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Event: Brad McQuaid & Jeff Butler

Jon Wood Posted:
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In San Diego, Sigil speaks about travel, diplomacy, SOE and more

I had an interesting experience this past week, when I flew from Halifax to San Diego to attend an event being hosted by the people at Sigil Games and SOE for the upcoming MMORPG, Vanguard: Saga of Heroes.

When we arrived at the event, we were treated to a viewing of the game, as we watched the screens as someone controlled the avatars, we listened to Sigil President and Executive Producer Jeff Butler and Sigil CEO and Executive Producer Brad McQuaid as they discussed the game and answered questions from those reporters in the audience.

Immediately upon seeing the game in action, I was blown away by the graphics, from the realistically blowing trees and grass to the impressive horizon, which we were told holds actual locations in-game. In general, they said, any place that you can see on the screen, even in the distance, can be reached, either through walking, flying mounts, or by some other means. While you might not have instant access to everything, the developers want to give people at least a look at what's out there so that they will be curious, and strive to find a way.

Speaking of flying mounts, because it was the most efficient way to show us the game world, nearly the entire demo took place while flying on one. Naturally, that sparked some good information on them and their place in the game. Watching the gameplay, it was inevitable that people would start asking questions. We learned that it was likely that the flying mounts would probably not have unlimited stamina, which means that they would only be able to fly for a certain distance before becoming "tired" and having to rest. Flight is also not a "free pass" for travel. There are NPCs and monsters that fly, who can and probably will attack you, possibly knocking you from your seat which can be pretty dangerous from any height (Oh yeah, I forgot to mention, characters take falling damage as well).

While we're talking about one mode of travel, we may as well talk about them all. With a world as large as the one in Vanguard, and a seamless one at that, travel is one of those things that is going to become an issue. There appear to be four different modes of travel: flying mounts (as we talked about above), land based mounts (we saw some cool-looking horses), one's own two feet (for the exercise), and sea-based travel. Boats are another area that received a lot of extra attention in the showing. With the vast oceans, we are told that there will be teleporters available so that players don't have to spend hours on the open seas to reach a destination. From what I understood, they will be fixed location teleporters that will be placed in different locations in the water. We were also told that there would be no ship to ship combat at launch, and that was clarified when they told us that you could be boarded (or board someone else's ship), but the actual ships themselves would not be firing cannons and ramming one another. Crafters will also be pleased to hear that these boats are actually craftable items.

As many people will tell you, in order for a game to be successful in a crowded MMORPG fantasy market, it has to have some kind of hook, something new and exciting, to get players interested and to keep their interest. Vanguard seems to take this into account with their new Diplomacy system, which joins Adventuring and Crafting as areas for advancement. Diplomacy is meant to give the cities more meaning.

"No matter how great an adventurer you are," it was explained to us, "you can't just force your way in to see the king, you need to look the part, you need to have the diplomacy abilities."

This means that diplomacy will provide avenues for gameplay that adventuring can not provide.

Each character in the game will be allowed to own one home in a designated location. While there will be "lots of options" for player housing, near the safety of the city or in the seclusion of the wilds, ultimately, it's the developers who decide what areas can be built upon. One of the nice features of housing is the fact that they are not instanced zones, but rather exist openly along with the rest of the world. There is an expectation that there will be a housing market, as players compete for and trade for the most desired locations.

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Jon Wood