Saturday, January 12, 2013

Second Wind: Vanguard Saga of Heroes

"I think I'll start by stating the obvious. Vanguard is six years old, and it has not aged particularly gracefully. Now here's an interesting tidbit about me: I hate dolls; they give me the willies. It's unfortunate, then, thatVanguard's character models have an eerie doll-like quality about them. From their shiny porcelain skin to their glassy, lifeless eyes, they just give me the frickin' creeps. But really, that sense of dollishness isn't confined just to the character models; the entire world of Telon seems to be made entirely of the same material. There's really no variety in texture. Trees, rocks, and buildings all look as if they were molded from polystyrene and then painted with the appropriate texture. What I guess I mean is that the game has no style to it, no visual panache. It's just bland."- Matt Daniel, Massively

I love to read Massively, lots of news, lots of info. However, on occasion you will get a really, hrmm, putrid article, which just seems as if the writer was given an assignment they didn't want. Such as an article up this week- Second Wind: Vanguard. At first I was excited, the game is getting some coverage but like the last time I saw it in a headline, it was basically picking the game apart, this time ripping it to shreds. It is rare I even post a reply on Massively or even take the time to bother writing a counter here. It has to really get under my skin or be a fantastic article, this one was not fantastic, unless you like train wrecks.

Maybe I sound like a crusader, the thing is I think it was a lazy, biased- undeserved- article. Which in that case would belong on a personal blog, a diary, whatever, somewhere else entirely. I might write up a few hours play about a game with personal biased views, which even here I try to keep from being biased all the time. 'A glance', I like to call it. I'm not getting paid to do this stuff, I do this because I feel like it, because I have a passion to blab my mouth off about whatever flies into my head about games. I am not under pressure to play games I don't want to, I couldn't ever see myself writing about EVE online- but- if I did- I couldn't go on about how horrible PvE is because I don't enjoy it. I wouldn't feel right complaining about things that were just not my thing. If you're getting paid to write about and learn, while sharing what you learned, don't be lazy and biased/jaded. I too tried Vanguard at launch but I don't even bother to complain about spilled milk here.

The thing is, Vanguard has been in a position that most games have not been in, most players haven't been in limbo like the players of Vanguard. While we can point fingers at who did what, who is to blame, right now the game is still running and we have a fantastic development team. I mean how many forums do you visit where you can get questions answered, feedback and solid responses- from the development team, the lead developer at that? This team is trying to pick up the pieces of an older game, a lot of code they are staggered with, they are facing a lot of the unknown. I've even had a GM answer a question in a tell the other day, it is very rare you have that line of communication open.

Where to begin? Well, the article starts off picking on the graphics. I don't know what game he was playing but I think the world is freaking gorgeous. It does go down to player preference. But Vanguard isn't ugly, it has depth in the world, you see mountains in the far off distance, you can travel into those mountains, they are not just barriers surrounding a zone. The character models? Not the greatest ever but I like them, I even like EverQuest, so once again personal preference  But they are not horrible, not even close. The graphics have stood up well against the test of time. Animations are fluid enough to me. But I don't base a game off graphics alone. Even if I did, I'd be giving Vanguard a thumbs up...

The writer also complains about the map, being useless and quests not holding his hand. No auto loot, seriously? But he goes on to say how people would be better off to try EverQuest. While I play, and love, EverQuest, you can't compare the two. I will also say EQ is harder to learn. If I hadn't played it for the past 13 years I don't know if I could jump in now. It really is a whole different creature. EverQuest doesn't even have maps for many zones, I have to download the most recent, player made maps to even have them for many zones. There is no hand-holding there either, it is a far more brutal game in many aspects and I cannot even conceive many of today's gamers even lasting a day there. If you have not played that game, well, it is severely overwhelming. If you are not open to learning years and years of mechanics and content, you're probably not going to last. I've had friends try, or come back, and most of them do not last a week. It isn't a bad game, it is a complicated game. Vanguard, on the other hand, is much easier to jump into knock out a few quests and get rolling. It isn't a hard game, but you do have to figure out things sometimes. Oh my GAWD, you have to, ya' know, use your head! It is much like WoW was, years ago, before BC hit, except it hasn't been updated and made easier/more new friendly- Until recently. Things are getting better, it is just a slow process.

Nothing personal against the guy but if you're getting paid to do something, don't half ass it. If you don't like your job then let someone else do it, write another article. Commenters also claim that he has lied about playing games for other articles, or should have. I don't know. I do know this was a horrible kick to a game that was down for a long time. It seemed he was pushed into an assignment he didn't like, bucking against it, screaming the whole time. Or maybe he just wanted to tell us all how much he personally hated Vanguard. Keep personal stuff out of a professional article. Instead of letting people decide for themselves if they should try it, he basically tells them not to bother.

Massively had a similar post with EverQuest, by Justin (whom I think is a fantastic writer and person, all around, one of my all time favorite bloggers). Justin/Syp is a great writer, but you could tell his heart wasn't into his EverQuest post. He didn't even get to level nine in the tutorial, over a moth of playing for the article. Which is fine, but if you can't get into something at all, for an article, perhaps someone else should do that one? I think this is the case here as well. But when you have a well respected site that can steer people against games I think that should be a big deal. It loses credibility and respect, makes the writer look like a bad guy because he just didn't have his heart into a game. However, Justin is a far more elegant writer and he did not bash the game because it wasn't his cup of tea. I hate to even point this out against him, I just see Massively not assigning the correct people for some articles.

In conclusion to this, I will say Vanguard has bugs, plenty of them. Now the game can still be played fine, it isn't that huge of a deal, games are not perfect. People need to take the history of Vanguard in consideration too, if they want to play. If you can get past those things you can find a very enjoyable experience that isn't often found in today's games. I find a lot of bugs, I always report them. Eventually things will get better and better, the team can only do so much at once. Hey, we actually have a development team! And to those saying Vanguard needs to die, go play something you enjoy and leave this game to those who appreciate one with actual depth. The game has a great community, a very passionate one at that, something you won't find easily. Vanguard is a game you take the good with the bad, if you can't there are plenty of other games out there.

So there you have it, take it or leave it. I just feel this game deserves someone in it's corner, It is a contender that doesn't deserve to be kicked when it has been down for so long, especially when things are starting to look up for the future of Vanguard.


  1. /applaud

    I linked to Matt Daniel's article in my AC2 post today because along with some recent comments from Syl (from Raging Monkey's, a blogger I respect and generally agree with) it summed up the problem of starting up with old games you never really played when they were new.

    I love Vanguard. It's my second-favorite ever MMO after EQ. I played it in beta and from launch. It was nowhere near as buggy (for me) as urban legend would have you believe. It was very much more than playable from the day of release - it was playable and extremely enjoyable. Mrs Bhagpuss and I played it non-stop for nine months, loved it, took a break and came back and played it for another six months. I've revisited it many times since and I will drop in and visit for as long as it's there.

    Matt Daniel's piece was pointless, curmudgeonly and unnecessary, but that sums up 90% of Massively's output. The only two writers there I respect are Syp and Jef Reahard - Syp because he is just an all-round nice guy and a good writer to boot and Jef because he is the one and only writer at Massively who could make it as a real journalist. He writes well, he is objective and he treats every assignment he gets with due diligence. Oh, and Eliot Lefebvre is good on the Final Fantasy games, for which he clearly has a genuine affinity. Other than that you might as well be reading a free-sheet left on the bus.

    I read Jef Reahard's opening piece on his new stint on EQ2 tonight and it exemplified why if I was an editor (as I have been in my time) I'd be happy to commission him. Matt Daniel, on the other hand, along with most of the Massively staff, I wouldn't trust to make coffee.

    1. Thank you :)

      There are a few, the ones you mentioned, and Beau, those have some good reads. Some of the writers really seem to just fill the page with words just to get it done and over with, no passion. No appreciation for games, however archaic or new, different or whatever, they may be. I think you have to have that passion to appreciate and be able to write about them. I'm jaded by GW2 I don't like how things run, however I will always say it is a gorgeous, awesome game. I have much appreciation for the work and effort put into it. Just because I don't agree with everything doesn't mean it is a horrible game.

      I didn't catch Syl's post, guess I will have to dig it up. I probably need to add them to my feed, a few I still haven't gotten around to adding.

  2. I hope you don't mind my being a devil's advocate here.

    While I do agree with your assessment to a certain extent, Second Wind is, according to that article, revisiting "some of the past's greatest (and not-so-greatest) MMOs to see how they hold up today."

    Assuming the author had relatively modern MMO sensibilities, he had to see it from a particular lens, which is the lens of the post-WoW MMO-goer.

    1. Not at all :)*waves*

      I did try to look at it in a different light... There just wasn't any other I could see.

      However, if he was looking from the post- WoW MMO-goer he would not have even suggested players try EverQuest instead. That game is not even as close to modern as VG is. It just sounded lazy and jaded to me, honestly.

    2. Hmm... Point taken. I didn't factor that into the equation. :)

  3. thank you for this article. I recently jumped back into MMO's & had no intentions whatsoever to do so. I started with EverQuest and played from 1999 to 2010, trying every MMO that came out in between, Dark Age of Camelot,EQ2,WoW,Conan,GW2,Lord of the Rings,Star Wars,Vanguard at launch, the list goes on & on. So recently I don't even know why or what possessed me to do so, I booted up the free Vanguard trial.....& immediately fell in love with it. This game IMO is what EQ2 should have been, it feel's more like EQ then EQ2 does from my perspective, and yet I look this game up online and see nothing but criticism and gripes and complaints, and not seeing what truly lies beneath those bugs and frustrations. This game is truly amazing, it didn't grab me at launch in 2007, but it has a haold on me now in 2013 when i thought I was done with MMO's for good. Even though this game is almost seven years old, it still has a new unexplored feeling, with great community, lore, content and I have much respect for the small team that works on this game. It's a shame it doesn't get its due respect and it receives more then its full share of criticism, making others shy away, and miss this brilliant game. catch me in game as The Legendary Hexens Vex. Thanks again! I'm glad to see someone stand up and calling shenanigans on the original review. And I agree. :)

  4. Hey, thanks for the comment :) Vanguard is really a special game. I don't play it as much as I would like to but going F2P is a nice bonus to pop in and the restrictions are not bad at all. I know exactly what you mean about what it could have been, even so it still has a lot of great content to offer. I look forward to seeing more being added, the team has done a great job thus far! I try to get some info out there and share just how great it is, it is a diamond in the rough :)

  5. . I don't know what game he was playing but I think the world is freaking gorgeous. It does go down to player preference. But Vanguard isn't ugly, it has depth in the world, you see mountains in the far off distance, you can travel into those mountains, they are not just barriers surrounding a zone. The character models? Not the greatest ever but I like them, I even like EverQuest, so once again personal preference But they are not horrible, not even close. The graphics have stood up well against the test of time. Animations are fluid enough to me. But I don't base a game off graphics alone. E
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