24th, 2007 - By Dalmarus
comes to an end, we take a look back on the ups and
downs of Vanguard's
first year in release. Afterwards we'll take a look
at what the future holds for our beloved game. There are a number of
links within this article, all pointing to various guides you may have
missed and should find helpful in your journeys. Hang on to your seats
boys and girls. It's going to be an interesting ride so let's get to it!
was in development at Sigil Games, it was being heralded
as the game destined to redefine "hardcore" in our multiplayer worlds.
Promises of naked corpse runs, extreme challenge, mandatory grouping,
and intelligent play ran rampant throughout the whispering winds of the
Internet. With one of the original Everquest developers, Brad McQuaid,
at the helm, old-school players were frothing at the mouth for the
chance to recapture the magic of their early years.
Unfortunately, the majority of people that had “grown
up” on EverQuest had also grown older, gotten families, and
taken on more responsibilities in their lives. Being able to dedicate
4-6 hours a night on a video game just wasn't possible. When word of
how hardcore the game was going to be, many potential players
(including myself) dismissed the game altogether.
We’d done the total hardcore routine and simply
didn’t have the time to dedicate ourselves to a game like
time progressed through development, it gradually became more solo
friendly. The majority of the game was still group oriented, but it was
becoming more accessible to the casual or semi-casual player.
Unfortunately, word of these changes was not getting out to the general
For myself, I got lucky and happen to receive a beta invite 2-3 weeks
before the game went live. After a single day of playing, I pestered
all my friends that played EverQuest and told them they had to
get the game. It was the first time since leaving EQ that I had felt
that special "magic" about a game again and I couldn’t wait
to share it.
At the end of January 2007, Vanguard
went live. While some people had
minor problems with the game, for the majority of players, it was
nearly unplayable. Extreme amounts of lag, stuttering frame rates, and
frequent crashes to desktop were only a few of the issues that were
crippling the game at release. None of this could help endear a company
to any player no matter who was behind the game.
Before going live, Brad McQuaid stated they knew the game was not ready
for release, but they were at a crossroads. They could either release
the game then and make fixes as fast as they could, or scrap the entire
They were out of money and had to make a choice. When things were that
far gone, what else was Brad supposed to do? Would you really have had
the game disappear into the ether? I’m glad they decided to
release rather than scrap the project. Would I have preferred things to
be a lot more stable at the time? Absolutely, but better the game we
got than nothing at all.
In the beginning, it was clear that Sigil Games was doing the best it
could to get fixes out to its gamers. With nightly server restarts and
frequent patching, the first month saw some impressive improvements
There were still a massive amount of bugs and problems, but the folks
at Sigil were beginning to make progress when another blow to the game
was seemingly struck. In May, Sony Online Entertainment purchased key
assets of Sigil Games. Direct translation for those of us that
don’t speak “business-ese”? They got the
whole kit and caboodle.
Right on the tail of this announcement, 90% of the Sigil staff was let
go. While I agree with Brad’s decision to release the game
rather than scrap what they had, I’m still disappointed in
the handling of this situation. By all accounts, Brad McQuaid wasn't
even the one to give the news to the laid off employees. They were
gathered in the parking lot and told they were fired. The amount of
hostility that had previously been focused on the bugs of the game was
now pointed squarely at Brad for a number of months.
To say that SOE was going to have their hands full was a drastic
understatement back then. The Vanguard
community was (and still is) a
very vocal one. While the majority of gamers that lashed out didn't do
so out of any particular malice, it was a clear sign of the passion
these players had for a game that finally called out to them in a way
no other had in years.
The Foundation of the Present
One of the first major changes SOE talked about implemented was a
merging of the servers. While in the end it proved to be a good move,
there was no lack of ripples it caused to the pond.
Part of the problem was a set of polls SOE ran on the official forums.
The main point of contention was whether or not to merge Florendyl (the
Role-Playing server) into any other server. 75% of the vote was in
favor of leaving the RP server as it was.
When Florendyl merged into Seradon anyway,
you’d think that
the world had ended from the amount of screaming we all had to endure.
I’m ashamed to say that my voice was among those of the
dissenters as well. I’m only human though, and we were pretty
upset. Needless to say, the server merges were actually a great thing
for the game when they came about in late August.
Shortly after this, the player base thought the game world was coming
to an end (yet again) because SOE announced they were going to move
away from the Equipment Expertise system and use the more well known
(or at least understood) Bind on Equip, Bind on Pickup system. Look
if you want a more detailed explanation of this particular battle.
As I stated in that article though, when it was all said and done, the
change was no where near as earth shattering as many people thought it
was going to be.
There's little doubt that SOE made some decisions that may be looked
upon as unfavorable, but eventually, the changes have either been seen
as good things, or at least not quite as detrimental as initially
What kind of article would this be if all we did was rehash the bad
things of the past though? Especially when talking about a game I
actually love? That's not how we play around here, so let's get to the
good stuff, shall we?
Things Begin To Improve!
One of the first big game changes that came about was the addition of
. Both of
these systems were added in to cut down on players' travel time when
trying to meet up for groups.
Unless someone has logged into the game and explored for a while, it's
really not possible to impress upon them just how huge the world of
Telon really is. At any given time, you could quite literally spend
upwards of 30 minutes just traveling to your chosen destination.
There's no arguing this gave us a true sense of how massive the game
is, but it also caused a lot of frustration due to simple time
constraints on players in the real world. Adding the Riftway System
hasn’t taken any of that “massive” feel
away from the world since you still need to unlock each riftway by
traveling there the hard way first. The Riftway System will be seeing
some changes soon, but I’ll talk about that a little later.
Game Update #2 brought some pretty big additions to Vanguard
at a time
where it really needed them. Among the additions were Guild Halls, the
, the previously discussed BoP/BoE system,
for the masses, Rest Experience, and the
Diplomacy sphere moved to a level based system.
Game Update #2 was the beginning of turning around the downward spiral
the game had been falling into. Along with the changes mentioned above,
there were a number of optimization issues that were addressed that
translated into some big performance increases for the player base.
None of these changes were without their growing pains and dissenters,
but in the continually changing world of online games, what changes
While GU #2 may have been the beginning of Vanguard's
point, I believe the first phase of GU #3 in mid-October was the real
winner. This was the moment performance and stability issues that had
been plaguing players were finally tackled in a serious way. For
myself, my average FPS went from the high 20's to the high 50's in
groups, while peaking out above 80FPS when soloing. It took some time,
but the game was finally on its way.
By the time December rolled around, there were more level 50's chomping
at the bit for some type of raiding than there had been seen since
launch. With word of the performance increases rapidly spreading
through the community, players that had previously left began coming
back to the game in noticeable numbers. While the wait may have been
torturous for them, it seems to have been worth it.
While I’m not a big raider myself (although my main is
finally nearing that coveted level of 50), the introduction of the
Ancient Port Warehouse raid zone has been a big hit. There are
currently some lag issues that are being addressed, but the feedback
from players has been positive.
The Ancient Port Warehouse consists of new challenges, loot, quests,
and more lore than you can shake a stick at. Why you’d be
shaking a stick at lore, I’m not sure, but it’s
more than you could. Really!
To Infinite and Beyond!
I’m sure you’re thanking me right now for the
history lesson. Really, it’s ok to clap. No?
All right… let’s talk about
the exciting things the
team has in store for us during the upcoming year!
Tired of forking out your hard earned cash to rent a flying mount?
You’re not the only one. Game Update #4 will finally
introduce permanent flying mounts to the game.
In addition to permanent flying mounts, various changes to the Riftway
System will be made as well. Personally, I’m hoping that
stone in Pankor Zhi is moved to somewhere a little more accessible if
coming from Khal or Ahgram.
Along with these awesome updates, the player level cap will be
increased to a currently undetermined number.
The most exciting thing on the developer’s plate this year
for me though? The introduction of an Alternate Abilities (AA) system.
The amount of potential individual customization this could bring to
players is truly exciting.
You’ve read the history lesson. You’ve seen a small
glimpse at what the developers have planned for us next year. What does
it all mean? To me, I think this is finally the year that Vanguard
really begins to come into it’s own.
I think the developers see this too as they’ve reactivated
all accounts that have been cancelled for the last 60 days.
They’ll be active until the 17th of January. When they
activated them, that gave almost a full free month to those players
that jumped at the opportunity to play again.
I can’t imagine doing something like that unless you really
felt the game was finally ready to stand on its own two feet and begin
to attract players back into the fold.
What do you think?
Leave a comment HERE!
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