Mr. Brad McQuaid has a pretty solid reputation. Not exactly the best reputation but a reputation no less. His first real success (and 3rd game) came in the form of Everquest, which was not a bad start to his early gaming career. In 2002, he left Sony, with Jeff Butler, to form a new company called Sigil Games. After 5 years of development, they released their first new, "next generation" MMO called Vanguard: Saga of Heroes (published by SOE.) For anyone familiar with that title, you know it had one of the worst MMORPG launches in history. Horrible launch aside, the title showed great promise with the large beautiful open-non-instanced-world and the ability to build custom houses. Being the money sink that it already was to the developers, 200,000 subscribers became just 40,000 after just 2 months and so the whole team was taken out into a parking lot, by SOE, and canned through a megaphone. Very few members of Sigil were hired by Sony, and luckily for Mr Brad McQuaid, he was included.
Immediately after the title was put on life support (SOE trying to re-coop losses and all), development ceased, and Vanguard wouldn't see a single update for over 2 years. Only the die-hard fans continued to believe in the mmo and even though Brad was hired back by SOE as Creative Consultant, Mr. Brad McQuaid went into shameful hiding (it was that bad). He eventually resurfaced in 2009, in order to clear his name and even decided to provide a detailed post-mortem report on Vanguard, on his personal blog, with the hopes of getting back into the gaming industry. In 2012, he was re-hired by SOE to re-tool Vanguard and make the title Free-to-Play. In 2013 however, the idea was scrapped and Vanguard slowly started to fade into oblivion once again with plans to close the MMO down in 2014. Brad then left SOE, yet again, to form another company called Visionary Realms, Inc.
Introducing Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen
As you can see, the guy has some serious passion and tenacity, all stemming from his early success with Everquest. He just hasn't managed to catch a break and it's not looking any better for him now.
Over the years MMORPGs have grown dull and became these rather simple titles that are designed to appeal to the masses. The more people that can pick up the game, the more money the company can make, simple. However, the hardcore fanbase that lovesMMRPGs like Everquest and Vanguard haven't had a new and refreshing hardcore title in many years.
Mr. Brad McQuaid saw this as an opportunity to make a spiritual successor to the Everquest franchise in an attempt to lure all the "homeless" MMORPG players. Because MMORPGs are really expensive and SOE wasn't willing to cover his development costs this time around, he and his team at Visionary Realms, Inc. decided to hit up Kickstarter.
Now, there is an interesting belief passed around by various MMO developers; "If you quit an MMO that you loved, why did you quit and why do you think we would be willing to make a multi-million dollar update to the same formula that you lost interest in?"
It makes sense from the outside looking in but I think that it's an unfair blanket statement and the next person to do it, just needs to do it right. Unfortunately, it looks like the Kickstarter is not going to do it at all. With just 9 days to go, Visionary Realms, Inc. hasn't even managed to hit 50% of their initial Kickstarter goal. In a sad desperate attempt to gather additional funds, they have been announcing class after class hoping to appeal to gamers from around the net but it's looking grim. For fans of the Everquest type gameplay, it looks like those days have come and gone, never to be seen again.
Perhaps Brad is the curse that people don't want to believe in anymore or perhaps people are burnt out on Kickstarter titles? With Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen's stretch goals pushing up to $5 million, it's a very sad fate for the hopeful team and it should be interesting to see where Brad will go to next.