View Full Version : Celebrating a Rumor (5/3)

May 3rd, 2007, 12:32 PM
Last Sunday (4/29), Brad McQuaid, Chairmain & CEO of Sigil Games the company responsible for Vanguard Saga of Heroes, submitted a lengthy "State of Game"-style post to the Vanguard section of the SOE forums. McQuaid's commentary is honest, direct, and covers aspects of the community and of Vanguard itself that may be hindering the game's growth. Ultimately he surmises that the game still has tremendous potential though he admits it still needs work and could use a "re-launch".
SOE - Vanguard Forums

Since the rumor began to float around that SOE might buy Vanguard, or Sigil itself, I've had this idea in mind. But, in a search for more information (that was ultimately fruitless), I held off on actually posting it. Today is when I finally gave in. The comic hearkens back to those strips a few years ago when I was fond of making Smed + wallet joke.

In my mind the whole thing is still nothing more than a rumor. The posts people keep sending me as proof says nothing about a buyout of any kind. They say SOE and Sigil are talking about the future of Vanguard. That being said, it's still evident that something significant is likely coming. There's no point reading between the lines. It doesn't seem like we'll need to wait too much longer to get an actual answer.

And before anyone gets angry with me for picking on Smedley again, just keep in mind that I actually like Smed.

May 3rd, 2007, 12:35 PM
I LOVE the old Smed/Wallet jokes. That was one of the most inspiring periods of gaming history in my opinion. The summit that Sony held was a shining moment in game direction history, it's too bad things like that don't happen more often.

May 3rd, 2007, 12:54 PM
They plan to add raid to Vanguard by next month... well yes it certainly would help if they could have worked a lot more on it before launching so soon, but even then it's a nice game and they add a lot of content every one or two weeks.

I hope for the best for Vanguard but it's taking time, at least it's improving and so far the worst news has been this SOE takeover rumor and sadly the list of features Brad put in his post saying it would be for the first expansion like the towns owned by guild and the ship to ship combat when we hoped for them to be at release.

May 3rd, 2007, 01:04 PM
You already have the answer, it's in the first couple peragraphs

"SOE is in discussions with Sigil regarding the future of Vanguard and Sigil Games in Carlsbad. Talks are going well and first and foremost, our primary concern right now is what's best for Vanguard and its community. We want to ensure that this game and its community have a healthy future. The specifics that we work out over the coming days will all be with that single goal in mind."

What does that mean? It means that right now Vanguard is doing decently but not as well as we hoped. If you haven't read my last long post that outlined some of the things that went wrong during development, etc., please do. So the bottom line is that SOE is going to be getting more involved with Sigil and Vanguard - our relationship is going to become even tighter - much tighter. At this point I can't say much more than that.

Does this mean an acquisition? I can't say at this point.

Does this mean more or less people at Sigil? I can't say at this point.

Does this mean management changes at Sigil? I can't say at this point.

If he cannot openly deny it, that is that because it is happening...

Game companies will always openly deny a widespread false or remotely false negative rumor...so why isn't sigil?

I think sigil will probably be bought completely, otherwise any small changes, team changes or team mergers could be kept private. There maybe restrictions on announcing this right now, as SOE is part of a publicly traded company.

May 3rd, 2007, 01:20 PM
I thought i heard someone mention once that SOE itself is preparing for an IPO at some point in the near future as well; that may be one factor in why they're keeping the dealing with Sigil officially unofficial. There's definitely something up though; when it officially breaks is anyone's guess.

Nice comic though; the Wallet jokes are a GU Classic without a doubt. :) Has there been a comic about the Vision itself returning to SOE? Or were they just all Sigil related comics? (I don't mean this one; this one is just Smed taking Sigil's wallet *G* )

May 3rd, 2007, 01:37 PM
Has there been a comic about the Vision itself returning to SOE? Or were they just all Sigil related comics? (I don't mean this one; this one is just Smed taking Sigil's wallet *G* )

HA! It must be done! Heavies in dark sunglasses and blue jumpsuits with SOE logos on the shoulder dragging the Vision kicking and screaming back into SOE headquarters. Priceless!

Seriously though, I can't see how this can be good for Vanguard. Brad has done some really neat, innovative stuff with Vanguard, and I think he just ran out of the time (i.e. money) he needs to finish it. Buying that time with SOE's money can't be good though.... SOE could screw up a two car funeral (metaphorically speaking), and the second they get any sort of creative control some bonehead will start making decisions that screw everything up.

I guess its still WAY early to make predictions, but I hope the deal works out that SOE gets a bigger share of the profits (i.e. a silent partner), hosts the servers, and leaves everything else alone.

May 3rd, 2007, 02:21 PM
I like how the wallet has a Verant logo on it.

May 3rd, 2007, 02:22 PM
Funny how Brad, less than a year ago, said "No way" to questions about SOE aquisition. Now it's a "I can't tell you that one way or the other" sort of answer.

I'm not going to jump right out and call Brad a liar, but I'm certainly disappointed.

May 3rd, 2007, 02:30 PM
Vanguard is dying because I cant find the game at walmart, cant find it anywhere for less thatn 50 dollars, and I am too lazy to go to fry's.

May 3rd, 2007, 02:53 PM
I can't help but get the feeling, after reading Brad's post, that he's telling me Vanguard is having issues because I didn't pay for a $6000 mega PC to run it.

May 3rd, 2007, 03:00 PM
Y'know, this makes me sad. I hoped the game would do well, even though it's not a game for me. But it didn't take long for the box price to start dropping, and the big box stores around here all have dozens of copies just occupying space. I'm honestly not surprised at this news... er... rumor.

Exalted Ben
May 3rd, 2007, 03:21 PM
I'd like to say for the record, that I think even in it's current state that Vanguard is a good game. It has some issues, sure. But, given a little time and a little money, the polish will come to the game.

I can see it being a game that could still redefine the content of an MMO. The problem is, they tried to rush the game out the door in time to compete with Burning Crusades and the holiday season, and that just wasn't realistic.

In retrospect, they should have offered people some sort of special situation. Like "We're doing a pre-release of the game. It's still in beta, but during this time if you pay the $50 to buy the game, your in-game membership is half-price until the game is finished. And, by purchasing and playing during this stage, you will be able to carry over your characters into the final release, plus you'll get some additional goodies at that time for helping us to generate capital to finish the game."

Being open and honest is a good thing if you ask me. If the game is something people are interested in and support, there are a lot of people who would have made that investment to play the game. I know I would have.

That being said, SOE has made some strange decisions with games in the past. On the flip side of that coin, though, despite their strange decisions they have remained a powerful and reknowned business entity in the MMO market, and, they maintain a very solid player base among their variety of games. One could argue that WoW has more players and revenue, and that may or may not be true, I can't say - but WoW also appeals to a different crowd than most of SOE's games, I think. There's some cross-over for sure, but there are a lot of people who play WoW who wouldn't like SOE's games, and vice versa.

So, I'm not making any judgements about it.

One thing that's important to remember is that no game really stays the same forever, or survives forever in the same way that it did originally. So if I get a year or two of fun gameplay out of Vanguard and then SOE does something wierd and the game starts to suck, well, there will be other MMO's out at that time to explore.

In the meantime, I suggest to people that they not be deterred by rumors or even solidified news if that time comes. Check out Vanguard, and enjoy the game despite the few issues it has. If it ends up changing later and becomes lame, at least you had fun for awhile. I know I am.

Andara Bledin
May 3rd, 2007, 03:28 PM

Love the comic.


TVs Frank
May 3rd, 2007, 04:08 PM
I don't care if they buy Sigil or not, I just want Brad kept away from EQ and the ranger class!

May 3rd, 2007, 04:30 PM
therewas a comic a while back when sigil went to SOE from microsoft it was the vision huggin smed i believe and he said welcome back. something like that.

May 3rd, 2007, 05:57 PM
Hmm... as the SO of a Sigil employee, I'm not supposed to know anything.

Let's just say we're a little stressed right now.

May 3rd, 2007, 06:36 PM
I can't help but get the feeling, after reading Brad's post, that he's telling me Vanguard is having issues because I didn't pay for a $6000 mega PC to run it.

I think it's more a case of Brad feels bad for letting Vanguard come out before machines that could run it dropped below $6000.

Powers &8^]

May 3rd, 2007, 07:03 PM
I am not a full time player of Vanguard, but I have sunk many many hours into the game. I have a top end computer, I run Van Guard at maximum settings and beautiful is the only was i can describe it compared to other MMOs. Things that are generally good takes time. Time is money. When you don't have enough you have to think of alternatives or go belly up.

I don't mind who owns / backs the game, so long as they don't interfere with the direction and intentions of the game. I believe it is a game in its early stages, but shows a lot of potential to be a leading game. With that said, it is still a fun game to play. I have 3 Van Guard accounts myself. :)

May 3rd, 2007, 07:39 PM
Does Vanguard have a free trial yet?

May 3rd, 2007, 08:53 PM
The problem is, how many people really believe that SOE won't take over (or at least take a part in) the decision making process of development if this does lead to an acquisition? I've never played SOE games for any real length of time, but over the years of following this site, and gaming news in general, I've come to realize that SOE is the devil of online games. Or put another way, they are to MMOG's what Elecetronic Arts is to the rest of the industry (buy everything, lobotomize it, and farm it for cash; if enough players complain to threaten the viability, then they'll make some concessions).

As for the comment about MMO's relative user bases, well, this link is almost a year old (predates Burning Crusade & Vanguadr releases), but http://www.mmogchart.com/Chart7.html has generally been one of the more reliable and methodical sources for player-base information. It'll at least give you an idea. WoW had 52.9% of the market share (this is of course counting people with accounts for multiple games once for each game they've an account, go to http://www.mmogchart.com/ for a list of charts that break it down according to other metrics), and I doubt that's changed all that much.

May 3rd, 2007, 10:34 PM
First of all, I'd like to say I have always enjoyed GUComics since day#1! I suppose I should have donated by now. :) That being said;

I Beta'd Vanguard. I participated heavily in the forums trying to get responses on key issues from developers. I tried to engage Brad in discussions about the problems with VG and what needed to be done. The answers were always similar to those contained in his "Update" letter. Let me be more specific:

We've done studies and it's not atypical of an old EQ player, when they hear about Vanguard, to assume that because many of the people involved in Vanguard's development worked on EQ as well, that Vanguard must simply be an EQ 3. From that point they don't even give Vanguard another look. They don't do any more research on the game. They don't go to the official sites. They don't go to the affiliate sites. Instead they think to themselves, "ah well, were I younger and had my life not changed, I'd give it a shot, but I just don't have the time for another EQ with better graphics right now."

And that's it - they don't give Vanguard another thought .... False assumptions are being made by a lot of people.

Look what Brad is saying here. He's blaming the user, not the game. He's saying there is something wrong with his potential customer base. He is not admitting anything is wrong with VG that could have adversely affected his customer base.

The simple fact is that Brad rambled on and on about how SOE trashed his "vision" of what EQ2 should be. He staunchly held to the same attitude throughout the development process that everything he wanted to do was designed to present an incarnation of what he envisioned should have been EQ2. Now, not only does he ignore his previous statements, he blames the potential customer base for making the assumption that he was producing yet another EQ clone. What else were people to think?

This type of statement is typical of what was seen by me on the Beta forums. Brad never actually accepted criticisms of VG during Beta. It was always "That's not the type of game we're trying to produce." or "The engine will be optimized before release." or "I am the demigod of gaming. I am always right." I don't know Brad. I think he'd probably be a decent guy. But, he can't see past his own ego. He made up a "vision" of what he thought VG was during Beta that simply did not exist. He kept the polyanna attitude throughout the development process. It all boils down to the most important variable of all: VG is simply not fun to play. Period. With some changes, it could have been a decent game. With alot of changes, it could have been better. But, in the end, what will turn this into the most heralded flop in the game industry since BG3000 will be the effects of Brad's ego and inflexibility during the development process.

I was a very avid EQ fan. I have a lot of respect for Brad et al. However, it was made very clear to me on the VG Beta boards that the development staff either did not have the inclination, will or the power to reciprocate that respect to their Beta testers. The result is a game that is almost unplayable, not fun and a subscriber base that will not cover development and hosting costs. By default, as the frontman and figurehead of Sigil, this is Brad's fault and passing the buck on to the customer environment is just indicative of the management which refused to see past their own "vision."

May 3rd, 2007, 10:48 PM
I think the success of LotRO has taken Sigil by surprise, no doubt backing McQuaid's attacks on it (subtle as they were).

Sad to hear such bad news concerning Vanguard however, as it my most anticipated for several years and I love the people behind it.. When looking at the size of Vanguard and it's numerous features, I can't say I'm too surprised that it was so unpolished at release. It's a trade off really, as games like LotRO launch fairly small in comparison but extremely polished (very very few bugs) with content patches to come.. While Vanguard launched very unpolished, but with an extreme amount of content and features. And while Sigil had a 5 year plan (or was it longer?) for expansions I have to wonder how that will be effected by this.

In the end, I think LotRO will come out on top.. It's not because I don't like Vanguard, it's because when/if there's a re-launch, they won't just be going up against a WoW expansion.. But Age of Conan, WAR, and numerous other less known titles.

I hope I'm wrong because those Sigil folks deserve success. I hate to see any MMO fail, especially one I followed for so long.

May 3rd, 2007, 11:02 PM
I'd also like to add,

The situation here is obvious. VG is Sigil's only cash-cow and it is lying in the middle of the street, coughing up blood after being run over by a huge 1967 Buick "Inflated Ego." They have development costs to pay and SOE has to recoup their hosting/billing services costs somehow. The current customer base, given the trend that most sinking ships would be familiar with, is not going to be able to deliver. Sigil has to do something.. SOE has to do something... The end result is SOE will engulf Sigil et al and put them in their virtual toy-box of online assets. Brad will get a nice corner office from which he can occasionally pop out, wave around his EQ1 developer badge and say something prophetic sounding...

May 4th, 2007, 12:12 AM
I can't help but get the feeling, after reading Brad's post, that he's telling me Vanguard is having issues because I didn't pay for a $6000 mega PC to run it.

That along with their "vision" of waiting for people to get bored of their current MMORPG and then try Vanguard.

I mean, why wouldn't they try Age of Conan in a year or W.A.R.? Why would any "bored" gamer come to a game that arguably failed their launch when there is much more tantalizing offerings to examine?

Vanguard's issues fall squarely on management, and Brad is at the top of that list. Five years. Five. Years. Forget about the money invested, just look at the time frame. With that length of time, they - at the very least - should have released a completely stable client with an abundance of art (and I'm not even talking about game play or mechanics).

Something deep to think about.

PS Love the comic Woody, as well as all your other ones!

May 4th, 2007, 01:41 AM
Brad never actually accepted criticisms of VG during Beta. It was always "That's not the type of game we're trying to produce." or "The engine will be optimized before release." or "I am the demigod of gaming. I am always right." I don't know Brad. I think he'd probably be a decent guy. But, he can't see past his own ego. He made up a "vision" of what he thought VG was during Beta that simply did not exist. He kept the polyanna attitude throughout the development process. It all boils down to the most important variable of all: VG is simply not fun to play. Period. With some changes, it could have been a decent game. With alot of changes, it could have been better. But, in the end, what will turn this into the most heralded flop in the game industry since BG3000 will be the effects of Brad's ego and inflexibility during the development process.

I think that's a bit unfair. He wasn't alone, there were a number of other devs also who refused to accept critisisms. A couple were even downright nasty about it at times. I remember more than one dev snapping out at testers for repeating the same critisisms too often. They didn't seem to appreciate that everyone kept saying those things because they were true. =/

On the other hand, I had to pity the devs a bit. I think they set their goals too high to start and ended up biting off more than they could chew- hence they were stressed which was probably what led to them lashing out at testers on the forums.

Personally though, I really wish I could've seen the game as it stood back in beta2. It sounded much more interesting than what I found when I first entered in beta3. They revamped alot of systems apparently right before beta3 started, and from what I heard from folks who'd been in beta2 it sounded like a whole ton of interesting stuff had been completely scrapped. I dunno why though. /boggle 0.o

May 4th, 2007, 01:54 AM
It appeared many devs held to the same ideals that I place on Brad's shoulders. However, as the leader, Brad has to have some responsibility to set an atmosphere conducive to receiving and acting on beta-tester feedback. After all, senior management is responsible for the corporate atmosphere. His constant diatribe of "Sony destroyed my vision for EQ2! Don't they know I'm a gaming god that single-handedly created "teh interwebz?"" never helped matters. For me, it seemed that we were always discussing two different games; One that we were testing and the one they imagined they were producing.

I got in just before beta3. I did my best to find out the development history prior to my beta. What I found was hardly descriptive enough for me to get an unbiased view. In my opinion, they may have scrapped a lot that they just didn't have the time or money to pursue. Instead, they peeled off the meat and started working on polishing the bones. It didn't work, in my opinion.

I joined the Sigil forums when it was only a few days old, IIRC. I tried to keep up over the years, occasionally glancing in to see what they were thinking. There were a lot of nifty ideas floating around. Things started to get interesting and I really thought they had a chance at making something different. It was not to be. Someone else may enjoy the game. I am happy for them.

May 4th, 2007, 01:59 AM
I like Brad, I've found him to be funny, honest and entertaining in discussions but, he is probably the biggest reason why the marketing and information about Vanguard went bad.

He consistantly made posts and comments to "known" former EQ players, all of whom were hard-core tier 1 raiders who the vast majority of the EQ player base didn't like. That alone meant thousands of people heard "FoH" turned away and never looked back. That alone meant everyone assumed it was all raiding and hardcore grinds.

Though, I'm still subscribed, if they make it a bit more solo friendly, then I will play it more, atm though, Lotro is taking all my time. I think VG is though the better of the two for a longterm investment, however I would like to buy a lifetime for Vanguard like I have for Lotro. :)

May 4th, 2007, 02:00 AM
I think the success of LotRO has taken Sigil by surprise, no doubt backing McQuaid's attacks on it (subtle as they were).

Sad to hear such bad news concerning Vanguard however, as it my most anticipated for several years and I love the people behind it.. When looking at the size of Vanguard and it's numerous features, I can't say I'm too surprised that it was so unpolished at release. It's a trade off really, as games like LotRO launch fairly small in comparison but extremely polished (very very few bugs) with content patches to come.. While Vanguard launched very unpolished, but with an extreme amount of content and features. And while Sigil had a 5 year plan (or was it longer?) for expansions I have to wonder how that will be effected by this.

In the end, I think LotRO will come out on top.. It's not because I don't like Vanguard, it's because when/if there's a re-launch, they won't just be going up against a WoW expansion.. But Age of Conan, WAR, and numerous other less known titles.

I hope I'm wrong because those Sigil folks deserve success. I hate to see any MMO fail, especially one I followed for so long.

I had the chance to beta LoTR. I can say it was one of the most polished engines I've ever encountered in a beta release. That, alone, spoke volumes to me. There is some innovation there, but it is slight. The solo instanced content, the unique Monster vs. Monster PVP model, etc.. But, even with that, it seems.. well.. a little too "vanilla mmorpg" to me. (The trees though.. the trees are exquisite. Outstanding move on their part grabbing some licensing for the tool that made those!)

I don't think LoTR will ever have a big presence in the MMORPG community. However, it has the wealth of backstory from a hugely popular franchise to draw on. That alone will ensure a certain audience. While other opinions will certainly differ, I just didn't see that "certain something" I want to see in a possible blockbuster MMORPG. It just didn't have very much for me to get really excited about. To each their own.

May 4th, 2007, 02:18 AM
I was looking at Vanguard myself, even went as far as browsing the official site multiple times, and there was nothing there I saw that convinced me it -wasnt- a rehash of EQ with better graphics. Especially since, from everything I have read/heard/seen, the whole idea of Vanguard is 'Brad & Co's idea of where EQ should have went' But, I dont know, I never really got too involved with it, and I tend to stay away from fantasy MMOs (Even though ive gotten tempted to play one numerous times).

Sometimes, something doesnt work. Look at Tabula Rasa, the early stages it was completely different from it's current incarnation, however, the game received a lot of negative feedback, and the developers decided to go back to the drawing boards.

May 4th, 2007, 03:48 AM
I just want to add that Vanguard might have done better if you could actually purchase it in some parts of the world!

I've been playing WoW for almost 2 years now, and since it was getting boring on me I really fancied trying out Vanguard.
I live in Spain, and I must say that even the guys working at GAME have never heard of it.
Now I realise that the game can be purchased online and even downloaded.
But that is besides the point...
I like having do drive out to the shops and buy my game box.

So anyways, I drove out to the shops, asked them for Vanguard SoH and while the guy was looking it up for me I could see a whole shelf with LoTR Online and WoW game boxes ready for the taking.
Honestly I found it very disappointing that they have such poor distribution and promotion.
Word of mouth will only get you so far in this industry if people can't purchase game boxes from their local retailers.
That said, it's also kinda sucky that I haven't been able to get a free trial either.
Some how I'm getting the feeling that they just don't want me to play their game at all.

P.S. Thanks for the wonderful comic every day Woody!

May 4th, 2007, 04:01 AM
Vanguard is a good game, there's just too many mmo's out there.

May 4th, 2007, 04:30 AM
That sorta implies the game needs to be better to draw them away from other games in the genre.

Good is a perspective, but probably the only perspective of good that matters in this industry is the one which equals profit. Vanguard isn't good from that perspective, and Brad is right that it's cause everyone things its EQ 1.5 and some boring grind gone horribly wrong with terrible performance. But to be honest, that is pretty much what Vanguard is at the core.. it is a boring grind, it does have terrible performance, if they could resolve those two issues then the rest of the game, which is pretty fantastic in some respects, would start to get the headlines and would start to attract more players from other games and communities. The fact he remains in complete denial, along with so many VG players, about this boring grind amazes me.

What is the point in having a massive world, varied classes, deep and complex dungeons and varied advancement systems, if you spend all your time grinding adventuring experience in a painful and boring way. Questing is good, they have a lot of quests, grouping is fun, but very time consuming, and soloing is.. well, difficult at best. In a huge empty world known as Telon.. people are now, as things settle down, finding they have to solo because there is no one else in the game to group with.

I may be a bit melodramatic with my description of the problem, but nevertheless the problem exists. You can't say your game is casual friendly when it clearly isn't.

Rili Honeykhist
May 4th, 2007, 04:37 AM
Buy SOE stock..eventually they will own them all..

May 4th, 2007, 05:25 AM
Well, as someone who both beta'ed LotRO and has buddy-key trialed Vanguard: if I had to choose, I'd most likely go LotRO. This stems from the simple fact that VG is a pain to play with my current system. If I tinker with both games' visual settings, once I have set both to levels that run acceptably (and VG still won't), LotRO looks a lot, LOT better than Vanguard. Having a game that runs smoothly, versus one that doesn't, makes the choice much easier.

Since I spent several months in LotRO versus just a five days so far in Vanguard, I won't make content comparisons. VG's craft system has impressed me however.

I'll end with an observation. Over here, Vanguard is easily available in game stores for about 35. LotRO, going for nearly 50, everywhere I go it is sold out, sold out, sold out. To me this tells volumes about their relative popularity.

May 4th, 2007, 05:56 AM
I had a GAME (Biggest specialist games retailer in the UK, and practically the only one now they bought gamestation) employee tell me NOT to buy it. Do you know how often retail people tell you not to buy something?

Admittedly I am a high-spending regular and the girl knows not to bullshit me. But seriously, if a game store employee is recommending I dont buy something, then I have to wonder why.

May 4th, 2007, 06:08 AM
I just read Brad's post.

And sadly its exactly what i expected after trying beta and choosing to not buy VG when it released 5 months ago.

Brad still doesnt get it and will imho sell out as soon as SOE makes him an offer he cant refuse.

I loved EQ back in its day, i played for 5 years. But as an avid MMOer i cant in good conscience go back and buy a last decade based game on the same flaws the 1990s EQ1 had.

Dont get me wrong, i respect Brads attempt at creating a better graphic game. And he indeed probably sell at least 100k games for a subscriber base that old EQ1 had. (he says EQ1 was 500k, i say bull..i played the game on several servers, it did NOT have 500k as a player base).

Brad compares his game to WoW, Brad blatently stated he wants the WoWs playerbase to play his game (who wouldnt?) Im sorry Brad but a re-launch of your game wont get it ever.

You must first make a game that respects the player. And as it stands now... the WoW population is looking forward to Conan or Warhammer, not VG. Plus the WoW expansion is brilliant. Its extremely well done (artisticly, quest wise, flying mounts, 10 man raid dungeons, PvP rewards, 2 new races. This expansion will keep happy WoW players a solid year. And dont think for one minute that WoW is going to wait 2 years for their next expansion. VG if it ever floats, will have to contend with another blockbuster WoW 2nd expansion by the time VG is reworked enough to be in the same MMO league as WoW.

Here is how WoW made itself a huge success....

1) A user interface that is intuative, friendly, logical, and yes...takes ideas from all sources and improves its own UI often. And allows player made Addons which add to the enjoyment of the game.

2) Graphics/animations do not have to be a huge polygon fest to be good. Your art/programmer team, headed by an art director with solid art background in lighting, color, mood, creativity etc can make a 2 dimentional screen SCREAM with style and immersion.

3) Fun! OMG you can just smell the fun the WoW team had in designing their game (yeah yeah im sure there was plenty of late nights, internal power struggels etc but..) but the game has heart and they managed to breathe life into even a "cartoon" world.

4) Respect your players. Dont fall back onto the old tired been done before (last decade) so we gunna do it again trick of slapping players in the face with loser corpse runs, exp loss, grind with no life.

Do that Brad and you will have fixed your subscriber problems forever!

May 4th, 2007, 06:20 AM
Hrmm, while I can say that VG has "incomplete" written all over it, I can see that the devs are working hard on it still. VG runs alright on my laptop, but then I've heard people that are having terrible experiences with it.

Also, while he's saying that they're aiming for the old EQ player, but that they think it'll be hard to reach them, he's also saying that they're looking for ways to have the people who think it's EQ1.5 reconsider. I don't think he's blaming them for not looking further, just making an analysis.

At the very least, he's acknowlidging(sp?) that mistakes have been made. Which is generally a first step to recovery.

Comparing it to LOTRO: VG is so vastly different from that MMO that I think a direct comparison would be a bad thing. While I can say that I've enjoyed playing LOTRO, I must say that even in that game are elements of design that I personally don't agree with (to start with the fact that I can't even remotely interact with my friends from the US). Then again, it looks to me that LOTRO is just WoW with different content (and a way better patch system).

Some here compare SOE to EA, I think there is a big difference there. While I'm not familiar with the details of the MxO transfer to SOE, I am familiar with the reason why Vanguard went to SOE. If they didn't, Vanguard would've been released in an even poorer state, because Microsoft wanted to push it even more. Also SOE has the best server operations team for MMOs in the world. SOE's track record for MMO server management is a lot better than Blizzard's, and even NCSoft's. Only they are capabable of hosting a meriad of MMOs as they're doing now. (Though Codemasters and NCSoft are fighting for a good second spot) Well, that and EAs customer service is probably the worst in the world. At least SOE CSRs actually read your request.

Finally, I can say that SOE actually tries to listen to their customers (now)(I know they had some trouble with SWG and EQ1 at one time). Especially with how they're doing with EQ2, I'm seeing a lot of changes that originally came from the community in the first place. And one of the big things I actually like is their cross-game chat platform. Being able to send tells and mail to friends on other servers, and even in other games is definitly one of the big plusses for SOE.

Anyhow, enough of sounding like an SOE fanboi now. Where's the pop? *looks in the GUFridge for a pop*

May 4th, 2007, 06:34 AM
After speaking with one of my Guilds members, (who knows Brad, and a load of the other big mmorpg names personally - having worked with them, and he's working with one HUGE name right now,) he said that if Brad did sell Sigil to SOE that would be the end of Brad. No one would sponser him again, and his name would be mud with the corps.

Personally I don't know how believable that is but it would certainly have a negative effect on Vanguard if it was sold to SOE bearing in mind the feeling that many have towards SOE and the forum 'riots' on the now closed Vanguard forums when Sigil split with Microsoft and joined with SOE.

And I agree with others. Why do I have to buy a new pc to run Vanguard .....even though thats rubbish as plenty of people with brand new top of the line systems are still suffering performance issues.

If Sigil want Vanguard to work they need to tell their sponsers to cough up with some more dosh, and knuckle down and fix the performance issues. No aquisitions from SOE, no mergers, maybe ok to getting SOE to provide techies to help but thats it !!

I really need to get previously mentioned guildie in here. He tried Vanguard and said the following statement.

"The problem with this Vanguard is Brad. He is a great programmer, but he's not a project manager, or a content provider, marketeer, or artist or anything else. What he does well is programming. He needs to learn his limitations and delegate the other roles to better skilled people.!

He went on to add that Brad over-stretched himself with Vanguard, he was/is trying to wear too many hats. And quite simply he needs to focus on what he is good at and ditch some of those other hats. Be a programmer and CEO and big up the game sure. But don't try to micro-manage everything.

It would be nice to get a second opinion on that from inside Sigil or maybe even Brad himself.

May 4th, 2007, 06:59 AM
It is like several people have already mentioned. Some think it must be an EQ2 clone, Games are getting much more costly to develop so they get rushed to release, and the market is saturated. There is only so much disposable income to go around, and the newr games are having a hard time still trying to break WoWs stranglehold to build any significant player base.

May 4th, 2007, 08:32 AM
Who would get angry for Woody picking on Smed? He deserves every bit he gets and then some!

May 4th, 2007, 09:32 AM
If you tell everyone on every single publicity point "this movie is being made by the creator of Pirates of the Sin City," it is very likely that everyone that hates Sin City wont bother going to see it thinking it's something along the same line.

If then you deliver a movie that is more like Blades of Glory, you will have that a lot of the only people that bothered seeing it will hate it, because they were expecting something else.

That is what happened here. It is true the community has prejudice against the game and given it no chance, but why is this? Because THEY made sure to make people believe this. THEY decided to ride the "from the makers of EverQuest" train.

Can't blame SoE on this, though. Even before they got their hands on the game Sigil was wielding the "we are the makers of EverQuest" flag everywhere they went to, even if SoE attempted to remove that image from the game, it would had been too late to do it.

May 4th, 2007, 10:04 AM
As someone that did play EQ for nearly seven years (paying for 5 accounts for a long time between my whole family), I followed the development of Vangard with a bit of interest. I really don't know how anyone could be surprised with the poor market performance of a game that took all the worst aspects of the original EQ and brought them back from the dead.

I know there are people that like long walks in games or harsh death, but that is a very small percentage of the potential market. Most people play games to have fun, not get agrivated when they potentially lose hours of work to a minor mistake.

In the early years of playing eq I almost quit several times due to six hour planer corpse recoveries and losing hours worth of exp on unresable corpses. I actually first got into dual boxing after trying to find a howling stones key'd cleric to do a res one time without luck. That wasn't fun in the least bit and judging by WoW's massive numbers the vast majority of people do want things to be *easy*. WoW is a bit too easy for my tastes, but there has to be a middle ground somewhere. (WoW could also really use some continual carrots like AA points, but thats just my opinion).

I don't want to spend half my playing time just getting someplace.
I never want to end a playing session feeling like I went backwards after hours of work.
I don't want to spend massive amounts of time leveling up or in a single level.

Sure that isn't going to please the hard core players, but reality is they are a very small part of the total market place. If you target your game at a small audience that is what you'll get.

Releasing an incomplete/buggy program just hurts your chances even more.

May 4th, 2007, 10:44 AM
I once had a discussion (debate-ish) about EQ with a long-time, high-end EQ player about why I quit EQ. I talked about the grind, the XP loss on death, and so on... and he just didn't relate. For him, a quick 96% resurrection was a given - he couldn't comprehend that anyone played without having quick and easy access to a powerful Cleric.

That's the sort of person that Brad & Co. were marketing to and designing for. They didn't understand that this person is not the core of EQ's player base... they're actually more of a fringe, fanatic element. Never mind that they made design changes along the way to make the game more player-friendly... the design concepts that they originally touted for Vanguard were aimed squarely at the players who were the "Elite" of EQ. And that's just not enough of a player base to succeed with. The casual players don't want all that garbage.

Edit, an hour later: To be fair, at the point when they were in the initial design stages of Vanguard, I don't think anyone (with the possible exception of Blizzard) really understood fully what the "average" MMO player was actually like. It's understandable that they would view the most vocal segment of EQ's player base (the high-end players who constantly clamor for new material) as being representative of the player base as a whole. It's inaccurate, but the mistake is understandable.

May 4th, 2007, 10:54 AM
I really enjoyed the game around the Beta2 timeframe (although the new Diplomacy system is MUCH better than the original.) There was a lot of work put in that just seemed to have disappeared. Hopefully many of those old systems will get adapted and reused.

May 4th, 2007, 11:01 AM
Death is really not all that harsh unless you make it harsh. Any xp lost is recovered with your tombstone ala DAoC. You have the option of summoning your tombstone to you at your revive point or you can soulbound all your gear so it's already on you when you revive.

There really isn't that much in the way of long walks. Everyone can recall to their bind point, horses are cheap, and there are teleport stones all over the world.

May 4th, 2007, 11:12 AM
I was acutally interested in playing the game, once the kinks were worked out. Hearing that Sony is buying however I think I'll take my money elsewhere. I saw how they messed over SWG and how they jacked up the price on their Station Passes.

May 4th, 2007, 11:19 AM
I think the main problem is WoW. WoW is a good game, but everyone expects every MMORPG to be like WoW. Take LoTRO for example. That game, while having a huge backstory to choose from is so much like WoW Im surprised Blizzard hasnt dropped a lawsuit. There are enough differences in it to keep it interesting if oyu break it down. The game itself is good in its own right, but too much like WoW to make me want to play it.

I admire what Brad was trying to do with Vanguard. He made a game that was different, a little more hardcore and a game that is trying to bring back the social aspect of MMO's, which was why EQ1 was so popular. I have been getting irked by the criticism that there isnt enogh solo content in the game when 40% quests are easily soloable. MY issue is now that I dont want every game to be like WoW. Ive seen too many genre's of games just get too boring cause every game that comes out are like the first one in the genre. RTS' were a prime example of this, until the new shift in the genre that we see coming today.

I believe what has hurt Vanguard, despite the potential the game has, has been due to the fact that it had to be rushed out due to monetary issues. This rush in release showed a game that was way too ambitous in scope and bugs, omg the bugs, that were still prevelant. Now Sigil has done a great job in killing many of the bugs there are still naggin at the game. The system requirements are just way too high to start bringing in a player base. While I agree you want to create a game that your PC can grow into, coming out with a game that even on its lowest setting can still be out of reach for the average WoW player is just not a smart decision. The poor communication between the developers themselves and bad management from the top has hampered priorities in what should be fixed first in the game. At the end of the day all these issues put together what you create is a negative buzz throughout the industry and the game got negative word of mouth and that has pretty much killed incoming population.

Sad part is I like the game but unless things dont get turned around soon its gonna die an aganozing death and I hate to see that happen. If SoE can bail it out so much the better. What I fear is Vanguard becoming a dumbed down game to encourage less social activity and something that is more akin to WoW, cause quite frankly If I want to play WoW then Id play WoW more. I have hope for Vanguard though, I just hope its not a misplaced hope.

Andara Bledin
May 4th, 2007, 12:39 PM
Speaking for myself, I will probably never try a game that would require me to upgrade my computer first.

It may not be completely current, but my system is still comfortably within the parameters of the majority of current releases.

That is one of the areas that WoW really did it right.


May 4th, 2007, 12:50 PM
Took me a few seconds to really get the wallet joke, but when I did - heh nice.

Overall, the failure of VG to date would make a great case study of the MMO industry. Brad highlighted some of their mistakes in his recent post, more in previous posts, and ignored some others. While I disagree strongly with some of the core game design decisions (and Brad's published general views) on things like instancing, trivial loot code, long travel times, unibody character models, and others, those aren't, ultimately the reasons the game has done so poorly.

In the very beginning, VG was a huge gamble: creating a world not based on existing intellectual property / lore. Not just a game, but what was touted as the largest seamless world to date. EQ had the advantage of being the only real 3D MMO available when it launched, and it took some time to develop it's subscription base into hundreds of thousands. VG doesn't, and future MMOs don't, have years to grow customers when you cosider it cost $30M+ to develop. You need a solid launch to get back that sunken cost. You can't compare VG to EVE-Online (an independently developed, self-published, MMO without prior IP/lore, that started small and grew over 4 years to be moderately successful), because EVE cost 1/5 to 1/10 of what VG did. Even without performance issues, currency dupes, and all the other things armchair devs can point to and say "they screwed that up", the deck was stacked against VG from the start.

That said, word of mouth from closed beta (despite there being an NDA in effect) was almost completely negative. It was pretty clear to me, and many self-annoited pundits, that VG was going to fail about the time Microsoft dropped them. They turned things around partly, significantly improving performance (from closed beta to open beta), revamped the combat system (from a more turn-based system to one more instant and fast paced like WoW), adjusted the death penalty, and changed a host of other things players complained about. What they didn't seem to address, and what their biggest problem seemed to be throughout 2005 and 2006, was the largest subjective complaint from so many beta testers - that the game wasn't fun. This is what I believe caused MS to pull out of the project (i.e. decide to not provide additionally needed funding). Maybe the closed beta'ers were wrong. Maybe they got a bad test seed. It doesn't matter now. Most of the "early MMO adopter crowd" that was casually following VG back then wouldn't consider touching the game at launch, simply due to the bad word of mouth.

Before I criticize SOE for picking up what I consider to be a failed title, I have to accept they have information I do not. SOE knows perfectly well how many VG subs are station pass subs, how many dropped their station pass sub when the price jumped again in March/April, how many kept VG vs. how many kept their other games. All of these hard numbers (not the least of which is how many boxes VG sold, and how many they have retained) go to the core of determining whether or not VG should continue.

At the end of the day, my prediction is VG will never see the subscription numbers EQ enjoyed in it's heyday. To me, that's a failure of huge proportion given the development $ involved, and it lies at the feet of Brad and Jeff. We've had LOTRO launch what appears to be very successfully (I'm very curious how many people have gone for the $200 lifetime subscription). Age of Conan will very likely make it out of the gate this year, and Warhammer (perhaps the most anticipated of the three) coming some time next year. What do these titles have in common? Yeah, existing lore they're based on. Will players who've cancelled VG, or are just waiting to see if the big bugs get fixed and an end-game gets added in, consider picking it up 6 months from now with these other offerings on the table? If they do, in any significant numbers, I'd be shocked.

What's sad to me is this could spell the end of big budget MMOs that aren't based off existing IP/lore. At least, until we see how Tabula Rasa does. ;)

May 4th, 2007, 12:51 PM
Yeah, WoW even undershot the release group, taking requirements back. I have a mean system, ahead of the curve, and Vanguard lags on me. Granted my setting are still set a little high, and I need to turn them back down. But, as much as I dig the folks at Sigil and loathe saying anything negative about their work, the Vanguard bar was set too high.

May 4th, 2007, 12:55 PM
While I wasn't one of the naysayers who went apesquick crazy when Sigil first announced they were switching publishers to SOE, I DID predict something like this once the devs began removing most of the unique features that Vanguard had in the last few months of beta. I chastised them for their "blah" character models, too. Not that they listened. :p

While I can't say I LIKE being right in this case, I can say I'm glad I didn't spend any money on this game. 8 months of beta was enough to see the direction they were marching and not like it. -_-

And to the people talking about having to upgrade their computers before playing Vanguard...I was running the yet-to-be-optimized beta client on a now 3.5 year old machine that at the time only cost me $700 to build with most of the essential eye-candy operating just fine. If your system can't handle it, you're at the point where you need to upgrade anyway just to play the new generations of single-player stuff. Tip: A sound card with its own processor will be the single largest performance fix you can get in a game like Vanguard, as it eats cpu like some kind of digital dinosaur.

May 4th, 2007, 01:07 PM
Vanguard doesn't lack content, whether that is solo, group, crafting diplomacy or adventuring. What it lacks is viability for soloing. Half the classes are really bad at soloing, the other half it's slow and boring. The content is there, but the systems favor grouping so much over soloing that it's definitely not considered a key point of the game, even though it has the content to support it.

If for example we do look at other MMOs on the market, we should consider why those games are popular and who plays them. WoW isn't just popular because it's casual friendly, WoW is popular because everything it does, it does really well. I know hundreds of hardcore EQ raiders who are happy in WoW, raiding and grinding reputation, the few I've managed to speak to about Vanguard aren't interested in it, because it's not raid orientated, it's not hardcore and it has too much fluff (crafting and diplomacy).

Vanguard is a beast that just falls in the middle, it's got more than enough content, it just needs to decide who it wants to play with. If it wants the hardcore crowd, it needs raids, and a lot of them, it needs less focus on the three spheres and more focus on uber loot. If it wants the casual crowd, it needs all classes to be able to solo at a reasonable rate and not be overly penalised for not grouping, this means none of this rubbish from EQ days where the Necro can solo but the Warrior can't (unbelievable that that is still true in Vanguard) and a boost to xp gain from solo quests.

That is all it needs to make it more viable to the casual crowd, a change in solo ability and xp gain for soloing. That's a lot less work than making it viable for the hardcore crowd, which we all agree is the smaller of the two markets.

I play Lotro atm because I can solo it, I'm in a really good guild with a lot of close friends and we group up a lot, but being able to solo just means I can accomplish something whenever I play no matter how little time I have available. If I log into Vanguard, I'm lucky if I can complete one quest because soloing is so painful for my Monk and I rarely, if ever, see another player when I'm on and most of my guild already quit.

Not to mention there are at least three gold dupes in the game, an item dupe, speed (travel) hacks, teleport hacks, experience gaining hack (15-41 in an hour!), crafting bots, farming bots and god knows what else since I last checked. There's more cheats and exploits for Vanguard than I've seen in the whole of WoW since it's release.

May 4th, 2007, 01:11 PM
Since the game was marketing as a more group-centric game a little more emphasis on raids would have been nice. The main problem being is I think a lot of the raid and high level group content was supposed to be on the continent that never made to the game on launch which hasnt helped matters much. Im still keepign the faith, Vanguard, at least to me was a step in the right direction, but If you have a lower end system not worth your time trying to play it.

May 4th, 2007, 01:18 PM
I've posted this on other forums and I'll say it here again:

Vanguard is too hard and too big.

EQ1 was hard and that's what made it something special, but what made that difficulty acceptable was the strong community that stemmed from the various bottlenecks that everyone ended up going through, meaning you socialized or you failed. With socialization you learned how to cope and saw that your suffering was equally shared (A train in Crushbone meant you and 50 other people were screwed), bringing out the fun aspects and driving you to keep pushing.

WoW is massive, but it's also easy, so while you don't suffer much nor socialize a lot, you're also completely able to handle just about anything the game throws at you, so it's still fun.

Vanguard, for whatever the reason, seems to be a compilation of all the bad things in previous MMOs.

Adventuring: Few social-combat centers (Area where lots of people are drawn to fight hard stuff together), harsh death penalties, limited LFG assistance, far roaming and wide aggro monsters.

Crafting: Heavy reliance on the RNG, Action points, durability slider, loss of materials on death, unlimited resources, solo effort

Diplomacy: Something new, and yet so old. Starts out involved and exciting then turns into one big, gigantic grind machine that's neither challenging nor fun and completely anti-social.

I was sad to cancel my account as I wanted to enjoy the game, but, sadly, I just found myself frustrated, even when you look past the many, many bugs.

May 4th, 2007, 02:32 PM
Requirements means a lot. The main reason I got LotRO was because I thought it would run in my tablet. It does, but it is not pretty while there.

WoW is still way hardware friendlier, the game runs smoothly and crispy on my weak system and I will surely keep it around until I can fork 1k in a new tower.

I am sure there are way more people like me that have purchased the game simply because it runs smoothly on their current system, I personally attribute more to the game's success to this than to it's casual friendliness.

May 4th, 2007, 03:28 PM
I am sorry to see all the hard work go to waste, but I wrote this game off at least 2 years ago after reading the "Vision" of the game.

Brad once stated that instancing was like throwing the baby out with the bath water. Well he is wrong. Instancing is like adding bubbles to the bath making the baby enjoy the bath even more.

It was Brad's "Vision" that Vanguard would have corpse runs, no instances, forced grouping, and long walks that made this game not so attractive to my already precious gaming time. I am one of the older EQ gamers he spoke about. I was an EQ raider who spent 12+ hours on some days grinding exp or camping a raid zone hoping for a drop. Now I am a father of 2 kids and I have maybe a few hours a day to play a game. I can no longer accept playing a game where the first hour is getting a group together and then travelling to a destination before I even get started playing.

I am sorry, but I hope future MMO developers watch what is happening with Vanguard and learn something from it. "Will the Sigil fly please report to the Zapper, thank you."

May 4th, 2007, 03:40 PM
Lack of group instances in TSS was the final nail in the EQ coffin for me. I personally like having the choice of seeing other people or just being with my group and not worrying about outside influence.

May 4th, 2007, 07:14 PM
Oddly enough, the lack of instancing is actually the least of VG's problems if it's truly a problem at all. The gameworld is really that damn big that dungeon crowding and content bottlenecking are non issues. The bugs, while annoying, weren't debilitating for the most part. The games sys req and overall performance are what's truly keeping it from attaining its full potential. That, and the truly horrid first impression it made on the general populace. That one's gonna be hard to overcome.

I know they are working on optimizations for character art and city and town art in order to bring down the taxation on your machine, but is it too late? A terrible first impression is the hardest thing to overcome, no matter how good your game gets. Just ask the AO team.

May 4th, 2007, 08:24 PM
I want an MMO that gives you multiple paths.

Solo/not hardcore path.

Group path.

Raid path.

Elite path.

Each path would have an appropriate challenge for your charcter.

Only a small segment of the playerbase will accept the challenge of the "elite"--you have to create alternate routes for other player types.

May 4th, 2007, 09:37 PM
good RL friend and longtime gamer buddy of mine (who i will not name) got a job with sigil a few months ago and has been working there on vanguard.

his assessment of the situation is pretty bleak. from what he tells me, the thing with soe is more than just rumor, and people are already jumping ship. apparently its been announced there will be layoffs as well. fire up the ol' zapper.

May 5th, 2007, 01:17 AM
To be honest.. if SOE comes in and gives it the EQ/EQ2 treatment (makes more casual friendly), I'd return. If they do the SWG treatment.. they'd kill it dead.

May 5th, 2007, 11:18 AM
Can Brad "Aradune" McQuaid make one post, just one post, about Vanguard where he doesn't mention Everquest at all? Its enough to keep me completely away from the game.

Seriously, the only selling point he has goes along the lines of 'Remember Everquest but its not Everquest'. As long as he keeps toting his past successes, his future is going to suffer and his games will suffer as a result.

Brad handing Sony an empty wallet really rings true.

May 8th, 2007, 05:41 AM
Funny how Brad, less than a year ago, said "No way" to questions about SOE aquisition. Now it's a "I can't tell you that one way or the other" sort of answer.

I'm not going to jump right out and call Brad a liar, but I'm certainly disappointed.

I'm sure at the time he said that, it was true. He also expected Vanguard to have 250K subscribers at a minimum, 500K was his realistic estimate and felt there was a decent shot at 1 million. Well, from what I hear, there is a 2 and a 5 in the subscription numbers, but it's followed by only three 0s not 4 (as in 25,000).

May 8th, 2007, 01:19 PM
There was no rushing of the game out the door to beat anyone. The game was released because Sigil was [running out of money] and SOE told them to release it....done or not. People keep thinking Sigil did this boneheaded move, they didnt. Brad even commented the game wasnt ready for release, but finances said otherwise...


All XP is not recovered when you retrieve your tombstone. When they added the actual experience numbers that became clear.

Posts merged, Easy Way #17.

May 15th, 2007, 08:59 PM
Looks like it happened after all.

May 16th, 2007, 05:30 AM
Toldya so =p

Woody is just a giant vanboi, wouldn't believe it till it was too late ;)