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Vanguard. Saga Of Heroes: The Famous Fail Beginning And End – Part 3

Vanguard. Saga Of Heroes: The Famous Fail Beginning And EndThis is Part 3 of the story of Vanguard: Saga of Heroes. A story of the fail that really was famous in it’s days, the story of a game that was pretty much fail at the beginning of its life – but got fixed, patched and in time became a real gem that would shine if this game was released, say, last or this year – but not many people know about it. Because if you fail once, it’s almost impossible to avert the damage (and Square Enix is learning this lesson now too, i bet). So, we all heard it was a big fail, right? But how and why did it happened in the first place? And why now I’m calling this game “a gem” when you probably heard no one plays it now?

This is Part 3 of the story, you can start reading it here: Vanguard. Saga Of Heroes: The Famous Fail Beginning And End – Part 1 Vanguard. Saga Of Heroes: The Famous Fail Beginning And End – Part 2

Vanguard wasn’t a still-born child, it was rather a sickly child born long before its time and left alone by its parents. It tried to survive as best as it could, but what it could wasn’t the best at all. System requirements made the game barely playable on the most high-end playing computers of the time and scared off so many players it’s impossible to count now, people left after just 2-3 levels. Crashes, bugs, characters stuck, mobs fighting each other (now, that’s even funny – what was a bug back then now is a feature in some MMOs), falling though the world and other stuff like that scared off another part of the audience.

Vanguard. Saga Of Heroes: The Famous Fail Beginning And End – Part 3The world-building took so much time that there wasn’t much left for other things, so about two weeks after the game went out, people ran out of content. It had a level 50 cap, but players ran out of content around 30 levels – those who hit lvl50 were still wearing lvl20-30 gear, because there wasn’t anything else to use. Six months later new content started coming in, but it as well was bugged like hell and lasted a couple more weeks. Another six months later (year after the release date) was released the first raid zone. It lasted for around a month of casual raiding, not mentioning for being also bugged. After another portion of six months passed, more new content was introduced (like griffon mounts) and in an attempts to make players play longer, devs tweaked drops to be extremely rare, so Vanguard apart from being bugged became also a grind fest.

After another portion of six months passed, more new content was introduced (like flying mounts).

All this time people were leaving. Some were coming in, but more were leaving. That made the giant game world into a ghost town. With lack of the content that Vanguard suffered every piece of content was needed, and part of it was group-oriented – but to group you had to stumble into other players – and this task was getting harder and harder to accomplish, harder with every passing month. By 2009 Vanguard player base was almost non-existent. Good thing they had brains to merge servers at some point. SOE, who acquired the game and went on with “developing” it had no idea of saving Vanguard. Why did they acquired the game in the first – is a true mystery. It’s even possible that they did it for McQuaid, because he once worked on EverQuest and SOE has got a lot of money out of that project. Who knows.

Vanguard's graphics look beautiful even now – almost 4 years after the release! – and certainly more beautiful than many of the games released today!

But Vanguard was – and is – a direct competitor for both EverQuests, and will never receive any special attention – just because SOE doesn’t care about it. It lets the project live for as long as it lives, merging servers again and again, but that’s all they’re doing for it.When i started writing this story, i said that Vanguard is a shining gem. After all this you have read, you might be asking, why in the hell would i say that? Well, if Vanguard would have been released now by, let’s say, Blizzard instead of SOE, and with a lot of advertising going on, it could have been #2 game after WoW. Seriously. Vanguard’s system requirements aren’t insane anymore – we all have computers surpassing its needs with machine power. This game was of 3th generation, but it was released among 2rd generation games and looked really beautiful, so even back then there were people who kept playing it no matter what.

Vanguard's  the Diplomacy System is kind of a mini-game in itself

Its graphics look beautiful even now – almost 4 years after the release! – and certainly more beautiful than many of the games released today, like Korean/Chinese cheap clones that AeriaGames is producing non-stop. I have heard from gaming forums that Vanguard right now has serious issues with player support – being scarce to non-existent – my guess is that SOE did what Sigil did and put one or two persons on support team, and that’s the problem. But, on the other hand, many other games suffer from lack of player support, many of Aeria’s project do that, for an instance. With time that passed since the launch, most of Vanguard’s bugs were fixed and more content was added, and there is still a player-base – a really small one comparing to other games – but people are still playing. I have tried Isle of Dawn 2 weeks free trial several months ago, and noticed no bugs, but the game literally took my breath away with its beautiful scenery and solid world.

Vanguard is its crafting system is very complex and interesting.

Also, Vanguard utilizes some systems not seen in other online or offline games. For example, the Diplomacy System is kind of a mini-game in itself. You play a game of cards that represents how you handle the diplomacy conversation with someone, and your deck depends on skills of your character. If in any other given game out there you can only fight your foes, in Vanguard you can talk them into getting neutral to you or even into actually doing something good for you. This opens a really interesting opportunity for the gameplay. For example, if you talk a city ruler into certain things, that city’s life could be changed for a time, and you can get some kind of a bonus out of that.

Another interesting thing in Vanguard is its crafting system. I’ll write a post about that sometimes, because it’s really innovative, but to tell a long story short: in Vanguard crafting is set as much closely as possible to actual work of real crafters. For example, to craft a metal axe you need to master several different skills, gather different tools and clothes used for crafting (because real metal smiths do not work in full plate armor, didn’t they?), and get some resources ready at hand – like bandages to use if you accidentally hurt yourself. Then, after you’ve got everything in place, you start crafting a pieces of item you want to make – and it’s not just “click and get it ready” process, there might be obstacles on your way like you burn yourself with hot steam or the furnace could crack… And when you finally had crafted something, you feel like you’ve really done a job, not just clicked a mouse button. Some call Vanguard’s crafting system a fail too, but i saw an interesting moment during RIFT Second Closed Beta Event: players were discussing in a global chat how cool would it have been, if TRION made crafting system “like the one they had in Vanguard”. Also, in Vanguard crafting it’s not just a way to level up to Grand Master and produce some uber-super-mega-hyper-items for sale on Auction House – no, it can make you a living.

And there’s even more things about crafting - you can craft, for example, a ship.

Yes, that’s right, you can just travel around the world and do crafting work in different places to earn you money for living.And there’s even more things about crafting! You can craft, for example, a ship. It’s no easy job and requires a lot of work and different professions to participate, but in the end you can get your guild’s very own ship, that will sail and transport you around the world. I can’t name other games giving an opportunity like that just out of the top of my head – well, in Dawntide they boasted you can do something like that, but i don’t know if this will be true after the release or not. Actually, i tried to play in Dawntide’s closed beta but this bugged crap couldn’t even install properly and formatted mine Games disc with 140+GB of games, so I’m staying as far away from Dawntide as possible.

But the hell with Dawntide… I’m actually planning to go back to Vanguard after New Year when I’ll have some free time before writing my diploma work, and i will write in details about what is going on in this game right now, and why it’s got better. Because i really liked what i saw and i want more people to know that it’s not the fail it was anymore – and to give it a chance before its entirely gone.

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