Last year at SOE Live I took part in a Magic the Gathering draft that a number of SOE developers and convention attendees took part it. Spoiler Alert: I’m horrible at MTG. It has been at least 10 years since I had played Magic so I did not expect to do very well. The first match I drew I sat down across from Brad McQuaid. This was the first time I had ever met Brad and I was happy to make his acquaintance. Brad had built a blue deck and I had some horribly annoying white deck that I constructed that essentially did nothing more than give me small heals and kept me hanging around just to annoy my opponent. Brad easily dispatched me two games to none while trying to essentially re-teach me Magic because I had forgotten some of the finer details.
I learned more than just how to play in a Magic draft that night. I got to know a gentleman that some consider a legend in the industry. His successes have not come without bumps in the road; and most, if not all, of us are familiar with the Vanguard snafu. I’ve also heard the rumors of Brad eccentricities but since I can’t confirm them I’m not going to spread those here.
For those of you that are now wondering, “What’s with the Dr. Doofenshmirtzesque back story,” it serves to set up this. Having met Brad I got the impression that he was a decent designer and an okay guy in a general setting. Because of that it was with mixed feelings when I saw Pantheon pop up on Kickstarter I knew it was dead on arrival.
I hoped for everyone involved that it would do well but I knew it wouldn’t. To begin with I think they were trying to make a game that only a small handful of people wanted. It’s pretty obvious that SOE had already passed on the opportunity to develop this game. SOE President John Smedley teased his twitter followers that Brad was working on something pretty cool before his Kickstarter came out. If it was that cool why wasn’t SOE developing it? Because the concept and Brad were too big of a risk. The Second biggest thing going against Pantheon was none other than Brad. Brad’s a designer, not a businessman. Feature creep, scope creep, these are the things that happen to the best project managers and if you have can’t keep them under control they will eat you alive. See Vanguard as an example. At the time Brad was only the Chief Creative Officer (CCO) but even that was too much.
It’s easy to sit here and throw stones at Pantheon after the fact. My point this week isn’t really to pile on to the missteps that were made with the failed Pantheon Kickstarter. It’s to caution all of you and bring awareness to what is going on now. Brad’s still trying to work on getting Pantheon off the ground. He has made the move from CCO to Chief Executive Officer (CEO). On May 4th Brad made a lengthy post on their official website and sent out a letter to all of the former Kickstarter backers. Brad is trying to assemble a volunteer team to make this project a reality. The following is taken from that letter:
First, team members will begin as volunteers. This is because 1. we don't have the funding right now to pay, 2. we're a little weary and concerned about setting a bunch of people up as remote, paid contractors like we did when this project started....
Visionary Realms Inc, is broke and Brad is trying to get a team of possibly inexperienced guys on the cheap. Really the only problem with this is Brad’s been accused of pocketing $45,000 of the backer funding from the post Kickstarter crowd funding campaign. The contractors that worked for him have all reportedly been paid and none of them are coming forward saying they have not been. Brad apparently took this money as an advance on 5 months pay. We reached out to Brad and asked if he would comments on this situation and said he could not say anything due to NDA.
If Brad won’t even work on his own project for free why should anyone else? Also what small business owner thinks it’s ok to just pocket $45,000 as an advance and leave the company broke? Not a good one. Brad making the transition from CCO to CEO makes the problems at VRI all the more complicated. Regardless of what you think of Brad as a person he has proven himself to not be competent enough to lead a team of developers and make a quality MMO. Any money you funnel towards him to make this project a reality is the equivalent of throwing good money after bad. There is a reason Brad cannot find investors and that reason is Brad. I cannot stop you from helping Brad. If you want to take a chance on Pantheon that’s your right. Just don’t say no one never warned you. Let me know what you think about this situation in the comments below. Thanks for reading.
Robert Lashley / Robert Lashley is a Staff Writer and Online host for MMORPG.com. Rob's bald and when he isn't blinding people from the glare on his head talking in front of a camera you can find him spending his free time checking out the latest games and technology. Feel free to hunt him down on twitter @Grakulen
Read more MMORPG.com coverage: