Google+ Followers

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The Other Shoe Drops at Sigil

Today the other shoe dropped at Sigil. According to John Smedley,

"Today I would like to formally announce that SOE has acquired the assets of Sigil Games Online, including Vanguard: Saga of Heroes. As a part of this acquisition, we are bringing on approx 50 people from Sigil in order to insure [sic] that Vanguard continues to grow. SOE is dedicated to making sure that Vanguard is well taken care of and that we provide the same level of service we do for our other titles. In the near future we will come out with a publishing plan that will largely be driven by the strong player community that Vanguard has already built up. We plan on supporting Vanguard for many years to come, and you can expect many content updates as part of your subscription. Down the line we will of course be coming out with new expansion packs, but right now the focus is on making sure Vanguard is running the way it should be.

"We are also officially opening up forums. In the past, our deal with Sigil didn't allow for this, but as with our other games we feel this is an important part of communicating with the playerbase. You can expect a strong presence from our community team as well as the development team members. While we realize that Sigil had said they wouldn't open up general forums, at SOE we feel this hampers our efforts to communicate effectively with the players. We will continue to support the fansites in a big way, and will be contacting many of them directly to discuss what this change means. By no means do we want to lose the strong fansite support by making this change, but we do think it's important to have a forum for players to communicate directly with SOE.

"A few other items I wanted to mention:

1. Brad McQuaid will be consultant to SOE as a creative advisor for Vanguard. Dave Gilbertson will be the person directly responsible for the day-to-day management of both the Sigil Carlsbad office as well as Vanguard.

2. We do not plan on making any major changes to Vanguard. Any changes are going to come from the team itself. We aren't mandating any big changes to the game. We've learned a thing or two with our experiences with the NGE and don't plan on repeating mistakes from the past and not listening to the players.

3. We do plan on spending a lot of time cleaning up legacy issues with Vanguard and making sure the game's performance improves.

"By way of comparison, this team is approx. the same size as the EQ2 team and I feel like that team has done an amazing job improving EQ2 since its launch. We intend to do the same thing for Vanguard and it is our hope that the players feel like we're doing right by them."

Just for clarity, the Sigil team was near 100 before these actions were taken.

As far as the central forums are concerned, let them have them. They are already a festering sewer, and will only get worse. The funniest things I've seen through all this was one of the SOE forum slaves over there proclaiming "This is the place to come for answers!"

Yeah, good luck with that.

I have some seriously mixed emotions about this. First of all, some people that I know and care about lost their jobs. Some good people stayed. As the site admin for Vanguard Crafters, I can tell you that the crafting team was in a no-win position. They were going to cut the team in half, and there was no easy choice I'm sure as the crafting team was strong, in my opinion. Salim Grant and Justin Deebs ended up staying, and they are both exceptional in what they do. Losing Kurt Wagner and Daniel "Steve" Newman hurts though, as both of those guys had some skills that won't easily be replaced.

According to my sources at Sigil, some of the people who originally acted as boat anchors to the project remain, and they have less optimism about the ability of Vanguard to recover quickly as they would have had if some of the "disruptive forces" would have been removed at this opportunity. SOE is bound to make some mistakes as they sort out who they should have on the team and who should go.

Overall, I think the businesslike approach that Sony is going to bring, and the needed structure will help get the Sigil team back on track. As I have alluded to before, I don't think it's the working people at Sigil that got Vanguard all balled up, but the leadership or lack thereof. SOE's leadership should help the new smaller team get some things done.

This should be the extent of the drama for now. As the new smaller team gets settled in and the community gets it's feet back under it, we'll see what happens next. For now, we've lost some friends at Sigil. Here's to hoping that they find something better soon.