Vanguard: SOH NDA gone

The Vanguard NDA was released a couple of hours ago. Producers confirmed that the game will come out at the end of January. For those playing at home, yes, this is concurrent with the WoW expansion pack. Every post I’ve seen on several boards has been entirely negative. No, I mean every post from a beta tester, EVERY post is negative. They differ only by their degree of negativity. Not a single beta tester I’ve seen has said that the game is ready for release.

From a post on the new beta boards, Brad McQuaid freely admitted that they’re releasing the game because they ran out of funding from Sony, who gave them another 8 months of dev time (after Microsoft dumped their asses) in exchange for the livers of their firstborne sons.

My prediction is that SOE will buy Sigil for about twenty bucks and some dominoes cardboard pizza in april 2007, offering jobs to all of the skilled employees except for Brad, who they fired 5 years ago. Brad will go off to “pursue other opportunities” and end up making little games for cellphones and PDAs. He will claim he’s happy doing this, but he will be crying inside.

Vanguard will spike at 100k subscribers then drop down to 20k, be moved on to the SOE all-access plan, and rot there with a “live” team consisting of the guys who failed at earth and beyond, UO2, ultima world online: origin, the sims online, motor city online, sovereign, and the potheads from


What about the Majesty and Ultima X guys - are they distributing coffee to the others?

Dammit, I knew there were three UO2s, but I couldn’t remember the third one. Thanks!

The flames from this game crashing and burning will surely be sufficient to pop my corn. Or something.


I am truly, TRULY, looking forward to it. Just the threads from betatesters are enough to make my nipples pop, the release promises to be epic.

The best quote I read is from Brad himself:

As for launching, yes it may be fairly close to the WoW expansion, but that’s not something we can control. SOE has given us financing that has gotten us a lot further than our previous publisher, but at some point you have to launch a game. If we could have a couple more months of development, sure, that would be great. If we could have another year, we could do a lot more too. But again, the game has to launch at some point and we know when that is. I’m pretty proud of how much funding, marketing, etc. we’ve received to-date. We have over 100 people workiing on this game. That said, we’re not Blizzard either (yet). So the polish, time, and budet they had isn’t what we’ve had, although we probably come in second. The game is also different – Vanguard is more about freedom, attracting people who want a more challenging long term home, providing a game for old school EQ players and also WoW players looking for either/both something new and/or something more free and immersive. That means Vanguard is going to offer features and an evironment that is different and better IMHO than WoW, but also be a very different game than WoW, where we are focussed on different things and have different priorities.

Anyone from beta care to explain the Diplomat and Crafter class choices? ‘Retarded’ will suffice.

Yeah, thats where he says that SOE refused to give them any more money and forced them to release an unfinished game. Also he’s proud of how much money he suckered out of microsoft and sony to get somewhat closer to finishing the game. And for advertising in magazines, can’t forget that.

Quick poll, worst launch: Vanguard or Anarchy Online?

I’d bet that SOE’s creditcard processing will work and be encrypted, at the very least. But will SOE pony up for a free month of play when the users revolt? Remains to be seen.

Crafting was pretty involved and I never got into it. Unless they recently changed something, though, neither Diplomacy nor Crafting are “class choices”. They are, instead, ancillary activities.

Diplomacy is actually a really great idea. Basically you get a deck of cards representing both different conversational techniques (imperative declarations, interrogative remarks) and style (jovial, stern, etc…). You then proceed to choose a “conversation deck” from these cards, and use them in order to carry on conversations against people. Your skill at playing the game determines how they react and how well you progress in diplomacy quests. The idea was that if enough people perform diplomacy on the right folks, meta-game changes of some type happen. (Just as a random example: If enough people petition the merchant to lower his prices, perhaps he will, if they can convince him he’d make more money selling at a lower price but higher volume.)

I have no clue if any of that actually made it into the game. I got tired of devoting 25 gigs of disk space to a game that was unplayable without me finding a group (out of the 400ish or so beta testers I ever saw online) at level 7. (Yes… by level 7 to do your newbie quests you had to group; at least when I gave up. Maybe they dialed that back a bit.)

The locale is pretty. The combat system is decent (if EQ IIish in nature and nothing spectacular). There are some decent ideas about classes (blood mage for example) and gameplay (the diplomacy; although the crafting bit got dumbed way the fuck down early on because it was easier to gut the game system they had than fix it). However, the execution is classic EQ, and I don’t think there’s much truth to the idea that classic EQ captured so many people and held them because of its gameplay, rather than because of its novelty. At least, I don’t think there’s much truth to that idea after futzing around with Vanguard for the last 3-5 months.

Diplomacy seems to be the single point of optimism about the game.

One more bit of hilarity; they just wiped the beta4 boards entirely and created new ones for open beta. A more cynical man might think that they didn’t want the open beta players to see the multiple petitions begging them not to release the game as well as the general negativity said to pervade the place. A more cynical man would say that. Me, I say they just wanted a clean start!

I really am loving this.

Well, Diplomacy is the only idea I saw out of the game that said “This could really add something new.” It’s the only idea that comes close to my mythical game where, for example, there’s a purpose to having a rogue class who sneaks around (rather than having one who just stabbities things): The idea of being able to shift influence on a kingdom-wide scale to shape the game is great.

Unfortunately, I don’t think the Vanguard diplomacy system was anywhere near that, even in theory. But it’s probably the best start down that path I’ve seen for a multiplayer game. They actually had thought about mechanisms to enable and reward group influence, which is a big first hurdle. I have no idea if it’s matured much… back in October or so it was just going in as a game system.

I did not like it at all. Now I gave up a month or so ago, but it was a hog on my system. The combat wa meh at best. In fact, most of my time was spent fiddling with the crafting system. I thought is was interesting, but the game as a whole seemed kinda second rate.

I de-installed recently. I cannot imagine things have changed drastically enough for me to play it for anything other than free.

There was a crafting buff that showed up in Lomshir when enough people won diplomat ‘battles’ for a while, but that was only there for a short time, IIRC.

Another hohum MMORPG. Yawn.

Does this mean that there is a game worse than Auto Assualt(or soon will be)?

Nothing could be worse than Auto Assault.

Get real.

I think I lasted longer in the beta of Auto Assault than Vanguard…but not not much longer and not for very long!

The reasons why the vanguard saga (heh) is entertaining when auto assault wasn’t are as follows.

  1. Sigil cultivated a significant following of fanboys, affectionately called “vanbois”. Imagining these mouthbreathers’ response to actually playing the shitastic game is thrilling beyond compare.

  2. Everybody that played EQ1 in the first year hates Brad. If you’re going to post a followup saying “I played EQ1 and I don’t hate him!”, let me just stop you right there by saying that you’re lying and shut up.

  3. It may not be a AAA game, but it had AAA mindshare. It’s always fun to watch a car wreck, but it’s better to watch a really expensive car wreck, something that you hate, like a woman chatting on a cellphone driving a bright yellow Hummer smacking into of those Cadillacs with the big front grille (you know, like from The Matrix Reloaded) that, and not to be racist, seriously man, but wannabe rappers from westchester country drive with the spinning rims and powered suspensions jumping up and down with truly incredible amounts of bass that wakes you up when they drive by your window, those sons of bitches, don’t they know people are trying to sleep here?!

Even though I’m someone who has never PvPed, through EVE and various podcasts, I’ve recently gotten more interested in it as a game mechanic, and in some of the more “challenging” aspects of EQ that Vanguard wants to recapture.

However, even the MMOG podcast that was the most excited about Vanguard totally cooled on it because there isn’t much attention to PvP, so I’m going to guess that this gets no love at all. 100k players actually sounds high to me…though it’s possible if it sucks up the remaining EQ players.

However, if they offer a trial I may check it out, out of curiousity.

I got an invite to the beta just recently and for me it’s nothing but a slide show. I’ve got about 95% of all the video settings set at their lowest and I don’t even get a noticeable improvement. Needless to say I have no idea how the game plays because of this. On the other hand The Burning Crusade runs just fine.

That’s a damn shame in some ways. I had a friend who was REALLY looking forward to this one, and honestly I thought about joining him. It had potential, but if they can’t execute it, then what’s the point?