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News & Features Discussion  » [Column] Vanguard: Saga of Heroes: Revisiting Vanguard

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  SBFord

Associate Editor - News Manager

Joined: 6/28/10
Posts: 13011

 
OP  5/09/13 7:33:29 PM#1

With Vanguard's recent free to play conversion, many former players are revisiting their old friend. The Tourist is no exception. See what he discovered on reentering the game and then tell us of your own experiences in the comments.

To say that Vanguard: Saga of Heroes had the hearts of players would be an understatement. The excitement surrounding its 2007 launch was not unlike last year's Guild Wars 2. And why not? World of Warcraft was preparing to deliver its first expansion and Everquest 2 its third, but both games felt little like the original Everquest. Brad McQuaid and his team at Sigil promised something different. A return to form; an MMO that felt like the game we all loved but delivered so much more. Here, after years in wait, we were offered a virtual world instead of a cardboard cutout. One disastrous launch and a parking lot firing later, Vanguard found its true and tragic place in the pantheon of MMOs. Even now, its legacy is one of disappointment and squandered opportunities. Does the game have six years and nothing to show for it or is it finally worth going home to? Read on to find out.

Read more of Chris Coke's The Tourist: Revisiting Vanguard.

Associate Editor: MMORPG.com
Follow me on Twitter: @MMORPGMom

  Gnarv

Apprentice Member

Joined: 12/25/06
Posts: 26

5/10/13 2:33:43 PM#2
To me it is also a jewel. But alas the masses have spoken and what they wanted, and time revealed it was not VG, was Theme parks. They wanted easy, predictable, accessible, less time consuming design that in the end demands less of the gamer. The gameworlds themselves die, they loose their mystery, we know what is comming around next corner, and why should we care? Whatever we find will be something that we will be able to run over blindfolded, and if a miracle should happen and we die, then we respawn 5 yards away - and this time there is just no way you will make that huge a mistake. 
  koboldfodder

Novice Member

Joined: 9/18/04
Posts: 359

5/10/13 2:35:47 PM#3

Vanguard was doomed from the start.  There were some serious problems going on behind the scenes.  What was miraculous was that they actually got SOE to outright buy Vanguard.  SOE already had one flop-fest on their hands with SWG and it looked like the just bought another one.  That, and the fact EQ2 was barely saved, really made SOE look bad.

 

They actually turned Vanguard into a solid game.  Obviously that never translated into any tangible sales.  This is the game people point to where you can say "you give a MMO a month or two and once people leave they do not come back".  People usually came back to SWG because it was Star Wars.  No one came back to Vanguard.  It's dead Jim.

 

Vanguard was more similar to original EQ than any other MMO at that point.  That was the whole point of the game, to go back to what original EQ did so well.  Depending on groups.  You could solo some (now you can solo up to the highest level) but back in the day you really had to group or it was slim pickens.

 

Vanguard had severe technical problems that rivaled SWG.  Actually, those problems outdid SWGs problems because they actually fixed that game.  They never really fixed Vanguard.  They had to re-do some of the graphical meshes because they really messed up performance.  The races sort of changed, it was not as customizable as it was on release. 

But there were two problems that game had and still has today.  The chunking problem (when you loaded different areas) was an eyesore as well as the object loadings in view.  It was very small and things would just pop into view right in front of your eyes.  The game does not hold up well today, unlike other MMOs of that era.

 

But if you could get past the technical glitches, you had an excellent game at its core.  Three ways to level.  Adventure, Craft or the totally unique (and awesome) Diplomacy.  Sure, the crafting and diplomacy were not finished until much later but it was a lot of fun to be just a crafter or diplomat.  Vanguard crafting is still one of the great crafting systems in any MMO.  It is not on the level of SWG or EVE or Horizons, but its only one step lower.

 

But the true greatness of Vanguard was the class system.  It had, and still has, some of the best classes and class mechanics of any MMO.

 

And the best was the healers.  Up to that point, playing a healer was awful.  Vanguard made healers fun.  The Blood Mage was a squishy, cloth wearer who had unique heal/buff transfers.  The Shaman was a wonderful class, alot like WOW's Druid/Shaman classes.  The Cleric was the standard heavy armor wearing cleric but could actually tank a bit.  And one of the great MMO classes of all time was the Disciple, a monk/healer hybrid.

 

No game since has had as good healer classes as Vanguard, not even close.  The other classes were very well done, but the Healer classes were s stroke of genius.

 

Boats, three big continents, open world housing also were there but other games had those.  You played Vanguard because you wanted to be challenged like you were in EQ.

 

 

  Arclan

Spotlight Poster

Joined: 1/29/07
Posts: 1325

"Ideas are worthless. The only currency that holds any weight is the ability and drive to execute."

5/10/13 2:46:22 PM#4

SOE misjudged Vanguard's audience hugely and it cost them countless $millions.  We don't care about free stuff and abhor monetization.  The problem with Vanguard is that it was transformed into a wow clone late in the game.  We don't want (1) quest hubs, (2) insta-click quests (which no one reads) that provide the only practical path of character advancement, (3) zounds of equipment, each of which has dozens of stats.    

Until these fundamentals change, expect the game to stay sparsely populated.

 
 
 
 

P L A N E T S I D E 1 is up !! check PS1 forum for link to current installer.
Luckily, i don't need you to like me to enjoy video games. -nariusseldon.
In F2P I think it's more a case of the game's trying to play the player's. -laserit
video game company layoffs are twice the national average.

  kevjards

Apprentice Member

Joined: 9/27/10
Posts: 1443

5/10/13 2:50:51 PM#5
Originally posted by koboldfodder

Vanguard was doomed from the start.  There were some serious problems going on behind the scenes.  What was miraculous was that they actually got SOE to outright buy Vanguard.  SOE already had one flop-fest on their hands with SWG and it looked like the just bought another one.  That, and the fact EQ2 was barely saved, really made SOE look bad.

 

They actually turned Vanguard into a solid game.  Obviously that never translated into any tangible sales.  This is the game people point to where you can say "you give a MMO a month or two and once people leave they do not come back".  People usually came back to SWG because it was Star Wars.  No one came back to Vanguard.  It's dead Jim.

 

Vanguard was more similar to original EQ than any other MMO at that point.  That was the whole point of the game, to go back to what original EQ did so well.  Depending on groups.  You could solo some (now you can solo up to the highest level) but back in the day you really had to group or it was slim pickens.

 

Vanguard had severe technical problems that rivaled SWG.  Actually, those problems outdid SWGs problems because they actually fixed that game.  They never really fixed Vanguard.  They had to re-do some of the graphical meshes because they really messed up performance.  The races sort of changed, it was not as customizable as it was on release. 

But there were two problems that game had and still has today.  The chunking problem (when you loaded different areas) was an eyesore as well as the object loadings in view.  It was very small and things would just pop into view right in front of your eyes.  The game does not hold up well today, unlike other MMOs of that era.

 

But if you could get past the technical glitches, you had an excellent game at its core.  Three ways to level.  Adventure, Craft or the totally unique (and awesome) Diplomacy.  Sure, the crafting and diplomacy were not finished until much later but it was a lot of fun to be just a crafter or diplomat.  Vanguard crafting is still one of the great crafting systems in any MMO.  It is not on the level of SWG or EVE or Horizons, but its only one step lower.

 

But the true greatness of Vanguard was the class system.  It had, and still has, some of the best classes and class mechanics of any MMO.

 

And the best was the healers.  Up to that point, playing a healer was awful.  Vanguard made healers fun.  The Blood Mage was a squishy, cloth wearer who had unique heal/buff transfers.  The Shaman was a wonderful class, alot like WOW's Druid/Shaman classes.  The Cleric was the standard heavy armor wearing cleric but could actually tank a bit.  And one of the great MMO classes of all time was the Disciple, a monk/healer hybrid.

 

No game since has had as good healer classes as Vanguard, not even close.  The other classes were very well done, but the Healer classes were s stroke of genius.

 

Boats, three big continents, open world housing also were there but other games had those.  You played Vanguard because you wanted to be challenged like you were in EQ.

 

 

totally agree..I would love to see this game made again .same areas ,same classes,same races,same starting areas.but it will never happen..had the best 2 yrs of my gaming life playing this game..which for me was a miracle considering I wanted to play this after getting sick of WOW.

I was kind of hoping eqnext would be like this..well it might be in difficulty but that will be the only thing that's the same.

  Arglebargle

Hard Core Member

Joined: 6/13/07
Posts: 1053

5/10/13 2:53:46 PM#6

A few years ago I picked up a cheap Deluxe Edition of the game, and then subbed for another three months afterwards.  Was really surprised at how well done parts of the game were.   The only problems I have in going back is that I have totally forgotten how to play the game.  Even with a L22 character, this was tough.

 

It's a great game for a hardcore crafter....I think.  I found the crafting to be kinda impenetrable, but there was obviously a lot of depth there.   And getting a number of items from the markets, crafter built goods were often better than drops, and each one had the name of the builder on it, so you could patronize specific makers.   I loved the Diplomacy aspect, and ended up being pretty decent at it.  It was a clever subsystem in the game.

 

Graphics and animations could be better, certainly, but if the gameplay is good, those don't matter as much.  Given that the game has not had a lot of support until recently, that shouldn't be too surprising.  In a way, Vanguard is a time capsule for its era, and a game that, if it had been more competantly handled out of the gate, could have been a major player.

If you are holding out for the perfect game, the only game you play will be the waiting one.

  Methos12

Advanced Member

Joined: 9/05/08
Posts: 1197

Its better to be quiet and perceived as stupid, than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.

5/10/13 2:59:32 PM#7
Originally posted by Arclan

SOE misjudged Vanguard's audience hugely and it cost them countless $millions.  We don't care about free stuff and abhor monetization.  The problem with Vanguard is that it was transformed into a wow clone late in the game.  We don't want (1) quest hubs, (2) insta-click quests (which no one reads) that provide the only practical path of character advancement, (3) zounds of equipment, each of which has dozens of stats.    

Until these fundamentals change, expect the game to stay sparsely populated.

I doubt they misjudged anything considering they acquired the game when it was still in development after Microsoft saw what kind of development hell it was in and bailed out. It was a calculated move to eliminate EQ2's rival.

Nature without Technology is little more than animals running about.
Nature without Magic is without wonder or miracle.
.........
Magic without Technology is fantasy.
Magic without Nature is formless and useless.
.........
Technology without Nature is application without understanding.
Technology without Magic is repetitious and uninventive.

  Valentina

Advanced Member

Joined: 5/28/06
Posts: 1660

5/10/13 3:36:09 PM#8
They're actually working on a huge upgrade to the network overlay & engine to upgrade everything from the graphics & art (both environment & character), animations, and revamping & updating certain systems.  On the forums the devs said it should be in testing by June, and once that's added into the game, they will be rolling out the various & much larger revamps and upgrades.
 
So I would honestly wait until they get to that area of upgrading & revamping before re-reviewing it for ones self.
 
 
 
**EDIT***
 
I lied, they just updated the game yesterday with the network revamp. So I guess they're a bit ahead of schedule. 
  Nevulus

Apprentice Member

Joined: 8/23/06
Posts: 1202

5/10/13 3:54:48 PM#9
"Vanguard was what we once wanted this genre to be but perhaps never will again", so true Christopher. Thank you for a great article, I find them rare nowadays on this site. 
  nuttob

Novice Member

Joined: 10/25/11
Posts: 222

5/10/13 4:17:00 PM#10
I will never forget purchasing this game when it first came out.  My computer could run Eq1 and WOW without any major problems, so I assumed I had enough of a computer to play Vanguard.  Installed the game, changed the graphics settings to the lowest level after noticing problems, and it still ran at around 5 frames a minute.  Yes a minute.  Not having the thousands required to buy a computer sufficient to run the game, I uninstalled and realized I just wasted $50...
  Arakazi

Hard Core Member

Joined: 5/23/09
Posts: 833

5/10/13 4:29:12 PM#11
It there was a game that we describe as being stillborn it is Vanguard. Too many issues on release that took too long to fix and by the time it was fixed the world moved on and forgot that Vanguard was there. There are still minor issues with the game such as awful character models, getting stuck and seeing the insides of your toon's head. But with Vanguard, you get an insight of the potential for MMOs to create virtual words. Unfortunately the game came well short of what it could be.

  Daranar

Apprentice Member

Joined: 11/22/11
Posts: 164

5/10/13 5:30:38 PM#12
Originally posted by Gnarv
To me it is also a jewel. But alas the masses have spoken and what they wanted, and time revealed it was not VG, was Theme parks. They wanted easy, predictable, accessible, less time consuming design that in the end demands less of the gamer. The gameworlds themselves die, they loose their mystery, we know what is comming around next corner, and why should we care? Whatever we find will be something that we will be able to run over blindfolded, and if a miracle should happen and we die, then we respawn 5 yards away - and this time there is just no way you will make that huge a mistake. 

I could not disagree more.   Numbers at launch for this game were huge, because alas the masses spoke!  This is the kind of game we wanted!   All of us of swarmed Telon and were indeed met with a wonderful game,  I would argue one of the best worlds since the original Norrath, however it was so deeply masked and hidden behind spiderwebs of bugs, poor optimization, numerous crashes, and oh yeah, a barebone dev team just months after launch.   Unlike games now where people spam general chat about how terrible the game is before they rage quit, the common ringing in my ear (err chatbox) was how terrible the optimization was and the bugs, and the stabilization of the client.   The classes were the last in-depth classes we have seen in MMOs, one of the last games to feature over 10 uniquely different classes at launch (not SWTOR's 4 cloned classes to call it 8).   It had everything we always are whining and begging for on these forums....except for a half stable launch.

If this game proves anything, its not that we want theme parks like WoW, it is that a botched launch and poor optimization can utterly ruin a game right out of the gates.

If I want a world in which people can purchase success and power with cash, I'll play Real Life. Keep Virtual Worlds Virtual!

  Dagon13

Apprentice Member

Joined: 8/16/07
Posts: 168

5/10/13 5:34:13 PM#13

Despite it's problems some of my favorite MMO memories are from Vanguard.  We played on a PVP server and ultimately left due to low population.  Shortly after we left the servers were merged and our PVP ruleset was trashed in favor of free for all.

There were frustrating moments but I really feel like some of the bugs lent themselves to the fun.  We used to play in a Deathknight/Shaman duo and would invade the Elven race settlements on the border with our Vulmane race.  I remember running for our lives with 30+ enemies in tow.  My shaman friend was so fast he would just outrun everyone while I would be taking hits while he'd run back and forth to heal me.  Thanks to a shadow step ability and a syncing bug my deathknight would desync with the server so my character was never really where I or my enemies could see him.

We'd keep running until we hit a "chunk" at which point we would watch 50% of the players chasing us fall through the ground to their deaths because "chunking" was so bad.  We'd continue until we'd reach a bridge crossing a chasm.  There were a couple panels of the bridge were bugged, and even though you could see them there wasn't actually any bridge there.  We'd hop over it and watch the remaining enemies plummet into the waterfall below and thanks to the current get washed out to sea.  It was a several hour trek for them to get back.  

It's hard to appreciate without experiencing, but I have many hilarious memories like this from Vanguard.  I often think of the good times we had and ponder trying again, but it just isn't the same game anymore.

  kevjards

Apprentice Member

Joined: 9/27/10
Posts: 1443

5/10/13 5:40:39 PM#14
Originally posted by Daranar
Originally posted by Gnarv
To me it is also a jewel. But alas the masses have spoken and what they wanted, and time revealed it was not VG, was Theme parks. They wanted easy, predictable, accessible, less time consuming design that in the end demands less of the gamer. The gameworlds themselves die, they loose their mystery, we know what is comming around next corner, and why should we care? Whatever we find will be something that we will be able to run over blindfolded, and if a miracle should happen and we die, then we respawn 5 yards away - and this time there is just no way you will make that huge a mistake. 

I could not disagree more.   Numbers at launch for this game were huge, because alas the masses spoke!  This is the kind of game we wanted!   All of us of swarmed Telon and were indeed met with a wonderful game,  I would argue one of the best worlds since the original Norrath, however it was so deeply masked and hidden behind spiderwebs of bugs, poor optimization, numerous crashes, and oh yeah, a barebone dev team just months after launch.   Unlike games now where people spam general chat about how terrible the game is before they rage quit, the common ringing in my ear (err chatbox) was how terrible the optimization was and the bugs, and the stabilization of the client.   The classes were the last in-depth classes we have seen in MMOs, one of the last games to feature over 10 uniquely different classes at launch (not SWTOR's 4 cloned classes to call it 8).   It had everything we always are whining and begging for on these forums....except for a half stable launch.

If this game proves anything, its not that we want theme parks like WoW, it is that a botched launch and poor optimization can utterly ruin a game right out of the gates.

I agree..on launch there were about 500,000 people bought this game and it had tons of servers..only problem was the game was broken..most of the stuff didn't work..saying that though..the world was beautiful and huge.its an explorers paradise.the crafting was amazing and still is..the character models were bad but you could tolerate that because of what the game was.i would dearly love for someone to make a game like this again with so much depth..and completely open world.

  monarc333

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5/10/13 6:15:24 PM#15
Great game that is past it's time. I wish some brave company would take Vanguard and spruce up the graphics and game engine. 
  Vannor

Hard Core Member

Joined: 8/11/03
Posts: 2979

5/10/13 7:12:28 PM#16

I'm thinking about a station pass for planetside 2 and dcuo. If I do get one I'll definitely be giving VG a go again. I won't play for free though..eq2 and vg restricting the good items in the game is ridiculous.

 
  DeaconX

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5/10/13 7:16:30 PM#17
Originally posted by koboldfodder

Vanguard was doomed from the start.  There were some serious problems going on behind the scenes.  What was miraculous was that they actually got SOE to outright buy Vanguard.  SOE already had one flop-fest on their hands with SWG and it looked like the just bought another one.  That, and the fact EQ2 was barely saved, really made SOE look bad.

 

They actually turned Vanguard into a solid game.  Obviously that never translated into any tangible sales.  This is the game people point to where you can say "you give a MMO a month or two and once people leave they do not come back".  People usually came back to SWG because it was Star Wars.  No one came back to Vanguard.  It's dead Jim.

 

Vanguard was more similar to original EQ than any other MMO at that point.  That was the whole point of the game, to go back to what original EQ did so well.  Depending on groups.  You could solo some (now you can solo up to the highest level) but back in the day you really had to group or it was slim pickens.

 

Vanguard had severe technical problems that rivaled SWG.  Actually, those problems outdid SWGs problems because they actually fixed that game.  They never really fixed Vanguard.  They had to re-do some of the graphical meshes because they really messed up performance.  The races sort of changed, it was not as customizable as it was on release. 

But there were two problems that game had and still has today.  The chunking problem (when you loaded different areas) was an eyesore as well as the object loadings in view.  It was very small and things would just pop into view right in front of your eyes.  The game does not hold up well today, unlike other MMOs of that era.

 

But if you could get past the technical glitches, you had an excellent game at its core.  Three ways to level.  Adventure, Craft or the totally unique (and awesome) Diplomacy.  Sure, the crafting and diplomacy were not finished until much later but it was a lot of fun to be just a crafter or diplomat.  Vanguard crafting is still one of the great crafting systems in any MMO.  It is not on the level of SWG or EVE or Horizons, but its only one step lower.

 

But the true greatness of Vanguard was the class system.  It had, and still has, some of the best classes and class mechanics of any MMO.

 

And the best was the healers.  Up to that point, playing a healer was awful.  Vanguard made healers fun.  The Blood Mage was a squishy, cloth wearer who had unique heal/buff transfers.  The Shaman was a wonderful class, alot like WOW's Druid/Shaman classes.  The Cleric was the standard heavy armor wearing cleric but could actually tank a bit.  And one of the great MMO classes of all time was the Disciple, a monk/healer hybrid.

 

No game since has had as good healer classes as Vanguard, not even close.  The other classes were very well done, but the Healer classes were s stroke of genius.

 

Boats, three big continents, open world housing also were there but other games had those.  You played Vanguard because you wanted to be challenged like you were in EQ.

 

 

This man knows his stuff. Completely agree. Thanks for saving me a lot of time and typing by posting this.


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BOYCOTTING EA / ORIGIN going forward.

  zwei2

Advanced Member

Joined: 8/02/08
Posts: 337

5/10/13 7:31:37 PM#18
Originally posted by Valentina
They're actually working on a huge upgrade to the network overlay & engine to upgrade everything from the graphics & art (both environment & character), animations, and revamping & updating certain systems.  On the forums the devs said it should be in testing by June, and once that's added into the game, they will be rolling out the various & much larger revamps and upgrades.
 
So I would honestly wait until they get to that area of upgrading & revamping before re-reviewing it for ones self.
 
 
 
**EDIT***
 
I lied, they just updated the game yesterday with the network revamp. So I guess they're a bit ahead of schedule. 


It is great to see SOE is improving Vanguard. Now the real challenge is to invite people to play the game...

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  Tuor7

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Joined: 3/09/06
Posts: 741

5/10/13 11:18:53 PM#19
Originally posted by zwei2

It is great to see SOE is improving Vanguard. Now the real challenge is to invite people to play the game...

It won't help. The name was tarnished beyond repair after the dreadful launch. In the MMO world, it is *very* rare for any game to come back after badly flubbing its launch. Vanguard was, as has been said earlier, a greatly anticipated game. Even after the ugliness regarding the dev and the producers (Microsoft then SOE), there was still a lot of hope it would be a great game. When that sort of hope and anticipation is crushed so thoroughly, that's it for the game ever becoming a big player in the future. It might still hang around, as Vanguard has, but it'll never be great or well-populated. That's just how it is.

  Maquiame

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Joined: 8/21/07
Posts: 623

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5/11/13 12:12:06 AM#20
Its a goddamn shame that Sony never did a FFXIV:ARR with this game.

Any mmo worth its salt should be like a good prostitute when it comes to its game world- One hell of a faker, and a damn good shaker!

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