Pantheon of Dreams

I had a mind to do a thorough review of the launch of Vanguard: Saga of Heroes years ago, but the Archaeologist (Sypster) did a better job than I could have over at Massively …thankfully. My first thoughts were to review those events in order to give an explanation of why I don’t trust Brad McQuaid today. But the story of Vanguard is largely known, and where it isn’t known, I don’t want to taint the expectations of new players who want to believe in Pantheon. I want to believe in it too. The project details are there for everyone to make their own assessment. So I’ve opted instead to just review Pantheon on it’s own terms, to set aside my distrust and really analyze what this game has to offer and, based on the information available, determine if it’s offering anything at all.

It feels like a dream in a “thin air” kind of way.

The true value of the Pantheon project currently lies in the name of Brad McQuaid. Remove that name and it wouldn’t even be considered worthwhile. Don’t believe me? No other member on the team has so much as a 1 sentence bio on their own site stating their experience, previous work, or even personal interest in the project. Only Brad is linked on the website and the Kickstarter. I also don’t like how all the concept art for the game has no credits to the artist listed. He’s going to get the $800k he’s asking mostly because his name is Brad McQuaid. If the Kickstarter succeeds, it won’t be because there’s demonstrable gameplay features showing that the game can do what it claims. That information is absent, papered over by a dozen interviews saying the same things.

The problem is that Brad isn’t really trying to build a great MMO game. He’s trying to build a great MMO community. He wants to bring back the social. He’s not really promising anything new and he’s counting on the old tried and true features of the genre to some how usher in a renaissance. This is based solely on the idea that those features were responsible for the memorable experience of MMO past. His plan is to re-skin EQ in order to attract the same players who loved it back then. It’s less game development and more community development, except he hasn’t laid out how he intends to recapture that experience.

The features:

  • Leveling with fewer levels, but more content per level.
  • Death penalties.
  • Raiding
  • The Holy Trinity + Crowd Control
  • Hard dungeons
  • Less loot
  • Less class abilities/spells
  • Fewer quests and no quest markers
  • Mounts
  • Non-instanced encounters
  • Faction

This list more or less describes every MMO to date. So …what do we really know about Pantheon? By comparison, projects like Star Citizen give very concrete examples of features, making it easier for players to understand what they’re getting into. For example, it offers descriptions of piloting an aircraft, examples of the supply/demand economy, and things like Oculus Rift. This info is tangible. On the opposite, I don’t know what I’ll be doing in Terminus, because it’s not known what there is to do or how I’ll go about doing it.

And, again, I think this is because Pantheon is a game of dreams, a game whose only aim is to create a community. And that’s not so bad, is it? Brad wants to belong again. I think making this game is his way of returning “home”, as it were. To getting back where he feels he belongs, where the world makes sense. I think this community he’s building is for himself and he wants to share it with us. This is why the description of the game sounds more like reminiscing and strolling down memory lane than it does an actually MMO development project.

I think he should reconsider his own motives and approach for making this game. Like so many others, I’d probably enjoy this kind of game. But right now it feels little more than Project Nostalgia.

Scree Tags #pantheongame #bradmcquaid

4 thoughts on “Pantheon of Dreams

  1. Hrmm… gonna have to disagree with you. At length. However its not for the reasons youd think. I actually think the details will come…remember this isnt even in prototype form yet. Let alone an alpha.

    Star Citizen can easily expound on details because its pretty far into its dev cycle.

    Pantheon hasnt even been founded.

    Your comment about not grtting notice without Brad might be true, yet go look at the comments on Reddit shortly after eqnext reveal. Everyone on reddit was hoping for features that basically boil down to what Pantheon is offering.

    • You say there isn’t even a prototype. I say that’s exactly my point. The project is currently hopes and dreams. There’s nothing to show that this is real, that they know what they’re doing, that there are systems in design. And if they’ve begun development, they should most certainly have a prototype at this point. I don’t know of any successful game company who undertakes a project like this without first prototyping the ideas to ensure they work.

  2. I definitely miss the feeling of community, even though I wasn’t a hardcore Everquest player, I still met a lot of new people just by randomly grouping. This carried on in EQ2 for me, where I made many friends just by joining a guild that I knew nothing about, where we all helped each other to get things done. Those types of community feelings have died out in the years since — MMO players have been spread thin by all of the options, and convenience (solo-ability) has rendered the community unnecessary. I hope that this new batch of MMOs on the horizon might be able to bring us back to that feeling of community, but there’s a chance it will never be the same again, sadly.

    • I sort of feel the same about this. I would LOVE to have a new MMO recapture that community spirit from the early days. But I also suspect that a lot of what made those days special won’t be making a return. Instead, I hope a game can simply get the community aspects of multi-player correct. Make us want to get together and have good reasons for us to do so, great benefits and such.

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