EverQuest Next: Pie in the Sky

I was waiting the announce of EverQuest Next and I’m seeing the hype is now rising quickly.

My comment at this point is: “Too thick vaporware, didn’t see if there’s a real game in there.”

Slightly longer version: I remain curious about it, but what they showed is a spiked tech demo that can’t help understand what the actual game will be.

It’s curious that something similar happened with Brad McQuaid’s Vanguard, on different premises but with similar patterns. What is in common is that now the big public out there has an idea of the game entirely built on fancy expectations. SOE didn’t show an actual game, they showed suggestions about a possible game. Smoke and mirrors. Every potential player out there right now has his own personal idea of how the game will work, making it coincide with a personal ideal. Which has probably very little in common with how EverQuest Next will concretely work. Wishful thinking.

Roll back seven years ago, when Vanguard’s hype started to rise. Thankfully I have a site with hard memory:

Your report becomes: “Vanguard will be wonderful because it will be the game of your dreams”. And the game of your dreams cannot be bad, right? This is the sense of your article. A failing-proof slogan.

As long we deal with dreams we can be happy, but someday this EverQuest Next will have to launch. It will need to put fancy ideas into a coherent, pragmatic whole. That’s when all the different ideas people right now have of the game will have to crash down into one.

When you announce something you should announce something concrete. You should put the foundation of your product on the hard rock of solid ideas motivated as a coherent whole. Stuff you can touch and that surprises your target public because of its reality. Here instead we just have vague fluff thrown with a vague gesture just so your imagination fills the rest and makes of it whatever you like. It’s not a real game, it’s not a concrete thing.

Hence, EQ Next can’t be judged at this point. We know nothing more than before. We just saw some fantasy-style models moving within Planetside 2’s engine, and that’s it.

Seven years ago Vanguard claimed being a third generation MMO. I remind everyone that in 2013 we’re still stuck at generation 1.5.

Edit: The parallel with Vanguard wasn’t far fetched at all. Here’s what I found out:

Fun fact: EverQuest Next big guy (Darrin McPherson), aka Lead Designer, was Senior Game Designer on Vanguard, before moving back to SOE.

My primary focus has been the development of the Vanguard combat system and the design of our adventuring player character classes.

Before Vanguard he was at EA working on Earth & Beyond.

Same for Jeff Butler, who’s Creative Director on EQ Next. He was Co-Executive Producer and then PRESIDENT (of Sigil) on Vanguard. At least he was also an old timer of Everquest who moved to Vanguard with Brad McQuaid.

Anyway these are the real guys making this new game. Both of them coming straight from that amazing piece of game design and astounding success that was Vanguard. In leading positions on it, and even more prominent on EQ Next. An industry built on merit.

Oh, Moorgard too is back. Coming straight from that other astounding success that was Kingdoms of Amalur.

At this point I wonder why they didn’t hire Brad McQuaid too. He would fit in perfectly.

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