Ah, Vanguard. What a long strange trip it's been.
Thanks to Vanguard, I have discovered a new way of playing, a new of looking at games actually. I have always played a little bit differently, but Vanguard brought my playing to an entirely different level. I think it was a combination of perfect timing and finding a game that was attempting to do something different.
Despite any "controversy" over where the game was supposed to go and where the game went, the game still is. While there have been many changes good and bad to the game, players tend to forget that you can pretty much play any game in almost any way you want, including Vanguard. Each game out there does have it's physical boundaries that your character cannot cross, but other than that these games of ours have a lot of choices that many players tend to ignore.
I started with Vanguard over 2 years ago just to see how horribly it would run. After all, the game had a reputation (not a truth) for not running at all, period. To this very day, after all the posts, videos and podcasts talking about how playable the game is there are still players that ask me "Doesn't that game run like molasses?"
I tend to ignore what rumors there might be floating around, anyway. In fact, the more bad rumors I hear about a game the more chances that I will play it. (Which explains my trying out of pretty much every game out there.)
My first real character, Rikoo Rakoo, was a small half man/half fox ranger type character and despite not being a fan of furry little critters, he quickly grew into my favorite character. Soon I was role-playing with him and made a set of rules to dictate how I play with him. Then I took over the Voyages of Vanguard podcast and it just kept growing. While I have always maintained many games and sometimes quite a few subs, Vanguard is that one game that I have the most vivid memories with.
First of all, the lands are so large that's it's easy to spend hours exploring, role-playing and traveling.
Then, the Lore is detailed and epic, and can be explained to you while you play a card-style game called "Diplomacy."
Crafting is complex, similar to EQ2's, and harvesting is organic and funner than in most games.
While I enjoy combat, it is never the main drive for me in games. That might explain why it take me so long to level. Combat in Vanguard is fluid and fun but not so challenging that it takes most of your time to get anywhere.
The quests range from kill 10 rats to delivery quests, and your character is nicely pushed through the lands as you level. You really feel as though the world is much larger than you ever thought, and that there are a lot of secrets to look into.
There have been so many changes over the years, from adding class changes to the Trial Island that allows new players to download a smaller client so they can get into the game quickly. Performance has always been good enough, but has become better and better over the last years that I have played.
And on and on. To be honest, I don't have enough time to cover it all in this one post. Just search on this blog (spouseaggro.com) and you will see how much I have been in love with this game. And to be blunt, I am not sure why. The community, while intelligent and nice to newbies, can also be some of the nastiest batch of nerds on the planet. There has been so much drama surrounding this game and it's changes that I wonder how I ever made 4500 posts on the forums and survived with my sanity. Probably because, deep down, I know that despite everything there are people working very hard to make the game as could as they have the ability to.
You have to have an open mind, some patience and an ease of play to really enjoy Vanguard. If you want a non-stop action/fast paced game, you will be doing yourself a disservice by finding that in Vanguard. I know players like that, players that rushed past all content to get to the high-end raiding. When they finally got there, they became glossy eyed introverts, never leaving a staple few dungeons and groups while thinking that the rest of the game is not important.
Don't do that with Vanguard. Don't even ask about the "end game." Stop worrying about it.
There has been much drama, recently, with the announcement of possible server merges (there are 4 right now) and the closing of the PvP server. (Possibly? I haven't been back on the forums in a while .)
I think what harmed the game was firstly the rumor that it never, ever ran on any system (which is so far from the truth it's surreal) then secondly the fact that it had "high end/end game" stuff to do that was such a challenge and had certain bugs that it drove players crazy.
Essentially, you had a small player-base that pushed to the end only to get stuck within a few dungeons with a few key bugs that made them, ironically, obsessively repeat the process. Instead of saying " I think maybe I should try playing a different way..." they just kept going and going. Also, the existence of the PvP server wasted (in my opinion) valuable resources and money.
Maybe that will all be taken care of, now. The game runs great and looks amazing most of the time, and the trial island is a great excuse to try it out. While I would rather see the game gain 3 million players and 45 servers, it will not happen. While I would like to see all the development team members gain a personal assistant each, and for all their paychecks to grow fatter by several points, the truth is that the game has always been plagued by misinformation and a player-base that commonly thinks that the game should be something it is not or will never be.
So what does the future hold for this fantastic game? I don't know.
What do I hope to see, and want to see? I want to see the game survive, of course. I think it will, because SOE will keep it around almost as long as the community will have it. But I would like to see some new players discover it and maybe some more role-play events or in-game GM events. The game begs for it, begs for exploring and discovery and for grouping with your friends on a boat under the stars and moon. I would like to see more players "play" the game like that.
But we'll see. So go try it out, resubscribe, whatever. Take your time and read the lore. Cut down a tree, try some diplomacy. Turn off the chat. Use your horse or run everywhere. Explore. Role-play.
Vanguard is for that, it's perfect. And I hope it stays around for at least 3 more years for players to explore.