2005 has been a year of much growth and change in the offices of Sigil
Games Online. Not only did they outgrow their offices, their creation--Vanguard:
Saga of Heroes--has moved from infancy to toddling along in the second
stage of beta as the lights dimmed on the year. This landmark year was
filled with many highlights, and even a few low lights. What does this
mean for 2006? What do these milestones mean for the New Year? One can
only speculate at this time on many areas, as the year-ending media blackout
remains in effect, though there are hopes that as we move further into
January that this too might change.
As you look back on 2005, what is your high point when it comes to Vanguard:
Saga of Heroes? For me, it has to be Fanguard Beta. Amidst the summer desert
heat, the team from Sigil and a hundred or so of their fans converged on
Las Vegas. Luckily, I was able to attend and got my first and most delightful
peek at the game. Those who attended were treated to a weekend of getting
to know the developers and staff of Sigil and to really see what their motives
are. I know that I was not the only one to walk out of the event feeling
that this team was blissfully obsessed with making their dreams reality.
There was just a fire and drive in their eyes and in the words they spoke.
I recall Brad sitting on a table at the back of the demonstration room
late Saturday afternoon, answering any and all questions we could fire
at him. The passion was certainly contagious as each answer lead to nods
and murmurs of agreement and statements of relief wondering why other
games hadn't thought of these things before. This honesty, openness and
passion have been shared even through the forums.
This year has seen growing pains in the official forums. As the community
expanded slowly, and then with a bang once beta was announced, the tone
and feel of the forums have gone through many incarnations. The one thing
that remains ever constant is the watchful eye of Glip making sure everyone
"keeps it civil" and the active participation of the development
team. Who knew that there could be a gaming company that actually would
ask their community about things and really listen!
Outside of the official forums, the revised format for the Affiliated Fansite Program came into
being. Sites could earn this special ranking by following and upholding
the beliefs of Sigil Games Online. Paramount in this set of beliefs is
the stance against the secondary market. This is an issue that has been
and continues to be a hot topic when mentioned. Those sites that were
able to meet the requirements have enjoyed exclusive screen shots, interviews
and the happy endorsement of Sigil. As of this writing, 19 sites share
this ranking and many more are working towards it.
As summer turned to fall, all across the community refresh keys could
be heard clicking night and day as beta 0 went from a summer friends-and-family
stage to beta 1 in early October. If you listen closely you might still
hear those sounds as we have just recently moved into beta 2. These progressions
have fueled the fire of speculation of just when Vanguard: Saga of Heroes
just might be ready to launch. Silence from the company and pleas from
most of the community not to rush and to make sure the game is ready before
shipping mix with the impatient outcries of those tired of the current
roster of MMOs on the market today. This is still a mystery and makes
one wonder how many betting pools are set up in anticipation of things
to come this year.
2005 was a year of early milestones. The first fan event, the beginning
stages of beta, the Affiliate program, the hiring of GMs, and attention
to CS issues all are tremendous in themselves. What will 2006 bring? A
guide program, the last stages of beta, a media blitz for E3, a flurry
of new Affiliates? All of this is to be expected and seen as yet another
step closer to the goal of seeing the world of Telon with your own eyes.
Will it be what you expect? Will it be the answer that the community
so loudly cries for, that paragon of MMOs where one can get lost for hours,
days and years? The year, and the game, are both still too young to tell.
As Vanguard: Saga of Heroes toddles through beta and begins to run towards
launch, so too will 2006. Both will have their highlights, and their lowlights,
their lessons to be learned, their triumphs and their disasters. It is
my hope that when I sit here next year and look back it will be a game,
and a year, that was what I hoped for.
Karen is H.D.i.C. (Head Druid in Charge) at EQHammer. She likes chocolate chip pancakes, warm hugs, gaming so late that it's early, and rooting things and covering them with bees. Don't read her Ten Ton Hammer column every Tuesday. Or the EQHammer one every Thursday, either.