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Visionary Realms, Inc.

Brad McQuaid talks hurdles, expansions and Oculus Rift support for Pantheon

Posted by Michael Engle on February 7, 2014 | Jump to 2 comments

Everquest co-creator Brad McQuaid has turned to Kickstarter to help fund his new fantasy MMO Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen. The ambitious project from Visionary Realms has reached nearly half of its goal of $800,000.

I spoke to McQuaid about his expectations for Pantheon, the stretch goals the development team would like to reach, the possibility of expansions and Oculus Rift support.

First of all, congratulations on starting your Kickstarter campaign for Pantheon! You have quite a track record when it comes to creating successful MMOs. What have you learned and plan to apply, from creating Everquest and Vanguard: Saga of Heroes, and how will that influence the direction and scope of Pantheon?

What new and exciting features are you most excited about applying to the game that are different from what modern MMOs are doing currently?

We weren’t expecting that EverQuest would happen the way that it did. I still get very touching emails about how it touched lives, and I’m very humbled by it. Something magical happened there, that’s for sure, and I think most of it came from the players themselves. It’s been inspiring to me, and we want to see if we can’t get some of that magic to happen again with Pantheon.

I think the whole “secret” there is to promote grouping and socializing on a scale not often done. Humans by nature are social beings and giving them the opportunity to work together, solve problems together and help each other out is a very conducive environment to have some of that early day MMO magic come back.

Vanguard had a lot of that, too. Unfortunately, the launch saw some problems that made it so that only a few of the people who started out were able to continue playing the game for long periods of time. That was on us.

We had to ship the game early due to the funding situation, and were grateful that SOE was able to help out to get it launched. But for those that played Vanguard in its later days, they were able to see how much of the magic was still there in that game.

The experience I had with both games will contribute greatly to Pantheon. EverQuest was a success to levels we didn’t expect. And though we tried to have some of that in early Vanguard, a lot of it couldn’t happen at launch. In some ways I think I learned more from that experience than I did with EverQuest.

I learned how to better handle the stress of large projects and how to manage my own expectations and goals. With a smaller team working on Pantheon, that kind of knowledge is going to be valuable as we develop the game.

Pantheon - Work in Progress

$800,000 seems like a realistic goal for your team. Have you thought about any additional features that, if you were to surpass that goal, you could potentially apply to Pantheon? Maybe something ambitious like Oculus Rift support or more server space? Perhaps something that more directly affects gameplay?

During development of any game, a lot of ideas come to the table during design. We’re right at the start and we have a ton of things we’d like to do. But we also know that we need to consider each option carefully. As I mentioned above, I’ve learned a lot about setting realistic goals, so we’re going to be very thorough when we consider new features to include in Pantheon.

Ideally, with the required funding, we’d be able to do a lot. Support for Oculus Rift is certainly up there in things we’d like to include but before we head down that road we want to make sure that we have the required resources for the base game. After that, yes! Oculus Rift and stretch goals, as well as some new ideas will definitely be looked at.

If Pantheon becomes fully funded, are there any plans for continuing the game past its initial release? There were 19 expansions for Everquest.

Do you believe that the expansion model of MMOs is a thing of the past given that developers can use patches to fix and address problems and glitches players may run into? Or do believe that players are still willing to spend money on new, large environments to play in and/or explore?

I don’t want to speak too soon, but expansions are absolutely in the plans, providing there is enough interest in the game, which is something we strongly believe there will be. Terminus, the world in which Pantheon is set, has near-limitless potential for new content.

We’re not confined to just a single planet, where expansions would mean, “Oh, hey, there’s this giant landmass that we never knew about.” With Pantheon and the constant collision of shards of other realms, it means that anything could happen at any time. Who knows what kind of beings and lands would come into contact with the world? It’s pretty exciting.

Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen‘s Kickstarter ends on Feb. 22.

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