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The staff of gets together to bring you some behind the scenes insights on stories, the industry and the site itself.

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Contributors: BillMurphy,MikeB,garrett,SBFord,Grakulen,

Story of the Day January 13th, 2014 - A Game No One Else Will Make, For Everyone Else

Posted by BillMurphy Monday January 13 2014 at 7:51PM
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Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen has a Kickstarter, and I'd almost guess it's a foregone conclusion that Brad McQuaid's project will be funded at least at the $800,000 Visionary Studios is seeking. But what intrigues me most about Brad's next big project is that it's much better poised to do what I think he hoped Vanguard would do years ago: serve up a shiny piece of nostalgia to MMO gamers wanting a refreshed but still traditional MMORPG experience.

Early alpha image from Pantheon.

What I think is the key to this announcement isn't that it's McQuaid, or a Fantasy MMO, or another Kickstarter project from another developer of the Golden Age. What's key about Pantheon is that it's design tenets are decidedly old school.  Let me list them here, straight from the Kickstarter.

  • An awareness that content is king
  • A belief that game economies should be predicated on delaying and minimizing item value deflation
  • A commitment to a style of play that focuses on immersive combat, and engaging group mechanics.
  • An understanding that a truly challenging game is truly rewarding 
  • An expectation that the path of least resistance should also be the most entertaining
  • A mindset that Designed Downtime should be a part of the game to ensure players have time to form important social bonds. 
  • A belief that an immersive world requires intelligent inhabitants
  • An understanding that faction should be an integral part of interacting with the world and its citizenry.
  • A commitment to creating a world where a focus on group play will attract those seeking a challenge
  • A belief that the greatest sense of accomplishment comes when it is shared
I'm of the mind that there are many MMORPG gamers from days gone by who believe these virtues are exactly what they'd want in a modern MMORPG. They want the shiny new technology, with the old way of making content and building worlds. Keep an eye on the site tomorrow for Ryahl's List of things he misses from old MMOs, and you'll see that Pantheon is right up his alley.
But I also must wonder if this sort of game is truly what many longtime MMO-ers want, or whether it's just what they think they want. Don't get me wrong, I'll be backing Pantheon because I believe this kind of game is needed in the industry. We've gone far too long (until very recent developments) where the only game being made was just a copy of the staples on some checklist that studios thought an MMO should be made of. In 2014 and 2015, we're going to see a new era of MMO... one that gives everyone a kind of game they should and could enjoy. In many cases, there will be quite a few games you're liable to hop about in, or at least for some of you: that one game you've been waiting for.
Pantheon is smartly going after a niche of hardcore traditional MMO-ers. I do think there are enough of them (us) to make a go at this new world, so long as death runs, hard dungeons, and forced grouping aren't all we find in Terminus. The old ways are good, but let's hope Brad and his team take at least a few of the modern trappings and add them in.  Let's also hope Brad's learned the harsh lessons from Vanguard's rocky development (I'm more than willing to bet he has).
What are your thoughts on Pantheon? Will you be backing the Kickstarter, or waiting and seeing?
logan400k writes:

I would support it even if I do not play it because I want to support variety and all kinds of play. Personally though, I am content that my MMO has other people wandering around in it, who if I choose to, I can group up with and play with. If I do not choose to do so, I am still able to be a viable participant in the game as a whole. I do not believe he best content should be for groups, it should just be easier for groups.

If I were to visit a throw back idea, it might be Earth & Beyond, which had an interesting story, some EVE like elements, and experience for exploration and trading. The game was not perfect but it had real personality.

Mon Jan 13 2014 10:24PM Report
Slapshot1188 writes: My thoughts are that Brad is a better designer than CEO.  He is listed as the "Chief Creative Officer" and not CEO here, so that gives me a lot of hope. Tue Jan 14 2014 6:22AM Report
aspekx writes:

more power to them.


while i just cannot bring myself to support the project currently, if he pulls it off i would certainly be in line to purchase and play this game.


i hope that the monetization that RGarriott has been using doesn't infect this world as well. not all old school gamers have arrived in the midwinter of life's journey financially well off.

Tue Jan 14 2014 6:39AM Report
Ziegler writes:

How long has he been clean and is he still attending his meetings.

Til those questions are answered, I dont look forward to anything he is involved in.

Tue Jan 14 2014 8:52AM Report
Telondariel writes: Interesting.  Definitely something I will keep reading up on to see how it fleshes out. Tue Jan 14 2014 8:57AM Report
Avarix writes:

Personally looking forward to this. Not sure why you had to preface it by saying this is just what us old school gamers "think" we want. As if we're simply confused and the current heavy solo based, follow the arrow and win a prize, that is going on is the only way to game. This is exactly what I want. I doubt this is what the 10mil World of Warcraft peak players now want, but I am well aware of what interests me.


I'll be following this one closely.

Tue Jan 14 2014 9:04AM Report
shava writes:

In a world of Safeways, will the economy support a Whole Foods?  In a market that has a zillion Ace Hardwares and Home Depots, can you create a (pick any of a dozen niche metal, wood, electrical, maker, various fab specialty consumer retailers that do just fine tyvm)?


Yet for MMOs the prevailing "wisdom" for years has been to create WOW clones.  And investors and publishers with cold feet (I'm looking at EA's acquisition of SWTOR here) routinely take novel, market-expanding concepts, and jam them into a WOW-clone shaped hole on the basis of market research that is entirely invalid for an experiential product.  (This is to say, you can't fully judge a game until you see it played in community.)


Hand a person a teaspoon of cocoa powder, and tell them to eat it.  Now, a tablespoon of butter.  A teaspoon of vanilla.  A big spoon of sugar.  They aren't likely to be very happy with you.


But if you argue that if the marketing team only gave you time, the customer would really enjoy the chocolate!  They'll laugh in your face.  You told them everything that was going into the final product -- you're just stoned.


Much as devs may not make the best CEOs -- trust me, there are excellent reasons to take some decisions out of the hands of the beancounters.

Tue Jan 14 2014 7:46PM Report
kjempff writes:

McQuaid is one of the few who actually understand what will appeal to a rpg gamer who wants a fantasy world with freedom to play and form their character. Who knows that feeling of accomplishment only comes from beeing challenged, to fail, to learn, and to succeed; Who knows that succeeding means little if You have no one to share it with; Who knows gamers like us want to create our own stories and not follow some planned progression plan full of shiny arrows and premade storyline.


So anything he is involved with should catch the interest of the many posters on this site who keep asking why there are no games like these anymore, who were so excited for the future of mmorpg 10 years ago but didn't foresee the path it would turn. 


Now that the praises are done, I would say as much as Everquest to me is the best mmorpg ever made to this day, this Pentheon project is just a little too close, classes, races look to be the same.

I would like to see some fresh ideas while staying true the virtues as described in "Tenants". And if anyone should be able to come up with new ideas, it should be these guys. They have to distance themselves a bit from Everquest. If they will succeed in getting funded is hard to say, as we who would want this kind of game, are limited limited in numbers, and have grown skeptic of promises. 

On the other hand if they make this gamev, I am sure it will suck in players who are not yet aware that this kind of game is actually very rewarding. Those who play mmorpgs thinking this is kindda fun, but I feel boxed in. Well, good luck Pantheon, hope the kickstarter succeed.

Wed Jan 15 2014 4:54AM Report
aweige22 writes: existing,your Them assist Fri Jan 17 2014 12:18AM Report writes:
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