SOE Crosses the Streams, Mixes Vanguard, F2P, and Brad McQuaid

I had to check the calendar… and then double check just to make sure this wasn’t some sort of April Fools mis-fire.

Here it is, early July, and Massively was reporting that Brad McQuaid was back at SOE and working on Vanguard and pointing at an SOE developer spotlight profile of him.

The man with “the vision” is back and on the team that is reviving Vanguard and remolding to the free to play model.  It… boggles the mind.

Not that I am anti-Brad.  He was the right person at the right time to make EverQuest, something for which he has won endless respect from myself and others.

Well, except for that Qeynos sewer faction…

But the right time was… well… the late 1990s, wasn’t it?

I mean, the first time around with Vanguard… there was something of a vision vs. execution gap to be sure, which ended in tears about five years ago, the demise of his company as it was bought out, and a lot of work by SOE over the next year to make the game playable.  So bringing him back seems to trend towards the “crazy/insane” end of the spectrum at first glace.

Then again, he is back as a game designer.  Regardless of past any past vision for the game, he is there to make things work within the confines of the situation as it stands today.  As much as ones emotions want to say, “Uh oh, something wacky is going to happen here!” or make some sort of “Steve Jobs returns to Apple” analogy, it just doesn’t fly.

What we really have is a member of the MMO industry in a new position.  Everybody needs a job.  People come and go all the time.  I just wonder how things feel for him and those around him to be back at SOE after all that has happened in the last 15 years.

What do you think?  News? Not news?  Any meaning at all in this?

13 thoughts on “SOE Crosses the Streams, Mixes Vanguard, F2P, and Brad McQuaid

  1. Anjin

    I followed your link to the Developer Spotlight and was forced to make a saving throw vs. insanity. I’m not sure, but I think I rolled poorly. I hate to clog up your comments with useless blather, but I have no idea what to think about this.


  2. Green Armadillo

    “I was directly or indirectly part of Sony for five years. Then, after a long break, I returned to SOE in February of this year.”
    “I played a lot during and before beta. Then I took a long break, but began playing again a couple of months before returning to SOE.”

    I don’t expect hard-hitting journalism from official game websites, but “a long break” is a pretty impressive understatement for one of the more notorious incidents in the history of the genre.


  3. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    I know what you mean on the failed saving throw. I could barely put together a tiny post that had any coherence, as the whole concept was pulling my brain in too many directions. Part of me thinks this is a big deal and should mean something, and part thinks it is nothing at all. Man gets job, gets on with his life.

    @GA – Yeah, a pretty light touch on the last five years. Heck, I wonder what happened to the startup he co-founded, which is still mentioned on his web site. (Though all his “voyage of self-discovery” posts seem to be missing now.)


  4. Aufero

    On the positive side, game design is definitely in his skillset, and it’s not like anyone who worked on Vanguard back when he was demonstrating that he should never be put in charge of another development project is still there.

    As long as they keep him away from any kind of administrative or production management job, he should be an asset.


  5. Kevin Brill (@kevinbrill)

    I saw this earlier as well and am *still* confused. This almost seems like a publicity stunt. There’s a Penny Arcade comic out there just begging to be written.

    That being said, now I’m a little bit intrigued too, and may actually consider coming back to VG even after I gave up on it after it was left to fester two or three years ago. I still have really fond memories of the game and gave it a good run even after it edged down to two US servers. Maybe Brad will be able to bring back some of the magic?

    Final tally: confused with a splash of intrigued.


  6. HarbingerZero

    There is little that can be said to redeem the debacle that was Vangaurd’s launch and Sigil’s demise, but…I have to say, I was always impressed with the original vision for Vanguard that he laid out. If he has someone to hold his leash, and he is just working on game design, well…despite the past, I think this is a win for SOE.


  7. Grimjakk (@grimjakk)

    News. Besides… publicity is publicity and Vanguard’s F2P conversion could use a bit of buzz.

    I don’t want to come off as being cynical with that comment… I really hope it all works out. =)


  8. Dyrk

    It’s a win. I really enjoyed Vanguard…for a while. There are some interesting and unique things about it that put it on my “must try again, someday” list. This announcement only highlights that fact and intrigues me to the possibilities. Plus, the realistic expectations are so low that there’s basically no downside.


  9. Pingback: The Apocalypse is Upon Us! « Harbinger Zero

  10. Toldain

    Yeah, VG has lots of really interesting game design bits in it. So that’s good. Of course, all the rhetoric about games becoming too easy and we’re gonna make one that’s really hard was a big warning sign at the time.


  11. bhagpuss

    The Vanguard Brad said he was making would have been the best MMO ever. The game that eventually appeared was still pretty damn good.

    How much any of that really had to do with Brad I have no idea. Good luck to him, whatever.


  12. wraith808

    Bringing him on as designer, and keeping him in rein would not seem to be madness. Giving him free rein as he had in Vanguard pre-SOE would seem to be the recipe for another tabloid worthy MMO story.


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