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Bladewir's Bellowing Blog

I'm back! I usually blog about MMORPGs and my experiences with them here, as well as other topics at my other blog located at

Author: MMOPlaya

The MMORPG Shining Star of 2007

Posted by MMOPlaya Saturday December 15 2007 at 11:19PM
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Well friends, it's hard to believe that another year is about to close.  As far as MMORPG's go, it was a fairly stale and bland year.  We've seen premier titles launch, and we've even seen a few close up shop.  I guess you could say we've run the entire gamut in 2007.  However, in my humble opinion there was one particular title that shined through as the diamond in the rough in 2007:


We begin our journey with a rocky and tumoltuous start.  A man by the name of Brad McQuaid, co-founder of a small company called Sigil,  promised the MMO community that his new game, that had been in the works for several years now was going to take the industry by storm with it's innovative and free-form (sandbox) play features.  The man had the vision AND the experience behind him to pull it off, and he was an excellent salesman and public relations guy.  However, Vanguard: Saga of Heroes, probably due to it's epic and grandioise nature was simply not ready to be released in it's current state.  And he and his company were broke.

So what do you do when you are broke?  If you have faith in your product, you try to get more money by any means possible.  If you don't want to see your vision vaporize you do what you can to save it.  So he releases the game to the world on January 20th, 2007 to what could be called a "playable, but unfinished state."

However, before passing final judgement on this title in it's initially released state, and nit-picking at the smaller complaints, lets take a look back at what actually IS included in the original vision of the game, most of which is now currently in-game or on the list to be added sometime in the future: 

  • A massive, unique, beautiful, non-instanced, 3-D game world sprawling across 3 separate land masses, with large oceans of water between them.  And there is room to grow.  The devs created the world with expansions in mind, so that they could add land/content above and below the current land masses, as well as in the oceans.
  • Dynamic weather
  • Personal ships
  • Personal mounts
  • Personal flying mounts
  • Player built and owned Housing and real estate (non-instanced)
  • A crafting system that is 2nd to none in innovation and creativity
  • Player controlled harvesting of resourses
  • An actual stake in in-game politics, known as Diplomacy
  • A full featured guild system, along with player built guild halls
  • 18 professions and 9 races
  • 1 character could take up and fully explore not only their chosen profession, but be a crafter, harvestor and diplomat in addition.  No need to roll new characters to pursue any of these avenues.
  • Brotherhoods (aka Fellowships in early game) so you and your friends could level together regardless of your actual time played
  • Caravans due to the enormous size of the game world, it allows roleplayers the ability to travel the length of the quest even while not logged into the game (i.e. your party stays constant and uninturrupted)

Most of the above items are very unique to this game and are firsts in the genre.  I did not elaborate too much on the breadth and scope of each of the above but you get the general idea.  The mere fact that the game world is non-instanced means it's special.  I challenge anyone to compare item by item, Vanguard: Saga of Heroes and any of the existing MMO's out there right now.  I don't mean games that are up and coming, but MMO's that are currently released.  I'd say you would have a hard time doing so.

So hype was up at it's release and it seemed destined for success based on initial sales and subscriptions.  MMO players were happy to see a hard-core, sandbox, open game like Vanguard come to market.  One that reminded them of McQuaid's first release, Everquest.  It brought back that feeling of wonder that the original EQ did back in it's heyday.

Then the game's ultimate problems with peformance and lag finally settled in, along with the many player's discovering that many quests were broken, content was not finished, and even some of the promised game features weren't in-game at release.  I can't hide the fact that it was a disaster - everyone knew it.  Including Sigil and ultimately McQuaid.  Initial subscriber numbers were in, and it was decided that it just wasn't enough to keep the game afloat under the Sigil banner.  The complaints started raining down hard, and every Tom, Dick and Harry in the gaming community began posting how bad the game was and how Sigil basically should be ashamed of itself and should not have released such an unfinished product.  It also became apparent that the game really needed a heavily spec'ed out computer to run it comfortably.  It became a nightmare, and Vanguard's very young reputation became tarnished almost overnight.

This is where Sony Online Entertainment (SOE) steps in.  Due to the already established relationship between Sigil / SOE and their management teams (i.e. SOE was the publisher for Vanguard and provided back-end support for the game for Sigil) it was an easy marriage.  SOE agreed to buy the IP from Sigil, saving it from almost impending doom and gloom.  Now, I know there are a LOT of people out there who dislike SOE for various reasons ( I'm not one of them), but to those who really like Vanguard, they are the one's to save it's arse.  The game was financially rescued, however at a cost of some of the key people who developed the game.  Essentially everyone at Sigil was fired and most were re-hired by SOE to continue on it's legacy.

Since SOE's involvement, the game has improved 300%.  I challenge anyone who actually plays the game (I'm not talking about someone who has played the game for 2 weeks and cancelled...I mean people like me who have played since launch) to say it hasn't improved.  First of all, performance has impressively gotten better and frame rates have improved. 

The new team is working very hard at fixing bugs and broken quests as well as creating new content in the form of not only dungeon type raids, but overland raids.  They have merged the servers to a manageable amount and therefore the populations of each server has increased.  Finding groups is a lot easier and they have given the players new tools to help with this.  In addition, there has been ongoing work on a trial island type scenario that will be released as a "free trial" to the game.  They are playing it smart by fully optimizing the trial island to run smoothly and then use it as a base to re-texture the entire game world so that it's performance is increased overall. 

Subscriber numbers appear to be going up and word of mouth on forums like these are spreading the newly found joy and love that the devs are giving us.  People who left the game in disgust have come back to give it another go and are liking it.  I say without hesitation that after almost a full year, the game is much, much better.  I highly suggest that anyone interested in a game of this scope and size give it a try.  Coming in the next few months will be the "Free-Trial Island".  Be on the lookout for that.  Keep reading the forums for people who are again enjoying this fascinating and ground-breaking game.  It can only get better from here.

It is therefore, in this experienced MMO player's opinion, that Vanguard: Saga of Heroes deserves the MMORPG Shining Star Award of 2007 for it's innovation, and it's ressurrection from near death, into a shiny diamond found in the rough world of MMOs.


Thanks for reading.  If you like what you read here, I would love for you to come by my website and participate in the discussions there.  Thanks!

Trollstar writes:

No.  Just no.  VG may be many things, but 'shining star of 2007' is not one of them. (honor probably goes to LotRO)

Many of the features you mention have yet to be fully (or properly) implemented.  And while there's been much improvement, there's still so far to go.

Sun Dec 16 2007 3:14AM Report
daylight01 writes:

Hmm sorry I cant say it was "the shining star of 2007 "either,it was just to much of a let down,Most improved game of 2007?That it could be with alot people saying how better it is now,I will find out for myself on tuesday when they are giving old players some free-time to judge the game now.

Sun Dec 16 2007 5:18AM Report
Owyn writes:

Have to agree with the other commenters.  Sorry - Vanguard made the "Top 10 Worst MMO Releases Ever" list.  It was not a shining star.

A very pretty pile of fewmets still stinks.

Adding tons of interesting features will not help save your game, if your game has boring, trite content AND is unplayable on most client machines.  Vanguard felt to me like someone asked "what would happen if we tacked a modern graphics engine onto EQ1 circa 1999?"

Answer: the game would not run on most machines, and those players whose machines it WOULD run on were precisely the people who would be least interested, having already experienced that sort of content 2-3 or more times.

Sun Dec 16 2007 9:14AM Report
EliasThorne writes:

As a VG player I have to agree - its very good, hugely improved (top credit to SOE for the work they've done) but it still doesn't run as well as games such as LotR on my system.

It is however one of the better games to come out (that I've played) and has huge potential, I just suspect that its repuation cannot be salvaged, its sort of like trying food when you're a kid - you hate ot so you never try again...

Sun Dec 16 2007 10:01AM Report
Hrica writes:

Well, I have mixed feelings. What the game hyped, I wanted. What its was/is is a totally different cup of tea. Seemed more like a marketing scam to me in a way. I won't believe the hype on any game ever again because of VG, neither will I buy a game without playing the trial.

If this game deserves any award, It would be scam of the year.....

Sun Dec 16 2007 10:16AM Report
MMOPlaya writes:

First off, thanks for your comments / opinions. I knew there would be some majorly bitter people out there who just can't seem to grasp my main point, at the game's core, what Vanguard offers vs. what other games offer.  People seem to just flat out refuse to see past their $49.99 + first included month of play and appreciate the overall scope of what Vanguard is and will be in the near future. 

Games HAVE to start somewhere folks, most games don't even make it out the gate, and in the case of Vanguard it was lucky to have gotten this far.  It also means that there ARE people who are playing and enjoying the game.  I'm willing to bet that 80% of the responders to this blog entry as of this post, don't currently have a Vanguard subscription, and cancelled after the first month.  My post was more aimed at people who have stuck it out since launch, comparing Vanguard to the other games available this year, and comparitively how it has improved vastly since launch.

But please remember, this is after all my blog, and my opinion.  Your mileage may vary.  Thanks for reading!

Sun Dec 16 2007 11:27AM Report
SwampRob writes:


Hmmm.    I have never played Vanguard, being turned off by all the bad press.   Your column indicates to me that it might be worth a try, however....

It's ridiculous for any MMO these days not to have a free trial from the very start.   There is no chance whatsoever that I will spend $50 on a game these days that doesn't even have a free demo available.

I do not have the latest and greatest computer.  Yet I can and do play many MMOs on what I have, including everything from Wow to TR to HGL, etc.   If my machine can handle these games but not Vanguard then shame on their developers for not including enough settings to let it be played on an older machine.

So, please come back and tell me when both conditions are met, and I'll give the game a try.


Sun Dec 16 2007 11:36AM Report
Shohadaku writes:

Ugg, groundbreaking? Nothing in Vanguard is groundbreaking.

As for SOE. Maybe they did this game well, but sorry SOE burned me too much ruining years of my time in SWG. I'll never play another SOE product no matter what it is.

Sun Dec 16 2007 12:56PM Report
Shohadaku writes:

Also. You fail to mention the many millions of dollars Sigil managed to waiste causing Microsoft to bail. They had their chance and mis managed it.

Sun Dec 16 2007 12:59PM Report
MMOPlaya writes:

Shohadaku, I'll give you a freebie.   You don't consider an entire gameworld, including the oceans, being 100% non-instanced to be groundbreaking? C'mon mate!

Sun Dec 16 2007 2:55PM Report
Firedorn writes:

Shining star?  No way.  Polished into a diamond?  Pretty close to what I would say (maybe not a diamond, but getting there)  I recently tried VG again and WAS pleasanlty surprised at the changes and such.  I canned my sub due to RL issues, but will probably join again.  When the trial is out, I suspect (and encourage) a lot people will give it a shot.

Nice post...but no "Shining Star" award...not IMO.  Imagine if it DID deliver what it promised at release, where it would now be...a year later.  Then it could contend as Shining Star. =D

Sun Dec 16 2007 7:57PM Report
soulwynd writes:

The shining star of 2007 was my patience.

Mon Dec 17 2007 8:33AM Report
BoWMyris writes:

lol this was probably the wrong website to post this, but i agree completly, screw the forum trolls, go back to WoW all of you

Tue Dec 25 2007 8:50AM Report
Kenze writes:

A+ for dropping all the right PR words

F- for factual representation of Vanguard

Wed Jan 09 2008 10:36AM Report writes:
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