SOE and Sigil: Peas and Pod? I The World is Not Enough
Blank Slate for Beta Testers I A Brand-new Colony

Issue #73 Noobsauce
May 3, 2007

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New guy Animatus, reporting! Leaving a trail of countless bodies and other sundry unspeakable acts behind me, I have been selected to be the newest MMORPGamer Columnist! Finally, a chance to not only justify my rabid and ofttimes frightening addiction to online gaming, but to share it with the rest of the world. It's like a dream come true! If I didn't have a deep-seated fear of Mickey Mouse, I'd be off to Disneyland!

That being said, I must now offer the traditional New Guy Disclaimer: I am still very new to this, and I may, from time to time, botch something horribly. I ask you for patience and understanding as I move through this awkward phase toward my development as a beautiful, unique columnist-swan-thing.

Many things have happened since the last installment of our hallowed column. Games have entered and exited beta. Sequels and expansions have been announced. Games have released, and games have re-released. I am going to give you, our loyal reader, the benefit of the doubt and avoid dwelling on the past. Instead, we turn our eyes toward that golden horizon and all of the phat lewtz that may be waiting just beyond.

  SOE and Sigil: Peas and Pod?


You were hoping it wouldn't happen. All of the signs were there, all of the precedent, but you never gave up hope.

Unfortunately, those hopes have been smashed against the jagged rocks of rushed release.

According to forum posts made by Brad McQuaid, CEO of Sigil Games and acclaimed co-creator of EverQuest and Vanguard: Saga of Heroes, Sony Online Entertainment and Sigil are to become a lot closer in the months to come. Taking a more active role in game development, SOE, which until this announcement were only responsible for maintaining servers and providing customer support for such, hopes to help Vanguard achieve its full potential.

Unable to comment as to the extent of SOE's newfound control, McQuaid instead outlines plans for turning Vanguard around, mentioning a potential "re-launch" near the date of the game's first expansion (around Q1 2008). About the partnership and what it means for the game, he says, "'s safe to say that both Sigil and SOE see the potential of a mind blowing game by the end of the year. What's needed, bottom line, is some time, and how to get that time is what's being worked out."

Let us hope, for the sake of all Vanguard fans, that this ends for the best.

  The World is Not Enough


Apparently owning and operating the most successful MMORPG in the history of gaming just isn't enough for Vivendi.

There are some new job listings over at Blizzard's careers site soliciting a new Lead Technical Artist, Lead Tools Programmer, and a Lead Engine Programmer to work on a next-gen MMO. The internet is buzzing with rumors as to what this new game could be, ranging from World of Starcraft to a new entry in the Diablo series.

But 'tis the season for gaming events, including Blizzard's own invitational tournament next month and BlizzCon 2007 this August, so assume that its official announcement as to just what this project could be is coming in the near future.

  Blank Slate for Beta Testers

Tabula Rasa

Richard "Lord British" Garriot's long-in-development MMO Tabula Rasa has reached a new development milestone this week as closed beta for the game began on May 2. The commencement of the beta comes with the announcement that the game is on track for a Fall 2007 release date.

Garriot has the standard press-release fare to offer about the beta: "This is an exciting time for the Tabula Rasa team... we think we’ve created a game that represents the next generation of MMO games and will revolutionize the way people play online games."

Words that might be bold, had we not heard them before. The full press release can be found here.

 A Brand-new Colony

Colony Studios

EVE ex-producer Michael Wallace heads Colony Studios, a new MMO development house that is comprised of industry verterans who have worked on some of the major titles of our day.

Having worked on World of Warcraft, Everquest, Dark Age of Camelot, and Lord of the Rings Online to name a few, Wallace's ten-person team feels equipped to handle everything the development process can throw at it: "The bottom line is we've launched MMOs before, and our experience lets us anticipate bumps in the road and steer clear of them. The fact that we've been through it before means things are much less likely to fall through the cracks."

Their first game is a completely original intellectual property, and boasts an expansive world rich in history and culture that players will be able to influence through their actions. If anything, Wallace promises that it won't be, "[another] World of Warcraft clone with a new IP skin."

Enticing as it may be, gamers will have to wait and see -- Colony's first game is set to release sometime in 2009.

 Log Out!

It seems that most eyes in the MMO business have turned turned toward the next generation, and it is certaily an exciting time to be an MMORPGamer. With all of the big releases highlighting DX10 coming out this year, as well as some titles that have been in development for what feels like an age, there appears to be a veritibale cornucopia of games on tap in which to drown ourselves this Thanksgiving.

So, what do you think? Are SOE the plague of locusts most of fandom paints them to be, or is it really what Vanguard needs to get back on track? Is it too early for Blizzard/Vivendi to be eyeing a next-gen MMO with World of Warcraft still at the top of the pops, or is it a great opportunity to catch players who are jumping off the bandwagon? Excited for Tabula Rasa? Wondering what Colony Studios has up its sleeves? I am interested in hearing from you! Send me mail! Send me screenshots! Send me humorous stories of you tracking down and ganking that gold farmer! Tell me I'm the worst columnist evar! Let me add you to my imaginary friends list so we can share our addiction and raid the dungeon that is MMO news... together.

See you next week!
Matt Blake

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