This is good news - Microsoft has picked up Vanguard, a new MMORPG being developed by Sigil Games.

The reason it's good news is that when it comes to developing an MMORPG (a massively multiplayer online role playing game, if you were wondering) one thing that stands out is that it takes a lot of time to develop, and a lot of time to test and tune.

Microsoft is generally pretty good about not rushing something out the door until it's ready.  They get slammed for it, but I'd rather see Yukon slip to 2005 and Longhorn to 2006 if it means they'll be better products.

Another characteristic of MMORPGs is that a player will generally only play one of them at a time, and play it for a long time.  This means it doesn't really make sense for a company to have a number of them going - Microsoft had been running Asheron's Call and Asheron's Call 2, and had another, Mythica, in the pipeline.. they recently cancelled Mythica, and I think this is good as well - nothing sucks more than an unsupported MMORPG, leaving players wandering around in a big empty broken world.

I don't agree with Brad calling Vanguard a third generation game though.

He calls MUDs, UO and EQ first generation games - but in my opinion, and even by his definition, MUDs were first generation, UO was 2nd generation (bringing graphics into the mix), and EQ was 3rd generation.  That makes EQ2/WoW/Vanguard 4th generation games.

Another characteristic of an MMORPG is it's far better to keep your existing customers playing your existing game than it is to spend money making a new one.  I think Sony is starting to clue in - they recently announced a new graphics engine for EverQuest that will bring it to DirectX 9 level, adding pixel shaders and character shadows and other funky new things.. Having the existing game evolve as technology advances makes more sense than trying to get everyone to stop playing this game and start a new one.