VANGUARD YEAR IN REVIEW - Part 1
In keeping with the huge turmoil that 2005 perpetrated on the real world,
complete with tsunamis, killer hurricanes, earthquakes, bombings and war,
it seemed that the virtual world of Vanguard went through some explosive
events as well.
It started out not too badly. In January, the fansites appeared to be taking
a break, getting ready for the week-long dash to E3 coming up in May.
On January 4, Cindy Bowens gave out a
call for input into a new Customer Service Department being formed.
She followed it up the next day with a
request for people who have volunteered previously for CS in other
games to share about their experiences.
In February, a tidal wave hit the Vanguard community in the form of IGE's
incursion into the home bases of Sigil's community program. IGE bought
up six of the affiliate program fansites, including two that shocked the
community profoundly-Okratas.com and Ogaming-both previously considered
bastions of loyalty and all things good in Vanguard.
The community rallied around Sigil, as it closed ranks and made it clear
that any dealings with IGE or other secondary market merchants was not
acceptable. In a decisive move, Sigil removed from the ranks of Vanguard
Affiliate status those sites that had sold. In the meantime, the loss
of fansites in the community gave rise to the birth of some strong new
ones-both Silky Venom and The Last Vanguard Fanboy came into being, in
part to offer support to Sigil in this shocking betrayal.
It wasn't long before IGE
made a move against Silky Venom as well
and was firmly turned
twice. Cindy Bowens worked diligently with Sigil advisors and
community members to pull the community together. More stringent guidelines
were put into place for fansites requesting admission into the charmed
Affiliate circle. And people went to work making their dream come true.
Amidst the turmoil, March 16, 2005, marked the first anniversary of the
announcement of Vanguard: Saga of Heroes. Champagne corks were heard popping
around the world to celebrate the infant state of the game.
Consolidating the Sigil community position were the sites that remained
loyal during the secondary market upheaval-Epic Vanguard, The Safehouse,
Vanguard Gate, Vanguard Stratics, Vanguard Warcry-many of today's very
popular sites passed the stringent requirements to become Affiliates and
join the ranks during 2005. These included: Diplomatters, The Druid's
Grove, Vanguard Crafters, Vanguard Fighters, Vanguard Spheres, Vanguard
Ten Ton Hammer, Xvanguard. To strengthen their joint offerings, Silky
Venom and Lost Fanboys merged to form one strong fansite under the name
of Vanguard Silky Venom.
Rounding out the wonderful international flavor of Vanguard were the
flow of non-English speaking fansites supporting Vanguard and being invited
into the affiliate program: three German sites--Vanguard Die Gieminde,
Vanguard Lost Company, Vanguard Online Welton; two French sites--Vanguard
JeuxOnlines, Vanguard Mondes Persistants; and one Spanish site--Vanguard-esp.
That brings the total of affiliates for Vanguard up to 19 - with 12 English-speaking
sites and 6 international sites. In Sigil's list of OTHER SITES, we notice
that there is another German site throwing its hat into the ring, as well
as an Italian site and a Russian site.
This meshing and melding of ideas and support is making the Vanguard
community one of much experience and beauty, a potpourri of flavor and
Beta started in 2005, kicking off with Beta 0 in July. Commonly known
as friends & family beta, this step proved wildly popular on the screenshot
scene as Brad went on a gift-giving spree of beta 0 screenshots to the
various affiliates for exclusive display. Beta 1 was announced on Oct.
13th, and in a departure from industry practice, Sigil was true to its
word, beginning the monumental task of sending out thousands of invitations
to apply for beta to all registered members of its Vanguard forums. Entering
beta 2 in December was another step of victory for the development team
and testing continues.
There were promotions, hirings, expansions within the Sigil ranks. On
April 20, Nick
"Glip" Parkinson, everyone's favorite gnome, was promoted
to the position of Community Representative, working with Cindy Bowens
in the burgeoning Community & Events Department.
Another important promotion was that of Michelle
Butler in May to Customer Support Manager. Michelle talked about some
of the new features of the Sigil CS Department, including a CS Training
program and a new kind of volunteer guide program to be named The Crimson
With the development of the new Sigil Customer Support Department came
welcome news--that Sigil was planning on hiring GMs from within the membership
ranks if possible. Further exciting news came that there would be what
was coined Fanguard Beta in Las Vegas the end of July. Dozens of fanguards
trooped to Las Vegas where Sigil staffers conducted various interviews
for various positions. Michelle
announced at the end of Fanguard that some GMs had been hired but
that the process would be ongoing.
Watch for tomorrow's conclusion to a Vanguard Year