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... more so with every other post on this thread... it would be a fantastic idea if we had a firm policy of newcomers not being able to post for a couple of weeks after registering. I'm not sure I've contributed anything worthwhile in the (checks his profile) two years and 38 weeks I've been around, much less the first two or three.

The truly amusing/frightening thing is apparently this site catches enough attention from non-members that folks actually feel the urge to defend their beloved game on it. It's GWJ, not IGN, folks.

EDIT: Elysium, I'm afraid of the answer, but I'm strangely intrigued by the following question: What's your inbox look like... y'know, what with the "write to author" link?

I played this game for about a week, or roughly 30 hours. I created two characters which each ran up to level 12 and it was a chore.

Elyseum : 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.

This is so true. When was the last time you read a review that actually recommended not buying the reviewed game? If the professor who graded my philosophy paper had been grading like a game reviewer I would've gotten a B- instead of an F.

cirenosille : 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.

Cirenosille, this is a lowering of expectations that I notice often on Vanguard forums. Many players state that the game got off to a rocky start and that that is to be expected. To which I say, no sir, no sir, no sir! Mr GameDeveloper, you want my initial investment and continued support of 15 bucks a month, you had better exceed my expectations. If games really became harder to develop because a class, or a quest had already once been done before then the game industry would have imploded already. The next Knights of the Old Republic might be released in six months' time.

Speaking of Kotor, remember those intricate dialogue trees that could shift your alignment depending on your statements? If Diplomacy had worked like that it would've redeemed the entire game - for me. Playing "Subtle Jab" would actually result in a subtle jab in the narrative of the story. Imagine what Diplomacy might have been like if it actually mattered how you won your verbal argument, not just that you won.

cirenosille : "This game has some great graphics, with a great artstyle. Well, they're great if you don't particulary care for a cartoony look."

I don't quite follow what you're saying here, Cirenosille. It is rather cartoony and I do not care for that. It should follow then, that the graphics are great. But they aren't. I agree with various previous posters, it's bland and rather lifeless. And actually, cartoony isn't the right word. I just can't wrap my head around it, but there's something jarring about npcs with eyes that look like they're on crystal meth.

Kal : ... "Vanguard is geared towards the hardcore MMO player for reasons A and B but if thats not your bag, you probably won't have fun."

I've come across this point several times. Apparently the developers somewhere said Vanguard was built to be 'monkey-proof' so that ten-year olds would be turned off the game quicker and only players that were experienced in MMOs and cared enough, would stay. I don't think it quite turned out that way. Vanguard has inbred disdain. If you play a game as tough as this then you must be superior to someone who didn't stick around or to someone who plays a game like WoW which is so dumbed down that already five million people play it. Ingame and on the forums, the Vanguard mantra is 'well, noone forced you to be here, go back to WoW'. It's almost a meme, like it was a fad two years ago to say 'gay' to anyone you didn't agree with. The beta testers that stayed are the worst. They defend the game with such zeal that I can't help but think 'cognitive dissonance'. If you quit, you quit too early because the game's getting better every day. If you wonder about a certain bug, you're forgetting the numerous fixes Sigil have already implemented yesterday. If you think its hard/slow/laggy then you should write your own darn MMO. And if you register on forums just to participate in threads like these, then you have no life (my favorite).

Well I'm participating because I like posting in threads like these - I should get at least get something out of this game and secondly because I am pissed off. I feel hoodwinked after playing this game. Lost 50 euros and 30 hours which I am not going to get back.

Hazmat

Like I mentioned before, the thing that gets me about this write up is that the author states it's not a review, even though he is labeled as a reviewer.

hazmat: Cirenosille, this is a lowering of expectations that I notice often on Vanguard forums. Many players state that the game got off to a rocky start and that that is to be expected...If games really became harder to develop because a class, or a quest had already once been done before then the game industry would have imploded already.

This lowering of expectations, it must happen a lot. Look at every genre of gaming and tell me how many innovations you find. At most you'll find a minute change to give a game its own feel. But if you play one shooter, how much different is it from the next? If you play one RPG, besides the details of the story, how much different is it? You play a racing game, then move onto another, there's not much difference. When things have been done already, there's only little things you can do to change them, it's pretty hard to come up with a completely different design. I think the entertainment industry has come such a long way, that it's reached a slow point where there can only be baby steps taken to ultimately change a particular genre. And, well, the industry hasn't imploded yet.

hazmat: Speaking of Kotor, remember those intricate dialogue trees that could shift your alignment depending on your statements? If Diplomacy had worked like that it would've redeemed the entire game - for me. Playing "Subtle Jab" would actually result in a subtle jab in the narrative of the story. Imagine what Diplomacy might have been like if it actually mattered how you won your verbal argument, not just that you won.

You realize how hard that would be to implement into an MMORPG? It's one thing to do it in a single player game that has a set story line but entirely different when it comes to an MMORPG. In a single player game, even if there is multiple paths or endings, the fact is that there will be an end. In a community world, there's no end, you won't be able to play 30 hours worth of game and come to a conclusion, the world has to keep going. During parley your goal is to unfold a story or information. Now, I would imagine it would be pretty difficult, and pointless, to give people multiple responses to a conversation and still have them end up with the same information. I won't deny that it would be cool if you took faction hits depending on what levers/civic diplomacy battles you took on, or if you lost the parley.

And by cartoony, i mean it doesn't feel like i'm walking through a world tripping on shrooms. There's also not houses that are maybe twice the size of you as well. As mentioned elsewhere, this game does require a good machine to make it look good. I'm running with a p4, duel nvidia 7600's, and 3gb of ram. This seems to do fine imo. And not to mention, if you want truly amazing graphics, you gotta have the hardware to provide it. Now, i'm not really sure what someones eyes look like while they're high on meth, but i don't really get that feeling when looking at screenshots or even other peoples eyes in the game. And it's also nice that you can see each item your wearing down to the rings on your finger.

Personally, I don't like when someone says this game is for "hardcore" players. I think it's for some of the people that would like some kind of challenge in their gaming. But, I like games where you have to be cautious. One of my favorite series was the Thief games. You had to be cautious and patient and strike just at the right moment. Vanguard has a similar feeling to it. Not the same exact sneaking through shadows thing, but you gotta pay attention to what your doing and how your doing it.

hazmat: And if you register on forums just to participate in threads like these, then you have no life (my favorite).

Isn't that what you just did? Not to mention I've never even heard of this site up until this "non review" review was linked on another site.

Wounder wrote:

I think... more so with every other post on this thread... it would be a fantastic idea if we had a firm policy of newcomers not being able to post for a couple of weeks after registering. I'm not sure I've contributed anything worthwhile in the (checks his profile) two years and 38 weeks I've been around, much less the first two or three.

The truly amusing/frightening thing is apparently this site catches enough attention from non-members that folks actually feel the urge to defend their beloved game on it. It's GWJ, not IGN, folks.

EDIT: Elysium, I'm afraid of the answer, but I'm strangely intrigued by the following question: What's your inbox look like... y'know, what with the "write to author" link?

I guess that post just irks me. There's the chance to post comments about the article, so why would you deny people that right? I would imagine this was directed toward anyone that disagreed with the article/review. Personally I just wanted to shed a different light on the game in case someone happened to read this article/review.

First of all, I played Vanguard in beta, and have absolutely no desire to play it again. It is not a good game now, and any review that recommends the reader go out and buy it would be doing them a disservice. The fact is, anyone who would play and enjoy Vanguard right now already know about it and are probably already playing it. As to the article, I agree with it to an extent. That being, I feel Vanguard sucks:

-The art direction is just poorly done. Things don't fit or click in the way a good art direction would allow. Things look like they were just dropped out of the sky right after being modeled and textured. This is what WoW did right. Not high poly or with God knows what effects Vanguard crammed in to bolster their back of the box blurb, but the art was obviously done by skilled artists with a strong art direction. Vanguard can't even come close to saying the same thing.

-Cryptic and confusing for the sake of being so. It feels that this was a direct design decision to try and give the game more of a mystery, in such a way that things weren't directly presented to the player ala WoW. Feels like a throwback to try and capture the 'magic' of EverQuest. From a person that felt some of that 'magic', even though it was not my first MMO, I have to say it had a lot to do about being in the dark, but not in a way that actively made me feel bound and gagged by the game.

-Trying to cram yet ANOTHER Fantasy MMO into an absurdly overcrowded marketplace with the weak delusion that they were catering to a niche market of red-eyed EQ junkies who have been yearning for that sweet yoke around their necks once again.

However, although I agree with you on many points this whole thing came off as a petulant sub-rant that made some points so baffling, it compelled me to register an account.

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.

This strikes me as asinine. If you're arguing simply that the way the game conveys this to the player is ridiculous, I'll agree completely. If you're trying to say being penalized for certain actions in a game is somehow a new or unacceptable is nonsense. Positive and negative reinforcement are cornerstones of MMOs and pretty much all gaming, they are things that give some consequence to how a player acts. One of Vanguard's selling point to a certain sect of gamers was that the penalties would be harsh for death and thus more consequence given to player actions, something that WoW, for example, emphasizes much less.

Vanguard sets a bad precedent for development and product release.

This baffles me. Again, I can take this to mean a few different things. Obviously, Vanguard was released in a poor state. Requiring bug fixes, and missing promised features. How is this a new precedent? You claimed to be an experienced MMO player yet you haven't played one of the dozen 'AAA' MMOs that came before Vanguard? I can promise you, every single one of them shipped 'unfinished'. In fact, it is a reality of software development as an entirety that features get cut, bugs go unpatched, products ship unfinished. It is a depressing reality, but here we are. Lambasting Vanguard for 'setting' this precedent just boggles my mind and seems like an attempt to bash the game for something beyond the fact that you (and for good reason) hated it.

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.

Again, this is shamefully how MMO development seems to work. Develop until you run out of money, release product, pray for subscriptions to recoup for loss and pay for vital fixes. This might be one of the few times where it has been stated openly that it is the reality of the situation. It is foolish to call foul because it was openly stated instead of swept under the rug like every other MMO release, not that I feel honesty makes up for what the finished product was.

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.

Again, an asinine statement. This is the MMO model as it stands. The subscription fees fund further development of the game as they are essentially 'never done'. Which is what appeals to some, and turns others off. If you're going to accuse Sigil of doing business in a terrible way, add every other company to release an MMO with subscription fees to that list. If you want to talk shades of gray (State of WoW day 1: State of Vanguard day 1) then do so. However, if you're going to talk in absolutes, don't leave huge holes in your argument.

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.

This paragraph seems to the verbal equivalent of you stamping your foot down in anger with no other way to express your seething rage. There is a glimmer of reason in the first sentence when you say 'if a game is not ready for retail' as that would be the best qualifier of when an MMO should ship, however you ignore the fact that this means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. As I said Vanguard basically is being marketed as the niche 'consequences. dire, dire consequences' MMO there are some people who would play it in even a worse state than it is currently. Those people would probably be crushed if the game were to not release. To say they should 'shut the doors' with a slam of the fist on your desk in such a diatribe is ignorant of basically every single factor of MMO development. No one is going to play a game they don't think is worth playing. Thus games that aren't worth playing will either fail or become worth playing. Thus the genre is, in the smallest degree, improved.

I enjoyed the article. It made me feel strongly enough to register and type all of this out. If any of this came off as a personal attack it was not meant that way, though my previous paragraph might have toed the line. I just think that the purpose of this was to crucify Sigil for the realities of game development as they exist, MMO development in particular. All a game reviewer can do is tell the truth, and hope that poor games meet their just end. Force developers and publishers to look internally improve their procedure for developing these games, and as an end result, release better, more polished games.

As a side note, I apologize if any of this has been stated in prior comments.

Good post Solarin, I must say. There's things I would disagree with you about your opinions on disliking the game, but they are, after all, your opinions.

I liked the article, so I figured I'd grind some coffee here. My response is also not a review, nor (aside from the preceding) a review of a non-review.

I have experienced every item Elysium mentions and he's not even being overly harsh (somewhat harsh, but it could be much worse).

Vanguard is buggy, it crashes, there's nothing new about it except the way the pieces have been pasted together. I can't really tell if the game is fun, or just an ordeal gamers are supposed to tolerate for some inexplicable reason. Character building through character building, perhaps?

Can Vanguard look good? Sure, if you like brown on brown, with a hint of brown. Okay, okay I'm being overly dramatic for effect, sometimes there is also an occasional gray. Incredible variety of, four (max) hairstyles per race/gender, guaranteed to randomly be switched on login just for fun. I'd slam the art direction for a little bit longer comparing it unfavorably to that Guild Wars or WoW, but for one saving grace - I really do like many of the "dungeon" spaces they have created. That's the only bone I am throwing, though. Otherwise, we've got some kind of "realism" based colors (if "realism" means the colors which make up the entire palette of the "Bring out your dead" bit from the Holy Grail) and "realism" based character models (if "realism" in this case means freakish looking hominids, occasionally with animal heads).

Mr. McQuaid has said that the game isn't finished and he said he never expects it to become so. This is his way of saying MMORPGs are always under revision and adjustments and tweaks to make game play better will constantly be made, but I don't know... the game seems to already have everything necessary to capture the imagination and attention of a loyal player base. Warping mobs? Check. Warping characters? Check. Fall through the world at least once per session? Check. Log in to find yourself naked in the middle of an ocean off a continent you had never visited with only pieces of the UI showing up and a long swim before it's possible to camp out? Check.

What's sad is that I was looking forward to Vanguard. I was even playing it (some) during the beta. When the announcement was made that it was going to be released in January, I swore I wouldn't buy it because it wasn't ready. Of course, I bought it anyway and now don't play. Are there positives to the game, sure... but overall, they just don't tip the scales enough for me.

Solarin wrote:

This strikes me as asinine. If you're arguing simply that the way the game conveys this to the player is ridiculous, I'll agree completely. If you're trying to say being penalized for certain actions in a game is somehow a new or unacceptable is nonsense. Positive and negative reinforcement are cornerstones of MMOs and pretty much all gaming, they are things that give some consequence to how a player acts. One of Vanguard's selling point to a certain sect of gamers was that the penalties would be harsh for death and thus more consequence given to player actions, something that WoW, for example, emphasizes much less.

Well, starting out a rebuttal with a synonym for "stupid" doesn't strike me as the best way to build credibility, but I give you kudos for proper spelling, anyway. Furthermore, while you grasped that the author was probably referring to the death penalty as being some sort of reward by the game's dialog, you felt compelled to start off by calling him stupid anyway. Calling the author petulant after making a comment like this certainly smacks of the pot calling the kettle black, wouldn't you agree?

Vanguard sets a bad precedent for development and product release.
Solarin wrote:

This baffles me. Again, I can take this to mean a few different things. Obviously, Vanguard was released in a poor state. Requiring bug fixes, and missing promised features. How is this a new precedent? You claimed to be an experienced MMO player yet you haven't played one of the dozen 'AAA' MMOs that came before Vanguard? I can promise you, every single one of them shipped 'unfinished'. In fact, it is a reality of software development as an entirety that features get cut, bugs go unpatched, products ship unfinished. It is a depressing reality, but here we are. Lambasting Vanguard for 'setting' this precedent just boggles my mind and seems like an attempt to bash the game for something beyond the fact that you (and for good reason) hated it.

Okay, so you're going to nitpick the phrase "sets a precedent" when "reinforces a paradigm" would have been more accurate? If you were a little less angry and ready to find fault, you might also see that setting a precedent could be applied specifically to any further games Sigil might create, rather than taking it broad spectrum for the benefit of taking the author down a notch (or elevating yourself up one) and simply let it go.

Solarin wrote:

Again, this is shamefully how MMO development seems to work. Develop until you run out of money, release product, pray for subscriptions to recoup for loss and pay for vital fixes. This might be one of the few times where it has been stated openly that it is the reality of the situation. It is foolish to call foul because it was openly stated instead of swept under the rug like every other MMO release, not that I feel honesty makes up for what the finished product was.

Okay, now which is it? You seem almost ready to concede that there's a valid point here, but apparently you've been beaten down by the existing system long enough that you have to berate the author yet again for expressing outrage over something that simply shouldn't happen. I'm beginning to wonder if we're dealing with a split personality disorder...

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.
Solarin wrote:

Again, an asinine statement. This is the MMO model as it stands. The subscription fees fund further development of the game as they are essentially 'never done'. Which is what appeals to some, and turns others off. If you're going to accuse Sigil of doing business in a terrible way, add every other company to release an MMO with subscription fees to that list. If you want to talk shades of gray (State of WoW day 1: State of Vanguard day 1) then do so. However, if you're going to talk in absolutes, don't leave huge holes in your argument.

Again with the asinine?! I think we've been over this before, but for emphasis: tsk, tsk... Our author, for the record, is not accusing Sigil of anything, he's stating a fact. This IS bad business. That it has been done before and has somehow desensitized you to what you're being subjected to is a sad reality open for discussion in a different place and time. A slew of comparisons might make you feel better (although I highly doubt it), but it is far from necessary. Why? Well, because what Sigil did is a violation of consumer rights. They released a product as finished, charged a retail price for it, and it was not ready. I could see any number of alternative methods to gain consumer funds that would not be nearly as underhanded. Example: $5/month to play the pre-release in its buggy state, and when the game goes TRULY retail, half of the money paid in fees is deducted from the purchase price of the box.

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.
Solarin wrote:

This paragraph seems to the verbal equivalent of you stamping your foot down in anger with no other way to express your seething rage. There is a glimmer of reason in the first sentence when you say 'if a game is not ready for retail' as that would be the best qualifier of when an MMO should ship, however you ignore the fact that this means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. As I said Vanguard basically is being marketed as the niche 'consequences. dire, dire consequences' MMO there are some people who would play it in even a worse state than it is currently. Those people would probably be crushed if the game were to not release. To say they should 'shut the doors' with a slam of the fist on your desk in such a diatribe is ignorant of basically every single factor of MMO development. No one is going to play a game they don't think is worth playing. Thus games that aren't worth playing will either fail or become worth playing. Thus the genre is, in the smallest degree, improved.

I'm not sure where you think all of the author's rage is coming from. I don't see it, myself. It's an article about not pawning off an unfinished product as finished, and some opinions about the gameplay, which the author found uninspiring and/or boring. That's fine, I found the game played similarly, although I really liked the Diplomacy system, at least when the game didn't freeze up in the middle of a dialogue. ALL products need to be ready for consumption, and just because the market will somewhat tolerate and fund a product in the mid to late stages of beta being released as final doesn't mean it's good business, or that it's fair to consumers who aren't anal about researching their games before they head over to their local game store to pick it up and are shocked to discover they paid retail price for a game still in beta development.

Solarin wrote:

I enjoyed the article. It made me feel strongly enough to register and type all of this out. If any of this came off as a personal attack it was not meant that way, though my previous paragraph might have toed the line. I just think that the purpose of this was to crucify Sigil for the realities of game development as they exist, MMO development in particular. All a game reviewer can do is tell the truth, and hope that poor games meet their just end. Force developers and publishers to look internally improve their procedure for developing these games, and as an end result, release better, more polished games.

It's apparent you felt strongly, strongly enough to invalidate much of what you said through insulting language that served no purpose other than to weaken your already questionable points. You even fail to recognize the aim of the article, even though it's one of the better written ones I've seen. A game reviewer (and this one in particular) does not hope for more than presenting an accurate view of what was experienced, so that those who read the article can be better informed before they purchase what is being reviewed, and I think that was done here quite well, based on my experiences. Wishing for the demise of games serves no one. If it's a bad game, it will die on its own, regardless of how many wishes are cast in one direction or the other. Seeing companies go out of business or post low profits is also not "bad." It is events like this that encourage the companies that remain to pay closer attention to the people who are funding their endeavors.

Well, starting out a rebuttal with a synonym for "stupid" doesn't strike me as the best way to build credibility, but I give you kudos for proper spelling, anyway. Furthermore, while you grasped that the author was probably referring to the death penalty as being some sort of reward by the game's dialog, you felt compelled to start off by calling him stupid anyway. Calling the author petulant after making a comment like this certainly smacks of the pot calling the kettle black, wouldn't you agree?

So nitpicking my word choice was the best angle to refute what I said then? Also the condescending tone really is conducive to a meaningful discussion. I regret using the word 'asinine', it was not appropriate for what I wanted to convey. 'Strange' probably would have been a better choice, but I don't want to go edit it now, so consider it a point in your favor. Like I said, I didn't mean for any personal attack on the author. His phrase 'in-game punishment' is what piqued my interest, because negative reinforcement is a pretty significant aspect of Vanguard's 'vision', at least from the outside looking in, and calling it punishment is ignoring what it accomplishes.

Honestly there is no need to turn this into some kind of petty flame war just because of a perceived tone of arrogance in my post. I certainly perceive arrogance in your post, so I am going to reply to it with as thorough indifference as possible. Starting.... now.

Okay, so you're going to nitpick the phrase "sets a precedent" when "reinforces a paradigm" would have been more accurate? If you were a little less angry and ready to find fault, you might also see that setting a precedent could be applied specifically to any further games Sigil might create, rather than taking it broad spectrum for the benefit of taking the author down a notch (or elevating yourself up one) and simply let it go.

I'm 'nitpicking' because the phrase defines his entire argument. When I read the article that basically stopped me in my tracks. To heap something like that on them just felt wrong, which is why I posted what I did. 'Sets a precedent' and 'reinforces a paradigm' are basically opposite statements. I felt having an opposite opinion warranted a post, if for no reason other than to express it.

Okay, now which is it? You seem almost ready to concede that there's a valid point here, but apparently you've been beaten down by the existing system long enough that you have to berate the author yet again for expressing outrage over something that simply shouldn't happen. I'm beginning to wonder if we're dealing with a split personality disorder...

His article started with the quote from McQuaid, which he cited later on. What I discerned from this article was that it was outrageous that this was the reality, and Sigil is to blame. My counter point is that the depressing truth is this is how things have been for years, Sigil is part of a broken system, and simply stating the reality of the game's release does not make the situation any worse or better, it simply makes you honest. It felt to me like Sigil was the target, not the system in which they exist within, which is absurd. Also, for clarity, my only intent with my post was to express a dissenting opinion.

Again with the asinine?! I think we've been over this before, but for emphasis: tsk, tsk... Our author, for the record, is not accusing Sigil of anything, he's stating a fact. This IS bad business. That it has been done before and has somehow desensitized you to what you're being subjected to is a sad reality open for discussion in a different place and time. A slew of comparisons might make you feel better (although I highly doubt it), but it is far from necessary. Why? Well, because what Sigil did is a violation of consumer rights. They released a product as finished, charged a retail price for it, and it was not ready. I could see any number of alternative methods to gain consumer funds that would not be nearly as underhanded. Example: $5/month to play the pre-release in its buggy state, and when the game goes TRULY retail, half of the money paid in fees is deducted from the purchase price of the box.

Okay, a couple things. The author clearly states that Vanguard as being a detriment ('sets a precedent') and Sigil as practicing 'terrible business' and 'irresponsible'. If those aren't accusations then what are they? I never stated I think the current state of the MMO development industry is ideal, or even tolerable. I am simply saying pinning this on Sigil is pretty low. Also, I don't understand how you can say Sigil released an unready product as 'finished' and charged for it any more than any other MMO to be released in the past years (notable exception of WoW). Especially with McQuaid coming directly out to say that it wasn't finished. That should have meant it wasn't going to be on the shelves, but that is the reality of the current system. That is the point I am trying to make. If we want to change the world lets stop bashing one company and look at the entire flawed industry.

I'm not sure where you think all of the author's rage is coming from. I don't see it, myself. It's an article about not pawning off an unfinished product as finished, and some opinions about the gameplay, which the author found uninspiring and/or boring. That's fine, I found the game played similarly, although I really liked the Diplomacy system, at least when the game didn't freeze up in the middle of a dialogue. ALL products need to be ready for consumption, and just because the market will somewhat tolerate and fund a product in the mid to late stages of beta being released as final doesn't mean it's good business, or that it's fair to consumers who aren't anal about researching their games before they head over to their local game store to pick it up and are shocked to discover they paid retail price for a game still in beta development.
you want to know what really pisses me off about Vanguard

That comes before it, but basically from there up to and including that paragraph is a diatribe. The fact you can't see that but seem to find my post overflowing with vitriol speaks volumes. He is basically saying the developers should lose their jobs before they plague the market with an unfinished product. Fine, that ties in with his point about not tiptoeing around developer's feelings, but the way it is said strikes me as petulant. The entire thing up to that single paragraph is Sigil specific then he comes out with a very general swipe at the entire industry that feels ineffective as it basically offers nothing other than 'fix the system now, we're the customers god dammit'.

It's apparent you felt strongly, strongly enough to invalidate much of what you said through insulting language that served no purpose other than to weaken your already questionable points. You even fail to recognize the aim of the article, even though it's one of the better written ones I've seen. A game reviewer (and this one in particular) does not hope for more than presenting an accurate view of what was experienced, so that those who read the article can be better informed before they purchase what is being reviewed, and I think that was done here quite well, based on my experiences. Wishing for the demise of games serves no one. If it's a bad game, it will die on its own, regardless of how many wishes are cast in one direction or the other. Seeing companies go out of business or post low profits is also not "bad." It is events like this that encourage the companies that remain to pay closer attention to the people who are funding their endeavors.

Ignoring the bait in the first two sentences... you are really all over the place with your last couple points. I don't think you understood what I was trying to say. Reviewers should tell the truth about poor games, and hope that their review could influence enough to avoid it, thus causing poor games to flop and not propagate bad genes into future games. Maybe I should have replaced poor with mediocre, as that is what we're talking about. However mediocre games are more insipid because they don't outright fail, yet end up giving us nothing new or unique and thus are ultimately a waste of time and money, but still sell well enough and get 'ehh, B-' reviews. These are the games the original author wishes would be torn apart by reviewers to discourage their spread.

Phew, with all that bait I barely could contain myself. Sorry if I slipped up, and I'm sure I did.

Again, an asinine statement. This is the MMO model as it stands. The subscription fees fund further development of the game as they are essentially 'never done'. Which is what appeals to some, and turns others off. If you're going to accuse Sigil of doing business in a terrible way, add every other company to release an MMO with subscription fees to that list. If you want to talk shades of gray (State of WoW day 1: State of Vanguard day 1) then do so. However, if you're going to talk in absolutes, don't leave huge holes in your argument.

Actually thats not asinine.. but your sorta right.. but Sigil stooped to new lows. They did everything but basically say.. hey! we're going to charge you a box fee and a sub fee to play our beta. You may or may not actually get to play a release since if enough people don't end up paying for about a year or so we're going to have to shut down.

Now that would have been honest. Blizzard set new highs for MMORPG releases and certainly set that bar even higher for MMORPG Expansion releases... to NOT hold everyone after Blizzard to a higher standard would be foolish as consumers. I hope Vanguard and Sigil fail miserably so that every other Publisher and Developer looks at them and says..

"ok we gotta make sure we dont pull a Sigil"

I seconded the idea that newbs should be forced to wait a week or so before posting to avoid the dredges of fanboy society from posting once or twice in "response" to an article linked in their own forum.

Theres a reason Microsoft dropped this project.

Nice non-review!

I do want to mention though that the first 20 levels is where most the game is centered around. That's where you find the most content -- although not always the best rewards for quests, etc. After level 20 the game does not get more fun, it gets more tedious, in it's current state. Just incase you're wondering if maybe you missed something...

Additionally the diplomacy "beginner" quests have storylines, after that it turns into a grind. So if you didnt like it at the beginning, it actually becomes more boring as there's nothing left after that to push you.

I liked the article, so I figured I'd grind some coffee here. My response is also not a review, nor (aside from the preceding) a review of a non-review.

I have experienced every item Elysium mentions and he's not even being overly harsh (somewhat harsh, but it could be much worse).

Vanguard is buggy, it crashes, there's nothing new about it except the way the pieces have been pasted together. I can't really tell if the game is fun, or just an ordeal gamers are supposed to tolerate for some inexplicable reason. Character building through character building, perhaps?

Can Vanguard look good? Sure, if you like brown on brown, with a hint of brown. Okay, okay I'm being overly dramatic for effect, sometimes there is also an occasional gray. Incredible variety of, four (max) hairstyles per race/gender, guaranteed to randomly be switched on login just for fun. I'd slam the art direction for a little bit longer comparing it unfavorably to that Guild Wars or WoW, but for one saving grace - I really do like many of the "dungeon" spaces they have created. That's the only bone I am throwing, though. Otherwise, we've got some kind of "realism" based colors (if "realism" means the colors which make up the entire palette of the "Bring out your dead" bit from the Holy Grail) and "realism" based character models (if "realism" in this case means freakish looking hominids, occasionally with animal heads).

Mr. McQuaid has said that the game isn't finished and he said he never expects it to become so. This is his way of saying MMORPGs are always under revision and adjustments and tweaks to make game play better will constantly be made, but I don't know... the game seems to already have everything necessary to capture the imagination and attention of a loyal player base. Warping mobs? Check. Warping characters? Check. Fall through the world at least once per session? Check. Log in to find yourself naked in the middle of an ocean off a continent you had never visited with only pieces of the UI showing up and a long swim before it's possible to camp out? Check.

What's sad is that I was looking forward to Vanguard. I was even playing it (some) during the beta. When the announcement was made that it was going to be released in January, I swore I wouldn't buy it because it wasn't ready. Of course, I bought it anyway and now don't play. Are there positives to the game, sure... but overall, they just don't tip the scales enough for me.

I refer to this post only because it mentions things that have been repeated in other posts as well, so it isn't an attack of any sorts on the poster.

Yes, Vanguard is buggy, and from what I'm to understand, so was every other MMO when they launched. As mentioned before, When I started everquest near the begining of it's launch, there was still problems with bugs. They eventually got fixed though.

The crashing in the game isn't that bad, but I have much patience so one could just ignore this statement, besides it doesn't happen often. None the less, it will get fixed.

The lack of colors mentioned in several posts boggle me, but maybe I got a different version of the game. I'm wondering if the world would look better if there were bright purple trees, some neon blue houses, or a multitude of equipment to make your avatar look like a bag of skittles? Personally I don't think so, but others do.

The character creation in this game is similar to that of oblvion, so to call it junk based on the fact of only having 4 hair styles seems a little absurd. I'm sure there will be more styles implemented at some point. But if this is a point that ruins the game for someone, I wouldn't imagine people playing too many games with avatar customization. The bug mentioned about random appearance when logging in has long been fixed, and even when it was around it was only for a couple of days. Another bug mentioned about warping mobs has been fixed as well, at least i haven't seen it in days. The random spawn point when logging in, well, i've never heard of that happening besides in beta 4.

TheGameguru wrote:
Again, an asinine statement. This is the MMO model as it stands. The subscription fees fund further development of the game as they are essentially 'never done'. Which is what appeals to some, and turns others off. If you're going to accuse Sigil of doing business in a terrible way, add every other company to release an MMO with subscription fees to that list. If you want to talk shades of gray (State of WoW day 1: State of Vanguard day 1) then do so. However, if you're going to talk in absolutes, don't leave huge holes in your argument.

Actually thats not asinine.. but your sorta right.. but Sigil stooped to new lows. They did everything but basically say.. hey! we're going to charge you a box fee and a sub fee to play our beta. You may or may not actually get to play a release since if enough people don't end up paying for about a year or so we're going to have to shut down.

Now that would have been honest. Blizzard set new highs for MMORPG releases and certainly set that bar even higher for MMORPG Expansion releases... to NOT hold everyone after Blizzard to a higher standard would be foolish as consumers. I hope Vanguard and Sigil fail miserably so that every other Publisher and Developer looks at them and says..

"ok we gotta make sure we dont pull a Sigil"

I seconded the idea that newbs should be forced to wait a week or so before posting to avoid the dredges of fanboy society from posting once or twice in "response" to an article linked in their own forum.

Theres a reason Microsoft dropped this project.

There's a big difference between Sigil and Blizzard here. Blizzard has many previous games to back up it's developement, so they did not have to worry about running out of money. Don't forget to mention how long it took them to release WoW, how many times it was pushed back. While the founders of Sigil helped create everquest, it doesn't mean they're still receiving payment for that franchise. If every developer had to live up to new expectations, I doubt there would be too many new developers because there would just be a lack of funds.

You know, there is a place to post below the article for a reason. Why would anyone come back to a review to post about it 3 weeks after it has been published.

Do you know why Microsoft dropped the game? I'm not 100% sure, but I recall it being said that Sigil didn't want to make it a "Games for Windows" product.

Hell you drove me to write, being dyslexic i will keep this short.

I have read the whole thread and as a 40 year old player I am finding VG a really rewarding challange. Strangley enough it seems to be heavly populated by the 30 plus generation. As VG is not a quick easy game to play or learn and i love it because of this maybe my age helps?

To sum it up for me, VG is like chess, i think it will take a lifetime to play perfectly, whereas WOW was draughs, you prity much have it covered in a week.

I hope that the bugs get sorted and thank the Developers for trying to produce something better, warts and all. Yes it was realised a bit early but they needed to for financial reasons, they needed the game to start showing income period. So i am now helping to pay development tbh who gives a F***, i don't. I knew what i was getting before i bought it because Brad told us this was the case. /salute Brad.

cirenosille wrote:

I guess that post just irks me. There's the chance to post comments about the article, so why would you deny people that right? I would imagine this was directed toward anyone that disagreed with the article/review. Personally I just wanted to shed a different light on the game in case someone happened to read this article/review.

I don't want to deny you that right... I want you to spend a couple weeks reading the articles and posts on the site and playing some games with us so you'll realize that your efforts here are largely wasted. I'd say that Elysium's efforts are also largely wasted, but he at least is well aware of that. We like him anyway. Heck, we'll probably like you too. It's good to be a Goodger, other than that ridiculous nickname.

It's almost painful watching the ferocious defense of Vanguard here, that's all. I'm glad someone likes the game... I'm sure there are Goodgers enjoying it as well. But I have serious reservations as to how many people make their game buying decisions based on the information you could find on GWJ. Because, again, this is GWJ, not IGN. There's no enforced consistency, there's no editing staff making sure articles are on-time, thorough or even sane. No scores, stars or monkey heads. If I agree with Elysium's other articles, know what he likes and doesn't like because I've played games with him over the years, I'm far more likely to know whether or not he's full of it when he posts another article. More so, certainly, than say... you. Or some poor, ignorant newcomer to our virtual lands who might well be ensorcelled by the fact he's one of the site founders.

Finally, it's a wild pipe dream, the bit about enforcing some sort of time limit before a first post. A sarcastic one at that, which I completely understand you not getting, because you're clearly somewhat defensive about a game you enjoy (been there, done that!), posts are lousy at communicating emotional tones and you don't know me, in any sense of the phrase. Even if it weren't sarcastic... and yes, somewhat caustic... it would involve some effort on the part of the local code monkeys. So clearly, that's right out.

Welcome to GWJ, by the way. I sincerely hope you all stay and enjoy our goofball community. We like reasonable, articulate folks who happen to play games, so you should fit right in.

Suddenly, I have the weirdest feeling of deja vu.

*edit

Wounder wrote:

Because, again, this is GWJ, not IGN. There's no enforced consistency, there's no editing staff making sure articles are on-time, thorough or even sane.

This is untrue. Certis and Elysium rightfully take pride in the editorial quality of their site, and so do the writers, past and present. Certainly the writers are expected to conform to stylistic and editorial guidelines, meet deadlines, be comprehensive in their arguments and, above all, make sense (in their articles, at least).

I understood what you meant, of course, but I wouldn't want you to give all this new blood the wrong impression about the editorial standards at GWJ. The quality bar is set higher here than at some paying gigs I've taken.

Wounder wrote:
cirenosille wrote:

I guess that post just irks me. There's the chance to post comments about the article, so why would you deny people that right? I would imagine this was directed toward anyone that disagreed with the article/review. Personally I just wanted to shed a different light on the game in case someone happened to read this article/review.

I don't want to deny you that right... I want you to spend a couple weeks reading the articles and posts on the site and playing some games with us so you'll realize that your efforts here are largely wasted. I'd say that Elysium's efforts are also largely wasted, but he at least is well aware of that. We like him anyway. Heck, we'll probably like you too. It's good to be a Goodger, other than that ridiculous nickname.

It's almost painful watching the ferocious defense of Vanguard here, that's all. I'm glad someone likes the game... I'm sure there are Goodgers enjoying it as well. But I have serious reservations as to how many people make their game buying decisions based on the information you could find on GWJ. Because, again, this is GWJ, not IGN. There's no enforced consistency, there's no editing staff making sure articles are on-time, thorough or even sane. No scores, stars or monkey heads. If I agree with Elysium's other articles, know what he likes and doesn't like because I've played games with him over the years, I'm far more likely to know whether or not he's full of it when he posts another article. More so, certainly, than say... you. Or some poor, ignorant newcomer to our virtual lands who might well be ensorcelled by the fact he's one of the site founders.

Finally, it's a wild pipe dream, the bit about enforcing some sort of time limit before a first post. A sarcastic one at that, which I completely understand you not getting, because you're clearly somewhat defensive about a game you enjoy (been there, done that!), posts are lousy at communicating emotional tones and you don't know me, in any sense of the phrase. Even if it weren't sarcastic... and yes, somewhat caustic... it would involve some effort on the part of the local code monkeys. So clearly, that's right out.

Welcome to GWJ, by the way. I sincerely hope you all stay and enjoy our goofball community. We like reasonable, articulate folks who happen to play games, so you should fit right in.

o.O Is this an invitation to a flame war or something? My first post was to give an alternate view on the game, but obviously there are people that don't care to hear anything but their own words. I'll leave this post at that, I'm not gonna help fuel the flame.

Do you know why Microsoft dropped the game? I'm not 100% sure, but I recall it being said that Sigil didn't want to make it a "Games for Windows" product.

Thats 100% untrue.. Microsoft dropped Sigil simply because the project was not viable to continue funding. What Sigil promised Microsoft during the initial meetings and what Microsoft saw what was being developed were almost but not quite 100% different.

And oh.. dont drink the koolaid to much.. this dog of a project was shopped around a bit in the time between Microsoft and SOE.. so I know for a fact some of the issues that came up... just like my other favorite dog of an MMORPG Horizons.

TheGameguru wrote:
Do you know why Microsoft dropped the game? I'm not 100% sure, but I recall it being said that Sigil didn't want to make it a "Games for Windows" product.

Thats 100% untrue.. Microsoft dropped Sigil simply because the project was not viable to continue funding. What Sigil promised Microsoft during the initial meetings and what Microsoft saw what was being developed were almost but not quite 100% different.

And oh.. dont drink the koolaid to much.. this dog of a project was shopped around a bit in the time between Microsoft and SOE.. so I know for a fact some of the issues that came up... just like my other favorite dog of an MMORPG Horizons.

Would you be able to point me in the direction of where you got this information? I'd like to get facts straightened out so I'm not filled with false knowledge.

cirenosille wrote:
TheGameguru wrote:
Do you know why Microsoft dropped the game? I'm not 100% sure, but I recall it being said that Sigil didn't want to make it a "Games for Windows" product.

Thats 100% untrue.. Microsoft dropped Sigil simply because the project was not viable to continue funding. What Sigil promised Microsoft during the initial meetings and what Microsoft saw what was being developed were almost but not quite 100% different.

And oh.. dont drink the koolaid to much.. this dog of a project was shopped around a bit in the time between Microsoft and SOE.. so I know for a fact some of the issues that came up... just like my other favorite dog of an MMORPG Horizons.

Would you be able to point me in the direction of where you got this information? I'd like to get facts straightened out so I'm not filled with false knowledge.

sure get friendly with a VC who will be willing to break an NDA, or drink the koolaid.

Wounder wrote:
cirenosille wrote:

I guess that post just irks me. There's the chance to post comments about the article, so why would you deny people that right? I would imagine this was directed toward anyone that disagreed with the article/review. Personally I just wanted to shed a different light on the game in case someone happened to read this article/review.

I don't want to deny you that right... I want you to spend a couple weeks reading the articles and posts on the site and playing some games with us so you'll realize that your efforts here are largely wasted. I'd say that Elysium's efforts are also largely wasted, but he at least is well aware of that. We like him anyway. Heck, we'll probably like you too. It's good to be a Goodger, other than that ridiculous nickname.

It's almost painful watching the ferocious defense of Vanguard here, that's all. I'm glad someone likes the game... I'm sure there are Goodgers enjoying it as well. But I have serious reservations as to how many people make their game buying decisions based on the information you could find on GWJ. Because, again, this is GWJ, not IGN. There's no enforced consistency, there's no editing staff making sure articles are on-time, thorough or even sane. No scores, stars or monkey heads. If I agree with Elysium's other articles, know what he likes and doesn't like because I've played games with him over the years, I'm far more likely to know whether or not he's full of it when he posts another article. More so, certainly, than say... you. Or some poor, ignorant newcomer to our virtual lands who might well be ensorcelled by the fact he's one of the site founders.

Finally, it's a wild pipe dream, the bit about enforcing some sort of time limit before a first post. A sarcastic one at that, which I completely understand you not getting, because you're clearly somewhat defensive about a game you enjoy (been there, done that!), posts are lousy at communicating emotional tones and you don't know me, in any sense of the phrase. Even if it weren't sarcastic... and yes, somewhat caustic... it would involve some effort on the part of the local code monkeys. So clearly, that's right out.

Welcome to GWJ, by the way. I sincerely hope you all stay and enjoy our goofball community. We like reasonable, articulate folks who happen to play games, so you should fit right in.

I disagree with your entire post, short of the last line. We're not running a gated community, YOU came to this site as a new person just like everyone else. I will never agree to an elitist, close-minded, defensive attitude when it comes to encouraging new people to register and join the discussion.

I've really enjoyed all the new Vanguard fans and dissenters who have registered and tossed in their two cents. They've been articulate, well written and largely respectful in their disagreement and views. Those of you who are making a point of coming in to turn your nose up at them are not doing yourselves or the site any favors.

TheGameguru wrote:
cirenosille wrote:
TheGameguru wrote:
Do you know why Microsoft dropped the game? I'm not 100% sure, but I recall it being said that Sigil didn't want to make it a "Games for Windows" product.

Thats 100% untrue.. Microsoft dropped Sigil simply because the project was not viable to continue funding. What Sigil promised Microsoft during the initial meetings and what Microsoft saw what was being developed were almost but not quite 100% different.

And oh.. dont drink the koolaid to much.. this dog of a project was shopped around a bit in the time between Microsoft and SOE.. so I know for a fact some of the issues that came up... just like my other favorite dog of an MMORPG Horizons.

Would you be able to point me in the direction of where you got this information? I'd like to get facts straightened out so I'm not filled with false knowledge.

sure get friendly with a VC who will be willing to break an NDA, or drink the koolaid.

So basically you have no idea why microsoft dropped sigil. from interviews that i could find it was stated that the companies had different views on where to take the game, so sigil bought the rights from MS.

cirenosille wrote:
TheGameguru wrote:
cirenosille wrote:
TheGameguru wrote:
Do you know why Microsoft dropped the game? I'm not 100% sure, but I recall it being said that Sigil didn't want to make it a "Games for Windows" product.

Thats 100% untrue.. Microsoft dropped Sigil simply because the project was not viable to continue funding. What Sigil promised Microsoft during the initial meetings and what Microsoft saw what was being developed were almost but not quite 100% different.

And oh.. dont drink the koolaid to much.. this dog of a project was shopped around a bit in the time between Microsoft and SOE.. so I know for a fact some of the issues that came up... just like my other favorite dog of an MMORPG Horizons.

Would you be able to point me in the direction of where you got this information? I'd like to get facts straightened out so I'm not filled with false knowledge.

sure get friendly with a VC who will be willing to break an NDA, or drink the koolaid.

So basically you have no idea why microsoft dropped sigil. from interviews that i could find it was stated that the companies had different views on where to take the game, so sigil bought the rights from MS.

lol.. sure. You like the flavor red?

You COULD just say "I work in venture capital in the tech market, and I have access to information the public does not. Take it or leave it"

Just a thought.

[quote=Solarin]

Well, starting out a rebuttal with a synonym for "stupid" doesn't strike me as the best way to build credibility, but I give you kudos for proper spelling, anyway. Furthermore, while you grasped that the author was probably referring to the death penalty as being some sort of reward by the game's dialog, you felt compelled to start off by calling him stupid anyway. Calling the author petulant after making a comment like this certainly smacks of the pot calling the kettle black, wouldn't you agree?
Solarin wrote:

So nitpicking my word choice was the best angle to refute what I said then? Also the condescending tone really is conducive to a meaningful discussion. I regret using the word 'asinine', it was not appropriate for what I wanted to convey. 'Strange' probably would have been a better choice, but I don't want to go edit it now, so consider it a point in your favor. Like I said, I didn't mean for any personal attack on the author. His phrase 'in-game punishment' is what piqued my interest, because negative reinforcement is a pretty significant aspect of Vanguard's 'vision', at least from the outside looking in, and calling it punishment is ignoring what it accomplishes.

Honestly there is no need to turn this into some kind of petty flame war just because of a perceived tone of arrogance in my post. I certainly perceive arrogance in your post, so I am going to reply to it with as thorough indifference as possible. Starting.... now.

Okay, what I'm seeing here is: 1) Acknowledgement of point well-taken, 2) Indignation over perceived tone based on the way I phrase my sentences, 3) Inability to accept a compliment over good spelling (that was genuine, btw), 4) A statement that this should NOT turn into a flame war (to which I heartily agree), 5) A response that follows which will lack personal investment (the meaning of indifference). Oh, and for the record, I did not perceive arrogance in your post before, or your response this time. I perceived quite a lot, but arrogance is not part of it. As to your perception of arrogance on my part, that certainly is not my intent, so I will do my best to change my posting "tone."

Okay, so you're going to nitpick the phrase "sets a precedent" when "reinforces a paradigm" would have been more accurate? If you were a little less angry and ready to find fault, you might also see that setting a precedent could be applied specifically to any further games Sigil might create, rather than taking it broad spectrum for the benefit of taking the author down a notch (or elevating yourself up one) and simply let it go.
Solarin wrote:

I'm 'nitpicking' because the phrase defines his entire argument. When I read the article that basically stopped me in my tracks. To heap something like that on them just felt wrong, which is why I posted what I did. 'Sets a precedent' and 'reinforces a paradigm' are basically opposite statements. I felt having an opposite opinion warranted a post, if for no reason other than to express it.

Let's analyze the words "basically opposite" in reference to setting a precedent versus reinforcing a paradigm. Setting a precedent means it is the first example of a particular behavior, and it will set the tone for future behavior. Reinforcing a paradigm means that it will carry on in the same vein as prior games and encourage games that follow to maintain the status quo. I fail to see how these two things are opposite, so I must wonder just how far you will reach to try to save your original response. And, again, you fail to acknowledge that this is not "heaped on them" but accurate. It is Sigil's first foray into the MMOG market, so for them it IS setting a precedent. In the context of the entire market, it's business as usual. It's clear it makes you feel better to view this game in the context of marketing atrocities in the PC market, so perhaps next time you should include offline games as well that are released buggy and need numerous patches to become stable. This is an opinion I'm happy not to share with you. I think defective and unfinished products have no business on store shelves, regardless of whether they can be fixed later with money a consumer base is willing to give them through complacency or ignorance.

Okay, now which is it? You seem almost ready to concede that there's a valid point here, but apparently you've been beaten down by the existing system long enough that you have to berate the author yet again for expressing outrage over something that simply shouldn't happen. I'm beginning to wonder if we're dealing with a split personality disorder...
Solarin wrote:

His article started with the quote from McQuaid, which he cited later on. What I discerned from this article was that it was outrageous that this was the reality, and Sigil is to blame. My counter point is that the depressing truth is this is how things have been for years, Sigil is part of a broken system, and simply stating the reality of the game's release does not make the situation any worse or better, it simply makes you honest. It felt to me like Sigil was the target, not the system in which they exist within, which is absurd. Also, for clarity, my only intent with my post was to express a dissenting opinion.

I do see your point here, and validate it fully. I DO see how it could be interpreted like Sigil was being singled out a bit, but to be fair, that's because we're looking at their game! While it's nice when someone "softens the blow" by taking in the history of all games over the years and makes some comparisons, I don't think it's necessary to do so. Some people choose to review a game in a vacuum, as if no other game existed, and base it purely on the merits or faults of the company that made it and how it performs. That's what we're dealing with here. It's almost as if you're criticizing the article simply because it's not written the way YOU would have chosen to write it, which again is not the RIGHT way, but a perfectly legitimate, but DIFFERENT way.

Again with the asinine?! I think we've been over this before, but for emphasis: tsk, tsk... Our author, for the record, is not accusing Sigil of anything, he's stating a fact. This IS bad business. That it has been done before and has somehow desensitized you to what you're being subjected to is a sad reality open for discussion in a different place and time. A slew of comparisons might make you feel better (although I highly doubt it), but it is far from necessary. Why? Well, because what Sigil did is a violation of consumer rights. They released a product as finished, charged a retail price for it, and it was not ready. I could see any number of alternative methods to gain consumer funds that would not be nearly as underhanded. Example: $5/month to play the pre-release in its buggy state, and when the game goes TRULY retail, half of the money paid in fees is deducted from the purchase price of the box.
Solarin wrote:

Okay, a couple things. The author clearly states that Vanguard as being a detriment ('sets a precedent') and Sigil as practicing 'terrible business' and 'irresponsible'. If those aren't accusations then what are they? I never stated I think the current state of the MMO development industry is ideal, or even tolerable. I am simply saying pinning this on Sigil is pretty low. Also, I don't understand how you can say Sigil released an unready product as 'finished' and charged for it any more than any other MMO to be released in the past years (notable exception of WoW). Especially with McQuaid coming directly out to say that it wasn't finished. That should have meant it wasn't going to be on the shelves, but that is the reality of the current system. That is the point I am trying to make. If we want to change the world lets stop bashing one company and look at the entire flawed industry.

I think I've basically covered this ground above, but I'll add just a bit more. These ARE facts, they are not open for interpretation or debate. It does set a precedent for Sigil, because a success on this game encourages them to repeat it for future games. That's the definition of setting a precedent. Also, again, as much as you might wish that this article was written from a "game amidst a sea of other MMOGs on the market" standpoint, it wasn't, and that does not invalidate the article, it FOCUSES the article! That's why the article is as powerful as it is. It shuts out all the distractions and the toning down that would necessarily come from bringing up how consumers shuffle like sheep into the stores to buy games one after the other that are not ready for retail. That is a discussion for another time, but it doesn't seem like you're willing to accept that. So be it, but don't be surprised when people like me come in and defend an article for what it is (and has every right to be) rather than let you attempt to mold it into what you'd like it to be. And before you take the angle that such a narrow view of a game is somehow a disservice to those who read it, let us again look at the facts: Sigil released an unfinished game because they ran out of money. Their situation is lamentable, but shifting their misfortune onto an unsuspecting or desensitized public certainly doesn't earn them any sympathy or a right to be compared to others in the industry who have committed the same heinous acts.

I'm not sure where you think all of the author's rage is coming from. I don't see it, myself. It's an article about not pawning off an unfinished product as finished, and some opinions about the gameplay, which the author found uninspiring and/or boring. That's fine, I found the game played similarly, although I really liked the Diplomacy system, at least when the game didn't freeze up in the middle of a dialogue. ALL products need to be ready for consumption, and just because the market will somewhat tolerate and fund a product in the mid to late stages of beta being released as final doesn't mean it's good business, or that it's fair to consumers who aren't anal about researching their games before they head over to their local game store to pick it up and are shocked to discover they paid retail price for a game still in beta development.
you want to know what really pisses me off about Vanguard
Solarin wrote:

That comes before it, but basically from there up to and including that paragraph is a diatribe. The fact you can't see that but seem to find my post overflowing with vitriol speaks volumes. He is basically saying the developers should lose their jobs before they plague the market with an unfinished product. Fine, that ties in with his point about not tiptoeing around developer's feelings, but the way it is said strikes me as petulant. The entire thing up to that single paragraph is Sigil specific then he comes out with a very general swipe at the entire industry that feels ineffective as it basically offers nothing other than 'fix the system now, we're the customers god dammit'.

Okay, I should have been more specific. I don't find the article irrationally angry, but I find your responses irrationally angry, with unreasonable expectations and an insistence that the viewpoint of the article be changed to suit your personal experience, because you're not willing to look at a game or a gaming company in a singled-out fashion, but must instead have it seen as part of a totality. I'm not sure if you're willing to accept that both ways of viewing something are legitimate, assuming the points made are valid and factual (and it is factual to express one's feelings about something when you clarify them as such). Your rebuttal lacks impact because it expresses outrage about all the things that aren't in the article because they SHOULDN'T be.

It's apparent you felt strongly, strongly enough to invalidate much of what you said through insulting language that served no purpose other than to weaken your already questionable points. You even fail to recognize the aim of the article, even though it's one of the better written ones I've seen. A game reviewer (and this one in particular) does not hope for more than presenting an accurate view of what was experienced, so that those who read the article can be better informed before they purchase what is being reviewed, and I think that was done here quite well, based on my experiences. Wishing for the demise of games serves no one. If it's a bad game, it will die on its own, regardless of how many wishes are cast in one direction or the other. Seeing companies go out of business or post low profits is also not "bad." It is events like this that encourage the companies that remain to pay closer attention to the people who are funding their endeavors.
Solarin wrote:

Ignoring the bait in the first two sentences... you are really all over the place with your last couple points. I don't think you understood what I was trying to say. Reviewers should tell the truth about poor games, and hope that their review could influence enough to avoid it, thus causing poor games to flop and not propagate bad genes into future games. Maybe I should have replaced poor with mediocre, as that is what we're talking about. However mediocre games are more insipid because they don't outright fail, yet end up giving us nothing new or unique and thus are ultimately a waste of time and money, but still sell well enough and get 'ehh, B-' reviews. These are the games the original author wishes would be torn apart by reviewers to discourage their spread.

Phew, with all that bait I barely could contain myself. Sorry if I slipped up, and I'm sure I did.

If you choose to ignore the "bait" of the first few points, then you're choosing to ignore the intent entirely, which was NOT to "bait" you, just like my dissecting of your message was not to hurt you or embarrass you. The manner in which I do this is probably more clinical than anything else, but certainly is not INTENDED to be arrogant or demeaning. I actually am quite calm and in good spirits when I respond to messages, and I do wish I was better at conveying it, but alas that is just part of my personal baggage I'm working through, so please bear with me while I work through it. The intent was to get you to understand the article as it was written rather than trying to mold the article into something that better matches your idea of how it SHOULD have been written. I don't want to speak for the author, but again, my feeling on reviews is that they should be accurate and any influence they exert should be done as a side benefit of providing an excellent analysis of what is being reviewed. I feel that was done better than most, due largely to the reasons for your criticism (an isolated view rather than a contextual one). If a person suggests you not support unfinished products for a full retail price, that is simply telling the buyer to beware, as any consumer advocate would do. How on earth could you find fault with that? Oh wait, I forgot, EVERYBODY does it, so that makes it okay, or at least forgivable... Yeah, right...

Wow. It's like a trainwreck of misunderstanding. Take care, folks.

Elysium wrote:
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.

Elysium wrote:
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.

I agree with Elysium in the entirety of his look at Vanguard, and of course, 100% to the point that if you like this game, by all means that is great!

Looking at things realistically, Vanguard is fighting an uphill battle on a patch of ice with completely bald tires. I will be the first to say the POTENTIAL that Vanguard has is superb, beyond awesome. The problem is, it is nowhere NEAR that vision and needs a lot more time. Brad McQuaid said this himself, the CEO and creator of what could be a great game realizes its not even near done.

What has me pissed, as a gamer, is that people accept this release, in its current state, as the norm. There is a unanimous opinion among those who love and hate Vanguard that the game simply is not finished or near its potential. If you're willing to continue supporting Vanguard and "wait it out" until the day arrives six months from now where things are relatively fixed and fun, thats great. Unfortunately you are a minority of the customer base. The features sound awesome on paper, all of which seem half-assed and poorly executed. Crafting sounds great, Diplomacy SOUNDS great, but they do not feel fun, not to me. For everyone saying how revolutionary Vanguard's crafting system is, its EQ2's crafting with a couple more features to keep you concentrating on it, but nothing I would call revolutionary. Simply improved.

Diplomacy sounds great, and is initially fun, but like Elysium pointed out in the end it just doesn't offer enough to keep you interested, once again because it (like everything else in V:SOH) is about 33% done.

I'm stating my opinion, and if you like Vanguard by all means keep playing it. Hopefully through your support it will become what it has the potential to. But as a designer I would have much rather risked my 'brain-child', 'dream-project' whatever, not being released at all and searching for another investor, than releasing my MMO in the state Vanguard is in. The designers admit it, the CEO admits it, and I'm sorry, but as a gamer I find this unforgivable. I don't like paying $60 (or $100 in the collector edition's case) support a company's beta testing because their investor threatened to pull out. As much as I can criticize SOE for some of their track record, I don't blame them for not being 100% behind this game.

I applaud Elysium for saying something that everyone should: an MMO, even at release should be RELATIVELY finished (as i'm not stupid and realized they're always being improved.), and most of all should be fun. Get a character to level 20+ and tell me how much fun you're still having in Vanguard. I hate to sound like I'm trashing it because I'd love to see it do well, but you can NOT help but feel slighted that, in the end, moreso than any MMO to date, you are paying for a continued beta test.

@Keledron: That sums up my feelings exactly. I'd love to see Vanguard become what it was intended to, but I personally can't support their method for making that happen. It's an insult to everyone who buys a copy at this point.

I'm not going to bother typing out another long winded riposte to your latest post. It is a waste of my time. Clearly any attempt to find fault with the article, which you seem to be putting up in the pantheon, has to be an angry and antagonistic. You've put enough words in my mouth to make sure you can point out how angry my tone is when, as I've stated in my previous posts, all I wanted to do is post an opposing view and regret how hostile my first post was towards the author. I didn't want the article to be changed because of my experiences, you seem determined to preserve every single point the author made with fervor based on your experiences or biases. My original point stands as far as I'm concerned, parts of this article come off as a petulant diatribe that seems to only bash Sigil as a further context for putting down Vanguard, with no acknowledgment of the world around it. If that is what 'focuses' the article and makes it so 'powerful' to you, kudos. To me it squandered anything meaningful the article had to say about the world of MMO development and how it affects the consumer.

That's fine, Solarin, since I think we've both made the points we wanted to make through our somewhat heated back-and-forth. Personally, it doesn't matter as much to me that it acknowledges the similar atrocious behavior of the world around it when it's merely duplicating it rather than rising above it. As you yourself said, admitting it in any venue is no excuse for doing it in the first place. Thus, I have a difficult time finding how the context of the world would do any more than dilute a very clear and focused message. Anyway, thank you for the discourse, and my apologies for anything that came across as a personal attack or was misunderstood.

Well put Solarin. [edit: this is a sincere statement]

Words from the peanut gallery

::laugh:: 8) [edit: i'm tired and don't care to write more, Solarin has done a fine job, and i'm only supporting him. hence, i am the peanut gallery (o.0 am i leaving myself open)]