Out of curiousity, I decided to sit down to write a very basic time-line that shows my involvement in two of my favorite games' communities: Ryzom and Vanguard. People have asked some questions in the past about what happened where, so for them I want to finally answer some of those questions.
First of all, let me readily admit that I prefer smaller communities over large ones. The reasons should be obvious, and have something to do with the fact that I want people to hear me. I have a huge ego and need constant stroking of that ego or I will just die. Die.
Seriously, I would rather be a slightly-larger-than-tiny fish in a tiny pond rather than a tiny fish in a huge pond.
First of all, to Ryzom. You must go get this trial (21 days of free, unrestricted play) and give it a whirl. It will make you question why in the Hell more MMO's feel SO DEAD. Ryzom is based on a living planet, with all items being crafted (that also rot...ALL items) and with MOB A.I./ weather systems that include migration, seasonal changes and many other wicked cool things. http://www.ryzom.com/en/
Here is a basic time-line of my involvement there. Remember that this was something like three years ago, and although most of the old 'casts are still on here, I am re-organizing them. (HERE is the first Ryzom podcast! HOW CUTE! The rest of them can be found on spouseaggro.com in the categories.)
1) Start to play the game, love it. Love my funny hair style.
2) Decide to start a Ryzom podcast. My wife laughs (which is funny being that she has a much larger podcast now.)
3) Start to cover the game, and love doing it. Get a crazy German co-host named Mad Sam. He rules. He is actually a lot like my future co-host Luper, in the way that he is really good at playing certain parts of the game, and likes role-play.
4) Things start to get weird. Players start to "accuse" me of being for the Karavan, one of the two factions in the game. The guild I was in at the time leaned towards Karavan.
5) People got more serious about me being "Karavan." I told them I wasn't, I was neutral, and did not care to partake in religions, especially make-believe ones.
6) This is where it gets a little fuzzy, and would need more research. Around this time the game started to have it's infamous financial troubles.
7) I decided to stop doing the podcast because things got WAY too serious for a videogame, and because the game was in a state of flux. I moved on to many other games, as always.
Ryzom is now in the best state it's ever been in, and more solid than ever. I think that these new developers are (some of them) from the original team that worked on the game. Try it out, and you will see what I mean when I say that they really have an eye for originality.
Next up, Vanguard. Bear in mind that during all of this time I am blogging, playing every game out there and playing in bands. I always have a lot on my plate, so adding another podcast was a little iffy.
1) Start by adding segments to the "Voyages of Vanguard" podcast, as well as the EQ2 podcast, both hosted by the fantastic Troy and Karen.
2) Eventually, both podcasts started to fade, and I asked Troy if he would like me to take over VoV. He said yes.
3) I started it, and had fun, but missed a co-host. Luper messaged me asking if she could help.
4) Luper works out fantastically, but again, I am paired with someone that knows WAY more than me, and plays the game enough to have 15 level 50'S!
5) I decide to run with the "schtick", her being the straight man and me being the pie-thrower. It works, until most of the questions we start to get for the dev's involve raiding, high-end crafting, raiding, high-level grouping, raiding, class fixes and raiding. There were quite a few non-"high level" questions, but during dev interviews/discussion, these high-end questions always came back up.
6) I would like to point out that this is all due to the fantastic dev team, and mainly Ellyra. She was, and still is, the best community manager I have ever dealt with. She was responsive, funny, and did what she would tell you she would do. Before her, I thought all community managers were these slow-responders, these mysterious beings that MIGHT get back to you. Then I just message her and she responds, and that's where it started. I did nothing special, only she did. This is why I tell the community to ASK, in a nice way, and be patient. Get involved, and the response will come. Since her, community managers have continue to be elusive and mysterious. Busy, probably, but more than likely they are just aware of my loudmouth.
7) At one point, I wanted to do an interview solely for the purpose of asking "creative" based questions, to get to the bottom of the creative process in the gaming industry. I love that stuff, as do (hopefully) many of you. I told Luper I wanted to ask about the developers gaming habits and creative process, and she indicated that no one would be interested in that. She was right, for the most part, and players that are not interested in that stuff are still around. In example, here is a comment left on Brad McQuaid's blog:
"I don't really care what kind of music you like, what your favorite color is or how many times a day you light a candle, put some music on and step into the bathroom for some alone time. Talk bout Vanguard, or what you'll be doing next. Save this 'New Dream Theater' stuff for people who care about you as human. To us you are just a thing that will deliver us a game."
These are the people that are the reason I hate gaming communities sometimes.
8) I realize that the podcast is getting into areas I don't care to talk about, so I start to think of branching off into other games, or to make a strong point for talking about the non-high-end stuff in Vanguard. I feel bad for Luper, being that she really knows her stuff. I am an airhead, and she deserved a co-host that cared about the high end. Still, she is a great over-all co-host, role-player and friend. Plus, boys (and some girls) like listening to her voice.
9) Luper gets hired in San Diego. While she says she might have time to do the podcast, I didn't want to bother her with my little project. I did think that she should have taken over doing a VG podcast, but her job situation might not let her. No, she did not go to Larper Camp. Yet.
10) I decide to use Lupers absence as a chance to finally do a podcast like I wanted, one about anything I wish, game-wise. And here we are.
Granted, this whole time I am keeping a blog, playing with my bands and doing art. I wish I could settle on one project, but my mind doesn't work that way. Even my very sentences can sometimes meander between thoughts, so you can imagine what my hobby life must be like. Essentially, I want to be able to go as fast as I can.
Now, as to Vanguard and it's future: it is, as was in the past, NOT GOING ANYWHERE. At Fan Faire it was talked about MxO having 1200 subs. VG has more. As long as we can stay above that number, it is believed that we are safe. That is the reason I try to get the word out about the game. My job is not to whine about bugs, I report them and move on. I don't whine about SOE, that's like whining about some foreign dictator or the electric company. I am simply someone that wants you to play the games I like.
Vanguard is also in the best state it's ever been in. While you are trying Ryzom, go try Vanguard as well. Despite what you have heard about the size of the game, the trial is a quick 2 gig download, and the rest will download over night should you decide to sub.
I am not going to discuss why some games do better than others. I think it is a variety of factors, but mostly due to being the right game, released the right way, at the right time.
The point is that these games ARE fantastic, now, and should be played. If you like MMO's, and have not tried them, try them now. Trust me. I would very interested in hearing anyone's comments on what they thought, and why the game worked/didn't work for them.
Any other questions, email me.
And thanks for reading.