Category vanguard

The Enemy Of My Enemy Is My Best Developer Friend!

Scott Jennings, aka Lum the Mad, has posted a fun blog entry over at MMORPG.com, with the oh so controversial title How PvP Can Break Your Game. Scott is a great writer and it’s always fun to read his insights into MMO-making. Syncaine, of course, took offense because Scott mentioned Darkfall, and made some stuff up and Tobold took offense that Syncaine took offense and dug up some old arguments that he probably doesn’t believe himself so he could bash Darkfall (again). All very funny, and quite sad at the same time.

No matter, that’s not really the point here – the point is the description of the forum warriors in Scott’s post. For many forum posters on MMO forums, it seems like the developers are the great enemy. They are the evil that plagues their game, shifting game balance and nerfing classes left to right. We see it all over the place, visit any MMO’s official forums and you’ll find them. Often, the subject line is in caps, so you don’t have to look very hard for the posts I’m talking about.

Nerfed!

Arena is doing what now? Where did my class go?

I agree that the developer can be the great enemy, especially when they bring a huge change to a game that you’ve played for ages. When World of Warcraft introduced the arena, and Blizzard tried to make an e-sport of a game where PvP was an afterthought, well…for me, and many like me, the developers were the enemy. They were ruining our home, our world, because of a small, small fraction of their player base.

But sometimes, especially if you’re a player in a smaller MMO, the developers are not your enemy. Usually, they are trying their best to fix a game in order for the game to stay afloat. Sometimes, they should be seen as your buddy, you should try to work with them instead of against them. Sometimes, you should just play nice, thank them for the stuff they are actually able to deliver, and either thank them for their time and leave or hang around and see what happens.

It’s pretty rampant in the Star Wars Galaxies forums, where a thread about the upcoming (and pretty major and cool) Galactic Civil War-update turns into a flamewar about how relevant Light Side Jedis are in PvP. Instead of understanding that the game is actually struggling, with the executives (that don’t care about your petty abilities or PvP survivability) breathing down the devs’ all too exposed necks, and trying to keep the criticism valid and creative, the forums warriors’ arguments tend all to degenerate into “yur idiots lol”. Seriously, it has to stop.

Attack!

Proud Vanguard forum warriors stand united against this horrible...oh, they are only trying to help? What?

What got my blood flowing this time was this thread on the Vanguard forums, as pointed my way by (the always amazing) Dusty. In it, Silius tries to explain to the players that the dev team is low on resources and that they are trying to do as much as possible with the little they have – which includes scrapping some stuff in order to create a better game in the long run. It’s one of the most honest dev posts I’ve seen on a forum in a long time and it’s not every day a dev comes out and says “look, we’re short on cash, please have patience”.

The bitching starts with the first comment. Already on the first page, people start talking about SOE shutting the game down.

This is really not the time to paint the developer, who actually comes out and says more or less exactly what is going on behind the scenes (something many players ask for in most MMOs), as the enemy. It’s the time to pat him on the back, tell him how much you appreciate the game and that you understand that you don’t have all the data, all the numbers, all the logs, all the knowledge. It’s the time to either come up with some creative criticism, enjoy what is on offer or leave the game behind.

It is not a good time for insults. That developer, who probably had to go head to head with the PR-apartment for evening mentioning stuff like having “tried to do more with what [they] have and it has not always panned out”, has just done you a huge favor. But as a forum warrior and a pro-complainer, I suppose it is hard to see it that way.

It makes me sad, to be honest. I feel for the Vanguard devs. They are working on a gem of a game with one of the coolest crafting systems in the industry and an alternative advancement system that at least tried to do something new (diplomacy). They are probably under a lot of pressure, knowing full and well that if they don’t turn the game around, it will go the way of Matrix Online.

And that means that perhaps that special feature that you were looking forward to will get scrapped. Sorry, the new AA system won’t be available soon. Sorry, no new 24 man raids (any idea how hard raids are to design, not to mention code?) until enough bugs have been fixed and new content is in. Sorry.

I feel with you, Silius. A lot of us do. We’re your buddies! A lot of people that are only playing the game and not complaining on the forums love Vanguard. Keep up the good work, keep making hard decisions for the good of the game’s future. We love you for it.

Sometimes, the best thing to do is to hug people.

/hug

Update: Beau, of Spouse Aggro, places the blame for Vanguard’s struggle on the community.

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The loneliness of the long distance runner

Having some time to kill today, and since the Aion beta event is over, I decided to put my money where my mouth is and do the trek from Lotus Hold to Tanvu in Vanguard. I guess the word “trek” has a whole different meaning after playing Ryzom, where a “trek” is something fraught with danger and not something usually done solo, but anyway. The run between Lotus Hold and Tanvu, I suppose I should say.

That’s the thing about the world in Vanguard – it’s huge. The area between those two locations would probably have spanned several zones, and several level ranges, in most other games. But not in Vanguard. During the whole journey I didn’t see a mob with a level higher than 12, and that would be some bandits I decided to avoid. I stumbled upon a settlement, a small keep (which housed the teleport between the island LH is on and the one where Tanvu is) and a monastery in the woods occupied by friendly spirits (where I took refuge when my cell phone rang). These places all housed quests for me, the world might be large but it’s not empty, but I decided to press on instead of getting caught up in a new quest chain. I guess I should have picked them up, it would’ve made the whole journey more interesting in one way, but it would also take days instead of the 30 minutes it took now.

I did manage to take a wrong turn at one point, since the main road was covered by some undergrowth, and ended up outside Magi Hold instead. A detour that cost me 10 minutes or so, but I was happy to have found a new place that I’ll hopefully get to revisit at some point. I was really happy when I finally made it to Tanvu. I took a brief tour of the city before I found the horse vendor outside the House of Mirrors. So now, at level 10, I finally have my first mount. I guess I should decide which city to fight for soon, so I can aim for one of the racial mounts, but I will have to do some more research first. Don’t want to let precious time go to waste!

I was also happy to see some other players running around town. While the Isle of Dawn was quite populated, the main land (at least the Kojan main land) has so far been rather barren. Chat is quite silent too. Could be that most players are up on Thestra, but it’s sad to see a large capital city as Tanvu be that empty. One can clearly see that Sigil designed the capital cities to host a whole horde of players, considering their size, and Tanvu is still quite small compared to cities like Bordinar’s Cleft. I doubt they will ever look like Dalaran, or Ironforge back in the day, which is actually quite sad. Vanguard is still a gem, a really cool game, and it’s too bad it never got – and probably never will – the mainstream praise it deserves.

If it is closed, as some people seem to think will happen after SOE closed down Matrix Online, well…I will be a sad Petter, even though I might not even be playing it when that happens. I might be playing Dungeons & Dragons Online for free instead. Probably not, since I’m not a fan of instanced content, but still. I just might.

Now I’m going to go poke one of my rats, since she’s fallen asleep in their food bowl. She might be trying to “protect” it from the new rat I introduced to them today, but somehow I just think she’s a little bit stupid. Cute as hell, yet stupid.

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Eurogamer dings level 10…twice

My emo Shadowknight in Everquest II. Yes, I use the alternate models.

My emo Shadowknight in Everquest II. Yes, I use the alternate models.

Eurogamer MMO, which just gets better and better, published what is the first article in their Ten Level Test-series today, where two MMOs and their first ten levels are pitted against each other to see which one comes out on top. It’s a great idea, similar to something I had planned doing myself for Gamereactor (if any of my editors decided to buy into my idea), and it’s great to see other games than the Big Three (World of Warcraft, Warhammer Online and EVE Online) get some time in the spotlight.

First out is Everquest II and Vanguard, two games I’ve been playing myself. Both are SOE-games and both are from the fantasy genre, so it’s quite fitting to see them go up against each other. The write-up is a great laugh, especially the comments about the Ratonga wizard they create in EQII. Almost makes me want to re-roll, but I still have an aversion against small races because of my gnome in World of Warcraft. I’m quite satisfied with staring at crotches in one game, thank you very much…

Oli Welsh has written down the rules for the whole test in his blog, noting that

Ten Level Test isn’t an infallible test of a game’s quality. That’s what reviews are for. While we firmly believe World of Warcraft is the best MMO out there, its first ten levels could quite easily lose in a fight with LOTRO, Warhammer Online – or even Age of Conan. What’s more, a round could be swung by factors that are completely out of control of the game’s designers and support staff; it will work in a game’s favour if we end up in a great group or make a new friend. And then there’s raw luck; a game’s fate could rest on a roll of the dice, a random loot drop.

which I personally find really exciting. This test isn’t based on reviews, it’s purely based on the writer’s experiences during the first ten levels – like a gonzo new games journalism-kind of thing (if you excuse me using the old NGE-term), applied to MMOs. That approach is great for MMO-reporting, considering that the genre is horrible to write traditional reviews about, something most game journos have noticed when they are suddenly faced with the task.

Vanguard? Bugged? I have no clue what you are talking about.

Vanguard? Bugged? I have no clue what you are talking about.

Upcoming matches are Lineage II vs Final Fantasy XI, Guild Wars vs Dungeon & Dragons Online and Star Wars Galaxies vs City of Heroes. I’m especially psyched about seeing how D&DO stands up to Guild Wars, as I’ve been considering picking it up just to give it a spin. Guild Wars is a good PvP-game, but I never found it immersive enough to start playing it again, even if I still got it installed on my hard drive.

I am looking forward to see how things develop from here. When the first batch of matches are done, the winners will be pitted against each other for level 10 – 20, until a single game remains. I am happy to see that the winner of the first round is Vanguard, which is a really underrated game that never managed to get over the initial bad reputation it got (even though it was well deserved at first, since it was a buggy piece of crap at launch). It almost makes me want to switch over my current EQII-sub to Vanguard…

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