Tuesday, March 10

I'm ok, you're ok, VG-soh is ok too

As it turns out, in an act of similar thinking Phèdre and myself did the exact same thing. Namely, sneak back unto the world of Telon without telling the other.
Telon for the unitiated is the world of Vanguard, Saga of Heroes the ill-fated MMO project by Sigil Online né SOE. We both decided to keep quiet about it until such time as we'd determined it's once again fun and then invite the other in. Or something along those lines anyway. I'd planned to do a surprise Blog Post about it today, but Phèdre managed to beat me to it.

I must admit, I ventured out into the world of Telon with great trepidation and second thoughts about it.
But, since the beginning of the year, since I/we quit Age of Conan to be honest, I've been a bit adrift in the land of MMO's. I'm probably having pretty much the same issue as Phèdre. Since I quit AoC in August/September I've spent about 10 times as much cash on games as when I'm enbroiled in MMO(s). And that's not including the XBox360 purchase price. On the MMO side of things I tried Warhammer Online post launch and though it was and is fun, it wasn't that much fun to keep playing after over a year of of and on Closed Beta fo the EU side. Phèdre never came that way, which may have contributed to my lack of enthusiasm. I then lost myself for a while doing Fable II and Fallout 3 and maybe some other Generic-IP-with-serial-number. We then tried Anarchy Online for a bit but it's still a bit hardcorer-than-thou but without the great support and community it once had.

At the turning of the year I started to try out some old haunts. I even tried my old Lineage II account. Wasted money. EverQuest II is still a fun game, but the great community is all in the final end-zones of the latest expansion and again Phèdre in her wisdom wouldn't be persuaded, probably because she was already leaning towards Vanguard. In February we resubscribed to Age of Conan. While that was fun for about one Tortuage run and a Level 20-35 run through Wildlands, Old Tarantia's sewers and Noble District and finall the Fields of the Dead, that 'been there, done that' feeling was rapidly pervading everything. As great as the game is and as beautiful as the world is, it needs aproximately 3 times the content it now has, with all the latest additions counted. A real shame, EQ-2 does a great many things right.

But Vanguard. I'd been putting that off for a long time. Despite all the fun I had with the game and especially playing out the characters of Kettle (slightly overweight Halfling Cleric - brings her own muffins) who started the whole "It was looking at me funny" meme and Coilla "We was born to be Green! - Born to be mean!" Gud who married the Ogre on the docks of her island that tosses you to the harbor on the mainland. For reference, I've done 2 separate revisits to Norrath (EQ-2) since quitting Vanguard one and a half years ago.
In many ways Vanguard was the most intense MMO experience I had so far. But that wasn't all a good thing. I might be opening up old wounds, though that sounds a bit to melodramatic. I didn't quit in rage or pain or sorrow. I'd just gotten tired of waiting for the game to live up to it's potential.

There was the frustration with the technical issues of the to contend with. The community that was doing its very best to tear itself apart over hardcore/casual polarization and interpretations of the morphinated "Vision" (now a dirty word) of Brad McQuaid. The continuing soap series that was Sigil Online becoming SOE and then being understandably and not surprisingly cut up by SOE. The efforts and drama of two guilds. The second a lot more fun than the firstyet it ultimately failed after the gargantuan effort to attain not just a Guild Hall, but the Biggest baddest Guild Hall there was. The drama of coping with certain role- (I roleplay a condescending bastard mage and an arrogant jerk bard, please don't roleplay being offended or really be offended by it, I'm a nice guy really) players. Seriously, this is the first and (hopefully) last game ever to cause me stress and not in a good way.
In the end, the game itself just failed to live upto it's potential and I got tired of putting up with all the frustrations while waiting for that potential. So it was with some irony that one of the first comments on the global chat of the newbie island was some newbie commenting on the fact that the game had so much potential that it's a shame more people aren't giving it a try so that it might one day reach it.

The new newbie starting island, an SOE classic that, is very good. But then again, that was never the problem for most races. (Though some got rushed in) The Orc/Goblin starter town has a perfect blend of adventuring, diplomacy and crafting quests all rolled up into one central plotline. It's a real shame there's a content gap between levels 15 and 20, forcing you to go abroad to the mainland which is completely KoS, and if you return for the last bit of content at level 20 you need a group for it and the patience to wait for a boss mob that spawns every 2 hours, looks around for a bit and pops out again after 5-10 minutes. Leaving the technical issues aside for the moment, the real 'pain' started after level 20, when progression slows down, quests with stories are far and few between and you end up traveling the world to meet interesting people and kill them for no apparent reason. It's not all that bad of course. Mostly there's a few bits and pieces of lore that explain why some group of mole-like creatures wants to kill you on site, but the world did lack that a cohesive whole. it's "hardcore"-ish that way. Not nearly as hard as say Anarchy Online, but close. Maybe the perfect mix for me?
I dunno yet.

Why the title then?
Because last night while playing with Phèdre I realized that some of the things that I would've expected to be frustrating all over again, weren't. I could take a relaxed attitude towards several 'pain points' of the past. That's good. I'm ok, so's Vanguard and so are you.

Besides, that potential is still there. There's the improve-as-you-use-them Skills. There's the Skill points you can divide after levelling and forget about 2 out of 3 levels. There's the Stances allowing many classes to switch between stances more suitable to solo or group. Or to switch between DPS and Support, which can be the same thing. There's that sense of great freedom you get when riding a Horse / Camel / Unicorn / Wolfhound / Wyvern or Racial Mount across (or above) the open plains of Qalia which no other MMO manages, not even Age of Conan which admittedly has even more lush scenery. It's something to do with the sky I think. Even with volumetric clouds off, as those can make the difference between 6 and 33 FPS, they're somehow more majestic. There's the Crafting system that's more than dragging components together, there's the Diplomacy sub-game. there's grinding your stumps for a special or racial mount.

Phè's so much wiser than I am. She went straight for new alts, I on the other hand couldn't start up the game and not plow Qalian dirt with Kettle riding of Two-hump the camel. There were some pangs. Like Kettle's Cabin having been demolished with all its contents (including three expensive chests with savekeeping loot) and the Ahgram Foreign Legion is no more. Kettle still had three spare uniforms in the bank. Getting a tell from Suga, long lost muffin tossing contest partner within seconds of logging in was a hoot though. I'm not sure I will be able to leave her alone hereafter eventhough I do belief in Phè's wisdom. It's kinda like nostalgia on steroïds. I'm pretty sure no new character will be as vibrantly alive as those two were for me.

But what I'm trying to say is that it wasn't as bad as I feared. Even though the came isn't anywhere near the smooth, seamless world once advertised, I can see myself having fun with the world of Telon again, at least for a while. I'm not saying it'll last another 8 months but I'm allowing myself to be mildly optimistic.


  1. One day I'll make a succinct post and you all will hate it :-)

  2. On a side note, I nearly completed World of Goo while waiting for the game download. I bought it somewhere online. I.e. digital distribution, so I had to pull the whole friggin' 30 GB through the updater.

  3. Currently installing the 14 day trial, seems that all servers are reported as down at the moment, typical of my timing :)

  4. They have been down for three days now :)
    Just ignore that and log in.
    We are playing on Seradon as Twanni and Taqe.

  5. Aye, that particular setting has a habit of meaning the exact opposite of what it shows. Dunno why. But it was the same way back then.

    P.s. Sindon says 'Hi'

  6. mmm ok so I've created a toon but the graphics aren't rendering properly, everyone is 'walking' at 100mph, none of the interface windows close and it keeps crashing to desktop?

  7. well thnx for inviting me to group, shame I couldnt respond before I crashed out again :( Giving up for a while now, nothing works, I've only had the full lanscape render once during countless logins and normal speed maybe twice, this is one seriously bad buggy first go :(

  8. Oww, that a shame Geek :-(
    Those issues sound a lot like some people experienced at launch. Shouldn't be happening now, certainly not with your PC fully capable of running AoC. Vg takes more out of your PC somehow, but not that much.
    It is very heavy on memory/Harddisk access though. Without knowing anything about your system I can only recommend a Disk Defrag to speed that up some, run a full filescan in the updater itself first and don't run any apps in the background just in case.