Interview: Brad McQuaid

Interview: Brad McQuaid
Company: Sigil Games Online, Inc.
Interview by: Mike Nelson was able to catch up with Brad McQuaid, the man responsible for today’s hottest MMOG,  Everquest. Brad has since left Sony Online Entertainment, and has founded his own company, Sigil Games Online™, and is working on a new MMOG as we speak.  Unfortunately he cannot talk about what that new title will be until a little later, but I wanted to get some of his feedback pertaining to what direction the genre was headed, and what he thought of some key ideas being churned out lately.

Thanks Brad for taking the time away from your busy schedule for an interview with!

My pleasure – thanks for the invitation!

1> Just to get to know you a little better, how did you get involved with computer gaming, and what was the first online game you can recall really getting into?

Just so you know... I am still paying off my AOL bill from Neverwinter Nights back in the early 90's!)

I knew I wanted to develop computer games all the way back in junior high when I first saw Ultima II on an Apple 2e.  It was at that point I realized that the worlds one reads about in books could actually be interactive experiences… that virtual worlds, however primitive, were possible.

As for online games, the first one that I really got into was a MUD called Sojourn/Toril (this was around 1995 or so).  Even though it was text based and free to play, I saw there the commercial potential for these games when coupled with graphics.  I’d been working on single player computer RPGs for several years, and when the opportunity to combine them with MUDs came up, I jumped at the chance and began work on EverQuest.

2> How detailed do you vision the next generation of MMOG's? For instance, do you think it can become so advanced now as to see Non Player Characters going through daily activities during the day, possibly sleeping at night? More or less doing more than just walking a path.

Absolutely.  I think you’ll see significant advances in NPC AI and I think you’ll see worlds that are much larger and detailed.  You’ll also see environments that start to become dynamic… where the player will be able to truly leave his mark on the world.

3> Is it possible at the moment to create real world weather seasons with the current memory limits? And have NPC's react to that weather? Or is that further down the road?

I think you’ll see advanced weather systems in some of the more ambitious second generation MMOGs, and certainly in the third generation games. 

4> Video cards are going to play a key role in the next generation of online gaming. Just how important will that be?

Well, until that day many years in the future where cards can render photorealism in real time, technology will remain a huge factor.  Games, whether they’re massively multiplayer or not, need to keep up with ever changing and ever advancing technology.  And while some people think that online games don’t need to be as graphically cutting-edge as other games, I totally disagree.  Compelling software will drive hardware purchases… in fact, EverQuest proved this years ago by being one of the first hardware only games.


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