Insanity: Doing the Same Thing…

Oh look, Brad McQuaid is back and people are picking on him (pretty accurate?) and/or taking a “hey something to talk about!” (also accurate) approach.

I made my feelings known about Mr. McQuaid back in the day when we couldn’t tell if he was hoaxing or not when coming up for air – and Jim Collin’s “Good to Great” research was pretty clear research that ‘rockstar’ CEOs tend to fail more often than not (its a great read) especially compared to the down at home, technocratic types.

Is it ANY surprise that “our” generation’s ‘rockstar’ CEOs – Lord British, Arundane, and Marc Jacobs (does he even have a cool rockstar-CEO pseudonym?) haven’t done any gaming good since their “one and done” hits that many would chalk up more to timing than to vision.

I tend to agree, after all, if it was vision, follow up games would have been better (because they have the budgets to support their visions!) Yet WAR failed miserably, Tabula Rasa as well, and Vanguard…. ok, they all may have contributed to gaming and gave some people some good times – but on the backs of the “superstars” these three games were supposed to revolutionize the MMO spaces – because look at who they were made by!

So each are now 1/1 in shipping a successful title and I am surprised that anyone is giving them even a fighting chance – all made some pretty good excuses for failing the second time around (issues with big labels, etc.) but the true failing was their leadership – and the employees paid the ultimate price.

They will all get their chances thanks to fandom and Kickstarter and I honestly hope they make something worth playing. I am not holding my breath though. I’d rather support people that make great companies and have a history of success that’s not tied to one win 15 years ago…

5 comments / Add your comment below

  1. Fair enough. On the other hand, if you’ve played literally scores of MMOs over a decade and a half and when you sit back and rank them Everquest comes in first and Vanguard either second or third, then the idea of supporting a third MMO by the person at least partly responsible for both begins to look a lot more rational.

    My main reason for not supporting Pantheon so far is that I find it hard to imagine it will ever get made, not that I fear it wouldn’t be up to the standard of its ancestors. If Brad manages to make a game even half as good as the Vanguard he shipped (let alone the one he said he was making – that would have the best MMO of all time had it ever happened) it will still be about twice as good as the next-best MMO I’ve played since VG launched.

    It’s all too easy to mistake making the best of what’s available for getting what you want. I got just what I wanted from both EQ and Vanguard and I’d like some more, please.

  2. Oh, I loved EQ and was a beta darling, and even was a Lt Guide in charge of training and testing other guides. EQ was my game that launched me in MMOs. I have pretty much literally played every MMO since, and beta tested 25+. I was a huge fan of EQ – I still go back and muck around in it now and again.

    I didn’t get Vanguard. I couldn’t get past the bad parts (and reading you and your blog, I have learned you were a HUGE fan of VG) so while your experience was win/win mine was win/lose.

    And its not about losing, its the *way* they lose. So much attention paid to “who” was making the game and not attention to the problems and issues. Marketed as something it wasn’t, huge promises made that ultimately fell short, and the entire gong show of entire existence of the game.

    I would *love* to learn more about what made VG good but I couldn’t get into it – I beta tested it and tried it at launch too. I am poking you for some blog posts about it.

    Brad to me is a symptom of issues with rockstar game designers/CEOs that is pretty well documented in other industries to constantly be a failure – yet in gaming we focus on the one big win these leaders had decades ago. I have become convinced that it was timing and market immaturity that led to success more than current vision or capability.

    I hope to be proven wrong – MMOs and our love for them is awful stale as of late, and I hope Camelot Unchained captures what made DAOC great while being updated, and Pantheon can do it as well. I am just not putting my money there until I see some results =)

  3. And oh – why don’t you go back to EQ or VG? They are both free to play, both still going strong – what are they missing now for you that they once had? (What are you hoping to get out of the new titles that they don’t provide?)

    That is an honest question – I am curious!

  4. My reply to your comment over at Inventory Full answers some of your questions, I hope. Vanguard really was the real follow-up to EQ for me. The two problems were a) that so many people literally couldn’t get the game to run well enough even to find out whether they liked it and b) most people don’t find bugs as entertaining as I do.

    The former I have total sympathy with. If you buy software and your PC meets minimum specs then you have an absolute right to expect it to run. The latter I am less willing to endorse. There were undeniably a LOT of bugs but we never found them anywhere near off-putting enough to spoil the enormous fun we were having.

    For example, there was one that lasted for a very long time where Mrs Bhagpuss’s pet (she was playing a shaman) would turn on me mid-fight and start attacking me. That was endlessly amusing and I was kind of sorry when it got fixed. The bugs that crashed us regularly weren’t so amusing, it’s true, but we came from playing EQ2 Test server where on occasion we had bugs that stopped us even logging in for days at a time so by comparison it didn’t seem too bad.

    The simple fact about Vanguard, though, is that I’d have cut it any amount of slack for the things it got wrong because of the innumerable things it got right. All those great races and starting areas with their incredible depth and detail. The amazing, original classes (Disciple is still my favorite MMO class ever). The truly enormous, incredibly well-observed and convincing world. The huge number of dungeons and cities, enough for half a dozen modern MMOs. The deep, complex and satisfying crafting system, including quests and faction. Diplomacy!

    The more I think about, with the perspective of hindsight, the more I realize that Vanguard wasn’t just a flawed gem it; it was quite possibly the best MMO, at launch, that I’ve ever played. I struggle to think of anything that begins to come close – it’s as though EQ had launched with Kunark and Velious already finished.

    And yet, as you say, it wasn’t the game Brad promised. Nothing like. If he’d managed to bring that off… But then, it’s the typical MMO story; they are all God Games before we get to play them. Remember the promises David Allen made for Horizons? Not to mention what ANet claimed for GW2.

    So, no, I don’t expect Brad to fulfill all, or even most, of his claims for Pantheon, but on his past record if he can manage half of them he’ll be way ahead of the field. And last time, for all the failures, I would say he did manage more than half of what he promised. Assuming, that is, that it IS Brad that makes this stuff happen when an MMO he’s associated with is being produced. Who knows? Maybe it was all Jeff Butler, in which case roll on EQNext (roll on EQNext anyway!!).

    As for why I don’t still play Vanguard and EQ, well I do, albeit not as often as I’d like. I’ll play both when I have the time and the inclination until they turn the servers off or I can’t press the keys any more, whichever comes first. I don’t expect ever to play either as my main MMO again though, partly because there are so many other worlds to explore but mostly because I like leveling and seeing new places and it’s hard to do that in EQ and impossible in Vanguard.

    In EQ I have been stuck at level 82-84 for years. I am still determined to get to 85 one day but the cap is now 100, which might as well be a million. In Vanguard I gave up at 50.1 or thereabouts. I still plan on leveling Diplomacy though.

    The best thing that ever happened to later EQ was the addition of Mercenaries. As a direct result of that Mrs Bhagpuss and went back and played a further straight six months, seeing many zones we’d never expected to see. If EQ ever emulates EQ2 and offers a free Level 95 (or an SC one) I’ll be back to see a whole new set of zones.

    I really don’t expect Pantheon to excite or satisfy me the way either EQ or Vanguard did. The whole group-focused thing isn’t what ‘m looking for at all. Even so, if Brad ever does get this thing to fly I’ll be going along for the ride, at least for a while.

  5. Thanks for the long reply – I didn’t get through the door in Vanguard after beta due to some of the problems you mentioned (and I wasn’t prepared to build a new machine) so I missed out on a lot of the good you mentioned (which is a shame). I don’t mind bugs much either (non crippling ones, anyway) – I played solely on Test in EQ, solely Pendragon in DAOC as well. I remember the blood mage (?) as a fascinating heal type that I had planned on maining. Bah, I may have to go try it =)

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: