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

As already said in the article, the consumer was the new investor. I think players should be able to decide if the game is worth continuing even if they are footing the bill at this point. If the game isn't then it will die, like Shadowbane. However, if there is enough good ideas and potential that another year of patches might bring out then I'd be willing to play through. I'm not saying Vanguard is the latter, but if I'm a company that needs capital, then I'm going to put it on the market and gamble.

Well for those who complained that all the MMO talk on GWJ radio was dry, I think there is definitely a zealous audience out there.

And the greatest part is that the decorum (ooh big word!) of this thread has followed GWJ standards. The only fault I have found in some of our coffee grinder's posts is some of them have devolved into 2 person conversations.

On the whole though, this discussion has been very well worded dissenting opinions that I enjoyed reading. Even Kab got in several expressive shots before he crossed the line.

I do believe McQuaid and co. are capable of unique and creative innovations in the MMO genre. I just think they aren't served by their mindset of expansive worlds that end up bland and cause monotonous travel times, death penalties, cryptic game systems and steep learning curves.

There is a market for that, but there is a market for skydiving too. Don't pretend that your player base is going to be masses who's pastime is frollicking in the surf and sand, when you throw your player base in an airplane with unpacked chutes.

Banned is banned, please don't re-register. - Certis

kab wrote:
Do you know the definition of the wor bias? Did you read any of my posts? I said basically vsoh would NOT be enjoyed by the majority of gamers, however it is enjoyed by many(myself included) that like its playstyle. So in essence your right (even though you were trying to be sarcastic) my view is unbiased since im looking at it from both sides.

The author on the other hand refuses to acknowledge that some enjoy this playstlye and refuses to even try and look at this from a different perspective. That is bias.


I realize you won't be able to respond (and probably won't read this), but this needs to be said. You are not describing bias and what you ask for doesn't really have any place in a real review, nevermind an anti-review. For example, I don't expect a review of Extreme Paintbrawl to follow up every defect with wish-washy equivocation. "The AI players will run into a corner and try to push through the wall. This sucks unless you're kind of player that likes stupid AI. It was frustrating how often the game crashed, but I suppose there are people who like buggy games and so this game might appeal to them." It is not bias to point out what you consider to be flaws!

That's a pretty sweet cactus.

TheGameguru wrote:
Having played IoK then EQ and various other MMORPG's after that..I cant say that having a HUGE world ends up making that much difference in the end.. I'd say that 80% of EQ as it stands right now is barren. What matters it not simply how many zones or how much land mass you have but rather the quality of that "area". IMO I'd rather have quality over quantity.

Me too. One measure of quality for me is not being crammed into a small area. Here's an example. In WoW (you brought it up, not me) pre-TBC if you wanted to farm AD rep without being in a group you had exactly 2 places you could do it effectively. Both were small areas in EPL that were small, 10-12 spawn loops a single decently geared individual could keep clean solo if they skipped the 3 or so double/triple spawns. You'd kill the same 10-12 spawns hoping for a decent drop rate of spawns. And if 2 people decided to farm in that spot, well, your drop rate went down. That's what a small world foists upon you.

Now compare that to the end days of my time in Asheron's Call. It had the largest land mass of any MMO that I knew of. Even though I was 3/4ths the way to the cap (never hit it in 5 years of play, imagine that you 2-week cappers) if I wanted to farm something (AC had no rep, really) and I knew generally what and where it was I could wander its expansive countryside, never really worried about respawn, moving in a single direction and no loops! Sure, there were places where one had respawn loops but that wasn't on the landmass, they were in dungeons. You literally could pick one town, portal there, decide to run to another town and just hunt along the way. Straight line. Imagine that, no tiny respawn loops where you spend 2-3 hours running in a circle no larger than most people's houses.

Look at it from the perspective of First Person Shooters. We've had FPS which give us 32 players for half a decade now, 64 is quickly becoming the norm. But in each case how large is the map? You're lucky if it takes you 2 minutes to see pretty much all of it.

again Quality over Quantity.. some of my best FPS online times were on the smaller maps in ET..

And yet some of my best were in Planetside between two heavily contested bases, ducking from cover to cover, avoiding the heavy armor and seeing, left and right, the line of battle. A line that I helped push forward or lamented as it fell back. My best times were in WWIIOL with defenses of some towns lasting days, sometimes up to a week. I can't tell you any decent memory from Doom, Duke3D, HL, TFC, CS, BF1942 or CS:S. All of them lacked the scope and numbers their MMO brothers have. Sure, they looked pretty but the quality of play and the immersiveness wasn't there.

I play games to have fun.. I play WoW for the end game challenge and the enjoyment of playing with my friends in the guild. Playing it the 'Quaid way usually isnt fun.

The end game wasn't a challenge. Quite frankly any MMO which is designed for people to blow through the levels in less than a week and then spend months hammering at 2-3 decently designed instances isn't much of an MMO. Why force the people to level up in the first place? Why not just start them off at 60 (now 70) and be done with it? I mean it isn't like any of the gear or prep work in the levels in between mean anything since you're going to drop them in a day or so anyway. And why spend the time with the zones? Pre-TBC it was a rush to 60 so as to be crammed into EPL and Silithus and work on ZG, MC, AQ and eventually BWL, maybe Naxx and AQ40. Post-TBC not much has changed except now it's push for 70 then sit in Netherstorm or Shadowmoon and work on TBC's few instances. Sure, it's fun but not quite massive and certainly not what I would call a quality design for a genre who's average lifespan on successful games can be measured in several years.

Whats hilarious is that most of Vanguards faithful and fans of that style of MMORPG would want nothing to do with 90% of the people who wouldnt be playing Vanguard anyway. The first time some casual wiped your group you'd all be yelling newb! or stfu loser! and kicking him/her from your group because of your death penalty. I dealt with the kind of player EQ and Vanguard appeal to and I want nothing more to do with them.. they caused a game that already felt like work to become even more stressful.

Quite the contrary. I've not seen that nor do I think I would. I do admit it is quite refreshing to be away from the ever pervasive childishness in the WoW camp. If anything it's pot and kettle there.

Don't get me wrong. I like WoW. I'm still subscribed. I just don't think it represents a good direction for MMOs. Do I think Vanguard is the right direction? Nope. I think elements of it are. I expressed that view. Sorry that it offended you.

That was the absolute most self patronizing review of a game I have ever read. The reviewer obviously either never played the game, or only played it for a few hours without any prior knowledge whatsoever of MMORPG's. He seems to have no idea what players are looking for, what makes a MMORPG worthwhile, and made ridiculous blanket statements about the game (as fact) that are laughable.

It's a good thing people take these reviews with a grain of salt and realize they're typically worthless... fortunately, those with an open enough mind and who are mature enough to make it up on their own will find a gem waiting for them if they're willing to spend long enough in the game to make a fair decision.

I'm re-post here and laugh when VG hits the 1 million mark.

Z

I'm re-post here and laugh when VG hits the 1 million mark.

Good luck with that. This is just the sort of fan approach no game should be subjected to.

I've tried, but I can't say it any better. If I could, "surreal", "medieval people simulator", "design-by-committee", and "emasculated WoW interface" would probably be in there somewhere. As an old-EQ fan, I simply hated this McQuaid production, and I don't think the vision can be saved if it was ever worth more than lip service to begin with. Let's not forget, EQ wasn't a finished product at release either, and helped set the stage for a myriad of other nightmares rushed to market for business reasons: Anarchy Online, EVE, Lineage II... just to name a few. Nothing new for these guys.

Ironically, I just participated in the LotR Online stress test, and that game comes closer to recapturing some of the feel and appeal of the original EQ than any other MMO I've found to date, while still benefitting from some lessons learned from WoW's successes... and it's ready for prime time right now. How Sigil could take their similar influences and experience and run so completely off-track in the opposite direction is beyond me.

Yeah I know the guy is banned but still...

ZNICK wrote:
fortunately, those with an open enough mind and who are mature enough to make it up on their own will find a gem waiting for them if they're willing to spend long enough in the game to make a fair decision.

I used to have this mindset when I was a teenager. I was willing to put a lot of time into games to see eventual payoff. As I got employed, girlfriends, activities, etc, however, the "...but at level 13 it REALLY GETS GOOD" excuse really doesn't work for me anymore. It hasn't for a while.

A game's purpose is to entertain. I spend money on a game to be entertained. Not have fun 5 hours after mindless grinding or struggling with bugs. Fun from the moment I start playing. If it isn't there, the game's dead to me.

The end game wasn't a challenge. Quite frankly any MMO which is designed for people to blow through the levels in less than a week and then spend months hammering at 2-3 decently designed instances isn't much of an MMO. Why force the people to level up in the first place? Why not just start them off at 60 (now 70) and be done with it? I mean it isn't like any of the gear or prep work in the levels in between mean anything since you're going to drop them in a day or so anyway. And why spend the time with the zones? Pre-TBC it was a rush to 60 so as to be crammed into EPL and Silithus and work on ZG, MC, AQ and eventually BWL, maybe Naxx and AQ40. Post-TBC not much has changed except now it's push for 70 then sit in Netherstorm or Shadowmoon and work on TBC's few instances. Sure, it's fun but not quite massive and certainly not what I would call a quality design for a genre who's average lifespan on successful games can be measured in several years.

meh.. your taking the extreme gamer view of WoW.. which is perhaps why you like Vanguard.. in fact most of WoW player base probably will take months to reach level 60.. and not worry about half the things you consider such issues.

Vanguard seems to go back to all the old EQ game design that forced casual's either to play something else or get used to working in their game.. forced grouping.. HUGE timesinks..non instanced dungeons.. potential for spawn camping..

And your AD rep grinding example isnt true.. there were actually several more places to grind AD rep.. not to mention instances... Once Naxx was released they had items that you could gather all over the world.. not just EPL... plus various quests from Lights Hope.

So if your just going to make stuff up to make your point then whats the use?

Hi guys - and especially Elysium:

Great article, nicely written and thanks for being honest. I completely agree with you, I played open beta and live for a week or so before I ran out of patience myself.

I'm convinced that these VG fanbois are deluding themselves - not seeing the wood for the trees as it were. The thing is - VG suffers from bugs, performance problems and design issues. If it weren't for these... VG would still be a mediocre game at best. My first reaction was, "buggy POS", and I think I'll stick with that.

If I might paraphrase Bill Hicks:

But you know, I played this game last week called Vanguard... Saga of Heroes. Okay. Now, Bill's quick capsule review: Piece of sh*t. Okay, now "… yeah, yeah. End of story, by the way. Don't get caught up in that fevered hype phoney f*cking debate about that piece of sh*t game. "Is it ahead of it's time? And what about the MMO genre, is it becoming too "…" You're just confused, you've forgotten how to judge correctly. Take a deep breath "… look at it again. "Oh, it's a piece of sh*t!" Exactly, that's all it is. Satan squatted, let out a loaf, they put a f*cking title on it, put it on a web site – Satan's sh*t, piece of sh*t, walk away. "But is it too "… and what about the diplomacy content, they "…" You're getting really baffled here. Piece of sh*t! Now walk away. That's all it is, it's nothing more! Free yourself, folks. If you see it: "Piece of sh*t!" Say it and walk away. You're right! You're right, not those f*ckers who want to tell you how to think! You're f*cking right!

-k

(Small aside, as a means of increasing registration - nice move on the article.)

Purpose of this post : more random MMO comments in a random MMO comments thread from a former lurker now encouraged to sign up.

Elysium, liked the original post. Good to see opinion being voiced as such and not "fact" or "unbiased". All journalists of any kind are biased but pretend not to be, I'd sooner see someone come out and say that they dislike a game rather than pretending they have no opinion to speak of, even if I disagree with the position.

So... back in the day you had 3 choices - UO, EQ or AC. EQ and AC followed one model of MMO play where character advancement was done by hitting things repeatedly in order to *ding* where players would get-the-quest then kill-the-critters then watch-the-xp-bar-grow-a-bit.

UO meanwhile, despite being in glorious isometrics outshone both by being an open experience. There were no quests. None. You didn't get XP, your skills and stats increased as you used them. Yes you could grind, but in doing so you were only spoiling it for yourself. UO, unlike EQ and AC, was a living breathing world (of sorts) where you could become part of something bigger - if you took the time to socialise, and where the aim of the game was whatever you decided it to be, not to reach some glass ceiling level cap.

[Obvious note at this time : UO-fanboy, pre-renaissance naturally]

Since the time of the Big Three MMOs have almost exclusively opted to follow the EQ/AC route : kill-kill-kill-level, where the world is far more static, player interaction less important and imagination-prerequisite absent. It is this version of MMO gaming that introduced us all to the treadmill. The treadmill sucks.

Since then there have been few traditional character-wanders-around-the-game-world style MMOs who have tried the other way, and none have met with much success. SWG is the most notable and was on track to deliver UO-style persistent state world gaming back to the masses, but unfortunately the MMO playerbase by this point was infected with treadmill gamers, so rather than stick to the original concept of the game (no levels! player cities! no quests!) the development team listened too closely to the achievement-monkeys who just wanted "The End Game" (a retarded concept - the journey is the game, not the destination), turning it into Jedi-Grind Wars Online™, before eventually turning it into Dumbed Down Mess Of A Game Online™.

The WoW came along and screwed it all up forever. Not because it's bad, quite the opposite, it took everything from treadmill games, polished the nuts off it and put together a thoroughly good gaming experience. Pity it bores me stupid.

Vanguard is a treadmill game, and given its parentage this is hardly surprising, but they are having a stab at a persistent state world through housing, diplomacy and some other novel ideas. Yes, it's buggy, but I applaud the effort and it's not in the same league - not even the same sport - as AO was when it first released. Now there was a shocking release.

So, what's my point.

Simply put that any MMO which tries to do something a little more ambitious than WoW should be applauded. Simply because unless we have some folks out there who are prepared to innovate rather than simply try to thieve the multi-million subscriber cash cow of Blizzard's, we'll end up with nothing but uninspiring QuestQuest™ clones from here on out. Releasing half-arsed code is, in this case, the fault of the publisher not the developer, and we as customers shouldn't have to put up with it, but then again if you can glean some entertainment while the game is put right all is not lost.

Maybe it's purely because I'm desperate to play any MMO at the moment, but there are none that appeal (that I haven't tried and meh'd my way back out of) on offer.

Tabula Rasa better be good.

Kropotkin wrote:
(Small aside, as a means of increasing registration - nice move on the article.)

I doubt that was an objective at all. Though its always nice to see new faces, err avatars.

Creative writers, a shared passion for gaming, the ability to type and trioxin is what keeps us all together.

Simply put that any MMO which tries to do something a little more ambitious than WoW should be applauded. Simply because unless we have some folks out there who are prepared to innovate rather than simply try to thieve the multi-million subscriber cash cow of Blizzard's, we'll end up with nothing but uninspiring QuestQuest™ clones from here on out. Releasing half-arsed code is, in this case, the fault of the publisher not the developer, and we as customers shouldn't have to put up with it, but then again if you can glean some entertainment while the game is put right all is not lost.

Maybe it's purely because I'm desperate to play any MMO at the moment, but there are none that appeal (that I haven't tried and meh'd my way back out of) on offer.

Tabula Rasa better be good.

I agree.. and in the end it only makes fiscal sense.. to try and "out WoW WoW" is commercial suicide. Every single MMORPG developer better start looking at different ways and different ideas.

And releasing half-assed code is not soley the fault of the publisher.. afterall they didnt code the game. At some point the developer has to be held accountable for not developing proper code.. or hiring the right people, or whatever reason there is. The excuse "We ran out of money" is a piss poor one at that given the amount of time Sigil has been developing this game.

I have to disagree with the author on almost every level. I think Vanguard is the answer alot of gamers where looking for in a new game. Gamers that played EQ, UO, Lineage, DAoC, and so on... Then played WoW, leveled to 60 and said "you have got to be joking?" . Yes off course 8 million wide are playing WoW, it is a very popular game. But I personally know that I am not alone in this category that thought that WoW was short lived. A category of game players that enjoy the journey.

Where I do agree with the author is that VGSoH was released to early. For those who feel ripped off about the game because it is buggy, I had only wished you would have stumbled across this game a couple months down the road. Every patch makes this game a littel closer to a very stable game. Unfortunatley I think if anything is going to kill the longevity of this game it is going to be the initial impression its leaving on so many players. But I guess we will see, as I recall the initial release of WoW was also considered a very buggy game.

And finally for those that feel that this game is incomplete. Sure they need to add polish here and there, but what are you comparing it to? VGSoH is in its own league when you consider size. Every night I log in and go adventuring I will find something completley new. Something that makes me go "Wow! Thats amazing!". They will continue to polish this game as time goes on, is what every MMO game company does, but there is no denying the amount of content available in this game.

bubbels wrote:
Every night I log in and go adventuring I will find something completley new. Something that makes me go "Wow! Thats amazing!".

Please give some examples of content that was so unique, new and amazing, it wow'ed you when you saw it. I need you to convey a few moments in words, so I can understand. Honestly, I just imagine large barren landscapes.

I just see Vanguard as an undelivered promise for self-proclaimed MMORPG elites. The need to water down the WoW experience to prop up what is so 'special' about Vanguard and the aspirations of its players compared to the WoW masses, comes across to me as evidence of this.

Irongut wrote:

Please give some examples of content that was so unique, new and amazing, it wow'ed you when you saw it. I need you to convey a few moments in words, so I can understand. Honestly, I just imagine large barren landscapes.

Sure not a problem.

1. An island with a big mountain in the middle and manticores flying around the top.

2. Down by the river and seeing this massive 20 story cyclops come walking by stomping on lizardmen and me unfortunatley as I was rather awe struck by it. Great part is that I have been to this area many times and only seen this creature once.

3. A hidden away mountainous area with undead souls roaming around. It seems that there is something going on here as some of these creatures seem to have a purpose as they are busily moving from one area to another.

4. Looking down into a cavern filled with giant spiders. Spiders that are not just on the floor but scattered around clinging to sides of the walls. It was really creepy and reminded me of an exhibit at the zoo filled with spiders and how they really would be hanging out.

5. A summoning ritual with one rather creepy guy and skeletons dancing around in a circle.

6. Agrham - One of the major cities in Qualia. I must have spent a 3 hours there one night exploring. It is a very vast maze filled city. There are secret places you can get to by jumping across the roof tops. These secret rooms are filled with either cultists, thieves guild, or rebels. I have still to figure it out.

7. A small port city in Kojan that you can enter into various areas by wearing a special outfit. There is also a grouping area here where you can go up about 100 feet in the air running across rope bridges and towers. It over looks a fleet of ships.

8. Try starting in Mekalia as a gnome. For the first 5 or so levels you run through an area that is formed by rock walls. Not until you adventure out to the first outpost that you realize that you where inside a rather small cave system and come out into a rather expansive desert.

9. An island that has a cave in the side that you swim into. You twist around a few corners and then come into an opening that must be the center of the island. This area seems to be some sort of secret hide out for pirates.

10. And probably my favorite. Starting point for orcs and goblins. You are on a slave ship in which you must escape. On your way from the ship to a safe point you either fight or dodge your way through battle that is taking place.

First off, I appreciate that you took the time to describe those moments. I can see you are definitely getting a lot of enjoyment out of Vanguard personally. That is what it is all about.

Relating it to my own experiences, item 10, the slave ship sounds like the only unique moment.

bubbels wrote:
cool sounding stuff

I have to admit some of that does sound interesting to me. Exploring is one of my favorite things to do in a MMO. It usually leads to my death, but if I can find a cool new spot I don't mind.

Kropotkin wrote:
Simply put that any MMO which tries to do something a little more ambitious than WoW should be applauded.

I'll agree that kudos are due to the designer, but not necessarily to the game.

I admit, the general defenses in the comments here are only piling on reasons for me to not get this game.

Obviously, someone likes it. I applaud your masochism. You want to be endlessly challenged.

Me? I want enough challenge that I have to think, yeah. But I want flexibility and some level of simplicity.

Simplicity, you ask? What's that? I agree, considering everything I've seen about this game. I don't want to HAVE to read every bit of the manual to understand the game. I want to drop in, fiddle around, make mistakes, figure out how things work, and move on. If I don't do it myself, that's not learning, it's studying. Studying, for me, is not fun. Neither is hitting "Threaten" and seeing your character chat politely. The little things like that would irk me even if not for the obviously bigger things.

I must applaud the writer for this article. It isn't written like a review. It's written like one friend ranting to another about the money they just wasted. This tells me far more about the game than any "unbiased" review would.

I find it funny anyone is defending Vanguard. I really do. I have played with some hardcore players who swore for over a year vanguard would be the best MMO Ever. Then when they tried beta in all their excitment, they found they were duped.

I honestly beleive some people like something, and even if it really does suck, they stand by it regardless. How can anyone stand behind a game that was admittedly by the producers and developers, not up to par?

Sure, in a year they could fix it with patches and thats when ill buy it. However it sucks for Sigil, cause its the initial launch dollars that make or break a game most times. Since they decided to release it early, ill sit back, wait for them to fix everything, then buy it in the bargain bin for 10 bucks and a free month and then see if its worth the 10 bucks i put on it.

So yea, you fanbois are right, it could be ok after some patching. With the speed at which SOE and its dev's release patches though, thats a LOOOOOONG time coming meaning they wont see my 10 bucks for that long.

They should of learned from Everquest 2, and its dismal launch. It promised alot, and in the end of it all after a year the game was barely the same as far as mechanics are concerned. They rewrote the fighting system, and renamed a ton of spells, yet never fixed what the players asked for. Heck, alot of players asked for the combat revamp to not happen, yet it did. It also drove away alot of hardcore players then too.

The problem with MMO's in general is their rush attitudes. They want it released by a specific date, and will do so regardless of how bad the game is, or how far behind in development it is. All to suck a few more bucks out of our pockets. Well i for one am tired of it, so tired im not even trying another MMO until the Age of Conan.

Why AOC? Well from what i read its Innovative. The combat system alone is exciting to read about, nevermind the world, spells, classes and other fun features. This to me is a game worth waiting for and watching over. I hope they dont make the same mistakes SOE's developers make, and do whats right for the gamers and their game. I feel if they release AOC right, and stable, it could literally burn down ANY MMO out now, or released soon.

So, no monthly fee from me suckers till november 2007!

Espyderman wrote:
Well i for one am tired of it, so tired im not even trying another MMO until the Age of Conan.

Why AOC? Well from what i read its Innovative. The combat system alone is exciting to read about, nevermind the world, spells, classes and other fun features. This to me is a game worth waiting for and watching over. I hope they dont make the same mistakes SOE's developers make, and do whats right for the gamers and their game. I feel if they release AOC right, and stable, it could literally burn down ANY MMO out now, or released soon.

So, no monthly fee from me suckers till november 2007!

Im sorry but who is the fanboii here?

So this is where all the Vanguard haters went? I'm so glad you've found a home.

That was one bitter review. I don't agree with it, but I understand you have the right to your opinion. Sadly it seems, your distaste for the game was largely rooted in your confusion and misunderstanding of it. If you can't figure out something as basic as the con system, you're going to have a hard time enjoying it. While I agree that those types of things could be better explained in the game, there are resources all over the web that explain them clearly.

The complexity of the game is one of the things I like about it.

I'm going back to playing the game now. Now it's your turn to say nasty things about me, Vanguard, Brad, and anybody else you hate.

Certis wrote:
To make these offhand dismissals of someone's criticism without actually knowing the context of the writer's experience comes off as defensive and unreasonable.

From the article: "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."

Hmm. Does the author of this piece know the context of each writer's experience--whatever that's supposed to mean--whose views he's so readily dismissing here?

CGMSteve wrote:
Certis wrote:
To make these offhand dismissals of someone's criticism without actually knowing the context of the writer's experience comes off as defensive and unreasonable.

From the article: "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."

Hmm. Does the author of this piece know the context of each writer's experience--whatever that's supposed to mean--whose views he's so readily dismissing here?


Splitting hairs, Steve. I was addressing a number of people who came in here (and elsewhere) dismissing all points because they claimed the author didn't like MMOG's or only loved console games. It's a lazy, offhanded way to dismiss an opinion you don't like as quickly as possible.

What you're asking here has nothing to do with my comment. Elysium's opinion that many writers approach mediocre games with kit gloves is a valid one, whether you agree with it or not. He doesn't single anyone out, he doesn't claim they're unprofessional, he simply states that he thinks a lot of writers are too easy on poor games. That's an opinion. If he said ALL writers do this and therefor you shouldn't listen to them because they're just in it for a paycheck, then we'd be in comparison territory.

drokar wrote:
So this is where all the Vanguard haters went? I'm so glad you've found a home.

That was one bitter review. I don't agree with it, but I understand you have the right to your opinion. Sadly it seems, your distaste for the game was largely rooted in your confusion and misunderstanding of it. If you can't figure out something as basic as the con system, you're going to have a hard time enjoying it. While I agree that those types of things could be better explained in the game, there are resources all over the web that explain them clearly.

The complexity of the game is one of the things I like about it.

I'm going back to playing the game now. Now it's your turn to say nasty things about me, Vanguard, Brad, and anybody else you hate.

That's not really what we do here. I, for one, would like to say I appreciate your opinion. We're more than willing to accept differing opinions, just so long as they're presented in this sort of civil manner. Thank you for mostly toeing the line of civility. (And thanks for bringing up the grammar quality of the thread! -- Sorry everyone, but I'm still a nit picker. :razz:)

Certis wrote:
Elysium's opinion that many writers approach mediocre games with kit gloves is a valid one, whether you agree with it or not.

What makes it valid? That you agree with it? That I agree with it? I'm not entirely sure why the statement was relevant to this piece, other than to put himself above those who are apparently afraid to criticize games. Which is fine and all, but he's still assuming a lot about those writer's motivations and experiences.

(And I don't disagree that too many reviews lack any sort of real criticism; I just hate the laziness of "most writers" or "too many writers" or "some writers"; name the names, for crying out loud, otherwise you are--whether intentionally or inadvertently--condemning everyone else. Or at least you're nailing "almost" everyone else, since few people single out the good writers/critics. Who are the exceptions?)

Anyway, dismissing the viewpoints of people who do like Vanguard by questioning their critical abilities--which, in this specific case, may be based on more play time than he admits he spent with the game--while criticizing those who do the same to this article just struck me as odd.

(Crikey, I apologize for being more incoherent than normal. I'm not even sure what point I'm trying to make here, other than... bah. Back to work for me.)

(Crikey, I apologize for being more incoherent than normal. I'm not even sure what point I'm trying to make here, other than... bah. Back to work for me.)

I think I understand the thrust of what you're trying to say, and I agree with it to a degree, but expecting anyone to stop mid-thought and qualify statements any reasonable person should be able to understand is a bit ... nitpicky. Which I expect is your day job