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Ex-Sony Online Chief Launches Kickstarter Project For 2D RPG 'Hero's Song'

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Former Sony Online Entertainment chief John Smedley announced on Tuesday that he is launching a Kickstarter project for a role-playing video game developed by his new company PixelImage Games.

The new game, Hero's Song, makes use of 2D pixel art animation and incorporates elements of classic RPGs. It was created by a team of developers that includes EverQuest franchise co-creator Bill Trost and best-selling author Patrick Rothfuss.

According to its Kickstarter page, Hero's Song is set in a dynamic world where every time a player starts a new game, the back story changes depending on what in-game gods are chosen to make up the player's pantheon.

The chosen pantheon of gods influences certain aspects of the game such as the terrain, the races and histories of characters, and even the family tree of the player's character.

Players also have the option to host their own game servers, which can support hundreds of users on simultaneous gameplay.

Hero's Song draws inspiration from Dwarf Fortress, a procedurally generated pixel-art game created by indie game developers Tarn and Zach Adams and released in 2006.

Despite its simple text-based graphics, Dwarf Fortress received critical acclaim because of its complex and emergent gameplay.

"I think of [Hero's Song] as a combination of Dwarf Fortress, Diablo III, and Ultima Online," Smedley said.

"We are focusing on very deep gameplay, and not so much on high-end graphics. We all love pixel graphics."

Before founding PixelImage, Smedley was part of Sony Online Entertainment, where he helped developed massively multiplayer online (MMO) games such as PlanetSide 2. The company decided to change its name to Daybreak Game Company and Smedley became its chief executive.

In July 2015, Smedley left Daybreak Game to start his own game developing company, which became PixelImage.

Smedley said they already have $1 million worth of funds for Hero's Song collected through private donations, but they decided to launch the $800,000 Kickstarter project to find out the potential of the game to become a hit with fans.

"The last time I did a startup was 1999, with EverQuest," Smedley said.

"For a long time, I have wanted to start a company that made super-deep games, versus superficial things."

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