Updated Fri, Jan 02, 2009 by Shayalyn
Does This Tree Look Familiar?
A young high elf steps out of the safety of her home and stands atop a hill overlooking a great forest. Her armor leather is worn, her weapon a hand-me-down from ages past by the wear on the blade, but her eyes hold a determination and a passion that nothing can seem to diminish. She follows a well-trodden path down the hill and stops as she faces a choice, the first of many. Does she turn left or right? What is over those hills? What dangers or joys await her?
There came a time when gaming companies thought that making things easier for the newer player was so important. Please tell me how making things easier is a way to improve a game of adventure, a game where you should be worried about what is over the hill, the horizon? When all of a sudden we had detailed maps, an option to "find" certain NPCs by following a glowing trail, a plane filled with nothing but teleportation stones, something of the game was ruined for me.
Sure, there was a bit of convenience that was added to things. It became easier to offer directions to fellow players. If you didn't have the newest set of maps, many times you found yourself scorned by those around you as they waited for you to find your way to a meeting point. All of this became commonplace. I say this was an unfortunate turn of events. Gone was the need to travel as a group, carefully watching each other's backs as you moved through uncertain territory. Instead it turned travel into a mass of people running towards a common meeting place on their own, making their own routes, following their own maps.
In my mind it dulled the need for teamwork, for camaraderie. I fondly remember traveling to a raid spot with several groups, and at times it seemed the run there was much more deadly than the actual raid encounter. This led to time spent learning how to travel as a group, learning how to coordinate several groups of people into one well-oiled unit. Friendships were formed during those training runs, during CRs that offered painful lessons of when not to get lost in playful chatter while running. I firmly feel that this close-knit bond was severed by the let's-make-it-easier mindset.
Now here we sit in the Vanguard: Saga of Heroes community waiting not so patiently for the day we can explore the world of Telon. What will adventuring be like in this game? Will it be made so easy that anyone can move from one end of the world to the other without fear of harm? Will we be challenged with long runs and dangers hidden behind the next tree? If those in the know are to be believed, and I for one am inclined to believe them, the scope of Telon will not only have us blissfully fearful, but not easily inclined to travel the span of the world in a moment.
How do we know this? There have been several reports from the developers and from Brad himself regarding just this thing. We have been told and shown, in demonstrations at the various gaming conventions and Fanguard Beta, that there is nothing "stupidly easy" about this game. Combat is no longer a mashing of keys or an auto attack that one can walk away from the computer, confident when s/he returns all will be well. It is an easy leap of logic then that something as mundane as travel wouldn't be so easy either.
We've been told repeatedly that there will not be a large amount of magical means for travel as we have seen in other games. The exception to this being a possibility of emergency travel within a dungeon, but even this is still subject to change. We've also been told that the scale of the game makes for long, time-consuming, heart-pounding runs from point to point. I for one am ready to be scared silly at the thought of crossing unknown paths in search of what lies beyond the next rise along the landscape.
Most of us in the gaming community are watching many areas of the development of Vanguard: Saga of Heroes for any spark of knowledge on those things that are near and dear to our enjoyment of MMOs. For me, adventuring and the challenge of travel are very important. If the only challenge offered to me is that of beating mindlessly on cookie cutter mob after mob, then I am very unlikely to devote much time to that game. Give me a reason to need my fellow players. Give me a need to get to know them, to trust them, and to work with them.
I am confident, having looked through the fan sites, the OVF, and interviewing members of the team at Sigil Games Online myself, that this game will be a challenge all around. I stand with thousands of fellow community members and wait with bated breath for an announcement of a launch date so that I too can begin the countdown of hours until I can see this world of Telon that for now resides only in my dreams.