It now appears that the recently-resurfacing Brad McQuaid is, in fact, the authentic Brad McQuaid.
Now, I’m not an EverQuest player, and in fact had a general disregard for EQ (and indeed MMOs in general,) back in its heyday. Nowadays I have a lot of respect for EQ and what it accomplished, even though I elect not to play it. McQuaid had a hand in that – not the only hand, but an important one, and I think he should get some credit for it. But I have no stake in the “McQuaid Brand” as it were.
I came to MMOs right around the time Vanguard was launching. At the time, McQuaid’s name meant nothing to me, although I soon learned that he’d been one of the hands at the rudder of EQ. It was the features of Vanguard that attracted me, not the star power behind it, although I had, and still have, a great admiration for Keith Parkinson’s work.
At this point, with two years or growth and perspective behind the situation, I think it’s safe to say that Vanguard is not a fiasco. It started so poorly that it’s become a model for bad MMO launches, but it’s come along nicely under the guardianship of SOE, and it’s in good, skilled hands now. I can’t say that I like everything that SOE have done, but overall their custodianship has been a very good thing for the game. That said, it also seems very apparent that Sigil was a fiasco. It was, by all accounts, a company with some good ideas and talent that suffered a total meltdown as their product’s launch approached. Even though McQuaid was surely not the only person with any responsibility in that, he was the guy at the helm, so he gets the lion’s share of blame for it. It’s only fair.
But, just as it’s fair to say Brad gets much of the blame for Sigil’s woes, it’s also necessary to give him some credit for the fact that there is much to like in Vanguard, even back to the disastrous launch. I won’t call it a wash, because to do so is to minimize the importance of the many lives thrown into turmoil by Sigil’s dissolution – including Brad’s. It’s tempting for many, including some of those people, to trash McQuaid for what was obviously mismanagement of a company and a product under his stewardship. And it’s not really unfair to do so. But I at least, understand what it’s like to feel like your life is spiraling out of control, to see and feel everything around you, everything you care about and have invested yourself in, disintegrating. I’ve been there.
McQuaid’s reaction was to retreat, which surely did not help to slow the downfall of Sigil, and almost certainly hastened it, and made the climate there worse. In over his head, he swam to shore as best he could, but the rest of the company didn’t make it. Such a reaction is worthy of condemnation, but I don’t have it in me to condemn it, becuase I once was in a similar emotional situation, and I reacted in much the same way. Not because it was the right thing to do, not because it was what I wanted to do, and not because it was the best course of action – but because it would have killed me to do anything else.
I appreciate Brad’s position, while still having a lot of empathy for the other people whose lives were damaged by the Sigil situation. Hopefully, all they lost were jobs, but I can understand it if they harbor a grudge about it. Brad lost some portion of his spirit. He’s never going to be quite the same person again. And yeah, it’s his fault, but I’m not talking about blame. I’m talking about forgiveness.
So yeah, I’m glad Brad’s back. I forgive him for the clusterfuck that was Sigil, and I hope that the people hurt far more than I by that situation can forgive him as well. If not today, then someday. Most of all, I hope that Brad can forgive himself, as I know he has to, and I hope he’s started. I can understand that he’s still healing, and why he doesn’t want to talk about it right now, but maybe someday he’ll be able to. I’ll be glad when he gets back on the horse and starts working on a new game. I may or may not like it, and it’d be a brave or foolish development studio indeed that gives him a management role again. But his cred in design has never been in doubt. I’ll be watching.