Woot! Five days without writing. I CAN resist!
Now, in honor of Vanguard’s launch, here’s my view.
I expect Vanguard to perform worse then EQ2 in the mid term, not because of game design, but because of execution. Bad production choices, bad focus, bad UI, bad engine, bad art, bad models and animations etc…
Bad pretty much down to the little things. Bad for example in something that shouldn’t be all that hard to achieve in a AAA title: fonts.
What saved EQ2 was the obstinacy and dedication of its devs. Despite the horrible premises the game improved considerably. It required time and work. I doubt Sigil will do the same, especially when Brad McQuaid was already talking about their second and third mmorpg when Vanguard wasn’t even in beta.
In the case I’m right and the game won’t perform well, I blame Brad for bad direction first, not for bad game design. I see the popular “hardcore vs casual” debate as secondary in this case.
The awful premises of EQ2 equal pretty much the bad premises of Vanguard. I don’t think Sigil will match the dedication of EQ2’s team, so this is why I believe it will perform worse. I had NO faith even in EQ2’s team, so this doesn’t mean that also the Vanguard guys cannot prove me wrong. We’ll see. At the same time I also think the two games will compete against each other and I just don’t see enough space for both. Either EQ2 or Vanguard will have to withdraw. It’s not a good scenario.
From a more general point of view I don’t think that having many MMO titles is going to payback, especially in the longer term. The increasing competition will contract the market and push the most strong titles. I don’t see as a very smart plan to disperse your resources too much. I think SOE should instead focus on fewer things and try *harder than ever*. This was already proven true when with EQ2 they decided to make less expansions and make them more polishes and well-rounded.
Scott Hartsman confirmed that the choice had a very positive impact. I believe the same principle is valid for SOE as a whole.
On the forums I see Darniaq and Geldon defending Vanguard rabidly (and in a few cases not even objectively), I respect and value their ideas, but I have to say they have terrible taste with games ;)
Now a few quotes. Haemish:
I’m pretty sure that no matter how many subscriptions VG gets, we’ll never hear a straight, true number of subscribers out of SOE anyway unless that number beats WoW.
Which it won’t.
What’s relevant is how profitable is VG, and those numbers we’ll never get. The rest is dick-waving for press releases, and I’m pretty sure the milimeter beater that will be VG’s subscriber numbers won’t be the subject of a press release. We might get the “X number of VG boxes sold!” back-patting press release, but that’s about it.
That’s exactly it. There’s nothing left to rant about in any way. If these fuckers don’t even want to try to create an engaging experience from the first moment you log in, then fuck’em. These people are never, ever, ever going to learn. And when I say these people, I mean MMOG devs. No one wants to think outside the goddamn box, and the people that do think outside the box almost never create any sort of cohesive experience. I realize f13 started off pretty MMOG-centric, and I realize I used to be a lot more tolerant of MMOGs. But it’s just not worth the expulsion of any sort of energy anymore. The most any shitty game is going to get out of me is some obscure joke and a photoshop. I just don’t have the sort of time to waste that I used to have on this sort of shit. There’s too many good games. When a _good_, from the get-go, MMOG comes out, I’ll gladly come back and talk about it ad nauseum. But until then? Meh. Waste of customer’s money. Waste of development money. Just a big waste of money. Want something positive? I’m sure there’s lots of good people at these companies, and I’m glad they have jobs. The videogame industry is a harsh place and those people are the glue that keeps it together. Too bad QA doesn’t get paid enough to have the cajones to call something as they see it. When that happens, we might see some positive change.