Legendary MMORPG designer and developer Brad McQuaid passed away Monday. His cause of death is unknown, but he died at merely 51 years of age, at home.
The official account for Panthenon: Rise of the Fallen, McQuaid’s most recent major project, announced the death on Wednesday, sending their condolences.
“He will be deeply missed and forever remembered by gamers worldwide,” the tweet read.
It is with deep regret we share that Brad McQuaid passed away last night. He will be deeply missed and forever remembered by gamers worldwide.
Thank you for bringing us together through your worlds. Rest in peace @Aradune.
VR offers our deepest condolences to Brad’s family.
— Pantheon 💚 (@PantheonMMO) November 20, 2019
The Pantheon forums also had a similar announcement via Benjamin Dean, Director of Communications at studio Visionary Realms.
“Brad was a visionary, a mentor, an artist, a trailblazer, a friend, a husband, a father,” the post read. “He touched thousands of lives with his dreams and concepts. He changed the landscape of video games forever. He will be deeply missed and forever remembered in life and in Pantheon.
“Thank you, Brad, for bringing us together through your worlds. Rest in peace, Aradune.” The name “Aradune” was McQuaid’s development and gaming handle and nickname.
McQuaid started his game design career at a young age. Just as he tipped over 20 years old in 1989, he became a game design entrepreneur. In 1996, Sony Interactive Studios America took notice and hired McQuaid (and his entrepreneur partner) to work on an MMORPG.
EverQuest, released in 1999, is considered a trailblazer in the MMORPG genre. In terms of technical achievements, it was the first major and commercially-successful MMORPG in the “western market” to employ a 3D and game engine. It also ran surprisingly well on low-end networks, which was vital in the days of dial-up. More importantly, as a game itself, it received high praises from all sorts of game media; despite simplistic combat, the accessible graphics and addicting nature made it worth the investment for many. (It’s also responsible for the infamous “ding!” level-up MMORPG “meme.”) EverQuest got a sequel in 2004, and the Windows edition is still officially supported under Daybreak Game Company to this day.
After this success, McQuaid was picked up as a producer for Vanguard: Saga of Heroes under Sigil Games Online. The game received relatively negative reviews; several years down the line, in 2007, Sony Online Entertainment acquired the title and focused on bug fixes. At this point, McQuaid stepped down from a leadership position. He moved within Sony in 2013 from Vanguard to EverQuest once again, but then left in 2013.
Upon departing from Sony, McQuaid shared that he would be working on a “spiritual successor” to EverQuest and similar projects. He helped found studio Visionary Realms, Inc., which launched a Kickstarter for Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen in early 2014. Pantheon didn’t complete its Kickstarter goal, but it continues development to this day under independent funding and angel investors.
McQuaid is still listed under his final position as Chief Creative Officer for Visionary Realms.