The Importance of Community – Hero’s Song

I would like to share some thoughts on the effect off investing in a relationship with your customers. Specificly the relationship between a gamedeveloper and the potential players of the game they are creating. Is this relationship something a game developer should invest time and money in or do you think they should focus on creating the game and don’t need to be distracted by side issues?

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Lets have a look at what is needed to create and maintain a preferably positive relationship with the people that are interested in the game you are developing. First of all one or more people within your team need to act as a representative for the company and that person should be the one to communicate with the community. Usually there is already a person dealing with press-releases, interviews and other promotional issues and that is probably the first person to think of when considering someone for this community task. Remember that this person will be the “face” of the game, the person we have in mind associated with the game. Also it is crucial to regularly create posts, articles and other publications to keep a flow of interest running for the game. If you stay under the radar for too long people will start to lose interest and move on to other games, not checking out the latest news on your game anymore and therefor not spreading any (positive) information to their fellow gamers. New material and facts will give the community a reason to keep coming back for more news. Throwing everything you have on the table all at once will definately create alot of buzz but only for a very short time and if there is nothing new to show for months after that initial pile of information you have lost all those potential costumers as fast as you have invited them to your game-to-be. Information management is key in this proces, less is more. Too much is a waste!

heros-songI did not accidently stumble on these thoughts as you might have guessed by now. There is a game that has grabbed my interest as soon as it was announced back in januari of this year and had me check for information on a weekly basis…. Im talking about Hero’s Song, a 2D piXelart game by PiXelmage Games, a game company created by some veterans in the gaming industry like John Smedly, Jon Handy and Dave Mark. Within the first weeks after the announcement there was info on the game to be released like screenshots, indept information on the gameworld and they use the eXpertise of wellknown streamer CohhCarnage to keep in touch with that side of the gaming community. On their website (www.piXelmagegames.com) it’s possible to opt-in for recieving news and updates on the game and company as well as links to all their social media presence.

On their site they have a page about their announced game Hero’s Song which already contains quite alot of info on the gameworld, systems, characters & races as well as some good looking concept-art. With John Smedley they have a representative who is well known in the gaming industry already and the perfect guy for promoting and representing the game to the community.

Getting back to keeping that community (the potential customers for PiXelmage Games and their game Hero’s Song) involved, i do have some critical notes to mention though. The announcement of the new gamestudio and their game was made on the 19th of januari 2016. That announcement has since then been the only newsitem on their site. I have been checking their site regularly but nothing seems to change or get updated which keeps me in the dark on the progression on the game which i am genuinly looking forward to. I understand they can’t produce more info on the game than is available at this time, also due to the fact there is already quite a bit of info on the game to be found at their website already. They could have considered however to release that information over a longer timespan with bits and pieces now and then to continue lureing people back to their website and keep interest in the game alive. Even little things like new screenshots or revealing teasers/information about the backstory or even characterstories could be a good way to generate recurring buzz. Another idea could have been to have the members of the company introduce themselves to the community with a personal article and/or bits of info on the part they are working on.pixelmage-logo PiXelmage Games has this information on their site as static information which has been there from the start. Very interesting but since it has never been updated it will be checked ones or twice and never again.

The presence of PiXelmage Games and John Smedley on social media, especially Twitter, is alot more active though. I’ve made Tweets and asked questions about Hero’s Song which have been commented on and answered quite fast and to the point. That particular active interaction with the community has kept me coming back to their Twitter page and checking on their Tweets regularly hoping to get some more info that way. It is that positive way of interacting with their community and potential costumers that PiXelmage Games should focus on and try to eXpand to their other means of communicating, for eXample their website as mentioned before.

To my opinion the community is a very important subject to deal with as a (game)developer and not to be treated without care. The time and effort you invest into your fans will be payed back to you by means of free promotion, free critics with genuine interest in creating a good product and they will also be your first customers. When you have the product to look forward to, the right people to make it and the presence and tools to get people hyped and informed, take that last hurdle and embrace YOUR community!

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Are you game?

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As i have writen in a previous blogpost i enjoy gaming and when im not gaming i follow game news via blogs, websites, magazines, podcasts and social media. Over the years my preferred type of game shifted a couple of times from TBS, shooter, adventure, MMO and (A)RPG besides all the occasional games that cant be placed in a certain catagory. Usually it is with the change of a game catagory that i really get into a new game or get all hyped with anticipation when nearing its release.

This last year i was moving back and forth between some MMOs (SWTOR, LOtRO, Guild Wars 2) i play for some years already and a couple of (mainly) ARPGs like Diablo 3 and Marvel Heroes. I tried to look around for some new games that might fancy my interest and tried a few but none of them really clicked.

Last week however i suddenly read about the announcement of a new game by a formiliar name in the gaming industry. The game, Hero’s Song, is scheduled for release in fall 2016 and is produced by PiXelmage Games. One of the founders of this new game studio is John Smedley who we know from Daybreak Games, formerly SOE.

I wont bore (or eXcite!) you with a full eXplanation of the game since that can be found at http://www.piXelmagegames.com along with media and introduction of all the people working on their first project. I do like to tell you what made me so eXcited. For years everyone is used to (almost) all games being 3D and with the upcoming VR everyone is looking ahead to new and even more immersive gameplay and graphics. Hero’s Song however is a 2D, piXelart style game that takes us back into nostalgic times with games like Chrono Trigger and the Diablo 1 & 2 series. It promises to be as deep as current day games with 10.000’s equipable items, a housing system and a consistant & dynamic world with the possibility to host your own servers. Think about playing with a bunch of your close friends and/or guildmates.

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Ofcourse i can tell you about the races and roles for the game but like i said you can find all that information on their website and im not trying to copy and paste or rewrite any of that. I will be following the developement of this game as closely as i can though so i will be keeping you up to date on major updates and eXciting news.

Last thing to mention is that PiXelmage Games decided to get Hero’s Song on Kickstarted despite (or maybe because!) an already guaranteed $1million dollar funding by investors. To remain independent for the most part it was hoping to get aditional funding so there is no need to get any more investors. After a rocky start and adjusting their Kickstarter project a couple of times they decided after a week to cancel the Kickstarter. They ensured everyone that the game is not in danger since they found new investors but the shot at Kickstarter funding sadly didnt work out.

Im sure there will be other oppertunities to somehow back the project. There will probably be a way to preorder the game at some point but even before that i think the best we can do to help make this project a succes is to give it the attention it deserves. So keep an eye on the PiXelmageGames.com website, follow them via @piXelmagegames on Twitter or Facebook. If you are into gamestreams i would advice you to follow CohhCarnage on Twitch who will be spreading official news on Hero’ Song via his streams.

Ofcourse i cannot tell you at this point if the game will be as good as it sounds right now but i can hope and dream about a game in a new catagory that once again will get me totally hooked… Will you stay around to see if it will?!