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've followed this thread with interest and beyond simply obfuscating the issue, nothing much has happened in the last few pages of this thread. I'm a mental midget, let me get that out of the way first -- self-deprecation does wonders for credibility.

My Curriculum Vitae boasts of playing UO (on a 28.8k modem! Ack! I was a walking convenience store for Pimp(l)y the Clown, MDK Guild, Hyper R, and thanks a ton to Slimy Slim, who bears another parenthetical explanation all in itself, especially since he obviously didn't realize that if you take the (y) off of slimy, you don't get slime. See, I was once a high school teacher and I am still immature enough to know the ins and outs of this juvenile codex that supposedly exists, but really doesn't), AC, AC2, EQ, EQ2, DAoC, WWIIOnline (I was a truck driving mofo! Screw you Char losers!), Planetside, SWG, Shadowbane, and now, er... Vanguard. I'm likely missing one or two of those boxes quietly collecting dust in my attic, but I suppose that's not important. As you can see, I have a short, short attention span when it comes to these sorts of things.

Obviously, different games will appeal to different people. EQ had its unique fanbase, DAoC has theirs, WoW has theirs, and so on and so forth. The marketplace is large enough that game designers shouldn't feel this pressure to have to directly compete with the others, but sometimes a drive for dollars seems to derail any original intent a game designer might have once had.

This may be a bit off topic, but I still think it is at least tangentally associated with it.
Here is my wishlist for a game, obviously poaching from other games and pulling some things together:

1) An interactive world in which you can legitimately affect the *storyline* and change things or better, have a starting point for your mythos and then see where the characters as a whole lead you. (Shadowbane, WWII online, Planetside where prototypes for this)

2) Have events that are spawned that actually matter and that the characters should feel some obligation to, in some way, respond to. (UO, believe it or not had those Orc Raids... a ton of fun. AC had one of their *Asian* cities explode in a mist, though this wasn't really anything the players could do or did about it)

3) Make PvP worth a damn if its going to be on there. Understand that MMOs don't work like the Real World, and they never will. Ever. You can't farm out the proverbial 10 year old, he will always have access. (DAoC did something unique with its realm-vs-realm. I'll even have to give props to EQ1 when I was an early, early Freeport Shadowknight doing my level best to evict those dumb, dumb elves from my polluted city)

4) Remove it slightly from the *fantasy* setting we're all so, so accostomed to, yet retain just enough magic (or mystification would be a better word) that it still retains some wide-eyed-wonder aspect. There's plenty of original source material from history to use that would be obscure and yet very viable and make an impressive backdrop to the game. It would even add more of an immersion aspect if done correctly because people would feel like world-changers. (DAoC. Who didn't want to be involved in one of the greatest Western Epics of all time?)

5) Don't worry so much about levelling characters to make them equal. Gasp! I know, the bane of every single forum concerning PvP. Accept that certain people will have certain roles in their societies and that the MMO players are varied and (you'd be surprised) willing to accept those more difficult / different roles willingly. (WWIIOnline, Battlefield Incarnations, Crafters/Adventurers sort of split)

6) I can go on, but I really want to hear from others to make sure that crazy isn't happening to me.

These are just a few of the things I've always looked for in any new game appearing in the marketplace touting itself as the next big thing.

Regarding the original post, Elysium is so dead on, it hurts, even as I try to get involved in this game, I feel myself pulling away from it (my grad studies will thank me when that does finally happen) and finding really good reasons not to bother logging on at night in my spare time. When I first logged on, my initial impression was that I was entering into an EQII with EQII quests that kept me busy running to and fro until I got dumped rather uncerimoniously into the outer spheres of the game and was forced to grimace and grind until the next best quest came along. Never once have I reached this mythical end-game, though I suppose in UO I had my stats capped and I came very close in EQII and DAoC before their millionth expansion, because I don't really see end-game as being that important. You, as a character, should feel relevant immediately. It kind of felt cool in Vanguard to be trusted by the Queen of the Elves and given a verbal reward and a pretty little rose scepter, but that glow will only last so long.

Vanguard seems to me a creature of a stale mind, and as someone so appropriately said, self-plagiarism. It looked like McQuaid was trying to make the EQ he had imagined all along, which is a great idea -- EQ rocked a lot of peoples' collective worlds, but it now seems like it might be too little, too late to push out another tired cliche that well defines the one I'm currently playing.

I apologize for the harried and non-linear, train of thought post. I've been long looking for a forum for a bit more cerebral, discussion-minded gamers that would be more than what we're all familiar with.

Baa
Baa
Blacksheep

*applause*

Great first post Blacksheep, I hope to see more from you!

Thank you for such an articulate post. It's refreshing to read. Now here are my comments:

An interactive world in which you can legitimately affect the *storyline*
That is the Holy Grail of MMO's isn't it? It's what everyone wants and nothing ever delivers. I think it's a bit like wanting real Artificial Intelligence. No software algorithm will ever be as spontaneous or unpredictable as real human experience. That's why I prefer games to have as few real limitations as possible. Let the players dictate the story line.

Make PvP worth a damn if its going to be on there.
The best PVP experience I ever had was facing Shadowclan in the game Shadowbane, and being a part of them in DAoC. We spoke our own language. We demanded tresspassers in our territory pay tribute to us or we would kill them. I understand they started in UO. It was awesome and completely immersive. But the game mechanics have to be right to allow a guild like that. I haven't played Vanguard's pvp servers yet, but they sound pretty open. Maybe something like that would work there.

You start out by saying that

The marketplace is large enough that game designers shouldn't feel this pressure to have to directly compete with the others

but then finish by saying

Vanguard seems to me a creature of a stale mind, and as someone so appropriately said, self-plagiarism

That seems a little contradictory to me, but perhaps Vanguard is not the game for you. I will say however that I believe the people you play with is at least as important as the game itself. The friendships you can make in an MMO and the experiences you have with them make the game a lot more enjoyable and memorable. As a member of the largest guild in the Vanguard world (look it up on vgplayers) I can say that I'm having a blast with those folks. It's not a grind because I like socializing with them while working the progression ladder.

Yeah, blacksheep, that really was outstanding. And I'd have said the same if you disagreed with me as well.

On a follow-up note: I think there's a genuinely mixed bag of reviews available in the many spectrums available to consumers. It seems like, in our discussion on the podcast with Jeff Green, GFW editor-in-chief, we touched on reviewers across the board needing to get back to being honest about their impressions -- at the time we were discussing the nature of reviewers hesitant to admit they found a game difficult for fear of losing credibility. I do believe there are lots of examples, particularly on big budget releases, where reviewers feel the need to mitigate what seems to be their impressions of a less than stellar game by giving equal time to being positive even if the game doesn't seem to warrant it. I recall thinking this once or twice in reading some Madden 07 reviews for the next-gen systems (particularly in trying to over-praise visuals above the substance), but I don't have a specific incident at hand.

Some outlets are more reliable than others, but I didn't want the topic of reviewer credibility in the industry to become the thrust of my topic.

A friend linked me this post and I'm happy to find a place where people don't pull the punches certain games deserve. Its very hard to find a honest place where the articles dont poke around the real problems with a game and slap a 6-9.5 out of 10 at the end for the people who just want a number.

My real problem is with the direction the MMO industry is still heading. Personally I've played very few MMO's because of this, it's not that I don't enjoy the genre its I don't enjoy paying(monthly to boot) for things I feel like should of been sorted in beta tests. Please don't equate this to me not understanding the market or its history. I really do but instead of the gamer who has 10 MMO dusty titles on my shelf I'm the one who sits back for the first month's and collects information from players on how those game changing features that were promised are actually panning out assuming the servers are even up for people to tell me about them.

For the fans of the game I'm happy you found a game you enjoy but at the same time I question the future of the game. It seems very clear that if initial sales and subscriptions don't generate enough money to fund the continued development patch's will dry up and maybe even pulling the plug on the whole thing.

My sympathies for anyone who's newer to PC gaming and the MMO market especially. Turning gamers into investors is the norm and the best part is if it works out they won't be cutting you any dividends for helping them through the hard times.

Wow. Some thread.

I have to admit that the Collector Edition box was nifty enough looking for me to decide to read up on the game, and this is what I found.

At some point, I'd be interested to sample it for myself, but in responding to comments that some people *like* to have a high level cap, I fall into exactly the opposite category. I'm just fine with a very low level cap. The fun for me is getting a group of friends together, and going off to some fun quest. I just enjoy the interaction, the collective strategy of working together for a common goal.

Personally, I dislike large level caps because it becomes just another barrier to playing with your friends. Even if you like the game, how are you going to bring a new friend into the game if he has to play a lot on his own for 3-6 months before he can play with you? If the combat system is good enough and varied enough, you'd don't need a huge level cap.

I've said enough about my opinions of WoW, GW, LOTRO (still playing that one) and other games elsewhere, so I won't rehash them here. But while I may still download a Vanguard demo if one becomes available, it sounds like this game has an uphill battle for all but the most hardcore of MMO player looking for their own niche away from themore casual masses.

jowner wrote:
For the fans of the game I'm happy you found a game you enjoy but at the same time I question the future of the game. It seems very clear that if initial sales and subscriptions don't generate enough money to fund the continued development patch's will dry up and maybe even pulling the plug on the whole thing.

I don't know morpgs seem awfully hard to kill. They seem able to cling to life with even the barest of a user base. Seeing as it is part of the sony station access it'll at least be around for padding.

Funny that I found reason to quote two very separate posts by shihonage.

shihonage wrote:
I fully support and endorse the tone and attitude of this anti-review.


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.

This is also one of the biggest issues I have with WoW's location and character names. Oh, and quests themselves.

Yeah, I have to agree with you here. I chuckled at the complaints about Vanguard being a jumble of names, since I could point fingers to just about any MMO on that point.

shihonage wrote:
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.

On the other hand, I agree only partially here. With any decent combat system, you have to invest at least some time in learning how it works. But, you should be able to see some payoff within a couple of hours. At least getting some basic working knowledge.

Brizahd wrote:
jowner wrote:
For the fans of the game I'm happy you found a game you enjoy but at the same time I question the future of the game. It seems very clear that if initial sales and subscriptions don't generate enough money to fund the continued development patch's will dry up and maybe even pulling the plug on the whole thing.

I don't know morpgs seem awfully hard to kill. They seem able to cling to life with even the barest of a user base. Seeing as it is part of the sony station access it'll at least be around for padding.

Your right the real measure will be if they pull the plug on content not the servers and if the player base will justify a expansion. The die-hard fan base does seem large enough to keep this game chugging along. Not sure how many of the features will pan out like originally planned though. One of the most fun experiment's is reading the original plans of a MMO and trying to find them down the line. Example like those warcraft style battles players were going to have in WoW bg's(not trying to start a debate about that but look up some old posts about what battlegrounds were supposed to be to what they are).

Id like to respond to some of Black Sheep's points:

1) An interactive world in which you can legitimately affect the *storyline*

I see room for this in a different style of MMO and admit its one of the good things that WoW's battlegrounds omitted when revisiting DAOC's RvR. I could see a Diablo 2 style MMO where the story is fixed and the replay value comes from varied character development. The problem is that even the longest rpg story lines are "only" 100 hours. So the devs would either have to write a short story hoping replayability would rival Diablo 2. Or they would have to prove they could write a compelling 500+ hour story, no short feat for even the most talented of writers.

The main problem with player in control of world changing events is griefers. Griefers are not casual gamers. And griefers are the ones who will have first and most likely the only access to this world effecting content at the expense of casual gamers. If you open up world/plot changing events to griefers, you may as well cut your subscriber base in more than half.

2) Have events that are spawned that actually matter and that the characters should feel some obligation to, in some way, respond to.

This is a fallacy. Everyone's actions matter all the time in every MMO I've ever played. I dont mean to be confrontational in a hostile manner. What is really being said here is you feel that the only lasting, meaningful, special content is content at which you can be at the forefront. The dynamic nature of the orc raids werent really the juiciest part. The excitement stems from the fact that you were there when the orc raids entered your region.

You're number 3 point you are going to have to be more specific about. PvP has been done well in WoW, DAOC, and even perhaps LOTRO since its monster play holds a lot of promise.

You're number 4 point I can't stress enough that whatever the theme or setting, the mysticism, mystery, and sense of adventure are critical.

5) Don't worry so much about levelling characters to make them equal.

WoW has done it. Why should we expect any of its predecessors to fall short or put less effort into it? Class balance is extremely important.

DevilStick wrote:

On the other hand, I agree only partially here. With any decent combat system, you have to invest at least some time in learning how it works. But, you should be able to see some payoff within a couple of hours. At least getting some basic working knowledge.

Since we're talking about MMORPGs here, WoW was pretty fun from the get-go.

And, generally, one of the bigger challenges of a game is to make _learning the interface_ seamless and/or fun. You see, it shouldn't matter. I don't care about the developer's concerns. I want to play a game and have fun. The difficult tasks such as having the player "learn" how to play should've been resolved properly during development. Either make the interface so ingenious that there's practically nothing to learn (see Battlezone), or integrate the tutorial into a live mission (also, Battlezone ;)).

For instance, Splinter Cell DS has a pretty crappy tutorial. As expected from this sort of game, it is pretty... crappy. You repeat what you're told. That's it.

On the other hand, Syphon Filter for PSP, the game seemingly cursed to have the same kind of dreadful tutorial, actually interjected it with humor. The character sometimes makes quips about what's going on. The hand to hand combat and weapons parts, especially, had me laughing because of the whole scene set up with the dummy guy and him being genuinely scared of each new device (or move) you're about to test on him.

In the absence of a tutorial thats integrated into a live mission, that's a tutorial done right.

bubbels wrote:
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?

Im not a fanboy.
Definition for those who wish to know:
Fanboy or Fanboi is a term used to describe someone who is utterly devoted to a single subject or hobby, often to the point where it is considered an obsession. The term originated in comic book circles, to describe someone who was socially insecure and used comics as a shield from interaction, hence the disparaging connotations. Fanboys are often experts on minor details regarding their hobbies, and they take these details extremely seriously. ...

Im not obsessed with any one game, or AOC. Im am intrigued by what it says it will do. I am eagerly anticipating its arrival to see if it will live up to its self proclaimed standards. I am interested in it because of what they say they will do to innovate the genre. How they plan to change it up. This is development, progress. Hence why i put a plug in for it, its worthy of it. Now, is it a great game? Who knows, not me and anyone in closed beta wont tell you due to the NDA. However, i have no problem letting other game enthusiasts know whats supposed to be the next big thing.

Fanboys are the people you find still backing Vanguard after its dismal launch, and its self admitted launch failures. Thats why i call all supporters of Vanguard, Fanboys. They like Brad Macquaid's ideas more then they like the game he recently launched, and blindly follow him into his eternal abyss of a game with promises of grandeur. Well, i fell for it once. It was called Everquest 2. After seeing Vanguard, and playing EQ2 for so long i wasn't about to make the same mistake twice. Im tired of promises, i want results!

Finally, i did state:


I feel if they release AOC right, and stable, it could literally burn down ANY MMO out now, or released soon.

jowner wrote:
One of the most fun experiment's is reading the original plans of a MMO and trying to find them down the line. Example like those warcraft style battles players were going to have in WoW bg's(not trying to start a debate about that but look up some old posts about what battlegrounds were supposed to be to what they are).

I agree, and I think that is why I don't follow mmorpgs as closely as I use to. I've played the role of fanboi and slamboi in the past because I got all caught up in the hype, and potential.

I'm surprised that I haven't seen more use of minigames in mmorpgs. You have this 3d world so why don't you have some simple poker, chess, checkers, golf, horse race or some other game. It will help build the community, and if you can gamble it will be a money sink for some. Also one good example of how it will help is it will keep me in game when I'm tired of the grind. Instead as it is I log off, and do something else with my time. Like say for example check out other mmorpgs. I would be willing to pay greatly for that.

TheGameguru wrote:
[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.

First off I was talking about /played. I didn't make that clear. But the average time from 0 to 60 in WoW pre-TBC was about 12 days /played. For most of the WoW player base... that's just shy of one real-game month. About 3-3.5 weeks.If you don't believe me take a trip over to warcraftrealms.com and look at the census numbers. On pretty much any server older than 4 weeks you'll see most of the characters are 60+. TBC increased the 0-cap from 12 days /played to about... 18. So now we're up to a whopping 4.5-5.5 weeks of real time play for most players. That's not months, that's barely over 1 month.

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 I agree, some of that is bad. Which is why in my original post and my second post I clearly stated that I do not consider Vanguard as a whole that great. I consider *elements of it* to be a step in the right direction. In the list above one I would cite as good is non-instanced dungeons. One of the best things from AC (outside of the absolutely huge landmass) was the fact there were no instances. In a genre which is supposed to be social can you think of anything more anti-social than "I'm gonna take me and my 4 pals here into our own private dungeon and noone else can come in, so there! NYEAH!" That's instancing. I found more people to talk to, gained more fellows-in-arms in Asheron's Call and its non instanced dungeons than in any game since which pretty much makes every major dungeon an instance. In AC's Olthoi Horde Nests, Black Death Catacombs and Lugian Citadels you could often find dozens of people moving through them. Some, like the OHN, were simply massive by today's standards. And yeah, you could get camping but it wasn't that bad. It certainly wasn't as antisocial as WoW's instances are. Ya just ran past, picked up the next set and carried on. Social = good.

Are instances completely bad? No. I agree there is a place for them. But to force every group encounter to be an instance is bad. Some would be good, but not all.

And your AD rep grinding example isnt true.. there were actually several more places to grind AD rep.. not to mention instances...

And I'll point you to read what I wrote c-a-r-e-f-u-l-l-y. "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." Why say "not to mention instances" when I plainly said "if you wanted to farm AD rep without being in a group". Correct me if I'm wrong but aren't the instances for..... groups? That is my implicit acknowledgment of other methods of grinding. I just happen to do so by qualifying my statement to fit the example; one I was gearing for solo, read, casual, play.

Once Naxx was released they had items that you could gather all over the world.. not just EPL... plus various quests from Lights Hope.

Secondly I said effectively. Again, it is an implicit acknowledgment there were other inefficient methods of farming rep.

Now if you want to get into specifics pre-Naxx the most efficient wasn't grouping at all. The most efficient was, as I said, 2 areas in EPL. One just outside if Light's Hope Chapel and the other down in the central map. It was the 2 areas on the map which were populated with exclusively 58+ undead mobs which would drop only Invader's Scourgestones. 10 of those was a turnin. Doing a group into the instances were less efficient after honored. Before that it was better because of the per-mob rep gain. After that you were sharing the stones with the group and would wind up with less turn-ins per hour than you would with pure farming of the two small areas I mentioned.

Post Naxx they still remained the most efficient areas to farm AD rep by a long shot. You mentioned that you could farm elsewhere. Yes, you could, I grant you that. But at level 60 unless you were a mage or engineer going to Un'Goro to farm plants was shot because of the travel time. Farming dark iron in Searing Gorge or the Burning Steppes was closer but lower level. That left fighting the essence farmers for the elementals, going to the far NW to farm the few Cryptstalker spawns there were or... and here's the rub... You could right back to the same 2 spots, farm invader's scourgestones and in the process also farm bone fragments. You could not farm scorgestones in Un'Goro, off elementals, or the dark iron dwarves. You could off the cryptstalkers but they were a smaller spawn further from Light's Hope. So all methods that were added in with Naxx were less efficient than what was already in place, two small 12-15 spawn loops that could be overloaded by two whole people. Which is exactly what I said to begin with and...

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

...why I think you owe me an apology for this. I'm not making it up. I just happen to have looked at it a tad more than you have and stated exactly what I meant to state for very good reasons, not one of which were made up.

Great article, and spot-on with your comments. It's astonishing how so many people are defending this steaming pile of software...

Ah well, I guess I'm just an idiotic fanboi. Maybe someday I'll realize the errors of my ways. I can only hope to be as sophisticated and discerning as those of you who think this game is a total loss.

Time for me to leave this thread.

That is my implicit acknowledgment of other methods of grinding. I just happen to do so by qualifying my statement to fit the example; one I was gearing for solo, read, casual, play.

Makes no sense then.. outside of an 18 slot bag why would a casual even grind AD faction then? certainly not to get into Naxx. Your trying to squeeze a specific situation into some larger point that in the end makes no sense. Whats a casual going to do PUG Naxx?

So all methods that were added in with Naxx were less efficient than what was already in place, two small 12-15 spawn loops that could be overloaded by two whole people. Which is exactly what I said to begin with and...

bah.. there was nothing wrong with getting dark iron scraps... bone fragments.. there are 4 huge camps in WPL that can drop bone fragments not to mention other AD faction items. Dark iron scraps had a huge area of dwarves in the Gorge that could be farmed almost endlessly.

No - Certis

Greyed wrote:
TheGameguru wrote:
[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.

First off I was talking about /played. I didn't make that clear. But the average time from 0 to 60 in WoW pre-TBC was about 12 days /played. For most of the WoW player base... that's just shy of one real-game month. About 3-3.5 weeks.If you don't believe me take a trip over to warcraftrealms.com and look at the census numbers. On pretty much any server older than 4 weeks you'll see most of the characters are 60+. TBC increased the 0-cap from 12 days /played to about... 18. So now we're up to a whopping 4.5-5.5 weeks of real time play for most players. That's not months, that's barely over 1 month.

Not sure what your point is or what it matters but you are completely off base. Bliz has alluded a large % of their user base has not even reached 60. For most of the WoW player base that is NOT 1 month of 1-60. There is a huge population of players who casually play very little that spread that potential 12 day played(which is if your efficiently leveling) over several months. They also roll several class and race combinations as their motivation is not dinging 60 and end game.
Also warcraft realms is not as accurate as you think.


Q. Overall, what percentage of level 60 players do you think have killed Ragnaros?
A. I don't have firm statistics, but my gut feeling is around 25 percent.
Q. And what about Nefarian?
A. From the gut, I'd say maybe 15 percent.

From an interview with tigole almost coming up to 1 year now this may.

Espyderman wrote:

Fanboys are the people you find still backing Vanguard after its dismal launch, and its self admitted launch failures. Thats why i call all supporters of Vanguard, Fanboys. They like Brad Macquaid's ideas more then they like the game he recently launched, and blindly follow him into his eternal abyss of a game with promises of grandeur. Well, i fell for it once. It was called Everquest 2. After seeing Vanguard, and playing EQ2 for so long i wasn't about to make the same mistake twice. Im tired of promises, i want results!

See this is what is so great about your posts. You lump everyone that supports Vanguard into a steriotype. Saying that we are just a bunch of obsessive fanatics. Then you move right into supporting a game that you havnt even played! Because thats better then supporting one you have played? I highly suggest checking the facts before you open your mouth. You dont know me and you dont know the thousands of other Vanguard players. Name calling is the lowest form of debate and its not helping your cause.

Cow_Punk wrote:
I just joined the site after reading this review

Funny, I just joined yesterday after reading the whiny thread at mmorpg.com by the clown who got banned over his responses to this thread.

Total agreement on Vanguard, BTW--I only lasted about half an hour in the beta before going "Screw this."

Greyed wrote:
First off I was talking about /played. I didn't make that clear. But the average time from 0 to 60 in WoW pre-TBC was about 12 days /played. For most of the WoW player base... that's just shy of one real-game month. About 3-3.5 weeks.

Good grief. 12 days /played in 3 calendar weeks is an average of nearly 14 hours a day. Stretch it to a full month and it's still 9.6 hours per day, 7 days per week. To say that this is the normal play schedule for most of the WoW player base is laughable.

wordsmythe wrote:
Gnomon wrote:
wordsmythe wrote:

The southern stereotype is a Gothic cliche?

As in Falkner. See "Absalom, Absalom"

Just because it showed up later doesn't mean it wasn't all over the literary landscape in the 1800s.

I might be wrong, but I believe that's why the subgenre is generally referred to as "Southern Gothic."

cirenosille wrote:

I'm running with a p4, duel nvidia 7600's, and 3gb of ram.

I just built a new system two months ago with an equivalent AMD dual core, 4g and dual 7950s, and Vanguard *still* looked like total crap.

I'm pretty sure there will be no need to go back and address every point and riposte to my original statements. One of the inherent failings with online forums is that it allows for only a partially realized form of communication that generally rejects all but the word written (including tone, body language, some form of intimacy with the participant), especially for us unknown coffee grinders of the forum. That allows for a heavy glossing (as we fill in the blanks that we think or that are implicitly missing) of others posts.

When I mentioned a dynamic world, I'm not talking about writing a story and providing so many hours of game time. I saw the prototype for this in Shadowbane, an ultimately flawed game from the get-go for a myriad of reasons. The land was divided up, parceled out and while there was a beginning mythos, there was also heavy player involvement in the shaping of that world. People and guilds actually could set up their own sovereign nations and demand things, set rules and laws, and live by them. Hell, on my server, there was even a Thieves' Guild that was set up with their own city for a time and survived by selling their ill-begotten wares and trying to play as neutral as possible. Did it work? No. Was it fun? You bet. Does it detract from the game? Heck no, just like any business, some have better models than others and the ones that are able, survive.

When I mentioned important events or mobs that meant something, I wasn't very clear in that post and I don't know if I can clear it up here to the satisfaction of everyone -- and that's allright; if we never thought big, then we would've never taken off in flight, had an internet to play with, or made the computer a necessary home accessory. It doesn't have to be an all the time thing. For all the imaginative juices I might have filtering through me, the model for grind and respawn is still there in some aspect and I believe that there is a certain tolerance level that almost anyone I know that plays MMOs is willing to accept -- obviously some more than others. However, it would be a nice carrot to offer if the characters could be rewarded for say, defending their homes against invasions (and if they do not, maybe NPCS such as your quest givers or merchants die and in a week or two, another takes his place but with less equipment for sale or less bonus for finishing the quest -- I'm not saying that this could be the only option, but ones readily considered -- There could be some positive reinforcement as well, such as accolades given, special titles offered, etc.) It could be a raid boss mob that changes the weather, causing a food shortage and dropping the HPs of every character in that area because of malnutrition until he's taken care of. Who knows? Let's just ask this open, rhetorical question: How many of you felt a sense of actual accomplishment when you killed the BlackBurrow Orc Chieftan and his retinue? After all, I finished my quest, which was nice, but he was back walking around as if nothing happened 15 minutes later and still threatening my city. Can you take this aspect out of the game? No, not the way the MMO is currently setup, but can you alter it some? Yes, I think there are certain ways you can make killing a boss, even if he respawns in a few minutes, somewhat or somehow fulfilling beyond, "Here's your 500 exp and 1sp, kthxbye." What if killing the orc boss increases the spawn rate among orcs for a certain time, or killing him enough actually brings in a competing tribe that wars with the original for dominance?

I've even had (but only out of the public sphere...I am a closet geek) conversations with RL friends that play these things with me about our perfect game and began piecing our ideas together and figuring out, using others' already implemented (with some slight tweaking for some things or some readily implementable ideas) ideas as our limitus because of most of our groups' distinct lack of programming experience. Is it the Holy Grail? Maybe, but in the end, according to various traditions, does not Percival, Galahad, Lancelot (well, he knows where its at, but he's not allowed to see it), and even Gawain in one retelling eventually find it? Heck, even the cow-catapulting French have one in Monty Python.

Thank you for your replies and discussion to my original post, by the way to those that jumped right in. For once, I'm actually excited about being a part of a forum (beacause I never ever, except when forced to because I once played in a beta that required it to ever actually register to post) that can, despite some rather juvenile comments in places, can keep its focus.

Finally, if I sound contrary or like I contradict myself, its because I have awfully conflicting thoughts about the MMO. I love the idea, I really do. I think that if the next game even addressed one of my concerns, it would convince me to play it because at least there's some sense of building toward that Holy Grail. I really like the irony of that allusion to the Grail, by the way -- A Quest to find something so mythical and strange, yet all the knights had to do was look right around them to figure it all out because the answers were there all along, they only needed to be polished to be remembered why everything was that way in the first place. I think that sums up the state of the MMO perfectly.

[quote=TheGameguru][quote=RN Lee]

cirenosille wrote:

Possibly they enjoy Powerpoint presentations..because thats what they are playing at 7fps.

What a brilliant way to put it... even makes it sound like work.

Baa

I totally agree with you that Shadowbane had some great concepts. I don't believe that a dynamic, player controlled/affected world needs to compete with a static (with its repeatable grind) world.

I think that a more enhanced RvR system with fixed emplacements that can be controlled, repaired and destroyed by players would infuse life into MMO PvP. I also think that this could be accompanied by player placed, built and maintained structures.

The problem with the latter is always what to do about server population imbalances with the warring factions. Both Shadowbane and Planetside reeled from this. I played on servers as the Vanu Soveriegnty where the other sides outnumbered us 5-1. I found it fun at times as, with an inherent egoism that comes with such a vast dominance, I was able to pick apart the over confident with ease. Of course, the most fun I had was playing on balanced population servers.

BTW click on the forum link at the top of the page. We have a whole forum dedicated to MMOs as well as other interesting topics.

fangblackbone wrote:
I totally agree with you that Shadowbane had some great concepts. I don't believe that a dynamic, player controlled/affected world needs to compete with a static (with its repeatable grind) world.

I think that a more enhanced RvR system with fixed emplacements that can be controlled, repaired and destroyed by players would infuse life into MMO PvP. I also think that this could be accompanied by player placed, built and maintained structures.

The problem with the latter is always what to do about server population imbalances with the warring factions. Both Shadowbane and Planetside reeled from this. I played on servers as the Vanu Soveriegnty where the other sides outnumbered us 5-1. I found it fun at times as, with an inherent egoism that comes with such a vast dominance, I was able to pick apart the over confident with ease. Of course, the most fun I had was playing on balanced population servers.

BTW click on the forum link at the top of the page. We have a whole forum dedicated to MMOs as well as other interesting topics.

Imbalance has always been an issue. Nothing like leaving Midgard and finding 500 Albions or Hibernians standing there waiting for you. I think that there are also some pretty legitimate ways around such problems also that could be implemented as well. I know as well as you that sometimes you like to be outnumbered, sometimes you like to have overwhelming force, and sometimes, you just want to see which equal side will prevail. There's obviously a time and place for all of it, but there isn't really a place for the pendulum to ever stay on one end, being overwhelmed or the overwhelming, for any extended period of time without participation suffering.

I've breezed through the forums and I'll be introducing myself to some other threads as well, but this one has piqued my interest greatly.

BlackSheep wrote:
I'm pretty sure there will be no need to go back and address every point and riposte to my original statements. One of the inherent failings with online forums is that it allows for only a partially realized form of communication that generally rejects all but the word written (including tone, body language, some form of intimacy with the participant), especially for us unknown coffee grinders of the forum. That allows for a heavy glossing (as we fill in the blanks that we think or that are implicitly missing) of others posts.

Does this count as intimacy?
"Finger --> butt"

On topic, I'm not a regular MMO player, but I've had a couple thoughts in response to BlackSheep's posts. In short: I agree.

  • Storytellers -- If you're going to have players interacting with an overarching plot to the game, you need people watching what's going on and reacting to it. You can set up a general story, but -- at least in the PnP realm -- role play ends up being "how much freedom can I allow myself without breaking the DM's plot/soul?" This is why a good DM in PnP is able to adapt to what the characters are. You take what the characters do and work with it. Frankly, I don't think the MMO developers have the will or finances to keep enough creatives on hand to handle this.

  • PvP & Realism -- Letting characters' actions (even non-combat ones, mind you) effect the world goes a long way here, but there's some specific points that get missed. If you want players to do more than grind and chat, you need to encourage role play. You need to encourage things like setting up their own shady guilds. You need to have things like pickpocket skills, and you need to let them be used. If you're in some giant, London-esque city, and someone decides that they're forming a street gang on one block to be their "turf," that is RP gold. I understand that newbies don't want to get ganked, and there is a time and a place to protect the younglings, but if this kind of things was encouraged -- if sometimes exploring means being afraid for the life, property, or anal virginity of your character -- I will certainly start playing, and I know plenty of folks that will join.

wordsmythe wrote:
On topic, I'm not a regular MMO player, but I've had a couple thoughts in response to BlackSheep's posts. In short: I agree.
  • Storytellers -- If you're going to have players interacting with an overarching plot to the game, you need people watching what's going on and reacting to it. You can set up a general story, but -- at least in the PnP realm -- role play ends up being "how much freedom can I allow myself without breaking the DM's plot/soul?" This is why a good DM in PnP is able to adapt to what the characters are. You take what the characters do and work with it. Frankly, I don't think the MMO developers have the will or finances to keep enough creatives on hand to handle this.

  • PvP & Realism -- Letting characters' actions (even non-combat ones, mind you) effect the world goes a long way here, but there's some specific points that get missed. If you want players to do more than grind and chat, you need to encourage role play. You need to encourage things like setting up their own shady guilds. You need to have things like pickpocket skills, and you need to let them be used. If you're in some giant, London-esque city, and someone decides that they're forming a street gang on one block to be their "turf," that is RP gold. I understand that newbies don't want to get ganked, and there is a time and a place to protect the younglings, but if this kind of things was encouraged -- if sometimes exploring means being afraid for the life, property, or anal virginity of your character -- I will certainly start playing, and I know plenty of folks that will join.

SOE tried something like that called Everquest Legends. It was a premium subscription that was suppose to bring a more tabletop rpg feel to Everquest. In game storytellers was one of the features that I remember. It had a sub of $40/mo. I'm not sure what became of it, but here is a gamespot interview.

I also think you nailed it with the "will and the finances." Doing something too different means taking a risk. It is just safer to crank out the formulaic standard that we've become used to. I think until we as a whole become more picky with our money we're not going to see the breaking of the mold anytime soon.

Brizahd wrote:
SOE tried something like that called Everquest Legends. It was a premium subscription that was suppose to bring a more tabletop rpg feel to the Everquest. It had a sub of $40. I'm not sure what became of it, but here is a gamespot interview.

I'm intrigued, but I haven't done MMOs since I gave up on UO maybe 6 years ago. Except for private shards. Those were pretty schweet.