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How the creator of EverQuest plans to bring MMOs into a new era
Brad McQuaid and Salim Grant discuss Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen, an upcoming MMO set to bring the challenge of old-school EverQuest to the modern age.
We brought you news a couple weeks ago that Brad McQuaid, one of the key developers of the original EverQuest, had recently founded a new studio. We now know that studio's name is Visionary Realms -- and its first game, Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen, wants to bring back both the pleasure and the sweet, sweet pain of those early MMOs. Gamasutra recently spoke with Brad McQuaid as well as Salim Grant, who are jointly heading up the creative direction and gameplay design for Pantheon. From their perspective, Pantheon is about reintroducing the EverQuest experience through today's technology. "The first EverQuest was played by a young demographic -- people in their teens and twenties who could sink, you know, eight or ten hours into a play session," says McQuaid. "Those same people still want that kind of game today, with that kind of social experience, but they need something that can fit into their adult lives, with spouses and jobs." Out goes grinding, in other words, while the game still seeks to be vast and challenging for players. Social features -- not in the stigmatized sense which often means "casual," but along the lines of guilds and building strong support networks -- will instead be a linchpin of the gameplay. "We want to take the best of those early MMO experiences and contemporize them," says Salim Grant. "It isn't just appealing specifically to older players, but to anyone who wants that kind of really challenging gameplay. People who might enjoy, like, Monster Hunter or Dark Souls. I'm not saying it's trying to be 'Dark Souls Online', but that's the general idea." Asked if he might describe Pantheon's difficulty as 'masocore,' as Dark Souls's gameplay sometimes is, Grant admitted he was unfamiliar with the term -- but it sounded about right. "I consider myself a masochist when I play games," he notes. "I want that high level of challenge." McQuaid, on the other hand, wants to steer Pantheon clear of being thought of as necessarily masochistic -- just hard. "We're looking for the fun of the old MMOs without the repetition," he says.