What a couple of weeks.

Well it’s been a couple of crazy weeks in the world of gaming. So I figured I’d exploit this relatively unread place to vent my takes on the whole thing.

First let’s deal with Blizzard. Earlier this month they told the public that on May 19th they would announce their new game. Of course that sparked off a whole bunch of more or less likely rumors. The best example was a Diablo MMO. Yeah that seems likely. The makers of the biggest MMO around is going to make another MMO to compete with themselves AND put it in the same general genre. I mean Diablo is an arcadeish fantasy RPG. Pretty much what WoW is just with MMO added.

I swear I have no idea why people even coming to the conclusion that Blizzard would make another MMO. They pretty much own the market as it is with no real sign of it slowing down. So why would they go out and spend time and effort to then essentially compete with themselves? Sure a StarCraft MMO would be a different setting. But looking at the Blizzard lineup I don’t exactly see much promise of doing anything major revolutionary. Sure they make good solid genre games. But I can’t think of anything major they did that changed the world before. But maybe that is just because we have become too accustomed to the changes by now?

Of course more reasonable suggestions was made. Not surprisingly StartCraft II was thrown around along with a Diablo III. I am not sure what exactly Diablo can do in the gaming industry anymore unless the concept is changed a lot. But if they could do it with Warcraft I suppose Diablo could be retooled as well.

I think to no-ones big surprise it turned that indeed it is time for StarCraft II. It’s going to be fun to see since the RTS genre seems to get smaller and smaller compared to the ever dominant FPS and the growing MMO counter-parts.

But with the big news of the week over lets turn to my favorite soap right now: Vanguard.

Rumors have been flying around for ages. I guess ever since SoE took over as being the co-publisher. It was never much of a secret that Sigil was in a bit of a hard place at securing finances for making a game that could live up to The Vision of Brad McQuaid. After four years of work the game was finally forced out to the waiting masses and it turned out it wasn’t really ready at all.

Sure some people seems to enjoy it. But some people enjoy the weirdest things. And when it comes down to it MMOs is mostly about the social aspects anyway. So even if the game stinks you can keep people paying if they hook up with some nice people in it..

But in any event it seems that last week it finally hit. SoE bought Vanguard and Sigil was closed down. The fallout seemed to start immediately with disgruntled, former, employees informing sites like F13.net that they had all been asked to come outside and had then been informed they where all fired. And that some of them would be rehired by SoE.

Shortly after an interview with one of those people was posted in F13 with lots of sharp remarks about how poorly Sigil was managed. I specifically noticed two interesting remark that made a lot of sense to me. Apparently the final game had mostly been put together in the last 15 months. And he claimed that their internal tools where really poor because the top guys didn’t think they where that important.

It is not that much of a surprise that stuff was made late in the game, so to speak. Diplomacy, in it’s current form, wasn’t really fully added until late in open beta. And is receiving a major rework as we speak (I understand the system is more or less in place. with a lot of content needed to be redone for it to be fully in place). But that pretty much all of the game is not more that 15 months old, to para-phrase something that may be an exaggeration, seems to sit well with me considering the overall quality-feel of the game.

More important the lack of good internal tools makes it hard to do a lot of content and tweaking rapidly. If it is indeed true it would mean a programmer would have to do something a lot of the time things are changed. Or at least that more time is spend doing simple changes instead of the designers being creative.

Of course the biggest point of that interview was that it seemed top-management simply didn’t listen to people further down the food chain. No point in many comments on that. Hiring people you are going to ignore is just plain stupid.

Shortly after the same site posted an interview with a remorseful Brad. Not a lot to say about that except that at least it seems he knows he shouldn’t be management. Maybe a major problem here is that he still took the role instead of spending some of those millions of dollars on a qualified CEO to manage the company. But considering we likely haven’t head the last from the man with The Vision. Maybe he will know that for his next project. Let me be the first one to suggest Vigil as company name. Maybe that will remind them not to just let things flow.

From my perspective it’s going to be interesting to see how the situation is going to turn out for the game. SoE has promised to fix the technical things that are wrong with it – without pulling an ‘NGE’. I guess we will see how that will turn out. I know I will personally wait a month or two before I will consider trying it out again. Just to see what happens first.

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