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The Call of Aradune November 1, 2013

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in Camelot Unchained, EverQuest, Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen, Shroud of the Avatar, TorilMUD, Vanguard SOH.
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The sword of Aradune has been drawn.  Brad McQuaid is back in play.

That sword

That sword

The word is out.  Reports are popping up around our little online neighborhood.

Brad McQuaid is putting together a project for Kickstarter, which he describes:

The game is high fantasy and if you’ve played EQ 1 and/or Vanguard, you’ve got a general idea of what the game’s about…

And part of me reads that and goes, “Whoo-haaa!” or some other loudly affirmative interjection.

After all, there was a time and place where we were clearly on the same page when it came to online gaming.  We both were playing TorilMUD back in the day and he, along with a group of talented people, many of whom also played TorilMUD, and created EverQuest.

To this day I cannot describe the combined feeling of newness and amazement mixed in with equally strong feelings of comfort and a sense of being exactly where I wanted to be when I first started playing EverQuest.

And that is what springs to mind right away when I think about Brad McQuaid.

Unfortunately, he also brings up Vanguard, which is sort of the antithesis of EverQuest to me.

Well, except for that Qeynos sewer faction...

What has he done for us lately?

There were certainly a lot of things that went wrong on that path.  The list of mistakes… with I can sort of sum up as “too much breadth, not enough depth” or “too much big picture ambition, not enough focus on the details”… was long.  And it was crowed with arrogance that I found off-putting.  It was the spiritual forefather of Tabula Rasa or Warhammer Online, the big draw based on a reputation that failed to pan out.

I suppose that Brad McQuaid can get a little satisfaction out of the fact that his creation outlasted those two titles.  But it damn near did not.  While I was happy enough for SOE to step in and save Vanguard, I couldn’t tell you if that was the best business decision for SOE.  It is certainly not obvious if SOE made much money with the game relative to the effort it took to fix it, and less certain is what SOE could have done with that money.  Finish The Agency maybe?  who knows?

Anyway, I bring up those two other titles, Warhammer Online and Tabula Rasa for a pretty obvious reason.  Mark Jacobs and Richard Garriott both had initial successes in the early MMO market, turned that into big projects that failed to meet expectations, and then turned around years later to do smaller, Kickstarter focused projects allegedly based on what they learned on their respective roads through life.

That, in turn, required them to come clean on what they actually learned in their failures and how they would apply that to the current projects, Camelot Unchained in the case of Mark Jacobs and Lord British’s Shroud of the Avatar: Forsaken Virtues, which they did with mixed results.

Richard Garriott spent a lot more time blaming EA, NCSOFT, and people less talented than him along with playing the nostalgia card rather than going into much detail.   Mark Jacobs was more forthcoming, especially in terms of focus and what the Kickstarter financing really meant to the project.  But then he had to mention how Warhammer Online still had a great rating on Metacritic, which was something of a face palm moment, as well as a reminder of the value of pre-release reviews around something like an MMO.

So that time is coming for Brad McQuaid.

He is going to have to stand up and not only be able to talk about his new project and where he wants to go with it, but also what he learned from Vanguard and how those lessons will be applied to this project.  I realize that he has spoken frankly before about what he felt went wrong at Sigil Games when they were working on Vanguard.  But that is always the easy part.  Now is the time to talk about practical application of the lessons learned.  How will he keep these things from happening again.

And I am expecting to hear a lot about focus and managing expectations and keeping things small to start with and then building upon a solid foundation.

Anyway, that should make for some interesting reading when it comes to pass.

Comments»

1. C. T. Murphy - November 1, 2013

Agreed 100%. I am always excited to see what Brad McQuaid can come up with, but I need to know that his dreams and ego are both in check.

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2. bhagpuss - November 1, 2013

When Trion goes down in flames maybe Brad can hire Scott Hartsman as Project Manager. If only he’d done that for Vanguard…

All I can say is that Everquest remains my favorite MMO of all time and Vanguard, despite all its many flaws, remains in my personal top five. My immediate thought on reading Keen’s post was “this is probably going to be the first Kickstarter I sign up for”.

The most disturbing part is that if he does get this thing off the ground, I’ll most likely be pushing 60 years old when I get to play it.

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3. HarbingerZero - November 1, 2013

When Trion “goes down in flames?” Really?

And even if it did – Scott has his path laid out for him – why stoop to lowly Project Manager when he too could take to Kickstarter and finally make the Game to End All Games.

If Brad can give some good detail – some proof that this will not be vaporward or half-assed the way Vanguard was…then I’m in. But somehow I’m not thinking that’s what we will get.

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4. Hemvar - November 1, 2013

Never played Vanguard, but I’ve played me some Everquest. This seems interesting.

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5. Doone W. - November 2, 2013

The only way Aradune can pull off his great ideas is to surround himself with people who will ground him and say no sometimes. The disaster that was Vanguard shouldn’t have been under his control and is unfortunately the last great thing he embarked upon. He may be great at dreaming things up and Everquest is certainly in his debt, but he proved to not be the person to execute on complex game design.

I’d be willing to give the man a second chance for sure. But there’s no way I’d back any of his projects without knowing there are people working on them who can pull him down to Earth when he’s stuck in the clouds.

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