"Vanguard: Saga of Heroes," the latest offering of Carlsbad based Sigil Games Online Inc., is eagerly anticipated by players and had a great showing at this year's E3.
The next generation, massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG), built on the Unreal Warfare engine, is set for release this winter.
The buzz generated by this title is due in large part to the company's chairman, CEO and San Diego native Brad McQuaid.
Industry veteran McQuaid first made a name for himself in 1989 when he and partner Steve Clover founded MicroGenesis. Built during their spare time, the first game to come out of their fledgling company was a single player role-playing game called "WarWizard." Although not a runaway success, it did provide enough encouragement for McQuaid and Clover to pursue their dream of making games full time.
That dream was finally realized on a Saturday in February 1996 when John Smedley, director of development for Sony Interactive Studios, gave McQuaid a call. Smedley approached McQuaid with the wild idea of making an online role playing game set in a true 3-D world. This was the opportunity McQuaid was waiting for and one he could not pass up. Being heavily involved with the text-based online Multi-User Dungeons (MUD) for several years, McQuaid saw this new game as the perfect chance to bring the social dynamics and online experiences he had found so fascinating in MUDs to the next level. Without a second thought, he left his day job as an MIS director to found "EverQuest."
As "EverQuest" grew, so did McQuaid's career. In 1999, when his division was spun out to its own entity called Verant Interactive, McQuaid was promoted to vice president of the new company and charged with heading up development projects. This not only included "EverQuest" but "Planetside" and the sci-fi MMOG that would later become "Star Wars: Galaxies."
After the release of "EverQuest" in March 1999, McQuaid began work on the first expansion to the game the "Ruins of Kunark." With the unprecedented success of the original title, McQuaid rapidly saw his company expand and with it his responsibilities. He was named as creative director and executive producer for "EverQuest 2" and before long was key in the formation of Verant's Austin Studio.
It was around this time that Verant was reacquired by Sony, this time under the hood of Sony Online Entertainment (SOE). McQuaid became the vice president of Premium games with this deal.
As his focus shifted from "EverQuest" to overseeing all the different titles under development, McQuaid realized that he needed someone to take his place as producer of "EverQuest." He tapped Jeff Butler to fill this role. Butler had been the manager of customer service for Verant and was seen by McQuaid as the best fit for this position, as they shared many of the same visions for games.
After a short run as chief creative officer for SOE, McQuaid began to miss the hands-on level of development that comes from focusing on fewer games. Despite the professional and emotional conflict, SOE and McQuaid came to a mutual understanding, and after five years of service McQuaid tendered his resignation in October of 2001.
Almost immediately McQuaid was flooded with calls from various publishers, all wanting to know what his next move was going to be. At the time, McQuaid had already decided with Butler that if they were going to do anything it would be to form a company of their own. They went on to build Carlsbad-based Sigil Games and directly landed a development deal with Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT). The deal with Microsoft started off great; however, as the software giant directed its focus toward its Xbox 360, it became clear to both parties that Microsoft would not be able to support Sigil as much as needed. So an agreement was made that allowed Sigil to purchase the publishing rights back from Microsoft.
Ironically enough, it was SOE that picked up the deal and is now the co-publisher for "Vanguard." This works out well for Sigil, as not only is the company working with a familiar team, but it is also working with a publisher that can provide the support the company needs as it ramps up production on its latest game.
Join Gaming Scene next week as we continue our in depth discussion with Brad McQuaid and Jeff Butler as they talk about their new game and what gamers can expect from it.