unhappy trails in vanguard

Harvey Smith, the designer for Blacksite: Area 51, had a few choice words to share on Wired about why the game had been battered by the critics, one factor being the technical issues faced by the team and not having enough time to thoroughly test the game. I can pretty much vouch for that last one as there were quite a few issues that could have easily been caught had more time been given over for Q&A, like the levitating barricades and floaty weapons.

Now, it looks like a developer has come out to dish on why the MMORPG Vanguard had failed as Blue’s News reports following Gamespy’s award of “Most Disappointing Game of the Year”. The last time I read something like this was when another developer had spilled the beans on another MMORPG years ago, Mourning, when they called it a disaster from the moment they hired someone on the basis of simply being friends with one of the head designers.

The unnamed developer, who goes by the name Teclisen on the forums where he had posted his frank accounting of why Vanguard failed, describes a kind of atmosphere that sounds more like the corporate culture that we laugh about in Dilbert. We all know that game development isn’t really all about playing games and painting pretty pictures…it’s a hard, passionate, slog with brutal hours that have already been blogged about by those in the industry.

But from Teclisen’s post, Vanguard’s project sounds particularly harrowing, making it even more of a reward for would-be designers to land a job at a place that has a great culture in place. It shouldn’t be a surprise that dev houses like Bioware, Epic, Bungie, and iD still have many of their most experienced people with them…they must be doing something right to keep them excited. At least Teclisen and others will be able to say that they’ve worked on an MMORPG on the scale of Vanguard to add to their resumes, for better or for worse.

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