There is a bit of meme going around that Vanguard has been a massive failure, Sigil is doomed, “the Vision” has failed, and so on and so forth. I have to admit, I don’t get the logic behind some of this.
I’d agree that Vanguard wasn’t a blockbuster WoW-killer. Frankly, I never expected it to be, myself, but that’s a somewhat different topic. There were several reasons why I personally think that ended up to be so…
- High technical requirements for the client (particularly video)
- Poor release timing (within a week of WoW’s first expansion?)
- Released too early/lack of “polish” (bugs, etc)
- Distinctive gameplay elements not emphasized early on
None of those was a deal-killer by itself, IMO. Each was a nail for the coffin, however, because they either failed to excite or literally discouraged people in that all-important first impressions category.
The part I don’t understand is the effort to translate that into a knock against “the Vision”. There is plenty of interesting game play in Vanguard, the game is not an Archlord (where the primary commentary I saw was “it’s so damn boring”) or the like. There is only one factor, which I did not list above, that I can see as having been related to Brad McQuaid’s “Vision” as I understood it.
- The game does not feel “casual-friendly”
Now, even this is somewhat off-base. Many innovations that were originally heralded as “casual-friendly” are included in Vanguard: quest NPC indicators floating over people’s heads, relatively short, step-by-step quest progressions, most mobs (at least early on) are on short timers (very little waiting), etc. Even the “death penalty” was pretty restrained, tho still a bit heavy in comparison to most recent titles.
Most of the commentary I see, however, rails against the tech requirements or bugs, and jumps directly to proclaiming that “the Vision was wrong”. To me, there is a huge disconnect there. It actually starts to sound a little like some people haven’t gotten over certain episodes from EQ1, many many years ago…
That basic argument then gets spun in one of two ways: 1) this is bad for innovation, because it will scare off investors, or 2) this is good for innovation because it will prove that same-old, same-old is not a guarantee of success. If you forced me to choose, I’d pick #1 over #2, but frankly it’s a false choice, IMO. I don’t think most investors understand the industry to that depth, anyway.
The only conclusion I think can be drawn from Vanguard’s difficulties is that the first commandment of MMO production is very unforgiving.
- THOU SHALT NOT launch with a buggy, unfinished product.
Now I admit, I didn’t follow the in-depth Vanguard commentary over the years, so I might have missed something. However, I find it hard to see how that could be a knock against Mr. McQuaid’s vision of game design… or anyone else’s, for that matter.
Unless he said at some point “this game design is so awesome, I could release it all filled with bugs and glitchy, and you’ll still love it!” Then I guess people would have a point.