Ashes of Creation Lead Game Designer Jeffrey Bard leaves to pursue VR development

    
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Out of all of the former SOE and Daybreak developers that have flocked to Intrepid Studios to work on Ashes of Creation, Jeffrey Bard was arguably one of the biggest assets to the fledgling team as the MMORPG’s lead game designer. Unfortunately, now Intrepid is going to have to do without Bard, as he announced his departure to go work on virtual reality at Skydance Interactive.

“It’s with a heavy heart, and a considerable amount of sadness that I announce my departure from the Intrepid team,” he wrote. “The last five years at Intrepid has been an incredible experience, with so many memories that I will cherish.”

For the time being, at least, Steven Sharif and other developers will be assuming Bard’s duties at the studio.

Before coming to Intrepid, Jeffrey Bard worked for a half-decade as a game designer for EverQuest II. His new role at Skydance Interactive is principal game designer.

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Ardra Diva

The people who still bring up Nintendo’s Virtual Boy in the 1990s and 3D TV as reasons why “VR will fail” have clearly no experience with modern VR. That being said, I’ll extend the olive branch and suggest that if they tried any of the top 4 current visors from Oculus, HTC, HP, or even the lower-end Sony model, their eyes would be opened. The millions of visors sold and the fact that companies are turning a profit making VR apps is the real statistic, all else is just opinion.

And if what I’m saying is insulting, OK, sure, I will get off your lawn while you shake your cane or walker at me. :-)

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SmiteDoctor

Probably because most of us can’t afford it.

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Rndomuser

Since I can’t edit my previous post, I’ll just add it here. VR tech can enhance RP portion of multiplayer games like nothing else, since you can do things like create your custom body movements and emotes and dances without depending on game developers. And RP gameplay can be VERY popular – take a look at GTA RP streamers on Twitch, this is because people create their own content instead of going through pre-scripted stories. Unfortunately the current GTA does not support VR hardware, especially the body motion tracking, but if the next GTA will have a full support for it and if it will again be used by modders to create custom RP servers or will provide all the tools by default – that could be the game which would push VR hardware sales like no other game before.

And other game developers, especially MMORPG game developers, should also be trying to implement support for VR hardware into their games. Large part of MMORPG consists of people Role Playing different characters, and not only to enjoy dungeon grinding or PvP – go log into Moonguard in WoW and go to Goldshire inn, or go log into FFXIV and log into Balmung and go to tavern in Ul’dah. All those people you will see at these places could benefit from VR hardware, especially body motion trackers. Sadly MMORPG developers still refuse to add support for it even for people who enjoy genuine socialization and enjoy creating their own content through such socialization, content which can keep some of them playing the game even after they’re done with all premade content from the latest expansions. This might have been the reason why Jeffrey Bard left Intrepid – he probably pushed for implementing VR support into Ashes of Creation, Steven Sharif probably disagreed with that and Jeffrey probably left out of frustration to work for different company which is less narrow-sighted. That’s just my assumption, though, and we probably won’t know the real reason.

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Ardra Diva

VR is almost inherently first-person, and a lot of people do play their MMOs in 3rd-person. For some, that’s going to be a big adjustment. But Scale is the reason why you’d change views, and one of the instant things you notice in VR. A 20-foot-tall giant is going to be 20 feet tall in VR, and that scale is incredibly visceral to experience.

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Rndomuser

That’s true, but when it comes to socialization I don’t think many MMORPG players would mind switching to first-person view. And even without using VR goggles, the rest of VR gear such as body motion trackers will still be useful even for persons playing the game in 3rd-person view.

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Armsman

So off to join the latest “VR will change everything…” hype train…

This has happened before and will happen again. If I had a dollar for every cyclic

“VR’s time has come…”

marketing push since the ’90s, I could retire.

Face it: Facebook eventually buying out the Oculus Rift killed the momentum of the last great VR marketing push.

Until they make the headsets comfortable and the integration seamless, widespread adoption just won’t happen, it’s not happening anytime soon.

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Rndomuser

VR will change everything, though. It just needs some time for hardware to become better, for example for body motion trackers to track motion more accurately. That doesn’t mean the game developers should not be trying to implement it right now. VRchat is pretty successful and popular with many people despite the limitations of the hardware, I know many people who enjoy using it and who also stream using it and some streams gather 1000’s of viewers because it can enhance socialization and RPing like nothing else.

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Ardra Diva

Must disagree. Palmer Luckey couldn’t have possibly pushed the Oculus brand to the achievements its logged under Facebook’s ownership. Development is expensive and manufacturing requires a lot of capital investment.

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Greaterdivinity

Given the context (jumping to work on a big IP and VR, which is his passion), meh. Sherif had a good response in the Reddit thread, actually.

He’s just one person, and even in a senior position his departure isn’t going to throw everything into chaos. Especially since this all seems planned and the team had weeks to prepare for his departure.

Good luck to him, glad he has the opportunity to work on something he’s even more passionate about than AoC. And it’s a great moment of all the drama llama’s to have their parade, to boot.

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P Jones

Wow. The timing on this is as bad as it gets for Ashes. Just as they get ready for real testing and revamping their combat system. OUCH. And that Steven is the fall back plan as lead designer is downright scary. Isn’t he a real estate guy with no industry experience?

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Life_Isnt_Just_Dank_Memes

He’s got 5 years now but I get your meaning. I’m sure there are people champing at the bit to jump in now as well. Seems a good team. Only thing that doesn’t look good to me about this game is their monetization path.

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Life_Isnt_Just_Dank_Memes

What a burly time to be leaving. I’d at least want to be around for the jubilation of launch but when you’ve got a VR thing you’re excited about you bounce early!

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Matthew Yetter

Except I think that VR is withering on the vine. The available content just isn’t compelling enough for most people to justify the cost of entry. It’s really like 3D movies, which had a big push there for a few years and then just disappeared. Unless Skydance is doing something truly revolutionary, he’s unlikely to be very successful with this switch. But if it fulfills him emotionally, good on him.

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Ardra Diva

You’re quite wrong about that. Today’s VR games and experiences are lights-out better than just 3 years ago, there are numerous visors to choose from, all constantly improving, at every price point, and they’ve sold in the millions. It’s only going to gain more and more traction as the hardware keeps improving. You’ll see a big leap when Sony releases their new Playstation VR 2.0 product later this year.

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ChoJun

There’s huge difference between failed product for movies that changed little for quite huge cost and a video game industry, that’s the most profitable entertainment by far and not to mention we had VR imaginary stuff in movies decades ago. It’s already in good place for what it is now, and VR devs already releasing v2 of the equipment with upgrades etc. I don’t know much, but i follow from time to time the VR community, and wouldn’t say it will definitely be a thing, but in 10years, expect to have A LOT more VR stuff becoming mainstream. Just check VR oasis on youtube, we’re not walking infant steps now, we’re almost jogging.

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Life_Isnt_Just_Dank_Memes

I disagree. The $300 Quest 2 is killing it. I have the original and love it. Didn’t get the Q2 because it requires fb login and no thanks.

The Quest 1 and 2 offer PC compatibility wirelessly and wired. I have never showed anyone VR who didn’t have the same type of reaction that everyone had to Wii Sports back in the day. Everyone loves it. It was the perfect thing for having my many nieces and nephews over for visits. One person plays while the rest of us socialize.

No Man’s Sky in VR is revelatory. I could go on and on.

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Arktouros

VR is actually doing pretty okay, it’s just tempered down from those “Omg this is going to replace everything you know!” level expectations people were piling onto it.

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Jeremy Barnes

I’m certainly not a VR proponent (needs smaller, lighter headgear and way better controls), but this seems more like something you want to be true than actually is..

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Vanquesse V

VR is fine right now, but quite far away from being tech everyone owns.
It’s just a niche product at the moment because the hardware is still a bit too expensive and since there’s not really anything happening in the field of relevance to people not owning a HMD it looks dead.
But the games are getting better, more polished and more complex, and you are getting more for your money now than you did a couple of years ago.
Quest 2 is amazing but it’s attached to facebook and some pretty intrusive data gathering. Right now the market needs a good mid tier HMD.

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Jeremy Barnes

You expect him to wait another ten years for the launch?