There was a lot of excitement in the MMORPG community a few years ago when it was announced that several core members of the original Everquest development team had decided to form their own studio called Sigil Games. Early in 2007, the company's long awaited first game, the fantasy MMORPG Vanguard: Saga of Heroes, is scheduled to be released. So will this game make a mark on the already crowded genre? FiringSquad got some answers from Sigil Games community manager Nick Parkinson with a cameo from Sigil Games co-founder and CEO Brad McQuaid.
FiringSquad: First, let's talk about the split between Sigil and Microsoft. There were some rumors that Microsoft wanted Vanguard to be a Windows Vista only title and Sigil wanted to have support for XP as well. Can you address those rumors and also give us more details on what happened?
Nick Parkinson: Brad himself answered this best; I’m going to quote him directly here:
“We remain good friends with the folks at Microsoft and look forward to creating a AAA MMOG for them, even though it will be a 3rd party Windows game now, and not a first party. We had some differences, but the biggest catalyst here was that we found the opportunity to buy the publishing rights back, which is good for Sigil no matter what else did or didn't happen.
Like I have been saying, this gives us even more (perhaps even unprecedented with a game this far along and this big) control, a chance to be a co-publisher, and to all around have more influence on how Vanguard turns out. Even were things perfect (and things are never perfect), it was an opportunity that couldn't be passed up on.
So we are still a 3rd party windows title and an important MMOG for Microsoft from a platform perspective -- short term as an XP game and long term as a game that is perfect for highlighting and taking advantage of what Vista will offer users. Vanguard is a perfect game, again thinking long term, to take advantage of Vista's more entertainment-centric approach, increased use of graphics and tools for game developers. Online gaming is also very important for Vista.
Lastly, Vanguard screams for a native 64 bit client at some point because of its seamless world. When the time comes for a 64 bit client, when graphics cards are even more powerful but also cheaper, when RAM prices go down, etc. we will be able to access more than 2 gigs with a 64 bit client and then load up a huge amount of the world at one time. Right now you can see 4+ km in the game -- which creates views and an immersiveness that MMOG gamers love. With a 64bit client and a lot of RAM, we will be able to load up much more of the world at one time and the way we have architected the engine ahead of time, knowing where technology, operating systems, etc. are going to go in the future, it will be very easy to create vistas in the game (pardon the pun) where you could see 10, 15, maybe even more km. So the switch from being a first to third party windows title still helps Microsoft out, especially longer term with Vista. This is one of the key reasons they were fine with our asking them if we could exit from the deal if we found funding to do so.”
In addition to that, I know its such an overdone PR line to say that we’re still good friends with all the folks up there but it’s the honest truth. There’s a lot of good people up at Microsoft who put a lot of hard work into Vanguard and want to see it succeed just as much as we do.
FiringSquad: Why did Sigil decide to team up with Sony Online to co-publish the game?
Nick Parkinson: This is a question we are asked a lot, and the simple answer is because for what we need they’re the best at, plain and simple. As our co-publisher, SOE will be handling distribution, data center operations (hosting the game, etc), technical (not in-game) support and will be helping us a lot with marketing. All areas where SOE really shines.
Not to mention, logistically they make a lot of sense too. They’re just down the road from us here in San Diego and a lot of us have worked with them before, so we’re already familiar with one another.
FiringSquad: Vanguard has been in development for quite a while now and in that time the MMORPG landscape has changed dramatically. Is there any intimidation into entering a field that has expanded so much?
Nick Parkinson: It is more excitement really. The biggest change in my eyes has been the size of the market. There’s so many more people playing online games now than there were even a handful of years ago. While preferences regarding one kind of feature or another will always be evolving people are always going to like good games. So we’re pretty pumped up about being this close to release. There’s a lot of hard work yet to be done, but when nearing the release for a project this big it’s hard to not be excited.