Community Spotlight: Vandraad, Friend or Foe?

Vandraad, Friend or Foe?

Continuing the series “The Bad Boys of Pantheon”, this month we talk to Vandraad, one of our most prolific posters, king of “take me as I am”, and longtime fan of Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen. Does he ever get tired of sharing his opinion? Probably not. Does he ever think that he might be too hard on the VR team? Not likely. This time, though, the tables are turned and he is answering the questions.

Vandraad, you have been a member of the Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen community for a long time, let’s go back to the beginning. What brought you here and why?

The beginning would be circa 2013 when Brad first started discussions about a new game he was going to make and had, what was at the time, the first version of the Pantheon Discord. As a long time player of EQ1 (>13 years) hearing Brad talk about a new game immediately piqued my interest though, to be quite honest, I had reservations after the Vanguard fiasco. None the less, much of what he was discussing on that Discord were, although not revolutionary ideas, were at least quite different takes on what current games were offering. Always taking everything said with a grain of salt because turning ideas into reality always results in some compromises. That said, I’ve been here now 10 years and while things have changed, they are changing for the better.

Extreme exploring is part of Van’s PA testing. Don’t fall!

Not unlike our previous spotlight participant, Finn, you have taken on a role in the VIP community of some responsibility. You are often found arguing with or championing the community. What drives this level of connection and communication with this specific group of gamers?

It is my firm belief that the only way developers can create a high quality, high fantasy MMO that has challenging, exciting, captivating and compelling gameplay (that is also well balanced and as bug free as possible) so that it will attract and hold players attention for over a decade through thorough testing of all gameplay mechanics and comprehensive feedback of said gameplay mechanics. I want such a game and, frankly, the MMO world is overdue for such a game. But when developers are surrounded by an echo chamber where people do not look at those aspects with a truly critical eye then the long-term success of the game suffers. This can only happen through extensive discourse and, at times, that requires taking an adversarial role where the argument (supported by demonstrable evidence) lays out the position of all sides. Only when both sides understand the position of the other can an understanding be reached. That understanding could mean a change by the developers or acceptance of the position by the players/testers. I argue quite heatedly because I truly do want the best possible game we can get. Also, squeaky wheel gets the grease. I encourage everyone to speak up when something does sit right with them.

I’m not sure I would describe you as squeaky, but occasionally exacting.

A/S/L? j/k, my friend. Most of us have a specific race/class combo that we feel most akin to. For you, what would that be? Who is the Terminus version of Vandraad?

54/M/CA. (Sav side note: You’re welcome, community.) In every game that offers the Shaman that is the class I go to first. While I did not start off in EQ1 as a Shaman, I moved to it rather early and fell in love with the class. It had complex gameplay with an expansive set off tools to bring to a group and raid. While not as critical as a Cleric, it was the best force multiplier you could ask for. It was support and I like playing support roles. As for the race in Terminus? Skar because I expect the Skar to have the worst faction in the game, despised by everyone. Having terrible faction is a far more difficult path to take compared to races who are liked by everyone. When you see a high level Skar out there, you’ll know they really had to overcome a lot of challenges to get there. I see myself in that, both in terms of liking to overcome challenges but also seen as mostly unliked because of my incessant debating of everything Pantheon related on Discord and forums.

The public might be interested to know that you actually aren’t all that disagreeable. The secret is out!

It seems that world environment and the details in game, things like immersive zones, lively NPCs, and ambient activity, are important to you. What features does Pantheon have planned that satisfy this requirement and where do you hope to see more from VR in this regard?

The NPC combat reaction system where NPCs will respond differently depending upon their disposition and/or traits (two great mechanics, btw) to the actions of the players means and even physical position of the player relative to the NPC. More unpredictable combat is critical to me because of just how much time we all spend fighting NPCs. As for the world itself, VR’s expansive use of climbing means the world will have a far greater verticality. The world won’t exist on a mostly singular plane. This requires, then, players to look all around to see where some path leads to some yet unknown location. With VRs limited use of pre-existing lighting in dungeons/caves we could easily miss such things above us. Players might go months on end thinking they had fully explored a given area only to learn later they missed an entire section of a cave/dungeon because they failed to look around.

If you aren’t gaming at this level, are you even gaming?

I agree that these are great mechanics that make a world feel more dangerous. Danger makes for more interesting gameplay.

Roleplaying, PvP, crafting in Pantheon, yes or no? Why?

Crafting, definitely, as it goes with my class. Shaman, in most games, are intrinsically tied to Alchemy so I’ll pick that up. Potions and whatnot are always interesting additions, useful in that they fill small gaps here and there for that slight edge. And the fact it is a consumable means there is always a market. As I spent a decade in the restaurant industry, professionally trained as a chef, I’ll also pick up cooking as food/drink are also a fun component that brings a bit of flavor (pun intended) and variability to your character through minor stat boosts. Roleplay and PvP are not my thing. PvP is never well balanced so some classes suffer greatly compared to others and, in my experience, the average person doesn’t want a fair fight. They want a guaranteed win because who likes to lose?

For anyone who participates on Discord, they will know your love of cooking. We even get pics sometimes of your creations!

You are a person of many talents and tastes. What do you like to do in your time outside of gaming?

Years working restaurants has me working in my own kitchen experimenting with recipes that I then force my friends to try. Years working as a professional photographer will be back as a hobby once I retire (no room for all the darkroom equipment right now). But gaming is really my main source of entertainment as through them I have met a lot of really good friends from all over the world.

Your avatar is both disturbing and fascinating. What is the story there?

My angry shriveled old guy avatar? Yeah, I’ve had that now for over 15 years and harkens back to a comment someone made about me in an alliance meeting in EVE Online where, when my name came up the person said “Oh, you’re that really angry guy I’ve heard about.” A search of avatars lead me to that one. People always think I’m angry about one thing or another and I can truthfully say that isn’t always true. I’m just quite animated, adamant and forceful in how I argue/discuss things for which I have a great attachment. I have high expectations towards things for which I have to spend money. I expect it to work as intended and advertised and then things are identified as broken/unbalanced or just needing adjustments then #%@%@% fix that #%@% in a timely manner. Don’t hide from us, don’t attempt to placate us with words. Actions are what we want. Anything less is an insult and that #&%*@(% pisses me off.

Angry and fancy.

Vandraad shared a catalogue of angry shriveled old guy and I had to pick my favorite. Posh and dashing angry shriveled old guy!

Since you admittedly have a low tolerance for BS, does this play out in other games that you follow? Are you equally as passionate with all games or just the ones you financially support?

All games, really. I’m playing Starfield right now and it really %$&# me off. All the little cutscenes/loading screens!! My OCD part of my brain kept 2 stopwatches going for an hour. In that hour, cutscenes/loading screens took up 9:37 of my 1 hour of gameplay. For a $70 game.

But, for the most part, if I pledge to a game as I’ve done with Pantheon, I’m even more passionate about it because of the amount pledged. I hate to use the word ‘investment’ but really I have a vested interest in the success of the game.

What is something interesting about yourself that people would find surprising?

I once caused someone to lose a race for the US Senate seat from the state of Illinois.

I will, at some point, be getting the full story there.

Finally, settle a little theory I have… You are really a cat that has advanced in intelligence, can you confirm or deny?

Well, lets see. I am lazy and really enjoy being asleep. I like attention, but not too much attention. I like to do only what I want and when I want to. I will not do anything I dont want to do. And I’m really picky about what I eat.

This is not a denial so I’m going to take it as confirmation. There you have it folks, controversial internet posters are probably just cats.

If you would like to support Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen and be an insider with this zany community, check out our pledge page to find out how you can help. As always, a huge thank you to Vandraad and the rest of our community for helping us make this awesome game.

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