Vanguard: the voyage

The folks at Sigil have been doing their official media unveiling thing for Vanguard. I ended up getting sucked into it when an editor asked if I would be willing to drive to Calabasas for a day-long demo.

Very cool, exciting stuff!

but …

I’m confused.

Ugh, XP debt and corpse runs naked. I going to have to give this a pass.

Y’know I live about 3 miles away from Mysterious Galaxy and it is truly the greatest bookstore in the world.

Oh, and to be on topic it will be interesting to see how the next generation of MMOs will handle the IGEs of the world.

I love how every single MMO developer goes “Oh, world of warcraft? We are so happy for their amazing success! They are helping us by expanding the genre!” Like they aren’t scared little bitches.

Brad has no idea why EQ was so successful, because his meaningful input was negligible. His game design experience begins and ends at wrapping graphics around a diku MUD. Sony promoted him to the top, banking that his success wasn’t a happy accident being in the right place at the right time, then fired him for incompetence when they learned the truth. Now microsoft is giving him all this money in a romero-esque vote of confidence, and he has no idea what to do with it. In interviews he plagarizes Raph, but sounds like he babelfish’d Raph’s words to and back from german. He’s a parrot, there’s no understanding behind the speech. A trained monkey. Who can he copy from for his next game? It’s supposed to be new! How can he possibly fail? He made EQ! He’s full of bullshit, brazen arrogance warring with stark fear.

My prediction? It won’t end well, but it will end funny.

No, we’re REALLY happy for World of Warcraft’s success. It taught 5 million people (or however many they’re up to) that paying a monthly fee for a game you play over the Internet is a reasonable possibility. That is HUGE. We’re finally witnessing the start (yes, the start) of the mainstreaming of MMOs. Now it’s time to do more interesting stuff with the concept.

For some reason, that got edited. Ugh. It’s supposed to read: “Jeff Butler, on the other hand, is like the attack dog of the pair. For some reason, he’s not sitting on the couch. There’s plenty of room, but Butler is on the floor at McQuaid’s feet.”

I actually believe it when new MMO developers say they’re happy about WoW. If it had been a direct competitor of WoW, say EQ2, I think that sort of comment would be like the polite face actresses wear when they lose an Academy Award. But I do think the conventional wisdom about WoW is – as Lum just said – that it made the MMO pie ultimately bigger.

-Tom

Ahh. I totally like your version better.

I’m excited about Vanguard, actually. I get excited whenever someone making an MMO hints that it will be more like the MMO I’ve always wanted to play. It never actually, is, but I always get hopeful.

I’m excited about Vanguard too for the next gen tech. I don’t know how the final game will look, but they showed off some pretty impressive stuff. Remember how cool it was to jump into shooters like Joint Ops and Battlefield 2 with those really long draw distances? I figure that’s the leap they hope to make with Vanguard.

I also have to say that I hear them talk about their diplomacy model and get a very single-player RPG vibe when I think about being able to take a different approach to quests and NPC interaction. In the demo/beta that they let us wander around in, it seemed like you could subvert the traditional quests with diplomacy. For instance, in one typical FedEx quest, if you had the right kind and level of diplomacy, you could convince this gypsy lady that she didn’t need the magic dust you were supposed to bring her. The idea is that you can even run around town and hit up NPCs for money.

(Actually, now I’m psyching myself up to play Oblivion…)

And the part of me that really dug Guild Wars for its combat model is looking forward to Vanguard. I like tactical games that force tough choices. So, it seems, does Sigil.

Finally, I don’t mind being hit with the punishment stick that seems to turn off people like Destaurius. But I admit I’m the kind of Ironman freak who won’t reload a Civ game gone bad, who really relished playing Diablo hardcore, and who thinks an MMO built for permadeath is an MMO I want to play.

-Tom

Quite the opposite.

WoW would kill Vanguard if it was coming AFTER it. But not before.

Right now the new mmorpgs that go to appeal a particular public (meaning offering something unique more than rehated food done wrong) can happily leech all the bored players coming from WoW.

EQ2 is perking up thanks to this.

So, basically the match is between those two: EQ2 and Vanguard. To see who’ll rack up more of those deluded WoW players.

I haven’t played a shooter since Savage, so I missed out on BF2, but I’ve been longing for MMOs with no clip plane.

I’m not that psyched about the diplomacy model, NPC quests aren’t what I play MMOs for, in fact they bother me a lot in that context, I hate that they don’t stay done. A quest that doesn’t change the world state is just a reminder that you’re on a treadmill. Unless they have a dynamic quest generator, which is too awesome to hope for.

I’m with you on the other stuff, though. I was really into Guild Wars until I realized you had to grind for skills to be competitive in the arena combat. That meant my guild left me behind, which really sucked. I’d love to play an MMO with full PvP and perma death. The potential for full-scale virtual feudalism is just awesome.

Hardcore is exactly how I want my MMOs, but hardcore when I’m playing it, not hardcore as in I have to play it over 10 hours a week.

I want an MMO that’s ATITD mixed with Diablo on hardcore.

I’m definitely looking forward to Vanguard.

I wasn’t there for the early EQ days, so I don’t get either the McQuaid hatred or worship so much, but I like what he’s been saying about Vanguard. He seems to have a good sense for what worked in EQ (content, content, content) and what didn’t (tedium, tedium, tedium). Sigil appears to have solid funding from Microsoft, which means (hopefully) no rushed release dates with half the content missing and none of the gameplay balancing completed.

So the theory is that with us moving into an era where there are many viable MMOGs to choose from, no one in Vanguard will bitch incessantly on forums about the death penalty? That at least would be fun to experience.

Although I guess “You can always go to WoW if this is too hard” is going to become a painfully common rejoinder to any complaint, however legitimate, about the game…

It already is on other MMO message boards, so I don’t see why not. Niche games,which all other MMOs that aren’t called WoW are at the moment, always generate a sort of elitism and snobbery. I’m an old wargamer and if I had a penny for every ‘Go play Civ’, or ‘Go play Panzer General’ comment I’ve seen, I’d be a man with a lot of pennies.

Well, that much is true for me… prior to WoW I balked at the concept of paying a monthly fee for a videogame. On the other hand, WoW has also made me gunshy about MMOs because I find them harder to play in manageable chunks of time. But that may be an idiosyncratic response, and who knows whether I will be able to resist checking out the next big thing anyway…

The two things complement each other for a lot of people though, Gordon. Because you are spending so much time in your MMO of choice, you aren’t paying three times as much for the latest single player game. So playing MMOs works out cheaper for a lot of people. See all the threads we’ve had about how much WoW has cut back on people buying other games.

It’s not the price I have a problem with anymore. I’m sure I saved money playing WoW most of last year as I hardly bought any videogames throughout 2005. The reason I’m gunshy about MMOs is that I seemed incapable of playing WoW for anything less than about 4 hours per day (and often more than 6). If they are all that addictive I had better steer clear for my own good…

The funny thing is, that when I opened some of the screenshots in the Yahoo article, I actually thought I was looking at EQ2 screenshots!

Specifically the character model ones:

http://videogames.yahoo.com/screenshot.php?cid=1991400893&index=15
http://videogames.yahoo.com/screenshot.php?cid=1991400893&index=17

The first picture especially is a dead ringer for the Qeynos docks area.

The Landscape ones are cool though. Long draw distances are way more immersive and give the Epic feeling.

Do you even bother to read, man?

Sounded to me like you would have to run naked if you didn’t have a second set of equipment which is highly plausible when you’re first starting these games.