Vanguard - The Anti-Review

"We will have a lot of work to do post-launch and the first couple of months post-launch will be just as busy as beta 5 with lots of patches, bug fixes, new feathres[sic], etc." – Brad McQuaid on beta concerns for Vanguard: Saga of Heroes performance

Honestly, you've got to respect the man's candor. Many criticisms may be laid at the feet of former Everquest Vision™ junkee and current Sigil Games Vision™ proselytizer Brad McQuaid but indirectness is not one of them. To be fair, I've poached a single sentence from one of a million forum posts by the guy, taken it out of context and placed it in italics to give it a weight beyond the scope of the original statement, so let's not pretend that this is some kind of mission statement on releasing the game. The thing is, having played Vanguard: Saga of Heroes whenever I could muster the fortitude over the past two weeks, Brad's post is a pretty salient commentary on the state of the game's release.

When in early February, a Vanguard review key wandered into my grasp I, as something of a Massively Multiplayer gaming addict, set out immediately with the intent of investing dozens of hours into its three-tiered gameplay structure to construct a fair and well-informed review of the title. I even joined with a colleague in what we termed a "blood oath" to achieve at the very least level 20 so that we had a clear impression of both the solo and grouping content of the game. What happened instead is that I kept finding excuses not to play a game that was mediocre at its best and flatly annoying most of the rest of the time.

My goal was to inform myself to a complete enough degree to write a review. This is not that review. That review will never exist, because I am simply not willing to force myself to play long enough to construct a fully realized impression of Norrath. No, wait. Norrath was Everquest. What's this place called again? Let me look it up, and I'll get back to you "…

"… Telon! Right, that's the place I've been avoiding.

Now, I'm going to stop fans of Vanguard right here, because I don't care about your vehement and impassioned emails. I honestly don't. First of all, as I mentioned this isn't a review, and I'm not pawning this off as a complete examination of the entire game, but more importantly I'm under no obligation to like Vanguard, and I'm not going to trot out the tired old conventions of picking out small and often insignificant things that don't suck to balance out against the overwhelming majority of things that do suck.

So, what's wrong with Vanguard? How long you got?

The engine seems tailor made for a Sony Online game – despite Sigil's years of work with Microsoft only to be unceremoniously, and maybe not mysteriously, dumped in 2006 – in that it:

1) Makes everything appear to be made of shiny plastic and,

2) Doesn't work

The landscapes feel lifeless, designed either as great open spaces where oddly shaped creatures wait to be slaughtered and harvested at the whim of the local constabulary, or equally often as tightly confined valleys between vertical cliffs of ridiculous proportions that look exactly like what I'd make with Maya if I wanted to try my hand at cliff making. Also, between these cliffs of insanity, are the same oddly shaped creatures, the slaughtering, and lazy constables. The quests come verbatim from The Big Book of MMOG Quests, and every phase of character development feels awkward. On any given swing of a sword a character might gain familiar skill increases for usual offensive and defensive attributes, but along with those one might receive upgrades in tactic recognition, spell recognition, perception, detection, light fandango tripping and smoothie making. Every conflict fills my chat bar with information that I don't really understand, and ultimately don't care about.

Much of Vanguard seems intentionally obtuse and as counter-intuitive as possible while at the same time wrapping itself in tired trappings that have been done far better. Judging an enemy's relative difficulty is itself a multi-layered exploration in cryptography. For example, a level 5 – 2 dot creature is actually less difficult than a level 4 – 3 dot creature. Do you know what that means? Well neither did I for about nine levels, and let me tell you it makes more than a marginal difference! Would it surprise you to know that, where at level 1 you hit creatures for the traditional handful of hit points, by level 6 you might have a critical hit for several hundred damage? Would it further surprise you to find that those hundreds of points of damage against a newbie mob won't do much serious damage, you know unless it's a level 6 – 1 dot. Obviously I'm talking about a level 4 – 4 dot or level 5 – 3 dot, which are clearly far more difficult that some 6-1!

Death is a fact of life for the early adventurer, and not just the kind of death that comes from hyper-fast respawns and wandering creatures several levels higher than you, but the really annoying death that can only be achieved by not understanding what the holy hell is going on. Fortunately characters are not "eligible" for death penalty for the first few levels. I put eligible in quotes because I was always struck on my many young deaths by not being eligible to be penalized by a game. I wondered if there were people at level 5 running around anxiously anticipating that glorious day when they, like their fathers before them, would be "eligible" for in-game punishment.

But, of course, adventuring, such as it's called, is only one of the spheres of Vanguard's three-sphere gameplay model. There is also Crafting and Diplomacy in which, theoretically, one could invest themselves entirely without paying much attention to improving their Bleeding From Puncture Wounds skill. Of the two spheres, Diplomacy most intrigued me with its collectible card style play.

In Diplomacy parleys you and your mob opponent both start with a pool of points. The first person to get rid of all their points wins the conversation. There is a marker that is moved by playing cards, and at the end of each turn whichever side of the board the marker is on gets rid of one of their points. If you, as the player, remove a point from your own pool then the conversation progresses.

Here are the problems:

1) Despite having names like Forceful Demand, Complimentary Comment or Obfuscating And Slightly Suggestive Imperative, the cards themselves do nothing to altar the static flow of conversations. Even as you play Angry Non-Sequiter, your side of the conversation may end up being conciliatory and diplomatic.

2) Card Gameplay gets redundant. It's one thing to hit the millionth local bandit with a sword, but grinding a card game is a whole new level of hardcore that I'm just not prepared to explore.

3) Vanguard doesn't do a great job of drawing you into the stories. Names of places and people seem so equally unfamiliar as to be interchangeable, and proper nouns suffer from more apostrophes than an all-night marathon viewing of Conjunction Junction. I can only care for so long that the Jaa'bba'lly of F'za'nnnjj province want Kwagzatz of the Hoohanie dead, which is why they are hiring Zv'ii'tz of the K's'tt''ll clan to concoct a slow acting poison to be applied to Kwagzatz's F'oo'd', and it's your job to convince nine different people to give you the nine different components of the poison.

4) There's no real sense of advancement. Occasionally you get a new card, or some new piece of diplomatic clothing that grants you an extra green dot at the beginning of each parlay, but who cares?

Diplomacy is a clever idea that's not nearly engaging enough at lower levels to encourage the player to move forward. The Diplomacy game lacks the levels of nuance and strategy that make CCG games so addicting, and the actions of parley seems only barely related to what's transpiring in the game. It would be like giving your character all kinds of interesting combat skills, but every time you activate those skills you just swing your sword the same way.

But, so what? Right? Tired and redundant gameplay, barely interesting story, artificial environments populated with lame quests and an over population of sword fodder; I could be talking about any MMO on the market. The whole damn genre has run off the rails and become a parody of itself. Click the button and a gamer-treat rolls occasionally down the little pipe activating neurotransmitters in the brain that beg endlessly for more tiny little gamer-treats. So why pick on the little guy?

Fine, you want to know what really pisses me off about Vanguard; what voices me with the attitude that Sigil stole my lunch money? Vanguard sets a bad precedent for development and product release. In the months to launch Brad McQuaid made it very clear that regardless of whether Vanguard was actually ready for launch Sony, which had saved the game from cancellation following Microsoft's parting of ways, had set a firm timetable for retail, and come hell or high water the game only had enough money and time to reach that date. So, now that the game has released in its incomplete state, in a state that McQuaid himself describes as requiring patches, bug fixes and new feature implementation on par with a beta product, Sigil essentially comes to the consumer as the third investor in the process of the development cycle, and that is not just a terrible way of doing business, but an irresponsible step in the wrong direction for complicit consumers.

Let me put it bluntly, if a game is not ready for retail when the money runs out find another investor or shut the doors. We are customers, and the retail end of the industry is bad enough about not supporting incomplete or inoperable products without developers and publishers assuming we are investors in the development process. Your job as the industry is to create product, and then, and only then, we buy it.

So, what to say in capping off my thoughts on Vanguard. First, to you Vanguard faithful who, even now, are anxious to point out all the little things that make Vanguard great on which I completely missed the boat possibly because I'm just some World of Warcraft lamer who can't handle a man's MMO, go suck a sock. I don't care about the stuff I missed because the larger picture, the game itself that's supposed to facilitate my giving a crap about the exploration was barely functional, obtuse and uninspiring. To the guys who made Vanguard and for whatever reason maybe put themselves through reading this, I'm sorry to kick your baby down the stairs, but too many game writers these days are so busy tap dancing around offending someone in the industry that they've lost sight of telling consumers not to buy mediocre games. And, finally, to the reader who is wondering if Vanguard is worth playing, had I to do it all over again I sure wouldn't, and my copy was free.

- Elysium

Comments

I think you're getting lost in minutia of trying to please everyone and missing the point. Reviewers should be honest. If they don't like a game, they should say so and not waste time trying to get into other people's heads. A reviewer is being dishonest if they let some imagined standard of what other people might like (or what the designers themselves intended people to like about their game) and print that instead of documenting their experiences. It is, however, what happens often in the gaming press because, and I stick by this point, reviewers are so terrified of pissing someone off that they feel like they have to temper their response to a game down to not really making a definitive statement on the quality of the product.

I was around long enough to see the results of Diplomacy on the world environment (the buffs you are talking about), but it doesn't make the mechanics of diplomacy more fun. That it has some meaningful effect on the gameworld doesn't mitigate the problems. And, honestly, who cares how fun the fortieth hour of a feature is if the first ten suck? Why must the end game receive attention at all if it's not fun to reach that point.

I appreciate your reasonable responses, but I couldn't disagree with you more. And, judging by the responses to Vanguard I've seen that weren't on Vanguard fansites, I'm not really out of step with the mainstream response to the game. I just didn't put it in a nice candy shell.

Well written. I do play the game and feel all those frustratiuons, and yet I am enjoying it for many of my own reasons. They are mine and I am not posted to defend them. My money my choices.

My concern with what Sigil has done is that should they be even relatively successful they have set a new low for standards in introducing the game.

1. They said up front that no official forums would be hosted by Sigil. They expect the player community to do that. For the most part I think the player community actually does a better job of deseminating information anyway. What is lost though is the feeling that anyone from Sigil is out there listening to us.

2. They rolled this game out totally understaffed to support the game. By thier own admission they need more people.

3. The time between patches is huge. I fully expect a new game to need patching every 3 or 4 days. Why? Because there is no way any beta will catch everything. So instead of making hotfixes quickly they make us all wait for a single patch. is this because they do not have suffiecient programmers or not enough staff to be able to patch the servers?

4. Vanguard is probably the most complex endeavor of a MMORPG that I have seen in 9 years of MMOs. The potential is very great. But that is only the potential. What really bugs me is that Sigil has made no real attempt to help us understand the full scope of the complexities. Crafting is one. They have hardly helped at all for the player to understand what works with what or what recipies are needed or how even to get recipies. Ok, through Diplomacy I have the chance to change the world around me. Wow, that is a broad statement. err, exactly what does that mean?

Let's face it, the game is not documented at all. Why? probably because the budget did not allow them to hire someone to do it.

I do not know exactly what happened when Microsoft and Sigil split. But I know spin when I see it. And the story back then was pure spin. If I were to guess I would say that Brad came to Sony looking for a savior for his project. Was told you have this much money to finish the game. And as a result the game was released without the support and details we would expect. The money signs are all there from the poor support to the lack of detail in game.

The precidents that have now been set by Sigil and SOE can only bad for the future of gaming if Vanguard succeeds. I love the game. I am enjoying the game. I hope it does succeed.

But I fear for the future of gaming if it does succeed.

But if turns out to work in that overall picture, if it happens to fit in the overall design and intent of the game, then couldn't it be judged to be a "good thing", flaws and all?

Sorry, no. For me, the fun test is pass/fail, whatever the intent. I'm stuck in my postmodern roots.

Having ground all the way to level 16 in the Everquest beta, and only that far because none of my friends were playing Quake anymore due to said beta, I can tell you I came early on to the conclusion that any game with the name "Brad McQuaid" attached to it was not for me.

So far he has given me no reason to think I made a mistake in that assessment!

Grinding is not fun.

Kal wrote:

I've been avoiding MMOs like the plague for years now. It wasn't until I read about Vanguard's design that I decided to get back in. Does the game feel like EQ? Yes, but it feels like EQ done right. Sigil made some very conscious design decisions that actually work.

I agree with a lot of what this guy said.
Now I know this isn't a "review," but it's still a report on a game that this "reviewer" has put out. This post isn't a flame, it's not a fanguard uproaring that this guy has no idea what he's talking about, it's just a post to give counterpoints about what Elysium has said.

Let's begin. What do you mean exactly by shiny plastic? This game has some great graphics, with a great artstyle. Well, they're great if you don't particulary care for a cartoony look. If you get yourself up to about level 20 (which doesn't take 2-3 days to accomplish) there's an interesting mansion in thestra that is crawling with mobs of a gothic nature (flying demons, stitched up abominations, zombies, etc). The mobs in there have a gritty look to them.

Now the land hardly feels lifeless. Once in awhile you might see an offensive mob go after a wandering deer, for example. And yes, the mobs are out there wandering for you to slaughter, what did you expect? It was forgotten that to add to the wandering mobs are the hidden mobs. In the opening area of the wood elf/raki area in Kojan are plants you have to collect for an opening quest (which there are several to inform you on how the game actually works), and sometimes while collecting these plants you actually end up trying to uproot a monster (the plant was mutated into a mob because of the surrounding corruption in the forest) which you will be attacked by.

The quests are plentiful, and yes they're similar to all MMORPG quests because it's somewhat hard to come up with completely original quest steps after so many MMO's have come out. What changes though is the story in the quests. If you like new background stories for your quests, then you won't have a problem with this. I'll admit that some of the quests don't have an ample amount of detail, but there are many quests that plenty of background to wrap you up in the world, and many times there are several quests that give you different peices of information involving a particular area's background.

The multitude of skills in the game give it a bit more depth. Lets say as a sorcerer, instead of just being able to deflect any spell that comes your way you actually have to have the perception to understand what your opponent is casting. I'm sure there's more mechanics to it than that, but i'm not a programmer so i couldn't tell ya the specifics.

Because I'm at work and my shift is now over, I'll continue this when I get home.

I'm not at all surprised to see Coffee Grinders showing up just to write rebuttals to Elysium's write-up.

[edit]And so as not to be misunderstood, let me also add that I hope to see, as any other time, our new guests join the community as a whole if it is one that they will enjoy and contribute to. I just am disappointed if someone signs up just to try to counter a write-up that was posted to the front page that they disagree with. Just remember, this is a gaming community, not a gaming news/reviews site.

well put, Farscry, that's what i meant to say in my original (edited) post:)

This thread amuses me:

http://www.fohguild.org/forums/mmorpg-general-discussion/27323-review.html

And ditto Farscry and jonnypolite.

I know this is a gaming community, and not a news/review site, so i will continue to give my counterpoint, or rather opinion, on Vanguard (gaming communities are where you discuss games, right?)

The level/dot system of the game is a new way to make mobs easier to estimate your rate of survival. Instead of guessing whether your group can take that mob that is 5 levels higher than you in another game, the mobs in vanguard will be the same level as you but with the dot system you'll know if it can be handled by just you, 1-3 other friends, a group, or a raid. It's not really that difficult to comprehend ::shrug:: Of the same level, 1 dot means you can solo it pretty easily. 2 dots mean you should be able to handle it. 3 dots means you'll need 1-2 more people. 4 dots means you and 2-3 more people should be able to handle it if done right. 5 dots means you'll need a strong group (meaning people that know how to play their class) to handle the mob. And 6 dots pretty much means you'll need a raid to defeat the mob. On average you see 2 dot mobs, 3 dots aren't uncommon tho. 4 dots are those area boss mobs, kind of like a chief running the show in an orc encampment. 5 dots are those bosses at the end of a dungeon for example. And 6 dots, well like i said above, are the raid mobs. I know that was a lot to read, but it should be pretty easy to understand.

The death penalty system in Vanguard, IMO, is pretty creative. It has created somewhat of a happy meadium for those that enjoy the challenge of staying alive and those that could care less for corpse retreivals. When death is meaningless, where's the challenge in the game? At least with this system you have a reason to play smart instead of just randomly running head long into a dungeon. If you are the type to run without looking, and don't care to go through the hastle of getting your corpse, you can just summon your tombstone at a shrine with the loss of a chunk of xp. And I'm pretty sure they introduce the death penalty at level 7 to ease the player into the game.

As far as diplomacy go, its for the person who wants a story. The names in it of course sound stranger than normal, most people don't want a fantasy game where "Bob attacked the evil lord Mike to save his princess Nancy from a certain doom." And the story lines are interesting. One race, as you find out, is stuck on this world because their mode of transportation to their origins has been over run by monsters. Little did they know, there is a way to get home but the race they've come to live with, the ones who took them in, has been keeping a secret source of power from them that could send them on their way. There's more to that story and I don't want to say what races are involved in case there's someone that will read this post who may actually be interested in the game. Altho from the looks of it, that won't be many on this site.
There's levers in the game that can be switched on through diplomacy as well. The buffs mentioned are one of them. Later on there has been talk of actual events taking place if these switches have been turned enough. The mechanics of play during diplomacy can get a little boring, but its the information you can obtain that will drive the player. This card game is just a way give a little more interaction to the game.

The crafting in the game is different too. Instead of just clicking on a button to create an item, there are now different grades of items that can be created, depending on your ability to manage your pool points in the crafting process. Personally, i never liked crafting, but this game has at least made it interesting, if not a little tedious. But again, it's the end results that will drive a player. The depth is there again, because instead of just combining a few materials into a sword, you actually have to create the hilt, the blade, and the crossguard and then combine them into the finished sword. This offers some personalization to the process because at each step of making the various pieces of a finished product, you can alter the components by adding certain bonuses. Maybe one crafter makes the hilt have a +5 str atribute on it, then the crossguard has a +10 to block, and the blade has a chance to add fire damage, or another crafter thinks someone just wants a big bonus to their dexterity and puts dex bonuses on each piece. Either way, there's customization to any item made.

Because this is a forum, and discussion can not happen in real time, this is what i would have said in return to the statements made in this non "review", or rather article. Again, this is a gaming community where games can be discussed, so if you scoff at this (and my last) post or decide to flame me for putting my opinion out there, I sigh and shake my head. But if you choose to make an argument with a post that makes sense and is not simply saying "I don't like the game, your stupid for liking it" (and everyone is free to have their opinion, like it or not), then please respond to my post, I welcome it. I just hope that the writer of this article doesn't tell me to "go suck a sock."

scrub wrote:

This thread amuses me:

http://www.fohguild.org/forums/mmorpg-general-discussion/27323-review.html

And ditto Farscry and jonnypolite.

Yeah, there were some pretty bad posts in there. Mind you, there were some people who accepted that Elysium didn't like it and moved on.

I bet now GWJ is now universally known as the forum that hates the PS3 and Vanguard!

cirenosille wrote:

Because this is a forum, and discussion can not happen in real time, this is what i would have said in return to the statements made in this non "review", or rather article. Again, this is a gaming community where games can be discussed, so if you scoff at this (and my last) post or decide to flame me for putting my opinion out there, I sigh and shake my head. But if you choose to make an argument with a post that makes sense and is not simply saying "I don't like the game, your stupid for liking it" (and everyone is free to have their opinion, like it or not), then please respond to my post, I welcome it. I just hope that the writer of this article doesn't tell me to "go suck a sock."

Err, it's a message forum, so you did just say that in response. However, saying you'll never post here again certainly isn't a great way to invite a reasonable discussion. Why would anyone bother, knowing you never plan to reply to their points?

Again, this is a gaming community where games can be discussed, so if you scoff at this (and my last) post or decide to flame me for putting my opinion out there, I sigh and shake my head.

We don't flame here. We don't tolerate it, so there will be no flaming on either side of the debate. You won't be criticized for having an alternative viewpoint as long as it's well articulated.

I also never came anywhere near saying anyone is "stupid" for liking the game, nor is it the sort of thing I'm likely to say. That's the kind of thing that gets put into my mouth because I have the temerity to speak honestly about my opinion on a game. Not my first day on the job, so it doesn't really get to me. Honestly, I've had my say. It's the article itself, and I'm not interested enough in Vanguard to debate its relative merits. I've got a site to run here, and it's nice that apparently the Vanguard community is debating whether a) I've got it right or b) I'm an illiterate moron. That's the internet for ya.

I think I'll just let me original comments stand. I'm not interested in defending them, nor do I think they need defending. Besides, any response would just be my repeating myself.

Quintin_Stone wrote:

However, saying you'll never post here again certainly isn't a great way to invite a reasonable discussion. Why would anyone bother, knowing you never plan to reply to their points?

I never said I would never post here again, not really sure how you got that idea.

Elysium wrote:

I also never came anywhere near saying anyone is "stupid" for liking the game, nor is it the sort of thing I'm likely to say.

I also didn't say you called anyone stupid. I merely said that if someone is going to reply with "your stupid for liking this game" i wouldn't really welcome the response. In most cases I've found that giving your opinion that goes against someone elses is usually returned with a flame of some sort. A discussion is all I'm looking for. Elysium seems content with his view point, that's fine. I find it somewhat narrow minded, but I'm assuming the interest just isn't there for MMORPG's.
Another reason for my previous posts is to get more detail on why this reviewer didn't like the game, my curiousity i suppose. The article just feels like empty complaints of a game that they weren't able to understand in the first few minutes of picking it up.

Here is my $.02

I beta tested Vangaurd from the beginning. From the start, I had alot of the same issues with the game, even up till it was released. The game is overall bland. Nothing new, nothing realy innovative. Most of it just being annoying as hell. At one point I posted in their forums my complaints about the direction the game was headed (will explain below) and was kicked out of beta for a while, guess I didn't share the same views as the developers.

1) Graphics Engine: All I can say is why? They took a Great engine, modified it into oblivian, coated it in 'shine' and generaly screwed it up. When the testing opened (closed testing), one of the best graphics card was an 6800 Ultra, which I had. True there were a few newer cards, but hey, still a greatly solid card. With my 6800 Ultra, Intel P4 3.8ghz (3.2ghz oc'ed), 2 gigs of ram, and WD Raptor hdd, I barely seen 14fps at 1280x1024 (EQ2 ran faster). The view I expressed to them was simple, Why design and modify the graphics engine to the point it was unplayable even on upper grade hardware? Later it turns out, the engine got so buggy its barely playable.

2) Character models and enviroment: For the love of god why poser? Running around like a barbie doll that had a sword implanted at an awkward angle is not what I consider "Good" visual presentation. The enviroments are sparse, static (true of all mmorpg's, but this game it is very apparent), and overall lacked colors. The animations for the characters are horrible, they should have fired the animators long ago.

3) Content: If you can call it that. My views of this are far to lengthy to post here.

Basicaly, I warned them about releasing a product that appealed to a very small percentage of the gaming base, especialy one that was lacking so much polish. Lo and behold, it was released 3 months later to retail. Bugs, Incomplete content, and Horrible visual quality all put nails in the coffin of Vangaurd, SoE just burried it.

Great vision shot to hell.

It sounds like you, papabear, haven't played it since that early beta phase. In the final phase of beta they were patching once to twice a day, fixing a lot of bugs and improving technical problems. I won't lie, you do need a pretty beefy computer to play the game [edit] to make it look and run at it's best[edit]. As for the color, it's no psychadelic trip, but it has understandable coloring for all objects.
I suppose this is a game that will draw mainly those that truly loved everquest in the begining. I know, I know, it's everquest but upgraded. The thing is, all these MMORPG's are actually pen and paper RPG's upgraded. You can only implement new ways of making the old enviroment more interactive. When I played WoW, i saw a cartoony version of everquest that became fast paced. Now I'm playing Vanguard, and I see WoW with more realistic settings and dimensions at a slower pace, but with some new features. But this is just to simplify it.

Elysium seems content with his view point, that's fine. I find it somewhat narrow minded, but I'm assuming the interest just isn't there for MMORPG's.
The article just feels like empty complaints of a game that they weren't able to understand in the first few minutes of picking it up.

Elysium has spent hundreds of hours in Everquest. He's also a veteran of World of Warcraft, Dark Age of Camelot and other games as well. To make these offhand dismissals of someone's criticism without actually knowing the context of the writer's experience comes off as defensive and unreasonable. You support the game and appreciate it, that's awesome. Don't attempt to fuel this rational debate you claim to want with poor assumptions and ad hominem attacks you'll usually find at fan sites when someone doesn't appreciated their game of choice.

I've been really pleased with the new guys who have offered their own thoughts on the game, some great counter-points to consider have been made. No need to make preemptive strikes at "flames" on GWJ, we really don't tolerate that sort of discourse.

Man, between this and Elysium's heavy use of "nor" I'd say we've reached our snob quotient for the month.

cirenosille wrote:

It sounds like you, papabear, haven't played it since that early beta phase.

My name there was Hebus, I'm the one that raised the big stink about the fact user submitted screens had to be at the highest detail, and highest resolution to be displayed on the website (just in the user section). Not to mention any screen shots showing actual playable levels were removed from the forums (after the NDA was gone at that).

cirenosille wrote:

In the final phase of beta they were patching once to twice a day, fixing a lot of bugs and improving technical problems.

Yes they did rush alot of patches, which made it obvious it was no where near being ready. Ray Charles could have seen that from a mile away.

cirenosille wrote:

I won't lie, you do need a pretty beefy computer to play the game [edit] to make it look and run at it's best[edit]. As for the color, it's no psychadelic trip, but it has understandable coloring for all objects.
I suppose this is a game that will draw mainly those that truly loved everquest in the begining. I know, I know, it's everquest but upgraded.

That is an understatement. Oblivion runs better (due to better optimized code, even then its horrid and has mass room for improvement) then this pile of crap.

cirenosille wrote:

When I played WoW, i saw a cartoony version of everquest that became fast paced. Now I'm playing Vanguard, and I see WoW with more realistic settings and dimensions at a slower pace, but with some new features.

True WoW doesn't have a realistic graphical point, but it runs smooth. The game was designed around the fact that people of all levels could pick it up and play. Novice to hardcore 40 man raider. There is a difference between having in depth gameplay, and completely confusing the hell out of the player. As stated in the article about mob levels, for example, is confusing, and not entirely logical, 6 is higher then 5.

Vanguard does have some interesting ideas, which on paper sound great. However, the rushed and poorly designed implementation distract entirely from the original thought.

Graphics will attract people, but its the gameplay that will keep them. Vanguard is lacking in visuals and gameplay.

Another reason for my previous posts is to get more detail on why this reviewer didn't like the game, my curiousity i suppose.

It's not a debate. It's an article.

Hope that's not too narrow minded.

'Ello, I happen to be one of those relatively silent lurkers who randomly appears out of nowhere to make a first time post in a controversial thread that likely will have me dismissed as some person uninterested in fostering a community and more interested in fanning the flames. I'm not going to assert one way or another if that is the case, but I'll merely let my post speak for itself (and hope that growing up with Usenet has helped me foster a decent amount of nettiquitte).

To begin, I feel that am obligated to praise this here anti-review. It was a refreshing breath of fresh air (are all breaths of fresh air refreshing?), and it did not require me to wade through a morass of editorial unwillingness to commit a negative thought to paper. That made me happy, because I'm too busy thinking about problems like phenomenolism and representationalism and do not desire to wade through editorial filler. I wade through enough philosophical filler as it is, and after reading John Locke for too long, I tend to go cross-eyed at additional filler.

As for my opinion, like some of the other posters, I too played in the Vanguard beta. That said, I only played it for about three hours total, which hardly makes me qualified to give the game its proper due, for good or ill. I, personally, however, could not stand the beta, for many of the same reasons Elysium and other posters have mentioned. I was hoping the game would have been better after release; however, I wasn't particularly holding my breath. Furthermore, MMO's have never had much staying power with me, and I only play World of Warcraft because co-workers somehow managed to bully me into it. Admittedly, I have fond memories of the original Everquest, but I was a kid with too much time on his hands when the game came out. Furthermore, I have since moved on to gameplay experiences that currently fit my tastes better (I do not believe I would enjoy the original Everquest if I was to play it again today).

All this aside, I have one wrinkle to my praise to add. I am not entirely convinced, despite what I perceive to be the merits of the article, that it is an anti-review. What it appears to be is an insightful recommendation of sorts, with the very notable stipulations (mainly, that not enough time was spent on the game to actually make definitive, completely, and utterly exhaustive conclusions concerning the gameplay of said game). I'm not sure exactly what we are calling a review, but if a review is a highly justified recommendation for a course of action (to play/purchase or not play/purchase a game), then this article appears to be a proto-review with stipulations. I could, however, be wrong, and perhaps I am just quibbling over semantics.

There's my two cents.

Add me to the growing list of newbie coffee grinders.

I am not here to flame , I just happened to click on a link I found buried in a Vanguard related forum.

I can sympathize with much of what Elysium wrote although his flair for the dramatic can certainly been perceived as " flame baiting ".

" First, to you Vanguard faithful who, even now, are anxious to point out all the little things that make Vanguard great on which I completely missed the boat possibly because I'm just some World of Warcraft lamer who can't handle a man's MMO, go suck a sock "

Honestly are you surprised that the Vanguard players that happened by your article went through the 2 minute registration process to respond to your declarations ? You called them out, you told them that their opinions didn't matter and then provided them a message forum to post on.

Duh ?! on the internet that is a Declaration of War and you don't even need to get approval from Congress.

Well I am one of the newbs but I will spare you the flames.

I was dragged into Vanguard kicking and screaming from the Burning Crusade when my gaming friends took the leap. My first week of play was horrible. I struggle to learn a foreign game system buried under the instability and bugginess of an unfinished game. I was sure that Vanguard was not the game for me. For the first couple of nights I joked and chided my friends and begged them to leave but finally agreed to play for two weeks before heading back to get my last couple of levels needed to go to the Outlands.

After two weeks I wasn't ready to leave, somehow Vanguard got me hooked. For me the biggest factor was the challenge of the game itself, ignoring all the bugs. This was a game I couldn't play while watching television, I had to pay attention. I couldn't point my trusty battle ram in a direction and go galloping off as I ran to the kitchen for a drink, knowing the monsters were too weak to hurt me if I got stuck on a rock while getting my Mountain Dew.

Vanguard game play is sometimes difficult and unforgiving and requires the help of other players, it challenges you, punished you and at times frustrates you. I was suffering from MMO culture shock, I had been so accustomed to newer MMOs and the designs that are targeted to the mass audience I had forgotten the old days when not just anybody could pick up a game and master it. It was refreshing to see that being successful required more than just a couple months of solo play and my handy thottbot quest guides.

After reaching 20th level in Vanguard I felt like I had accomplished something that not everyone that wanted to play Vanguard could.

I enjoyed the easier MMOs but Vanguard isn't meant to be easy, it isn't targeted at the newer MMO player market. Vanguard is the Triple Black Diamond of MMOs, it is steep, difficult, icy and if you fall you can hurt yourself. There are plenty of green and blue trail MMOs out there that have lots of nice terrain, buxom ski instructors and convenience stations for hot chocolate with little wooden benches to sit on when you get tired, but I discovered that for me Black Diamonds are more rewarding.

Elysium wrote:
Another reason for my previous posts is to get more detail on why this reviewer didn't like the game, my curiousity i suppose.

It's not a debate. It's an article.

Hope that's not too narrow minded.

I had some respect for you till I read this. Any time you state this is your opinion, it is open for debate. Any time you allow post made below your article such as this, what else would you expect? Maybe this isn't too narrow minded for you.

Elysium wrote:

It's not a debate. It's an article.

Hope that's not too narrow minded.

OH, definatly too narrow minded =P

Seriously though, I'm not trying to attack the writer here, but without a tone in the words i guess it could be viewed that way. I wanted to show the other side of the coin to anyone who was reading this article.

And speaking of article, this is a review despite what you say. You've labeled yourself as a reviewer, so when you wrote this it wasn't just an oppinion. If you wanted to state your opinion you could have done it on forums somewhere. But when readers come to this site, it will be viewed as a review. You say that other reviewers won't say anything bad about a game because they're afraid to piss someone off, but i'd disagree. Dark Messiah was a game that had review scores ranging all over the board. One writer gave the game a 9 out of 10, while i've read other writers that gave the game a 4.5 out of ten. The thing is, you didn't see the one disagreeing with the game say it wasn't actually a review they were writing.

Elysium wrote:

But, so what? Right? Tired and redundant gameplay, barely interesting story, artificial environments populated with lame quests and an over population of sword fodder; I could be talking about any MMO on the market. The whole damn genre has run off the rails and become a parody of itself.

That's why I said his interest in MMORPG's isn't there, but i should have added "anymore" to the end of the sentence.

cirenosille wrote:

but with the dot system you'll know if it can be handled by just you, 1-3 other friends, a group, or a raid. It's not really that difficult to comprehend ::shrug:: Of the same level, 1 dot means you can solo it pretty easily. 2 dots mean you should be able to handle it. 3 dots means you'll need 1-2 more people. 4 dots means you and 2-3 more people should be able to handle it if done right. 5 dots means you'll need a strong group (meaning people that know how to play their class) to handle the mob. And 6 dots pretty much means you'll need a raid to defeat the mob. On average you see 2 dot mobs, 3 dots aren't uncommon tho. 4 dots are those area boss mobs, kind of like a chief running the show in an orc encampment. 5 dots are those bosses at the end of a dungeon for example. And 6 dots, well like i said above, are the raid mobs.

Just had to repost that for papabear. That right there is one of the innovations in the game. It might seem confusing just reading it, but once you play its pretty understandable.

Now, I wasn't around for too many MMO launches, so maybe my opinion doesn't entirely hold in this ::shrug:: But from what I'm to understand, no MMO launches in a "completed" state[edit, added a 'd' at the end of 'complete']. I remember EQ patching for the entire 3 years that I played it, and there were still problems with crashing from time to time. I heard that WoW wasn't even playable the first couple of weeks because of server instability. The thing is, I'm not sure how you could expect anything else from this game. Ya, Microsoft dropped it for their reasons (i hear it's because Sigil didn't want to make it a "Games for Windows"), so then SOE picked it up. And why would they move onto another investor? I doubt anyone would stick with them in fear of them moving onto someone else when things get rough money wise. The funds ran out, but now that it's up and running, they'll be able to continue on with the project.

And as for all the fixes, there's a lot to the game and I'm sure they don't have an unlimited amount of staff. You gotta figure there's 15 classes for them to look at, 3 continents that span up to 90 square kilometers to look for bugs and holes, 3 different spheres to keep an eye on, and also implementing more content. It doesn't suprise me in the least that all the tweaks haven't been made yet. But I am a patient person, so it doesn't bother me.

cirenosille wrote:
Quintin_Stone wrote:

However, saying you'll never post here again certainly isn't a great way to invite a reasonable discussion. Why would anyone bother, knowing you never plan to reply to their points?

I never said I would never post here again, not really sure how you got that idea.

Sorry, I misunderstood when you said "so if you scoff at this (and my last) post". I thought you were indicating it was going to be your last post. Apologies.

Quintin_Stone wrote:
cirenosille wrote:
Quintin_Stone wrote:

However, saying you'll never post here again certainly isn't a great way to invite a reasonable discussion. Why would anyone bother, knowing you never plan to reply to their points?

I never said I would never post here again, not really sure how you got that idea.

Sorry, I misunderstood when you said "so if you scoff at this (and my last) post". I thought you were indicating it was going to be your last post. Apologies.

That's alright, I was just refering to my previous post, which I wasn't able to comlete due to my shift ending.

It's not a debate. It's an article.

Hope that's not too narrow minded.

Yeah, that _was_ pretty snarky. Apologies on that point only.

My first week of play was horrible. I struggle to learn a foreign game system buried under the instability and bugginess of an unfinished game.

Rutaq, I'm glad you grew to enjoy Vanguard, but what you describe in that sentence is never a game I, or most gamers, would support or recommend. And, thanks for posting.

Certis wrote:

Man, between this and Elysium's heavy use of "nor" I'd say we've reached our snob quotient for the month. ;)

What? Before I even contributed my snobbery? I am outraged!

My wife and I have been avid players since the Everquest days. We got pretty pumped up about EOF when it launched for EQ2, but with her sitting at 98 AP level 70 (she is more into the adventure part) and myself having maxxed transmuting early on and tinkering by the time Vanguard launched, we basically just got burnt out on EQ2.

So I plopped down $110. for 2 copies of Vanguard and loaded them ready to start our new gaming lives in a world that was going to be more like the classic EQ we loved. Man, what a pipedream. My wife, who has the better of our 2 machines, gets about 3 frames per second on the CHARACTER CREATE SCREEN. The game is entirely unplayable. My machine, which as I said specs lower, gives me about 25 FPS in open areas with noone else around, but i drop down into the single digits when I get around anyone.

We don't hvae the latest in technology, but we blow the minimum spec out of the water, and we come pretty close to the recommended specs. And I also understand that you might have to upgrade to continue to be able to play an online game (as is pointed out on the spec label on the box). But at launch, or near there....come on.

My experience beyond the playablility factor is similar to the columnists....I found logging in to do anything to be more like going to the dentist or filing my taxes than playing a game. The amazing thing about online gaming is, there are communities out there of players who have really good ideas and suggestions on things that would make the experiences better, and if the developers would simply listen every once and a while, someone could manage to make the next BIG thing. Stop trying to be everything to every player, and start working on making stuff fun AND challenging.

I can't say I'm surprised, being a Sony game. I, and a 90+ person guild quit SWG after years of unfixed bugs, poor quality expansions (even JTL, which was the best, was incredibly buggy). SOE is probably the real issue here. SOE has no respect for their customers.

That being said, I went to WoW to avoid the bug issues that have been plaguing other game releases. I'm tired of paying to beta test an on or offline game.

I like the PS3, but I can't justify getting one yet, however I probably will. I will probably never play another game run by SOE.

Elysium wrote:

And, honestly, who cares how fun the fortieth hour of a feature is if the first ten suck? Why must the end game receive attention at all if it's not fun to reach that point.

Another great point.

I remember when no one really talked about "end game" because all the fun was getting there.
If there was one bad thing that came from WOW it was my own confrontation with "end game" content.
I hate it.

I liked when MMOs seemed to be never ending and I was hoping Vanguard was going to be that type of game.

In beta I got a few characters to lvl 12 or so but after that I couldn't find a reason to log in it was really boring.

You did a great job pointing out some important issues and hopefully some of the game producers are reading this and listening.

Working gamers like me won't pay for an incomplete product and if it's not fun or interesting we won't stay.

It sure is brave of you to write such a scathing review of Vanguard without using your real name. How could you offend someone in the industry when all you have to do is change pseudonyms?

greyline wrote:

It sure is brave of you to write such a scathing review of Vanguard without using your real name. How could you offend someone in the industry when all you have to do is change pseudonyms?

Adorable. His name is Sean Sands, we say it each week in the podcast and it's all over the site. Thanks for playing.