June 2009


Back from his trip to a Tibetan lama, or to Tahiti to paint watercolors, or just hangin’ out dirt biking, Brad McQuaid keeps up his blog output with the first of a promised series with his Vanguard: Post-mortem Part 1.

It’s really hard to avoid pile-on, and I’m sure that Mr. McQuaid is sincere when he says he’ll be focusing most of his analysis on what he, himself did wrong.

But in this first post, he essentially says that one reason why Vanguard failed is that they didn’t have enough money, and they didn’t have enough money because they didn’t get a promise in writing before Microsoft sold Sigil.

This post has been linked more than almost any other MMO post in recent history. Even if only half of it’s true, even if that’s just one guy’s perspective — and it is — does this sound like a company that needed more of a blank check?

The most shocking reality that I don’t think anyone really ever understood is that Vanguard was made (exclusively the design staff, I should say) COMPLETELY by amateurs. People who had been hired less than a week with 0 prior experience were tasked with designing entire newbie areas that shipped. People who had never produced a game in their life were asked to fix a 40 million dollar fuck up. People with no experience were asked to fix the item, diplomacy, ability, content, quest and pretty much every system in the game.

Sometimes, in a hole, somebody has to tell you to put the spade down.

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Differing opinions this week on whether the 38 Studios project — “Copernicus” — is shaping up to be a secret superhit or just a secret mess.

The story so far: Baseball player makes lots of money. Baseball player likes MMOs. Baseball player hires fantasy novelist and cartoonist to create IP, and hires behind-the-scenes talent away from several large MMO companies.

Keen says 38’s interest in secrecy and innovation hint at a project lacking focus. Rog says to leave them alone and let them do their own thing, trusting that they’ve hired a lot of good people. He draws a parallel to Bioware, where 2 doctors who liked video games started their own gig.

I agree with Rog that opening your content up to nerdraging fans too early is an invitation for too many cooks to spoil the stew. But here’s the thing that makes me uneasy.

Check this page out.

(more…)

Vidkun Quisling changed factions, too.

Massively reports that faction changes are coming to World of Warcraft.

I hope they’ll work this in as in-game content, but my suspicion is that it’s going to be a micropayment-based out-of-game system, which kinda stinks. One of my favorite things about EQ2 was the betrayer system, that lets you take your race/class combo to the opposing faction through a series of quests.

Edited to clarify: I think this is a great idea, irrespective of how it’s done. But it would be even swankier if it added content to the game itself instead of just being a convenience for players.

"Gentlemen, to evil."

There’s a 109-page thread over at the Star Wars: The Old Republic forums debating what role, if any, raiding should play in the new game.

I confess, I posted. But I kinda regret having done so now. The last thing SW:ToR needs is to listen to fans too much during development. Down that road lies Vanguard-esque insanity. Sometimes the best thing fans can do is get out of the way.

Man, this is deeply bizarre. Blizzard is asking Rog to change the names of toons he’s had since the dawn of WoW, implying that someone else had already taken the names before him.

Given that the guy was playing on that server before I was, and I’ve been there since Jesus was a baby, I think Blizz has got a wire crossed somewhere.

what game is this? good luck guessing

OK, this is a pretty minor complaint, but I think it’s indicative of my feelings about the game in question.

Pictured above is the login screen of a reasonably popular massive title that’s out now. This title has achieved some success in attracting players, and a fair amount of praise from the genre’s press.

Take a close look at the login screen.

Notice anything missing?

The freakin’ name of the game is nowhere to be seen on the login screen. Doesn’t that seem a bit weird to you?

"House of Games," David Mamet's first movie as a director, is the source of the title for this post.

The Common Sense Gamer and everyone else under the sun are reporting about Mark Jacobs leaving Mythic, and one of the Bioware docs taking over the EA MMO assembly line.

Seems pretty clear this is EA betting the farm on the Bioware stallion, MMO-wise.

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