May 29, 2014

[In Defense of Escapism]

I recently came across an essay by Katherine Addison, defending the value of fantasy as a genre and escapism in general, and I think it's relevant to MMORPGs (and RPGs in general) as well:
"The denigration of 'escapism' comes from an implicit belief that it is brave and necessary and heroic to face 'reality,' where 'reality' is grim and dark and nihilistic ('solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short,' as that tremendous pessimist Thomas Hobbes puts it), and that if you turn away from that 'reality,' you are a deserter and therefore a coward. 
There are a number of fallacies here. One is the claim to the exclusive right to define 'reality.' Second, if this is an accurate definition of 'reality,' it is a fallacy to believe that it is even possible to desert from the front lines by anything short of suicide. Even if your consumption of fiction takes you away from 'reality' for an hour or two, you’re always going to have to come back. Clearly, if we accept this definition of 'reality,' 'escapism' can only be the most tremendous blessing fiction has to offer."
Read the rest here.

May 3, 2014

[Pantheon Has Fallen, But McQuaid Can Still Go Lower]

Color me completely unsurprised:
"It's widely agreed upon by all parties that this project took in roughly 145 thousand dollars. A large chunk of that money, 35k, came from a single individual who promised another couple hundred thousand once he cleared it with his trust. Brad was having personal problems at the time and needed to take a cash advance from the project. He took roughly three months pay in advance which equaled roughly 38% of the funds that were left. Brad thought the rest of the money would come in, but the trust supervisor declined without even looking into the project. Reason being, he didn't want to be sued if the start up failed. Brad admits that it was a mistake and wishes things worked out differently but the money is spent and there isn't anything he can do. He then went on to express that he was sorry for how it happened and is planning on liquidating personal assets to put the funds back into the project."
 Why on earth are so many fanboys still willing to give this nostalgia-exploiting hack their money? He did NOT single-handedly build EverQuest and Vanguard, despite what so many fanboys seem to believe. Teams of hundreds of other talented people put their real work into those games (as opposed to just loftily spouting 'Visionary' ideas around, which are worth exactly squat without actual effort behind them), and in the second example McQuaid was the one who ran that real work into the ground and lied to and exploited everyone around him the entire time.

This cult-attitude many oldtime MMO fans have of deifying this man as some kind of visionary who single-handedly makes 'dream MMOs' baffles me, particularly in the light of everything we know about how he mismanaged and destroyed Vanguard. Despite so many fans' attempt to rewrite the history of that debacle as being everyone else's fault but Brad's, the real facts of the matter are still public online for anyone who cares to see them. Which I hope people will do before tossing any more cash in this guy's direction.

But then on top of this all, he skims almost 40% of Pantheon's Kickstarter money to cover his own personal bills. Nobody should give this joker a dime for any future MMO project ever again, no matter how many nostalgia-tinged PR shills or game concept mockups (or tiered monthly subscription plans for the ability to post on the game's forum) that he rolls out.

Related Reading:
Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen's Financials Under Scrutiny
Brad 'The Vision' McQuaid, Round Two