not about graphics.” The game will look similar to Zelda’s A Link from the Past. The team has raised over one million dollars in investments and need about eight hundred thousand more to go, that is where the Kickstarter comes in.
John has gotten a bunch of the original team together from EverQuest and is excited to work with his old friends. The fact that they were able to get Patrick on board was a big boost as well because he looks at games and world building very differently than all of us MMO vets.
We asked John about the release time-frame and he was quick to say that the game will target October for a release, giving them a one year overall cycle. They have been working a lot in the past three months. They expect to hit pre-alpha by June and plan for Alphas and Betas over the summer months. The great thing is John plans to be transparent with backers and fans, he was happy to no longer be tied to PR or marketing. The reason for such a short schedule is that tech is much faster now to build games, even since 2009 things have sped up a lot, and since the game isn't so focused on scripted content they won't need to spend hours building quests and hand-crafting worlds.
Today you can go check out the Kickstarter for Hero’s Song. We will be bringing much more to you about this game in the coming months as we have full coverage and plenty of interviews planned out. Thanks again to John Smedley for taking time to chat with us, and best of luck to the Kickstarter.