Brad McQuaid: MMO devs are ‘making the very, very early foundations of the Holodeck’

Pantheon and MMOs like it are bringing our dream future one step closer (or at least, Lt. Barclay’s dream future), Brad McQuaid suggests in a new interview this week. MMORPG veterans know McQuaid as a pioneer of the genre, first with EverQuest, then with the stalled and now sunsetted Vanguard, and now with the upcoming MMO Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen.

“I want to be immersed, I want to escape into a fantasy or sci-fi world. [MMO developers are] making the very, very early foundations of the Holodeck. Letting people recreate the 1930s or build new virtual worlds – that’s what MMOs are, they’re the genesis of that. Because they involve real people and that social aspect, because they’re so immersive – and will be even more so in the future, with VR coming – I lose myself in them. I don’t sit there thinking I’m playing a game; I’m really there. And that’s what interests me.”

McQuaid says the MMO is not dead and that he’s working to change that perception by catering to an “underserved” audience of virtual world gamers and “abandoned MMO fans.”

“People think the RTS is dead, old-style MMOs are dead, that everyone wants an easy game, that no one has an attention span anymore and wants to just hop around,” he notes. “That may be true now that the games space has grown an order of magnitude since EverQuest, but that doesn’t mean the group of players that do want a more involved, social, challenging game don’t exist. Maybe since the pie is bigger, they don’t occupy as big a space. But they’re still there, and they feel orphaned right now, they feel left out.”

Definitely worth a full read over on GI.biz, as there’s more on business models, community matchmaking, and the changing gaming landscape.

Source: GIbiz
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35 Comments on "Brad McQuaid: MMO devs are ‘making the very, very early foundations of the Holodeck’"

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roo woods

Only heard about his today when some of my Secret World cabal started talking about it . Looked up a bit of information on it must admit it sounds like something I would want to play .

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Johnny

What an incredible stretch. I bet this guy loves patting himself on his back.

No Brad. You are not creating early foundations of the Holodeck. Not even a little.

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thirtymil

“Spock?”
“Yes, Kirk?”
“Kill ten rats.”
“That is illogical, captain.”

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Kickstarter Donor
Xijit

*eyeroll*

borghive
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borghive

I feel this way. :(

Solaris
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Solaris

Dat stream today tho. Wow. Pantheon has made HUGE strides towards becoming a real contender in the MMO space. Very impressed.

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Oleg Chebeneev

Do you mean stream linked 2 posts above? Because graphics they shown looks pretty bad for todays standarts.

drivendawn
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drivendawn

Maybe compared to BDO or something but other than that It is looking good.

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Lord Zorvan

It looks like Oblivion. Oblivion was made 11 years ago. rofl

camren_rooke
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camren_rooke

I can see it now!

It will be glorious

holodeck1.jpg
camren_rooke
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camren_rooke

KICKAZZ! The Son of God liked my hastily slapped together snarky picture!

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Patreon Donor
Schlag Sweetleaf

missed this, well done ;)

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Kickstarter Donor
Alex Js.

I find it highly amusing that he wants to feel “immersed” yet his current game project (Pantheon or whatever its name is) has the graphical fidelity of 10-year-old game…

Solaris
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Solaris

Go watch today’s stream and see the visual overhaul.

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Kickstarter Donor
Alex Js.

I did watch the stream (just like previous streams). It still looks terribly outdated and absolutely not what I’d call “immersive”. That’s just my personal opinion, of course.

drivendawn
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drivendawn

Well then you need your eyes checked because it looked pretty damn good.

kjempff
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kjempff

There are other things at play to create immersion. For example modern mmos use half their budget on visuals, which could have been used to create a better game with more immersive systems.
By leaving nothing to the imagination and in turn targeting the hop around short attention span players, you also remove some of what creates immersion, which is filling the holes with your own imagination. To get more immersion you only need to get the player to believe in the setting and what is happening to the character they play (suspension of disbelief), for example to have minimal gamey concepts that take the players mind out of the game setting.
On edge visuals that eats half your budget brings very little immersion per $ while at the same time moves the audience demographic towards short attention span players.. instead you could use those resources to create a deeper and more immersive game experience.
Which is what Pantheon is doing and so visually “good enough” in exchange of better game mechanics is exactly what the target audience wants.
And last, they have hardly begun doing visuals as that is late in the process, so much can change till launch.

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SeedEve

I guess you haven’t watched the stream which has just ended on CohhCarnage Twitch channel.Then you know nothing John Snow :)

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Barantor

He had another visually good looking game called Vanguard: Saga of Heroes that he sold to SOE because of a lack of faith by Microsoft, I’ll say I know more than some.

Solaris
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Solaris

Vanguard was never a visually good looking game. Even amongst it’s fans, they game was always considered fugly. Game world was ok, but avatars were atrocious. That said, many of the mechanics of the game were remarkable. Which is why people still talk about the game.

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Barantor

By the time it was free to play, sure. But it offered character customization that was well ahead of it’s day and was pretty by everyone I talked to when it released.

McQuaid can do neat things, it’s if they actually get made and finished that I have a problem with, especially when it isn’t a big studio helping him finish.

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Hirku

Need to add another “very” or two (or twelve), but otherwise agree.

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Rolan Storm

Exactly. Word by word exactly. MMORPGs are VR predecessors and heralds.

Also agree that hardcore players did not disappear, just overall number of players is much higher now.

MagmaFist
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MagmaFist

I agree with his assessment as well. I also like his quote because that is the same way I feel about MMOs. Though I’ve yet to buy any of the current generation equipment, I’m very excited for VR and AR future.

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Rolan Storm

For me it was question of time, really. And VR…

In Everquest it was there. No helmets, graphics just ctawled out of the woods into 3D (I remember a guy saying that isometric engines is all we need – everything else is overkill, ha!), bandwith was laughable compared to the speed we have now. And yet people had total immersion expereince. Human mind is most powerful engine, truly – books and tabletop prove it.

And that’s where the problem is. It’s not players, it’s not hardware. It’s games. For a decade we had that blasted themepark idea reigning over everything – a railroaded expereince inside static decorations. Now it is different – people try to build worlds again. I hoped for EQNext to break into next generation, but that obviously will not happen. Well, we have a number of games that clearly threw themepark model out of the window yet still maintaing sense and purpose (not fan of ‘true sandbox expereince’ either – world should live, not just be a static playground).

We’re getting there. Not this decade, but next – most assuredly.

Tamanous
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Tamanous

What saddens me is that this conversation has to be brought to light (again) in 2017 when the feeling of an early true VR fantasy world was better captured in the late 90’s early 2000’s.

It went so wrong, so fast.

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Rolan Storm

Alas! It is the truth. And reign of WoW did not help. Every second developer tried to mimic gameplay model and squeeze money out of it.

On the other hand – we WILL see those holodecks. Crowdfunding gave a new start to things impossible before.

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Robert Mann

Yeah, I like your buzz words about what you are trying to make, but not so sure about your final product there Mr. McQuaid.

Still, at least some people in the development side (He’s not the only one to comment on this so far this year) realize that the deeper virtual world is a desired thing with a fair few people, and is an underserved market. What comes of that, again, only time will tell.

kjempff
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kjempff

He is very right that there is an audience for that kind of virtual world mmo, and those who make that right will have a decent customer base. Whether Pantheon can deliver that is another question which remains to be seen. Surely other indie projects (if you can call $10+m budgets that) makes the same noises and some more convincingly, while McQuaid has the most immersive mmo ever made (Everquest) in his resume…. but words are cheap, and there are 999 ways to fail, so only the hands on game at launch will tell which of those games will hold your suspension of disbelief.

Personally I fear they are way too caught up in table-top mindset focusing too much on real life friends socializing aspects and not enough on that made eq amazing, meeting and socializing with random players as part of the game world. To me a virtual world experience should not be like a table-top adventure, that is simply the wrong format.

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Oleg Chebeneev

I often agree with Brad’s vision and this is no exception. MMOs are still in baby stage and with VR hitting mass market, MMOs will change alot compared to what we have now. There will be less theme parks and more social virtual worlds

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Kickstarter Donor
Bhima Jenkins

Agreed, Oleg. I look forward to the day we get usable VR in an MMO, more sophisticated procedural generation and procedurally generated NPC/AI that utilizes neural networks. That way, the AI would have motivations based on their environment, age, personality type and their place in the world. Add a dollup of enhanced text to speech to give the AI NPCs a real voice, and we will be pretty close to the ENIAC stage of the Holodeck.

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Greaterdivinity

Yeah no. As with gaming, MMO’s are far more complex pieces of software that will come long after holodeck-esque tech actually comes out. We’ll get the same kind of rudimentary software with that that we got with early computers, early consoles, etc. and that we’re continuing to get with VR now. MMO’s will be a long ways off.

Nobody who follows the gaming industry thinks RTS is dead. Big budget AAA RTS? Yeah, that’s out of style right now but there’s still a pretty thriving RTS/strategy marketplace, especially on PC. Though did nobody bother to tell him that like, Total War: Warhammer 2 like, just released, by the way?

Given these few snippets, I’m not sure I want to read the full interview -_-

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Melissa McDonald

All sounds good to me. I’m glad he appreciates the unmatched immersive element of VR. Wonder if Pantheon is going to support it?

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Reht

Found a post from Brad – it’s a little dated (Jan 2016) where he discusses VR on an Oculus Rift thread on their boards:

Keep in mind the challenge with VR devices is not getting the display to work — I know we could get it working with Pantheon in fairly short order, and we will, once it makes sense to and we have the resources to devote to it.

The real challenge is the interface. An MMO requires a pretty sophisticated UI that you are interacting with often. You are firing off abilities and spells in combat. You are manipulating items in your inventory. I think once the display side of things is somewhat standardized, which I think will be fairly soon, you’ll start seeing games that are graphical but don’t require sophisticated user interfaces popping up first. Then, over time, as the interface issues are addressed and standardized and the devices mature beyond just moving your head around to change your view, more complex games will start to support VR. MMOs will likely come later, again because their interfaces are more sophisticated and being able to interact with the UI so essential to gameplay.

That said, I’ve experienced the earlier games and demos that exist now, and the immersion factor quite honeslty blew me away. I knew I was interested in VR already, but actually experiencing it really impacted me. MMOs and virtual worlds are all about immersion and feeling like you are really there. To that end, VR and MMOs ARE the future. It’s not a matter of IF, it’s a matter of WHEN.

So you can be certain that when the hardware and software improves to the point where sophisticated user interfaces work seamlessly with the rest of the VR experience, Pantheon will definitely be part of this immersion revolution. But like I said, it’s the ‘when’. And a lot of that ‘when’ is out of our hands, at least at this point. Because of that, where VR tech is at the moment, I really cannot with any confidence or credibility commit or even allude to when VR will become part of the Pantheon experience. It may be before launch, or it may very well be post-launch (the latter probably more likely).

That said, who knows where things will be at VR-wise in one year… in two years… sometimes tech like this catches on quickly, but sometimes it takes time. And like I said, much or even most of this is out of our hands. Nothing would make me more happier than if a year from now there are both hardware and software solutions to make integrating VR with an MMO (and I mean, again, truly integrated including a seamless, natural answer to the sophisticated UI issue). But as of right now, just putting on a VR device over your head and using your neck to change the camera’s view, combined with clunky and sometimes optional finger/hand interfaces just doesn’t cut it.

Not sure if this helps, but from some other CM posts, it seems like a maybe since Unity does support it.

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Melissa McDonald

yes Unity is probably what most people are using for VR coding, although certainly other platforms/engines can support it too.

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