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Sony Online Entertainment
MMORPG | Setting:Fantasy | Status:Cancelled  (est.rel 01/30/07)  | Pub:Sony Online Entertainment
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Interviews: Event: Brad McQuaid & Jeff Butler

By Jon Wood on October 11, 2006

Event: Brad McQuaid & Jeff Butler
Vanguard: Saga of Heroes Event Report (Page 2 of 2)


Similar to many other game elements, we are told that just because players can own houses, does not mean that there is an entitlement. Like anything, these must be earned.

"Nothing," we were told, "is an entitlement for characters. There will be specific things that some characters will not have access to."

This is in line with the game's desire to be a challenge.

"In some measure, you'll find Vanguard to a more challenging game than World of Warcraft," McQuaid told us.

"We want a challenge, we don't want tedium," echoed Jeff Butler.

They are saying is that while it is their goal to create a challenging game, it is also important that players have fun. It is their job to find a balance between the two. Where that balance lies, we are told, will depend on how much challenge the market will bare.

The Future
Even though the game hasn't been released yet, the developers are looking to the future, and are hoping that the game will be around for a while as they are already planning for six or seven expansions.

"Vanguard is all about Epic," said McQuaid.

Butler added that they planned so far ahead because they "want the game to have long legs," and rather than stumbling into expansions after the game has been released, they have a firm plan in place for the game's growth.

Sony Online Entertainment
When it was announced that Sigil would be co-producing this game with Sony Online Entertainment, it was inevitable that there would be some backlash from players who feel cheated by the experience that they have had with Star Wars Galaxies, and the massive changes that SOE made to that game.

When I sat down for a one-on-one with Butler, I asked him what he would say to players who oppose the game because of their association with Sony Online. The first thing that he wanted to say was that he has 11 Star Wars Galaxies accounts, and that he was the fourth Jedi on the planet Earth, first on his server, so he knows the perspective of people who are up in arms about the New Game Experience.

"I'm there," he said.

He said that he looked forward to going back and working with people that they had previously worked with at SOE because, "there are very few people in the world who have made Massively Multiplayer games, and then launched them, and maintained them for years. The people have a perspective that you can't really find anywhere else. There is simply no company that we could have gone to, to launch Vanguard more strongly than SOE."

"We co-publish with SOE, but as far as the maintenance of the game, the decisions that are made surrounding the game content, balance, things of that nature we're the guys who are responsible for that and also the in-game customer service," Butler told us. "I have the perspective of the disgruntled player, I could pretty much walk a mile in his shoes, and speak from his perspective and even with that perspective, there's no better place for us to be. I hope people make an effort to understand that/ it's just a very complex thing to launch an MMO. We wanted to work with a co-publisher who is capable of launching a game that doesn't have horrible internet lag because their ISP undersells them."

He said that partnering with SOE reduces the risk of reduced connectivity and lag that sometimes plagues MMORPG launches.

"I'm very much hoping that the people who feel that they've had a bad experience," he added, "or who are upset for one reason or another with their SOE experience will give us a chance. Certainly I just can't say strongly enough that it's the best place for us to be."

In closing the question, I asked him to clarify that in terms of design and development and choices that can be made in terms of, for example, the NGE and Star Wars Galaxies, that's strictly a Sigil decision. He answered, yes and confirmed that SOE had no influence on that kind of decision.

"So, if we make a blunder," he continued, "along those lines, or if, for instance the Monk ships and is unbalanced, you could complain to me because the people at SOE will not be able to give you any feedback on the state of the Monk. They'll have to refer you to us, hands down. There's no hidden clause there, there's nothing that I'm not telling you. We [Sigil] are completely responsible. It is 100% us."